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Getting increasingly more desperate

(38 Posts)
whatkindoffreshhellisthis Mon 01-Feb-16 16:03:24

about never landing a job again.

This is my first post on mumsnet, but I have been lurking for a while before finally taking the plunge and registering.

I've been unemployed since returning to the UK about 18 months ago. I have applied for everything under the sun (and I tailor my application to each job, including my CV if it needs it) but I am still unemployed. I've had one interview but that was almost a year ago and I am getting increasingly desperate to the point that it is affecting my life. I have registered with employment agencies and pester them but...nothing. I joined a local job club but it was run by a volunteer who had been unemployed for 5 years himself and he admitted that he could probably not do a lot for me when it came to tweaking my resume. I have been to job fairs, armed with business cards and resumes but despite what was advertised, the only jobs on offer were HGV drivers, carers or retail, and none of those fit in the slightest with my CV.

I am well educated (two degrees, one of which is an M.A), speak 2 languages fluently and get by in a third (They're not very commercially exciting, but I am mentioning it because it shows I can learn new skills?). I was a tutor/lecturer before moving abroad but I do not want to go back into teaching. I would prefer to stay in education (in an admin role for instance) but I am flexible. I worked in a very, very busy admin role for the last two years that I was abroad, so I do have some background in that (not to mention all the admin I had to do when I was a teacher)

My friends and family all tell me "something will come along" (but clearly it hasn't in the last 18 months and the longer I'm unemployed, the harder it will be) and everybody seems baffled as to why I am still unemployed, which makes me feel even more of a loser. I have held off doing voluntary work so far, because I have been concentrating on getting a paid job but, would that make a difference? The only voluntary work that seems to be on offer here is working in a charity job, and I'm not sure that would make a difference on my CV.

Why am I posting here? I'm not sure...I just feel so useless and so worthless after so many rejections that I am seriously starting to wonder what the point is anymore.

dimots Mon 01-Feb-16 17:15:48

Where are you based? Some areas of the UK are very short on vacancies ATM. Could you move?

whatkindoffreshhellisthis Mon 01-Feb-16 18:28:25

Thanks for replying dimots. I am near major cities but can't move. I am not difficult about commuting so I am looking (and applying) anywhere within 1.5 car journey. It is not that I can't find jobs to apply for, I do (on average at least 2 a week), it's the fact that I get constantly rejected and not even getting to the interview stage.

I have had my cover letters and resumes checked before sending them out, I have read extensively about the dos and dont's for them etc etc.

People say it is the economy but at some point, you stop believing in that. The job I did interview for had had 130 applicants and they only interviewed 4 people. Is that always the case? Is it really "the luck of the draw"?

As I said before, not sure why I posted. I suppose I am hoping for some happy ending stories, or advice or....I don't know. Sorry if it all sounds a bit vague but it's really got to me and I am having trouble staying afloat in the sea of self-loathing I find myself in (I know it all sounds really dramatic but I can't really think of a better way to describe it.

dimots Mon 01-Feb-16 19:15:10

I understand your position. I am currently looking for work myself and it isn't easy. I have found it noticeably more difficult since I entered my 40s sadly. I too have had my CV and application forms checked and OKed, but have had only 3 interviews in the last 18 mths. One was for a job that paid only 18k, included evening and weekend work with shifts changing every week and they had 150 posts available. I failed to get one. Feeling disheartened. Currently doing factory work on a zero hours contract, but don't get hours every week.

Choughed Mon 01-Feb-16 19:59:58

Are you registered with temping agencies? Do you have any professional contacts you could lean on?

The only other thing I can think of is that there's some kind of discrimination at work- age, nationality, sex... Is that possible?

whatkindoffreshhellisthis Mon 01-Feb-16 20:04:28

Oh dimots sad I am so sorry to hear that sad As it happens, I have also just entered my 40s. I just didn't think - at this day and age where 60 is the new 40 alledgedly - that that was considered ancient sad

At first, I didn't want to go below 18k (well, I can't afford to, more like it) but now I am looking at anything over 10k.

It is soul destroying and I find it increasingly impossible to stay optimistic sad

Have you got any applications running at the moment? And what type of work are you looking for?

StealthPolarBear Mon 01-Feb-16 20:04:30

Have you been asking for feedback?

whatkindoffreshhellisthis Mon 01-Feb-16 20:43:27

choughed yes and no. I have been abroad for a number of years and when I returned to the UK, I didn't return to where I used to live (because of the low employment there).

I don't know about discrimination but after dimots mentioned it, maybe it is an age thing.

stealthpolarbear yes, I did when I had the interview but they had nothing but praise. Just that they had another candidate with a bit more experience. In all the other instances, because I don't even get to the interview stage, the standard line is "we regret that we are not able to give feedback to individual candidates at this stage"

VegasIsBest Mon 01-Feb-16 20:48:02

Hi. Sorry to hear you're having such problems. I work in education admin. If you'd like to send me a PM I'd be happy to look at your CV and see if I can make any suggestions.

Also how long ago did you do your MA? Many universities will offer career advice and support up to five years after you graduate.

wickedwaterwitch Mon 01-Feb-16 20:54:55

Hi. I think it might be because you're applying for jobs outside your field of experience. Are you? You say you were a lecturer but don't want to go back into teaching, is that right?

So I think people are looking at your cv and saying "overqualified" or "we're looking for a xxx not a lecturer"

Have you applied for teaching / lecturing jobs? Sorry if I've got that wrong though above, ignore me if so.

wickedwaterwitch Mon 01-Feb-16 20:56:42

And sympathies, that must be hard

Backingvocals Mon 01-Feb-16 21:10:20

I think perhaps you are coming across as over qualified. We would potentially have interesting jobs for someone like you but if I saw a good but general cv I'd think you didn't want this job in particular and we're looking for any old thing and would soon move on.

Although it sounds counterintuitive, I'd think about narrowing down what you want to do or identifying where you want to work and focusing on that. Making yourself invaluable in a voluntary role is a good start I think.

dimots Mon 01-Feb-16 21:14:19

I used to work in financial services and looking for analytical type roles. I have made multiple applications to the civil service (among others) as they have advertised a few roles locally. Their application forms are tortuous things and I have had only one interview with them. Have now decided I obviously am not what they want!
The feedback I have had from interviews is that I don't have enough evidence of the competencies they are looking for. All interviews and many application forms seem to be competency based ATM. I struggle with these at interview, despite prep as I am not good at selling myself and after over a year of unemployment I am running out of recent examples of competencies.

wickedwaterwitch Mon 01-Feb-16 21:18:25

Civil service sounds like a good idea as they're happy to take someone based on general skills and competencies rather than recent specific experience

Keep going with that I would, if you tick enough boxes and bone up on the competencies before interview you stand a good chance

whatkindoffreshhellisthis Mon 01-Feb-16 21:20:39

vegasisbest thank you, that's a very kind offer smile I would like to take you on it. On my tablet at the minute but when I get behind my laptop tomorrow, I will pm you smile My M.A was a lot longer than 5 years ago unfortunately.

wickedwaterwitch Maybe there might be an element of that, but I did work in an admin role in my last role, before I came back to the UK, so there is at least some experience there. I absolutely do not want to go back into teaching. I know beggars can't be choosers but I know that if I go back to teaching now, I will never get out of it again (plus, my most recent teaching experience was before I moved abroad, and that was a number of years ago). The "overqualified" label has been suggested before and it's awful sad I apply for jobs based on whether I feel it would be a good fit, not because it is a dastardly plot to get in and move up the ladder but it still seems to worry recruiters. And thank you for your kind words smile

dimots Mon 01-Feb-16 21:23:49

Believe me the civil service have got very picky lately! I think they have had head count reductions in some areas. I sent in an application form that my job centre advisor proofed and agreed was great with good, specific evidence of the relevant competencies. I scored a 4 out of 7 on the feedback. No interview.

lorelei9 Mon 01-Feb-16 21:24:50

When you said you're with agencies, are you also going for temp work? Many a temp job turns into long term or permanent work.

dimots Mon 01-Feb-16 21:26:21

I get the overqualified thing too because I have an MSc. Can't use it though. No opportunities locally.

lorelei9 Mon 01-Feb-16 21:31:02

Oh I should have said, can you take any qualifications off your CV? If you get feedback about being overqualified, it's worth a try. I was able to take my post grad off my CV because I did it at night school on top of my job. I appreciate if it fills up a year on your CV, you can't just remove it, but if you were working at the same time, then you can.

I took a step down a while ago and thought I better remove it.

whatkindoffreshhellisthis Mon 01-Feb-16 21:38:07

backingvocals ah, see, that's exactly what I fear I am up against sad I want/need/am dying to work but....I don't apply for just about anything. I only apply for roles if I feel I am genuinely interested in them because otherwise I struggle with the application form. I want my next job to be the "forever" job....does that sound horribly naive? I always try and tailor my cv to the job I am applying for but I do realise I have a varied background smile I have narrowed down that I would like to either work for the council, a university/college or a non-profit because that's where most of my experience is and I do find myself gravitating towards those type of roles. Even with those "restrictions" in place, I have found enough roles to apply for....I just don't get selected for interview sad Could I ask what field you work in?

Dimots I see why the civil service would attract smile A friend of mine set herself the goal that she wanted to work for a particular university. Over the course of 5 years she applied and applied amd applied. Never got anywhere until she applied for a job that was only for 12 months. She gave up her permanent job (that she hated) to take a chance on the 12 month uni job. 2.5 years later, she is still there but now with a permanent contract smile So, it can happen smile

AlpacaLypse Mon 01-Feb-16 21:47:56

Have you considered setting up as a 'consultant' in the line of stuff you're actually good at? Being self employed is actually ridiculously easy, my tax and NI paperwork take about five hours a year altogether.

Lots of small businesses including my own don't want to take on a full time or even part time specialist, but are very interested in a good local person who can sort out a specific problem for a fixed price.

I'm sorry you're stuck in the locality wherever it is, we're close to the M4 corridor here and no one who wants a job round here hasn't got one. It IS a bit of a micro-bubble, but it's not the only one around.

Choughed Mon 01-Feb-16 22:15:55

I think you need to do anything in the short term, just to get your confidence back.

Then you need to network like hell - LinkedIn, Chamber of Commerce, women's business networks, alumni associations, friends, family, friends of friends... Make sure you have your own "elevator pitch" ready to sell yourself at a moment's notice.

And someone said up thread, most universities give lifelong career support these days.

Best of luck, it's soul destroying I know.

Haffdonga Mon 01-Feb-16 22:27:23

My job involves helping people get jobs. Honestly, if you haven't had an interview after applying for 18 months I would say it's likely not to be anything to do with your age or your qualifications. The most common issues I come across when people are in your situation are these:

1.*Are you applying for REAL vacancies?* . What do I mean by real? The way recruitment is working these days goes like this - Company A puts a job on the vacancies section of their site and invites applications. Scanning programs scout the www and a multitude of little online agencies put the vacancy on their site and invite you to send your CV to them in the hopes that they can get a candidate in and bag the commission or get some suitable workers to place in other roles that may crop up. You send your CV to them all in the belief that you are applying for lots of different real jobs when in fact company A has already filled the post and no employer is ever getting to read your CV. Or public sector organisation B advertises a post externally to be fair and open when there's already an internal candidate lined up. So, balance your online agency applications with jobs advertised on employers' own sites that actually get read by real people. Wherever possible apply for jobs that have a named human being and company. Then follow up your application with a phone call to discuss the role. Get seen and heard.

2. Are you applying for ENOUGH jobs? I'd actually say 2 applications a week is not actually very much at all. (Think of perhaps 50 applicants per vacancy for the type job you want, so statistically you'd need to apply for nearly a year at the rate of 1 job a week to be getting your 1 in 50 chance.)

3. Are you applying for jobs you have a realistic chance of getting? Perhaps not if you're not scoring any interviews. I wonder if you're looking at jobs and thinking I'd like to do that instead of Would that employer choose me to do that? . It's very difficult to persuade an employer that a candidate who's been out of the game for a few years is as employable as the one who's already working in a similar role at the organisation round the corner. You may need to accept a job at a lower level on the career ladder than you're used to, to climb back up again. You should also be filling that gap on your CV with volunteering and gaining relevant experience by work shadowing in the type of place you'd like to work. How else have you kept yourself up to date? Courses?

4. Are you really tailoring your CV? enough? How are you tailoring it? Are you matching the skills you present very specifically to the person spec and job description? Are you identifying the areas where your previous roles correspond to the one you're applying for? Does your CV start with your education (possibly irrelevant to the employer) or your particular skills for THAT role? Are you demonstrating how you added value to the jobs you did rather than just listing a duties/ responsibilities or worse copying and pasting your previous job description?

I hope this doesn't come across as preachy. You've obviously got loads to offer but for whatever reason you're being over-looked. Hope this helps. I'd be happy to go on if it helps but it's late. [yawn]

Good luck thanks

dimots Mon 01-Feb-16 22:50:43

For those who say do anything - even low level jobs are hard to come by locally. I work in a factory zero hours. Most weeks I get offered 12 to 16 hrs, but I won't be able to take all those shifts as some will be night shifts and I have no overnight childcare. So I actually work 4 to 8 hrs a week. Some weeks I don't get offered anything. I can't register for short-term temp work as agencies require you to be available at very short notice and again I can't get the childcare in place quickly enough.

I do apply for longer term temp roles, but without success so far. I'm not especially fussy about pay - at the moment I'm on minimum wage. My work history comprises of niche roles that aren't available locally any more and wouldn't be possible to freelance - I have been made redundant more than once.

I think it is partly to do with area - I live in Wales and can't move away for family and children's schooling reasons. I accept that this limits my prospects.

IWasHereBeforeTheHack Mon 01-Feb-16 23:16:11

If you afford the time to volunteer, do so. My DD has 2 degrees but no work after graduation. She threw herself into volunteering, in a field she really wanted to work in. She took every opportunity to do outreach activities, meeting more and more people. She continued to apply for jobs. One group she came into contact with asked her if she'd be interested in working PT for them. She started on 10 hours and it's been increased twice; she's now doing 16 every week, with some sessional work as well (higher paid!).

Give it a try. What have you got to lose?

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