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Jobs where you can progress starting at the bottom

(30 Posts)
Lookingbackatme Tue 10-Nov-20 14:19:28

I’ve been a SAHM for 5 years and now want to go back to work. On reflection I feel like such an idiot for coasting along in a job I didn’t like and which had no progression opportunities (unless it was a team leader).

I’m looking for ideas on what sorts of job sectors can offer progression if you start at/near the bottom and can work your way up. I’m definitely not able or want to return to University (have a BA). I’m mid-40s so not young anymore either.

Maybe a career coach would be a good idea to help me hone what interests me? I get so many ideas floating around but how many are actually realistic is questionable - I wish I had become a nurse but that’s not possible now for a few reasons; charity roles do interest me if it’s more behind the scenes; I find what Buyers do interesting (I used to deal with them all the time) but I don’t have the financials smarts to be one but maybe Buyers Assistant instead (but then there is no further for me to go).

I do know that I am not interested in Sales of any type, or being on the phone a lot.

Unfortunately I need to earn reasonable money in the future so I can’t be one of those who do a job they love for little money - I need to find a job I am good at and enjoy, but also has the potential to pay well if I am able to earn a promotion. Or maybe I’ve missed the boat for this given my work background and age?

I worked in a global company for years dealing with large companies who purchased stock from us - so I had my own customers who I dealt with ie supermarkets, online & High St retailers so not the general public - processing purchase orders, queries, updating our product info on their websites, complaints, providing marketing info like images and copy, working with inventory for stock/forecasts, preparing reports etc. The job required a great deal of accuracy and dealing with many departments but I could kick myself for just plodding along (it paid very well).

I’m just feeling lost and annoyed with myself for being so unmotivated in the past blush

OP’s posts: |
Hollyhocksarenotmessy Wed 11-Nov-20 10:16:07

HR can be good for this, but getting g that first entry can be difficult. I started as HR admin in my 40s in 2015, I'm now in a senior role (moved companies 3 times for progression). Next role I'll be looking for £45K+.

Talkingtothemoon Wed 11-Nov-20 11:24:20

@Hollyhocksarenotmessy thanks for your reply. Have you done any study to further your progression or has it mainly been in-house training?

Mrswalliams1 Wed 11-Nov-20 11:30:03

I'm really interested to follow this thread. I was in middle management until my twins were born and I was made redundant. I've not worked for 7 years. I'm interested in going into HR and am currently studying CIPD employment law level 5 but all the jobs I see want HR experience so it's difficult to get a foot in the door.

DoubleHelix79 Wed 11-Nov-20 11:34:58

Perhaps accounting could be worth a look? I am not an expert, but my impression is that quite few employees will take on people with the basic qualifications an then support them while they complete higher level qualifications over the years. Attention to detail would certainly be an advantage.

ClaudiaWankleman Wed 11-Nov-20 11:36:11

I agree with PP who mentions HR.

Accountancy/ Bookkeeping would meet your progression targets OP. You would be required to do exams, probably AAT, but the learning can be done on the job. Starting as a payables/ receivables clerk, in theory the sky is the limit (but you might peak doing small business treasury stuff just because that's where the majority of work is).

There can be good progression opportunities in school admin - I am aware of several acquaintances who started as receptionists and have moved into general admin, then more specialist admin (like A level secretary, school trips and H&S etc.) and then one who is now school business manager.

silverfonze Wed 11-Nov-20 11:37:09

Have a look at Royal Mail. Decent pay and often can get in at Christmas / seasonal

silverfonze Wed 11-Nov-20 11:38:04

Or bus driving / tube / trainer / lorry driving

All high pay esp train or lorry is usually start around £40k and can pick up overtime etc

Gwenhwyfar Wed 11-Nov-20 11:39:36

silverfonze

Or bus driving / tube / trainer / lorry driving

All high pay esp train or lorry is usually start around £40k and can pick up overtime etc

She asked for jobs where you can progress though, not just higher paid jobs.

ClaudiaWankleman Wed 11-Nov-20 11:40:10

@Mrswalliams1 To get a foot in the door - have you considered/ approached any companies that do outsourced payroll activities? Payroll clerk was traditionally the 'lowest rung' of the HR ladder, but is now regularly outsourced.

As I understand it, responsibilities would include preparing pay slips, overall payroll journals (numbers to be input by a business to their accounting software), advising NI and pension contributions etc. which are then passed back to the client for review and actioning.

Gwenhwyfar Wed 11-Nov-20 11:40:58

Hollyhocksarenotmessy

HR can be good for this, but getting g that first entry can be difficult. I started as HR admin in my 40s in 2015, I'm now in a senior role (moved companies 3 times for progression). Next role I'll be looking for £45K+.

I'm surprised at this because I would have thought you'd be competing with people who already have the qualifications. I'm glad to hear you can still move up. I know HR was like this in the transition from personnel to HR and I presumed that was because it was quite a new specialism.

SoddingWeddings Wed 11-Nov-20 11:41:52

Pretty much anywhere on the Civil Service. Have a look on their jobs website.

PickleWithEverything Wed 11-Nov-20 11:51:27

I wouldn't head into pure finance/accounting in your shoes, because at entry level there is a lot of competition for jobs. What about import/export, that might be a growing field once Brexit happens? Or how about seeing what is available at any logistics or pharmaceutical companies near you? They might have jobs using similar organisational skills to what you did in the past but be large enough for you to progress into a management role.

Talkingtothemoon Wed 11-Nov-20 14:17:00

Thanks for the replies.

Maths has always been my worst subject, which is a little ironic considering the jobs I’ve had involved numbers to a great degree (inventory component to roles), however accounting/finance roles would be out of my depth unfortunately.

I wondered if anyone had entered the NHS in admin-type roles and worked their way up successfully?

Re Civil Service jobs - I’ve looked at vacancies a few times now and the majority are specialised roles. There are some Court admin roles always advertised, but that’s about it from what I can see.

HR - I’ll have a look into this further.

Exporting - I used to work in this area in another country about 20 years ago. I’ll have a look at progression in this area too.

Thanks all for some suggestions.

maxelly Wed 11-Nov-20 14:24:00

HR is not a bad suggestion although these days you do mainly need to do degree and post-graduate qualifications to progress - you may be lucky enough to find an employer prepared to fund/part-fund these for you to do part-time alongside a full time job (not easy but not as financially punishing as a full time undergraduate degree). Don't look at payroll jobs if you want into HR ideally though, in days of yore when payroll was usually in house you could move from payroll into 'main' HR quite easily, but these days it is more of a specialism in its own right and is more closely aligned to accounts and finance than HR - fair enough if that's what you want of course!

I'd look into apprenticeships OP - they are not just for school leavers these days, people of all ages and all walks of life do them, your qualifications are funded while you work and whilst they aren't brilliantly paid as first, usually if you pick wisely (i.e. not companies that just use 'apprenticeships' as an excuse to pay less than minimum wage, looking at you retail sector) there is good room for progression...

maxelly Wed 11-Nov-20 14:32:20

Talkingtothemoon

Thanks for the replies.

Maths has always been my worst subject, which is a little ironic considering the jobs I’ve had involved numbers to a great degree (inventory component to roles), however accounting/finance roles would be out of my depth unfortunately.

I wondered if anyone had entered the NHS in admin-type roles and worked their way up successfully?

Re Civil Service jobs - I’ve looked at vacancies a few times now and the majority are specialised roles. There are some Court admin roles always advertised, but that’s about it from what I can see.

HR - I’ll have a look into this further.

Exporting - I used to work in this area in another country about 20 years ago. I’ll have a look at progression in this area too.

Thanks all for some suggestions.

Re NHS jobs, yes it is very possible to work your way up - it depends a lot on the job though. Ironically the jobs that are very busy, operational and patient focussed such as receptionists, clinic admin, ward clerk, medical secretary can actually be the worst for progression because they are really busy on a day to day basis not always leaving much room to do training, qualifications and developmental activity (and you aren't necessarily exposed to the senior managers who will help you progress), plus if they find a competent, efficient person in one of those roles they tend to hold onto them for grim life!

If you are lucky enough to find one, the kind of NHS admin that can help you progress is something like an administrator in a department that interests you (e.g. PALs admin, HR admin, finance admin), secretary or PA to a director or senior manager or project support/project management assistant, these will give you the exposure and opportunities to get involved in challenging work and build a CV that you need to progress... you'll still need a bit of luck to find a supportive manager and team to believe in you but it will all be useful experience either way!

ThroughThickAndThin01 Wed 11-Nov-20 14:37:32

I’d say NHS admin in a hospital would be a good base for progression. I’m in a small hospital in a Band 2 position, but quite often posts are open for internal applicants only. It would be easy to get to a Band 4 role in our tiny place. In a large hospital I’d imagine the progression possibilities are really good.

kittykat35 Wed 11-Nov-20 14:45:21

Do you have any good pharmaceuticals company's with an hour's commute @Lookingbackatme...they are great for career progression once you are in the door!!

TheProvincialLady Wed 11-Nov-20 17:18:56

I totally agree with Maxelly about the kinds of NHS jobs that enable progression. I took a project support role at £19k 5 years ago and now earn more than three times that (I have been lucky though). You must keep moving jobs, once a year at least until you get into more senior roles.

Hollyhocksarenotmessy Thu 12-Nov-20 08:26:15

I agree with having a plan that includes moving jobs or companies to progress. It's easy to get stuck if you aren't quite hard-hearted about this.

Pseud Thu 12-Nov-20 08:32:19

Given what you’ve done before OP, have a look at supply chain / procurement, sounds like it might suit you and is an area that is often overlooked compared to accounting and HR.

Gwenhwyfar Thu 12-Nov-20 16:37:47

SoddingWeddings

Pretty much anywhere on the Civil Service. Have a look on their jobs website.

I'm quite surprised by this. When I worked in the civil service people did progress, but only from AO to EO for the most part and even that would take many years so only a good option for those starting young. People were expected to apply for jobs without even knowing what they were so you'd just apply for AO, but wouldn't know if you'd be an administrator or a receptionist.

The supervision structure was also pretty awful. In most places I'd worked you'd have a head of a unit or a small department who would be everyone's line manager. Here, every person had their own personal line manager more or less and that person would have other tasks taken away to give them time to manage so that they basically had time to watch you all the time. There were performance management reviews every month at least and these were brutal for some people.

Obviously, it must vary between departments and there were people who progressed quickly, but they were on the fast stream to begin with.

Careersmummy Mon 16-Nov-20 09:02:51

Hi! Firstly, it is okay to have coasted along for the last few years. Being a mum is hard (I have 2 kids!) We put our energy in to what is most important and for the last few years that has been bringing up your children. If we have a job that is paying us and we can do it with ease then we stick at it. But a time comes when we want more, a better job, more happiness and that is okay too.

I am a qualified careers adviser and have been for 20 years. I work with mums like you to help them look at what they want and how to get it. It can be a minefield looking at what we are good at, what we need, what we want and actually making some decisions.

If you would like some specific help or want to know more please ask.

Xx

ElinoristhenewEnid Mon 16-Nov-20 13:22:11

Re nhs. My dd started as band 2 temp pt receptionist in hospital dept. Left school at 16 had done admin course at college and some health care work previously Within 7 years was band 5 manager for same dept and has been head hunted and offered band 6 and 7 roles since. So it can be done!

helloiamnewhere Mon 16-Nov-20 14:11:39

I agree re NHS jobs, started on a Band 4 £19k a year role just under three years ago, have quickly progressed and have now just started in a role where I am starting on around £40k.

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