As January rolls around again, it’s time to look at things with a fresh perspective. Perhaps one area of your life that could do with an early spring clean is your career. We show you how…
It’s that time of year when we make promises to ourselves – promises about how we’re going to change our lives for the better. So many people are unhappy in their careers, and focusing efforts on bagging that dream job, setting up as self-employed or starting training to improve one’s prospects will be at the top of many people’s 2013 resolution lists.
SPRING CLEAN YOUR CV!
Your resume is a starting point for any job search or career change. A good CV is straightforward, listing your employers, job titles and duties plus any qualifications you have, as well as information about yourself, any volunteering you’ve done and career-relevant interests. Try to keep it to two A4 pages and stick to the fact – flamboyant language, wordy explanations and irrelevant information will make most employers cast your application aside.
Ask an honest friend or – better still – a careers expert to look over your CV. A Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) from the Jobcentre or a Shaw Trust specialist for instance can pinpoint areas for improvement and help you create a professional, useful CV.
If you’re invited to an interview, remember it doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking. Preparation is everything, so find out more about the employer and have some answers ready for questions they might ask. Your DEA can help you with interview prep, plus there’s a wealth of advice online to help you sell yourself on the day. Just remember to keep calm, focus on all the positives you have to offer and be honest. Interviews are designed to give employers an idea of the real you and what you can bring to their company, so don’t hide behind the person you think they want to see.
It’s that age-old conundrum – employers want experience, but how can you get any if no one will give you a chance? The opportunities are out there, but you need to look hard for them.
Work experience provides the perfect opportunity to gain working knowledge of your desired employment area. Send out your CV speculatively to companies you’re interested in, or obtain experience via a training or employment programme.
Also, don’t overlook volunteering – it’ll help you experience work in a field that interests you, and give you specific skills that will be helpful in your desired career. Get in touch with your local Volunteer Centre to see what opportunities you might be able to take up, or if you have access to the web, look at sites like www.vinspired.com or www.do-it.org.uk. There’s a vast variety of options available, from working in schools to promote rail safety or being a listening volunteer for Samaritans, to writing fundraising bids for charities. Not only does volunteering boost your CV and career prospects, it gives you a real sense of giving back.
One of your resolutions might be around wanting to learn a new skill or develop an existing interest. Subject and study options are endless – learn at a local college, from home, full-time, part-time, evenings only… A new qualification could open doors for you, so why not get in touch with your nearest learning provider and find out what’s out there. As a disabled student, you may also be entitled to financial support too – find out more at www.gov.uk.
Depending on your disability and eligibility, Work Choice might be open to you. This government employment programme has been specially designed for disabled people and offers personalised support tailored to your needs. It could see you receive training, interview coaching or skills development help. Speak to your DEA to learn more.
GO IT ALONE
Plenty of people dream of running their own business. Making that dream a reality could change your life. Being your own boss is hard work, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. If you’ve got a great idea for a business that you reckon would make the Dragon’s Den crowd proud, whether you’ve invented a fantastic new iPhone app or you’ve always dreamt of running you own café, this could be the year that you take that idea and turn it into something big.
Check out HMRC online, visit www.startupbritain.co, or check out local business support groups where you can learn more about self-employment and network with other small businesses. Get all the information and advice you can before you take the leap.
So, what are you waiting for? Whether it’s a new career, a change of job, undertaking training or branching out alone, make the most of the fresh start that the new year brings!
TO DISCLOSE OR NOT?
It’s entirely up to you whether you disclose your disability in your CV or job application. If you do choose to disclose, you’ll be guaranteed an interview if the employer is ‘positive about disability’ (look for the Two Ticks symbol) and if you meet the minimum criteria for the role.
Rather than applying a medical label, it’s best to emphasise what you are capable of, be honest and be straightforward – “I use a wheelchair” or “I walk with an uneven gait” can be more helpful to an employer than “I have spina bifida” or “I have cerebral palsy”, for example. Always remember that it’s against the law for employers (and potential employers!) to discriminate against you because of a disability.
ON THE WEB
You may find the following websites helpful:
Enable, Jan/Feb 2013