Supporting job seekers to stay focused

How do we support our job seekers to stay focused on finding and maintaining employment? Do we take the time to find creative ways to keep them engaged?

Hang on a minute: isn’t it up to job seekers to make sure they comply with conditions imposed by their social welfare benefits? They know the rules. They have to toe the line!

However, there are myriad reasons why job seekers may not meet their obligations. Whether it’s due to literacy issues, illness, money problems, cognitive impairment or anxiety about looking for work, appointments may be missed and responsibilities skirted. There is no point indulging in punitive participation reports that lead to the distress of income loss. How does that help anybody?

At NOVA Employment we believe that job seekers need a supportive system aimed at keeping them engaged with the program and, wherever possible, actively involved in their own job seeking.

Job seekers blossom as they reflect the care of an organisation that takes a personal interest in them. Getting to know a job seeker takes time. Yes, there are barriers and complex behaviours to navigate. But it is the role of the disability employment service to create an environment that encourages the job seeker to come along.

This often involves systematic and consistent approaches to communication and social support. For example, it helps to explain the importance of each step, openly discuss barriers to attendance and provide written notifications and phone reminders of appointments. Buddying-up with other job seekers for reminders and support can also be effective.   

Taking a series of actions to encourage proactive engagement means that job seekers are more excited about the process so more likely to attend the options available. Activities include group meetings on topics such as goals, interviews, dressing for work, employer expectations, rights and responsibilities. These meetings also serve to create social interaction, build confidence and lower stress.

Social skills are vital for seeking and maintaining employment. Many of our job seekers have been isolated, left out and/or bullied because of their disability. Our Transition program for school leavers addresses topics such as verbal engagement, conversation, eye contact, handshakes and sitting appropriately.

With a great deal of attention to repairing their self-esteem these young men and women become unrecognisable from the person who came through the door.

You can’t put a dollar value on that.

- Martin Wren