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I'm a professional but why can't I get a job?

(17 Posts)
Karenhappuch Tue 05-Jul-11 18:46:42

I was made redundant in April 2010 when I was 10 weeks pregnant. To be fair, the company I worked for had no idea so I can categorically say that wasn't the reason for the redundancy - just bad luck. I decided that even though I wasn't obliged to tell a prospective employer about my impending arrival I would feel guilty if I didn't and seeing as the chances of securing a position whilst pregnant were zilch then I would wait until the baby was a couple of months old before I started to look for work.

Fast forward over a year. My baby is now 8 months old, I have now been looking for a position for 6 months but I still havn't secured one despite having 4 interviews already. I'm waiting to hear from the last one but I feel like I didn't do my best and that I babbled and wasn't specific enough with my answers. No matter how much preparation I do I still suffer from nerves and managed to muck it up.

It doesn't help that prior to my last position (which I was only in for 6 months) I had a 4 year 'career break' as a SAHM. I did however manage to set up an e-commerce site form home which earned me a bit of pocket money and kept me busy. The problem now is that all my 'relevant' experience is becoming a distant memory and I am being pitched against candidates who are currently working in my profession whose knowledge is fresh.

The problem is I don't want to waste all the relevant experience I do have (which will hopefully come back to me when I'm 'on the job') or the time I spent getting a degree, a postgrad degree and a professional qualification. On paper I look like a strong candidate. The problem arises when I start to talk about my experience and no matter how I try I'm sure I come across as rather muddled instead of professional.

Like I said, I'm waiting on feedback from the interview I had last week but I'm not holding out much hope. I've even applied for a PA position today which would be a change in direction. I spent ages writing a covering letter explaining how the skills I have are transferable and why I would be good at the job only to receive an automated response from the recruitment consultancy saying if I've not heard anything within 4 weeks I should presume my application has been unsuccessful. I am going on holiday within the next week so rang the consulatant up to speak to her to let her know. Unsurprisingly she was busy and has failed to return my call angry.

Is there anyone else out there who feels like I do or is experiencing similar? Any advice on how to do better in an interview after not working for many years would be appreciated.

Sorry for the really long post blush

MelodyMeringue Tue 05-Jul-11 22:15:54

What line of work are you in?

What was the PA job? Don't be under any illusion that being a PA is a soft option. Some PA jobs are bloody hard work!

Karenhappuch Tue 05-Jul-11 23:04:46

I didn't say that I thought it would be a soft option. I have a business qualification and I believe that a lot of the skills I have are easily transferable. What I meant was that I have been forced to look at other options - widen my search and not be too focused on one particular career path.

It would seem however that unless you have experience in that field you are automatically disqualified from applying, even though you may have the appropriate skill set.

cat64 Tue 05-Jul-11 23:13:02

Message withdrawn

cat64 Tue 05-Jul-11 23:15:21

Message withdrawn

Kudza Tue 05-Jul-11 23:16:03

Definitely know how you feel Karen, I have been to a few interviews myself and have not been successful. I felt so sad to begin with, but now it feels like I am on an interview course, I have told myself that I should learn something from every interview. i did ask for feedback from the last interview and actually they liked my personality and they thought I had very good selling skills , but they were not looking for a sales person, so now I now where to improve (definitely not sales techniques).

So probably try and ask for feedback , see what they say you lacked and work on it. All the best.

Mollydoggerson Tue 05-Jul-11 23:19:48

You need to do some relevant voluntary work to rebuild your active job history. Keep applying while also maybe doing 1 evening per week vol. work.

MollieO Tue 05-Jul-11 23:29:07

If you have been getting interviews then there is clearly nothing wrong with your lack of current work experience. If that really was an issue you wouldn't even get an interview. It sounds as if you need to hone your interview skills. It's hard not to suffer from a lack of confidence having been made redundant relatively early in resuming your career so you need to work on your skills to project yourself confidently and match what you have presented on paper.

I was made redundant and it took 3 months to find another job. I found it difficult not least because the recruitment agent said if I hadn't found a job within 3 months I'd be virtually unemployable in my chosen field. Having said that the agent was very good at doing mock interviews with me which helped me deal with some frankly daft interview questions I encountered. Good luck.

MelodyMeringue Wed 06-Jul-11 00:04:58

It's tough out there at the moment. You just need to keep plugging away and not get too despondent. The right job will come up.

If you do want to become a PA then you really need to build up solid skills in terms of managing diaries, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and be able to work very fast and think ahead. However, think very carefully about this route. It is not for the faint hearted and Directors are generally not know for their tact or patience! You also need to be very assertive otherwise you will be running around looking after every Tom, Dick and Harry!!!

Karenhappuch Wed 06-Jul-11 11:09:53

Thanks for the replies.

cat64 I appreciate that it's an employers market and that there are other more up-to-date candidates. However, I am getting the interviews - just not doing very well in them because my experience (although I have it) is not fresh. I have tried to practise going through answers in front of the mirror and with my husband and everything is fine. It's just when I get into that interview situation that the problem arises.

Kudza It does make you feel quite down doesn't it? I've got had feedback from the other interviews - the first said I was too nice lol! the second one was a small business just starting out and they changed direction but their comments were positive and the third one said they gave the job to someone with more experience even though it was a more junior role than I'm used to (can't quite work that one out).

Molly I would love to do voluntary work but its just not practical. I have three children, one at school, one at nursery 3 days a week and the baby at home. I can't afford to pay someone to look after the baby while I volunteer. To be honest, I'm not sure that's the issue as I am getting the interviews, just not doing very well in them.

MollieO I think you've hit the nail on the head. I'm not that confident with my answers as my experince isn't fresh. Put me in that situation 10 years ago and I would probably do very well.

Melody I've always considered being a PA but didn't do anything about it while I was in employment. I suppose if I'm going to change my career then now is probably a good time. I've worked very closely with directors before so I know what they are like to work with/for and I am pretty good with word/excel/powerpoint etc. I just need someone to have a bit of confidence in my abilities and give me a go smile.

AlpinePony Wed 06-Jul-11 12:41:19

Can I ask why you're looking at a PA role when you're so highly qualified? What were your degrees in and what did you do in your 'previous life'?

I give a terrible interview too so am lurking here for tips!

Karenhappuch Wed 06-Jul-11 13:38:15

I think I would enjoy the work Alpine. The position I applied for pays between £25k to £30k which would be fine because it's so close to home. If I had to travel into the city centre for instance I would probably be looking for a bit more but this job is literally down the road which has to be worth a good £5k to me.

I have a law degree and a postgraduate diploma in business admin. I also have the ICM qualification as I was (and to a certian extent still am) a credit manager but it just seems like there are too few jobs out there in my field. The average salary for a Credit Manager is about £35k plus benefits (car, healthcare, pension etc.) and usually there is a bonus equivalent to about 10% of your salary (this is only in my experience though and in my area. Salaries are probably higher in London).

I think I've realised that my lack of confidence in interview stems from the fact that my experience is from quite a while ago. I think they do say to draw on the previous 12 months experince when answering competency based interview questions which makes sense really. I'm not sure what I can do to resolve this apart from keep going for interviews until I eventually get it right.

I've found some good interview tips on you tube. A lot of it is common sense though. It's so difficult putting it into practise, especially when you've been used to talking to an 8 month old all day, every day lol.

The best interview I had was about 15 years ago and I asked the interviewer nearly as many questions as he asked me. In the end the job didn't suit because there was too much (worldwide) travel involved and I'd just got married but the feedback I got was really positive and I made a very good impression. At the time I remember feeling confident about my skills and my responsibilities - not something I can say at the moment unfortunately.

I hope you manage to pick up some tips to help you in your next interview Alpine

planks2short1s Wed 06-Jul-11 13:50:20

I feel your pain. I am a public sector worker and not much going on in this market right now. The actual job I do is not available in the private sector.

I have spent ages applying for jobs for which I would have to take a significant pay cut, as I realise I would have to start at the bottom again. The jobs use many similar skills to my current position, yet I have yet to even recieve a response to any of the applications (not even a thanks but no thanks!)

No chance of retraining as one of the reasons I am looking to change jobs is the stupid amount of hours I am expected to put in, meaning I see far to little of dh and dd as it is.

It sucks! I feel completely trapped!

AlpinePony Wed 06-Jul-11 14:00:10

I very much agree BTW about the lack of flexibility in switching between industries. Just a couple of months ago I applied for 'my role' (better money/location) and they rejected me by midday (I applied at midnight). I followed up with a 'can you tell me why I was unsuccessful yada yada?' Email and got the response that they were looking for someone with petro-chemical experience - the role was for IT!

confusedperson Wed 06-Jul-11 18:11:01

OP, can you think of upgrading your skills while looking for a job? I have been working in the same job for 4.3 years, so in a different position, however I feel if I want to change the job I would not be a credible candidate - my degrees are old, I am currently on maternity leave, lost my confidence and don't feel that I can justify my professionalism in any interview. By the way, I am in credit area, so similar to yours. Hence I decided to pursue a popular accountancy qualification in order to be more up to date and more "marketable" in the job market. Then if I am not able to change to a better credit job, I hope I can always get a job in finance.

MollieO Wed 06-Jul-11 20:19:08

I have very recent work experience but at one interview was asked to discuss in detail what work I'd done over 20 yrs ago.

If you can practice interview answers I'm sure that would help you. The hardest thing is getting the interview so you clearly are doing very well to get four. What you need to do now is translate those in to job offers. When I lost my job I hadn't had an interview for over 20 yrs (I'd always been approached to move jobs so hadn't applied for a job in all that time). I found it really scary but had three second interviews out of three applications and three job offers. I was myself at interviews and didn't try to be something I'm not.

MelodyMeringue Wed 06-Jul-11 21:05:18

Whereabouts are you?

Can you link to the job? (Understand if you don't want to!)

I'm in the M4 corridor (west of London). Historically, there have always been loads of fairly well paid PA jobs but they are very thin on the ground at the moment and £25k to £30k is the going rate for an experienced PA. Every now and again a job pops up around the £35k mark but they are high level blue chip jobs. I know one PA who works for the Chief Exec of one of the big mobile phone providers who is on £40k but she is on call 24/7 and spends her life in a state of permanent exhaustion (not ideal!).

I have a degree. There are lots of smart PAs out there and it's certainly not out of the ordinary for PAs to have degrees these days. In fact, I know of a young lady with a law degree who is an HR Administrator who applied for a PA job (to a director) within her current company. She didn't even get an interview.

I know this all sounds very negative. It is not supposed to be! If you truly want someone to give you a chance then you may better off setting your sights slightly lower. My first PA job was working for the MD of a small-ish company. It was a good start but the best experience I have had is by temping and contracting. People have lots of different ideas of what a PA is but by far the best environment to learn is within a blue chip (if you can get into one!).

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