Fast Track: Help Desk

The problem:

I am a 25-year-old teacher of English in Japan but will be returning to the UK this summer to look for a more permanent job. I graduated from Leeds in modern languages (2:1) in 1996 and have been on the road since, working in the USA, Mexico and Australia. I have gained a lot of experience doing very different jobs and working with people of different nationalities. However, I feel it's now time to settle down and embark upon a 9-5 career. I freely admit that this hardly excites me, but accept it as part and parcel of life. I've been very happy here in Japan and have picked up a little more than the basics in Japanese conversation and intend to study further upon my return. As for a choice of career, I'm not so sure - a job in personnel, perhaps? I do know I would like a job with a lot of people contact, an international environment and the chance to work abroad.

Des Moore, Japan

The solutions:

Gill Sharp, Career Adviser, C2 - The Graduate Careers Shop - WC1, says:

Hard as it must be to return to "reality", look on it as the next phase in an eventful life, rather than resigning yourself to your fate! Personnel might indeed give you the opportunities that you crave, but you need to be sure about what it involves. Often misinterpreted as an agony aunt/uncle role, it's more about helping a firm to maximise its potential. It is now called human resources and demands a sound business head as well as people skills. Investigate other possibilities before deciding; a personal consultation with a careers adviser, computer guidance packages or psychometric tests might pinpoint other areas.

It will become increasingly rare for people to stay in a single-job sector; and what you choose now may be a base from which you move to other types of employment. Look for a role and an organisation that will let you build on the excellent skills and experience which you have already acquired.

Dr Curly Moloney, Managing Director, Moloney Search, says:

We are used to advising bright young things who are three rungs up the ladder as to whether or not they are wearing the right footwear for their particular ladder and have it propped against the correct window. It is a challenge to help a world weary young man whose career ladder has feet in Europe and Australia and is propped against Mount Fiji!

Clearly, both the strongest and weakest features of your employability profile are in the diverse/eclectic/butterfly nature of your work experience. Candour and honesty are endearing but you should not extend it to selling yourself short. You must capitalise on your "invaluable experience of working with different people" and your wide range of practical skills. Employers are finding real-life experience increasingly attractive in graduates and few dynamic growing organisations are content with graduates embarking on a 9-5 day anyway.

Times have changed - if you want variety and are unsure of what function to be in, try joining a large international organisation that runs a flexible graduate training programme and will allow you to experience different functions for a couple of years. Your aptitudes, abilities and experiences would suit you for a "people contact" job, and one of an international nature, but you must show reliability, drive and commitment, as well as versatility.

I would advise calling the graduate recruitment managers in some leading international organisations and talking to them directly about their general management training programmes. More retailers are increasingly looking to work on a European level, so you should contact these as well, especially as a customer orientated environment could well suit you. Don't forget to re-contact your university careers service in Leeds or the closest to wherever you base yourself when you return. Good Luck!

Angela Baron, Adviser, Employee Resourcing, Institute of Personnel & Development, says:

There are alternatives to the traditional 9 to 5 structure. Short-term contracts, teleworking, part-time working and flexible working hours are increasingly common and may be more suited to your particular preferences.

You have acquired an impressive list of valuable qualities while travelling. Attributes such as motivation, self-reliance, the ability to work in a team, coaching skills, initiative and good communication are greatly in demand and you should ensure that you emphasise these competencies to future employers. A career in personnel would certainly allow you to utilise your people skills.

You should be aware, however, that opportunities to work abroad are limited. If you decide to pursue a career in personnel, you would be well advised to take an IPD qualification. Alternatively, you might want to pursue career options which use your languages, love of travelling and ability to relate to people, and consider the voluntary sector, non-governmental organisations or some civil service roles.

Compiled by Carmen Fielding

If you have a work problem and would like some expert advice, write to Carmen Middleditch, Fast Track, Features, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL; e-mail Mditch@aol.com

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
The American stand-up Tig Notaro, who performed topless this week

Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars

Arts and Entertainment

TVNetflix gets cryptic

Arts and Entertainment
Claudia Winkleman is having another week off Strictly to care for her daughter
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Children in Need is the BBC's UK charity. Since 1980 it has raised over £600 million to change the lives of disabled children and young people in the UK

TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his winning novel

Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible