What We Do

At the heart of Smart Works sits a dressing and coaching service, delivered both in person and remotely.

Each client has a personalised styling session with two Smart Works volunteer stylists, receiving a complete outfit of high quality clothes and accessories for their specific job interview, which are free and hers to keep.  We make sure that our clients look fabulous, feel confident and have everything they need, from a winter coat to a pair of tights.

After her dressing, each client receives a one-to-one interview preparation and coaching session with an experienced HR professional or senior manager. The interview session focuses on increasing the awareness of her own strengths, answering questions effectively and understanding what is expected of her at interview.

Once a client is successful at interview, they are welcomed back for a Second Dressing to receive five additional pieces of clothing. This means that they can start their new role with a capsule working wardrobe which will see them through until their first pay cheque.

When our clients re-enter the workplace, we encourage them to join the Smart Works Network, a membership group of women who have recently returned to work. The Network meet on a monthly basis to further their professional and personal development, helping and motivating one another to succeed.

For women who have yet to secure job interviews, we also offer a Career Coaching service, helping them to identify tangible next steps in their journey to employment.

Over 94% of our clients reported that a visit to Smart Works significantly increased their confidence in succeeding at their job interview.

Our clients

Selam

When Selam came to Smart Works, she had been unemployed for six months, having applied to nearly 50 jobs.  

Being out of work had knocked Selam’s confidence, and she was lacking the self-belief she needed to succeed.  

This is Selam’s story.  

“I had a fabulous experience at Smart Works. Everyone is so kind and helpful here, I felt so much more confident going to my interview after the appointment.  

In the dressing session I got a Ted Baker coat – that was just amazing – I got so many compliments on that coat! 

 I found the coaching session really helpful. I was taught about body language, things that my employer would be looking out for. My interview coach did some practice interviews with me and pointed out what I should and shouldn’t be doing.  

The appointment made me feel motivated. It’s kind of crazy how an outfit can really change how you feel. I felt confident. I could get whatever I put my mind to. 

I got the job, and I wore the outfit I was given including a briefcase. It had a really lovely message inside saying ‘good luck, I hope you get the career you want.’ And I did.”

Rachael

Rachael came to see us in June after being made redundant from her job of 20 years. She was anxious and unsure of what the future held, but was supported by our virtual service…

This is Rachael’s story. ​ 

Rachael wrote to us in June, and said: “I have very sadly just found myself made redundant from my cabin crew job after 20 years, half of my life. I don’t own any formal clothes as I had a wonderful uniform whilst at my last job. My husband was made redundant in April and we have two small children. Money isn’t something we have right now, so the chance to get help in any way getting back into work would be amazing.

The Smart Works team booked her in for a Career Coaching appointment shortly after, where one of our expert coaches helped her to identify tangible next steps in her journey back into employment, boosting her confidence and helping her to regain her focus.

Shortly afterwards Rachael got back in touch to let us know she’d secured an interview with Argos. Our coach was so pleased for her and the team immediately got her booked in for an interview preparation appointment.

At her next appointment Rachael received another hour of one-to-one coaching, specifically tailored to her personal circumstances and the role she was going for. She also received a phone consultation about what clothing she might need, and one of our experienced dressing volunteers picked out an outfit to be posted directly to her home.

After her appointment she said: “I had a really good interview coaching session today I feel so much more prepared ahead of Tuesday’s interview. Also my clothes package arrived today and I cried. Thank you so much. Wow a Burberry shirt and a beautiful leather handbag – I’m going to look a million dollars on Tuesday!

It wasn’t long before she got in touch again, letting us know she’d secured the role. She said: “I got the job! I’m feeling so proud of myself getting the first job I went for and as a management position. Thank you for all your support, I literally could not have done it without Smart Works.

Demonstrating our impact

At Smart Works, we place a significant emphasis on being able to demonstrate the impact we are having on our clients.  We have an acclaimed Theory of Change that shows how and why our service is able to help clients succeed at interview. We have also refined our service to be able to follow up with as many clients as possible, and get their feedback on the impact of our service on their journey back to employment.

We were recently awarded a Level 2 validation of our work on the Nesta Standards of Evidence, a recognised framework for demonstrating impact.  This means that we capture data that shows positive change, and can prove that correlation.

“The evaluation gives a strong indication that the Smart Works service effectively increases its clients’ chances of getting a job.”

From "Measuring the impact of Smart Works" by The Social Innovation Partnership, May 2016