2020 has been a year full of surprises for everyone, and one major group that was significantly impacted this year was job seekers. Students, recent graduates, and unemployed workers around the world have been stepping into a workplace filled with so much uncertainty — offices going digital, offers being rescinded, and industries practically changing overnight.
While all talent have been affected by these challenges, the most impacted have been the pool of candidates with disabilities and special needs. This community already faces its own challenges when it comes to workplace equity and inclusion, and the pandemic added to that list of hurdles. Looking back at this year, it was one of our highlights to be able to help this group overcome some of these new obstacles and achieve some big career wins in a year that no one could have predicted.
Let’s take it back to the beginning of the year when I met Walter, the founder & CEO of CareER Association.
I first met Walter in 2019 but didn’t work with him closely until 2020.
CareER Association is a Hong Kong based non-government organization (NGO) providing career development services to people with disabilities and special educational needs (SENs). I have always admired the team for their dedication and commitment to the diversity and inclusion (D&I) community and was honored when Walter and Ada Lee (Senior Manager) asked me to join in as a Career Consultant. My role was clear: work closely with candidates with SENs and help them stand out as STAR TALENT in the workplace.
I met the first batch of CareER members in March and didn’t know what to expect. Were they going to be difficult to work with? How much mindset work did they need? When would they be ready to meet people and interview?
All of those questions quickly went away as soon as I met these star candidates. They came in with optimism, poise, and such contagious positivity. They had high hopes for their careers and I did not want to disappoint them. Our goal along with the rest of the awesome CareER team (Ada, Alison, and Celina) was to get as many of our CareER members ready to land offers with their target companies.
Here’s a recap of the the work we did in those few months together:
We provided career coaching sessions and mock interviews to all of the CareER members enrolled in the CareER Jockey Club Thriving Grass Career Development Program. Each 1:1 session was tailored for their specific career goals and target role. Throughout each session, we encouraged them to own their unique skills and abilities and taught them how to emphasize the great value they would bring to the team.
Majority of our sessions were done through Zoom due to social restrictions.
We hosted Workhap trainings and co-hosted events with great inclusive organizations including LinkedIn and top investment banks. Each of these training sessions focused on different professional and leadership skills related to mindset, achieving our goals, becoming more self-aware, and a variety of other topics.
Co-hosting a training with Ada Lee, Senior Manager of CareER Association
And the final event was the Inclusive Recruitment Fair held by CareER Association and Community Business, and I was privileged to host as emcee! This jam-packed virtual event was the first of its kind, with 16 inclusive employers coming together to meet and interview our CareER members all through Zoom. It was a great success.
After hundreds of hours put into coaching and trainings, our team was able to help over 50 of our CareER members land opportunities with some of the best companies in Hong Kong including investment banks, tech startups, and other NGOs! Also, our friends at CareER Association recently received the prestigious Zero Project Award 2021 for their outstanding work to promote the rights of people with disabilities. It’s such a well deserved recognition for everyone involved.
Sho & the CareER team
While this year has brought on so many unexpected challenges, it has also been one of the most rewarding because of our involvement with the team and members from CareER Association. The biggest win of all was seeing the amazing transformation in these candidates — starting from little to no confidence in their professional skills to landing amazing opportunities and thriving with their new teams. They have reminded me why I do what I do in the first place: to empower and bring out the best in others. I hope their stories have inspired you as well!