Johnson Underwood

Recruitment FAQs from our

Northampton based Agony Aunt

Recruitment FAQs? No problem! 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

My job role is too big

Dear JU,

I really hope you can give some advice. I was employed at the company I currently work for as a ‘Sales Manager’ however it turns out what they are actually looking for is someone to oversee the entire Sales output in a much bigger Director size role which I simply don’t have the experience for and because of this they are trying to say I am ‘under-performing’ in my role. I was never given a proper job description which is probably my fault for not asking for one and the job description they have now provided me with, I know I am not capable of some of the tasks required. We have already had a few meetings whereby they have told me that I lied in my interview and on my CV which simply isn’t true. I think they are trying to make this look like it’s my fault but in reality it is there fault for not advertising it properly. What do I do?

Read JU’s answer

More often than we realise, jobs are changing for a variety of reasons such as financial constraints, limited resources and business demands. It sounds like your company has restructured roles to meet its own changing needs and this has now left you in a role that not only did you not ask for, but do not feel confident in.

Sounds like you are in a very stressful situation where, not only are you feeling unappreciated, you are also feeling unsupported, scapegoated and unwanted. It does not sound like they are going to budge or change their narrative either. Therefore, the first thing I advise you do, is ask yourself whether you want to continue working there? Are you happy with the way things are now? Do you believe that they will change their tune and support you? It’s time you make a decision to put your wellbeing first, and do what you feel is best for you.

For many, the thought of resigning in our current climate is daunting, and this keeps people in roles they are really unhappy in. It does not have to be that scary. Right now, the world is at your fingertips. Update and revamp your CV, then have a look at what else is out there where you feel you may get what you need. Apply for whatever tickles your fancy and enjoy the confidence boost that comes with being shortlisted. You don’t need to leave your job until you find something else, but I think you’ll feel better taking control of your own career.

If you decide you don’t want to leave, then training and communication is key. Placing blame won’t change the situation so you need to upskill yourself so that you feel confident, and your managers are no longer questioning your performance. There are online courses you can take to boost your knowledge, skills and increase your performance. Ask your manager if there are any they recommend online, or even that they can send you on and let them know the effort you are putting in to excel in the role. Also, there are plenty of YouTube videos with tips and pointers that may also help too.

Whatever you decide, it has to be right for you.

I wish you all the best,

LEL

Mid-life crisis; relationship breakdown vs work life

Dear JU,

I have just found out that my partner has been cheating on me after 15 years together – I’m no spring chicken, now in my fifties and I had already started planning for my retirement, securing a part time role and looking after my grandchild on a Friday. Now I have to totally re-think and look for a full time position, let my daughter down re my grandchild, look for a new home and even have to consider securing a mortgage. I’m scared of not being able to fulfil this; my confidence is at an all time low. I have worked all my life since I was 18 in office environments, including office management, but I’m not sure I can do such a stressful job again. What can I do?

Read JU’s answer

Thanks for writing to us.

It sounds like your life is currently is filled with a lot of changes. You are now having to make adjustments that you never planned for and it’s ok to be scared. Separating from your partner comes with a loss that you will need to process, and it is important that you take the time to grieve in order to heal from it. Go at your own pace with this, take as long as you need to and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Yes, you will need to make realistic plans so prioritise your focus on the areas that have the most and immediate impact. It sounds like finding alternative employment and affordable housing will be at the top of your list and these alone can be very stressful. There will be plenty of job opportunities at various levels available to you, both in and out of your comfort zone so maybe try to explore the world outside of management if you are worried about the possibility of stress at work. Have you considered seeing a life coach? They can really explore your options and tailor a plan based on your individual circumstances which may also help boost your confidence and motivation.

Try to embrace the change and as you embark on this new journey in your life, get creative with your thinking. For example, you would like to look after your grandchild on a Friday, so have you looked at the type of jobs you can do from home? You’re worried about stress at work, have you considered utilising one of your skills and becoming self-employed? You need to find an affordable home, have you thought about house sharing with a friend or even a family member? As you have always worked within administration, what about learning a new skill at college?

All these adjustments and changes may feel impossible however, it is important you recognise that those feelings may just be your grief talking! So try to remember that as many closed doors and limitations you may feel are there for you right now, there are twice as many opportunities in reality, you just have to be ready and let yourself grasp them.

I wish you the best of luck,
LEL

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

Johnson Underwood

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