‘Finding Work During the Pandemic’ Sonia’s Story

A bit about me ..

Since 2004, I have worked in various roles within HR, Recruitment and Welfare to work and left my job in 2013 when my eldest son was starting his school’s nursery. I had thought about starting my own Career Consulting business around my son’s school hours and by November 2013, I started doing exactly that. For the next few years this was just perfect, part time work around my son’s school hours and then I had my second child in July 2017, who came as a very happy surprise and I decided to take a break. By the time he was 14 months I put him in nursery 2 mornings to try and rebuild my business but I knew that it would be tough in so few hours. I took on ad hoc work through word of mouth and local adverts just to keep my brain active and did what I enjoyed, ‘improving people’s chances of employment’. Ideally I wanted a job with a steady income but i knew re-entering the workplace within my field with a school aged child and toddler would be difficult due to nursery costs and the logistics of school hours and having no childcare support during the week. The ideal situation would be a full time job that would pay for full time nursery but then what about my school aged child? And what about the time travelling to and from work?

Next steps…

I applied for several roles at the end of 2019, got through the tests, 1st and 2nd interviews but didn’t quite get the jobs. I always thought it was because of the flexibility I required at the end of the day to pick up my son from school on a couple of days a week. Part time wasn’t going to pay for the nursery hours so I stopped job searching for work in my field. I did however apply for a part time weekend job and I got it. It was the perfect stepping stone I needed to take to be part of a team. Working on your own has its downsides too!

The Pandemic

So then we all know what happened in March 2020…Yes, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working in non-essential retail brought about many uncertainties. I was furloughed like many non essential retail employees and returned to work in June; wearing face masks and social distancing. Although strange, it was so nice to be amongst people again and I noticed that the job market was changing with more jobs working from home advertised and so I set myself a goal to be back in a role using my experience by September 2021 when my youngest son would start reception. By then I thought the pandemic would be over, kids could go to holiday clubs, grandparents could help with childcare if needed and I could work. Then by October 2020 we were in a second lockdown and I noticed the job market was really changing.. and for me and those who needed flexibility, for the better! Work from home/remote working was becoming the norm and finally a ‘forgotten workforce of women’ could have the work life balance they wanted and needed! Forget wasting 2 hours of travelling a day, the office world went online and I saw light at the end of the tunnel!!! Then my vision became reality, I saw a role with flexibility so I could have the Work Life balance I needed advertised in November and by December I had started my job… and here I am! So thank you to Liz and all those other amazing organisations out there who are giving us women an opportunity to work from home with the flexibility they need. The benefits are countless to both employee and employers and I personally believe an element of flexible/remote working is here to stay and definitely the way forward. I’m hoping employers incorporate a mixed approach of office/remote and flexible working in the workplace to get the most out of their employees.

And finally…

So please use the remaining months in this strange world as productively as you can; complete as many courses as you can, attend our workshops and sessions, research work from home jobs and see if you can develop your skills in the sectors that these jobs are in. You’ll be surprised how many jobs have now gone online and what is out there! The one skill that you can all add to your CV is that you have become ‘zoom experts’ so please keep attending our sessions and workshops.

There have been so many uncertainties over the last year for all. We have learnt so much and many of us have refocused our energy on doing something new and positive. So please keep focused and keep trying.. and remember the Belina Team are all here to support you on your journey.

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