So basically I studied German at university and then did a masters in translation theory. I quickly discovered that getting into translation was very limited especially if you didn't want to go freelance which I do not, as I really enjoy the office environment and being around people.

I ended up working in a call centre handling German customer complaints by the phone which I really wasn't very confident with. What was worse for me personally, was that I had real difficulty meeting the productivity targets. It really battered me down and after being with the company for about a year and a half I had to quit after having a breakdown.

For a long time I suffered anxiety and could barely leave the house. But having eventually found a medication that suits and recently had some counseling its time for me to find a job again. In the last few months I've mostly spent a lot of time drawing and I even spent a month creating a basic videogame from scratch. My German however has become rather rusty and Im nervous of getting into a similar position as before, perhaps particularly because of my lack of confidence in my second language.

I have some retail experience and even worked as a supervisor and key holder at two of the stores I worked at. Mostly I've been applying for admin roles and while I've managed to get one interview for next week most places reject me. I don't have direct admin experience but I thought going into a role where I get to deal with people face to face again would be good for me personally and that I'd like having a steady position that I can grow into.

So I guess three main questions, 1)how do I tackle this large gap in employment 2)how can I explain away having a masters but wanting to go into a role that doesn't need that level of education and 3) how can I convince the interviewer that I'm perfect for admin without experience?

(I live in the UK if it makes a difference)


how can I convince the interviewer that I'm perfect for admin without experience?

It will be hard to be "perfect" without any experience, so strive for "adequate, but with lots of potential" instead.

You simply need to convince the interviewer that you possess the attributes they desire in an admin.

Determine what's important to them for their particular admin position (punctuality? attention to detail? expertise with office software? etc) and show them that you have those attributes in spades.

Explain how hard of a worker you are and how your background would make you a particularly valuable admin.

The fact that dealing with people face to face is good for you personally has no bearing on why someone should hire you. Don't bring that fact up in an interview.

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To echo @JoeStrazzere:

  1. if you don't have experience, claim aptitude and back up your claim of aptitude, using as evidence episodes gathered from your previous work experience. You might consider rewriting your resume to highlight your aptitude as part of your work experience.

  2. Highlight both aptitude and interest in your cover letter. Best if you can describe how your work experience revealed your aptitude to you and sparked your interest.

  3. I wouldn't sweat the large gap in your resume, basically because what's done is done, you can't change the past and it's best not to look back and go forward. You convince a prospective next employer that you are ready to move forward by being able to move forward. Be conscious that you mention the past in a way that indicates that you're dwelling and that implies that you are not ready, willing and able to go forward. Act, talk and think in a way that leaves no doubt in the mind of your next employer. You've got to leave no doubt in your own mind. Hint: whether you know it or not, you are at the moment your own toughest skeptic, so if you can get past yourself, getting past others is much easier.

  4. Echoing 3., redirect the conversation from your past troubles - that gets you nowhere - to your being ready, willing, and able today. It looks like you had a case of mental and physical exhaustion from your previous job but by giving yourself enough rest, you seem to have taken care of the issue. That should be all you need to say about the past if you are asked, at least according to me.

  5. Don't sweat the education aspect either. If your education and your experience gave you enhanced communication skills in the form of an enhanced ability to listen carefully and an enhanced ability to speak and write without accidentally creating ambiguity, your education is a plus not a minus, and you should treat it as such. And you make your next prospective employer see it as a plus.

The name of the game is this: you are a salesperson. The product you are selling is yourself. You rate the product as good, except for a a couple of flaws. You know what the likely objections are from the point of view of the buyer. Your challenge is to meet these objections constructively i.e. overcome them or failing that, minimize them and convince the buyer that they should buy the product - in this case, your services as an employee.

I am answering your question by giving you (hopefully) enough guidance that you can work out how to sell yourself.

One last piece of advice: the next time you find yourself in a job that's ripping you to pieces mentally and physically, consider either changing jobs or plain bailing out. Being out of action for a year and a half as a result of stress from a previous job, which you lost anyway, and doing nothing more than taking medications and trips to the bathroom is no fun - you could have done a bunch of other things with that time if you had been able to stay on your feet :)

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