All I can really plead is that I was bored. I was working late one night in a convenience store and there was nobody to serve and nothing to do so I was reading a magazine from the shelf. Specifically, I was reading an interview with TV Presenter Emma Willis previewed with the promise 'the two things that gave me total confidence'. It turns out the two things in question were her children, her logic being that if she could raise two kids, there wasn't a great deal else she couldn't do. This took on a certain relevance for me this week as I was getting ready to start a new job. It's a job that will require specialist knowledge that I will have to learn as I go along. So, I found myself asking, what advice has Emma Willis got for me?
Let's start with the thing that is both my single biggest brag and my single greatest fear. It is a matter of some pride for me that I've never started a job for which I had any of the requisite knowledge in advance. This will, I hope, stand me in good stead but I also remember going through this with my previous job and it felt, at the time, like a very steep learning curve. Good news carers – we do this all the time. New conditions; new medicines; new words; you may well have learned about entire parts of the body you were previously ignorant of. Unless you started of your caring role with some sort of medical knowledge you have been learning as you go and quite probably winging it much of the time. This is a transferable skill. Even if you can't make your potential employers see the value in this, make sure you don't lose sight of it yourself.
What about dealing with people? Caring isn't really a customer facing role is it? As it happens, I have plenty of experience in customer facing roles, but what about the rest of you, eh? Eh? Well I don't know about you lot 1 but I do spend a fair amount of time dealing with people. I spend a great deal of time on the phone to people, cajoling information out them, coaxing them into sending that referral again, or, on occasion, yelling at them until I get what I want. I sit in meetings with psychologists and physiotherapists and ophthalmologists. I have done my best to charm truculent receptionists and persuade rushed pharmacists into getting me the prescription I desperately need now. I've done all this without training, support, respite, guidance or pay. After that I reckon I could sell your tiles handcuffed in a sack with a swarm of bees and have all the paperwork done while you were still making my tea. Two sugars please.
The job you do as a carer is remarkable. You are taking on all the workload of a sole trader without the experience or the prospect of wages, for as many hours as it takes without a holiday or sometimes even a lunch break. Let's be honest, this doesn't make you better that the people around you, nor is that really my point. My point is that caring is like parenthood in as much as they have the same effect on a c.v. Spending much of your time caring can mean that your life is not as full of successes and accomplishments as you might like it to be when looking for work. My point is that being a carer is your success and your accomplishment. If you can understand quite what an achievement that is, perhaps you can persuade other people.