Published on in Responsible Business

Job hunting can be tough. It’s daunting to write a CV and go for interviews – and if you’re sending applications and not hearing anything back, it can get very demoralising.

Mentoring Circles participant, Mowafak spent a long time looking for a job. He was already finding it difficult to get an opportunity, and the COVID-19 pandemic made it even harder.

For lots of people, Mowafak’s story will sound very familiar.

Frustratingly, it’s been shown that the pandemic has hit people from ethnic minority backgrounds even harder than other groups – and that’s why having support can be so valuable.

Mentoring Circles are free sessions to help people from ethnic minorities gain the confidence and skills to find employment.

Mowafak joined a Mentoring Circle earlier this year and used what he learned to get a job straight after. Now we’re running five remote workshops in July and August 2021 to help more people get the opportunity they deserve.

The confidence and skills to find work

When you’re looking for a job, it can be hard to know where to apply, the right words to use, or how to present yourself.

This can be even more difficult if you face other challenges: you feel isolated from your community, English isn’t your first language or you’ve not had a job before.

Mentoring Circles are sessions led by businesses like Fujitsu, to help people from ethnic minority backgrounds build the confidence and skills to get into employment.

Our workshops cover:

  • Finding a job and getting an interview
  • How to create a CV
  • Writing application forms and covering letters
  • Preparing for an interview, LinkedIn skills and mock interview exercises
  • Looking after your wellbeing

These sessions use a tried and tested approach that we’ve developed over three years, to provide practical and valuable advice. At Fujitsu, we always take the time to connect with our participants so that everyone can get the most from the sessions.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the sessions have been remote – making it even easier for participants and volunteers to join in anywhere in the UK.

Our success stories

Mowafak applied what he’d learned in his mentoring sessions to his job interviews, and went on to secure a position.

“I applied for the Fujitsu session not knowing whether it will be worth it, it looked like it was a normal workshop like any other I have previously been into before or recommended by my work coach. However, this particular event was totally different – I was really guided and shown the right way to do stuff and how to be myself during an interview. I received good feedback on my CV, and all the tips and advice helped me score my current job which I’m really grateful to Fujitsu for.”

While it’s common to be nervous or sceptical at the start, we’ve seen so many people who just needed a small helping hand go on to achieve great things.

One woman we worked with was struggling to find work and we quickly saw that confidence was a big part of the problem. But after two sessions, she felt energised to take action – and went on to secure a position as an interpreter.

Why it’s great for businesses too

I know from my own experiences that Mentoring Circles are also really valuable for the organisations and volunteers that take part.

At Fujitsu, we’re really passionate about supporting local communities and using our skills to help people. Along with my colleague Reena Chawla, who is co-chair of our Cultural Diversity Network, I first got involved with Mentoring Circles in 2018.

For Reena and I, the scheme is so rewarding because it’s about “paying it forward”: giving a helping hand to people who might not have a voice or the same opportunities that you’ve had.

Personally, I grew up in a very deprived inner-city area. If it weren’t for my Auntie setting up her own career and giving me the courage to do the same, I don’t know what would have happened.

Volunteers from all kinds of organisations take part; we’ve partnered with Network Rail, HSBC and National Grid, to name a few. And now that sessions are conducted remotely, it’s even easier for businesses around the country to participate.

Since the events of 2020, we’re all much more conscious of the challenges that can face ethnic minorities especially. I want to make sure that more people have the opportunity to get into work – and this is one way for people in business to use their skills to give back.

Participants and volunteers, sign up today

You can learn so much from Mentoring Circles – whether you’re a participant or a volunteer.

I’d encourage everyone to take part, to help people from ethnic minority backgrounds gain the skills and confidence to overcome the barriers they currently face.

Sometimes a small helping hand can make all the difference.

At Fujitsu, we’re running five weekly sessions from Thursday 8th July. You can sign up here via your local job centre.

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