Nicole Richardson – who had worked in finance for 20 years and later as a personal trainer and an NHS Health Trainer – found herself unemployed for the first time at the age of 45 last year.
With a young daughter to support, it dealt her confidence a shattering blow.
“I hated it. It was absolutely horrible and demoralising. I assumed after my last contract came to an end that I would easily find another job
“I couldn’t even register with an employment agency.
“A man half my age told me that my many qualifications were not acceptable to potential employers because they weren’t ‘current’ and my experience was not useful because it was not ‘recent’.
“It seemed that after taking a couple of years out to look after my daughter I was no longer appealing to employers.”
Nicole, from Lowedges, quickly lowered her expectations and started applying for any job going, but got increasingly panicked with each passing month that she spent out of work.
“It began to feel as if all my hard work and experience had counted for nothing. I started to worry that nobody would ever employ me.
“I managed to keep caring for my daughter but the stress was draining, both physically and psychoadedlogically, and by the time she was in bed I was exhausted.”
However after receiving valuable advice and guidance from the Support Centre, a guided jobsearch programme delivered by A4e on behalf of Jobcentre Plus in Sheffield, she felt rejuvinated, confident and ready to go back out and fight for a job with a new CV and approach to job searching.
After completing her first set of six sessions she asked to go back for two sets of extra sessions to support her through her intensive hunt for work and it paid off.
Within weeks of completing the third course, she won a housekeeping job working with homeless people and was able to sign off Jobseekers Allowance, having relied on benefits for a year.
“I am so happy to be working again and I love the job.
“It was all down to the way the tutors for the course taught me to change and adapt my CV. The renewed confidence I gained from the course totally changed my outlook.
“The trainers were fabulous. They were never patronising or judgemental.
“On the first day of my course I saw a woman crying and the tutor dealt with it so empathically and professionally that I felt able to confide in him that I was feeling very similar.
“He took that into account and really worked on my self-esteem with me.
“The staff at A4e made the whole training experience fun, lively and informative. Between them they restored my faith in myself as someone who had a lot to offer any employer, something I had completely lost sight of.”
Support Centre is run as part of A4e’s Jobcentre Plus Support Contract.
Customers can use the centre’s facilities and are guided through their job search by specialist trainers who help with CVs and application writing skills.
A4e trainer Fran Gilbane, of A4e, said:
“As trainers, we do not just want our customers to settled for ‘ok’ – we want them to aim high, to be the best they can be and we will do everything in our powers to help them achieve their potential.”