Andrea, on never giving up and getting a little bit of herself back

Andrea’s ethos is to never give up and her ability to adapt, grow and develop means she is a critical member of the Recruit for Spouses Liquid Workforce. Not letting a career break get in her way, she has continued to thrive. Read her story here.

What is your career background?

I graduated with a law degree, but my career direction has been in finance and the automotive industry. I have predominantly worked for Peugeot UK and Honda UK in various management positions and loved my time working in the car industry.

I took a career break in 2011, when we had our first child and in 2012, we had our second child whilst in Kuwait on an oversees role with my husband. I had planned on returning to Honda UK, but a move to Bristol and then Shrewsbury meant a change in career path. I studied for a Level 4 Life Coaching Qualification and also trained as an Image Consultant in Colour, Style and Corporate Image. I launched my Ltd Co in 2016 and enjoyed that for 3 years until the opportunity arose with RFS and Alexander Mann Services on the Atos account to work in recruitment.

Why did you approach Recruit for Spouses?

I initially approached RFS, as I was a qualified coach, to offer support under their coaching programme. When I read about the Liquid Workforce opportunity and the ability to work under flexible arrangements with the chance to work from home, I knew it was the ideal time to approach RFS regarding my suitability for positions. RFS understand our situation and we are not judged by our spouse/partners role, it’s about supporting us as individuals too.

Can you tell us a bit about the process you undertook with RFS?

I was contacted by RFS to discuss the potential role as a Resource Specialist in recruitment and asked about my career history. We discussed my application, reasons for applying for the role and the process that would follow if I was successful and taken forward. Fortunately, I was given the chance to attend the 3rd Cohort training session in Bracknell for a week in July 2019 with other military spouses and trained in the world of a recruitment.  Following this, it’s a case of waiting for a suitable role to come available at Alexander Mann Services on one of their accounts and then we are put in touch with the manager for an interview. The RFS keep in contact and update on positions and suitability for the various roles.

Can you briefly explain the job you do?

As a Resource Specialist – Recruitment, my role is to find the right candidates for the roles that have been assigned to me in a professional manner. We are given access to the internal systems so we can review applicants that have applied for the roles and either arrange an initial screen call or reject candidates who are not suitable for the position. I also have to source suitable candidates via Linked In, Indeed and other job search engines, but my main source of candidates is Linked In.  I have also been assigned a ‘Linked In Recruiter Licence’, which means I can search for professional applicants, advertise new roles to Linked In and use this as a great tool to support my work. We have regular conference calls and updates with other team members and always have the support my colleagues to ask questions, deal with queries or be able to speak to someone if anything is challenging at the time. One of the best things about the role is being able to make the call to offer a candidate the role, it’s the best feeling to know that you have made a difference to someone and filled a position.

What challenges did you face in your search for a job?

Prior to RFS, I had challenges with job applications, as I was quite often asked why I was applying or rejected on being over -qualified for roles. My life has changed and with children and a serving husband, it means I cannot go back to working long hours again, but I could bring a lot of skills within the hours I could offer. This is not just a ‘military spouse’ issue, but one that faces a lot of people who had a career and who are not able to return to work on the same basis. Accepting that a new position may not be at the same level, but knowing you could do the role successfully, is a challenge when faced with obstacles that can block our return to the workplace.

RFS and its partnership with companies that do not look at what our husbands/wives or partners do as a role, but consider us as individuals and professional people with our own skill set is just what we need to support our career development.

What has been your proudest moment?

I would like to think I have many moments but marrying my husband and having 2 lovely children always has to come top of my list! I also think that making sure I never gave up on anything when life changed direction makes me proud. It goes without saying, being placed in a role now that fits in with life, uses my professional skill set and being able to bring additional income into the family again makes me feel very proud.

Why is being in work so important to you?

For me, working gives me a sense of purpose and I think that is very important in my world. Even when on a career break, I needed to study, do voluntary work and set up new business. This was sometimes too much and maybe I did overload at the time, but it’s different for everyone and this is what I needed to give me a sense of direction. The great thing about my new role at Atos, is that I feel part of a large organisation again, have great management and team support and the flexibility of part time hours is a perfect fit for life right now.

What difference has being back in work made to you?

It has made a difference to my confidence, helped me get a ‘little bit of me back’ that I missed, and I like that I can contribute again to the family financials. It has also increased my skill set and feels good to be part of a work team again.

As a military spouse, what has been your biggest obstacle when trying to balance work/kids/your spouses’ military commitments?

It is always difficult to try and get the right balance, life has a habit in our world of throwing curve balls when we least expect it at times. The biggest obstacle is when your partner or spouse is deployed or has to work away all week and there is no family support close by. Trying to ensure you still do a professional job, whilst making sure the food shop is delivered, the school uniforms are ready, you do not forget major events and try to balance life is always a challenge.

What advice would you give fellow Military spouses who want to get back into work, retrain for a new career or start their own business?

I would definitely say not to be scared to try any of the above, sometimes we worry too much that it will not work, but we do not know unless we try and apply. Through RFS there are is a lot of support in regard to job applications, CV writing, Coaching and job opportunities. The Unsung Hero course is a fantastic programme that offers amazing support to spouses who also want to start their own business. To join these groups and ask about any other forums on these sites is a great way to find out about other opportunities, gain support and know that you are not alone.