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  • FIRST POST
    • dimestorediamond
    • By dimestorediamond 20th Mar 17, 4:29 PM
    • 190Posts
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    dimestorediamond
    Career change tips/advice.
    • #1
    • 20th Mar 17, 4:29 PM
    Career change tips/advice. 20th Mar 17 at 4:29 PM
    Hello!

    There's a couple of threads in similar veins, but I didn't want to hijack anyone's posts.

    I am 30, working in hairdressing for ten years, self employed in a rented 'chair' for six years. I'm ready to move on.

    I'm looking at working in an admin post and this week's applications have been to posts in the civil service, local council, NHS, local university etc. All lower grades/bands, because I know I need to start at the bottom.

    As I am self employed, I do all my own admin, marketing and much of my reception duties and I think my application is decent at reflecting my transferable skills. Am I right in doing this? Whilst I acknowledge the fact I do hairdressing and such, I focus on the administrative side because that's what I want. Just having a wobble that it might not be the right way to go about it.

    I'm doing an OU degree so am focusing on that too, particularly when asked about self improvement/motivation and time management. I'm trying to teach myself some stronger knowledge on Excel as I do lack this (but fine with Word).

    My other query was regarding referees/references. As self employed, I am struggling. I have no employer reference and I do not want to use my landlord because I don't want him to know I am planning to leave. So, with character references being my main option, what time of person should I be asking to be one for me? It's been a long time since I've done this.

    And finally, any interview tips? I've only applied for one job so far, got to interview stage (civil service) and was unsuccessful. I am a nervous person and I worry I ramble and repeat the content of my application. I'd love some tips on how to perform better.

    I think really, I am just looking for some reassurance that I can pull this off and that I am not stupid for thinking I can do this prior to actually obtaining my degree (I won't graduate until 2018 but I need a full time job ASAP).

    Thanks.
Page 1
    • Red-Squirrel
    • By Red-Squirrel 20th Mar 17, 4:40 PM
    • 2,014 Posts
    • 5,532 Thanks
    Red-Squirrel
    • #2
    • 20th Mar 17, 4:40 PM
    • #2
    • 20th Mar 17, 4:40 PM
    Do you have any clients who are articulate or in respected professions that have been coming to you regularly for years? If you feel comfortable asking then maybe one could be a reference, they could say that you've always been reliable, professional, well organised and that you have good customer service skills etc.

    Do you have a personal tutor or academic advisor of any kind on your OU degree (sorry I'm not familiar with how they work.)
    • tea lover
    • By tea lover 20th Mar 17, 4:49 PM
    • 7,999 Posts
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    tea lover
    • #3
    • 20th Mar 17, 4:49 PM
    • #3
    • 20th Mar 17, 4:49 PM
    If you have the time (and inclination!) you could maybe find some volunteer admin work. This could help you gain further skills, and also provide a reference.

    Obviously as you're working and studying I don't mean something like 4 days a week at a large charity head office , but maybe there's a small local charity or volunteer group that would love some help for one afternoon a month or similar.
    • dimestorediamond
    • By dimestorediamond 20th Mar 17, 5:28 PM
    • 190 Posts
    • 216 Thanks
    dimestorediamond
    • #4
    • 20th Mar 17, 5:28 PM
    • #4
    • 20th Mar 17, 5:28 PM
    Do you have any clients who are articulate or in respected professions that have been coming to you regularly for years? If you feel comfortable asking then maybe one could be a reference, they could say that you've always been reliable, professional, well organised and that you have good customer service skills etc.

    Do you have a personal tutor or academic advisor of any kind on your OU degree (sorry I'm not familiar with how they work.)
    Originally posted by Red-Squirrel
    I do have a tutor and I could ask her, but I think it would be a very bland reference, only because we don't have a lot of contact - she marks my work and answers my queries, but our relationship is fairly minimalist.

    Yep, I do have a client that could help me and I have got her details, but she is the only one I would feel comfortable telling before actually going. People tend to panic if you talk to much about a career change without realising it could take months and I need the clientele to earn money until then, haha.
    • dimestorediamond
    • By dimestorediamond 20th Mar 17, 5:30 PM
    • 190 Posts
    • 216 Thanks
    dimestorediamond
    • #5
    • 20th Mar 17, 5:30 PM
    • #5
    • 20th Mar 17, 5:30 PM
    If you have the time (and inclination!) you could maybe find some volunteer admin work. This could help you gain further skills, and also provide a reference.

    Obviously as you're working and studying I don't mean something like 4 days a week at a large charity head office , but maybe there's a small local charity or volunteer group that would love some help for one afternoon a month or similar.
    Originally posted by tea lover
    This is a good idea, but one I might need to hold on to for a while. I don't have a huge amount of free time, but if nothing comes from this batch of applications then I will have to find time. Would need to see what organisations having any offices around here, I'm fairly rural.
    • FBaby
    • By FBaby 20th Mar 17, 6:11 PM
    • 16,123 Posts
    • 40,026 Thanks
    FBaby
    • #6
    • 20th Mar 17, 6:11 PM
    • #6
    • 20th Mar 17, 6:11 PM
    You got an interview, so that's a good sign that your application is at least ok. My advice would be to do some research about the department you are applying for so you can show that you have some understanding of what kind of admin you'll be doing and also to show your commitment in moving into the public sector.

    Ideally, it would be good to do that before you apply and reflect it in your application. Your lack of experience in the sector will go more against you than your lack of experience in admin, so you need to focus on this.

    Also, as you point out yourself, ideally, you would need to show experience using Excel, Powerpoint and Access or similar. There is a basic course you can do to evidence your skills, it might be worth looking into it.
    • Red-Squirrel
    • By Red-Squirrel 20th Mar 17, 6:32 PM
    • 2,014 Posts
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    Red-Squirrel
    • #7
    • 20th Mar 17, 6:32 PM
    • #7
    • 20th Mar 17, 6:32 PM
    I do have a tutor and I could ask her, but I think it would be a very bland reference, only because we don't have a lot of contact - she marks my work and answers my queries, but our relationship is fairly minimalist.
    Originally posted by dimestorediamond
    Even if she doesn't know you well, she's in a good position to comment on your language, communication and IT skills, and your ability to meet deadlines, juggle multiple tasks, time management etc.

    If I were you (and please bear in mind I'm not a careers advisor and I don't work in recruitment, this is just what I'd do in your shoes) I would use your trusted client and your personal tutor as your references. Both are formal, work related contacts who know your skills in relation to the type of work needed for admin roles, so it makes sense to me, at least!
    • dimestorediamond
    • By dimestorediamond 20th Mar 17, 8:32 PM
    • 190 Posts
    • 216 Thanks
    dimestorediamond
    • #8
    • 20th Mar 17, 8:32 PM
    • #8
    • 20th Mar 17, 8:32 PM
    Even if she doesn't know you well, she's in a good position to comment on your language, communication and IT skills, and your ability to meet deadlines, juggle multiple tasks, time management etc.

    If I were you (and please bear in mind I'm not a careers advisor and I don't work in recruitment, this is just what I'd do in your shoes) I would use your trusted client and your personal tutor as your references. Both are formal, work related contacts who know your skills in relation to the type of work needed for admin roles, so it makes sense to me, at least!
    Originally posted by Red-Squirrel
    Thanks for this, I've been trying to draw out these abilities you mention with every application, so hopefully it will work. I shall indeed use these references. I do have one that is work related, I don't want to explain too much for fear of recognition, basically this person works in a public service department and has been my point of contact for certain clients. Hopefully that will proof of awareness of sensitive data/issues and ability to work with other 'official' type places/people.
    • dimestorediamond
    • By dimestorediamond 20th Mar 17, 8:37 PM
    • 190 Posts
    • 216 Thanks
    dimestorediamond
    • #9
    • 20th Mar 17, 8:37 PM
    • #9
    • 20th Mar 17, 8:37 PM
    You got an interview, so that's a good sign that your application is at least ok. My advice would be to do some research about the department you are applying for so you can show that you have some understanding of what kind of admin you'll be doing and also to show your commitment in moving into the public sector.

    Ideally, it would be good to do that before you apply and reflect it in your application. Your lack of experience in the sector will go more against you than your lack of experience in admin, so you need to focus on this.

    Also, as you point out yourself, ideally, you would need to show experience using Excel, Powerpoint and Access or similar. There is a basic course you can do to evidence your skills, it might be worth looking into it.
    Originally posted by FBaby
    Thanks Fbaby. I've also done as you've mentioned and researched departments as best as I can, but I definitely could do more to utilise that in the application itself. I think I could do with some work on using it at interview though. Perhaps I am too self aware - but I always feel it difficult to make it sound natural and useful.

    As for the Office course, do you have any personal recommendations? The idea of actually doing a course for this, even online, has crossed my mind, but I'm not sure what's legit, but also not too pricey. I've just been using Youtube to get my knowledge so far. My local college does Word Processing courses, but they don't start until September and are the length of an academic year. If I haven't got anything by then, I'll be happy to sign up to one, but something else in the meantime could be useful.
    • michelle09
    • By michelle09 20th Mar 17, 9:03 PM
    • 451 Posts
    • 1,802 Thanks
    michelle09
    I wouldn't worry hugely about references being bland if you are applying for the NHS. Most NHS Trusts now will only provide a reference that gives your work dates, sickness levels and any outstanding disciplinary action. They aren't expecting much.

    That being said, good luck!
    • dimestorediamond
    • By dimestorediamond 21st Mar 17, 8:21 PM
    • 190 Posts
    • 216 Thanks
    dimestorediamond
    Thanks Michelle, good to know!

    If anyone has interview tips, I'll take them!
    • lincroft1710
    • By lincroft1710 21st Mar 17, 8:33 PM
    • 10,039 Posts
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    lincroft1710
    Admin roles in the CS can vary greatly from dept to dept. From many years' experience these can be brain numbing and boring to someone with a creative mind. I would think very carefully about giving up self employment especially if you have a well established loyal clientele.
    • NeilCr
    • By NeilCr 21st Mar 17, 8:39 PM
    • 1,098 Posts
    • 1,217 Thanks
    NeilCr
    Thanks Michelle, good to know!

    If anyone has interview tips, I'll take them!
    Originally posted by dimestorediamond
    I'm a bit of a nervous rambler too!

    After one interview, my then boss told me to take a breath before answering a question. What I was doing was launching off straight away and then realising it was all going wrong - and then backtracking etc!

    I don't mean a long pause - but just enough time to gather thoughts

    Otherwise be yourself. Try not to be what you think they want

    And good luck
    • dimestorediamond
    • By dimestorediamond 21st Mar 17, 8:54 PM
    • 190 Posts
    • 216 Thanks
    dimestorediamond
    Admin roles in the CS can vary greatly from dept to dept. From many years' experience these can be brain numbing and boring to someone with a creative mind. I would think very carefully about giving up self employment especially if you have a well established loyal clientele.
    Originally posted by lincroft1710
    This is something I have absolutely considered. I appreciate this, but I'm pretty sure. The reality is that I am 30, still at home and have a slim to none chance of a mortgage. My business isn't working and I don't love it enough to fight for it. I've been toying with leaving for four years. I don't have to rush really, its more to do with my personal goals. Self-employment has given me lots of freedoms I will miss, but employment will give me a little bit more stability - the lack of it has been getting me down mentally.

    I am definitely a creative person and I know the jobs I am looking at will not provide an outlet for it, but that is ok. I have lots of hobbies and I would like to branch out into making a living of some sort from my writing - working an administrative role would give me the time to do that. I sometimes feel being creative constantly from my job leaves me a bit empty for other creative endeavours.
    • dimestorediamond
    • By dimestorediamond 21st Mar 17, 8:56 PM
    • 190 Posts
    • 216 Thanks
    dimestorediamond
    I'm a bit of a nervous rambler too!

    After one interview, my then boss told me to take a breath before answering a question. What I was doing was launching off straight away and then realising it was all going wrong - and then backtracking etc!

    I don't mean a long pause - but just enough time to gather thoughts

    Otherwise be yourself. Try not to be what you think they want

    And good luck
    Originally posted by NeilCr
    I am guilty of this!! Thanks, will try to remember, I think I am just conscious of waiting too long. I also tend to be a fast talker in general, so really need to focus on slowing myself down a bit.
    • wine_night
    • By wine_night 21st Mar 17, 11:53 PM
    • 84 Posts
    • 136 Thanks
    wine_night
    There are plenty of online Excel training courses you can take for free from basic to advanced (no qualification but it will certainly help you to understand the functions without paying anything out). I have found this one to be very useful (depending on what version you have):

    http://www.homeandlearn.co.uk/excel2007/Excel2007.html

    Good luck with your job search, you certainly come across well in your messages and seem enthusiastic about taking a new career path.
    • dimestorediamond
    • By dimestorediamond 22nd Mar 17, 3:58 PM
    • 190 Posts
    • 216 Thanks
    dimestorediamond
    Thank you wine_night, its nice to hear that somebody thinks I have a shot! I'll check out the link, I'm hoping the teach myself method will be enough, but time will tell! Many thanks!
    • lincroft1710
    • By lincroft1710 22nd Mar 17, 4:20 PM
    • 10,039 Posts
    • 8,098 Thanks
    lincroft1710
    This is something I have absolutely considered. I appreciate this, but I'm pretty sure. The reality is that I am 30, still at home and have a slim to none chance of a mortgage.
    Originally posted by dimestorediamond
    Unless you're in a low house price area, basic CS grades may not pay enough for you to afford a mortgage.
    • dimestorediamond
    • By dimestorediamond 22nd Mar 17, 4:46 PM
    • 190 Posts
    • 216 Thanks
    dimestorediamond
    Unless you're in a low house price area, basic CS grades may not pay enough for you to afford a mortgage.
    Originally posted by lincroft1710
    I am in a super low price area and based on the lowest part of the pay bracket quoted in every application would get me the mortgage I need. Either way, it's wouldn't be a factor in changing my mind, I don't like my job and I make significantly less than what I could be making elsewhere - less than NMW some weeks.
    • dimestorediamond
    • By dimestorediamond 26th Apr 17, 1:15 PM
    • 190 Posts
    • 216 Thanks
    dimestorediamond
    Just wanted to update here, in case anyone was interested. I have been offered a FTA in a branch of the civil service, and provided all the pre-employment checks go through fine, I will be taking it.

    I have a bit of trepidation with the fact its a FTA, but I need the work experience and I am hoping that this is an 'in' to something permanent. Now I have to do all the twiddly-thumbing whilst waiting for everything to sort itself out.

    Thank you to everyone who gave me such great advice, I did not think it would happen so quickly for me!
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