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Picture Perfect!

Guest Blog, told to us by Gillian Cross

I have worked as a photographer for 20 years, which is the whole of my career. That has started to seem quite unusual, when so many photographers fall into the job as a second career path.

I chose my A-level subjects because I enjoyed doing them. I didn’t really have a clue what I wanted to do as a career at that point. Then in the summer between my Sixth Form years, I had to think hard about what Further Education I wanted to apply for. I liked watching sports and I liked taking photographs. So I decided that I’d be a sports photographer and enrolled on a B-Tec National Diploma in Photography.

I did that course for two years and learnt everything about the technical and compositional side of photography. It was film in those days and I hadn’t had any previous experience of developing and printing photos.

After the course I could’ve gone on to do an extra year completing a Higher National Diploma but I decided that wouldn’t add to my knowledge and tried to get a job. During my course I had done some work experience in a local commercial studio and also did some after college in another studio who were looking to take on another photographer’s assistant. That was a great experience – taking photos of Christmas decorations in the middle of summer! There were a few of us from college who trialed for that job and unfortunately I didn’t get it.

The main challenge back then was finding a job with a photographer. There were no ads in the job section saying “photographer wanted”. Job Seekers Allowance had just come in so you had to write down every week what you’d done to find work that week. My options were limited. So I went through the Yellow Pages and listed all of the local photographers. I sent letters out each week explaining that I’d just finished a photography course and asking if they had need of another photographer. A couple of them wrote back to say they’d put me on their records, some didn’t write back at all.

Then one day I got a call from a photographer in Ashington who was looking for someone and had just been about to place an advert in the paper. I had saved him the trouble. So I went for a trial and got the job!

College didn’t prepare me for actually photographing people in portraits or weddings so I learnt everything from him as his assistant before I had clients of my own. He also had a mini-lab where we printed people’s holiday snaps so I mostly ended up running that as well. I didn’t mind at the time as it was working with customers and in a small business you get involved in the day to day running of the business.

After two years I was unhappy and was lucky again getting the next job. We occasionally printed other photographer’s work and there was a local schools photographer who used our services. She happened to photograph the school where my mum taught. They got chatting one day and she was looking for another photographer. I went for an interview with some portrait and wedding photos that I’d taken, and got the job.

I was there for ten years and in that time I got married and had a baby. After maternity leave I went back part time for a couple of years but things had changed. I always said I would never become self employed, but someone convinced me it was the right thing to do. Working for a small business not only gave me the photographic experience but also the insight into how to run a business.

I think for creative people, they love doing what they’re good at but don’t always have the skill for running a business. I know that the area I have to work on is marketing. Actually getting the customers through the door. But self employment gives me the flexibility to be there for our son, and to pursue the art side of my career as well as continuing to take photographs which is what I love to do.

You can get in touch with Gillian and see more of her work here. Gillian Cross Photography

Resign Gracefully

Resign with Grace

When you are offered a new job it can be tempting to stick two fingers up at the old one and the people you haven’t been seeing eye to eye with and skip off into the sunset. It’s probably not a good idea though because unless your new job is on the moon and you aren’t ever coming back, the chances are you will see your ex-colleagues in the future and it may get really awkward. So resign gracefully and keep your work mates sweet if you can!

Imagine bumping into your past boss at a network or conference when you are with your new colleagues? Do you avoid eye contact and hope they don’t speak to you? Or do you pretend nothing has happened and you’ve always been best friends? Well that might work but it doesn’t feel very authentic. Probably the best outcome is not to get into that situation in the first place and to keep it professional when you leave.

If you don’t act professionally when you leave your job it may impact on your reference, your future job prospects and your reputation.

There may of course be situations that mean that by the time you leave you aren’t on good terms with your colleagues anyhow, but that’s for another post!

So here are Cygnet’s top tips to resign gracefully.

1. Wait until you get an offer in writing from your new employer. If you resign before you have a job offer in writing you could end up without a job.

2. Check your contract and make sure you give the appropriate amount of notice. This should be in writing and given at the same time as you give verbal notice.

3. Keep your letter polite and explain what you have gained from your time in this job, don’t just focus on the reasons you want to leave. There may be an opportunity to give feedback about why you are moving on but it’s best to do this if asked. If you are asked, be balanced and constructive – don’t just say it’s the worst job you’ve ever had!

4. Tell your manager that you’re leaving before anyone else there. It’s the professional way to behave and you don’t want Suzie in accounts to tell them before you do.

5. Hand over your work – it’s important that your work is completed and that any clients and projects have a transition that works for both sides. Make sure you aren’t the reason for any issues.

6. Be nice! Don’t criticise or be overly negative. If there are genuine negative reasons for you leaving then address them through the proper channels.

7. Work hard. It’s important that you get all your work done before you go (if it’s realistic to be able to do so) There is nothing worse for those left behind to find a pile of files that haven’t been written up / followed up / dealt with correctly after someone’s departure.

8. If you have decided to leave and are offered an incentive to stay, be straight with the person offering the opportunity – whether or not that is to consider staying or your decision to leave has been made.

9. Say Thank You to everyone who has helped you achieve your goals in the company. You never know when you will meet them again and your grace is remembered and repaid!

10. Keep sensitive information confidential. It will help you maintain trust with past and future employers.

I hope this article helps you to resign gracefully, and if you have any advice to add please do leave them in the comments. We love to hear from our readers!

When you are ready to find your new job please do get in touch with us here.

Cygnet in the News

Cygnet in the News

 

 

Look! Cygnet is in the news!

We were really excited to feature in the News Guardian showing off our new business and what we have to offer which will help people who need help to change their job or who are facing redundancy, retirement or want to return to the jobs market following ill health or caring responsibilities.

The article focusses on a contract we won with Whitley Bay Big Local to co-ordinate their volunteers. Of course volunteering is a great way to learn new skills and can help you change your job, particularly if you need to expand on skills and knowledge to move into a different role. Volunteering can help you gain that valuable experience and can also help you if you need references to get back to work.

We also work with companies who are making redundancies to help their staff move into alternative roles and individuals who want to take control and find a different job.

We are looking for case studies, so if you’d like to work with us and get some publicity, get in touch as we would love to feature you in our news!

If we can help you with this please get in touch through out contact form.