Emma sharing her insight into the service offered to women at Smart Works
Can you remember what you wore when you got your job? I can – a skirt suit. I’d never owned a suit before, but I thought this was the time to buy one. I wore it, and I felt ridiculous. The interview was ok – I made it to the second round – but not my best by a long way. For the second round I wore clothes I actually felt comfortable in. I got the job, but I feel lucky that a second round of interviews gives you something of a second chance at a first impression.
What if you don’t get another bite at the cherry? Even people who can afford to buy new clothes get it wrong for interviews. It’s a minefield – a skill totally separate from your ability or willingness to do a job. At Smart Works we know that the right advice and support at the right time can be the difference between getting work, and not. It can be the difference between changing your life, and not. So much confidence can come from having the right clothes – women we’ve worked with have told us the outfit we’ve given them is like a suit of armour.
Once you’ve got your outfit sorted, you have more bandwidth to think about what you’re going to say – to consider your answers, your transferrable skills, to be honest about your strengths and not self-deprecate. At Smart Works we also provide a one-on-one session with an interview coach. Our coaches have backgrounds in HR, recruitment and senior management – they have done enough interviewing to be able to help someone bring out their best at an interview. Many of the women we see have had breaks in employment for a variety of reasons, and lots of them don’t know that the skills they’ve developed while caring for children or parents can be valuable in themselves. Our client Roxanne said after her interview training: “It really made me examine myself and think about my past experiences and skills. I even said ‘Oh, I forgot I could do that!’” We build women up, so they feel they are completely capable of getting and doing the job that they are interviewing for.
Our two-hour service is beautifully simple, and it works. Last year seventy per cent of the women we saw got the job. All unemployed women with job interviews lined up are eligible to come and see us. We accept referrals and self-referrals – if you’d like to know more, please just give us a call on 0131 516 7787.
So, while I am very grateful to my first and only suit for the lessons it taught me on the importance of clothes, it has only re-emerged from my wardrobe to be donated to Smart Works, for someone who will actually enjoy wearing it.