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Feel like I am going to explode - work related

(16 Posts)
theworkofsatan Mon 20-Jul-15 12:28:39

I work in a firm of solicitors and I work directly for one of the partners, who is currently off work ill. He will be off until at least the middle of August.

To cut a very long story short the firm that I work for has cut back on staff to the point where there is simply no one to cover for anyone who might be off sick or on holiday. We have not had any pay rise (not even cost of living) for ten years. If I have a holiday then no one does "my" work and it is just left piling up until I get back.

My work load is ridiculous and then on top of that I am interrupted constantly throughout the day with clients calling in without an appointment, phone calls (with legal questions that I should not be asked to deal with), colleagues coming into my office (I sit on my own) for a "chat" or to ask questions about things that I don't know anything about (for example asking me what was said during meetings that I was not present at), and so it goes on. I am never just allowed to get on with my own work.

Last week there were several client complaints about my boss and the other partner made me sort them out, rather than deal with them himself.

They employed another solicitor to help the partner that I work for but he was sacked after two months because he was not competent. I was told last week that I just needed to manage things and that no help was on offer because they need another secretary in conveyancing (I work in private client) and that I would just have to cope with it all.

I am sitting here and my mind is blank. I can't concentrate on anything and the smallest request from anyone is likely to make me explode. I just cannot do this any more.

We do not have a HR department. There are two partners but as I said one is off ill and the other has a "if you don't like it then you can have your P45" mentality.

If I did not have a child I would walk out without another job to go to as this is making me ill. It has been like this for years and I have come to the end of my tether.

SparkleZilla Mon 20-Jul-15 13:04:49

start browsing etc?

SparkleZilla Mon 20-Jul-15 13:05:15

If its so shit there, then why arent you looking for other work?

theworkofsatan Mon 20-Jul-15 13:45:19

I am looking for other jobs, and have been sending off my CV to various places. In the meantime I am not coping at all and it's becoming harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning.

flowery Mon 20-Jul-15 14:22:25

If it's been like that for years and you've (presumably) been looking for other jobs throughout that time then you need to take stock and reassess your job hunting if you're not getting anywhere with that.

Have you been getting interviews?

theworkofsatan Mon 20-Jul-15 14:50:38

No, I haven't even been getting any responses to applications. My CV is weird in the sense that before DS I had a very good managerial job in the logistics sector, which meant working a lot of hours outside of normal childcare provision, ie nights and weekends. On my CV I have two logistics jobs and then it just seems that I decided to be a legal secretary when that isn't actually what happened.

When I had DS two things happened. Firstly my former husband's ex girlfriend killed herself and his daughter came to live with us. He had the better paying job at that time and I had just had DS so it seemed appropriate for me to not go back to work after my maternity leave and look after both children.

Then my ex and I split up. I didn't have a job and my ex was not prepared to do anything in terms of childcare so I needed something that would work with nursery hours. I joined a recruitment agency and was placed where I am now. After three days of temping they offered me a full time position. The hours were 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday so this suited in terms of hours and location because it's literally a mile down the road from where I live. DS was a baby at that point and I managed to get him into a nursery FT.

I needed the structure of those hours for a long time and it's only recently that my DS needs less in terms of paid for childcare.

So I have a problem in that my CV possibly looks "over qualified" for many things that I am applying for (mainly admin at the moment) but I absolutely do not want to continue working in a firm of solicitors. There is no advancement, unless you have a training contract, and from seeing how much stress the fee earners are under I do not want to go down that road. Then on the flip side my CV looks under qualified for applying for jobs that I actually want to do, and have done successfully in the past.

Also, I am now ten years outside of the field that I used to work in, so it will be very hard to get back into that. I do not have any formal FE qualifications, no degree etc.

I feel trapped in this job and I can't see how to get out of the spiral that I am in at the moment.

Unexpected Mon 20-Jul-15 15:09:57

If things are as bad as you say and you have been out of your managerial sector for 10 years, you need to stop trying to change job and change back to that sector in one go. You need to get out of your current role and if a first step has to be to another admin role, then so be it. You could make steps back to your previous career, perhaps by applying for jobs with logistics or transport companies?

I'm afraid I also don't agree that you look over-qualified for applying for admin jobs. You have been out of your desired field for 10 years, that's an eternity in the working world today. With 10 years of legal secretary work behind you, you should be eminently employable in an office role. If you are not getting interviews, I think there is another reason. It might be worth getting someone to have a look at your CV with a professional eye.

arnieschwartzsnogger Mon 20-Jul-15 21:54:20

I think you'll find that a lot of PAs and Admins have degrees these days so I doubt if you are as over qualified as you think you are.

I would just get out and into another role where there is a possibility that you could do something different long term.

Tanfastic Mon 20-Jul-15 21:59:40

Op I work in a very similar role to yourself. You are not alone. It's thoroughly shit sometimes and I totally get your initial post, I think a lot of people who work in solicitors offices will.

I have no advice about how to deal with the situation you are in, it's a case of put up or shut up, that's how it is unfortunately and in the office set up you describe (which sounds pretty much the same as where I work) you have nowhere to go and nobody will help. You are completely stuck in the situation you are in.

You need to get out. That is your only option or just get on with it, as brutal as that sounds. Do you have an office manager?

Have you thought about joining a temping agency? I know where I live good legal secretaries are like rocking horse shit, they are very few and far between. The last couple of staff I've taken on I've had to train from scratch. When I last enquired with a temping agency for a legal secretary to cover maternity leave they did not have any and the really good ones were snapped up, they were crying out for experienced legal secretary temps. The money may not be what you want but I expect it won't be as bad as what you think.

Oh and I've only had one wage rise in nine years too wink.

Tanfastic Mon 20-Jul-15 22:11:35

Sorry just seen you want to get out of solicitors offices. It's difficult isn't it, I've been trying for years!

flowery Tue 21-Jul-15 09:12:53

Ok well from your last post the issue seems to be that you are not clear exactly what you want to do, are applying for, or considering applying for very different types of jobs, and it's likely your CV reflects that.

Your CV should be tailored to the specific job you are applying for, playing up the skills and experience they are looking for, and using all those key words, and skimming over or even sometimes leaving out entirely things that are not relevant.

Sounds like you need some work on your CV and on clarifying exactly what next step you do want to take, as opposed to what you don't want to do.

Ragwort Tue 21-Jul-15 09:18:59

Agree that you need to tailor your CV to the sort of jobs you are looking for - on paper I am vastly over qualified for the job I do (sorry if that sounds boastful blush) but the job suits me at my stage in life .......... so I wrote my CV accordingly ie: instead of 'Director of X' I put something like 'worked in X department'. No one is likely to check every single detail so long as you show that you have the necessary skills to do the job you are applying for.

No one can just use one CV these days.

And use personal contacts etc to help in your search for jobs, that's how I got mine.

Scoobydoo8 Tue 21-Jul-15 09:20:55

Approach recruitment agencies, see if anyone there can advise. A temp legal secretary can't be as bad as a full time, as they know you can leave.

What is the pay for temping?

You need to get some advice to make you more positive, you come over very negatively (understandably). Can you phrase things as now your DS is off your hands (not really) you can't wait to restart your career/ gain more responsibility / seek promotion/ return to your chosen field - so you come over as keen, in whatever it is.

Biscuitless Fri 24-Jul-15 23:38:28

Poor you! You have received some great practical advice about job hunting but I am also concerned about your physical and mental wellbeing and it may be that you aren't up to dealing with job hunting at the moment on top of the stress of the job - but it is a vicious circle as until you get out of that situation, it is not going to get better and you are never going to be able to be in that position to feel up to dealing with things.

The reason I raise this is that someone very close to me also went through a period of intense stress at work. Something he said echoed what you say in your OP and therefore I mention it in case you are at this stage. He said that it got to the stage where his brain simply couldn't take any more information in. His work had proper support systems and he was diagnosed as just suffering from stress and exhaustion, with the remedy being a reduction in workload to normal levels and lots of rest (not even any time off work).

You therefore do need to take it seriously and if you are starting to feel like you can't cope, you can't just go on like that any more (I think you know that). The problem is that if you are overwhelmed, you are not going to be feeling up to the big things like CVs and interviews. You need to look after number one first.

Could you go and talk to your GP and see if they can offer any support? Alternatively, it sounds like you are really conscientious, but this isn't being repaid with any gratitude - so maybe cut yourself a bit of slack, and try to ignore some of the pressure? Upwards delegation is often useful - ask the other partner which of the x, y, z things on your list does he want you to do as you can only do one of them.

Sazzle41 Sat 01-Aug-15 12:22:49

Join a legal temp agency - where i live they are like gold dust and earn way more than other PA's. But thats London. Then once you are out do as other poster said and get into a logistics company on an admin role and get back that way. Also, BTW I have a degree and am a PA. PA's with degree's are highly desirable in London and earn a lot more and are more likely to get the job to the biggest cheese of all rather than lower down the food chain roles.

PLUtoPlanet Wed 12-Aug-15 11:52:15

Short-term, lay it out for the remaining partner that either you lock your door or your work from home (all with an out of office reply on e-mail stating that you will not be able to deal with any but X matters. No clients without appointments. No "chats." No legal questions that you're not qualified to answer: there could be serious problems from that one!) - otherwise, you will get signed off sick, and they will have no-one.

The extra stuff you have to deal with is just ridiculous, so let someone else do it... maybe that will create an incentive for change.

Longer-term, of course get out of there! Even if the above works, that still represents time and energy completely wasted on "policing" your workload!

Good luck! Those partners sound utterly incompetent managers, and they richly deserve to get the business failure which is coming to them!

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