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.

Have a question for the Ask JU team?

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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

Business Owner Needs Help Reestablishing The Status Quo

Dear JU,

I read you page with interest and many of the things you say resonate with me. However, I am an employer and wonder if anyone appreciates how tough it is to do this – no I have not made a fortune, but I feel I am not a failure either. I have a team of sales people who are great. They do deliver and I appreciate this, however, I feel they are getting the upper hand and if I say no to their suggestions I am almost ostracised. I worked for a tyrannical boss and have always vowed never to be like them, but am I too soft, (not that I can change my nature)? I offer a good wage for a good days work; bonuses; flexible working; good holiday entitlement; pension; parking; relevant training and it feels that this is taken for granted. Everyone needs good sales people and the nature of sales is to be confident, but not all of their ideas are good. Silly as this sounds, I feel they are pressurising me and need to re-establish the status Quo without losing them. I know that people in small businesses feel isolated and unable to share their worries, except perhaps with their Accountants – but to be fair they are fair weather people. I have been in business for 15 years and want to continue to be so – I do not have a fortune for consultants to come in and tell me where I am going wrong. Just writing this would make me appear inadequate to others, but I remain anonymous and would really appreciate you thoughts on this.

Read JU’s answer

You raise a very valid point. As an employer, especially of a small business, things can be more difficult to implement and there are many different legal policies, good practices and ethical considerations to not only develop and put in place, but also understand. There are lots of websites that may help with free templates and forms you could use and adapt to your business.
Ideas are based on vision so not all will be everybody’s cup of tea and that is OK. No idea is a bad idea, just some are better suited to different times and circumstances. Have you considered creating a book for all the unused suggestions from your staff which as times change, may be used in the future? Saving their ideas might help them feel like their contribution is valued rather than discarded, and you feeling less disliked.
You are trying to manage your business as well as the relationships you have with your workers without losing sight of business priorities. You have clearly learned from the mistakes of others (tyrannical managers) and it is admirable how you work to ensure your staff do not have the same experiences under you. However, it sounds like you feel you provide many rewards for your staff and their behaviours and responses leave you feeling unappreciated. The feeling of being taken for granted… is this something you are also feeling in your personal life? On reading your message there are elements that cause me to wonder how you are feeling about you, and if there is an overspill from some of your personal relationships that are playing on your self-esteem. Take some time to reflect on this.
Re-establishing the current situation doesn’t need to be a long winded or expensive process. Identify for yourself how you expect everyone to perform, behave and even respond to disagreements and dreams of the company. Then hold a staff meeting or even an away day where they themselves can brainstorm those things. Anything on your list that is not on theirs, you add. Getting them to set their own expectations and see how they feed into it all could make them feel valued, respected, listened to and heard.
I hope this helps.

LEL

Subtle Sexual Harassment at Work

Dear JU,

I sit next to this woman at work and ever since I joined she has always been a bit off with me until recently, when she tried it on with me at a works do! Although I was really flattered by the attention, she is definitely not for me as I am straight so obviously I said no. Since then, her behavior towards me has gone a bit weird and I am not sure if it would be deemed as sexual harassment but she keeps doing things like, putting her arms around me, touching my knee in meetings, brushing up against me when I walk past her and makes snide comments about what I am wearing even though I didn’t think my outfits are inappropriate. It all really subtle that I don’t know whether to say anything but it is starting to make me feel really uncomfortable. I don’t want to make a big deal out of it as that would probably mean my working life becomes more difficult – what should 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

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

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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