Connecting With Confidence
My role as “The Network Catalyst” is to facilitate communication by starting conversations that make a difference, conversations that transform thought into action and encourage individuals, businesses and teams to build strong relationships and provide support. When people develop confidence in their capacity to communicate effectively, they interact more effectively and can explore and discover ways to work and engage to achieve mutually desirable outcomes.
I gain a great deal of satisfaction from watching people become more confident in the way they describe their business, share stories of how they help others, exchange ideas, develop conversation skills and support each other. It takes confidence to step outside your comfort zone, connect, and develop trust, but if you are willing to take the necessary steps, magic can happen and opportunities are uncovered.
Confidence is Transformational
About five years ago, my husband, Leigh became a volunteer mentor with Fitted For Work, a not-for-profit organisation that has supported over 30,000 women across Australia, women facing financial disadvantage.
Fitted for Work’s mission is to help women experiencing disadvantage to find work, keep work and navigate their world of work. Over the years they have been run a successful range of services including resume help, interview skills development, a mentor program, workplace experience, personal outfitting and so much more!
I know that the network that help their women build offers knowledge and support and makes a difference. I write about them in my book Two Ears, One Mouth and a BIG Heart .
I received this week an email about their Annual Appeal and thought I would highlight more of their wonderful work and share with you the following, in the hope that I can make a difference to others, as you may not really understand thier impact may be moved to continue the ripple effect of confidence that they create.
Fitted for Work know what they do works….read on-
This financial year, 77% of women who have accessed their services have reported they have already found work. On average, it takes women just 64 days to find work after accessing their sevices. The numbers speak for themselves.
To illustrate the true impact of Fitted for Work’s services have a read of this recollection, written by Rachel*, a former client and volunteer of Fitted for Work.
“I worked in China for almost 4 years as a Telecommunications engineer before March, last year; I resigned and came to Australia to marry my husband. After that, I was home all day long worrying about my career.
I found it hard to fit in to life in Australia due to language and cultural differences. My education background and work experience was quite competitive in China, however, in Australia, nearly all the job advertisements require local experience which made my advantages seem meaningless.
I hadn’t felt a deeper lack of confidence ever before. I knew that I needed to make a change but I just didn’t know where to start.
I was not confident, afraid to go out and talk with people. I had no clue how to find a job in Australia, I was afraid to take the first step and easily got frustrated.
I contacted Fitted for Work and that’s when things began turning around. My experience of attending Fitted for Work in Parramatta was that I felt that finally there were people who understood my struggle. The staff and volunteers treated me like warm friends.
I still can remember the first time I went to Fitted for Work, Liz was so nice and patient while I was so nervous, struggling on how to express myself properly in English. Julie, a volunteer, provided me with lots of practical advice based on my situation at that time, covering a wide range of things, from language skills improvement to the Australian job market.
As a client, I attended their Multicultural Women’s Job Preparation hub and got help with my resume writing, interview practice, and I also attended an outfitting appointment and got some perfect outfits for interviews. In addition, I participated in an Elevator Pitch Workshop which was facilitated by a staff member from IBM.
In the previous financial year, 70% of all appointments in Parramatta were booked by women from a Culturally or Linguistically Diverse background.
I then went to the Sorting Circle every Thursday between April and September, as a volunteer. This is where you can help sort clothing and talk with the other volunteers, which was a way to improve my English skills.
The Sorting Circle is an opportunity for women who are facing social isolation, lack of experience or struggling with Australian slang, to reintroduce themselves into the workforce through ‘commitment-free’ volunteering, gain confidence and connect with other women who might be facing similar challenges.
Because I had no local experience in Australia before, I didn’t have any references. If it was not for my experience at Fitted for Work, I wouldn’t be able to have my two teammates Candice and Julie as my reference. They were very supportive and gave me the most professional advice at each stage of my job seeking. Every time I got stuck, I came back to Fitted for work, and then I would have a clear idea of what to do next. From inside to outside, I became much more confident.
The biggest benefit from my time with Fitted for Work was gaining confidence. That’s the biggest change for me compared to how I was when I was in China. The simplest things in China could be a huge challenge for me in Australia.
98% of women sampled report an increase in confidence and job-readiness after accessing our WomanKind program.
I felt much more confident in my job seeking, to meet employers trusting they gain a good impression of me. In the meantime, I also tried to develop my language skills as suggested by another wonderful volunteer Ann.
After I became a client and a volunteer at Fitted for work, I got hired by a telecommunications company. A few weeks ago, I was promoted to another team too!
Working for me in this new country means independence. Although I left all my close friends and family members when I moved to Australia with my husband, which was hard, I can live a better life if I work hard for it.
I would definitely encourage other women to connect with Fitted for Work. Fitted for Work help with suitable clothing for your interview and work, but what they provide is far more than that.
After the fitting, I believed that I was a professional woman. After the interview practice, I knew I was a professional woman.”
Fitted for Work focus specifically on helping women gain and maintain employment not only because work provides financial security but also a sense of social connectedness, dignity and pride. We believe that when a woman is fitted for work, she is fitted for life.
Fitted for Work simply couldn’t do what they do without financial support.. With no recurrent government funding, Fitted for Work relies on donations to keep their doors open and their services free for women who need it most.
By donating to their Annual Appeal today you can empower women, like Rachel, to find work and achieve economic independence in as little as 64 days.
You can help by contributing (cost per woman) by following this link and help Fitted for work continue their mission::
$75 Interview Coaching Workshop
$150 Presentation Skills & Personal Outfitting Service
$275 Workplace Experience
$550 Mentoring Program
$2500 Woman Kind Program
Reflecting on my own childhood when my mother became the sole breadwinner, I can relate to many of the challenges experienced by Fitted For Work mentees. I’m sure there were times when my mother felt she was facing overwhelming odds. I am so glad there is now an organisation dedicated to providing women in difficult circumstances with practical assistance and support. It doesn’t make it easy but it does make a difference, and sometimes that is enough.
Your Time Matters (YTM) supports the efforts of Fitted For Work. If you know any women in need of support, please refer them to Fitted For Work which provides a range of free services. You may also like to get involved and help by donating money or unwanted workplace clothing to their shop, or by supporting their events, or considering how you could volunteer your time or expertise. Read more about their programs and services at https://fittedforwork.org/
Hello, I’m Kerryn Powell
I am The Network Catalyst and Founder of Your Time Matters.
The great loves of my life are my family, people and their stories. I bring these passions together to create network synergy for business professionals, groups and teams.
For thirty years I have been working as a catalyst for change. Fundamentally I believe relationships are the key to achieving growth, and relationships grow from conversations that build mutual understanding and trust.
Working as The Network Catalyst is hugely rewarding because it has a ripple effect—together we forge connections that amplify opportunities, and inspire people in business to experience the power and endless potential of networking to build relationships.