Case studies

Since we launched our Steps Ahead Mentoring programme as a pilot just over three years ago, CIPD members have supported hundreds of young jobseekers into work.

The CIPD Steps Ahead Mentoring case study report (PDF 388KB) tells the stories of those involved, including CIPD members who give up their time to volunteer as well as some of the young jobseekers who have gone on to find employment. We also hear from those working at Jobcentre Plus who explain why the programme is so valuable, and CIPD branch members who have done great work to promote the programme in their area.

Two of the young people featured, Madia and Bathsheba, needed help with their confidence when they joined the programme. They both had previous work experience but wanted to move away from just taking any job to starting out in a career. For them, hearing from someone who has been on the other side of the recruitment process gives them a unique insight that their families, friends and work coaches cannot provide.

Madia, Campaign Coordinator, Talent and Skills, Business in the Community

‘My mentor was Joseph. He was everything I’d hoped for – I only wish I’d met him earlier. I realised that while advice from family and friends is good, getting it from an experienced HR professional is in a different league. Joseph got in touch by email, followed by a half-hour phone call and then we met over a period of three months.

The main thing I took from Joseph was confidence. He made me realise that I could achieve my potential – that I was bright and doing all the right things. I’d been through a lot, but he reminded me that that didn’t have to affect my future. I told him I wanted to get into financial services – and insurance specifically. So we created an action plan together and he told me to research my dream job and the steps I needed to get there.

I saw that I needed to go and speak to employers and not just write to them. So Joseph started to take me to networking events and speak to people about what I wanted to do, including some directors from the financial sector. That really helped my confidence and now any chance I get to go to events, I’ll be the first one there. We also worked on interviewing skills – I don’t think people realise how important that is. I now have a job which is helping me get vital skills and experience at work and I feel that my plan of action will work. And when I’m older I hope I can help someone in the way Joseph helped me.’

Bathsheba, Administrative Assistant and Factory Worker, Sun Cottage Wholefoods

‘In spite of over five years of relevant experience, I had been really struggling to get work. My Jobcentre work coach said that I should apply for jobs that required the university degree I had. I did that, but I just wasn’t getting any success. So I also applied for all sorts of other jobs – including factory, admin and cleaning roles – but I kept getting told that I was overqualified. I’d also done plenty of admin work in the past but this wasn’t paid and I was also being told that I just didn’t have the necessary experience. I felt very down about it all.

I was told about Steps Ahead Mentoring by my work coach in June 2014. Ultimately, I had very little to lose, so I bit the bullet and gave it a go. About a week later I was assigned my mentor, a lady called Sally. She’d worked in HR and now had her own recruitment business. It was a real privilege to work with her. When we spoke, I noticed that she didn’t start by asking me about the specifics of my situation – instead she just asked about me as a person. She saw very early that the biggest challenge to my getting a job was probably my self-confidence. She wanted to know firstly how I felt in myself and, although we were talking for the first time, her approach felt very human. Sally helped me to feel supported when I really needed it. It’s not that I wasn’t supported by others – I was – but this was support that could make a difference.

We had about four or five really important phone conversations. Firstly, we looked at my CV. Sally said that although she found it difficult to understand why I hadn’t been more successful, I did have a tendency to downplay my achievements. For example, I had written very little about my communication skills, so she probed this in depth. I remembered that I’d worked on a film crew around an event, which had involved communicating with lots of other people to keep the project on track. Sally reminded me that while I may downplay my achievements, those who also wanted the jobs I wanted would be doing the opposite.

Sally then asked me to let her know about any upcoming interviews, so that she could guide me through the process. In fact, I had a job interview scheduled in three days’ time, so we had to get down to working on this straight away. I had two interviews by mid-July, the second of which resulted in my current job here in a factory. This time it’s paid work and a solid building block for me. In fact, I’ve just been given a pay rise, so things are starting to look a lot better.’

Are you a CIPD member wanting to register as a mentor? Register as a mentor

If you are a young jobseeker, please ask your Jobcentre Plus work coach for more information.