You’re waiting around for ages and nothing comes along then suddenly they all arrive at once.
A bit of history, I’ve been unemployed for quite a few years now since I gave up my last position in the local McDonalds Drive Thru.
When I first had to start signing on and claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), I was sent to a local training centre who helped me organise a CV and helped me with job searching and stuff like that. Unfortunately what I never did over the years since then was do anything to change my CV, well nothing more than adding little bits in here or there that had changed. Since starting to claim JSA about 4 years ago I’ve filled in hundreds of application forms, handed in many CVs and phoned places without too much luck. I’ve had until recently about 6 interviews and nothing has ever came of them. It was very disheartening at times to send in application forms and never, ever hear anything back. Even receiving a ‘thanks but no thanks’ email used to give me a bit of a boost, at least it gave me a feeling that somebody had looked at my application form.
I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones to be first to be placed on The Work Programme – the government scheme to help unemployed get back into work. It’s a great idea in principle, but considering the first thing they tell you is that they have no funding for training, kind of gives you an idea which way they are heading. I had to go once every 2 weeks for 1 hour to complete a job search, and once every couple of months I had to go see somebody to see how I was getting on and whether I was close to completing the targets they had set for me. I had to stick out the Work Programme for 2 years and in that time I had no help or even any suggestions as to how I should update my CV or even that it wasn’t helping me get positions. I was put forward for 2 jobs in the entire time I was there, the first one only because I had overheard the staff discussing it and asked to be put forward for it. The second was about 3 weeks before I finished and was for a taxi office in a place miles away from where I lived (I don’t drive). To be honest though although I criticize the programme, the problem is there are so many people places on this programme with varying degrees of help needs. The companies running these programmes really don’t have the time or training/funding to help people. With most jobs being advertised online, (even the Jobcentre expects you to register on their website and check it regularly) basic IT skills are a must. I remember many people attending at the same time as me having no IT skills. Some struggled to even gain access to the computer. They did provide some basic IT skills courses for those who needed/wanted them. Personally though, I was glad to finish this programme as I felt that it had really been no help to me whatever.
After finishing it in July 2013 I then resorted back to visits to my advisor at the Job Centre. At my first appointment a short 2 week course called Stairway to Work was mentioned to me and as my son had previously attended it and had good things to say I volunteered to go on the course.
What can I say? This programme was excellent. There were only about 10 of us and although we ranged in age from early 20s to late 50s we all had one thing in common – we WANTED to work. We were on this course because we wanted to be there not because we were forced. The difference between what I had just finished and the Stairway to Work programme was significant. The first thing we discussed was our CVs and I was shocked to realise that mine was really bad. It didn’t tell a prospective employer very much about me. It was laid out all wrong for the type of work I was looking for. Nobody had ever mentioned to me that work history on a CV didn’t need to run in date order. It was more sensible to put the most appropriate position first – for instance, I apply for administration jobs but my last job was working in a McDonalds, so really this would be the first thing they would see on my CV and it could possibly put them off reading any further. I also had done voluntary work which I had put in the ‘Interests’ part of my CV. This meant that unless they read to the end of my CV they wouldn’t see this. After some major rearranging my CV looked good, although it took me a bit of time to get my head around the fact that my voluntary work was indeed ‘WORK’ even though I hadn’t been paid. Relearning my CV was the first thing I had to do. Convincing myself that my voluntary work was ‘WORK’ was hard.
I uploaded my lovely new CV to the Universal Jobmatch website and other job websites that I was registered on. I then started applying for jobs using the new CV. I can’t say for definite that the new CV is helping me but since I started using it I have been invited for 1 interview, accepted as a volunteer at a local festival and started a work placement.
If you are like me and struggling to find a job, then I say look at what you are sending out to employers. Do you really thing you’re CV is showing you in a good light? Remember your CV is the way you sell yourself to an employer, if it’s not showing how good you really are then maybe it’s time to change it. I can’t speak for other places that help you sort out your CV but for me attending the Stairway to Work programme has helped me massively. If you are unemployed and get the opportunity to go on this type of programme, then I say ‘GO FOR IT!’.
I have currently completed my first week of my work placement. The first day was both exciting and terrifying but it’s been interesting to learn how to work again. It’s a small company and the other staff have been brilliant. I’m still finding my feet and figuring out what the company actually does. I’m excited now because they are looking at teaching me new skills. It’s an enthusiastic place and it rubs off on you.