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Iona working as a landscape gardener

Iona is currently working as a Landscape Gardener whilst looking for her next adventure.

Iona, from Dorchester in Dorset, has worked in a variety of roles in the past. She has worked in Marketing and Communications for some prominent, multi-national companies but, after having what she terms as a ‘crisis in confidence’, she changed paths and moved to a charity in the care industry.

Iona was one of the first wave of people to catch Covid. It hit her really hard and she ended up with pneumonia, which left her considering her future again.

“I was already feeling as though I had compassion overload and with the added pressure that Covid brought, I just thought ‘enough is enough’.

“I had some savings and this was my ‘rainy day’, I decided to pack it in.

“And that was ok for a while,” she says, “but then, when I decided I wanted to get back into employment and started applying for jobs, I found I just wasn’t getting anywhere.”

“Some of that I put down to the legacy of Covid; I had a lingering tiredness, a fatigue that I’d not felt before. My concentration, my mood, my energy and all the things going on with my health really affected me!”

IonaIona worked on her diet, her exercise and her general wellbeing and it seemed like a natural progression when her coach at the Job Centre recommended  she should get in touch with The National Careers Service for some support with her employment journey.

“That was November 2021 and they helped me develop a strategy and things started to look up. I was able to look at courses and revise my business plan and things were going well. But then I had two personal tragedies in that year which really knocked me off track.”

Iona continued to apply for jobs but apart from a couple of near misses (where she was short-listed but then pipped at the post, denting her confidence once again) she remained unsuccessful.

“You’re applying for for 10-15 jobs and you’re mentally moving yourself into the space of doing that role, working in that place, learning about the organisation, doing proper research – and then when you don’t get the job, you do take it personally,” she admits.

Right time for the postman to arrive

At about that time, The National Careers Service contacted Iona again to ask how things were going and whether she’d secured a job or needed further support?

“I had a letter from Clare, one of the Careers Advisers, basically saying ‘it’s been a year since we last heard from you, how are you getting on?’ and I replied saying ‘actually, I could do with some help!’

“I’m so glad I received that follow up correspondence. I think that was really good.”

“Clare called me and we had an in depth conversation where I shared my concerns about not being able to secure a job. I told her I thought it might be age-related, or that maybe I was missing a trick somewhere along the line.”

Clare reviewed Iona’s CV, and offered advice, pointing out that it was a living document that needed to change with the times.

“She explained that I had to be a bit more strategic; tailoring my CV for the jobs I was applying for – but also giving tips like not including an invisible table because some employers use online programmes to read CVs and the algorithms can miss information if it’s contained within a table.

“I had completely missed things like that. Even though I’d previously worked in recruitment, I was making some silly mistakes.

“I also needed to condense the information I was detailing. I’d already had a long career and was trying to list absolutely everything I’d done when, actually, I needed to hone in on the relevant information and experience and highlight my transferable skills.

“I was trying to list 25 years of experience and that wasn’t what I should have been doing. Clare guided me and counselled me to help make my CV more applicable for the jobs I was going for.”

But the National Careers Service isn’t there simply to help with CVs.

“Absolutely not! They are so much more than that! You get so much more added value. They are sort of ambassadors who can make recommendations on different routes to take – they are an amazing resource!”

Clare also recommended that Iona enrol on a Digital Skills Boot Camp; a three month online course which will help bring Iona’s marketing, communication and social media skills up to speed.

Back on track

Iona is currently working part-time as a Landscape Gardener whilst she looks for her next full-time role. And although she’s not been in contact with Claire for a while, she knows she’s only ever a phone call away should she need further support.

“I’ve been so impressed with the support I’ve received from the National Careers Service; they’re really professional, really knowledgeable, they’re not patronising in any way, they just ‘get it’ – they really understand and seem to get to the heart of the matter very, very quickly.

“They don’t do it all for you, they give you the tools and the information required to be able to go away and do it yourself.

“They boosted my confidence and gave me an opportunity to talk frankly and honestly about the challenges I was dealing with. It’s your time, just for you on a 1-2-1 basis and it’s really bespoke and tailored to your needs.”

Iona is now confident she will soon be back in full-time employment, thanks to the support she’s received from The National Careers Service, so what would she say to anyone else finding themselves in a similar situation?

“Without them I don’t know what I would have done, they are amazing! I would have no hesitation in recommending them.

“I think some people in my age group might struggle with admitting that they need help, but I would say just swallow your pride and you’ll be surprised what you’ll learn.”


If  Iona’s story has inspired you, and you would like more information about the support and guidance we can offer, give us a call on 0800 100 900 or visit our website at


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