Looking for work after a long break - any helpful suggestions?

mrdna New MemberRegistered Posts: 6
Hi folks, I'm new here. I'm currently working my way through level 3 at college after spending the past nine years out of the workplace as a carer - prior to that I had a patchy work history after graduating with a 2.2 in Business, including an assortment of call centre work and an all too brief spell as purchase ledger controller - but that was back in 2001! So I thought AAT would be a good way of refreshing my skills and demonstrating to potential employers that I'm serious about building a career in accountancy. I'm planning to start work again preferably in the summer with level 3 complete but a bit stuck as to where to start, I was considering trawling round all the financial agencies with a CV but the biggest problem is a lack of references. Has anyone else been in this position and have any tips?

thanks for any suggestions


  • ExcelAnt
    ExcelAnt Feels At Home Registered Posts: 80

    my story is probably somewhat similar. I have always found agencies to be highly useful if your able to temp this is potentially the best place to start i've done some bizarre accounts roles in the pursuit of a decent job, 6 weeks scanning at a hospital payroll function being the highlight! It has taken me a few years to build solid references (mainly because I ran off travelling)

    The best bet is to find a good agent and relay to them your passion for the sector and willingness to work. Get some temp roles, which will provide a reference to get on your feet, your also "tested" in the eyes of the agency IE turned up early/ontime, clean, and didnt fall asleep the basics they want you to demonstrate, anything over that is a plus!

    Once you are "tested" the aim is to push for entry level jobs or rounded accounts jobs in a small company.

    Oh and on the subject of agencies, never work with anyone who asks you to lie! Honesty is in my experience the best bet.

    Others would probably also suggest volunteering/writing to practises to gain experience, I havent done either so cannot comment.

    Hope this helps :)
  • mrdna
    mrdna New Member Registered Posts: 6
    Thank you, that is useful and along the lines I was thinking. I suspect the smaller local agencies might be my best bet for the first couple of assignments. I will look into volunteering also, I hadn't thought of that.

    The other issue is that I have a 'hidden' disability - my feeling as regards my condition is that for short-term agency work nobody needs to know, however for permanent positions it may require, if not exactly accommodating, at least explaining (I have Asperger's syndrome). Working out the right point in the process to disclose this is causing me a bit of head scratching as I don't want to be seen as dishonest, but at the same time don't want to make it much harder to actually get through the door and prove I can do the job. :huh:

    Thanks again for the advice.

  • ExcelAnt
    ExcelAnt Feels At Home Registered Posts: 80
    Best of luck finding something that you find rewarding! Stay positive and go for it.

    Re your condition, there is an array of employment law in your favour, if you feel comfortable with an agent along the way make it known to them, I'm sure they would be in a position to discuss the details but it should in no way affect your right to get the job you want to do!

    Oh and sidenote, references are available from college/Uni tutors too if you ask nicely :)
  • mrdna
    mrdna New Member Registered Posts: 6
    Thanks again, I will be asking a tutor for a reference I think. Staying very positive! :001_smile:
  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    Maybe I'm being curious but since you've disclosed you suffer from Aspergers I'll ask the question.

    Is this serious enough that it could become a problem to an employer and in what sense? If not, don't say anything... but if it can, then I do think you should mention it. Working for a recruitment agency that deals in the high level financial sector, there are instances where this could be extremely relevant for us and the client to know but we're not allowed to ask.

    It's easy to tout the 'Equality Act', but increasing legislation arguably makes employment harder for certain people, not easier, and takes no account that ultimately it's always a company's money at risk, never the 'discriminated' employee or the government's.
  • mrdna
    mrdna New Member Registered Posts: 6
    The short answer? It can be. There are several areas in which it can be problematic; the first is dealing with interpersonal issues. My body language can lead people who don't know me well to believe that I am not paying attention or disinterested, primarily as I have 'flat affect' so my tone of voice and facial expressions don't convey my feelings or attitudes well, and I don't make much eye contact as it is very uncomfortable. Conversely I often fail to read between the lines of what someone isn't saying, and don't always read body language or sarcasm well. The second area is sensory overload - a good analogy for how I function is like a computer with a large hard drive, a fast processor, and hardly any RAM. I can focus very well on a single task, and with good organisation and routine can keep a lot of balls in the air without difficulty. However other inputs like uncomfortable lighting or noises, distracting or intrusive co-workers, or confusion regarding what I'd expected to do in a given situation can make me much less functional, as can stress arising from a lack of clarity, i.e. unclear responsibilities, vague instructions open to misinterpretation. An employer needs to be aware of this in order for me to work well within the role over the longer term, so as regards a permanent placement I would always disclose my autism and these needs - not to do so would put me at a distinct disadvantage, and the employer would not get what they were paying for.
    As regards your position as a recruiter, I can sympathise to an extent - while its a company's money at risk however a repeatedly discriminated against disabled person can end up severely disadvantaged in terms of securing gainful employment and their own life chances, hence my caginess about declaring it upfront before even getting the interview.

    I think there's a difference between being considered for a high level position and looking for temp work as the risk both to the business and my own reputation of a poor fit is much greater in the situation you describe. In those circumstances I would discuss the issue with you - it would be relevant. I am interested in your perspective if you'd like to elaborate - after all I'm going to be dealing with recruitment agencies shortly and I'd like to know how to approach the issue without just not getting put forward for suitable positions. :huh:
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