Farhana Ali


“Focus on what you can do and build on what you can’t”


What shape did your career take post education?

At college I studied A’ Levels in Business, Mathematics and ICT, but I quickly realised that university wasn’t for me; I wanted to go straight into the world of work instead of pursuing the university route like most of my peers. I managed to secure a brilliant opportunity as a Human Resources apprentice at a Further Education college which provided the perfect learning environment for me; I was able to gain practical experience and build my key skills alongside learning about HR and recruitment processes. I really enjoyed my time in this role, particularly working closely with students, supporting them to source and apply for work placement opportunities related to their studies. I was able to easily relate to the students and understand their struggles with the uncertainty of their next steps, having been in the same position just a few years prior. The role gave me a fantastic opportunity to make a meaningful difference and I found it hugely rewarding to be able to help young people explore the working world and realise their potential. I consider this to be the start of my career journey as this is where my passion for providing employed related support and advice began! At the end of my apprenticeship, I was offered a full-time position at the college and jumped at the opportunity; I had learnt so much in such a short space of time and I was brimming with confidence, ready for the new challenges ahead. Alongside my role, I also had the opportunity to complete a Level 4 Lifelong Learning Teaching course which enabled me to achieve a degree level qualification whilst working full-time. I am proud of this achievement as it also gave me the opportunity to teach short courses at the college on Sage Computerised Accounts alongside my HR role, allowing me to further expand my skills and accelerate my professional development.


How has your career journey developed?

After 5 years working with the college, I relocated to Swansea and started the job searching process, using my recruitment knowledge and experience to my advantage; although I relocated during a difficult time due to a very competitive employment market, I managed to secure a HR role with Dyfed Powys Police. Starting this new role was a bit of a shock to the system; I quickly realised how much recruitment processes and systems could vary between organisations and sectors and working with the police was incomparably different to working with a college, involving multiple rounds of recruitment, assessment centres, lengthy processes and a huge difference in the questions and scoring of interviews. Whilst this was a difficult challenge at first, it made me truly appreciate the needs and demands of different organisations as well as the qualities and requirements for different roles in varying sectors. Once I had settled in, I really enjoyed my time in this role and was grateful of the opportunity to work closely with volunteers who were looking to gain work experience and insight into the range of different roles within the police service. Working with the volunteers also enabled me to provide support to those with a strong interest in policing and help them overcome any barriers they were facing in the recruitment process. Many of the individuals had impressive skillsets and more than enough experience required for the roles, but some were struggling at various stages of their application; I loved working closely with these individuals, instilling self-belief and supporting them to overcome their challenges. I was able to play a small part in transforming people’s lives for the better, and this element of my role really solidified my passion for supporting people in need.

After going on maternity leave, I decided to take a short break from employment to spend time with my family and avoid the excessive travelling required by my role. However, after a short while, it was time to return to the world of work and I successfully applied to become a Career Coach at Better Jobs, Better Futures. After 3 years in the role, I still love everything about my job, especially meeting people who completely underestimate their potential; changing people’s thought processes and helping them believe in themselves is so rewarding, and watching clients undergo the most amazing positive (and sometimes unbelievable) transformations is what keeps me motivated every single day.


Are there any career decisions that you regret?

I don’t like to look back and regret any decisions I have made as each experience helps you grow as a person. Some of my seemingly ‘bad’ decisions have helped me realise where I want to go in my career and how I can add the most value; everything has taught me something. We only ever regret the chances we didn’t take and the decisions we didn’t make!


Top tip when applying for jobs?

My best advice is to track the skills and experience you have gained in every role you have undertaken; spend time recording details about your duties, the new skills you have learned and the unique and valuable experiences you have had. This information is far easier to record at the time and is hugely valuable to future employers when you need to demonstrate your offering; focus on the areas where you have excelled and the responsibilities and duties which have enabled to you to make a positive and proactive contribution to the role, team and wider organisation.


What is your ultimate piece of advice?

Good things take time – persevere with your aspirations and focus on the process, not results. If you’re struggling, seek advice and feedback from the people closest to you and use all the help you can get along the way. Trust that the hard choices and decisions you make will align with who you are and who you want to become; when nothing is certain, anything is possible!