Ask Heidi: 'I've lost my job in retail due to Covid-19. What should I do?'


In this month’s real-life advice column, recruitment and careers specialist Heidi Bannister helps one reader discover new opportunities in an uncertain time for retail

Q: I work in beauty retail, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, our store has had to close and make redundancies. I was one of the staff members who lost their jobs, which was extremely difficult to process.

Now that I have come to terms with the initial shock, I am really unsure what to do next, as I felt lucky to first land my job to begin with. I don't have vast experience or qualifications in any other area, and I was enjoying my job in retail.

What options are open to me and what do you think I should do next?

A: I'm sorry to hear that, and I can imagine the situation feels overwhelming right now.

But don’t be discouraged; your experience is your greatest asset. People who work in retail are great at customer service but often don’t appreciate how well their skills can translate to jobs in other fields.

As we are self-isolating and most shops are closed, online business is busier than ever. Any company selling products or services online needs to provide information, advice and assistance to its customers.

For a quick fix solution, find a niche in customer service where you can use the experience and expertise you've got. Start by thinking about what you do now, and which aspects of it you enjoy most.

If your heart is in the beauty industry there are opportunities with beauty brands and retailers who need your knowledge and customer service expertise for their website support teams. It’s different to working in a store, but you may just find your new calling.

Once the current restriction ease, more options will open up for you.

If delivering excellent customer service gives you great satisfaction, then you can look beyond beauty. There are opportunities with great prospects in banking, insurance and every industry where people work with customers.

Here at Arthur Edward we recently recruited for an Office Administrator to liaise with employers and candidates, set-up interviews, and ensure our systems and processes run smoothly.

Lidia joined us from a retail background and used her skills in dealing with customers, organising stock and events, and managing her area of the store to transition seamlessly into this new type of role. Within a week we were wondering how we managed without her.

You can buy a product online, but you can’t have a virtual massage. If you love the hands-on side of your role, helping people look and feel better, you could train to be a beauty therapist and work in a spa, salon or even run your own business.

The hospitality industry is a fantastic option for people with retail experience and some forecast a boom in short breaks and holidays when we can all travel again.

And as people focus more on experiences, companies are springing up offering teams of make-up artists and beauticians for festivals, parties and corporate events.

The skills acquired by logistics or supply chain staff can move into any company or sector where goods are moved around the world.

If you like working with people, with a little training you could work in a caring profession. Charities are always planning and running fundraising events and while paid roles are hard to find, they all need volunteers to help organise and manage their work.

This is a great way to gain experience, improve your CV and help your community at the same time.

Heidi will be back next month for another career consultation. If you’d like to ask Heidi a question, please email with the subject line Ask Heidi. All emails will remain anonymous.

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