Workingwise.co.uk’s annual survey was published for National Older Workers Week and...read more
Mary Garavan talks to workingwise.co.uk about Covid-related redundancy and why HR needs to be much more broad-minded about career gaps.
Mary Garavan has around 20 years’ experience in HR and a master’s in HR, a graduate diploma in business/employment law and an Advanced Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy, but she has struggled to find a job during the pandemic.
She was made redundant from her role as HR manager at the Nautical Institute in London in October 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since then, despite multiple applications, she kept hitting a brick wall. At first, due to uncertainty over Covid and lockdowns, there were few roles around. Things picked up slightly since last summer, but the job-seeking process was still challenging despite Mary keeping her hand in and attending webinars and the like to keep up to date on changes in her profession.
She was offered some very short-term roles over the last months, but she was holding out for a contract of at least 12 months so she can rebuild her confidence which has taken a battering. “I don’t want to be chopping and changing,” she told workingwise.co.uk. HR is where her experience lies and she felt she needed to just get a foot back on the ladder.
Although she is not sure whether her age has been a factor – she is 52 and a marathon runner – she doesn’t put her age on her cv, believing recruiters should remove unnecessary information from the process. Instead she thinks employers have been put off by the fact she was made redundant, even if that was nothing to do with her and merely about the circumstances at the time. “When you are made redundant you fall off the radar,” she says. However, it is hard to tell what the reasons are as she has had no feedback from the many applications she has made. “There is absolute silence. It is a huge failing of the recruitment system,” she states.
Mary, from Woking, calculates that she has done about 10 applications a week on average, punctuate by short breaks because it is so emotionally wearing. “You think it will never end,” she says.
Mary has not been eligible for Universal Credit due to her savings. She has considered changing jobs, having done the counselling course fairly recently, and says her job-seeking experience has made her more vulnerable and anxious. “The last year has been mentally very taxing, exhausting and extremely stressful,” she says. “My sense of purpose and wellness have been bashed. I feel like I have nowhere to go.”
She would like to see HR becoming more broad-minded about career gaps, given these are more likely to in the future. “Many people have gaps in their cvs,” she says. “It’s not a big deal.”