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Destination Retail

We bet that many of you, when you were children, loved playing at shops. We also bet that it’s something your children do and love too.

So why not take the ‘playing’ back into the real world?

We’ve given it some thought and here are our top reasons why a career in retail is a great idea.

Discount
As shopaholics, this is of course the biggest advantage in our eyes! With fashion retailers offering up to 75 per cent discount for uniform purchases and on average 20 per cent staff discount, if nothing else, it’s a great way to refresh your wardrobe.

Although keeping your wardrobe updated is a perk, working in a supermarket, electrical store or even a furniture retailer can all help make a dent in those large family expenses, from the weekly shop to a new oven or sofa.

Variety is the spice of life
The world of retail is varied and exciting. From large, multi-national retailers to bijou independent boutiques, there’s something for everyone – so don’t be scared!

If you’re looking for opportunities that mean progression, the larger stores are for you. Want to feel part of a family? Why not look for positions within smaller chains or independent shops?

The skills that you develop through working in a big store can help if you fancy a change to a smaller one, so add a bit of variety to find where you fit best.

It’s not all about selling!
We all know, the ultimate aim of a shop is to sell. But they do a lot more than just that!

While sales roles are notorious for their targets and the particular set of personal characteristics needed, they need supporting. Positions such as cashiers, back office staff and customer service team members – plus many more – all work hard to keep the retail machine turning.

It’s not always about the customers
While the customer may always be right, the roles that involve them might not always be right for you.

Shelf stacking, delivery and warehouse management and maintenance roles are all retail based but very rarely involve interaction with customers – something to consider if you’re of a slightly shyer disposition!

Retail offers everything you could need; progression, stability, friendship, responsibility and variety. Not only for those starting out at 16, this is an industry for every age and gender to really flourish.

Find our latest RETAIL roles HERE.

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Temporary work, permanent Wonderwoman

Routines are hard to break. Sometimes, we just need a little help getting back to the reality of work after a break to have our little angels, but it can be a horrifying prospect.

With Christmas just around the corner (sorry, we went there), there are ample temporary positions out there that could help you get back in the swing of working life. Here’s how…

Habit forming
Being away from the workplace can mean your routine has gone completely. Not getting up at the same time, staying up late, skipping meals – even eating too often! This can all make it difficult to get back into the swing of things.
By having an employer relying on your punctuality, dedication and hard work, there is an incentive to get back to a schedule without too much of a shock to the system.

Trying to push yourself straight into a full-time job may over-exert your potential, remember to look after yourself, too!

Skill developing
If you’ve been away from work for a number of years, we hate to tell you this but technology has moved on. With add-ons, social media and even CRM systems changing seemingly overnight, what you once knew could be obsolete.
But worry not! A temporary position – whether in an office, shop or café – requires your use of technology throughout the day which will see you brushing up on your IT skills in no time.

Adult talking
Mummies, we all know what happens when we don’t interact with other adults (away from our children) regularly. Not only do we adopt a permanent baby voice, the thought of being around adults without the comfort-blanket topic of our offspring can be incredibly daunting.
If you’re thinking of going back to work, this can be a major cause of anxiety, but don’t run before you can walk.
Taking part-time, temporary work can help you reintegrate into a workforce. Maybe the talk won’t be about projections or spreadsheets, but being around a team with common goals can help you reidentify yourself; the non-child version. Plus, it gives you a new set of friends to hit the town with…IF you can get a babysitter!

Smiling service
Imagine a world with people asking things of your without screaming bloody murder when it’s not available or hanging on to your trouser leg until you give in. It exists!
A temporary role within retail gives you the opportunity to brush up on your service with a smile. Although it might not always be easy (we’re thinking 5:30am at the Next sale!), it will force you to deal with situations that you find you can solve with a smile and those negotiation skills you’ve been working on since your children could feed themselves.

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Jane Nicholson : The Home Office, the 1st share from our High Profile Returning Women series.

Budget day fell on International Women’s Day this year. And the Government used the opportunity to announce £5m to support people wanting to return to work after long breaks, especially to women who often “find the route back into employment closed off – the doors shut to them”. Let me tell you my story and how my journey helped me play a part in this decision.

So who takes a career break when they are the main wage earner? Who takes a career break when their children are 10 and 14? And who would take a career break when they have no easy return to work route? Well I did! I probably sound like I some reckless fool but for me at that point in time it was the right thing to do.

I had spent my life working up the career ladder in demanding international HR roles, commuting across Europe. Then my father died. And I looked at my two beautiful children and knew if I didn’t take some time now with them, it would be too late. Don’t get me wrong – I loved my career but I loved my family too and I wanted to balance the scales in their favour for a while.

So I did it! I spent 18 months doing what other parents do: school runs, chasing lost uniform, watching rounders’ matches and taking far too much interest in their school results. I joined the school PA, a book club, finally used the gym and had endless coffees with friends. And I loved it!

Then 12 months later, feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, I decided to come back to work. Having enjoyed looking for new jobs before, I was faced with a real shock. Suddenly, by not following a traditional career path I felt I wasn’t treated seriously any more. Why did I have a break on my cv? Could I not get another job? Could I not hack life in a senior role? Jobs I knew I could do easily I wasn’t even shortlisted for. I lost track of the number of excuses I heard. “We need someone with more recent experience” was always a good one.

Eventually, through hard work and perseverance, I did get three job offers – interestingly all from female leaders. So thank you to those enlightened women who trusted me enough to offer me a job! I could only take one offer and chose the Home Office because the scale and challenge of a role in Government was so different to anything I had done before.

One of the highlights of my role at the Home Office role has been the responsibility for Talent Attraction and Career Programmes. This gave me the opportunity to do something for people wanting to return to work – for those people facing the same experiences as I had. So one of my achievements has been setting up our Returners’ Programme. This was the first programme in Government aimed at anyone wanting to return to work after a career break.

The Home Office now offers 6 months flexible project work in selected departments. And guess what? We have found the quality of applicants for this programme has far exceeded other recruitment methods. All that talent, waiting to be appreciated!

So what has this to do with Budget Day announcements?

Well, following the launch of our Home Office programme, I was excited to be invited to join a small working party looking at how we could support Returners’ Programmes across the Government. I remember sitting in 10 Downing Street thinking it was incredible that a few years ago my experience was discarded. Yet I was, able to use this experience to positively influence the cross-government agenda.

So my advice to those wanting to return to work, is not to give up. Look for these Programmes, which give you a way back into your careers. To employers, I ask that you take a career returner seriously next time their cvs come across your desk. Embrace their different life choices, otherwise, you could be missing out on some hidden talent.

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Call of fate

Ever think about the similarities between being a mummy and working in sales or customer service sectors?

You’re probably wondering how being a mummy is in any way close to working in a call centre but, while you may not realise it, many of the skills you’ve honed whilst mothering your little bundles of joy can be applied to dealing with customers in contact centres.

Any of these sound familiar?

You’re already used to being called all the time
There is a high level of demand associated with being a parent, so you won’t find it difficult adjusting to the constantly ringing phone. At least in a contact centre you know the person calling won’t have tried to shove a jam sandwich in the DVD player or be in the middle of changing their own nappy.

Managing often difficult situations quickly and effectively is a vital skill that is very useful in the busy and bustling contact centre industry.

You’ll get to speak to actual grown ups
As mummies, it’s easy for us to feel we’re losing our communication skills, especially when most conversations are with those under 5 years old, or are endless circles of “Why?”.

Call centres give the opportunity to have adult conversations about a product or service you know well and feel passionately about, maintaining and developing those communication skills you felt were lost forever.

You’re used to dealing with difficult customers
While we all adore our children, there’s no denying that they aren’t always the easiest to deal with, think teeth brushing, breakfast eating, leaving the park. As a mummy you’re the master of dealing with difficult customers, so use those skills with callers!

You’re a negotiating master
Every day brings a new set of people for you to win over. GPs, teachers, people in the supermarket, hairdressers; not to mention the children themselves!

Whether in sales or customer service, the ability to bring people round to your way of thinking, especially over the phone, is vital as you’re purely relying on your voice. You might find getting people on your side of the fence is much easier when you tap into the skills you’ve gained after getting your child into bed after the fifth toilet visit.

If you’re looking for a route back into work, especially in sales or customer service, contact centres are a great place to start.

Not only do they offer great rates of pay and fantastic career progression, the shift patterns offered give the opportunity for flexible working and the ability to manage work around your family life – not the other way around.

If you’re thinking of heading back into work and think this would be a good way to do it, have a look at our new Spotlight on Contact Centres section for more information!

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How to approach writing a CV when you’ve had a career break

So you’ve taken a career break to be a full-time parent, but your child has grown up all too quickly and it’s time to return to work. The trouble is, the last role you held was years ago – how on earth can you frame the gap on your CV so that it looks appealing to recruiters?

Well, your approach depends on a lot of variables, including how long you’ve been away from the workplace, the type of role you’re applying for and what else you’ve done while you’ve been away.

Decide what you’re aiming for
Firstly, you need to have a clear idea of the job you want – that way, you can tailor your CV to demonstrate the skills relevant to that role. There’s no benefit in coming across as a Jack of all trades but master of none. Armed with your list of skills, think about when you last used them and what the outcome was.

Don’t waffle about your parenting skills
Obviously the more recently you’ve used the skills, the more weight they hold – but this is where your timeline is critical. If you want to show excellent negotiation skills on your CV, a recruiter probably doesn’t want to know about how you persuaded your toddler to use the blue bowl rather than the red bowl last week. A CV entirely focused on your successes in raising your child, lovely though she undoubtedly is, is unlikely to appeal.

Write a chronological CV
If you decide that skills you gained since leaving the office aren’t relevant to your new career direction, that’s fine! Simply write a chronological CV as usual, but instead of detailing your current job, state that you’ve been on a career break and give the dates. This approach is probably best suited to short or mid-length gaps. There’s no shame in being a parent, so you can even state the reason for the gap, to save the recruiter from jumping to incorrect conclusions about unemployment, redundancy, prison…

Identify new skills
Depending on your target role, you may find it beneficial to highlight skills or qualifications gained whilst away from the workplace – maybe you influenced change at school by representing the PTA, maybe you developed leadership skills whilst running a playgroup or maybe you planned events for a community organisation. Think carefully about all the little things you’ve done in between the parenting – you may be surprised at what you’ve achieved. If you’ve acquired or developed any such skills whilst on a career break, by all means illustrate them on your CV alongside some positive outcomes.

For example:

Career break to raise a family April 2016 – date
• Planned, organised and managed a successful community event to raise funds for victims of an earthquake, generating £10,000
• Led a local playgroup, doubling membership by arranging visits from photographers, crafters and musicians

Write a skills-based CV
Many roles, however would benefit from a more professionally-focused CV. For longer career breaks, a skills-based CV could be more appropriate. To create a skills-based CV, identify the skills you wish to highlight and give bulleted examples of how you’ve previously used each of them – preferably with quantifiable results against each one. This eliminates the need for including dates which could make your skills look outdated. You will still need to give a chronological summary of your career, but this can be as simple as Job Title / Employer Name / Dates on the second page.

For example:

Operations management
• Wrote operating procedures and drove compliance, resulting in a 50% increase in productivity
• Developed and implemented operations strategies which reduced costs by £100,000

Leadership
• Managed teams of up to 100 staff, motivating them to improve performance and achieve KPIs
• Turned around an underperforming team by providing training and listening to staff concerns

Be selective with dates
If your career break has been relatively short, remember that you’re likely to have left the office but still been technically employed for several months after the baby arrived. It’s absolutely fine to put the date that your employment officially terminated on your CV, rather than the date you actually left. Giving only the years you started and finished each role, rather than the month, is another easy way of covering short periods away from paid employment. Using these techniques means you can often avoid or minimise a career gap.

Include personal and professional development
If you’ve found the time to develop yourself during your career break, so much the better. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that only paid work is valid; there are other ways to show a recruiter your value. You might be able to add information about courses you’ve undertaken, voluntary work you’ve participated in, even interests relating to your desired career path. If you’re keen to work in IT, for example, add an Interests section and say that you enjoy fixing faults on friends’ computers. Add a Professional Development section and mention the online course you did while the baby was sleeping. Add a Voluntary Work section to highlight that you helped at the after-school computer club.

In summary
Remember, a career break is now a perfectly normal part of many careers. If you have a valid reason for being away from paid work – and full-time parenting is certainly a valid reason – employers won’t necessarily see this as a negative. What is more important is proving that you have the skills and experience to successfully perform the role they need to fill.

You may feel like you’ve been out of the workplace for ever, but just by thinking about exactly what you’ve achieved in your life and incorporating this into a CV you’re likely to give yourself the confidence boost necessary to get your job hunt off to a flying start.

If you would like to speak with our team of dedicated CV Specialists for a free 1 hour review then click HERE

If you are interested in topping up your CV with some great ‘do at your own pace’ online courses then click HERE.

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Back to school, back to you

It’s hard to believe that the Summer holidays are nearly over. Six weeks of picnics, beach trips, long walks, tantrums, grazed knees…you know the drill.

While the children in our lives are starting to pick out their new backpacks, a fun pencil case and of course be kitted out with new uniform they are going to grow out of by Christmas, what do you get out of it?

We think the start of the new school year can be a new start for you too! Whether you’ve taken an extended break, come back from holiday or just fancy a change, see September as a way to start afresh.

Here are a few ways we think you can kick start your new you.

Find out who it is you want to be
Sometimes the hardest part can be making a start. Do you want to change career? Do you have skills you feel are being wasted? Do you want to learn new skills?
Get a piece of paper and list your skills, your qualities and your dreams. This will lead you to discover what it is you need to work on.

Shed your skin
Obviously, we’re not talking literally, not only would that be inappropriate but also pretty messy. We mean more figuratively.
Do you often feel dowdy in your work clothes? Have you enjoyed Summer so much that office wear is horrifying? Or do you feel restricted and uninspired in your work clothes?
How you feel at work can have a massive impact on productivity – so don’t let it! There are simple changes you can make – try a different style of skirt, perhaps a colourful blouse with your pants suit or some fabulous shoes. Finding a way to show your individuality at work amongst the black and grey will not only make you feel better, but also make you stand out to seniors.

Learn something you never knew
Would knowing a foreign language help when travelling with work? How about some basic IT skills to stop you succumbing to the demon of technology? Or wanting to re-train completely? What is stopping you?!
Not only will learning new skills – whether for work or just yourself – will give you a sense of achievement as well as the possibility to meet new people.
Check out our latest training courses to see which new you is waiting right under your nose.

Mummies need new school bags too…
Why should the children have all the fun?!

Something that is always important, regardless of how you feel, is that you are not alone. We have a network of mummies ready to support and assist you with anything you need. With help from our digital mummy club, which offers mums a fantastic referral scheme (and a simple way to earn some high street vouchers before Christmas, to a listening ear (or keyboard) – there’s no shame in asking!

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Reflect, Refresh and Recharge

Refresh, reflect and recharge

Sometimes we just need a little push. To try a new food, to explore a new country, sometimes just to get out of bed in the morning. But often we don’t think about pushing ourselves.

The Summer, with the lighter evenings, warmer weather (theoretically) and slightly quieter workplaces due to various holidays, gives you a great opportunity to think about your skills and what you might need a little help with, as well as giving you the time to do something about it.

Thinking about training? Here are some things to think about before you get started:

Reflect

Take some time to reflect on your current skills. What do you feel are your strengths? Is there anything you’d like to know more about? Is there something you know would help you progress your career or business?

Make a list (we like a list) and prioritise.

Refresh

Do you have qualifications you’d like to update? Search for booster courses or updates that can add value to your current accreditations. This gives you a stronger standing in the marketplace and demonstrates to current and future employers that you are willing to keep up to date with the latest in your industry.

Recharge

Whether it’s a course in social media for business, customer service or negotiation skills, recharging yourself with knowledge and confidence can go a long way to getting you that job you’ve always wanted, or give you the push to start your own business.

Training doesn’t have to cost the earth or take over your life. We have a selection of courses for all budgets and lifestyles to get our mummies back into business!

Check out our range of courses at http://mummyjobs.co.uk/training

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Summer, Summer, Summertime!

Schools are out, fine weather is here (for the moment) and the mood in the workplace is suddenly much brighter – until all but one fan breaks in your un-air-conditioned office.

If you’re looking for a new role however, this isn’t the best season for you. With many taking longer breaks throughout the Summer holidays, roles can be few and far between – and the ones that do come up often have a longer recruitment process to allow for absences.

But don’t despair, here are five tips for you how you can spend the Summer wisely and be ready for the September recruitment rush.

1. Update
Summer is a great time to update your look, your wardrobe and your attitude to life in general. Although we think you’re lovely as you are, use this time to try out new looks and take inspiration – it’s time that grey pants suit retired!

While you’re updating your look, it might also be time to update your CV, especially if you’ve not had to use it for a while. There are great tools out there such as CV Knowhow to help you build a concise, eye-catching CV that will be sure to win over any future employer.

2. Training
Are you looking to change career? Or want to develop skills you think would be beneficial in your new role?

The Summer months give you the opportunity to look into the courses available, the range of options and perhaps help you find topics you may not otherwise have considered.

If you’re looking for a way to strengthen the skills displayed on your CV, why not have a look at our range of eight CPD accredited business courses to add value to yourself and your new employer?

3. On the move?
If you’re considering relocating, or simply looking at a role in a different part of town, use the longer days over Summer to get to know your potential new stomping ground.

Arrange family days out to get to know new routes, try out the best places for lunch or scout out great meeting spots.

The husband and children will think you’re just being generous with the days out, no need to tell them about your ulterior motive!

4. Get to know recruiters
Although there will be a lot of ‘out of office’ messages popup, no-one takes the whole Summer off or closes down for the season. So use this time to get to know recruiters, introduce yourself and build a rapport.

This will give you a much stronger standing when roles start to come in and you’ll automatically pop into consultants’ minds.

Plus, they’ll likely be glad of someone to talk to!

5. Get to know your colleagues
This may seem like nonsense if you’re looking to leave them, but take a moment or two to think about why you want to leave.

If this is because you think you’ve gone as far as you can professionally, by all means off you go. But if you’re simply unhappy with who you work with, it may be because you’ve not had the chance to get to know them properly.

Try arranging a drink after work, or take your lunches outside from an impromptu picnic. Once you get away from the stressful office environment, you may find a best friend you’d never want to leave.

One thing to always remember during the Summer is to always ensure you make the most of the weather and fresh air. Although you may be short-staffed at times and find yourself covering more work than usual, that’s no excuse for missing out on the great outdoors and sunshine we see so rarely!

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Surviving the un-survivable – travelling with children

Travelling with children

It’s finally Summer, the season we’ve all been waiting for! You’ve been working hard all year and now is the time to pack those new bikinis, that over-sized hat you’ll likely never wear and of course, more shoes than the number of days you’re away.

But before you get carried away with the packing there’s one thing to remember – getting there. With the children.

Going on a Summer holiday isn’t quite as relaxing as it was in your child-free days but it doesn’t mean it’s any less fun! So, to help you through, here are some top tips for stress-free travelling with your little darlings.

1. Mentally prepare
You know that they’re likely to get restless at passport control. Of course they’re going to go hyper after you’ve used them as bribes to combat aforementioned boredom. Yes, they’re going to start play fighting at 3am when you’re trying to find your hire car, and yes, one of them is going to get hurt.

Best thing to do? Don’t think too far ahead. Get through the problem in front of you at the time, the rest you can deal with when you get to it.

2. I Spy or iPad?
For long car journeys, I Spy – plus other car games – is a sure-fire winner. It encourages the children to look around them, see the world go past and can spark discussions where they may learn a thing or two.

I Spy however is not recommended on a plane, for obvious reasons. In this instance, the iPad (DS, Hudl, phone…) is the clear winner.

After all, no one wants to spend hours in a metal container next to an overweight gent who has just been identified as ‘F for Fat’ by your child.

3. Travel according to your routine
While this isn’t always possible, it’s wise to coincide your flight or long car journey with your child’s nap or bedtime.

By getting them into their PJ’s, brushing their teeth and reading them a story, they know these signals all lead to going to sleep. Although undoubtedly this will take much longer than usual due to the change of surroundings and activity going on around you, having them fall asleep as soon as possible means no cranky kids and a peaceful journey for you.

4. Pretend they’re not yours
Extreme but effective. Loudly exclaim your displeasure (getting fellow passengers on your side), put the pillow over your head and ignore them.

That, or wine.

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Enjoying the great outdoors – without disrupting your working day

We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve come home from a day at work and realised the longest we have spent outside, is the distance from the car to the office or front door.

As we’re now heading into Summer, we thought we’d put together some ideas on how you can get that all important fresh air without disrupting your day.

Meetings
It’s easy to think that meetings should only take place in an office or boardroom and of course, some do require the equipment and privacy these venues afford. For those meetings that don’t however – take it outside!

If all you need is a pen, notepad and your colleagues, enjoy a walk in the local park or take the team to the nearest green space and sit on the grass together.

Being in the open air can boost creativity, build team relations and create a more relaxed, informal atmosphere, which can lead to more open and honest conversations.

Lunch
Who else is guilty of munching on a meal deal at their desk? It’s the easy option, but not the most hygienic. A recent infographic by Dettol demonstrates just how many germs you are sharing your lunch with.

Not only is it important to keep your meal to yourself, you need to be moving around and taking some time away from your screen.

When the weather allows, grab the nearest bench then sit and watch the world go past. You’ll feel calmer and ready to face the afternoon.

Walk it off
Incorporating exercise into your commute can not only improve your fitness, but also your mood – and your pocket!

So many of us don’t use our cars during the working day and can easily walk, jog or cycle to work.

Not only will you arrive to work feeling refreshed and awake, you’ll be doing your bit for the environment – and you don’t have to go to the gym (which we bet is inside!).

Work out
For some, the luxury of working from home or spending your days in the garden is a luxury. But for others, there are still opportunities to take your work outside.

Got a lot of calls to make? Need to brainstorm? Reading an important article? If you don’t absolutely need your computer screen, work outside! Those five minutes can make all the difference.

What is mainly important to bear in mind during your working day is that just the smallest amount of fresh air can make a huge difference to your mood, productivity and mental health. So make sure you’re getting enough of it!