For four years, Alesia Evdokimova spent every day ploughing through the job vacancy sites. Looking for work in administration. She made hundreds of applications only to hear each time that she lacked experience. Until a certain apprenticeship at The International Academy of Osteopathy (IAO).

returning to work: long-time job seeker.

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'Every day I searched for vacancies. I kept hearing that I didn't have enough experience.' Alesia, administrative employee at IAO

She was thirteen years old when she came to Belgium from Moldavia with her parents. 'The language, resident's permit, people's suspicion … It wasn't an easy time.' Yet she kept on trying. A mere nineteen, having just had her first child, Alesia set to work as a hotel receptionist.

'Not the best decision', she recalls with a smile at such youthful impetuousness. However, the worse was yet to come. The combination of work and parenting. Having nobody to turn to this was a tough task for Alesia.

Her employer showed little consideration and Alesia left her job at the hotel reception. The temporary jobs that followed were no different, until she decided to stay at home and resume her studies. Through the VDAB she signed up for a course in administration.

However, even after this, it was still a struggle to find a permanent job. For four years she threw herself into applying for jobs. 'Every day I searched for vacancies. I kept hearing that I didn't have enough experience.'

The matter of her family came up every time; meanwhile Alesia has three children. Could she manage the combination? It gave her so many doubts that she feared she would never find a job.

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'Yet I really wanted to work. All I needed was an opportunity to prove myself.

Finally in 2017, through the VDAB, Alesia ended up in RiseSmart Employability, Randstad's service guiding those looking for work towards sustainable employment. 'Egle, my coach, gave me career advice and tips during my job hunt. She also gave me the opportunity to do an apprenticeship at IAO in Ghent.'

Alesia made a great impression on her employer. 

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Alesia gave me the impression that she wanted to work. She no longer wanted to sit at home, but instead wished to contribute and get some job satisfaction', explains Anaïs Lason, COO at IAO.

Even so, the apprenticeship got off to a difficult start. Once again, Alesia encountered problems with childcare. 'No simple matter,' agrees Anaïs, 'but it's a question of agreeing things properly.'

Together with Alesia, who was very frustrated about the situation, she decided to put the apprenticeship on hold for a few months. A good decision as it turned out. 'Alesia was like a completely different person. Punctual, accurate, enthusiastic, helpful, doing more than was asked … She suddenly had it all.'

However, the biggest surprise was for Alesia. Two weeks before the end of her apprenticeship she was offered a permanent contract by IAO. 'I was already preparing my farewells and then this. I was over the moon. I was also delighted that Anaïs was prepared to give me a chance. Meanwhile it's going fine with the children too. These days it's easier to find solutions for them.'

'What convinced me was that Alesia was really keen to set to work', confirms Anaïs. 'I understand that a gap of four years on your CV frightens employers away, however, with the right attitude, effort and an open mind from the employer it is not insurmountable.'

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'Ik begrijp dat een gat van vier jaar op een cv werkgevers afschrikt, maar met de juiste mentaliteit, inzet en een open blik van de werkgever is dat niet onoverkomelijk.'