Responding to the announcement that the number of people out of work in the UK has jumped by 140,000 to 1.82 million, the highest in 11 years, Karen Darby of SimplySwitch fame says it is not all ‘doom and gloom’ and gives her suggestions for beating unemployment and finding the right job.
Even though Karen sold SimplySwitch for £22m to the Daily Mail, she was also once in the same situation as many thousands of UK workers. Karen Darby, who is a highly successful and inspirational entrepreneur, had a classic ‘rags to riches’ story. One of five children, Karen grew up on a council estate and left school at 16 with one GCSE.
Whilst still at school, Karen worked in a supermarket, a launderette and a fish and chip shop. In her determination to work she walked from Mitcham to Croydon knocking on the door of every shop on the way until she found a job.
Here Karen gives her top tips for finding the right job in today’s depressed employment market.
Learn and keep learning.
Use this time as an ideal opportunity to think hard about what you want out of life. Take control of your destiny. Many people allow themselves to drift along and stay in the rut. Karen is a great believer that we should do what we love and the opportunities will follow. She says: “You can put a square peg in a round hole. You simply have to shave the edges off. Why not learn new skills and take the opportunity to reinvent yourself?”
Do Your Research
Apply to numerous jobs and be proactive. Go online and find out everything you can about the company. If the business interacts with the public, try their services and go along for the experience so you can tell them why they are better than their competitors. They will love that! By doing this you can also tell them why you would be best for their job. When it comes to sending out CV’s go for quantity and quality.
Keep looking until you find a job. Karen advocates that job seekers must have a skin like a rhino and be able to handle rejection. Many people may have been looking for a long time and still not able to find the right job. They must accept that perhaps they don’t tick all the right boxes for an employer. Every employer is looking for something different and something very specific. She says: “It’s hard when you don’t get a job, but you must be prepared for that and have thick skin to walk away with your chin up and still keep looking. Be flexible – consider taking a step down even because, over time, you can show off your skills and then move back up again.”
Any Job is Better Than None
With unemployment so rife, employers can be choosy. Job seekers need to be in the right place at the right time. She says: “If someone came to me and they were flipping burgers to stay working, I would be inclined to employ them. They might be the right person for the job and they could move up the burger flipping management ladder!”
Work For Yourself
You should certainly consider working for yourself. A tough market often brings out the entrepreneurial spirit in people. Karen advises job seekers to see their own potential, to look at their strengths search for a gap in the market and go for it. A job for life is only for those who work for themselves. Karen says: “I decided at a very young age that whatever happens in life, I could deal with the worst of it. Why not take charge of your destiny and go it alone?”
Lots of people returning to work after a career or work break may find the job market has moved on. The key is to be positive and see what you can bring to the table. Thinking positive, whatever your situation, will bring about change. Karen firmly believes something will change. “If you keep knocking on doors, somewhere, somehow, someone will say yes. Nobody is going to give you a job, you have to go out and get it for yourself!” Karen recommends that job seekers should not rely on advertised jobs and go out and find one that might be there for the asking. “And remember, every no is one step closer to a yes.”
Imagine yourself as a product that you have to market. Karen explains that many people are judged by the way they look and the way they sound. Karen came from South London and on her way up the entrepreneurial ladder she soon learnt that it was vitally important that her communication and presentation skills were top notch. So she went through a self-marketing process to refine her accent and create a positive first impression in order to appeal to employers, and eventually used this skill to bring potential investors into her own business.
Find different ways to work. There are many alternatives to traditional employment – Karen now manages her various businesses interests by working from home alongside a hectic family and social life. Karen suggests that people should consider flexible working instead of full time employment. She says: “Remote Employment might help, they have loads of jobs working from home. This helps to balance all options. Working from home or working remotely for a company can make a difference in people’s lives and to the employment culture in the UK. And having done it now for so many years myself I doubt that I’d ever want to work in an office again!”
Become An Entrepreneur
Lastly, why not run a profitable small home business from home? Becoming an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to set up a huge company. But many home-based businesses enable people to have hugely enjoyable lifestyles. Karen urges people to ‘think outside the box’ and find other ways to earn a living such as outsourcing their skills to employers and invoicing them for a few hours per day or week instead of being unemployed. “Here again, websites such as Remote Employment can help with flexible working options and home business opportunities.”
As a single mother of three sons, Karen spent several years working from home and became a “mumpreneur”. Over the years, she has personally trained hundreds of people in the call centre industry and for many it was a life changing experience. In fact, many champions were raised in ‘Karen’s Stable’, several of whom have gone on to set up their own highly successful businesses.
Karen’s story, of creating several major business success stories while also juggling a real life at home, is a tale of our times – of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, woman and mother in the 21st century. Karen prophesises that the current economic climate could bring out a whole new culture of home workers, and raised from the unemployment ashes, a new generation of Entrepreneurs!
On a last note, Karen says to all the unemployed: “Be really flexible, be determined, stay positive and you can’t fail!”