Tackling your debts

Getting back into work if you’re in debt

Posted 24 November 2014

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Trying to get a job can be difficult, but it may be especially important to you if you’re having trouble with your finances.

Job hunting when you’re out of work can be tough, especially if you have been unemployed for a while. It can seem even more difficult if you’re struggling with problem debt, as you may be desperate for work to help with your finances.

Smarten up the CV

If you’ve been unemployed for a while, try looking at the sample CV available from Total Jobs and having a go at updating yours. You could even consider attending training courses provided by the Jobcentre so you have more up-to-date experiences to talk about.


When you’re applying for a job, always try to tailor your CV and accompanying cover letter to the specific role. Add in a few key skills that are mentioned in the job spec so the employer will be able to see straight away that you’re a good fit for the position.


Gaps in your employment history can be difficult to explain, but it always looks better if you can provide a reason. Whether you’ve started a family, or even if you’ve just found it difficult to get a job, it at least tells the employers what you’ve been up to. Employers know how tough the job market can be, so they may be sympathetic if you explain yourself.

Look the part

Being asked to come in for an interview can be a scary prospect, particularly if you’ve been out of work for a while. It might sound impossible, but try not to panic. If you try to get a good night’s sleep the night before the interview and make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get there, you’re more likely to feel relaxed, which could help you succeed.


Dressing like a professional person is also important, as it gives the interviewer a certain impression of you. If you’re struggling with money, you might not be able to afford to buy an expensive suit, but try seeing if you can borrow anything from friends. The government’s Help to Work scheme may also be able to provide you with money to buy clothes for your interview if you can’t afford to pay for them yourself. For women living in London, the charity Smart Works can provide you with interview clothes and styling tips.

Be prepared

You don’t need to know every detail about a company’s history … the most important things are being aware of its values and what it does. Try to use this to come up with an answer to the typical interview question: “Why do you want to work here?” If you’ve been out of work for a while, you may be desperate to get a job, so the company you’re going to for an interview isn’t necessarily your dream career. Instead, focus on one major aspect about the company that you admire or are interested in and relate it to the skills or experience you have.


It’s also important that you make sure you know about the job you are being interviewed for. You may have applied for hundreds of similar roles, but there could be details that are only applicable to this specific job. Look at the job advert and what skills or attributes it asks for in a candidate, and see how you can talk about these based on your previous work experience.

Jobs and bankruptcy

If you have entered bankruptcy, this may affect the type of jobs you are able to apply for. You won’t be able to get some jobs in the financial or legal sectors, and you can’t sign up to be in the armed forces, for example. If the role involves handling money, there may be clauses in the contract that say bankrupt people can’t apply. This rule doesn’t apply to most positions, but ask at the Jobcentre if you’re unsure. Certain jobs may also do a credit check before you’re allowed to start working there. If this happens, you will probably be best off tackling this directly with the prospective employer … explain to them how you got into financial difficulties and what you are doing about it.


Bankruptcy is a serious debt solution and how it affects your ability to work may be one of the things you consider when you’re deciding how to manage your debts. If you are thinking about entering into bankruptcy, you could consider what other options are available to you. Talking to an expert advisor at the Debt Advisory Centre or another independent source could help you decide how best to get back in control of your finances.

by Sarah Symons

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.