A woman with short grey hair and glasses, wearing a professional outfit is posing beside a red brick wall. She is holding a folder and a takeaway coffee and smiling warmly.

“I am a completely different person from the person who started the course. I experienced some bad situations but that does not define who I am. Now I have my confidence back”

Esther* is a mature age woman, born overseas who has built a life in Australia. She took a lot of pride in her studies, her employment and in raising two sons.

Having been successful in her career across various roles, Esther had confidence in her ability to develop positive relationships. However, after a position in an unhealthy work environment, her sense of self and purpose had been seriously shaken. Esther says, “I was really feeling bad about myself…I was thinking what is wrong with me, why can’t I handle this?”.

Esther landed job interviews but once in the interview room she found her mind full of harsh doubts, “I felt like I didn’t belong there, I wasn’t good enough, he’s thinking I’m too old” she said to herself.

Job searching without the right tools and support can be overwhelming and distressing. Esther highlights that, “self-blame and losing confidence” are some of the invisible barriers for those searching for work.

In March 2020, a social worker recommended Fitted for Work to Esther. She attended Job Preparation Hub appointments, enhancing her resume and cover letter with “incredible practical suggestions”.

Not too long after Esther’s appointments, COVID-19 reached Australia. As her State went into lockdown, the job market was extremely competitive and there was an atmosphere of fear and pessimism. In the media, the gendered impact of COVID-19 was revealed as domestic violence rates soared and the damage to women’s economic independence became apparent. During this time, Esther was isolated from her family and support networks, she thought, “This is a lonely routine, this is really hard”.

However, for Esther, there was a silver lining when she joined Fitted for Work’s “powerful and interconnected” job readiness program, Emerge, which was held virtually, across 8 weeks. Emerge supported Esther with all the holistic guidance on all the interconnected topics of being work ready, such as self-care, nutrition, time management, finance and much more.

Emerge gave her something to “look forward to every week”, Esther says, “the staff are amazing and caring and give us all the tools to succeed.”

During the ‘Connection’ module, which focuses on self-talk and self-care, Esther says, “I realised it was my lack of confidence and negative self-talk that were the reasons why I wasn’t doing well at interviews, nothing to do with my skills!”

In discussing ‘character strengths’ though Emerge, Esther found her strongest to be kindness, love and love of learning.

“Fitted for Work has put it all together. In an interview, now I think, I have kindness, which means that people matter to me, I have interpersonal skills. I can join the dots.” 

Esther says of the Emerge participant group, “When we feel blue, we can rely on the tools and make them meaningful in our journeys to work.”

Esther’s sense of self is blossoming, and she is ready to step into her next role with confidence. “Now I know I can get a job that I love” Esther says. “The Emerge program is responsible for this; they changed my attitude, as well as giving me techniques. Something deeper happened. My destination is to help people.”

*Name and image have been changed for privacy.