survey case studies: ‘Don’t ignore my experience’

Celia Jones talks to about her problems getting back to a role in the NHS after several years out as a childminder.

NHS’s annual survey was published for National Older Workers Week and shows that a high number of jobseekers polled are having trouble finding work and fear their age may be a factor. We spoke to one woman who is finding it harder than she expected returning to a career in the NHS.

Celia Jones* has had a long career in the NHS, rising to a senior management position.  But since taking a 12-year break to run a childminding business she cannot get back into the NHS on anything approaching her former level. In fact, she has been advised to apply for band 2 jobs, one of the lowest bands in the health service, which would mean starting all over again. “I am putting my cv forward for interim roles, but being met with silence,” she says. “I asked for feedback and was told by one NHS organisation that my experience was not current, but it’s not as if I have been doing nothing for the last few years.”

Celia, aged 55, was made redundant from her last NHS role. She was pregnant at the time and decided to take a sideways move into childminding. “To run a childminding business is a hard job.  As well as looking after the children, you need to be a good organiser, muti-tasker and able to build relationships. Every day you are assessing and managing risk, she says. “People just think you are babysitting. I have changed my cv to say I ran a childcare business. So  many people don’t realise that childminders are doing the exact same as nurseries but from their homes.” 

She adds: “I was told to effectively start all over again in the NHS, but a lot of the new systems can be learned on the job and they are constantly changing anyway. Everyone is learning all the time and the culture that I navigated for 17 years has not really changed. I’m not expecting to go back on the same level. All my former colleagues are saying that nothing has changed that much in the NHS and that they are crying out for  good staff.  I am here. If they look at my cv they can see what I have done.”

She adds that she has not seen any returner programmes for people in her position. All the programmes in the NHS that she has seen have been for clinical staff, she says.

Celia now has a mentor who she says has been amazing and has built up her confidence and made her reflect on all her skills and experience. She has also applied for work outside the NHS. “I applied for a job working with a safeguarding board for a local authority. I heard nothing even though I have  worked on a project related to the role. I’ve had my cv redone professionally to pass through the AI. I’ve changed my social media profile. I’ve done everything I can think of,” she says.

“I am worried about ageism, about the workplace being full of only younger people. I know everything on my cv dates me, including my O Levels,” she adds. Yet she is determined to be positive, stating: “I will keep searching, networking and applying for jobs and keeping up to date with my knowledge and skills.  Someone will read my cv and see I have lots to offer.”

*Not her real name

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