JOB hunting is daunting at the best of times, but it’s especially difficult if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while as a parent of young children.
Tania Bunk found herself in this situation a few years ago and despite a strong set of marketable skills in graphic design and human resources, along with the confidence to act in front of big audiences and record her own “folky pop” album (“Grounded”, 2005), she still felt pangs of self-doubt, even when she was handed a job “on a silver platter”.
“I remember clearly when I was offered full-time employment in a place where I was working as a casual; I remember having that feeling of: ‘I don’t think I’ll actually be able to do this’,” she says.
“As a single mum, it was a blessing because I was bringing up two children on my own without the assistance of a partner at all, so the security of full time work was like: ‘Wow!’, but I still remember walking out and feeling doubt that I could do it.”
Now Tania runs Canberra’s only casting agency dedicated to finding work for actors, and is branching out into helping others get back into work after having children, by teaching them acting skills, starting with workshops called “Wonderful Working Women”.
“In those workshops we look at some basic job interview skills in relation to acting theory, so having the ability to walk into a room and not be nervous, to feel that you know exactly what you need to do and who you need to be,” she says. “Even if you’re not quite confident of the answers you’re going to give in the interview, you can learn to give off that feeling that you know exactly what you’re about.”
Tania also has a good grasp of the more typical job seeking and interview skills like resume writing and responding to selection criteria from her experience in human resources, which she mixes with her understanding of theatrical communication.
“We go through some techniques to focus the mind, we look at believing in ourselves and what we’re good at, and things like being able to use your intuition so you don’t panic if they ask you a question in a job interview that’s totally off-tack,” she says.
“A lot of acting is about improvisation, having things thrown at you and realising that if you stay calm and believe in yourself, you can deal with any situation.”
The idea is not to become one of those annoying people who seem to breeze through life with little more than a belief in the inevitability of their own success, says Tania, but rather about avoiding being the opposite: a person of substance who can’t get a look in due to lack of confidence.
“The fundamental core is believing in yourself, really, knowing what your assets are and being able to promote them, but not egotistically, not the ‘gift of the gab’ sort of person who doesn’t have the substance.”