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Why Career Advice can suck (the life out of you)…..The Diary of an Employable Blogaholic

When TheEmployable set out on this wonderful journey from redundancy, unemployment, to self-starting (slightly self-confessed) employability experts, we did not fully appreciate the lack of real career advice that was available…

When I mean career advice, I mean the truth..

We have worked in the recruitment sector for a combined 14 years & to a large degree, had to deal with telling people the truth. Often criticism of commercial recruitment is justified;  the old adage that the ‘people are the product’, can be harshly true. If you cannot help someone find a job that day, they may feel a little left on the wayside, until they are needed for a job that you can help them with – that is the reality of the commercial world we live in. Recruitment Agencies do get some unfair criticism – at least the majority of recruitment consultants are trained – be it good or bad to be able to see where someone’s experience may get them a job.

However, again without meaning to cause offence; the provisions for ‘real’ or ‘truthful’ career advice available in the Public Sector in the UK, are at best adequate. If you want to do a psychometric test, to be told by a computer that you would be ‘good working with people’ then I would suggest that the careers service is the best place to go, to get this type of career advice.

The job centre – is at best – a ‘signing here centre’ and having come from a customer facing role, and from working in an HR profession, it is hard to justify the service you are often given. Again, this is a sweeping statement and perhaps there are many good servants out there who offer more than the minimum in terms of career advice. Perhaps if you know of any, you should comment below – as it would be nice to focus on the good things that are going on too. But perhaps the Unemployed would be best served with some element of enthusiasm too.

But there is a big problem with the truth too…

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5 Responses to “Why Career Advice can suck (the life out of you)…..The Diary of an Employable Blogaholic”

  1. At risk of sounding smug, could I kindly point out that the noun I think you were looking for towards the end of this post was “damp squib” not “damp squid”? It’s a common mistake, and one I made myself for many years. A squib is small firework, which would presumably offer a somewhat disappointing display if damp. A squid is, I assume, damp as a matter of course. [Insert smiley face emoticon here in order to suggest friendly advice!]

    I’ve yet to find out at first hand about the quality of advice being dispensed by Job Centre Plus advisers – I have that to look forward to in a couple of weeks. I did hear that they were quick to suggest a teaching career to a former colleague with an English degree, which rather suggests the lack of imagination that you seem to be alluding to. I wouldn’t see this example as evidence of “filling quotas” though since, as far as I am aware, there is not a shortage of qualified English teachers nationally, even if specific vacancies might be hard to fill.

    In defence of Job Centre based advisers, and being careful not to resort to horrible tabloid-style generalisations, their role must be quite demoralising if they often find themselves advising poorly motivated people with major employability issues, or if they are based in localities where it is difficult to find suitable employment for even their brightest candidates. There is also something about the environment in a job centre which I suspect stops those on both sides of the counter from being at their best. I fear that may always be the case, however many rebrands and interior design changes they might go through. Until we tackle the cultural assumption (reinforced by the aforementioned tabloids) that to be out of work and claiming benefits is, by definition, to be a failure, things are unlikely to improve.

    Posted by david73277 | April 11, 2012, 1:28 pm
    • Hi David,
      Firstly, thanks for spotting the typo! All corrected now – cheers!
      My own personal experience of the Job Centre has not unfortunately been all that positive – hence the viewpoint expressed in the post.
      Agree with you completely though regarding the generalisations and how damaging they can be on both sides. Also tackling the cultural assumption of being out of work equating to failure was one of our driving motivations behind the naming of TheEmployable movement. Much more positive and we believe more accurate terminology.
      Thanks again for your comments and best of luck for the future. Should you have to avail of the Job Centre support as you mentioned, hope your experience is an entirely positive one!

      Posted by theemployable | April 11, 2012, 3:54 pm
      • I do know what you are talking about, and hope that came across. Here’s another great example of the sort of service one get’s from Job Centre Plus. My last job was a management information / data analyst. Based on their limited understanding of my last job (although, to be fair, I don’t think my last HR department had a very clear understanding of my job either), the DWP people asked me search their website using job code 3539, which they class as “Management Analyst”. Whilst this has not yet retrieved any interesting opportunities, until today it was at least possible to see why certain jobs were appearing. We’re all familiar with searches throwing up strange results, which is an inevitable consequence of a lack of precision in the search terms entered. One would, however, expect a specified job code to be a bit more focussed. Today’s classic result was for a job titled “Events First Aider”. Enough said?

        Well, I thought, what useful action can I take in relation to this? I know, I’ll submit some constructive feedback to help them improve their service, after all, most websites you visit these days have an easy to find method of sending such helpful criticism. The Direct.gov jobseekers site is the exception to this rule. Perhaps they are afraid about the sort of feedback they will get?

        Posted by david73277 | April 12, 2012, 9:20 am
        • Hi David,
          It certainly did come across. Sadly your experience does not surprise me in the slightest! And as someone who previously worked in commercial recruitment, I know only too well how that industry as well at times employs people who have not got a clue of the type of roles they are recruiting for, from job titles to terminology used in criteria. Think specialist roles should be recruited for by those with experience and specific knowledge in that particular sector only. So HR aren’t on their own! But, I digress.
          The lack of ability to submit any constructive feedback on the Direct.gov jobseekers site is all too telling isn’t it? And unfortunately speaks volumes….

          Hope all goes well with your job hunt though – think your own proactivity will lead you to more success though than some of the official resources.

          Posted by theemployable | April 12, 2012, 9:34 am
  2. Hello! I agree with most of what you’re saying about the dearth of imagination and encouragement for the employable (can we please make this a widespread pc term for the unemployed). Yet, I had a good experience at the job centre after finishing university. Yep, double-whammy, student then unemployed – how useless could you get? But the people working in the job centre were generally sensible, fair and open-minded but they were struggling against it all. I must say it was the hardest thing to sit through the compulsory ‘Get Back to Work’ advisory session when all I wanted was a break to get into work for the FIRST time. It really felt like I had slipped through all the nets. What could/can I do? LOTS! But nothing very specific without more training and neither the government nor employers want to shoulder that bill.

    Posted by bookinglass | April 18, 2012, 8:25 pm

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