Though it’s not easy getting work at the moment, there are lots of ways to boost your chances of finding employment.
Lee Hall, a graphic designer, applied for about 80 jobs when he left university. “I only got 10 letters back,” he says, “and four or five interviews.” But from one of those he got his first job.
If you don’t see the right jobs advertised, you can, like Louise Simmons, the chief executive at the Birmingham Disability Resource Centre, contact people directly. “I can recall writing 50, 60, 70 letters sending off my CV,” she says, “and out of that I was offered two jobs.”
Personal contacts can also help. Aromatherapist, Elizabeth Kirk, got her first job thanks to her mother who worked at the Eden Project. “She’d been telling them what I’d been doing and they gave me a call, and asked me to come and give it a go.”
Chantal Thomas, a commercial lawyer, had written to several hundred law firms seeking a traineeship without success before she got a placement at energy company E.ON. “I persuaded my boss that he could give me a training contract and I could train within the in-house department,” Chantal explains. “Two years on I then qualified as a solicitor.”
Fish farmer, Neil Lincoln, had two work placements as part of his training. “One was up in Scotland on a salmon farm and for the second one I went to the Environment Agency and then they took me on.”
There’s a huge range of voluntary opportunities available that can give you a taste of the work-place. Katherine Lyon, head keeper at Shepreth Wildlife Park, “did a six week block of volunteering at Shepreth and fell in love with the place.” There were no jobs at the time but she was able to get one there after completing her degree.
Working your way up
Recruitment consultant, Arif Rampuri, got his first job at his current firm at the age of 16. “My role for the first nine months was pretty much being a personal assistant,” he says. “Dry cleaning, doing the admin, sort of tea boy, all that sort of stuff.” He enjoyed it but wanted more of a challenge. “They gave me the opportunity to get into much more of a proactive role and two years down the line I’m now a consultant.”
Robbie Hughes, a whisky distillery manager, got his first job in the trade rolling barrels when he was 18. “I slowly worked my way up,” he explains, “going from one distillery to another over a number of years, until eventually I came to Glengoyne distillery and became a distillery manager.”
The unconventional approach
Stuart Hendry, brand heritage manager at Glengoyne distillery, says that he’d always wanted to work at Glengoyne but missed the closing date for a job. “I thought, well, I’ll try anyway,” he says. “I bought a bottle of Glengoyne and once the bottle was empty I wrote out my CV and a letter, put it inside the bottle, put the top back on, sealed it all with wax and put it back in the tube. I think I wrote on the packaging ‘You’ll live to regret it if you don’t open this’, or something along those lines, something kind of cheeky.” It worked – he got an interview and then the job.
Making your own job
Tre Azam says that for him being an entrepreneur is as much about the way of doing things as the end results. “Being an entrepreneur is a mind-set. It’s somebody who’s a risk taker, somebody who doesn’t accept the status quo. An entrepreneur chooses the path that they want to lead and is willing to accept the risks along the way. And success is just, for me, a by-product.”
Tom Green, Writer and Editor