Employment Blog by Rhiannon

Job Searching with precarious housing – it can be done!

By: Rhiannon Schaub

Searching for a job can be a very difficult and challenging process, and this process can be made even more difficult when adding the barriers involved with experiencing homelessness. There are different types of homelessness, such as absolute homelessness (living in shelters or on the street), relative homelessness (having housing that is undesirable or substandard, and/or being at risk for losing housing), and concealed homelessness (couch surfing or living in a car). Individuals experiencing each of these different types will face some of the same barriers, and some different ones. For example, individuals experiencing any of these types of homelessness may not have access to a phone to receive calls from employers, may not have access to a shower or appropriate interview clothes, and may have limited access to transportation (i.e., no car, no license, or no funds for public transportation). Individuals experiencing absolute or concealed homelessness may not have an address to list on their resumes and may not have a safe and comfortable environment to prep for interviews. All of these things can make the process of finding a job even more difficult, and the aforementioned barriers are only the tip of the iceberg. While uncertain housing can make it difficult to find work, there are some ways to navigate the barriers.

If you are living in a shelter and trying to find work, there are a few things you can do to navigate the barriers. You could use the address of the shelter you are staying at on your resume, and request permission to receive calls from employers to the shelter phone line. I understand this can be embarrassing or uncomfortable and you may fear judgment from potential employers, but applying for jobs despite the barriers you are facing shows perseverance and work ethic, and that will stand out to the right employer.

If transportation poses an issue, you can reach out to local agencies, such as the Job Gym, who may be able to provide you with a bus pass to commute to work. There are many community agencies who offer donated clothing if you need an outfit for an interview, can provide a safe place for you to prepare and practice for your interview, as well as providing helpful tips for interview success.

Employment counsellors and job developers at the Job Gym can also help you to connect with employers who may not have job postings listed and can advocate for you to employers. Making these connections can help to make the job searching process much easier, and it always helps to have a passionate and hardworking team behind you.

While sometimes the barriers in front of us seem insurmountable, and we may feel as though there is no way out of a situation, remember there is always someone who is willing to advocate for and support you on your journey. If you are faced with a difficult situation from which you feel you cannot rise from on your own, please reach out for help. Whether it be from Job Gym, other branches of the John Howard Society of Niagara, or another supportive agency in your area, know that there is an abundance of good people in this world who would be more than willing to help you through whatever difficulties you’re facing.

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