Blog post by Olivia Raine.
Young people are more than twice as likely to have lost their jobs since the pandemic began and this is even more pronounced among women and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
As with the 2008 recession, more and more overqualified candidates are applying for entry-level roles, leaving recent graduates and young jobseekers lost in a sea of applications. As a result, the job search can be both physically exhausting and mentally debilitating, which is why it’s important to remember that you are not alone in this.
Recently, we caught up with Erika from Young Women’s Trust, a charity dedicated to providing free support to young women between the ages of 18-30 who are looking for work. Read on to see how they can support you and advice for continuing your job search.
Hi, Erika. Lovely to meet you and thank you for your time. Firstly, how did this charity come about?
Young Women´s Trust started its journey as part of the YWCA, which was founded in 1855. It was rebranded as non-religious organisation Platform 51 before becoming Young Women´s Trust in 2013.
What is the purpose of the Work It Out initiative?
The aim of Work It Out is to help young women unlock their potential by recognising the skills and strengths they have to offer the workplace and themselves, highlighting the qualities that enable them to stay resilient and mentally healthy. It also encourages them to explore what they really want for their own lives, opening up opportunities so that they can experience more fulfilment and a better quality of life.
Who do you cater for?
We support young women between the ages of 18-30 in England and Wales.
What different resources do you offer through the programme?
The Work It Out programme is made up of two areas.
One side is coaching. This is made up of up to six impartial conversations with one of our coaches to help you identify where you are going, what skills and resources you have at your fingertips and your next steps.
The other is the Feedback Service where we offer personalised support with cover letters, CVs and job applications. This is a virtual service all completed via email where young women are offered a comprehensive review of their CVs/ cover letters, with a detailed description of the areas that are really strong as well as how to continue tailoring their CVs to the industry and role they are looking into.
What do you personally do within the programme?
I am one of the personal coaches on the Work It Out programme. My role is to support the young women in an impartial, confidential conversation about their career journey. Conversations with young women are completely different based on each young women´s situation, her wants and needs. For instance, one young woman may be unsure of her career direction so we may talk about what is most important for her in her work, her values and what she has learnt from previous roles, whereas another young woman may be preparing for an interview and may want to explore interview questions and answers, her skills and strengths or feeling calm going into the interview.
My role is, therefore, to listen carefully and deeply so that I can ask really useful questions that help the young women understand fully what she wants, explore her options and recognise all the incredible things she has to offer.
What do you find most fulfilling within the role?
I absolutely love connecting with the young women, hearing their stories and their experiences, and then supporting them to find their own positive and supportive ways forward. At the end of a conversation, it´s so incredible to hear them say things like “I have more direction now”, “I am so much clearer”, “I feel much more confident” and even “I´m excited about what I am doing next.”; It´s so powerful to be seen and heard without judgement; this is the space I love to co-create with the young women I speak with.
How have you seen this initiative help women?
I´ve seen young women benefit from the programme practically and emotionally. Some share that they´ve learnt tools that they use in their everyday life to help them make more helpful choices or that they know how to care for themselves better. Some share that they´ve felt more confident going into interviews and they´ve been exciting telling me that they´ve found a job. Some have shared that they loved being listened to in an impartial way because their friends and families offer too many opinions. What people take from the coaching experience is totally personal and unique.
What advice would you have for women finding work going into 2021?
A couple of things:
1) The world is still moving…just slower. So, keep going and have patience. A lot of the young women I speak with are, sooner or later, finding work so there is hope!
2) Remember the importance of a balanced life. Absolutely sit and do the work, put in the effort and do your job searching/ networking etc. AND…and…remember to have fun too. Spend time doing some things you love, try something new, take up a new hobby or enjoy doing nothing. Your “productive” job searching time will probably feel more fulfilling next to some dedicated playtime and you´ll be more likely to put more effort into the “productive” time when you´re more relaxed, rested and happy. As they say, Work Hard, Play Hard!
How can women access this service?
Young women can sign up via the website: https://www.youngwomenstrust.org/get-support/.