Dec 3, 2021
Client Story

“The hardest challenge was getting over my own anxieties about applying for work.”

We’ve all been there; endlessly scrolling through job postings online, trying to figure out why you can’t seem to find something that feels right, and filling out job application after job application. And then when you finally do get a job, it just doesn’t click. It can be discouraging, especially when you just can’t seem to figure out why or what to do about it.

This is exactly what John was experiencing three years ago. Every time he landed a job, he struggled to keep it. John was diagnosed with ADHD, borderline personality disorder, and struggled with anxiety which not only made it difficult for him to feel connected at work but also meant that he faced extra barriers to getting the right supports at work.

What we often forget about when looking for work is that a job can be a lot more than just a paycheque. A job can also bring you a sense of purpose and belonging. For John, finding a job was about finding a role that met his interests and a place that he could feel connected to. He previously worked in lots of jobs, but none were a good match.

“They’d never really last past probation period, or I was sick too much to be kept on. I had had jobs, but they just hadn’t really gone anywhere and they certainly weren’t what I was looking for…not jobs that you’re looking for [as] a career, just jobs where you want to earn a couple bucks. They were a lot of front-end jobs like cashiers and that just wasn’t really me.”

John knew that he needed to try something different so after doing a little research, he made an appointment to come to Causeway. Soon after, he was in the Employment Supports Program (ESP) and started working with Diane, his Employment Support Specialist. The idea of jumping into a new job, especially given his previous experiences at work made him feel extremely anxious. The last thing he wanted was to just get any job before he really felt ready and he hated the idea of feeling pressured to stick with one that he didn’t connect with. Because of the nature of the ESP program, working with Diane gave him the time and space he needed to explore different types of jobs at his own pace. He was even encouraged to start working out down in the gym with Christopher.

“Before coming to Causeway, I really had no idea where I was going or what I was doing. Trying to think too much about it just made me super anxious”

John had spent a lot of time on his own applying for work before coming to Causeway. “There was an immediate difference [once I started at Causeway]. For stuff like job searching or even just applying for things, it was a massive difference because I felt like I had people who I could ask questions to and who would give me some support.”

More than just helping him search for job opportunities, working with Causeway helped John realize that he had an inclination to work in jobs that were more physical. Throughout his time in ESP, John had two goals in mind: to find a long-term job that he liked and to gain stability and confidence. To tackle his goals, the first step was to get settled in a more regular work routine by working jobs through Labour Tek. Taking the time to focus on developing his skills and confidence and easing into a working routine with the support of Diane was one of the best ways to help him with his biggest challenge: his anxiety.

“For me getting back to work, the hardest challenge was getting over my own anxieties about applying for work and the depression and discouragement that comes with not landing the position you were interested in. I hadn’t been very emotionally stable because of my mental health condition which the stress of trying to find work only made worse.”

By breaking down John’s employment journey to first help him feel comfortable establishing a routine, he was better prepared to then start focusing on finding a job that matched his interests.

This approach paid off and John successfully landed a job at Ikea as a Full-Serve Warehouse Co-Worker/Logistics Co-Worker where he has been working for almost 3 years. What drew him to Ikea was the fact that he knew someone that worked there and was able to get a real sense of what to expect if he was working there. While he still may sometimes face challenges at work, John notes that working at Ikea has actually helped him find stability and motivation, as has the support he received at Causeway.

For anyone in a similar situation, John says that perseverance is key. “You have to cast the line in order to catch anything. Take the time to be aware of what you actually want to do…if you try to just get any job you will almost certainly end up in a job you don’t like. Working in a job you dislike is 1000 times worse than taking longer to find the job you do like. It makes a major difference.”

After coming to Causeway, John realized that one of his biggest strengths was his desire to work. He enjoys working and feeling like he is accomplishing something. Based on his experiences looking for work, John says that employers also have a crucial role to play. John has this advice: “Enthusiasm and interest in what a person is doing can sometimes trump if someone has the most relevant experience. If somebody is showing clear passion in the job that you want filled – they’re much more likely to be eager to learn how to do it, how to do it right and be much more likely to stick around.”

John is optimistic about his future and has been thinking about going back to school. After speaking with a few people, he is drawn to the idea of going to school and finding a career in heating and ventilation.

“I’ve always been attracted to the trades – to things where I can really get hands-on. It lets me get more involved in what I’m doing which helps me stay motivated. It lets me challenge myself.”

“[Without Causeway] I would’ve had a much more difficult time even considering going back to school, or seeing things as a career as opposed to just a job and say ‘I want to dedicate a chunk of my life to doing this.’”

Coming to Causeway helped John discover that he wants to work toward a career – not just a job. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” John says. Work Regardless to John means that “It doesn’t matter the barriers, you can have a job. The barriers that you have should not stop you from finding work that you enjoy.”

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