APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your career questions.
Today she helps an employee who's taking on extra work to help colleagues with children and a manager who's worried about explaining her employment history.
Q) Lots of the women on my team have children, including my boss, and although I don’t have kids myself, I was very sympathetic when they struggled to juggle childcare during lockdown, picking up the slack and working extra hours when they weren’t able to.
However, despite kids now being back at school, I’m still being expected to take on the extra work other people used to do – I think everyone has just got used to me doing it! How can I address this without getting people’s backs up?
Holly, via email
A) I feel for you, Holly! You don’t want to be the office sponge who takes on everyone else’s work, but equally you don’t want to appear uncompassionate. I read recently that two out of three childfree women aged 28-40 believe they’re expected to work more than colleagues with kids.
Too often bosses think childless workers are “free” to stay late, work weekends or cover for colleagues who have kids. Since no one in your organisation has worked out that you not only picked up the extra load during lockdown, but you’re continuing to do so, then you need to take control.
Be honest about feeling overloaded. It’s fine to say: “During the first lockdown, I was happy to cover for my colleagues who had kids at home, as I think it’s important that we help each other out. But what I thought was a short-term fix is turning into a long-term one as the extra work I’ve taken on has stuck with me (detail all the extra work) and that’s not sustainable.
Can we explore ways of getting cover for their roles?” Now the issue is on the table and you’ve explained the impact it is having, it’s up to them to find a solution!
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Q) In 2012 I applied for a specialist position in a large company in the health sector, after spending 10 years in a tight-knit team. I got the job, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I quickly felt out of my depth and ended up leaving to return to my role with my previous company, where I’ve spent the last eight years.
I’ve been upskilling and am now a manager, but recently I’ve felt like I’m treading water. How do I explain what happened to prospective employers and show that this time I am committed to making the leap?
Cheryl, via email
A) First, let’s focus on the positives. You have a job you are good at, you know you interview well and can get a job that’s a step up, you have upskilled and you are a manager! You should feel very proud of yourself, so it’s time to get a job you feel excited and rewarded by, as you’re clearly ready for a challenge.
So, go for it, and do not worry about what happened previously. If you’re asked to explain your CV, be honest. You got the job that you could do, but you didn’t feel you were a good fit. It’s a testament to you and your work that your previous employer wanted you back. So make sure you sell it as a positive. Lots of people make career moves they regret, but it’s about learning from your mistake.
At interview, make sure you ask interesting questions and do plenty of research on the company and the job before making the change. You don’t want to make the same mistake again.
- Got a careers question you want Karren to answer? Email email@example.com
- Karren cannot answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice
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