APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.
Today she helps out a woman who has no luck in her quest to find a job after being furloughed and an employee who has been negatively labelled after running late to work too often.
Q) I’m 53 years old and was furloughed from my receptionist/admin job in July, and have since been made redundant. I’ve applied for over 500 jobs and had 12 interviews, with no luck.
I’m professional and confident, with lots of skills, and have had feedback from agencies and employers saying I come across well, but someone else always has that bit more experience.
I feel deflated and am beginning to lose my confidence, especially as I’m now on benefits. I really want to get back in an office, but I worry that the longer I’m out of work, the less employers will be interested. What should be my next steps?
Natalie, via email
A) I appreciate it is a very difficult time to be looking for a job.
Try asking for more detailed feedback from the agencies and employers as to what experience your competition have that you don’t.
If it’s with specific software, look for free courses online to improve your knowledge in these areas.
Or it may be that you aren’t communicating the experience that you do have clearly enough in interviews (after all, at this point, they have reviewed your CV and decided you potentially could do the job) – so practise your interview technique with friends, who can check you’re accurately describing your skills.
Have you considered including temporary work in your search? This will give you the chance to prove yourself to both an agency and the companies you’re working for.
Often when a company finds a reliable and efficient temp and a permanent role becomes available, you already have a foot in the door.
Make sure you are visible on LinkedIn, follow companies you are interested in, and link with their HR and talent teams.
Don’t be afraid to send direct messages, but make sure they are personalised, not generic. And ask former managers, peers and colleagues to endorse you. Best of luck – and don’t give up!
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Q) When my team went back into the office briefly last year, I was late a few times as my buses weren’t running as frequently as normal. My manager spoke to me and said I needed to make sure I was on time moving forward.
We have been WFH for the past six months and I’ve worked extra hours to make sure we hit our deadlines, but my manager still makes jokes to the team about my timekeeping.
It’s really getting me down – and now it feels like a label she has put on me that isn’t reflective of how hard I work. What do you think I should do?
Laurie, via email
A) Timekeeping and reliability are important in any role, and it seems you have learned how much your manager values them, too.
Now, six months on, having addressed it with you, your manager should stop bringing it up, especially in front of the team.
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Have a private conversation with your manager and explain that you were very sorry for being late, and that as far as you’re concerned, the matter is now in the past, but bringing it up in front of the team – even in a light-hearted manner – undermines all the hard work that you do and makes you feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.
Remind her of all the successes you have had in your role and your contribution in order to meet deadlines, and say that if she still has concerns, you would prefer that she speaks to you privately.
Compiled by: Claire Frost