Sainsbury’s rings up the changes for local mums
Interview skills, confidence coaching, CV tips, personal branding… It might not sound like your typical supermarket shopping list but local mums have been picking up much more than their groceries at Abbey Wood Sainsbury’s this year.
Working in partnership with Successful Mums, the store is currently hosting its eighth Back to Work course to support parents in the local community who want to get “work ready” and back into employment after having children.
The six-week course, designed by Successful Mums founder Jane Knight, is packed with practical advice and guidance to help women start this new chapter in their lives. With the support of Sainsbury’s, they get the chance to learn in a professional environment, get behind-the-scenes insights into the retail sector and hear first-hand exactly what employers are looking for.
Store manager Stuart Cavallero, who set up the Abbey Wood scheme with Sainsbury’s Dave Atkins and Successful Mums’ Jane, describes it as “helping women open the door to returning to work”. Both Stuart and Dave often pop into the workshops to chat to the group, answer their questions and talk about their own expectations of employees.
“A lot of what I talk about revolves around honesty, trust and behaviours. The retail market is so competitive that it’s important we give exceptional customer service and so that’s what I’m looking for,” says Dave.
“You can teach the technical skills, the tills and so on, but you have to have the right attitude and a really polite focus on the customer – great, friendly service that will bring them back to the store. Patience and good listening skills are a really important part of that because the customers that are unhappy are often the ones you can learn the most from.”
For Jane, Dave’s input reinforces the course content, part of which helps women to identify and recognise the “soft skills” they’ve gained as parents that can be transferred to the workplace.
“When Dave points out that these skills really are valued by employers, it gives the group a real boost,” says Jane. “Some of these women have been away from work for a long time and feel really out of the loop. They’ve told me time and time again that they wouldn’t have the confidence to go out and apply for jobs without hearing the kind of things Dave has to say.”
Some of the Sainsbury’s Back to Work grads have even landed themselves part-time jobs in the store at the end of their training and are now working flexibly around their family lives.
“It’s been great for us because we get to know these women quite well,” says Dave. “We know they’re reliable because they’ve turned up every week for the training and they’ve got themselves back into a professional environment. We know they’re serious about what they’re doing. If we see someone who’s the right fit for us and we can offer them work, it’s a win-win situation.”
Among the Successful Mums to have found flexible jobs at the supermarket are Kayley, who has joined the store’s catering team, and Tasnim, who is putting her accountancy skills to good use in the cash office.
“The course really built up my confidence and gave me the boost I needed,” says Kayley. “It was great to talk about the importance of our parenting skills and how they can be used in the workplace, which wasn’t something I’d thought about before. I hadn’t worked for a long time but Jane helped me realise that I did have something to offer employers.”
“The course was totally geared towards mums,” adds Tasnim. “I was a bit nervous at the start but it helped to know that everyone there was in the same boat. We’d all been away from work with our kids and we all wanted to get back to work and find something flexible but didn’t know where to start. We brushed up our interview techniques and learnt a lot about how to sell ourselves to employers. To find a local, part-time job that uses my skills and experience at the end of it was fantastic.”
Successful Mums works with flexible and family-friendly employers to support women back into work. To find out more about working with us and the different ways we can connect your business to experienced, reliable and motivated candidates looking for flexible work, contact