Get a life

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I have quite often mentioned the importance of continuing to live a life that has more to it than job hunting. True, the job centre make it clear that while you are claiming benefits your job is job hunting and when you are meeting deadlines for job applications, and rewriting your basic CV template over and over again to fit each job application as is advised by the Job centre and job programmes you may attend such as the Work Programme, it is easy to believe that your only purpose in life is indeed to get a job.

I mention the matter of rewriting your basic CV and adapting it to each role you apply for because we have moved on a long way from the days of having ‘your CV’, and just sitting at a computer firing it off .

I certainly do not need to write an article about how competitive job hunting is these days and will I believe continue to be. I do not think that an improvement in the economy will necessarily make it easier to apply for jobs. There may in the future be fewer people applying if indeed as is claimed , more people are in work and there are more jobs but I have applied online for jobs where I receive a count of how many have applied and 540 is not unusual. However, employers have learned how to be so much more sophisticated in their selection of candidates, in order to get the best employee.

While the economy has been so tight, managers have become much more particular. Why be prepared to pay money to train when you can find out from a CV, and a look on LinkedIn and their profile that an applicant already has what you are looking for and you have hundreds of applicants to choose from who do have what you need ? Applying for a job these days is an exercise in SEO skills and knowing what words to use on your application CV to maximise your chances. Lots of companies use CV screening software, so the trick is to be sure that your CV has the words that the job will be looking for. My background, even though I am no longer fit enough to do it, is in early years work with pre-school children, family support and special educational needs. I won’t get a job as a bank manager, however, even though I have not been able to work in childcare for fourteen years, I still get offered this work, but not the admin role I now need. When applying for jobs, be realistic in what you apply for and maximise your application and its chances as best you can by reading the job description to understand what the job is asking.

Meanwhile, Get a life…..I don’t deny that it is very difficult indeed to maintain a social life and stay in circulation when you have such a very limited income as you will have being on benefits. Friendships can indeed be lost at the expense of the difference in income and the limitations it puts on you. However, while you are reading this on your computer, you are using one of your greatest assets for keeping in touch, expanding your contacts and visibility, and indeed making contacts and gaining skills that can lead to a job.

It isn’t about life coming to a stop when you have no money to spend after benefits have barely covered even your basic home expenses. Usually they do not, e.g. in the calculation of which benefits are paid, you may be eligible for some help, not much but some, towards your mortgage interest, but if you have mortgage arrears and are paying interest on those too, then what you get will in no way cover the mortgage amount. The same sort of situation will apply if you have chosen or been forced by your utility company to have prepay meters. Those on very low incomes actually end up being forced to pay more of a proportion of their income for basic utilities, because they are frequently stuck on pre pay methods of payment e.g. for mobile phones and gas and electricity. If you have a poor credit rating you cannot get a mobile phone contract and you cannot switch to a deal with a cheaper gas and electricity company if you are paying off arrears on pre pay meters. Life need not come to a stop with a very limited or non-existent disposable income, you just go about making a different sort of entertainment rather than the lifestyle you might have chosen with a good income.

Many claim that the internet, especially social bookmarking sites such as Facebook are dangerous and only used by people who cannot function in society and have normal relationships, people who spend their time looking for little green men. True, it is important to be able to relate to people on a face to face level, Facebook does not allow for reading those clues in expressions and body language that are so vital to communications, but the internet is a great source of being able to make contacts, especially for the disabled and those on a limited income. There are, apart from Facebook and LinkedIn, forums and groups for every interest under the sun, and of course masses of information to help your job search such as free CV templates as well as job boards. There are hundreds of sites about living on a budget and debt management, again many with forums so that you do not feel so isolated, as if you are the only one with the problem. The problem is when the internet completely replaces your personal face to face relationships. Many years ago I remember a song ‘People’. Frequently known by a line from the lyrics, people who need people’, the song was recorded by many but especially associated with Barbara Streisand….

People,
People who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world
Were children needing other children
And yet letting our grown-up pride
Hide all the need inside
Acting more like children than children
Lovers
Are very special people
They’re the luckiest people in the world
With one person,
One very special person
A feeling deep in your soul
Says you are half now you’re whole
No more hunger and thirst
But first be a person who needs people
People, people who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world.

With one person
One very special person
A feeling deep in your soul
Says you are half now you’re whole
No more hunger and thirst
But first be a person who needs people
People, people who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world.

As I mentioned earlier, the internet cannot replace that essential experience for functioning in society and at work or amongst our communities and present or future friends, the ability to ‘read’ a person, body language and expressions and tone of voice.

Not surprisingly, I am unable to afford a kindle E-book reader, and in any case, it is very difficult to keep up with the merits of the models available. When the Kindle first came out, it was indeed a wonderful idea, to be able to download books and store them on a small light gadget to carry around in your handbag, by the time I am able to afford one it will make a cup of tea while you read the book you have downloaded!! But there are online applications from kindle and other systems that enable you to download and read free books online with lots of sites where you can find free books.

Free courses of study are more difficult to find than they were and eligibility for a free place on many courses is more heavily restricted than previously. It is now not unusual that the criteria for a free place is that you must not already have what is considered to be a level 2 qualification, even if the subject of the qualification you have is not relevant to your future career plans. An example of this is that I am considered to have a level 2 qualification as I am NNEB nursery nurse qualified, although I now have health issues which prevent my doing that work, it is difficult for me to get free places on courses such as IT.

The first luxury I had to give up when my income dropped was cable television but there are several sites where you can watch free TV, in the format of online videos and episodes of series ,many being great favourites from years ago as well as free movies.

The age old hobby of pen friends gets rather expensive these days due to the cost of stamps, but the modern and cheaper version is to Google free epals, and make online friends from around the world to share experiences with. There is of course always Facebook, and while chatting to Facebook friends you may quite likely never meet, put find a job and similar terms in the search box

Free music videos can be enjoyed by signing up to YouTube, and most of these can be shared on Facebook, so that you can enjoy music discussions with your Facebook friends. On YouTube you will also find videos on everything including looking for a job, IT skills, nature, documentary type videos, the list of subjects goes on, and again you can share and discuss your finds with interested contacts that you find online, or your friends who might live some way away and it is not easy for you to get to see them. You can even save the cost of stamps and send online birthday and other occasion cards for free!!

Keeping up a life of contacts and interests even with, especially when you have little money and have lost many aspects of your life is vital and also helps a lot towards making contacts and accessing the hidden (unadvertised) job market.

Valerie Hedges

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About veh3959

I’m Valerie and like so many today am looking for a job while over 50 and with health issues. While looking for work and trying to make myself employable I have come across lots of useful information and resources, so thought I would share them
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