Whangarei single mum Ella Broughton had been out of work for four years and living from week to week on the domestic purposes benefit.
But then she saw an advertisement for a Work and Income initiative offering training and work placements in the area of healthcare assistance, and promptly applied.
She was one of eight former beneficiaries employed by the Northland District Health Board - her role is as a part-time healthcare assistant at Whangarei Base Hospital.
"I wanted the job no matter what - I was prepared to do whatever it took to get it."
Ms Broughton said assistance from charity Dress for Success helped her get the job.
"During the process of the programme to help build our confidence and give us self esteem we were sent there.
"It felt like a fashion boutique - on the DPB you couldn't just go out and buy this stuff.
"I'm wearing make-up and lipstick again, which I haven't done in years and it's even got me thinking about future studies."
Frankie Schilke, programmes administrator co-ordinator at Dress for Success in Whangarei, was thrilled Ms Broughton got the job.
"Her face was solemn when she came to us and when she walked out she was beaming. It's such a great transition."
Now that Ms Broughton's got the job she's been rewarded by Dress for Success with a piece of esteem jewellery, Bobbi Brown make-up and support through the Professional Women's Group.
Ms Broughton said it wasn't just her appearance that the makeover changed, but also her attitude.
"This has got to be the highlight of my life."