Age is just a number

Age is just a number. You’re not a number you’re a great candidate!

How to approach a career change at 40 plus.

nothing is impossible

 

What would make you really happy? If you could switch jobs now, what would inspire and interest you enough to make you want to rise early and go to work with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose every day?

 

Perhaps you think it’s too late? It might be true that given the years of study it requires, the career in law you wish you had pursued is now out of reach, but with a bit of thought you might find a related role in which you can use the wealth of skills and abilities you have built up over the years as you took a different direction.

 

Self belief is where this re-evaluation process has to start. To tell yourself that you can’t achieve your goal is to admit defeat before trying. The fear of failure can induce failure, and before you know it you’re on a downward spiral without giving yourself a fighting chance. Don’t waste time on regrets and start your positive thinking journey now. Sometimes we just have to dare to dream.

 

Take stock and think laterally

 

So, you know what you should have done twenty years ago. At forty plus it might be too late to start your career as an athlete or psychologist, but maybe you could still become an athletics mentor or train to become a counsellor; both roles in which experience is valued over youth. It’s time to look at the offshoot careers. Consider the length of the academic courses you might need to do, along with any further training, internships or voluntary work that are expected to achieve your goal. Also consider if at the end of the process you will have the competitive edge against other twenty-something applicants. Does the profession you are considering value experience, or is it associated primarily with younger graduates? If the role fits into this stereotype, would you really be happy working in that environment anyway? This is the time to take a step back and look objectively at career paths, and in turn to look inwards at where you are right now, and where you would feel comfortable in being in the future.

 

Seek advice

 

In the UK, despite anti-discrimination laws, age can be viewed in a negative way. In comparison with for example Japan, where life expectancy is longer and culturally age is associated with wisdom, the UK workplace can seem like an unnecessarily biased environment. To build your confidence and gain that psychological edge, don’t be above asking for help to bring about the change you desire. Attend career development seminars, approach CV writing services, job coaches and employment counsellors. Other opinions are invaluable, and professional job search personnel might be able to help you take a step back and see the opportunities you are missing by being too close to the problem.

 

Ask yourself if this is the right time to make a radical career change. It’s a big step and other aspects of your life need to be stable in order for you to focus all your energies on your career. While you make the transition, maybe you will need to take on a low stress part time job to keep afloat financially. Temporary work as a means to an end could help you pay for a professional development course, and if the work is in any way related to your new career, then that’s even better! Your transferable skills are building all the time.

 

 

Keep a sense of perspective

 

To bring clarity and insight, write a list of all your skills and achievements relevant to your dream job. Start a blog or a website related to where you aspire to be. This will also help with job applications and will build your credibility in the profession. Talk to people already working in your chosen career both in person and online. If possible attend relevant networking events. Start to say ‘yes’ to opportunities coming your way, you never know where they might lead. Often your career path unfolds naturally, but if the direction feels wrong, accept that it’s a mistake and take a sideways step. Don’t dwell on mistakes or obsess for too long about making a decision. Constantly worrying about what might go wrong will not help. Life is full of uncertainties and while you spend time worrying you could be missing an opportunity. Lead an interesting life, socialise and seek out different experiences and people. It will help you to decide where and what you want to be, and if nothing else it will make life much more entertaining.

 

While you go through this transition keep things in perspective. Look at this new experience in a positive way, it’s an exciting time and this could be your best year yet! Learn to bounce back when things get tough, and be prepared to make sacrifices because you know that your future happiness and success are worth the struggle. Be resilient and strong. Find your niche and sell your unique self to the best of your abilities.

 

Sell yourself, be yourself

 

Finally, create your own success by offering your skills speculatively to employers. Make doors open by suggesting how your skills might benefit their organisation. Be polite, professional and warm, and try not to take it personally if your ideas are not accepted. Putting so much emphasis on every attempt creates too much pressure. Yes it’s important, but at the end of the day it’s just a job. Show enthusiasm and charisma and enjoy the process of meeting the people you might be working with soon. If they like you but can’t employ you for whatever reason, they might be able to suggest other departments or workplaces you might try. Look at it as a networking exercise rather than as employers assessing you. If you can do the job and come across as being good to be around you are more than half way there. Why would they not want to work with you? As in all things there are no guarantees, but a calculated risk taken now could mean a look back with no regrets in the future. Surely it’s worth taking your best shot at achieving this today?

 

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Career Evolution

In celebration of International Women’s Day this week, we wanted to present a piece highlighting what creative choices a woman from Generation X had when aspiring to be and finally becoming a creative in Yorkshire.

Career Evolution

By Ruth Parker

 

I was always a creative kid. Sitting up a tree wearing my signature cowboy hat, I took endless photos with the camera my parents bought me, blowing my spending money on 35mm film and ice pops. At Christmas I asked for art and craft supplies and was told to ‘smile and be nice’ if anyone bought me a doll.

My dad was always interested in art and I remember him going out to paint beautiful landscapes in summer at 6am before he started his shift at the Gas Board, his creative career unfulfilled to be the providing father and husband he chose to be. There’s a lesson to be learned here. Previous generations had to accept a role.

My mum in turn became a housewife even after passing a difficult grammar school scholarship exam, as she was not awarded funding. She led an uncomplaining life but was unable to become the academic she wanted to be. It’s reassuring to know that this is not the way it has to be these days.

Although my parents aspirations were never fulfilled they passed on their dreams. Dad would take me out sketching on long walks around Haworth where I grew up, and tell me tales about his travels around the world with the army, thereby laying the foundation for my future plans. It was a wonderful Swallows and Amazons type childhood.

Art and English have always been my thing. I love playing with language and I like books as aesthetic objects that open up a world of knowledge on every subject imaginable.

Books took me to far away places and the visual was always significant to me. Even the design and copy on food packaging fascinated me. Pineapple chunks all the way from Africa and space age Vesta curry in packets.

Vest Curry Packaging

1970’s Vesta Curry 

 

Life for a kid in the 1970’s seemed to be on the cutting edge of technology. David Bowie and I would soon be going to the moon. How amazing would that be! I became fascinated with travel and where all the brightly coloured packaging came from. I read and wrote incessantly, scribbling poems, stories and disjointed prose, just writing for the sake of writing. I didn’t realise it at the time but all this was shaping a future in art, design and copy.

I left school with no real direction in mind. Careers advice was non-existent back then and as I didn’t want to be a secretary or a nurse I was regarded as a bit of an oddity. I wanted to be an artist, writer, philosopher … I was a dreamer, but I was handed leaflets on secretarial training.

These days creative aspirations would be nurtured. How times have changed. The attitude seemed to be that I would be married with kids soon, so why bother.  At this stage I was questioning everything. I was interested in world religions and the Humanities. I told the careers officer this and was asked if I wanted to become a nun. I remember feeling very misunderstood and didn’t raise the question again. Looking back it really was the dark ages. The women who marched and protested for a more equal society in the 1960’s were still making their voices heard, and the Dagenham women went on strike for equal pay, but attitudes were slow to change.

When I left school I went to my local library and found a course in art and design running at a local technical college. I worked hard and passed the course, but it didn’t bring the career I expected when I left.

In the 1980’s all the guys were in trades and all the girls took office jobs with the Civil Service. I joined them and went to work for the Inland Revenue as an Administrator.

1980s Secretary

1980’s office job

 

The turning point at work came when a colleague had a breakdown and threw a computer out of a fourth floor office window. It’s a miracle he didn’t kill anyone in the car park below, because as anyone who’s seen the ‘80’s series ‘Ashes to Ashes’ will know, computer hardware back in those days was big and heavy. Barry was coming up for retirement and obviously felt very unfulfilled. He was taken away for counselling before being quietly dismissed. How his flipping out and subsequent dismissal affected his pension I don’t know, but I do know that his conformity to the point of insanity was a working life wasted. Another colleague at the same time left to become a prostitute. It really was that boring.

Workers seemed to either accept the job as a temporary measure or it became a lifetime of security. I decided to move on before the urge to trash my workspace took control of me or it became too late to leave.

In 1986 I enrolled on a Foundation Studies course at Bradford College of Art & Design. Back in the day, students were funded with generous grants which, looking back, was an enormous privilege. The downside of funding was that places were fiercely competitive. In the days before students became ‘customers’, arguably the quality of work was much higher and the industry benefited.

We worked incredibly hard and Bradford College then produced exceptional candidates who went on to study at schools such as Goldsmiths, Central St Martins and the Slade. I decided to go down the sensible industry route and train to be a graphic designer. I was accepted at Cleveland College of Art & Design and set off for a career in this exciting new world. It would provide a sure fire job at the end of the course and the money (the course tutors assured me) would be very good too. Looking back…I’d advise anyone to question everything!

By the time I graduated with my HND, many other people had done so too. The market was saturated and jobs were scarce. The technology we were using at the time was basic but it was developing quickly, and six months out of the game meant you were no longer up to speed. The qualification counted for little and you were virtually unemployable.

I supplemented part time teaching with part time freelance art and design jobs, and started eventually to do more fine art work which I touted around the commercial galleries. From teaching business studies I moved on to teach graphics and worked with course leaders to write BTEC programmes.

In addition to work in education, which is invariably part time and on a short term contract basis, (but it has to be said, with an excellent hourly rate), I worked as a freelance artist and designer. Offshoot skills gained from this included marketing and project management. Work in the visual arts continually calls for a high level of lateral thinking. You have to be resourceful, tenacious and adaptable to maintain work in this industry, and sitting around waiting for inspiration is not an option.

Art has opened doors that would otherwise have remained closed, and the people I’ve met along the way have been fascinating. It has however been hard work and at times I’ve juggled with self funded studies and employment to achieve both my academic and professional qualifications.

I’ve survived by being good at networking and only a few of the jobs I’ve had have been found through formal application and interview. What was my initial career path has changed and evolved into something quite different over the years.

I always despair when art students say they’ve chosen this path ‘cuz it’s easy’. My immediate reaction is to think ‘well you’d better learn to ask the customer if they want fries with their order if you honestly believe that, because you’ll never be an artist’. Of course as a tutor I wasn’t allowed to say it, but I did try and change a few peoples way of thinking and redirect them to a less challenging career path.

A creative life takes nerves of steel. It’s uncertain, the pay can be low and sometimes there’s no pay at all. I’ve encountered many sharks in this business who regard artists as the lowest form of life to be exploited, and I’ve had to develop a thick skin not to take rejection as a personal insult. I still struggle with that one as to do anything well you have to invest both your time and passion. It’s more than a job. Artists tend to be sensitive souls and it can be difficult to maintain a hard, business like exterior and to see things objectively.

So how do we make it pay? Well that’s the million dollar question isn’t it! While I was at Bradford College David Hockney was always, and rightly so, held aloft as an icon in the art world. He made the grade, lived in LA and enjoyed world fame. Kudos to you Mr Hockney. It might also be worth mentioning that his work is typical of the house style at Bradford College of Art & Design. Take a look at his early work at Salts Mill in Saltaire. He’s talented but not by any means remarkable.

The difference between success and failure is that Hockney has been a great self publicist. He went to London and put himself in a situation where fame found him. He networked and networked well. With hindsight I’d do the same. I’ve done OK but not as well as David Hockney, so perhaps there’s a lesson to be learnt. It’s worth altering your mind set to get where you want to be. Raw talent is not always rewarded but strategic thinking is.

David Hockney

David Hockney

 

Moving from the visual arts into copywriting at this stage in life seems like a natural progression. Writing in its many forms has been ongoing throughout my life, it’s just one of the things I do, so to do it professionally seems logical. It’s not so much a career change in my fifties as a sideways step into another related field of work. On the plus side copywriting is a career that if we choose we don’t have to retire from.

It’s heartening that new technology has opened up a world of opportunity where we can all work online from anywhere, and for as long as our health permits if we choose to. Creativity is certainly more of a lifestyle than a job, and being a practitioner in any art-form is never purely about the money (although money undeniably helps, anyone who tells you not to stress about money is either a fool or has never been poor). Being a creative is about doing what we do because it’s who we are, and conversely, the job and the strength of character it demands shape our personality.

The ‘job for life’ of the last generation it seems is confined to the past, but the luxury of living in a free society, of being a generation who has not had to suffer the trauma of war, and who have been granted the opportunity to be who and what we want to be is remarkable.

New technology is to be embraced as it offers freedom and opportunities to people of all ages and in all situations. The core skills of good writing and good design are a constant, it’s just the tools that we use are evolving. Chameleon-like we have to adapt or be left behind. As ever it’s a challenge but to be challenged can be a good thing. To greet each working day with interest and enthusiasm is wonderful, and in addition to keeping afloat financially, surely that’s all that matters. The future looks promising. Bring it on!

Ruth Parker

 

‘Ruth Parker is an artist, designer and further education professional in the visual arts. With experience of writing content targeting a wide range of clients, she has worked both as an in-house and remote working contractor’. Ruth’s LinkedIn profile 

 

Gloss Hot Jobs – November

hot-jobs-november

There’s a definite chill in the air and 2016 is coming to its conclusion, but the top jobs just keep coming! We’re very proud to be able to offer some of the very best roles within the creative, digital, Marketing and PR sectors.

This November we have chosen three positions  that come with real challenge and opportunity, and will be equally rewarding for the right candidates. If you are interested in any of these positions, please get in touch via email at enquiries@glossrecruitment.com or call our team on 0113 209 5705.

Magento Developer Role – Inhouse Knaresborough: Online retail, excellent salary and urgent, North Yorkshire. Find out more.

PR Manager– York PR Agency: B2B, Long established, Amazing Benefits, York. Find out more.

MW to Senior Graphic Designer – Huddersfield: Heritage Sector, industry leader, Visitor Centre background and Exhibition experience, West Yorkshire. Find out more.

If you have any questions about one of the below positions, feel free to email us on enquiries@glossrecruitment.com, or contact our offices on 0113 2095705.

Looking for a job? Start marketing yourself with LinkedIn!

Sure, you may be hardworking, dedicated, and creative, but so are many other applicants applying for the same jobs as you! Even if you have a brilliant portfolio sitting in your bookshelf, it will continue to collect dust until you distinguish yourself from those other applicants.

LinkedIn is a virtual network of over 100 million professionals spanning the globe. A professional profile speaks volumes today as it helps you gain an edge over your competition. By creating an account with LinkedIn, you are more likely to gain a web presence as LinkedIn accounts rank high in search results. Continue reading

Interview with the man at the top

As a busy recruitment agency, based in the heart of Leeds, the creative individuals at Gloss work tirelessly to ensure not only that their candidates find the perfect job, but that their clients are offered the broadest range of design talent.

At the helm of one of the region’s top recruitment agencies is Ian Rigby, a man that is not only passionate about design, but who also has years of experience within the creative sector. He took a few minutes out from his busy schedule to answer some questions that will hopefully provide many job hunters with a little guidance in this turbulant and uncertain economic period.

1. Gloss Creative Recruitment, could you please sum it up in five words?

Honesty, integrity, long-term (is that cheating?), networked and reliable.

2. The digital market is growing at an exponential rate; what advice would you give to those that have just graduated and are looking to take their first steps onto the career ladder?

Get some experience ASAP… and by experience I mean relevant, commercial experience. There is no excuse for not having the right experience on your CV today. Put yourself in the mind of the client and think about what you would look for if you were hiring a junior and what would differentiate the quality candidates from the less desirable.

Once you have an understanding that energy and enthusiasm are a given and that the more experience you have the more likely you are to hit the ground running and ultimately secure the job.

If you’re wondering where to go for the work experience, why not try working for your friends or local businesses that may have never considered the services of a designer. Under the guise of a company name, mould your CV into a professional, attractive piece of work, complimented by a varied portfolio of work. If you need further help give us a shout and our sister company, Creative Protege, would be more than willing to help.

3. For those that have come to Gloss with bags of experience, what would you advise them to do?

Be specific. Just like businesses that are flourishing at the moment, individuals will need to become masters of a specific trade to demand the best rates and rise above competition. Employers have choice at the moment, but they also have specific needs – the days of being an all round designer are gone, so go for niche and be great at it.

Remember to keep up with the latest skills, as the latest generation of design talent will always be snapping at your heels. It is essential that you manage your career effectively – better than Fabio Capello manages the England squad!

4. Many people are hesitant when it comes to using a recruitment agency for fear of poor service; how can you guarantee a smooth ride for someone thinking of using the creative guys at Gloss?

 As long as you have a recruitment agent that appreciates your passion and discipline, then I don’t think you can go too far wrong. Gloss is run for creatives by creatives. Therefore when you get in touch with us you can be rest assured that we understand your dream, and empathise with your frustration; whether you are unemployed, stuck in a job that bares no relevance to the degree you studied in or simply want more information about the service we offer so you can make an informed choice as to whether you would like to join us.

I personally feel it is better to find two or three good, honest and reliable recruitment consultants that you can relate to and work with. You need SPECIFIC results and here at Gloss we provide a personal service to ensure we help you into the job that you always knew you were capable of landing.

5. Unemployment is rife at the moment, to all those that are riding it out, what tips can you give them to remain an appealing option to employers?

It is simple: keep busy and stay positive. It is also essential that you talk to recruiters and get specific advice. Most importantly keep growing, through training or with work experience. It is easy to get caught in the rat race and forget what you are working for, but the recession has given people a good chance to reflect and think about what they want from their career. You have to remain proactive; your career is a marathon not a sprint.

 6. You must see countless CVs as a managing director to one of the region’s top recruitment agencies; do you care to divulge to the readers the secrets to a successful CV?

Definitely! As I mentioned earlier – be specific. Having a CV that covers all areas might be good if you are applying to small companies who want that type of candidate, but the trend is now that clients prefer individuals with tailored specific skill sets.

Keep up to date with any technological changes and maintain a clear portfolio of work. The most important part of your CV is what you are up to at the moment and if that doesn’t match up with your target role, then do something about it!

Thank you Mr Rigby, some wise words that all those seeking a creative profession should heed.

Look out for more interviews from the team at Gloss in the coming months!