After staring down the path of relentless knock-backs to employment, The Employables’ Lazarus, Sarah and Vicki also have advice for others who might think their employment barriers are insurmountable — there is hope because nothing is impossible.
What have you learned about yourself throughout the process of The Employables?
Lazarus: I guess the show taught me that I don’t know everything and I need to ask for help. And I need to then be willing to accept that help when it’s given. It’s one thing to ask for help but it’s another to actually take it on board.
Sarah: What I’ve learnt is to trust in myself, my abilities and most importantly my self-worth. The stigma that comes with being a single mother can be crippling, but throughout the process of The Employables I learnt to never give up and that anything is possible when you try hard enough.
Vicki: To know my limits. And to realise that business can go in any direction — don’t just focus it on the one area that you’re passionate about, branch out.
What was the most important thing the mentors taught you?
Lazarus: My time was pretty evenly divided between Creel, Ben and Shammah, but I had the most one on one time with Shammah. That was more personal learning stuff with her, kind of personal growth stuff. All of the mentors offered something different so it wasn’t like it was constantly a repeat of the same thing over and over. They all have their areas of specialty so there is something different you get from each one of them. They all have been amazing, including Michelle Duval who wasn’t really a major player in the actual show. I get from them that they really want to see me succeed.
Sarah: My biggest learning from the mentors was how to think of things differently and break through mental barriers. There are amazing people out there that are able to help when you’re willing to go the extra mile. Mindset is everything and things don’t always go to plan, the mentors were amazing at talking things through and getting you to realise that even failures have value.
Vicki: What I learned from the feedback I received from the mentors was how to build my weaknesses into strengths, and how important it is to always make yourself look good and professional even if you don’t have anything.
What was the biggest challenge for you?
Lazarus: There were definitely challenges. Being able to work with other people was one. I’m a super independent kind of person so that was a challenge for me. I’m a pretty positive person and have really good confidence, but it doesn’t mean I always have space in my ability to do something. So I guess that the biggest challenge would have been to try and get it through my thick head that this is something that I can do. Not just setting myself up to fail or listening to that little voice in all of our heads that tells us “What are you doing? You can’t do this”. Ignoring that voice was a big challenge, and realising that not only can I do this, but look at the amazing people that I have here supporting me.
Sarah: The hardest part for me was being placed with people you’ve never met and creating a business you know nothing about. Also being in such an intense environment and trying to get it right in such a small time frame was definitely the biggest challenge for me.
Vicki: Just the unknown because I had never done business before.
What do you think other people in similar situations can learn from this show?
Lazarus: Anything is possible. You just need to believe in yourself and sometimes you need to ask for help. But really, as long as you are trying, you can’t fail. The only failure is not giving it a go. So even if this all falls apart and it doesn’t actually get to where I want it to be, at least I’ve tried and therefore succeeded.
Sarah: I think people watching The Employables might learn to be a little more understanding and empathetic towards people’s struggles and why those struggles exist. If conversations can start about these issues then hopefully things can begin to change.
Vicki: I think they can learn to look at people individual by individual. There is stereotyping and stigma around people who have come out of prison or the young, for example — people always want experience, but how do you get that if you haven’t had a job? If you can’t even get your foot in the door, you’ll never get the experience that is needed to get any job. It’s very challenging for older people, people with disabilities and it’s even harder for people from country towns.
Do you think shows like The Employables help to create better understanding of those types of marginalized groups?
Lazarus: I hope so. I hope it shows that we are all just people - we’re all the same and we’re no different to anybody else. Whether that’s me or the young fella that’s Muslim, the young lady who escaped from war or the blind guy… we’re all just people, we all have capabilities and you shouldn’t judge people just by where they come from or what they look like. Everyone should just be treated the same.
Sarah: Yes, most definitely! Until people see it, it’s out of sight out of mind so watching a show like this will hopefully change people’s perceptions. It’s important to remember that not all people on benefits want to be in that position. If we can change our attitudes towards these topics then hopefully we can have a positive culture shift in our society.
Vicki: Oh yes, it certainly does. It creates awareness because people just aren’t aware of the extra challenges those groups go through. It will help to show each individual as an individual — we live in a bit of a bubble in society sometimes because we just get so caught up. Unless you bring the awareness out you’re just not going to know. People get to see you on the show before they judge you — it breaks down the stereotype. Hopefully, it will make the audience look at marginalised groups in a totally different light and realise they can relate to them and that they would like to be given an opportunity if they were in the same shoes.
What advice would you give to people who are currently long term unemployed and might be losing hope?
Lazarus: Don’t give up! Think outside the box and do whatever it takes — it’s not impossible. Nothing is impossible. It might not be easy, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Sarah: I would advise anyone struggling to never give up on your hopes and dreams and keep pushing forward. You may have to alter or change your goals a little or wait longer then you’d like to, but it can happen if you just keep pushing. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks or rejections. Where there’s a will there’s a way.
Vicki: Just to hang in there and start with little steps and the little steps will lead into the bigger steps but try not to give up hope.
Watch The Employables at SBS On Demand: