Many very highly qualified and intelligent people cannot find the job they really want, or at least cannot find it immediately. The economy is delivering different roles and losing many traditional ones. For popular careers there are many, many candidates; it is hyper-competitive and five into two just will not go. Therefore, some talented people will need to take a different route.
- On this site there is an article, The Value of Entry Level Jobs. It is a shame if after years of study and hard work people cannot use their knowledge and talents. It is frustrating if circumstances dictate that for money an unsatisfying job has to be taken. This may be the reality, but it doesn’t mean it is the conclusion. It is a step in the correct direction, just a small one. For it to be a valuable side-step the individual needs to determine the learning that can be taken from it.
- ‘Underemployment’ is a fact of the economy today. It isn’t solely applicable to young people making the transition from education to work. For many experienced employees there wasn’t the option of the perfect role. One typical factor is these individuals are unsure of what would give life a purpose. They struggle to describe what would stir and motivate them, so they are unable to focus their job hunt activity. They are firmly in the 80% of people who do not enjoy their job.
In the 1990s a management guru named Charles Handy predicted many people would have a ‘Portfolio’ of roles. Unlike the traditional model of a ’job for life’, there would be an alternative way of earning a living, having more than one job at the same time.
We read about some people in lowly paid jobs, with limited hours and maybe little security, working for two or three employers just to survive. Handy’s vision, explained in his book, ‘The Empty Raincoat’, is multiple roles in which the person moves between them successfully and satisfyingly.
One way this is coming to fruition is freelancing. Whilst there are a number of ways this can happen, and one example is picking up projects online. There is an ever-increasing number of sites connecting managers with projects and no in-house support, with people with the skills and scope to provide, on an ad hoc basis, the talent.
There are many sites for obtaining freelance work and the best one for your skills and focus will change over time. Do your research to see which are rated for good quality work, reasonable rates and other factors.Like any work, taking projects does mean it has to be delivered to an acceptable level. It is very easy to gain a reputation for taking money under false pretences.
One of the key sections on this site is self-employment. As a way to earn a living and feel in control it is brilliant for some people, but for others it would be a very stressful situation.
In essence, there are two reasons to start a business;
- The thought of owning a company is compelling
- There is a great idea for the business to deliver.
Work Horizons emerged from discussions about how we could help people who had been out of the workplace for a while, those who had never worked and the majority of employees who don’t enjoy their job. It became clear the optimum route was to create this membership website, which needed to be a business. Our principles and values came first, a legal mechanism followed.
Each of the founders of Work Horizons have been running their own business for some years and this is an exciting and stimulating add-on. It gives us another aspect of our purpose and meaning being put into action.
Creating a CV from little experience
For people moving form education to work this may be a particularly difficult task. Of course, some people have worked before going to university and have a story to tell. However, the vast majority of people leaving school, college or university have little substantive employment to describe.
Remember the CV has two roles:
- It gets the candidate through the sift and into the next stage of selection, often the interview
- It sets part of the agenda for the interview
It is now true more than half of students do other work, perhaps during the holidays. So, make the most of any experience and describe;
- The personal discipline of attending and operating
- Problem solved
- Relationships created
- The fun
- The working environment
- The difficult conversations managed
- Customers served
With a minimum of thought the CV can be a stronger document.
Being a prefect at school or treasurer of a university society are interesting but won’t be persuasive. Show you make a contribution and a difference.
There is some debate about the ethics of employing interns. Is it fair of companies to take advantage of people, just because they can? Does it discriminate against younger people from less wealthy families? Should there be at least minimum wage or living wage paid? If there was a need for a salary, would it reduce or even eliminate internships?
To look at the issue from the other perspective, is an internship valuable to the individual?
The CV of someone directly out of education will, in all probability, have limited work experience. An Internship is one way of acquiring a credible addition.
Perhaps, more importantly, it has the potential to be a brilliant time. Knowing what work is actually like and to experience the disciplines and creativity close up cannot be found outside of an organisation.
This an opportunity to display what you say at, for example, an interview. You are committed, after all this was not remunerated, or if it was, at a low rate. You were there, you made contributions way I excess of the level expected, you were there on time and didn’t leave at the second of the end of the day; or did you?
Probably the best thing about starting something new is the rapid progress up the learning curve. You are being given the chance to absorb masses of learning. If you see this as exciting you will make the most of it.
Remember to note all of the extra you are taking in because it will help ‘sell’ you at the next interviews.
It may lead directly to a job
Sometimes, but definitely not always, the organisation will be adequately impressed with the Intern to offer substantive employment. Perhaps on a training scheme, but it certainly a compliment and worth shouting about.
Knowing the company is an advantage but do remember there are others and you may still like to look around and not just take the first offer made.
Despite all of the research and thought, sometimes people go into the wrong job or even career. We cannot know what it will be like until we do it.
However, many people also don’t give themselves or the job long enough to know what it is really like. Our general advice is see a whole cycle, probably twelve months. It may be a training programme allows or requires movement around an organisation to see different departments or functions. This does give a great chance to learn, experience and decide on the immediate future.
But sometimes the original decision turns out not to be the right one for you. You have tried hard, given it enough time and made every effort but it isn’t working out as you hoped. It is a brave decision to try something else, but this whole site is predicated on intelligent and informed decision making. If you need to make a move, know to where you want to go and why. Making a change can be a positive, lurching aimlessly from one job to another may adversely impact on the medium to long-term future.
Dealing with knock-backs is fundamental, even in a job which is great. Nobody has a seamless and problem free career. Having issues isn’t the issue, how you deal with it is:
- Learn from every situation, even those in which you see yourself as blameless.
- Don’t become cynical. Nothing disappoints a manager than seeing a positive and vibrant person turning into a cynic, looking at life as if simultaneously sucking a lemon. Employers want people with a thirst for success, for helping colleagues and for achievement. There are people who think they are funny by being cryptic and sceptical, and maybe they do raise a smile, but they are also deciding their fate in regard to that company or promotion or being given interesting challenges
You may have read books which discuss your ‘personal brand’. Although this has become a bit of a cliché, it is true that you must be able to describe what makes you ‘You’, and how that differentiates you from other candidates:
- Are you brighter?
- Are you more flexible?
- Are you more experienced?
- Are you a better problem solver?
- Are you more energetic?
- Are you a natural team player?
- Do you have a drive to be the ‘best’?
- Are you totally committed to the career or role you are you pursuing?
- Do you have a specialism?
- Do you have a set of personal principles which are described and maintained?
When you leave an interview, will you have left a clear impression of an excellent candidate? This doesn’t mean you will inevitably get the job because there may be another person with even more experience or alignment with the role, but it does give you a great chance to represent yourself well.