Is self-employment self-help?

Disgruntled and supportive jobseeker here who has had enough of possibly being misunderstood. Exploited, with the potential of good intentions, is a word I want to include too but it feels a bit too much.

Blogging is something I haven’t done for a while and I’m sorry for coming back to moan but I have a few thoughts to share. Thoughts on self-employment and employment. I’ve wanted to help disadvantaged people to build confidence and find work from the start of 2013 but, from two pieces of employment advice I’ve received, I feel I’ve damaged my own chances of finding work. I’ve been called a “nice guy” by a manager I know well who said he only couldn’t employ me because I didn’t have experience of a managerial role. Before instead employing a trainee.

What is this magical experience stuff so many employers want but, in my experience, don’t offer? Why am I losing sleep over unemployment if, apparently, the unemployment rate is still dropping? Would volunteering or taking low pay for an apprenticeship mean I’m employed? Another number in the employed total? Will saying how I feel go against me?

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Volunteering has given me some fun moments but I don’t want volunteering to be my only way of finding work.

This blog piece is a chance to let feelings out constructively but it’s also a cry for help. Trying to help others is what I like to do but now I need help myself.

If you are a recruiter, if you have a job or if you don’t have a job, please read about two experiences I’ve faced and please share advice on them if you have an opportunity to do so. I’d like to learn and be inspired.

Self-employed means less than employed.
Being self-employed shows initiative. Being successfully self-employed means I’m capable of finding clients and projects for myself. I know how to deal with administrative duties and can meet deadlines for my work. My offices are my bedroom and living room.

After a discussion with a recruitment consultant, however, I was told my office experience wouldn’t be the same as office experience picked up from an employer if I wanted to become an administrative assistant.

Why would self-employed experience be second best though? I’ve built contacts. I’ve made phone calls. I’ve sent e-mails. I’ve dealt with people. I’ve opened post. I’ve done a lot of duties that have taken care of a lot of admin but I haven’t had to use a sign-in book to sign myself in!

Self-employment is a choice. As finding a job is a barrier for a lot of people with autism in Great Britain, I wanted to make a difference. It seemed more important than looking for retail opportunities after working as a sales assistant or customer service opportunities after working as a residence assistant. Selflessness over selfishness.

Only 15% of all British people with autism are in full-time employment. I’m part of the 79% who isn’t. I get nervous during job interviews because I haven’t had many of them. I’m starting to feel pressure. I need support.

Your experience is outdated. Volunteer.
My work as a residence assistant ended five years ago at the time of writing this blog piece. My work as a retail assistant ended two years ago. I have been told experience from the past is not as good as recent experience.

Applications for paid vacancies might be turned down but volunteering might give fresh experience.

Volunteering to help people into work is something I enjoy but I don’t want to create an expectation that I will do anything for nothing. It might not be exploitation but it might be taking advantage. After being told by a member of staff at a project for young jobseekers I currently volunteer at to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance and to apply for as many jobs as possible, making myself available to volunteer was the alternative option.

Getting experience is good but what would claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance achieve if I do not have enough experience to find paid work? Is volunteering, with or without claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance that can still be received while claimants volunteer, yet another way to say somebody is working?

Have you volunteered? What did you do? Did you enjoy it? Should I think about different opportunities I’m given?