Let the job tour begin!

By John Wynne, Wood’s Homes Youth Employment Counselor.

The Inglewood Opportunity Hub (the Hub) provides a variety of mental health and wellness, employment, and housing services for multi-barriered youth. One of the core programs at the Hub is the Linking Employment Abilities and Development Program (LEAD), which is a specialized employment training program that provides youth (15-29) with the opportunity to gain valuable skills that will assist them in their journey to find and maintain meaningful employment. 

As a Youth Employment Counsellor (YEC) in the LEAD program, working with clients with high levels of anxiety / job stress is a common occurrence. Every client requires different levels of support, and I meet them at their location to provide individualized support. Some clients simply need a ride to get around instead of taking long routes on city transit or walking in sometimes tough weather. Some need a kind and supportive voice to provide a little encouragement and motivation. And some clients need step-by-step guidance and support throughout the process. One such client, Trudy*, was connected to LEAD through the mental health clinician at the Hub. 

Once connected, I supported her on developing her resume and an “elevator pitch”. Trudy’s anxiety was very high preparing for the job search, so I decided to join her for her first dip into the job market with a job tour. In a typical job tour, I accompany a client near the community they live in and support them in any aspect of the job search they require. 

On the day of the job tour, I picked Trudy up and we headed to a local strip mall where she had interest in many of the stores that were there. When we arrived, we talked about the process and went over her elevator pitch and what to say when speaking with a manager about job opportunities. After going over some mock interactions and responses, I asked her what her level of anxiety was at that time. She said a 9/10. I told her not to worry and that we would not be going anywhere until she was ready. We sat and talked about the weather, the music she liked, movies she has seen lately and anything to get her to relax a bit. After a while longer I asked her if she would like to go inside the store and just walk around. No meeting managers. No talking. Just walking. She agreed. 

Walking into the store I asked her again what her level of anxiety was. She said a 10. I told her she could help me walk around a bit and browse for Christmas and she did not need to do anything more in hopes of getting to relax a bit more. Entering the store, we walked around a bit and then a store employee came over to ask us if we needed any help. I told her who I was, and that I was there with a first-time job seeker who was a little nervous but excited to give it a try. The employee guided Trudy to the customer service counter where she filled out an application. Barely a word was spoken but she completed the form and handed it in. 

Walking back to the car I asked her how she was feeling, and she said that while still being very nervous, she felt ok. Walking into the next store I told her how the application process worked there and how asking for an application at Customer Service was the next step. I asked her if she felt comfortable doing that and she wasn’t so sure. I guided her through the process and what to say and she reluctantly, but successfully, spoke to customer service and obtained the application. She filled it out, returned to the desk to drop it off, and briefly answered some availability questions from the staff. Another pleasant interaction with store staff which was great to see. Hoping this helps, in even a small way, to help her gain some confidence as we continue our tour. 

Entering the next store, my hope was to step things up a bit for my client and have her try to use the elevator pitch we had worked on. Scanning the store, I saw two people walking around together not in store uniform but having a very manager-esque vibe to them. I asked my client to stay where she was while I went over to introduce myself. They were in fact managers, and I updated them about why I was here and how I was trying to support my client who was wading into the job search market for the very first time. I asked them if she would be able to practice her elevator speech on them and they enthusiastically agreed. My client came over to meet them and acting like a bridge, we reviewed the steps that she would take to speak with a manager walking into a store and then using her elevator pitch — she tried it for the very first time. The managers were very supportive and encouraged her along the way. They praised her for coming in person and all the things she did well. She handed her resume to them and thanked them for their time and support. 

Our last stop of the day was at the top of her list for possible employers. We walked in and scanned the store for managers. With how successful the last interaction was, we decided to try it again. I connected with a manager on the floor and asked if it would be ok for my young lady to practice her introduction on her? Again, we received an enthusiastic yes. My client came over and began to talk but her nervousness was evident. The manager asked her if instead of standing there in an aisle, if she would like to walk around the store and talk? My client agreed and off they went. Returning to the front counter, the discussion continued. Trudy was more talkative and answered all the manager’s questions with a nervous, but positive energy. After the questions had ended, the manager said that while she would love to work with her, she is not the hiring manager, and would not be making the final decision. She did say that she would put in a good word for her and is hoping she would hear back about an interview early next week. We left the store and Trudy seemed to be in a quiet glow about her latest manager interaction. When we returned to the car, I asked her what her level of anxiety was? She said a 1. She said she feels more confident about her job search and is hopeful one of her applications is attached to an interview sometime. I dropped the smiling client off at home and asked her to keep me posted if she hears back from anyone. 

Two hours later, Trudy texted me saying that the manager she spoke to at the last place she applied at (her favorite one) wants her to come in for an interview on Friday at 1 pm. You could hear how excited she was- even through a text message. 

Trudy updated me on her interview and thought it went very well even though they asked her some weird questions she hadn’t heard before from the interview prep we had done previously. The manager said they would call her back on Monday or Tuesday for a second interview. 

The manager texted Trudy saying that they will not require her to come in for her second interview. A gasp of disappointment came over her. The manager said she didn’t need one as they are happy with her one interview, and she has the job. 

And off she goes.     

Job retention is next, but let’s celebrate this for a few more days shall we. 😊 


*The client’s name has been changed 


We wish to thank Vermilion Energy for their ongoing commitment and support of the LEAD Program.