Entry 1 - Taking the first step
HAVING not really known what to expect, it is pleasantly surprising (and a bit of a relief) to discover that we – the inaugural intake on the new fully-funded Executive Springboard programme run by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce – are such a mixed and interesting bunch.
A broad spectrum of ages, backgrounds, aspirations and priorities, we cover the gamut of experienced, senior job roles from logistics, finance, account management and operations; and have all fallen foul of the downturn and mass redundancies in the wake of the lower oil price.
While on a personal level our differences are many, we share common ground on far more. The same worries, frustrations and confidence issues; and in many cases the same feedback from potential employers on their reluctance to hire former oil workers. Most importantly, the same desire to re-enter the workforce and a willingness to grab the opportunities this programme will give us.
Over a coffee and chat on the first day, networking and utilising LinkedIn along with other social media platforms emerge as two of the key areas of interest for most of us, along with the need to learn how to market ourselves in order to boost future job applications.
Quite a few of us feel disconnected from business networks and have seen our self-esteem take a hit. Whilst confident in our skills and abilities, we want support to grow our connections and improve our employability.
It is also interesting to see how many of us are keen to explore opportunities out with oil and gas and want to understand how best to demonstrate how the skills, knowledge and experience we have gleaned over many years working in the energy sector can be transferred into other sectors.
It is early days but already we are experiencing something of a mind shift. The Executive Springboard programme is a very positive environment centred on providing practical training, constructive advice and tangible opportunities.
It places an emphasis on obtaining work through networking as opposed to online applications only – and for good reason. Between the 18 of us, we have applied for almost 500 jobs in the last three months with just 19 invitations to interview as a result.
No matter our experiences or what got us to this place, every single one of us is glad to be here. Considering how simple and fast the application process was, we are all feeling more optimistic, more supported and more invigorated about what the future might hold.
*Multiple participants on the Executive Springboard have contributed to the blog series