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Setting yourself up for success

Samira* started this year unemployed and struggling to care for her young daughter as a single parent. She was able to turn her situation around when she reached out to Fitted For Work who helped build her skills, develop her confidence and find a job.

It may feel like you are in a swamp, but with Fitted For Work you can navigate yourself out.

– Samira

In early 2019, due to unexpected circumstances Samira found herself without a job. In Samira’s words, “unemployment and employment is tied in with our personal lives and things happen”.

Separated from her partner, sole-parenting her young daughter and experiencing anxiety Samira’s situation felt “impossible”.

After applying for jobs and not hearing back from employers she was feeling frustrated and her “mental health was strained”. Samira knew she needed to secure some income as soon as possible, but she did not feel comfortable asking for financial support from her family.

Disadvantage can be experienced by anybody. You might have survived family violence or be living as a single parent, a woman with a disability, a gender-diverse person, a mature-aged woman, a young woman, or culturally and linguistically diverse woman.

Everyone’s situation is unique but economic independence and empowerment should be universal.

Seeking help

Feeling overwhelmed by her situation, Samira connected with Fitted For Work. At first, Samira had low confidence and “a lot of fear of going back [to work]”.

One of the first steps that Samira took was accessing the Outfitting Service, which focuses on finding an interview outfit that is both stylishly professional and comfortable to wear. Having appropriate personal presentation is essential to feeling and showing your best self.

Samira’s experience was “fantastic”. Knowing that when an interview came up she would have the perfect outfit ready to go gave her peace of mind. Samira also attended the personal presentation workshop where a professional makeup artist demonstrated work-appropriate makeup and techniques. Samira says that she still uses the tips and tricks she picked up there when she gets ready for her busy work day.

Resumés and cover letters are a crucial and sometimes very daunting element of job readiness. Life is a big story and it can be challenging to know how to best represent your skills and give employers the right information. Samira said that she was surprised by how much the job-seeking process had changed in the last 10 years. Fitted For Work’s Resumé Hub provided her with practical guidance on how to tailor her documents to show off her skills and experience.

 

Samira attended the Resumé Hub more than five times, seeing several experienced volunteers who each offered a different perspective. Together they worked on her resumé, discussed applying for jobs and did mock interviews. Samira also attended a Fitted For Work job preparation workshop led by Smaart Recruitment.

The team at Smaart gave her valuable professional advice on how to make the best impression with prospective employers. For Samira, this process helped her to become an effective job seeker in the world of modern employment during a personally turbulent time.

Connecting with other women

As Samira has said, personal circumstances impact our work readiness and the Womankind program has been designed to address aspects of wellbeing to encourage personal growth. Samira had been out of work for six weeks when she joined the Womankind program. She met with the same group of women each week and together they spoke about hopes and dreams, confidence, general health and many other topics, facilitated by a Fitted For Work representative. Samira said that it felt good to be around other women with their own unique life stories; everyone learned something from each other.

Through the program, Samira says that she came to a realisation about her, and other women’s, inner strength:

Women will make magic with whatever they have

Group of laughing women standing in conga line against wall

Womankind gave Samira an opportunity to feel grounded and focused at a time in her life when things were very uncertain. In speaking about the program, Samira said that she “felt connected” and emerged with a “strong sense of [her] values”.

From the Womankind program Samira was also matched with a mentor who was an “amazing” point of contact throughout her time of doing interviews and eventually securing work. Samira’s mentor was “so supportive” and helped Samira to reflect on the past in a way that enabled her to put her energy towards the future. The Fitted For Work mentor program runs for 6-12 months and mentors are trained and carefully matched with a mentee.

The objective of this program is to create a professional and supportive relationship where the mentor buddy can assist their mentee on their employment journey. For Samira, this meant keeping in contact with her mentor throughout her job search, doing some activities around career goals and having someone who understood her way of thinking. Samira was thrilled with her mentor match and says, “it’s really heartening to know that someone is there for me in that capacity”.

Thriving at work

Samira has experienced all of Fitted For Work’s services and has since secured permanent employment working four days a week. For Samira, her lack of confidence was one of the biggest barrier to employment. By reaching out to support services, she was able to find a safe space that helped her to stay centered and be courageous in her journey to work.

Samira has described her experience with the organisation as “a really empowering process” and once she is in a settled position she is determined to volunteer and share her skills with her community.

About Fitted for Work

Fitted For Work’s employment services welcome all women (trans, gender non-binary, gender non-conforming and cis) who have experienced disadvantage. Its services provide authentic experiences of employment support. Our mission is to empower women to blossom and thrive at work. Its friendly team of volunteers and staff work with clients to build skills, develop confidence and provide guidance on how to navigate each individual’s pathway to employment. When a woman is fitted for work, she is fitted for life.

You can visit Fitted for Work in Melbourne at: Level 1, 210 Lonsdale Street, ‘Queen Victoria Women’s Centre’, Melbourne VIC 3000, Monday–Friday from 9am–5pm.

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons

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