In the thoroughfare beside the bakery in the bustling Preston Market, you’ll find the friendly faces of Jesuit Social Services’ Jobs Advocates, waiting at our employment-help stall.
Our Jobs Advocates team helps connect job-seekers with work in their local area, by providing information, referrals, and connections with local services and supports.
Advocate Teyra Jasso says it’s not just about handing out brochures to shoppers with their bánh mì – it’s about having meaningful conversations to learn just what people might need.
“We try to provide quality, even if it’s short interactions,” she says.
“With some, it’s very casual, and with others, they tell you their struggles and their experiences and what they are trying to get here. When you can actually have meaningful conversations with people, it’s good.”
Jesuit Social Services has delivered the Jobs Victoria Advocates program in two regions of Melbourne since early 2021, supporting more than 600 people to sharpen their resumes, select jobs they’re well-suited for, and grow confidence to stand out in interview processes.
The program addresses the practical challenges of navigating job-seeking – which can be heightened for people who haven’t grown up in Australia and are accustomed to different systems.
“Even if you speak English, you don’t feel the same confidence. All the questions that you can imagine, you reduce them to just one or two, because those are the most important ones.”
It’s something our Jobs Advocates know better than most – most of the team was born outside of Australia, and between five Advocates, there are eight languages spoken.
“I come from a different background, so I know there’s this very different way to apply for jobs in my country,” says Teyra.
“Like, cover letters, for example, don’t exist in my home country. When you’re trying to apply for a professional job, you need to learn the basics – it’s a different process, and sometimes, we don’t know what we don’t know.”
In the Melbourne suburb of Preston, the multicultural home of the market, around 40 per cent of people speak a language other than English. Teyra says the Jobs Advocates refer participants between themselves, to be able to speak with job-seekers in their most comfortable languages.
“Even if you speak English, you don’t feel the same confidence,” she says. “All the questions that you can imagine, you reduce them to just one or two, because those are the most important ones. So, being able to provide our service in another language is really useful.”
Most of the [Jobs Advocates] team was born outside of Australia, and between five Advocates, there are eight languages spoken.
As well as outreach stalls and one-on-one support, our Advocates offer free information sessions, including sessions delivered in languages other than English, which are also open to family and friends of job-seekers, and people who don’t necessarily know what they’re looking for yet.
“I think sometimes, you know you need something, but you don’t know where to find it, or you don’t know what’s the right time to go and look for it,” says Teyra.
“A lot of the people that we have met, are maybe waiting for that opportunity.”