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Career Clinic

Friday, 23 October 2009

Today we open up the phone lines to our viewers in an attempt to give much needed advice on finding a job in the recession. We have a career direction expert, an employment rights expert and a Dragon from Dragon's Den to give you help, whether it be in starting a business, looking for a new job or finding out your legal rights.

The live register in September of this year stood at 429,400 people, an increase of 183,422 people or 76.4% in just one year according to the Central Statistic Office's figures. The standardised unemployment rate in September was 12.6%.

(Sourced from On September 22nd, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) released the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) for Quarter 2 2009, which covers the period March to June. The QNHS Q2 '09 recorded a drop in employment levels by 8.2% in comparison to Q2 2008. With just a little over 1.9m in employment, employment has dropped back to Q1 2005 levels. However at that stage unemployment was only 4.2% and it is now 12%. Long-term unemployment has started to rise and now stands at 2.6% - a figure not seen since early 1999. Over the last year, 174,300 jobs were lost against 23,800 created. Out of the six categories where jobs were created, three are funded through the public purse and so future employment growth is doubtful.

Alan Haugh:- Employment Rights Expert
Alan Haugh is a barrister. He is currently Head of Legal and Strategic Services with the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA). Before taking up this position with NERA in July 2007, Alan had been Head of Employment Law at IBEC where he advised employer members on a wide range of employment law matters. He has represented clients in employment law proceedings before Rights Commmissioners, at the Employment Appeals Tribunal, the Equality Tribunal, the Labour Court and the Circuit Court. Alan has also held lecturing positions at DIT, NCI and UCC.

John Fitzgerald - Career Direction Expert:
John is the MD of Harmonics, Ireland's number 1 provider in helping managers and professionals to grow and develop their careers. John has personally coached over 250 professionals through career change in the last 10 years when they were faced with redundancy. His work has consistently shown him that each individual has the ability and talent to become an entrepreneur but few have the belief. John's view is that for Ireland to recover we all have to develop a 'self employed mindset'. We have to become Leaders of our career direction whatever the circumstances and build new futures even if we see little hope on the horizon.
John's company Harmonics work with corporate clients such as O2, Diageo, Superquinn, Danone, TDK, Tyco and AOL who are making management and professional staff redundant.

John's has written "Managing Your own Career" and "Self Marketing for Success" which are used by participants on Harmonics 'Career Transition Programme'. John is a passionate public speaker and his work on career change is regularly featured in the media and he has contributed to The Tubridy Show, The Kenny Show, The Last Word and Gareth O Callaghan. John is currently filming a new documentary series 'Rising from Redundancy' which will be shown in early 2010. John will coach 6 people rebrand themselves and find new careers following redundancy in a landmark series for RTE Cork.

Niall O'Farrell - Entrepreneurial Advice Expert
Niall O'Farrell, 43 , is one of Ireland's most successful entrepreneurs with a myriad of businesses from men's fashion to property and smoothies to his name.
O'Farrell is the man behind men's outfitter Black Tie. In 1985 he rented the top floor of his father's premises and opened Club Dresswear, within four years he opened a second store, and the start of his empire was born. He recently celebrated 25 years in the retail business. Meanwhile O'Farrell, who started work in retail at just 17 and opened his first store at just 20, is also expanding his empire into London where he is behind Jermyn Street shirts in Piccadilly. He has also developed an extensive property portfolio with many landmark buildings in London as well as almost every Black Tie premises in Ireland. His latest venture is a drinks and snack food business called Simply Direct.

Expert with her will be John Fitzgerald: 5 Career Tips

1. Focus on 3 Questions to find your niche

This means stepping back and asking yourself three questions.

1. What am I passionate about?
2. What can I be the best at?
3. Where can I add value?

This involves taking personal accountability and creating a personal business plan. This will help you to find your niche and set about your job search with a new focus. Finding your niche is a lot like launching a new business. You need to own it and be the person people recommend for a service. Then it's speaking comfortably about what service you are selling and how you uniquely add value.

2. Less Job Hunting - More where can I add value

A lot of unemployed people are stuck on the laptop at home job searching on the internet. It is a lonely existence and not the best way to job search. It dents self confidence and pigeon holes you into jobs that you did before where you have experience. Less than 20% of jobs are found this way!

It is a lot better to get out there and seek out problems to solve and show where you can add value. In the current environment there are many problems to solve in businesses. How can you find out what problems need solving? Cost cutting is needed, new innovative sales strategies are needed, clever marketing is required, and debt collection skills were never as needed. So what is your area of specialisation? Think like a consultant and offer your services on a part time basis or project basis to solve a particular problem. This way there is no long term commitment given by either employer or employee but an opportunity to show how you can add value. It may ultimately lead to a permanent job offer if you prove your value.

3. Network with a purpose and a new identity

Decide what your new message will be when you meet people. Each time you meet someone new on a train, luas, at a bus stop is an opportunity to talk to someone. It is an opportunity to practice your elevator pitch. What is an elevator pitch you might ask? It is a prepared answer, when somebody asks you.. So what do you do?

Ensure you are ready with a positive future focused answer. If unemployed recently you could start by saying. "I have recently been made redundant along with many others as part of a company restructuring. This has led me to decide what I really, really want to do next. The time off has given me the opportunity to refocus in a new direction because it's area I am completely passionate about. What I have decided I want to do next is...... I am really interested in learning as much about this sector as possible. If you know of anybody in this area I would appreciate an opportunity to learn more from them about their experience in the sector?

It won't be long before you have a new community of contacts in your chosen field and a number of personal introductions from your current network. Trust me this works time and time again. The difficulty with people unemployed is that people send out a negative message about how bad life is and bring the conversation into a negative space which does not lead to new opportunities.

The objective of networking is to:

? Secure the help of your "active" contacts
? Develop strategies to re-establish 'inactive' contacts that you have let drift and to expand your base of contacts.

Hold two key principles in mind:
? The career search process is a people driven process.
? You never know who other people know and how much influence they may be.

Look at your contacts in the following areas and 'brainstorm' all the names you can think of. A good way to generate names and 'remember' contacts is to think about particular projects or situations you have been in and the individuals will 're-appear'. Talking to your close contacts can also act as a memory jogger and help fill in some of the gaps.

4. Volunteer to show what you can do

There are a huge amount of projects currently where you can volunteer your skills for projects. Because of the Government cutbacks these sectors are crying for people to help. This is a great opportunity to keep your skills current, create new contacts and show people where you can add value. It may be a way to retrain in a new environment and help you to see what else you could do. It could enable you to manage people for the first time for example. It's best to volunteer in an area that you are passionately interested in because this will sustain you when you are not getting paid. Many of these volunteer assignments lead to new job offers because people see you working in an area you are passionate about.

5. Develop a self employed mindset

Being unemployed for any period of time can lead people into a rut. It is totally natural to feel down when nothing is going your way. To get out of a rut demands individuals taking action. I meet people being made redundant every week and they all say the same. I will never give so much to a company again. They have been hurt; they may have seen it coming and didn't know how to react. Time and time again people seem to stand there with a juggernaut coming at them, like a rabbit staring at the headlights. The message I would give to anybody today is to do it for yourself in future and develop a self employed mindset.

Make the changes you need to keep yourself up-skilled. Your career is your responsibility!! Don't depend on any company for your survival. Man started as a hunter gatherer so we have inbuilt survival instincts and people can achieve great things when their backs are to the wall.

We need to show as a country and as individuals where we add more value than the next person or else we will end up fighting for crumbs at the lower end of the market on the average industrial wage.

What are my Rights?

"As an employee, you are entitled to receive certain basic employment rights. Although some industries entitle employees to different rights, the list below is the minimum you should receive.
. A written statement of terms and conditions of employment. Whilst the full contract does not have to be in writing, certain terms and conditions of your employment must be stated in writing within two months of starting employment. These would typically include the method of calculating pay and whether or not there is a sick pay scheme in operation. (For fixed term employees it would also include in what circumstances your employment will come to an end.)
. A written statement of pay or 'payslip'. Your payslip should set out gross pay and list all deductions made from it.
. A minimum wage
Most experienced adult workers in Ireland are entitled to be paid €8.65 per hour. There are however, some exceptions to the minimum wage, including those employed by close relatives, those aged under 18 and trainees or apprentices.
There are also certain industries in Ireland where a higher minimum wage applies, including the construction industry.
. A maximum working week average of 48 hours a week
The maximum 48 hour week is based on an average calculated over a four, six, or twelve-month period depending on the industry. Your employer must keep a record of how many hours you work.
. Unpaid breaks during working hours
You have the right to a 15-minute break if working four and a half hours of work and a 30-minute break if working six hours of work.
. Annual leave from work
Full-time workers have the right to four working weeks paid annual leave per year. Part-time workers have the right to a proportional amount of annual leave based on the amount of time they work.
. A minimum amount of notice before dismissal
You are entitled to a minimum amount of notice if your employment ceases. The minimum amount of notice depends on the length of service.
Redundancy is where an employee's position ceases to exist and the employee is not replaced. Any employee aged 16 or over with 104 weeks' continuous service with an employer is entitled to a statutory redundancy payment in this situation.
The statutory redundancy payment is two week's gross pay per year of service up to a ceiling of €600 per week plus one week's pay, which is also subject to the ceiling of €600. This payment is tax-free."

National Minimum Wage
Ref: "
The National Minimum Wage is €8.65 per hour. The National Minimum Wage applies to all employees except:
. Employees in industries (such as the construction industry) which are covered by registered employment agreements (REA's) and Employment Regulation Orders (ERO's), entitling their workers to a higher minimum wage
. Employees who are in their first year of employment since turning the age of 18 (€6.92 per hour)
. Employees who are under 18 years of age (€6.06 per hour)
. Employees who are in their second year of employment since turning 18 (€7.79 per hour)
. Employees who are close relatives of the employer
. Employees undergoing structured training such as an apprenticeship (other than hairdressing apprenticeships)
Pay Slips
All employees are entitled to receive a pay slip with every payment of wages. This pay slip should show gross wage (wage before deductions) and the nature and amount of each deduction.
An employer is allowed to make the following deductions from an employee's wage:
Any deduction required or authorised by law (e.g. PAYE or PRSI) Any deduction authorised by the term of an employee's contract (e.g. pension contributions, or particular till shortages) Any deduction agreed to in writing in advance by the employee (e.g. health insurance subscription, sports and social club membership subscription)"