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
If you have a question for our panel of experts about developing your career, send your question to [email protected]