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Desperate for a job, please help with ideas

(21 Posts)
SleepQuest Thu 07-Apr-16 14:15:59

I am feeling desperate, depressed and terrified about my future job prospects. I would really welcome any advice. Sorry if this is a little long.

I am 43 years old, I worked for more than 10 years in the IT sector successfully here in the UK and internationally. I stopped 11 years ago when ds1 was born with special needs.
It was a really challenging time, I had another boy 2 years later (NT), I was exhausted due to ds1's sleep and behavioural issues, I dedicated my entire time and energy to helping ds1. I don't regret this, it was worth doing.

DH and I relocated within Europe due to his job, at 4yrs ds1 started at an English speaking school that agreed to have a full time one-to-one assigned to him (paid by us). I found a fantastic nanny and was able to go back to work (thanks to someone who knew me and had now started his own consultancy). This went really well although DH and I were exhausted due to lack of sleep.

At the end of year 1 the English speaking school told us they couldn't help ds1 anymore. I had to stop working, run back to the UK to find a special school for him and to settle my youngest in reception. DH had to commute weekly to the UK.

Fast forward 5 years. Dh found a job in the UK 2 years ago, the boys are settled in their schools, ds1 still has issues but much more manageable. I am ready to go back to work. I cannot go back to IT, I've been out of it for far too long. I am about to complete my AAT Level 4 studies in a couple of months. I have really enjoyed studying, I have not found it difficult at all. I naively thought this qualification would land me an entry level job without any problem, how wrong was I.

I have applied for more than 50 jobs and haven't been invited for interviews. No one wants to know. Volunteering openings within accounting want people with experience. Temping roles with people with experience.

How will I ever get experience if no-one will give me a chance? I don't have any friends who can help. I am also foreign and I am not sure if that is a problem.

I have more than 20 years of productive working years ahead of me. Please give me some hope.

OP’s posts: |
brennigbee Thu 07-Apr-16 15:52:57

I'm not so sure I have a solution at all, but I really can sympathise. I'm 40 next month, I'm lucky in that I have managed to cling on to a part time job, but it doesn't pay anywhere near enough. I left my husband 2 years ago and found myself needing to cut my hours in half as I have 3 children I'm now pretty much solely responsible for. I hunted for jobs high and low! I'm in conservation, which although is my passion, it just doesn't pay well! I tried so hard to find something else, something that would pay more but give me some flexibility around my kids. I didn't find anything.... I still work in my conservation role 22 hours a week and 6 months ago, plumped for supplementing my income with network marketing, which, I can do from home. So far, it's helping....
I'm a big believer in mindset though and although things seem hard at the moment, keep going, something will crop up.... It always does, worrying, I have discovered is a total pointless exercise (I know... It's bloomin hard not to) Just keep going x

SleepQuest Thu 07-Apr-16 16:19:08

Thank you brennigbee. Looking after your 3 children on your own is an amazing achievement. I am lucky to still have DH around. It is great that you are working and doing something you love even though the pay is not great. You've also managed to supplement your income with marketing from home, I really am in awe.

You are right, it is pointless worrying. I am usually a positive person, but this has really knocked me. I see no future. I don't mind getting a low paid job, I just want to work with a view that I can progress, develop and improve my long term chances. I will keep applying for jobs, but I need some sort of strategy to improve my chances. I just don't now what to do.

OP’s posts: |
mouldycheesefan Thu 07-Apr-16 16:25:55

Op, do you have childcare in place for school holidays and do you have other people who can take them to school, pick them up or is there breakfast club and after school club at your school?
Have you thought of volunteering to be the treasurer for local charity or PTA type organisation? Bookkeeping? As a way in

CodyKing Thu 07-Apr-16 16:28:16

Hi - CV's change in what is expected - you need to sell your sole on a covering letter with huge "I CAN"
Do not include any negative statements

Can you ring the job centre and ask if there are any CV experts that can help you? Or have a look online

brennigbee Thu 07-Apr-16 16:30:46

Thanks for your encouragement smile
You've just got to keep going haven't you! I would try and stay positive, you are clearly very talented and have lots of experience. You obviously are a determined person too, you've had difficulties and you have dealt with them fantastically well.
I have found it is tough, regardless of what people say, being a woman and trying to work too! I left work for 7 years to raise my children and when I eventually did get back into work, I found myself right back at the bottom of the ladder and had to work my way back up. I did volunteer for a little while, which did help.

DitheringDiva Thu 07-Apr-16 18:53:53

I can't see why you couldn't go back into IT? You'd need to brush up on what's current, but there'll be (free) on-line courses that can help with that. Perhaps find an IT role in the financial field, since you have an accountancy qualification?

SleepQuest Thu 07-Apr-16 20:30:27

mouldycheesefan I'm of the view that if I get a job, everything else will fall into place regarding childcare. We have breakfast club and after school club covered. The issue would be school holidays, but DH and I would have to sort that out. He wants me to get a job and knows he would need to be more involved in the boys' care.
I have thought of volunteering and have looked at 2 websites, but they want someone with experience which is not surprising as they will need someone with more than just theoretical knowledge. I have applied for bookkeeping jobs without success.

CodyKing Thanks for that suggestion, I will call the job centre tomorrow to get advice about my CV.

DitheringDiva I don't want to be identified so prefer not to say too much however my area of IT was niche and concentrated in London or other big cities. Lots of travel, long projects, not compatible with a family. I really won't be able to commute to London. It is very competitive out there and in IT you really need to be up to date all the time, a little brush up won't do.

I dream of a local/ish job that I can do within office hours so that I can be at home on time.
Did anyone out there manage to get into bookkeeping, accounts assistant, or other similar roles after a long break?

OP’s posts: |
annandale Thu 07-Apr-16 20:37:55

Just to say I had a friend who was sure she would never work again in IT due to time out - a company with 'outdated' systems snapped her up as nobody coming into IT at that time knew how to manage them.

I would talk to a careers advisor about your cv/application technique. Have you gone through agencies? Given that you have qualifications and a lot of business experience, I wonder if you are underselling yourself.

SleepQuest Thu 07-Apr-16 22:22:04

annandale that is interesting! Might be worth looking around then.
I went to Reed and spoke to a recruitment consultant who took my cv but didn't provide any advice about changes to my cv,etc. I have posted my cv on various agencies and have applied to jobs online, but no luck.
You might be right when you say I may be underselling myself. My confidence has taken a knock these years out of work.
I wonder if employers are looking at my CV and wondering why I have these gaps, I don't want to put a sob story on my CV explaining my circumstances. Reed told me it is common to have gaps and not to worry.
I would have thought that having previous work experience (albeit in a different sector) and a good qualification would help me get at least bookkeeping role? I'd be happy with that, it would be a great stepping stone into the accounting world for me.

OP’s posts: |
annandale Thu 07-Apr-16 22:37:28

Yes that's what I mean about underselling yourself! 'Please give me a bookkeeping job because I'm on my knees and don't deserve anything else' - no! Nothing wrong with bookkeeping if that's what you want to do but it sounds as if you enjoyed your previous life. I do understand what you mean about constant updating in IT, I understand it I normally crucial. However, whatever the total upheaval of parenthood has done to your confidence, the fact is that you cut it as a senior professional in the past. Go and talk to a top flight head hunter in IT. Tell them exactly what you are looking for - e.g. Contract work, part time, no travel, specific business interests. See what they say. You only need one job, not every standard job in your industry.

thesandwich Thu 07-Apr-16 22:42:50

Are you active on LinkedIn? Have a look at Google digital garage for free training. The careers service offers free advice. Could you contact ex colleagues to get some refresher experience?

SleepQuest Fri 08-Apr-16 10:41:08

annandale It's strange but I really hadn't realised just how low my self esteem is right now until I read your latest post! <maybe you should try being a life coach!>
I'm going to work on this.

thesandwich Linkedin is relatively new, when I first stopped working in 2005 I didn't have an account, but I did create one a couple of years ago and I have only about 50 contacts there. My ex colleagues are all over the place, and I cannot travel. Thanks for telling me about the digital garage, I will look into that straight away.

I have sent an email to the career service, they have sent me a phone number so I'm going to get in touch with them as well.

OP’s posts: |
thesandwich Fri 08-Apr-16 12:49:14

Have a look at forward ladies/ wire( women in rural enterprise) for networking opportunities and training. Is there a women in it type network? Often offer free mentoring for returners. Try spending time on LinkedIn developing your profile and checking in with contacts. Easy to track folk!
Also look at future learn free on line training and mooc courses- lots of brill content available for free. And please make a list of all your achievements. And keep looking at it. Your skills are really valuable!!

SleepQuest Fri 08-Apr-16 16:01:27

Thank you thesandwich

Thank you ALL ladies!!! I love you all for giving me hope and making me think a bit!

OP’s posts: |
othermotte Fri 08-Apr-16 19:11:29

Dear SleepQuest

Sending out CV’s is a demoralising process for everyone. Research shows that recruiters spend just 6 seconds to decide whether a CV a fit or not. On top of that, recruiters increasingly use software to screen for buzzwords before a human being even gets to see a CV. It’s a broken process that badly serves both employers and candidates.

The good news is that there is an alternative strategy and that’s to avoid advertised vacancies altogether.

Essentially the strategy is:

-Pick some companies that you would really like to work for
-Do research to understand their needs and challenges
-Find a way of getting to talk to someone in those companies
-Use that conversation as a bridgehead to talk to others in the company
-Match your skills and experience to the needs and challenges

People hire people they like but your CV cannot represent the richness that is you. Nor can it make the analogous connections that humans can.

For example, someone I coached recently was concerned that they were in a narrow IT niche which was getting out of date. That was the story she told herself.

But the story I heard was of someone self-taught, who had overcome significant obstacles and who had, in the past, managed a geographically and culturally dispersed team to produce great results. They found someone with a similar need and got hired.

Think about your personal qualities, the obstacles you have overcome and results you have achieved.

Just like in Dragon’s Den, if you can get in front of the decision maker, they evaluate the personal qualities not the checklist of skills. If they like you, they will fix on the reasons for hiring you and put aside the areas where you are weaker...curiosity, reliability and persistence are rare qualities.

If you want to know a bit more, then check out the first of five free (10 minute) videos that I am producing, entitled “Five Key Mindsets to Get Your Next Job” which you might find useful.

You can find the first video, The Networking Mindset at this link.


Parsley1234 Fri 08-Apr-16 19:20:48

If you're more interested in getting a foot in the door what about a modern apprenticeship ? No age restriction and some offer really good experience or what about a temp agency ? I have been looking for a part time job to fit in with my other job very specific monday and wednesday only and have just got a really good opportunity ! It can be done and I only ever called people up never did cvs good luck !

HildurOdegard Fri 08-Apr-16 19:35:25

As you have probably already figured out - getting a "proper software" job over the age of 40 is fucking hard. Double that if you're a woman and then times it by 10 if you've taken 10 years out. Technologies move so fast - never mind the fact that engineering principles remain evergreen.

Unless your previous niche was eg COBOL I think you have the following options:

1) get your pm qualifications up to date, prince is "general" - real tech firms prefer PMI
2) get a big bucket of "mindset" and strike out independently - tech solutions for others. It never ceases to amaze me how IT illiterate most are - we tend to take it for granted what we know
3) leave IT to the young and go off and so whatever the heck you'd like to do (20 years ago it was about the smarts - so I know you're clever and can turn your hand to anything).


A 40-something disillusioned former technical international PM who ditched tech firms and struck out on her own with an interesting (to me!) pivot but which very much utilises former skills.

KingLooieCatz Sat 09-Apr-16 08:40:43

I know you're not going to lead with your family life, but in terms of how you think about your skills and abilities - don't overlook the resilience and perseverance you have shown raising your family. I used to work in prison management, my brother works in IT and when I need to re-locate he suggested applying for a project management post with his company as they would value the mindset developed in a career where you can never cancel or delay - IT projects can stall for a while but prisons have to happen 24/7 no matter what, much like families, especially if your children have special needs. You have kept going and achieved positive results for your family despite all the challenges.

PastaLaFeasta Wed 13-Apr-16 14:52:40

I'm searching for advice as I'm almost in a similar position - I am going to start looking for jobs in summer so I can start working when my youngest starts school. I have my AAT level 3 and started L4 but stopped as I'm not sure whether it's going to make me over qualified and under experienced. I am volunteering but have the same problem with finding accounting roles as I'm not a qualified and experienced accountant. I have pushed for a little finance work in these roles but am hoping that just having recent office experience will count for something. I'd recommend finding a volunteer role like this as it has boosted my confidence and I've got three fab references when needed.

I potentially have a paid internship but only because I pestered someone I met at a careers event, I recommend having a look on the AAT events page for careers days near you. I've also been considering popping into local accountancy branches to see if I can shadow or get work experience - just like a 14 year old. Have you been to the big recruitment companies? I was hoping to get a bit of guidance on my chances so I can book in the child care knowing I will get a job to pay for it but they really don't seem interested unless I want work right now.

oops better go on the school run.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Sat 16-Apr-16 15:58:33

'getting a "proper software" job over the age of 40 is fucking hard. Double that if you're a woman and then times it by 10 if you've taken 10 years out...

....leave IT to the young'

Ouch. Ouch. Triple ouch. It's thinking like that which makes life 10 times harder for women, and helps to reinforce negative attitudes to them.

As an over-40 female software developer, with a 5 year gap securely under her belt, I can absolutely assure you that I am not written off, as my current employer would hopefully testify!

IT is not the same game it was when I entered the profession 20 odd years ago. Then everyone was young, but it has grown up a lot since. We all got old, even the blokes. Experience is highly valued. As a consequence you don't get odd looks if you're still coding at 50. Technology rapidly evolves, so the crucial thing is to be constantly learning and picking up new skills. You have to do that even if you don't have a gap in your CV.

To the op, IT is a wide descriptor, and you don't give any indication of what area you worked in. But don't rule it out entirely. After my gap, I spent a year rebuilding my technical skills and then moved to a different business sector to that I was in before. I never thought I'd be happy to change industries, but probably because technology has moved on and become so much more exciting - I'm so glad I did. (Beforehand I used to enjoy the technical side of the industry more than the IT itself.)

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