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Employment

Here’s where to find career advice whatever your situation

Whether you’re a student looking for your first job, a veteran, have a criminal record or are looking to retrain in a new sector, here’s where to find the right career advice for your situation.

Finding a job is no easy feat. In fact, it’s practically a specialist skill in itself which sadly many of us have never been taught. So the first step is to find out how to do it from the experts. 

While there’s some essential points that anyone looking for a new job should know – the key things to put on your CV, what questions to ask in a job interview, or how to maintain your mental health while job hunting – it’s also important to recognise that people in different situations need differing support.

These are the charities and organisations offering specialist career advice, free training and work experience that could make all the difference to your situation.  

Career advice for those who want a change in direction 

It’s never too late to retrain and choose a new job that you find fulfilling or that could help you to become more financially stable.

A job for life is no longer the norm, believes Kirstie Donnelly, chief executive of City and Guilds Group. She says: “We know from our research that many people are worried about starting again and lack the knowledge of other industries needed to switch careers.”

To this end, City and Guilds has launched Skills Bridges, courses that, using employer insight, help people “unlock the potential of their transferable skills”. These highlight what your strengths are and how they could apply to a new industry, and help you get a foot in the door in an area you might not have considered before.

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Its “Step into” courses, for example, are focused on areas where City and Guilds know there is real opportunity to find work, including social care, construction, and digital technologies. You can search the courses at FutureLearn.com, the social learning platform.

Career advice for young people

For a lot of people it can take a lifetime to figure out what they’re good at, and what they enjoy when it comes to work. The Youth Group is a service dedicated to helping people aged 18 to 30 find the right career for them, where they can show off their “superpowers”. 

What’s unique about The Youth Group is that it’s run for young people, by young people: 60 per cent of the people working at the company are in their first job. The organisation has helped 95,000 young people into work, orchestrated 22,000 mentoring sessions with professionals in all sorts of businesses and supported its members with interview sessions and CV support. Find out more and join their network here

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If it’s more training that you need, Youth Employment UK offers free online courses for those aged 14 to 24, on everything from how to plan the career you want, to developing leadership, teamwork and creativity, offering certificates of achievement that can be added to your CV. This includes a new, free virtual work experience programme, flagging placements that you can complete online at businesses such as Spotify.

Youth Employment UK also offers careers education resources for schools and youth services, and a careers hub with advice on going into a whole host of sectors.

Career advice for veterans 

The Poppy Factory has employment consultants across the UK which give one-to-one support, over the phone, email or via video-calls to help veterans research and apply for jobs in their region. They then give ongoing support once the veteran has started a job. 

Norris, 34, who was injured in Afghanistan by a rocket-propelled grenade, received help to build up his CV, making it clear what skills he had. He has since found work throughout the pandemic with telecommunications firm Ociusnet, improving digital connections in the West Midlands.

Veterans with physical or mental health conditions who would like employment support can register at poppyfactory.org/employment

Career advice for people with a criminal record

Almost 12 million people in the UK have a criminal record, according to charity Unlock. That means that while offenders are in the minority, a criminal record is far from uncommon. 

Having a conviction does not automatically prevent you from getting a job, or a good job either, but the laws and practices around employment and criminal records check can be very confusing. 

We break down how and when to tell a potential employer about any past convictions, whether you need to tell them at all, and the difference between spent and unspent convictions. Here’s how to get a job with a criminal record

Working Chance offers help and advice to women with convictions to develop the confidence, skills and self-belief needed to find jobs and build careers. It also works with employers including Pret A Manger and Redemption Roasters to help ex offenders who identify as female find work placements that can lead to long term employment. You can contact them here

Unlock offers comprehensive information and support for all people with criminal convictions. The charity runs a helpline, open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, on 01634 247350.

Training and advice for those in hospitality

Charity Springboard wants to help people of all ages and backgrounds to fall in love with hospitality – the sector seriously needs more recruits. It offers free training on soft-skills and employability, hospitality related certified e-learning and guaranteed interviews with hospitality employers actively recruiting.

Springboard’s digital hospitality academy, for example, has free courses, some supported by partners such as Diageo, the drinks company. There’s a bartending course, with 20 modules for you to do at home on making cocktails, front of house customer service, and the opportunity to have your CV reviewed by the team at Diageo.

Career advice for moving into a green job 

“Green jobs” have been touted as the solution to all manner of our current crises, from the climate emergency to youth unemployment and the economic fallout of coronavirus. 

The government has repeatedly pledged to invest in green jobs, promising that the UK will host two million of them by 2030 as part of its mission to “build back greener” in the wake of the pandemic

Currently there’s no uniform definition of a green job, but in broad terms a job is “green” if it improves outcomes for the climate and environment. 

When people think of green jobs, most envision technical jobs in sectors like renewable energy – but a job can be green even if it sits within a sector that isn’t sustainable on the whole.

Green New Deal UK’s free tool is useful to find out how many green jobs are in your area and how many could be created in the future through government investment.

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Some job sites like Indeed, Reed and Monster will also respond to searches for “green jobs”, while there are some job sites – including “green jobs” – which focus exclusively on eco-friendly roles.

Groundwork is a federation of charities focused on practical community action on poverty and the environment. During Covid many of the thousands of projects it supports have turned to how to help people back  into work and be at the forefront of a new green economy.

Its Natural Neighbourhoods project, for example, helps young people in disadvantaged areas of the Midlands and the North that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, towards employment. Teams work to enhance parks and green spaces that matter to local communities.

Career advice for people facing barriers into employment

As experts in supporting people who have faced barriers into mainstream employment, Big Issue Group has launched a specialist recruitment service, dedicated to helping people who have faced stigma or marginalisation find sustainable employment.

It’s a person-centred service and free to candidates, supporting individuals pre, during and post-employment. The whole ethos of Big Issue Recruit is to show employers why hiring people with more diverse experiences will benefit their organisation. By diverse experiences, they mean people who may have experience in the care system, have a criminal record, spent time homeless or are an immigrant, refugee or asylum seeker. 
Candidates are partnered with a personal job coach to understand their needs and goals, build confidence, skills and resilience and coach them through the selection process, to secure their desired roles. You can find out more here.

Career tips and advice from our Jobs and Training series:

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