Securing a job can be tough. Deborah Cicurel found a charity that can help make it easier…
Glasses were probably clinking at the House of Commons bar recently when the latest unemployment figures were announced.
Employment is at record levels, which is great for the government but still a worry for 5.7 percent of the population still out of work.
What may surprise you is that contained within that figure are hundreds – even thousands – of Jewish people.
Unemployment is indiscriminate and even those with the best work record can find themselves jobless, be it through redundancy, cutbacks or company relocations. Returning to the workplace from maternity leave, an absence through illness or after re-training are all situations that can make finding the right job, or indeed any job, difficult.
All of the above interests Resource, a charity that provides free support to unemployed members of the community who want to get back into the workplace.
Although it doesn’t have the profile or prominence of other Jewish charities, Resource was set up in 1992 to offer advice to people of any age, with any level of experience, regardless of whether or not they are affiliated to a synagogue.
“Unemployment has a certain stigma about it and people can often feel ashamed or embarrassed,” says Victoria Sterman, Resource’s chief executive, who joined the charity in 2013 after working in the pharmaceutical industry.
“We offer completely free support to try to help them, with five paid staff and 50 highly selected and well-trained volunteers, who work as our advisors.”
Victoria says the ‘workpower’ of Resource is down to its volunteers, who do everything from administration and fundraising to running mock interviews and advising everyone from new graduates to mothers who have been unemployed while bringing up a family.
Resource’s volunteers need to have “current and relevant experience in the job market,” Victoria says, and work in a wide range of industries, including banking, law, HR, fashion, management consultancy, accountancy and IT.
They range from those who are newly retired or self-employed to those on a career break. Victoria’s main goal as chief executive is to raise Resource’s profile and help as many people as possible. “Our running costs are low because we are powered by volunteers,” she says.
“We achieve an amazing amount with little money, despite the fact that our funding comes entirely through charitable donations and trusts, with no government help. My aim is that anybody who is made redundant or wants to get back into the workplace has the benefit of Resource’s knowledge.”
Resource helps around 430 people a year, with more than 7,000 hours of volunteer time – but the word ‘help’ is not used lightly. ‘It’s a very intense six-month programme that people sign up to,’ Victoria says.
Resource supports clients from the beginning to the very end of their job search, including seminars on everything from finding jobs to keeping them, regular sessions with their advisor and mock interviews, which are taken very seriously, with a specialist interviewer preparing realistic questions days in advance.
“More than 60 percent of our clients get a job in less than six months, but working with their advisor, job searching and being successful is a full-time job,” Victoria says.
“A big part of our work with women returners is building up their confidence and encouraging them to go for high-powered jobs, rather than lunch-lady roles. They come back and say without us they would never have applied for jobs like that.”
Victoria is passionate about Resource and says with a smile: “Absolutely no one is unemployable – we’ve proven that over and over again.” So if you’re thinking tentatively about rejoining the workplace, don’t do it alone – Resource wants to hear from you.
Resource case studies
My background is working at a senior level, mainly in large organisations within both the public and private sectors, including the NHS and a major housing association.
When I was made redundant, finding new work seemed to have become harder than ever. I’d known of Resource through its ads and articles about them, so when I heard it was running an employment seminar at JW3, I decided to go along.
As a result, I signed up and received excellent one-to-one advice and guidance from my advisor as well as taking part in its two-day ‘Tools & Techniques’ seminar – so professionally-run and incredibly helpful.
With its first-class coaching, I learned so many invaluable skills, including how to make my CV stand out. Resourse changed my whole job search approach and gave me so much more self-confidence. And, I might add, all this at no cost whatsoever!
The Resource networking team helped put me in touch with a number of potential employers. The job I accepted was initially a temporary position with KPMG in support of three senior executives, and this subsequently became permanent.”
Matthew Levine, policy manager
“When your job is made redundant, as mine was, it can be highly stressful, particularly if you have a young family. My worry was not just about when I might see my next salary slip, but also the feeling of not being in control.
Not only was it very worrying for me, but in a way even more so for my wife. That was until a contact pointed me in the direction of Resource and, working with an adviser, put together a strategy towards helping me find my next job. She also recommended I went to several of Resource’s workshops, which offered me practical support as well as helped me start to regain my self-confidence.
I simply cannot express that feeling of exhilaration when with Resource’s help – including a mock interview specially tailored to the actual role – I heard I had landed my present job. I’ve been there several months now and I love it – it’s perfect for me.”