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Constant Contact award for All Star Newsletter 2008 The Personal Brandwagon by Tessa Hood of Changing Gear Ltd
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Business Schools and Graduate Services

We run, on a regular basis, workshops and group training sessions on Career Development either in the Careers Advisory Department of Universities or directly for MBA and MSc Departments of Business Schools.  We will be delighted to  talk to you if you are planning further content in your careers advisory programmes, and can supply first class references from Leeds, Durham, Nottingham, Leicester, Warwick Business Schools, Cranfield School of Management and many other Schools.
Please call or email Tessa for more information. Click here for Changing Gear contact details.


It’s getting better out there, but it’s not good enough yet and people need to understand how they can improve their chances to find work both at interview and through their own personal development by understanding how valuable their own Personal Brand when it comes to promoting themselves.

255,000 people aged 16-24 had been unemployed for 12 months or more in September-November 2013, down 18,000 from the previous quarter and down 11,000 on the previous year. 28% of all unemployed 16-24 year olds had been unemployed for over 12 months.

Excluding people in full-time education, there were 633,000 unemployed 16-24 year olds in September-November 2013, down 27,000 on the previous quarter and slightly lower than the previous year.

The unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds not in full-time education was 18.1%.

537,000 men aged 16-24 were unemployed in September-November 2013, down 22,000 on the previous quarter. The unemployment rate for men in this age group was 22.3%.

382,000 women aged 16-24 were unemployed in September-November 2013, down 17,000 on the previous quarter. The unemployment rate for women aged 16-24 was 17.5%.

Can you imagine how  it would be if all our children left school, and, easily, went straight into jobs or into university?  Sadly, this just isn’t happening now ……

It is a well-known phrase that ‘people buy people’, and during these harder economic times it is essential to give everyone who is looking to start work and build their career, the chance to show their remarkability, differentiation, learn how to make an emotional connection and show their promise of value.  But how many school leavers truly understand this important factor when they are attending job or university interviews?  Do they really know how to make themselves (positively) memorable and how to stand out from the rest of the competition through the way they ‘package’ and present themselves (their personal brand), their positive body language, their voice and how they show their initiative and talent?

If they are able to attend one of our courses students will understand these fundamental principals and their appearance and attitude will impact on how they are remembered long after they’ve left the interview room.

What young people think….

As ever, today’s young people can be highly sensitive to being told that it matters how they look and behave when they go for an interview.  Their immediate reaction is “it doesn’t matter what I look like – what matters is what I can do”… yes that’s true, but if their first impression is careless and they look like they haven’t bothered to prepare for the interview, they won’t get the subsequent opportunity to show their abilities. The interview panel will have a surfeit of applicants and can look elsewhere for their talent. This state of affairs is a 21st century reality that young people and apprentices need to understand and would be foolish to ignore, particularly in these days of high unemployment. Youngsters looking for employment should on the front foot with people to be able to show off their strengths, abilities and potential value.

How we can positively help (and we won’t be talking telephone numbers…)

Here at Changing Gear, we believe that people are the business. Over the past 7 years we have been working with 6 International Business Schools on their MBA programmes – Durham, Cranfield, Warwick, Leeds, Leicester, Nottingham and the Open University, in order to clarify how important it is to develop an authentic personal brand when the students go into business.  We also work in and understand the real world of business through our interventions with large corporations including HSBC, The Clydesdale Bank, British Airways, Burberry, Panasonic etc, who realise that if their people understand personal branding, it makes a huge difference to the bottom line of their business. Professional/legal partnerships in the City of London and individual entrepreneurs ask us to advise them when they feel they need to re-evaluate and invest in themselves in order to progress their careers. 

The outcome of all this is that we have developed an excellent reputation for the quality of the workshops we run as can be seen by the references listed below. 

Feedback is below from the workshops we run for our mature MBA students, they appreciate and value the opportunity to look at themselves in depth as marketable individuals. Sadly up to this point most of them really think that their degree is a key to a fabulous career, but too many students are now finding that they are just one of many going for one job. Good qualifications alone are sadly becoming less and less effective at achieving good positions - better ‘people skills’ are becoming as important. It is vital that all younger students have the opportunity to learn these soft skills as well.  (We have added a few comments below from the MBA students we have worked with).

What can you do about the situation and how can Changing Gear help?

For those leaving school with no qualifications and for 1st year 6th form onwards this is the time to look at the students’ personal brands and to show them how they should think about themselves as marketable people when they leave full time education and to start developing their personal market strategy NOW to find their niches. Now is the time to start thinking deeply about how they can be helped to strategically develop their brand to stand out against others with the similar experience, qualifications and career ambitions. 

Their future careers are NOT a given….

Young people have to work at it, and we can help them.  We have a new programme called

5 Facets of a Living Brand - Schools.  In this programme we cover:


  1. What is a living brand and why do you need one?
  2. Reputation Management – how to grow yours in the real world and online
  3. Effective and Professional Networking
  4. Visual, Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication and Impact – business-ready style advice, body language, voice and demeanour
  5. Business Manners and Behaviours.

You may feel that your students don’t need all of these topics, and we are able to custom-make your programme for your school in just the way you think best.  We also find that Parent/Teacher Association meetings are a good showcase for this programme and make the parents more aware of how important these factors will be in the success or otherwise of their child’s progress. These talks can be delivered in 1, 2 or even 3 hour modules.

We have especially tailored this new programme for school leavers and if you would like to know more please contact, Tessa Hood, on her direct line 07774 189913 -  Tessa presents all the programmes personally.

Changing Gear is based in London and Surrey, but that doesn’t limit where we can go.  Tessa Hood would be delighted talk to you or to discuss any of your questions and the direct benefits to your school and your students

Please don’t hesitate to call. Just a few of our more mature student references are below but we do tailor the new Schools Programme to a younger, less experienced, audience.

Student references:

“Thank you for an informative and original talk earlier today at the Durham Business School.  Your idea of a unique selling point was useful to discover. I was able to employ it at a recruitment fair yesterday and received an excellent reaction.”
Many thanks again,
Kind regards,
Dominic Jordan, M.A., PG Diploma, B.A. Hons.,
MBA full-time student,
Durham Business School,

“It was a delight attending your seminar at DBS the other day. Not only was it relevant, but very well structured and presented.
I think, you’ve given most of us some food for thought.”
U. Malhotra

“I was present in your session at Durham Business School on Monday. I was thoroughly impressed with your professional, corporate approach to image management, which I felt is unique. I would like to keep in touch with you in the future.”
Surey Amarnath

Thank you for a most informative lecture at the Leicester University Summer School on 19th August. I found the session extremely useful and informative.
Best regards
Steven Haffner
MBA Student
Leicester University