The power of community
We love sharing our community member’s stories. Storytelling and sharing remind us we are all human, and we all go through experiences through our lives. It is an opportunity to share and learn from each other by way of those lived experiences.
This is Amna’s story:
‘I was in the Middle-East working in the Energy sector with an organisation that greatly valued me, I was treated like family. A few years later, I had my first-born and soon after I started to feel restless, I wanted to go back to work but the opportunity was not easy to see. It felt as though my industry didn’t know how to reconcile work and family life’.
It’s true, many traditional male-dominated industries, like the energy sector, are only just beginning to see the benefits of flexible working. However, in Australia and New Zealand, we are starting to see a shift in the mindset with some big organisations, like AGL or Viva Energy, two FlexCareers progressive employer partners, leading the way.
‘My son was a baby when we relocated to Australia as a family. We were excited, confused, happy and overwhelmed all at the same time. We saw it as a fresh start in every sense, particularly for me starting my career again and joining the workforce full-time. In the beginning, I was fortunate to support my previous employer in the Middle East from Australia in a telecommunications role part-time. This allowed me to get our family settled and find quality child-care for my son.’
Whether a recent migrant to Australia or not, finding the right childcare is something we all think and talk about. Researching the childcare centres around your area and understanding the costs involved are paramount to setting you up for success as you return to work.
While Amna could tick this first step off her list with confidence, she says this is where the real challenges for her started: ‘Some of the challenges I came up against were 1. Education and experience outside of Australia considered lacking, 2. A career gap with no full-time experience for several months, 3. No professional network in Australia (being new to the country), 4. No friends/family for support. The recruiters I presented to and the job applications I submitted were getting me nowhere. The process was exhausting, I wasn’t hearing back from employers, and I was losing hope and confidence’.
The way Amna felt is not uncommon for many women looking to return to the workforce. Traditionally recruiters try to predict whether the candidate will be an asset to the company based on criteria such as skills, previous performance, and recommendations from other employers: ‘The recruiters categorized me as ‘High-risk candidate’ based on those four reasons. Naturally, it did hurt my confidence level when I repeatedly got a negative response from the recruitment industry’.
Although this is true, where a job-seeking-support platform like ours can really help you and lead you, is to find your ideal career with a progressive organisation. Plus, it comes with support from coaches and an online community.
‘Henry Ford once said, ‘If you always do what you’ve done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’. I knew I had to change my strategy and shake things up. Although I was tailoring my cover letters and CV, I needed to find out why is wasn’t working and I needed support…This is when I came across FlexCareers, a business ahead of their time and redefining work’.
When Amna joined our online community, she was instantly welcomed and accepted as a member of the community: ‘FlexCareers offers a great forum through their Facebook group. I was able to talk to so many wonderful people. And find support from some of the best career coaches. People who really understood the Australian market and who helped me align my strategy with the requirements. With all the support and guidance offered, I was soon able to identify the gaps in my CV, cover letter and my overall approach.’
More than just helping her with her approach, her CV and cover letter, Amna was able to connect with individuals who could relate to her situation and experience and even offer her direct help: ‘The most important thing I learned after speaking with the Flexcoach was that I needed to be very specific in what I wanted to do including industry and my experience. During my online exchanges within the group, a woman, who was also a member of the FlexCareers community, stepped forward. She referred me to her hiring manager in her workplace. Soon after I was called in for an interview. Two weeks later I was an employee of one of the most progressive organisations in Australia.’
Shared experiences, like Amna’s, bolster our sense of belonging which in turn makes us feel worthwhile. Sharing personal stories with others, including an online community like our Facebook group, makes the experiences more intense and memorable. You’re helping others learn from you:
‘What helped the most was connecting with others. Knowing who to talk to, who to get support from, and knowing that there are some amazing people out there who understand the challenges we go through and who have the knowledge to make our journey a little bit easier and us – a little bit wiser.’
In a nutshell, Amna said her journey was not smooth, in fact, quite the opposite. Yet, through our platform and its community, she learnt the best way to showcase her talents and experience and has found a rewarding career.
To find out more about our community, sign up to our blog and become a member of our Facebook Group. If you are looking for a career with progressive employers, register here and download your FREE copy of ‘Kick Start Your Career e-Guide’.