Hayley’s move into the TV limelight means she’s regularly contacted by members of the public asking for advice – or simply wanting to get her opinions. We offered readers of our sister magazine, at home, the chance to put their own queries direct to the Fairy Jobmother: here are some of the best, along with Hayley’s responses.
I am widowed for the last ten years and haven’t worked since then, having bought my two sons up and suffered from breast cancer in 2003. It feels so scary going out in the world again but I have no choice: my allowance ceases in September. I have some knowledge of medical terminology, have worked in hospitals, have a little computer experience but would like to do shop work, as am interested in working with people, I have lost my confidence somewhat and am not sure where to start. It won’t be easy I know.
Karen, 55, Walthamstow
Wow, you have had so much to contend with and I would like you to know that I admire you for wanting to get yourself back out there. The first thing I would say is that when you feel low in confidence it is a huge challenge to enter a field in which you have no previous experience; in order to start feeling better about yourself it is wise to utilise the experience and skills that you already possess.
Have you thought of working in a Health Centre or GP’s surgery? You would have all the skills that are required for such a role and you would feel comfortable knowing that you had the required knowledge to meet the needs and demands of such a position. Should you still want to work in a retail environment then why not volunteer? This is a great way to try something new and build up your confidence and can lead to paid employment. Why not try Cancer UK? You would then be able to gain experience, whilst being able to relate to the cause – which in turn would help raise your confidence and self-esteem.
Having recently been made redundant after years of working in the public sector, I was not successful at a job interview within the same organisation and was told I had to be aware of and know what my transferable skills were so it comes across confidently in an interview. This I am working on. However, my concerns are going to interviews and being confident in “selling” myself. Do you have any advice on how I can confidently sell myself in an interview? I am also considering a career change, from Admin to HR and utilising my skills and knowledge I have acquired through my business degree, my pathway being HR. What advice would you give someone of my age seeking a career change at this point in time, who is also looking to break into the private sector again after 15 years? Thank you very much for any help you can give me. I am desperately seeking work.
Maureen, 48, London
Selling yourself is one of the hardest things to do: after all, we don’t walk around talking about ourselves constantly, do we! My advice is for you to start to sell yourself by thinking of yourself as a product: What is its purpose? What is its unique selling point? Why do we need it? Etc. Personalise these questions and you will find out how to sell not only yourself but your skill set to a prospective employer.
I think it would be great to expand your series from those who have been long-term unemployed to those who are now facing imposed unemployment. I work in the public sector where many people have recently lost their jobs and are finding it very difficult to secure a position in the private sector. It is disheartening for someone like me who has fought for my education, worked since I was 22, and am finding it almost impossible to secure another position. I think your series has been excellent and should continue, as there are lots of other pockets of people who need your help. Some of us don’t want to go on benefits and want to continue our careers. Surely there must be work out there. You see, once your current employer tells you they don’t want you any more and you are not successful in securing any interviews, it all starts feeling very overwhelming and your confidence takes a big knock. I could really do with your help to find another job!
Christine, 34, Manchester
I agree: many people are finding themselves in the self-same situation, but what I would say is don’t panic…. easier said than done I know! Panic causes reactions that are not thought through, and end up with you applying for anything and everything, only to find yourself back in the same situation in a few months’ time. What I would advise is for you to sit down and really assess your skills: in what areas do you excel? What transferable skills do you possess? Once you have a clear knowledge of what you are capable of, match them to the opportunities out there: you may find you start to apply for jobs you may not possibly have looked at before!
As a graduate from university, I’m finding it really difficult to find work following student life. Many positions, even those that are graduate-tailored, ask for experience but as a graduate I often don’t have the experience that they are looking for. The only other option seems to be work experience and internships, which almost always involve working for free for long stretches. Would you recommend going through the internship avenue to find a job or is perseverance the key?
Anna, 21, Essex
Firstly look into the internship, see just what is on offer; secondly, never view voluntary work as working for free: you are being paid, not in a monetary sense but in experience and that is invaluable. Graduates sometimes presume that because they are qualified in a certain field that means that they will be able to walk into a senior position: this is not the case. As you are discovering, experience and practicality is what an employer is looking for. Should you choose this route you will be amazed at how an employer will be more open to taking a graduate who has gone out of their way to gain experience: it says a lot to them about that individual.
My son is 23 and has been out of work for over a year after he graduated – he got a 2:1 in economics and he was confident he would get a good job after university but so far he has had nothing but rejections. He has only had three interviews in all that time and has been living off the dole and a little bit of money his father and I have been able to give him. He is not lazy and is constantly applying for work but has got nowhere and is becoming depressed and miserable and feels that he is going to have a life without work while many of his friends have good jobs and are building happy lives. I hate seeing him like this as I know he is a hard worker and only needs one chance to show what he can do. What advice can you give him which will help him get out into work? Is there anything else we can do to give him assistance? We are very worried about him now.
Cathy, 41, Bournemouth
Being a parent is the hardest job in the world, especially when you see the effect on your children when they are unable to reach their goals. This is a case of building your son’s self-esteem and confidence back up: to do this, recall with him all his past achievements – no matter how small; talk about and show him his school reports, certificates, swimming awards…whatever it might be. Sometimes in order to go forward we must go back, so do this in a light-hearted manner, reinforcing just what he has achieved, and offer to help him job search. Just knowing someone supports you in all that you do makes a huge difference.
I have watched your programmes and think that you’re doing a marvellous job. So many people just sit back and blame the system when they are out of work without doing anything to change their situation. I myself was out of a job for about a year and know how hard it is to motivate yourself when you’re feeling down – but if you don’t nobody will do it for you! I pulled myself together and got back out there and although I had a lot of knockbacks I eventually got a good job and I’m now very happy. So I wanted to tell people that it can be done with a lot of hard work and dedication. My question to you is: do you have any plans to go into politics? I think you would be a breath of fresh air for our government and your ideas and positive attitude are just what this country needs! Keep up the good work!
Barbara, 35, Swindon
Thank you for your comments: so glad that you enjoy the programme, and well done for gaining employment and keeping focussed and motivated. In answer to your question: politics isn’t for me. I don’t have a definitive view on any one solution to the unemployment problem, as to me there is no definitive, one-size-fits-all answer. I have met with our governmental parties on several occasions and have come away no wiser than when I arrived, so I will carry on the way I always have: putting the individual first.