Back to work after long illness: ask the expert

I have been unable to work due to long-term illness.  I recently managed to complete an AMSPAR medical receptionist course, but due to lack of recent experience during the years of my illness I am finding it difficult to get a job.  I was considering a work from home job eg Arise. However, since it has been so long since I worked I do not have any CV. Could you advise me?

Congratulations on completing the AMSPAR medical receptionist course – it’s a well respected qualification.
Although it won’t make you feel any happier, your dilemma – no recent experience or work history due to long-term illness – is one that’s shared with very many other candidates.  So what’s the best way of overcoming this barrier?

I’d strongly recommend you seek temping posts where you can use your medical receptionist skills.  In practice, employers are often more willing to take on temps without recent work experience and / or with a past medical condition than they are permanent staff – it’s less of a risk for them.  OK, even temping jobs are in very short supply – however, if you actively self-market yourself with all local sources of employment (including the recruitment agencies) something suitable should come up.  You’ll need to be instantly available – when an employer hits a staff problem, they hope to get a replacement temp at an hour’s notice.

If you work as a temp, you’ll build up your self-confidence and knowledge of local employers along with your work history.  Make a point of noting down (eg in a handbag-sized book) everything you learn and can prove you’ve done on each assignment – future employers may need such skills.  Remember also that an employer who hires you as a temp may have permanent jobs to offer at some stage – make sure you check employee noticeboards, the intranet and the employer website to keep track of any potential oportunities.

Local receptionist posts are most likely to be held by local people – so let your friends and neighbours know you’re job hunting and want to hear of any temp or permanent vacancies likely to arise in the near future.

Although coverage throughout the UK is patchy, AMSPAR have many local branches.  Attend your most local branch and build up the contacts who could alert you to job opportunities.  The AMSPAR groups are generally friendly and welcoming – they also put on programmes that are useful for professional development.  Ask the AMSPAR members for advice on your CV and what to include – they’ll know, for example, which medical reception skills are in high demand and how to put over the key messages to medical employers.

You also need to speak to the people who taught your AMSPAR course and to AMSPAR HQ (see the website).  Do they have advice or contacts you could use in job search?

Are you in touch with your fellow students?  They may know about jobs they do not want (eg because the workplace is further away from their homes than they’d like) that would be suitable for you.


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