LJ is a quiet young man with a tight social network of family and friends. It was clear upon meeting him how he struggled with confidence, self-esteem and projecting himself verbally. As a consequence, he lacked direction in navigating a pathway towards permanent worthwhile employment.
What LJ did have was a natural interest in caring for people. This interest started in his mid-teens when as part of a group he raised money for (and then helped build) a sensory garden for retirees with dementia.
This experience prompted LJ to study for a Care Certificate at Truro College. The study was reinforced by undertaking volunteering roles in charity shops and with Café Chaos where he supported young people with learning difficulties and physical disabilities as they worked alongside him in the café.
Along came the pandemic and LJ had left college but was not yet 20. He managed to secure a series of short-term assignments in a COVID test centre as cleaner, administrator and eventually tester. The role however came to a sudden end because the outside environment exacerbated an existing chest condition.
LJ was not certain of his next move which is the point at which Motiv-8 stepped into his life. LJ had just turned 21.
What we did
The first step to helping most people is to develop their trust and to gain greater awareness of their strengths, skills, and talents. We had a couple of ‘Getting to Know you’ sessions initially with his partner present and then on his own. This took the form of gentle conversations which were centred around themes such as LJ’s education background, volunteering and work experiences and personal interests. We made sure our appointments were weekly around the same time and we took lots of notes!
As the trust developed between LJ and our adviser he felt more comfortable in his company and was confident in showing and sharing his personal story. Through a series of ‘easy’ conversations it was apparent his quiet manner belied a high level of intelligence aligned to a thoughtful nature and natural decency.
A career within Social Care was an obvious choice for LJ since he already possessed a care qualification and had volunteering and work experience to support his knowledge. Care settings however can be tough places to work for quiet people who lack confidence. Particularly now when care companies are under pressure to fill roles with little regard to the needs of the caregiver.
Plainly the challenge was finding an organisation which allowed LJ to express his qualities of empathy and patience at the same time as supporting him to develop his own confidence, resilience, and knowledge.
LJ didn’t just want a job he was looking for an ‘employment home’. Research was done on many local care companies. We were careful to look closely at the feedback comments and ratings from current employees in order to find a fit. Barchester Care seemed perfect since they offered a thorough induction and training programme. They were also on the cusp of opening a new care home in Falmouth which was LJ’s preferred location to work. Further dementia care goes hand in hand with the care of the elderly and is an area LJ wanted to specialise in.
Marketing itself as a luxury care home Barchester was naturally keen to attract top professionals within the industry. We believed LJ could learn from these professionals particularly if they could act as a role model and mentor for him. One such individual was a professional friend of our adviser who had just secured a position within Barchester and talked both positively and excitedly about his new role and encouraged LJ to apply.
The stars seemed aligned and encouraged by the fact we had identified an employer who could support the early stages of a career in Care, LJ was helped to draft a CV and cover letter seeking an opening to work in the new home. Here we built a picture of LJ as the ‘quiet thoughtful guy’ whose early life volunteering experience and role as covid tester during the lockdown could be seen as a natural prelude to a career in care.
Both CV and cover letter were hand delivered, and impressed by Luke’s story, he was invited for an immediate interview. In preparation for his interview no stone was left unturned. LJ and our employment adviser practised answers to every conceivable question that might be asked. Here our employment adviser’s knowledge of the Care Sector helped as Luke was supported to research on all manner of topics from treatments for dementia, to safeguarding the elderly to legislation around Care.
Knowledge is one thing, presenting in a confident and assured nature was another. Luke was taught the importance of posture and body language, and several sessions were spent practising projecting his voice. He was encouraged to ask searching questions of his own to the interview panel… questions which designed to make them realise that he was different and mature beyond his age. He was encouraged to follow up his interview with a polite request for feedback and a thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed.
Barchester were impressed by the ‘quiet man’ and could see how his kind, gentle and unassuming nature would have an affinity with many of their clients. He was offered a role because they saw something in him they could nurture. After a period of induction Luke started his first shift at the beginning of February to coincide with the care home opening its doors to its first clients.
This Case Study reveals the importance in understanding the individual and realising that even perceived weaknesses can be turned into strengths if you present a convincing story to employers. It also raises the importance of finding a fit between employers and employees which is important since it is not just about finding any job but taking the time to find the right one. Finally, it demonstrates through partnership, action, and preparation and the right support you can achieve even if you are the quiet guy!
This COMPASS programme is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and supported and managed by CSW group.