Help me find a job in the UK, please!
February 8, 2011 7:16 PM   Subscribe

I am having real trouble finding a job. I'm in the UK. Any tips/pointers greatly appreciated.

My situation is a bit... odd:
- I have a good MSc from a great university
- I only got a II:ii for my BSc and have poor A-level results. I just didn't care. Oops. Regretting that much? ...yeah
- My degrees don't necessarily lead on directly to employment where I live. I can't move to a place where they might be more likely to do this.
- I've worked for three years in a junior management role, where I was appreciated, given lots of responsibility and flourished. I am not finding any similar roles when I browse the job sites now.
- I do web design and IT stuff through a local shop and have quite a few happy customers, but I need a proper job with proper pay! I can't do Lotus admin, I don't know Java etc etc so that rules THOSE jobs out...

The way I see it is this.
- Despite being educated to a high level, my A-Levels and II:ii stick out on a sore thumb and no doubt rule me out of a lot of graduate programmes.
- I'm a really fast learner and a really hard worker - but am not been given the chance to prove myself like I was in the institution (why did I leave? It closed down).
- I am looking for graduate/interesting jobs but all that seems to be advertised are posts that demand lots of experience for AWFUL money (and they stipulate that you have to work Saturdays just to kick you in the arse when you're down).

What should someone like me try and DO? I have a proven track record but haven't really any clue how to go about getting that next good job where I can prove myself?

Typical job ad I see when browsing:
Administrator, £14,000 reduced pro rata
Must have experience of handling cash.

I mean, WTF? £14,000 a year REDUCED pro rata, AND they want experience?!?!

On the offchance there's a MeFite who runs a graduate training scheme or similar, throwaway address:
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am not in the UK but two things occur to me here:

1. After a point, employers care more about your experience and references, not your school marks, so don't get too hung up on those. You finished school. You moved on.
2. You mention two specific things you don't know, Java and Lotus admin. You say you don't know them so that rules out some jobs. Clearly you chose these for a reason. If there are specific definable skills you know would make you more employable, can you find a way to learn them, even if it means part time or at night? Is there any kind of adult education where you are or schemes to help people upgrade their skills?
posted by zadcat at 7:50 PM on February 8, 2011

Why can't you move to where a better job may be available?

If you can't get into a large graduate program you need to look at companies that are too small to have a full blown graduate program where you application won't be binned due to lack of icas points etc before you ever get to talk to anybody. This is going to take legwork, not internet searches.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:30 PM on February 8, 2011

Unfortunately, being anon, you can't answer follow-ons, but it would help to know where in the UK you are. If you're stuck in the outer-hebrides, then quality jobs aren't going to come along very often!

The scuttlebut I'm hearing is that IT contract rates have improved significantly, but companies aren't filling permanent posts in any great numbers yet. Usually on the way out of recession, contractors see the upswing first as companies need a bit more confidence of seeing future demand before they commit to permanent roles, so the improvement in the contractor world suggests that permie roles will follow in time.

Like you I have a (relatively) poor degree result from a top-rate UK university & a computing MSc (from another). I've had employers biting my hand off whenever I've gone to interview in the past, so clearly a IIii is not the the career killer that you're making it out to be.

However, your poor A level results may be having an impact: it might help to go after a couple of job specific qualifications if they exist in your field. Assuming you want to stay in IT, consider going after a Cisco networking or Oracle database qualification: some of those are viewed very positively in the industry since they're hard to get & having them will demonstrate the 'stick-to-it-ness' and ability that your poor A-levels & IIii degree doesn't.

I also suspect that you're looking in the wrong places. Good IT jobs don't advertise in places that have £14k admin roles. Look at The IT job board and the UK academic sector jobs site.
posted by pharm at 2:33 AM on February 9, 2011

Have you tried putting up a profile on
posted by TrinsicWS at 8:50 AM on February 9, 2011

I'm also not in the UK, but as a hiring manager what I would like to see from a potential hire who had been out of work for a period of time is progress on personal projects or investment in their skills. Ideally those projects should be related to their career, but they don't have to be. I realize that a large part of their time would be occupied by job searching, and that money would be extremely tight. So in an environment where they were under-resourced in time and money, where they productive and what did they produce? [See what I did there?]

I would hire an individual with poor school grades who spent some of their time volunteering at the library upgrading its website (or whatever) over an individual with better grades who just spent the time looking for jobs.

To directly answer your question (bearing in mind this is a US perspective). Have something that demonstrates your ability to produce. Once you have that, feel free to apply to any job opening without regard to amount of experience required. When experience comes up, point to the things you produced yourself (whether that's completing online courses, volunteer work, open source project contributions, etc). Experience in job postings is often a code word for "knowing how to produce at a certain level".
posted by forforf at 12:34 PM on February 9, 2011

I was in this boat a year ago and the only reason I managed to get a job is because I was prepared to move away from where I lived. There are graduate training schemes that will take people with lower BA and A level results, particularly if they have skills and experience. Are you on Monster and Milkround?
posted by Laura_J at 12:40 PM on February 9, 2011

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