‘How Brooke saved my career and changed my life” – by the jobseeker who took six months to find work

By Brittany Lazarus |

Making It

Work

Job seeker Warren Allen searched for a new position for six months, writing to employers almost daily while he took courses to improve his chances. But his search took off when he went to volunteer group Jobs for Australia  – and was introduced to mentor Brooke Cookson.

Not for profit services and volunteer-run organisations are seeing increasing numbers of Australians like Mr Allen asking for help who previously never need to appeal for charity. Many of them worried and were anxious about their futures.

“Many of the calls we are getting are from people who have never had to seek help before. They’ve never been out of work or this short of money, ” a spokesperson for not for profit service Financial Counselling Australia told Together Australia.

But Warren Allen is a success story.

He was unlucky to be caught out between a restructuring redundancy in January and the pandemic shattering the job market a few months later.

Because he received a redundancy package, he couldn’t get JobSeeker. It was 24 weeks before he found a new job. He puts that down to Brooke.

“People talk about pre-COVID – I talk about pre-Brooke and post-Brooke,” Mr Allen said.

 

Brooke Cookson

Before going to Jobs for Australia, Mr Allen had not had anyone look over his resume and was working with a few recruiters whilst applying for roles himself.

“If you look at the information I first sent over and was sending out to prospective businesses and recruiters,  it was really clunky. Brooke helped me cut back and make it a lot more refined” he said.

She also told him to break the “jobs page refresh cycle” – where jobseekers spend their days just refreshing the pages of jobs sites in the hope that something new will come in.

So instead, when he wasn’t applying for new roles, he spent his time completing online courses to become an accredited cricket umpire, watching webinars on venture capital and participating in many financial industry webinars as he could.

He attended just under 20 interviews before landing his new role in Fund Accounting for Cooper Investors.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it feels like a lot more when you are keen to just get back into work, you have to respect this is a challenging time for everyone and this is hard for them too,” he said

His best piece of advice for others in a similar situation is: “Step out of your comfort zone into the unknown and don’t close your eyes to any opportunity that comes your way”.

Mr Allen admits he was lucky.

Traffic to the National Debt Helpline has soared – with most inquiries from people who have never been in trouble with money before. Many callers are “frightened and worried” about credit card debt, utility bills, pay-day loans and housing costs.

Visits to the National Debt Helpline website are up a third, and calls are mostly from people who have never had to seek help before. There are also increases in domestic violence and for help buying enough food.

“Traffic to the National Debt Helpline website – www.ndh.org.au – continues to grow,” said a spokesperson.

“There were a total of 318,108 visits and 667,017 page views during the 2019-20 financial year. These figures are significantly higher than those of the previous year.”

The spokesperson went on: “The usual issues that financial counsellors see are still prevalent, such as credit card debt, payday loans, utility bill payments and housing costs…

“The number of people calling the NDH requiring emergency food relief services definitely increased in light of the pandemic.

“Financial counsellors have also noticed an increase in instances of domestic and family violence during pandemic lockdowns, which is often accompanied by various forms of financial abuse such as restricting the partner’s spending.

“Many of the people who were already economically vulnerable before the pandemic are actually doing better. However, there is widespread concern now that JobSeeker and JobKeeper are reduced. People will likely find it harder to make ends meet.”

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