Looking for a new job can feel like a huge challenge – especially now, with so many industries feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But with the right support and guidance, it doesn’t have to be.
Across the UK, experienced Work Coaches from Jobcentre Plus are helping unemployed people on benefits through every step of their job search. They offer advice with the practical things – like pinpointing vacancies, creating a CV, applying for jobs and prepping for interviews.
But it’s about confidence building too, showing people how they can apply their qualities and skills to getting a new job.
“People have a lot more valuable skills than they realise – and we’re here to show them just what they are capable of and what they have to offer,” says Work Coach team leader Michelle Darmody.
The past year has seen a big shift in the jobs market, with many people left looking for a new job or facing increased competition to find one for the first time. But while some sectors have suffered badly, others have expanded – and Work Coaches are helping jobseekers identify those growth areas and take a fresh look at their own skills to find a match.
“It has been a difficult year,” says Michelle, who is based in Paisley, “but there are jobs, and there is something for everybody. There is no one who is unemployable – it’s just finding the job that fits.”
Even people with no previous work experience can still have qualities gained through a hobby, a sport or just through life itself, that could make them fit exactly what an employer is looking for.
Michelle, who works mainly with 18-24-year-olds, says: “We ask about skills and certificates, but skills doesn’t necessarily mean just work skills. They could have life skills which make them perfect for a job they’ve never thought of before. We have people who are young carers – and there’s a skill straight away – or managing a household and bringing up children.
“We have customers with a history of substance abuse or alcohol abuse, but they have come through that – and there is no person better capable of becoming a support worker, for instance, than someone who has lived through it themselves.
“We can help to break down the barriers to employment and help people recognise what they have to offer. We can give people the encouragement to recognise that their skills can be successfully transferred to a work environment. Or if they’re not job-ready, we can signpost them to suitable provision.”
It’s worth knowing what personal qualities are most wanted by employers so you can ensure that you highlight them when you apply for a job. Here are the top skills companies are looking for…
Creativity – Being able to come up with creative ideas or find solutions to difficult problems by thinking outside the box can be a big asset in many jobs.
People Skills – Being persuasive but also a good listener are really valuable skills, particularly in customer service and sales jobs, along with the ability to work in a team.
Adaptability – If you can respond quickly to changes in work situations – including taking on new responsibilities and expectations – this is good for demonstrating that you are flexible and keen to learn.
Leadership – Being someone who can coach, empower and support people around you is impressive because it shows you can get the best out of the team you’re working in.
Time management – Meeting deadlines and being able to monitor your workload is a plus in any job because you’ll make the most of your time and work more efficiently.
And she adds: “One of our main focuses at the moment is Kickstart, which is available to people aged 18 to 24 who are on Universal Credit. It’s an amazing scheme where different businesses can enrol and say who or what they are looking for.
“No or limited previous work experience or skills are required, they give training, and people are guaranteed six months’ employment if they are successfully matched to a vacancy. Right now we have people looking for activity workers to support care home residents, tele-sales, junior account assistants – even a trainee bagpipe maker!”
Michelle stresses to everyone: “There are plenty of jobs still out there, there are opportunities, and we can help steer people towards one that’s right for them. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
The UK Government have worked with the Scottish Government to develop a range of job support programmes, such as Kickstart, which run in addition to existing support offered by the Scottish Government.
Need a new role? Here’s a good start
If you’re looking for a new job or thinking now might be the right time to switch careers, then JobHelp is there to do just that – help you on every stage of your search for work. The JobHelp website has the tools you need – from tips to improve your initial search and make your CV and application stand out to creating the right impression in an interview.
With articles and advice from experienced Jobcentre Work Coaches, JobHelp can help you identify your experience and transferable skills, which could open up new careers you might never have considered before. And there’s a dedicated resource for under-25s who are just starting out on their career path and are trying to navigate the options of work experience, apprenticeship and graduate roles.
Part of the UK Government’s Plan for Jobs, JobHelp offers helpful tips and advice on how to look for work and what it’s like working in different sectors.
The website has details on industries where opportunities are opening up, such as transport and logistics, healthcare, construction and the public sector – and highlights what employers are looking for so you can see if a new sector could be a good fit for your skills.
Despite the disruption caused by coronavirus, there are still lots of vacancies out there, and JobHelp is here to help you find them.
Tailor your CV for positive response
A CV is your most important asset in moving to the interview stage for a new job – it’s the calling card that can get you a foot in the door. The more effort you put into tailoring your CV to the role you’re applying for, the more likely you are to get an employer’s attention and make a positive impression so you go forward to the next stage.
Creating the right CV is a skill in itself, but what if you’ve never worked before or you’ve got a big gap in your employment history? What do you put on that CV, then? Well, don’t worry – you might not have work experience but that doesn’t mean you have no experience.
CVs are all about skills and they don’t have to have been gained in a job – you could have them through volunteering, a pastime, or simply through your day-to-day life. Do you spend a lot of time on your phone, or are you savvy with software on a laptop? If so, you might have social media or IT skills that could be valuable.
Maybe as a member of a group or organisation you sold tickets for an event or helped with a fundraising campaign. That tells a potential employer you could handle budgets.
If you’re a recent school leaver or newly qualified student, have you written a blog as part of your coursework? Or did you play sport as part of a school, college or university team? They show you’re a good communicator and that you’re used to being a team player.
These kinds of skills need to be highlighted when you’re writing your CV if you have little or no work background.
You can easily make them relevant to a particular role just by carefully reading the job description. See what an employer is looking for, and you might be surprised to find how many of those qualities you already have.
And think about including your personal achievements and interests because they could help showcase what you have to offer to the workplace. So even if you’re short on work experience, by emphasising your personal skills you’ll highlight how much relevant experience you do have. And that could land you the job.