Michael – Seeking a new role due to COVID-19

13th November 2020

Covid and the subsequent lockdown recently ended my most recent role in Madrid working as a consultant for Europe’s largest Department store group, El Corte Ingles. Back in London amid a shaky economy and armed with over 40 years of experience as a senior retail manager, I found myself at a real career crossroads. As the go-to community charity helping people to earn a living, I turned to Work Avenue for support.

Being out of work allowed me time to reflect on what I enjoy and what I am good at. What gave me the most satisfaction during my professional experience was the people aspect: coaching, mentoring, training, supporting and helping other people to progress. Given that the retail sector is so challenging, I knew that I had to look elsewhere and examine other options to put these passions and skills to work. I saw an advert for the Work Avenue’s Volunteering into Employment webinar so signed up.

The webinar was professional and impressive. I learned a great deal. The webinar helped me to see that rather than just helping people at a particular moment, volunteering can be used as a launchpad into paid work. The webinar also consolidated the important idea of transferring skills gained in the corporate world into the Third Sector.

I have participated in other Work Avenue webinars since that one including those on the Business of Retail and How to Set Up a Consultancy Business. I also reached out to Work Avenue for more tailored, individual help. To that end, I had a number of 1:1 meetings, which were hugely helpful, especially when it came to organising my CV. The employment adviser was great, very forensic in her approach; she pulled apart the content and then organised it in a way to make it contemporary and relevant. Her attention to detail was so exacting that we even had discussions on when to use capital letters! Working with her was an amazing experience. She was full of good ideas, inclusive and treated the process as a partnership. I felt supported throughout. She also stressed the importance of networking and this is something I have always believed in and made time for. In one 8-month period of unemployment, I must have had about 80 networking coffees!! My efforts have paid off. Thanks to my network, I have just found a new job as a manager for Vision Express in Nottingham. I am genuinely excited for this new start.

My experience with Work Avenue does what it says it does – this amazing organisation really does help people to earn a living. It is professional, structured, and there to support people when they are vulnerable. Beyond the functional input and advice, you never feel alone when you are with them. That for me is important because often seeking a job, an income, or a next job can feel like the most lonely and dispiriting process. I absolutely 1,000% would recommend contacting Work Avenue to anyone. As a community, we are very blessed to have such a fantastic, proactive organisation.