“Caterers are born, it’s in our soul,” says Mary Jane Flanagan. “We have a need to ensure others have the most brilliant time.” After working in hospitality operations for 25 years, MJ moved into L&D and consultancy, first working for Purplecubed then studying for an honours degree in psychology. She started her own business five years ago to focus on blended learning and ensuring clients had a bespoke experience.
The Jobseekers Toolkit
MJ spent the first part of lockdown creating a new programme aimed at jobseekers, as she explains; “It’s a no nonsense practical guide, it’s not too long and really easy to follow. There are other courses out there but I did not want to go the accredited route because if we did that they have to have test at the end. Plus it’ll be longer, and would have complicated it.”
As it stands, the Jobseekers Toolkit is really simple and can appeal to all hospitality workers from kitchen porters all the way up to director. “It literally is a step-by-step guide from mindset to how to build a CV to how to network, how to sort out your LinkedIn and then smash the interview.” MJ stresses she received no government grants to build the project.
Giving back to the industry
“I’ll be honest, my business has been decimated my Covid,” MJ admits. “Sales were down 90% so initially I thought it was a way I could generate income by offering it to companies at a vastly reduced rate to help them handle their redundancies with compassion and care,” she said.
“I realised very early on that the people that needed it most were those whose companies who do not care so would not buy it, so tried to find a way to give it away to some for free,” she said.
After two weeks of battling with her conscious, MJ decided to make the Jobseekers Toolkit available to the whole industry – for free – no catches, just help.
Making that decision was a release. “It was like a weight had been lifted from me,” MJ said. “When my 18 year old son told me how proud of me he was, I knew I’d done the right thing,”
How does it work?
“The Jobseekers Toolkit consists of four sessions of roughly 20/25 minutes each with downloadable checklists and resource guides which link to major industry bodies from Caterer.com to the Institute of Hospitality. There are CV templates, links to job sites, books. Anything I think can help,” MJ explained.
“There are also modules on how to adopt a positive mindset, how to build a brilliant CV, how to become a networking ninja and how to smash that all-important interview,” she said.
MJ says that the Toolkit is updated regularly, “I’m going to add a few more short helpful sessions, like how to film a video CV. There will be blogs, vlogs and an ebook as well, again all free,” she said.
MJ says that use of the Jobseekers Toolkit is of benefit to employers too, “Employers are really battling costs at the moment so the Toolkit is a no-cost way of giving their teams a fighting chance and showing compassion,” she said. “Because it is linked to my system, not theirs, they can offer it knowing their teams will be able to access it for as long as they need it.”
Watch the Catch Up now
Mary Jane Flanagan has plenty more to say about the workings of the Jobseekers Toolkit, including a series of videos from hospitality legends as well as how the industry can really help content providers like her.