Johnson Underwood

Recruitment FAQs from our

Northampton based Agony Aunt

Navigating the workplace can be a difficult task. Browse our recruitment FAQs to see what challenges others are facing, and what advice we would give them.

AskJU - Johnson Underwood’s agony aunt

With nearly 30 years of experience within the recruitment industry, at Johnson Underwood we understand just how stressful job hunting and handling problems at work can be. On an everyday basis, common difficulties such as anxiety, health issues or work conflicts can also get in the way of promoting yourself as a great candidate or employee.

This page is for anyone wanting advice and guidance related to finding a job or work issues in general. We are also here to provide support for personal matters if you just need a non-judgmental person to talk to (naturally, we can’t provide legal or medical advice and we wouldn’t dream of doing so).

JU’s agony aunt team is supported by Lel from LEL’s Counselling & Psychotherapy and some of our recruitment experts here at JU.

Each question is reviewed and answered directly by an Ask JU team member.

If we feel that your question might help others, we might add it to our website with our answer – but if we do that, we’ll make sure we remove any elements that might identify you. We will ensure complete confidentiality.

Please participate: ask questions, share your experiences and tell us what concerns you have in the workplace.Help yourself and help others at the same time! We hope that, by sharing people’s problems and suggesting practical, workable solutions, our Ask JU page will help bring a smile back to your face.

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Meet Lel

In a nutshell, I am a single foster carer, business owner and student studying towards my doctorate in counselling and psychotherapy. For nearly 10 years I worked as a senior business manager within local authorities. I now run my own private sector business providing welfare awareness, training and development internationally.

I am passionate about enabling people to achieve their potential and aiding them onto a path where they can be supported to excel. I am also a trainee volunteer counsellor and mediator with many years’ experience offering practical and emotional support to people from a variety of backgrounds, ages, beliefs, values and with a wide range of concerns.

Lynell, aka Lel

If you would like to connect with Lel through her company website, LEL’s Counselling & Psychotherapy, click here

Ask JU

Brexit and Work Worry

Dear JU,

I currently live and work in the UK and I have been here for 3 years now. Originally, I am from Austria. I have a really great job, working in health and social care (social worker) which I was already trained to do before I moved here. I am really concerned about what is happening with Brexit and should the UK leave the EU whether I will be forced to go back to my home country? I have spoken to my employer and they have reassured me that this is not the case but I am still having serious worries and doubts on a regular basis. Please could you advise me what I can do in order to limit this possibility?

Read JU’s answer

Thanks for writing to us.

This has understandably been a very daunting and uncertain time for many who like yourself, ultimately fear deportation. I imagine that the struggle our government has seen in agreeing an exit deal, has not helped much either. However by now, employers should have already amended or devised new HR policies to reflect the changes which support their EU staff, and this should include the need for you to apply for settled or pre-settled status by the 30th June 2021. Here is a link to our government website where you can obtain additional information and also apply for settled or pre-settled status:https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families
You can help the process by ensuring that all your identity documents, HMRC/ DWP records are up to date, and you have proof of continuous residence in the UK, as this is what the Home Office will be using to check your eligibility for a settlement status. Ask your employer for a copy of their new or updated HR policy which details the change in conditions and requirements. Also, ask if your contract of employment will be amended to reflect these changes, in which case, you will need a copy to review and sign. Both these documents should make clear what you need to provide (and how often), as well as the duration of the contract based on your new status (for example, 5 years, 10 years, pensionable age etc), and should also help you feel secure in your role.

Depending on the size of the organisation you work for, you could ask for a regular support and information group to be set up with HR, where staff with similar concerns can meet as a group and discuss their worries, share idea’s and also have an update from HR which should hopefully reassure and counteract your anxieties. If this is not possible, you could also suggest your employers set up a questions and answers mailbox, or identify a person who can respond to staff queries and concerns (no matter how big or small) as and when.

If you’re still having serious doubts and worries on a regular basis, and find this is having a significant negative impact on your day, I would advise speaking with a talking therapist who can explore your worries and manage the impact your anxieties are having on you.

I wish you all the best,
LEL

New Year’s promotion hasn't happened

Dear JU,

I have been waiting for a promotion and was hoping to hear about it this New Year. However, I just found out that instead of a promotion, they are recruiting for that role instead! I am feeling really deflated and cross and I can’t seem to understand what the issue is. What should I do? I feel awkward asking for more information but also quite put out as I have worked really hard for this company. I am now considering looking for a new role, but I don’t really want to leave as I love it here.

Read JU’s answer

LEL says:

Thanks for writing to us.

I can imagine how upsetting and unfair that must feel for you, especially if you have been working towards a promotion and looking forward to one too. Only you can conclude if this was a blessing in disguise taking you on the path of a new challenge, or a slight setback keeping you on the current one. Take some time to reflect on the reasons behind why you really wanted this promotion, and then ask yourself if it really is what would have been best for you. If you believe it is then all is not lost, as you now have a choice whether to apply.

Speak with the hiring manager to ask 1) what they are looking for in their ideal candidate and 2) obtain feedback on how they feel you have been performing along with any developmental areas you may need in order to excel in that role. Be honest about how you feel and how much you love working there. At the very least, by the end of that conversation you should have an understanding of why they decided to advertise the opportunity rather than offer it to someone directly.

Try not to take it personally. Automatic/internal promotions are starting to be replaced by what many view as a fairer and more equal way to recruit for new roles. This allows other members of staff the opportunity to progress up the company ladder – and, for businesses, this can also be a great way to bring in a fresh perspective along with a wealth of experience and lessons learned. This means people such as yourself, if you do decide to consider roles outside the company.

Good luck and all the best,
LEL

Feeling overwhelmed and overloaded at work

Dear JU,

I am constantly feeling really overworked in my job. Most days I am trying to do the workload of two people and therefore I feel stressed out and I am being snappy towards my work colleagues which is not how I normally am. The expectations from my bosses sometimes overwhelm me but I don’t know what to say to them as I think they will just say that I took the role on and this is what is required, but it’s just not realistic. How do you think I should best handle the situation?

Read JU’s answer

LEL says:

Thanks for writing to us.

One of the impacts our financial climate is having on many organisations and businesses is a reduced workforce fighting to meet demand, resulting in unrealistic demands and workloads. Now on the one hand, for employers, having workers who suffer in silence (come in early, leave late, work through lunch breaks etc.) is great for business as their payroll reduction is not affecting their service delivery. However, for those workers, the increased pressure and hours can result in an unhealthy level of stress, leave you feeling overwhelmed or even behave outside your usual self. So, as you asked, how do you safely broach this subject and avoid a dismissive response?

Start quantifying your work by keeping a log for a week or two of everything you do within your contracted hours. Include the time you started/ finished each task, problems, breaks, interruptions from colleagues and even phone calls. At the end of the day, note tasks you were unable to complete that have to be carried over to the next day. It sounds like a lot, but if you jot it down on a notepad as you go along throughout the day it won’t feel like much at all! If the results show that you are working well outside capacity, then when you have your next supervisory meeting explain how you are feeling and request additional support. Any good manager would respond empathically. However, if your manager responds in the way you think they will, then present your log to them so they can see that your workload really is unmanageable.

In the meantime, make some quality time for yourself to relax and release your stress. This could be a hobby, spending time with a loved one, soaking in the bath or even a long hot shower. The more you relax and release, the less likely you are to ‘snap’ at your colleagues and impact the relationships you have with them.

Protecting your mental health is key and many people easily put their own needs aside when it comes to the fear of potentially losing their livelihood. You must consider what really is best for you. If your employer is not able to provide you with the support you feel you need, what will this mean for you? Will you continue as you have been, or start looking for employment elsewhere? It’s the new year and people naturally reflect on their lives and decide what changes they want to see in their lives. It’s time to focus on you.

Happy New Year!

LEL

Making Christmas affordable

Dear JU,

I love Christmas and I like to give; only problem is I find myself in debt come January and it takes me the whole year to get straight. I really work hard to make ends meet and sometimes you just have to give yourself a treat, even if it is a cake and a cappuccino – otherwise, what’s the point? Also, there is a lot of pressure at this time of year to make people happy and people expect really expensive presents from me – any wise words for me? Happy Christmas by the way!

Read JU’s answer

LEL says:

Thanks for writing to us.

Your love of Christmas is one shared by many, along with the financial strains and expectations. However, the joys of Christmas need not be expensive -and thankfully there are plenty of options for cost-effective celebrations and gifting. Christmas comes around once a year, which ultimately leaves us with plenty of time to budget and plan for events of the season. Some find that buying gifts throughout the year prevents them from being in the red come January, whilst others secretly enjoy the thrill of rushing around and stretching the pounds when the festivities begin. Whatever suits you best, planning is key to a successful Christmas regardless of budget.

Focus on your happiness rather than those around you. Start by buying yourself a Christmas present first, wrap it and put under the tree. Then think about who you want to get gifts for, set a budget for each person and then brainstorm ideas for gifts. Gifts of sentiment can often be more valuable to the receiver than those luxury gifts that break the bank. Don’t allow yourself to feel pressured by other people’s expectation of you to buy them expensive gifts; redefine their expectations by thinking outside the box that, up until now, has confined you. You could even get creative: put a personal touch on your gift, or make it from scratch. One year I bought an engraving pen for less the £10 and personalised cheap beer and wine glasses for my family and friends. Another year I created photo frames of my favourite memories with them over the years. To cheerfully keep costs down, you could also…

1. Re-gift things you’ve not used in over a year or sell them to make some extra cash

2. Agree spending limits with friends and family members

3. Download free apps on your phone to create and send fun digital Christmas cards

4. Organise a Secret Santa for gift giving at work, with friends and even family members

5. Check websites such as money saving expert for tips and advice on budgeting, debt management and lots of other useful advice on planning and managing your Christmas.

Well done for treating yourself, it is something I endorse to all my clients. When you get paid, before paying any bills, pay yourself for all your hard work and everything you have endured throughout that period. It does not have to be anything too expensive, as you said “a cake and cappuccino” works for you. Going swimming, cinema, bowling, buying a new novel or even a new item of jewellery might work for others. Whatever tickles your fancy, pay YOU first and don’t feel bad about it!

However you spend your Christmas, I hope you have relaxing festive holiday and feel all the love and joy the season should bring.

All the best,

LEL

Dreading the thought of retirement

Dear JU,

I am fast approaching the age of retirement and whilst I know many people can’t wait to get there, quite frankly I am dreading it. I have dedicated my whole life to working and have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it but now the idea of not having a reason to get up in the morning is really starting to worry me. Can I carry on working after retirement? If not, what other things could I do as I really am at a bit of a loss?

Read JU’s answer

LEL says:

Thanks for writing to us.

Sounds like the thought of retiring is causing some anxiety for you. Retirement can be overwhelming, especially for those who like you have spent their life working and enjoyed it. If working is something you really want to continue doing, you’ll be pleased to know you have a few options. For example, you could ask your employer to defer your retirement a couple of years, consider changing employment or even reduce your hours to phase you into a retirement plan. You do not have to give up work altogether; some people choose to work into their late 80s.

Some people embrace the challenges of retirement and see this as a time for new experiences. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but not been able to due to work commitments? Are there any hobbies or activities you really enjoy? Or have you thought about giving back to the community through volunteering? Plan for your retirement and there will always be a reason to get up in the morning. It is a big change which understandably contributes to why you’re feeling anxious about it, so take the time to really explore you, your options and trust your instincts.

A pinch of tough love – research what retirement is about, your financial options, legal implications, pension and what working (or not working) after retirement age could look like for you. Whatever you decide, try to save as much as you can for life after retirement. Working may not always be an option in the future and you need to be realistic and honest with yourself when thinking about your next step.

Here are a couple of useful websites to get you started: https://www.wearejust.co.uk/health-and-lifestyle/lifestyle/working/ and https://www.gov.uk/working-retirement-pension-age

WORKING IN RETIREMENT 

www.wearejust.co.uk

You don’t have to stop work completely just because you’ve reached retirement age. Increasing numbers of retirees are working after and in retirement; some for the money they can earn to supplement their pension, others for the fun and sense of achievement.

All the best,

LEL

Johnson Underwood

If you would like to follow up on any of these recruitment FAQs, do not hesitate to contact Johnson Underwood.

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