APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.
Today she gives tips to a childminder having problems with parents and someone struggling with job applications.
Q) I’m a childminder and although I’m happy to be back working again after lockdown, I have a problem with the parents of a child I care for.
I started looking after their seven-year-old son at the start of the year and they were insistent I should do an hour and a half of reading and writing with him after school, when all he wanted to do was go to the park or play football.
He hated sitting still after a day at school and his behaviour deteriorated. Despite me mentioning how much he needs to burn off his excess energy, his parents are insisting we do the same this term. What should I do?
Sara, via email
A) As a childminder, you are in a very trusted and responsible position, and I’m sure this child’s parents would welcome an open and professional discussion about their son and his wellbeing, which is their number-one priority.
There are three key things a parent needs from a childminder: trust, responsibility and kindness. So if you are concerned about the schedule and you think changing it will make him happier, you need to have a conversation with the parents.
At some point everyone has to have a difficult conversation with their boss, regardless of the business you work in, and my advice is always the same: first, explain the situation in an honest way, as your boss isn’t going to know how you are thinking or feeling until you do this.
Make it clear your priority is their son and that any suggestions are in his interests, then clarify how you think the schedule can change – maybe suggest 30 minutes in the park, then an hour reading and writing. Then ask for their perspective and keep the dialogue open.
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Q) I lost my job in January and found it impossible to get another in lockdown. Now, more roles are being advertised, but platforms such as LinkedIn show you how many people have already applied – and often it’s hundreds!
I have no chance against that many people, especially as I don’t have many qualifications and I’ve been out of work for nine months. There’s one local company I’d love to work for, but they don’t seem to be advertising vacancies.
Is it worth approaching them? Or should I keep searching for jobs knowing better qualified people are applying for them?
Pam, via email
A) Pam, the first thing you need is a kick-ass CV. The current job market is highly competitive and, bearing in mind employers spend on average of 90 seconds scanning a CV, you have to ensure yours stands out from the crowd.
It’s your chance to show why they should hire you. Write at least six bullet points at the top as to why you are suitable for the job. Make each one a killer point and tailor your CV for the role you are applying for. And in relation to the local company you’d like to work for, of course you should approach them – what do you have to lose?
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Write a letter to the CEO, explain what you love about the company (do your research and show this in your letter) and explain what you can bring to the table. If the CEO says no, write to the chairman, then head of HR and keep trying!
Persistence and perseverance are the two words that are the foundation of my own career, so never give up.
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