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Help! Am I unemployable? :)

(26 Posts)
eastwest Wed 14-Oct-15 22:07:00

I have name changed for this because I would prefer not to be identified (though tbh my situation is a bit weird and will probably identify me if anyone happens to know me in RL, but oh well!).
Basically, I am 38 and currently self-employed in the arts. I’m not an actor, but it’s something along those lines. It’s the kind of job that people tend to think makes lots of money, but actually, for all but a very few, makes peanuts smile . It’s a very competitive area and I am getting less and less work in it. I have been doing this ‘acting’ professionally for about 7 years and have 1 dc aged 3. I also have two masters’ degrees related to my work, and for the past 5 years have taught the subject part-time at university. There is no prospect of this academic teaching work increasing – I have zero chance of getting a full time post, due to various factors (mainly, because everyone who does my kind of work wants a full time post, there are very few posts, and to get one you have to be famous, basically, to an extent which I can’t bank on ever being). Most recently I have developed and secured funding for a scheme which supports disadvantaged people who are trying to develop skills in ‘acting’.
. My income from all the above (the ‘acting’ itself, teaching it at university, project development and management) will probably be less than £10,000 this tax year. It has been around that level for some time. It’s also a very stressful field to be in, due to the competitiveness and financial insecurity, and I have to be self-starting in everything. This is a kind of job which is almost a ‘vanity industry’ in that people can only afford to be in it if they have some way of bank-rolling it, like a rich partner or parent, and I don’t have those! I really need to earn some money.
So I’m trying to think what on earth I could do, especially as my child starts school next year. It seems as if I should be able to do something, but I just don't know what. I'm not totally joking in the subject line, I am worried that I might be unemployable because I have a lot of education but so few skills that employers need. My previous experience in ‘proper work’ is all a long time ago but was admin assistant for a literacy charity (2 years), bookseller (5 years) and various catering temping jobs. Bookseller is the thing I was really professional at, but there is just no future in it, and no jobs. Developing the scheme I mentioned above has given me skills like project planning, budgeting, fundraising, plus there are transferrable skills from the ‘acting’. I also have good Word and internet skills. I would like to get into a sector which has potential for the long-term.
Which of these would you recommend?
-Training as a teacher. This is kind of the obvious one, because my work involves children to an extent, but I’ve heard such negative things from people currently in the profession, and I don’t think I would really enjoy it.
- Training as an FE lecturer (college). I have a CELTA qualification and could possibly go into teaching English as a second or other language. But again it’s a sector that’s under a lot of pressure.
- Getting a secretarial qualification, looking for some temping and then for a full-time post as a secretary or administrator. I really enjoyed being an admin assistant though it was some years ago. This seems as if it might be the most flexible area to go into, with the most potential long-term. I’m a bit worried I will be perceived as over-qualified, though, and also too old.
- Seeing if I can grow the project I developed into a charity. The trouble is I would have to put so much in, with no certainty that I’d earn enough to live on, and no security.
WWYD? Any other suggestions? I would be interested in work that has something to do with literacy promotion but I think there can't be much of that.

eastwest Wed 14-Oct-15 22:07:23

Sorry it's a bit long!

thesandwich Wed 14-Oct-15 22:12:37

Charity admin? Have a look at the guardian jobs. Worth talking to a careers advisor?

eastwest Wed 14-Oct-15 22:18:07

I don't think I have enough skills right now to get into charity admin, it's so competitive, but maybe if i got some admin skills via a job in general admin/ secretarial and then worked up/ sideways... Are there freelance careers advisors? Only ever heard of them in school!

jclm Wed 14-Oct-15 22:22:18

I'm in a similar position. I think you need to strategically work your way through a career change book (plenty of good ones on Amazon). Working through these books, you can work out where your skills and interests lie and what you want out of life at this stage (eg stay local or work during school hours etc). As I think your current list is quite narrow and restrictive. Also speak to a careers advisor (a free service). And also start volunteering to give you some different experience eg be a trustee. X

eastwest Wed 14-Oct-15 22:26:38

Glad I'm not alone jclm! Though sorry you've got the same problem smile. I am actually doing some free training on being on an Arts board and was considering applying to be a school governor next year. The trouble is, I just really need income. I will look into these careers advisors! and get a book.

eastwest Wed 14-Oct-15 22:28:38

I could look into diversifying the kind of 'acting' I do as well, but at the moment I couldn't even afford a relevant training course. I am also sick of being self employed.

MiscellaneousAssortment Wed 14-Oct-15 22:29:20

I'm sure you have loads of transferable skills and can find another profession.

I'm wondering if you want to do that or carry on running several work streams side by side as you develop projects close to your heart, but start developing other lines of work that can support you in lean times / as you develop other income streams?

If so would you be interested in doing non 'professional' type jobs as a short- mid term plan that can give you breathing space? I'm thinking tutoring / childcare/ family support. I'm suggesting that type of thing as I personally have been that other income stream for a few rather lovely people in the arts (I'm a disabled single working mum), and it fits well, excepting those moments of panic when someone gets an audition at short notice! So far I've employed / had freelancing for me an aspiring casting director, a super talented actor, and a trained actor who was moving towards children's workshops, a director, plus randomly, someone qualified in forensics who wanted to switch to art therapy as a final career to be true to her highly creative side). It's part time working which pays enough to exist on if needed. Btw I'm not talking about going through agencies or the lower end of childcare/ household care/ caring which can be a thankless grinding task for little money. One of my current employees person earns twice what you made last year, for a part time position, because of all her transferable skills that make her a real asset to me & Ds's life (bearing in mind it's in London).

Sorry I know that doesn't answer your main question, but I'd throw it out there as an alternative.

MiscellaneousAssortment Wed 14-Oct-15 22:32:29

Btw that kind of job can sustain you whilst breaking into another profession a lot of which expect a lot of graft for little pay to build up experience eg PR, events management etc

Also see about admin/ receptionist temping as potential avenues tgat don't reauire masses of retraining whilst building 'office experience' if you go in that direction..

strongandlong Wed 14-Oct-15 22:36:14

You may be able to access careers advice through the institutions you did your masters with.

The project mgmt/organisational skills developed from organising the scheme could be a perfect fit for charity admin (or project management in fact, which is usually better paid), so don't assume you're not able to go for those.

If you could spare £350 or so to do a Prince 2 qualification, that would help for project management roles.

eastwest Wed 14-Oct-15 22:37:06

Thanks, Misc, that's a really interesting suggestion! I hadn't thought of that. The thing is, I would absolutely do something like that if I were younger... but I just feel that I need some security now. I think I could perhaps, eventually, set up the charity in my spare time and have a conventional job alongside. I wouldn't totally drop the 'acting', and in fact might have more mental space to concentrate on it if I were less worried about money...

eastwest Wed 14-Oct-15 22:38:08

Crossed - yes, am keen to do temping.

eastwest Wed 14-Oct-15 22:41:40

Strong and long, do you think so? I am just at the start of this project so it would need to run through of course, but I do hope it might lead to something else. I could manage £350 for a course, yes. (We do have some reserve money). I guess I'm just so desperate to be employed instead of self employed...! smile All the careers guidance I've seen has been about 'Throw away your 9 - 5 shackles! Explore your creative wilderness!' and none about 'Flee the creative wilderness! Leap into the safe reassuring 9-5!' smile

eastwest Wed 14-Oct-15 22:43:08

the trouble is I teach at the same institution where I did my masters... on the same masters in fact... smile
Also it is too long ago and I'm no longer entitled to careers advice. I went in and asked last year.

CatMilkMan Wed 14-Oct-15 23:02:27

I started reading your OP as your title hit a nerve with me, unfortunately while reading I realised I didn't have any specific advise but I want to tell you something.
I'm going to be keeping this as anonymous as possible- I work in a team of hundreds but they are technically my employees, it's a very specific job that we do to make money but we have a large amount of support staff making it possible for the people that actually do the worksthat gets us paid.
The greatest employee I have ever hired is not someone that does the task that we get paid for, she makes it possible for people to do what they need to do.
Employing her wasn't easy, she came for an interview after being out of work while raising a family and in her opinion she wasn't suited for a job with the company but I needed her. She barely understood what we did and had no idea about how we did it.....
I'm going to stop writing now, I mean it when I said THE GREATEST EMPLOYEE EVER and she didn't have a qualification to suit the job.
I'm sorry if this makes no sense but she is a part of the core of the entire company...

I keep wanting to delete this post but I don't want to leave you alone.
I'm not explaining this very well at all.

eastwest Wed 14-Oct-15 23:18:19

smile Thanks CatMilkMan! That's very encouraging.

thesandwich Thu 15-Oct-15 08:45:45

What colour is your parachute is a great book and has website information too. Group on do cheap prince 2 courses on line. Do you use LinkedIn? Use your contacts.
Networking is the best way to get work!

NeededANameChangeAnyway Thu 15-Oct-15 08:56:16

I know someone who is a singer. She is still holding out for singing jobs but is offering tuition over Skype - could you do something like that? Would be a bit more 'flexible' in that I think she does quite a bit of evening and weekend work which may or may not suit your situation.

Sigma33 Thu 15-Oct-15 11:18:53

I am over qualified and over experienced for my current job, but wanted to take a step back for a while. I just focussed on the relevant aspects of previous jobs/qualifications on my CV.

Fortunately most of my studies have been part-time/distance learning, so I could simply leave them off my CV without there being a hole. Could you do that? Plus when I put the tasks/responsibilities of previous jobs I tailored them to the jobs I was applying for i.e. said nothing about managing staff because I only applied for jobs that don't involve managing staff.

Presumably you've had to do quite a lot of admin as you're self-employed? Tax returns, filing receipts etc etc? and the admin involved in teaching at University, surely there's some red tape there?!

You could probably put together a very strong admin CV without being dishonest, just putting down the relevant skills for an admin job that you've acquired and used in your more creative roles.

eastwest Thu 15-Oct-15 16:10:36

Thanks! I do do some evening classes but really want something where I don't always have to be my own boss/ start thing sup myself... also can't really make enough to live on that way.
I think you're right, Sigma that I will have to be economical with the truth and also pitch my CV exactly right.

thesandwich Thu 15-Oct-15 17:34:47

Another thought- LAMDA? A friend does tuition and examining? I know it is still freelance but?

eastwest Thu 15-Oct-15 21:41:33

Ah - I'm not actually an actor! I was just being discreet so as not to identify myself. It is something like acting in the sense that it's creative, freelance, the kind of thing that makes people not aware of the realities think you're wealthy as a result of it. And very insecure and hard to make a living and harder if you've not had the 'breakthrough'. Hope that makes sense smile

curiousc88t Fri 23-Oct-15 21:57:48

Nobody is unemployable

If I had the choice of someone who had no qualifications but was 200% enthusiastic v someone with qualifications, but no personality

I would pick the person with enthusiasm every time !

People with enthusiasm bring alot to the table, bring fresh ideas, positive aura, willing to learn new things, good communication etc

Widen your contacts

There was a tv programme recently where rich families paid for private tuition for their children. Maybe not what you are looking for, but may help start a new direction to help you look for jobs ?

Good luck

Roger007 Sat 24-Oct-15 10:43:19


You're certainly not unemployable.

Now that's out of the way; what you do need to determine is what area to now put your energies in to in order to identify and secure your second career.

I can certainly assist, like anyone else experienced in a careers counselling; and more than happy to look over your current CV too if that would help.

Llareggub Sat 24-Oct-15 11:27:00

You aren't unemployable. I recruit on a regular basis and qualifications are less important to me as a sign of employability. It's personality that makes someone a good employee; as they say, it ain't what you do it's the way that you do it.

I don't mean qualifications aren't important, of course they are. But a lack of an admin qualification wouldn't stop me from looking at your CV.

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