FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. "I missed the start of the programme. Can I join mid-way?"
A. Certainly. That's when most people join! Although each session (typically 13 weeks goes through a natural job seeking cycle, you cannot choose when you will be made redundant. We make every effort to help people who join mid-way to ensure that have the essentials of what they have missed.

Q. "I'm not an 'executive', so is it for me?"
A. We help any person from a team leader to a chief executive and anyone in between, particularly specialist professionals. We help any manager or professional undergoing career change.

Q. "I manage projects not people, so is it for me?"
A. We have assisted large numbers of project managers.

Q. "I don't live or work in West Berkshire - does it matter?"
A. If you can get to us we can help you. We regularly have people from North Hampshire villages and the fringes of Reading. You may find it more convenient to attend one of the other executive job clubs in our network (at Bracknell, Windsor & Maidenhead or Gerrard's Cross) - see links on home page.

Q. "I'm expecting to be made redundant but it hasn't happened yet, can you help?"
A. Come along to see us so that you are prepared if it happens and you will save yourself considerable time if it is necessary to look for work. Or if it's difficult to get time off work, pop in one lunch-time when we meet.

Q. "I imagine it to be very formal?"
A. The meetings are structured. However, we are friendly and informal - dress code is very casual (some would say too casual - so we can always tell which attendees have just attended or are about to attend an interview!).

Q. "Is it really completely free of charge?
A. Absolutely. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and volunteers.

Q. "Who delivers the programme and what is their background?"
A. It is delivered by volunteers who have managerial experience and in most cases personal experience of redundancy themselves - they would like to help other people who want to get back to employment/economic activity as quickly as possible. Some have an HR background, some have coaching experience, some are bankers, marketers etc. Look at our volunteers page to see their backgrounds.

Q. "I only found out about you by accident. Why don't you publicize more"
A. We know we should, but we have limited time and resources. We have had posters on noticeboards and at Newbury railway station. We have done paid advertising and had articles in the Newbury Weekly News. We have entries in a couple of local directories and on several local websites. But most of you find us through Jobcentre Plus, former members and this website.

Q. "Is the organisation affiliated to any other groups e.g. faith groups, employment agencies?
A. No. We are entirely independent. Our only affiliation is to The Foundation for Jobseekers, a network of executive job clubs in the Thames Valley (including other Careers Springboards). We are not a recruitment agency, though we do help each other find potentially suitable jobs. Our main focus is to enhance your capabilities in getting the job (or career change) that you want.

Q. "Will I have to offer to volunteer myself?"
A. No. However, some former job seekers have become volunteers, while existing job seekers can help with hosting and welcoming new members. If you are interested in volunteering we would welcome your help - see our volunteers page.

Q. "The groups are 'self -help groups' - what does that mean?"
We share expertise and advice about local companies, how to succeed in getting an interview, etc. Job seekers frequently gain greatly by networking with each other. Several have landed jobs through their colleagues connecting them to opportunities.

Q. "If I decide not to 'sign on' (at the Job Centre) can I still use the group?"
A. Absolutely. Quite a few job seekers are not signing on (perhaps they are still receiving salaries while on 'gardening leave' or have other sources of income). However, signing on does mean that you keep your National Insurance payments up to date, as well as sometimes receiving training opportunities.

Q. "What relationship does the organisation have with Jobcentre Plus?"
A. We have 'intermediary status' with Jobcentre Plus which means that they are happy to refer jobseekers to us. Just over half our job seekers come to us via this route. We do not have any kind of financial contract with them nor do we feedback information about your attendance.

Q. "What services can you offer in addition to the regular meeting programme?"
A. Interview coaching, CV advice, networking opportunities, career planning advice and regular emails informing you of relevant events, vacancies referred to us by our alumni and details of resources and websites that other members have found useful. See our job seekers page.

Q. "I know all the ropes about recruitment. As a manager I used to hire professional staff regularly."
A. So you may have done, as have many of our job seekers. But now you are on the other side and most likely have not written your own CV for some time. Even if you know a subject, you still learn more by finding out the experiences of others. It's not the content of our meeting topics that are important. Even very knowledgeable job seekers find the networking, mutual support and comradeship extremely valuable (and it gets you out of the house and the loneliness of job seeking once a week).

Q. "In summary, what's the benefit to me?"
A. Up-to-date advice, information, support and motivation, one-on-one help if you need it, and access to other free-of-charge services such as interview coaching.

Q. "What's stopping me joining"
A. Nothing - as far as we can see. If there is, you tell us.

Q. "You haven't answered my question?"
A. Then please contact us - enquiries@careerswestberks.org.uk, or telephone David Skyrme (01635 253545). We look forward to helping you.

This page last updated 6th August 2014

Important Notice - The information and advice given on this website or by our volunteers is given in good faith. No responsibility whatsoever shall attach to Careers Springboard West Berkshire or any person acting on its behalf for any actions taken by any person acting on this information or advice.