Q Last year I graduated from the University of Stirling with a BA in HR management at the age of 40. I entered the job market with high hopes of putting this knowledge, combined with years of experience in a variety of sectors, to good use. After a year and many applications, I am still looking. The feedback is either ‘over-qualified’ or ‘lack of relevant experience’. How can I break this vicious circle?
A I can empathise with your frustration given the efforts you have made over the past year. Against a backdrop of the well-publicised demographic time bomb, and with age discrimination legislation less than a year away, you must be surprised that you have not yet succeeded in gaining a foothold in your new career.
Here are some tips and hints that may prove useful:
– Contact your university careers office for details of job fairs and milk rounds.
– Make direct applications to target organisations rather than responding to specific advertisements, as there are likely to be fewer raw graduates applying. Focus on areas where you have sector-specific knowledge.
– Target the public sector, which increasingly welcomes the commercial experience you have gained.
– The interim market could be a good opportunity to get your foot in the door. Temporary work increasingly translates into a permanent position.
– Consider voluntary HR work in the charities sector, which will help build contacts and provide work experience to put on your CV.
– Check out employers with a strong diversity/equal opportunities statement.
– You do not indicate how specific your geographical search is. Being flexible about where you work will widen your catchment area and boost your chances of finding a role.
– Look up old employers, contacts and networks from your previous career. You will be surprised how often these networks can yield positive results.
– Join your local Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development branch. A number of candidates find roles via this route.
– Think about how you deliver the message about your recent move to student/graduate status and how your commitment to following your new career has not come lightly or easily.
I am sure you will eventually be successful and enjoy the next stage of your working life in the increasingly challenging world of HR.
Mark Carriban, managing director, HR Recruitment Business
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