Tell us more about your education & job search experience prior to hearing about the Kickstart Scheme:
In 2018, I left university after three months when I realised it wasn’t the right fit for me at the time. Back home in Swansea I worked for over a year as a cashier at a small local family-owned bakery and held a temporary role as an Amazon warehouse associate during the first national lockdown. After relocating to Brighton in August 2020, I sent out multiple job applications every day for months. Responses ranged from rejections from the initial application (no feedback) and a couple of interviews leading nowhere to absolutely no reply. With my only experience being in customer service, and the hospitality sector awash with applications following job losses during the pandemic, my search seemed doomed from the beginning. Nevertheless, I was open-minded and applied to anything that I loosely fit the qualifications for. I must have sent hundreds of applications out over five months and was beginning to panic that my lack of a degree was hindering me from even entry-level positions, but I could see that my peers who had been through university were in a similar predicament to me. I was ready to give up when I heard about the Kickstart scheme in January 2021.
What made you apply to the Kickstart Scheme?
After facing unemployment for five months, I was introduced to the Kickstart Scheme by my Job Centre+ work coach. After reading the job description I knew the role was something I could see myself in; also, that it was something I normally wouldn’t have applied to due to perceived lack of transferrable skills and experience.
What was your experience of the “unRecruitment” process?
After sending in my application to People and Their Brilliance, I was invited to the first stage of their ‘unRecruitment process' – a two-hour long group Zoom webinar. This consisted of discussion-led breakout rooms with other candidates for other Kickstart roles, with reflection as a key theme throughout. This session alone helped me to completely shift my view from asking myself what I could gain from a role, to wondering what I could give as a valued worker. It helped me to look more deeply at the roles I had been applying to – was I applying because I felt like they aligned with my values and what I wanted to gain from an experience, or was I simply applying to anything I mildly fit the requirements for out of desperation? I really appreciated that there was no expectation to return for the next step of the process, and that reflection on whether the role or the process itself was a good fit was encouraged. The first session also brought to my attention just how low my self-esteem had dropped.
Next step was an assignment to explore what makes us brilliant; through self-reflection, asking those around us and asking other people what makes them brilliant. I really needed that reminder that I do have things to offer and that I am a valuable person in a team. I returned to the second unRecruitment webinar more confident and ready to share my insights.
As a final step we were invited to write a short piece answering some questions covering our motivation and interest in the role. We were asked to describe the value we could give based on the employer's needs. I found this method of application much more meaningful than submitting a CV as I felt that it would give the employer a much better idea of who I am and what I could bring to the role.
What did you learn about yourself through the “unRecruitment” process?
We had the opportunity to share our brilliance one-on-one, to hear reflections on how we shared our findings, and to further self-reflect as part of a wider group. I really appreciated that there was enough time allocated to this exercise to allow me to grow from awkwardness to more confident when talking about the qualities that I admire in myself. I think this is such a valuable exercise as it helps applicants in all stages of the job application process – it pushes you to communicate your strengths, whether through a CV or cover letter, being able to articulate your brilliance during an interview or even within a role. It encourages you to apply yourself in the areas you know you are best at.
Another meaningful lesson learned was how to best show the contribution you can make to an employer. In addition to stating skills and using past examples to show this, we discussed how we can show the value we can bring before we have even been offered the role; for example, suggesting an improvement to a company’s website or preparing a portfolio of work you could offer. I had never viewed job applications in this way before and I knew that whether I was successful in being offered the role or not, I had learned many valuable insights which will help me in future applications.
How do you see the Kickstart Scheme fitting into your plans for the future?
I’m excited to know that at the end of my Kickstart position I will have six months’ experience in the recruitment and HR sector, and that my job prospects will widen because of this. Prior to the Kickstart scheme I felt stuck in my employment journey, with no opportunities to progress from the type of roles that I had held before, but now I feel as though I have a foot in the door to a sector for which I previously felt unqualified. Even if, at the end of my placement, I realise that recruitment isn’t for me, I know that I will leave it confident, inspired and ready to re-join the job market.