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March 29, 2010 10:47 AM   Subscribe

I need to find a job, but the odds are against me. What should I do?

I'm in the UK. My education doesn't extend past an Access to Higher Education diploma earned some 3 years ago. Since then, I worked as a Data Analyst at a hospital for a little under a year -- and was fired, so I can't use it as a reference -- and not a great deal of note since. I spent the last year in the US not working. So there's not much in the way of employment history here. I live in a town with a population of less than 30,000, and there are very few jobs available. The ones that are available, I'm largely not qualified for. Even the local employment agencies/job centre don't have much.

Obviously: keep looking, don't stop looking, look every day. But is there anything else I should be considering? There are so few jobs that any jobs that do pop up -- bearing in mind my lack of qualifications or useful skills -- the competition is so great that the odds are kind of against me.

I've only just started looking, so I'm not at Desperation Point just yet, and I do have a little income. I'm just looking for ideas, things I haven't thought of, to get a head start.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am going to make the radical suggestion that you join the armed forces. It's got OK pay, great benefits, and more importantly: they train you.
posted by parmanparman at 10:54 AM on March 29, 2010

You might start to do some volunteer work. It's perfectly acceptable to list that as experience when applying for jobs.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:02 AM on March 29, 2010

My advice in this situation is always the same - don't sweat the education, sweat your network. Make sure to get out and meet people, be it from volunteering, group activities, actual network events, etc.

If they're tangentially related to what you'd like to be doing, all the better. Don't skip the ones that aren't. Most jobs go unposted, and even the ones that are, are often filled by a friend of a friend. Or even that guy who comes down to volleyball and expressed an interest in a job.
posted by Vantech at 11:07 AM on March 29, 2010

Can you go back to school and get trained in something that is in high demand?
posted by Jacqueline at 11:16 AM on March 29, 2010

Sorry if I'm stating the obvious, but have you considered moving to a larger city?
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:19 AM on March 29, 2010

If you got your Access to Higher Education diploma why aren't you going into HE? Wasn't that the point of doing it? Many UK HE institutions are pretty much committed to taking mature students completing the AHE and you are not too late to apply to most courses at most institutions. Figure out what you want a career in, pick a course, get in touch with relevant admissions departments or programme leaders and get on with it.
posted by biffa at 11:28 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

If your town has a council or a university try their temporary employment agencies. I know several people who got permanent work through this.
posted by paduasoy at 11:49 AM on March 29, 2010

Go wherever jobs are available. Take anything you get, even if you think it's below you. If you get odd jobs, do a great job. After, ask if they know of anything open. Or if they could give you a reference letter. I've gotten most of my jobs not through filling out applications, but through knowing someone who knew someone who knew someone, you know?
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 11:51 AM on March 29, 2010

Don't discount being able to use your previous workplace as a reference. Assuming you weren't fired for something really egregious, you have nothing to risk by contacting people you worked with or for there. Something along the lines of "I know we finished up on a bad note, but I really enjoyed working at Comp X and feel had a chance to show my skillX. Would you feel comfortable giving me a positive reference?".

You eat a little humble pie, absolute worst case scenario you get a "How daaaare you!", but there is a chance of a positive outcome. Doesn't have to be a boss, it could be a co-worker, or a friend from a nearby department. Obviously it's not ideal to have some who hasn't worked directly with you, but it can be better than nothing at an entry level if they are positive and professional sounding.

Ignore "largely not qualified for", unless it's a job as a doctor or a pilot, let the employer decide that. Don't be afraid to try something out and grow into it, it's a small town as you say, they don't have too much to choose from! You have more usable skills than you think if you are online. Why not pad your computery skills a little while you are at a loose end? Pick up a little web stuff, or a little photoshop stuff.

Get out, get seen, get involved. Work with your local kids, or even better, your local elderly. Old people have kids, kids have jobs or companies. Let the oldies network for you, that nice anonymous who helps us out. Teach them computers, it's crazy fun!
posted by Iteki at 12:02 PM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

You could take a two-month CELTA course, and teach English as a foreign language.
posted by creeky at 5:19 AM on March 30, 2010

I live in a town with a population of less than 30,000, and there are very few jobs available.

Move. It's all about labour market mobility.
posted by dmt at 10:01 AM on March 30, 2010

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