Claire has been working for 4 months at Activ’Action, an association that helps jobseekers transform their professional transition into a period of personal and professional learning, connection and reflection. Active for 9 years in several French cities, the association was created with the aim of limiting the psychosocial risks associated with this period, having a systemic impact on the world of work and working towards an inclusive society. Before joining Activ'Action, Claire went through a long and winding job search. She talks about her doubts, her emotions and the influence of those close to her during this period. It's an inspiring account, as she draws parallels with the contributions of Activ'Action and what the association's workshops could have brought her, had she known about the organization at the time of her retraining.
What's your background, Claire?
In my previous job, I was a store manager at Nature et Découvertes. Then, after a while, I wanted to use other skills and leave the operational side of things. So I took a personal assessment and started training in online digital strategy. Pregnant at the time, I didn't look for work straight away, as I'd been looking after my son for 18 months. When I resumed my search, I had several interviews, but the positions didn't match what I was looking for. I couldn't see the point. I even started a job for 3 days, which I stopped because it didn't suit me. To get off to a good start again and help me think things through, I took a skills assessment with support. I also discovered jobs_that_makesense at the salon de la nouvelle vie professionnelle in Paris. It spoke to me, and I said to myself, "Maybe this is what I want: to find a job in an impact organization." So I redirected my job search to jobs_that_makesense and found Activ'Action's offer. Just reading it appealed to me, as it was really focused on skills and soft skills. What's more, the recruitment experience I went through convinced me of the organization's meaning and values, and that it matched what I was looking for. Today, I'm in charge of corporate partnerships at Activ'Action. My aim is to help companies raise their employees' awareness of diversity and inclusion issues. We offer organizations the chance to strengthen their positive impact and societal commitment through training courses on inclusive and constructive recruitment, the posture of the facilitating manager through facilitation, and solidarity days.
What difficulties did you encounter during this job search period?
The social isolation was difficult, and the fact that I said to myself "I really need to find a job!" I was focused on that goal and tended to close in on myself. I was also surrounded by people who didn't understand what I was going through, so I didn't dare talk about it. Even if the people around you are benevolent, they can find it hard to understand what you're going through and to put themselves in your shoes. Then there was the loss of self-confidence. On the one hand, because of my 2-year career break, when I felt I'd lost touch with the world of work, had lost my skills and wasn't an "interesting" profile as a young mom. On the other hand, because of failed job interviews, due to not finding a company that matched my values. All this leads to a vicious circle and negative thoughts like "I don't fit in", "I'll never find a company that suits me", "I don't know what I want".
I really think that the jobs_that_makesense platform met my need in this sense, because I wanted to find an organization that made an impact and that, as a result, I could make an impact too. If I'd seen Activ'Action's offer on a general platform, I might have been less attracted to it. Here, I had the guarantee that the values that were important to me were embodied by the company.
How did you manage to step back from the thoughts of those close to you?
People close to me used to say, "You've got to get a job, you'll find a new dynamic. That made me doubt myself: "Am I not looking for an ideal?" Or "You're lucky to be in this period, make the most of it", when no, I preferred to get up and tell myself that I was going to feel useful. In fact, you also have to know how to say "no, it's not for me", despite what people may think of you. When I was recruited for the job I left for after 3 days, I had to tell HR that I didn't want to work there anymore. It was hard, I felt like I was taking three steps backwards, but for me, it was necessary. Of course, I was lucky enough to be able to do it. I consider myself privileged because my husband was able to help me financially during this period.
What are your 3 tips for staying in action during this period of unemployment?
Trust yourself. The first one that comes to mind is "trust yourself". We have a lot of answers inside us, talents and skills that can be applied in any structure. Maybe we just don't have the right questions to find solutions.
Surround yourself, don't stay on your own, look for people who can help you, like Pôle Emploi, Apec, Activ'Action, job fairs or job platforms. The more you surround yourself with others, the more you can talk about your questions and doubts, and that can also help you move forward.
And dare, dare to apply for a job. When I saw Activ'Action's vacancy, it wasn't exactly a "coup de coeur" offer, but the values I was looking for were there, so I said to myself, "give it a try!" You have to remember that just because you're not selected doesn't mean you're no good.
In the solutions you provide today in the Activ'Action workshops, do you see any links with the advice you've just given?
Yes, the workshops we run for people in professional transition at Activ'Action enable you to surround yourself with people who are going through the same situation as you are, so you don't feel alone and isolated. This group environment already helps to restore your self-confidence. The themes addressed in the workshops are also there to add layers of self-confidence, enable you to take a step back from situations you may be experiencing, and to dare to do things you wouldn't have done on your own, such as becoming aware of your motivational levers and strengths, finding solutions to overcome obstacles and self-censorship, or working on your oral expression and posture.
How do Activ'Action workshops compare with those offered by organizations such as Apec or Pôle Emploi?
During my job search, I got in touch with Pôle Emploi and Apec. This enabled me to exchange ideas with people in a similar situation, and to enrich my professional network. In fact, they organize workshops highlighting specific professions, giving people the chance to talk directly to professionals about their jobs, and to (re)connect with the world of work. They're very active on these subjects, and it's a real opportunity for jobseekers to take part. What I find so interesting is that these workshops complement those offered by Activ'Action! In fact, the workshops offered by Activ'Action are more focused on limiting the psychosocial risks associated with the job search period, and give people the opportunity to reconnect with their desires, which are motivational levers, through collaborative methodologies. I found that the workshops offered by Pôle Emploi, Apec and Activ'Action really complemented each other. I'm fundamentally convinced that these formats enable us to enrich our overall experience.
Like Claire, are you interested in a skills assessment as a way of redirecting your career?