20 September, 2017

Meet our Moment Makers: Matthew

Rewind 15 years and Matthew felt he wanted to do something different over the Christmas period. He’d always considered M&S to be a highly respected retailer, had long been big fans of M&S products and knew for a fact that we treat our staff well – because his late mother had worked as a Christmas temp at our Queen’s Street store in Oxford. How ironic then that he started with us in that self-same store in a similar seasonal role!

Shoppers flock to M&S at Christmas to fill their fridges and put presents under the tree, so how did Matthew take to life in one of our stores at our busiest time of year? “I literally had no idea what to expect, but everything clicked into place very quickly,” he remembers. “And every year since, the atmosphere in our stores has been totally electric; we’re so busy it all passes in a blur. We’re always amazed that the festive season comes round so quickly!”

Matthew’s first Christmas with M&S had an added bonus: he knew he was soon going to become a permanent member of the team at our new food hall in Summertown, Oxford. “It was great to join a new store full of buzz and energy,” he says with enthusiasm. Matthew is still with us in Summertown all these years later, working on the till, where he continually strives to improve the service we offer customers.

“When I think about our customers in Summertown, I’m reminded of Charles Dickens’ novel: ‘Great Expectations’! M&S has a legendary reputation for great service but if customers see that you’re doing your best to provide it, they’ll be on your side and take you to their hearts,” Matthew says.

Matthew believes that it’s a team effort that makes every moment special for customers. Being on the till, Matthew is obviously ‘front of house’, but he’s quick to acknowledge the contribution of those working behind the scenes. “Customers don’t see the highly impressive backstage crew at work. Those dealing with the admin or getting stock ready do an exceptional job and without their efforts the store would grind to a halt.”

It was in one of our busy Christmas periods that Matthew feels he has made the most difference to an individual customer. “Once, our £40 hampers were three for the price of two. I told a customer of the offer at the till and he rushed back and grabbed the last hamper we had. With a beaming smile he told me I had made his daughter’s Christmas at no extra cost!”

Our people are always there for our customers and we’re there for them in their time of need. “When my mother died, I was given two weeks’ paid compassionate leave and there was so much support and understanding when she was fighting cancer,” Matthew says. “Sadly, a few years ago we also lost a much-loved colleague to the disease at a tragically young age and we have a fine track record in raising funds for cancer charities.”

M&S is that kind of place – so if you have tact, diplomacy, respect, good manners and a willingness to put customers first, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome as a member of our Christmas team.Rewind 15 years and Matthew felt he wanted to do something different over the Christmas period. He’d always considered M&S to be a highly respected retailer, had long been big fans of M&S products and knew for a fact that we treat our staff well – because his late mother had worked as a Christmas temp at our Queen’s Street store in Oxford. How ironic then that he started with us in that self-same store in a similar seasonal role!

 

Shoppers flock to M&S at Christmas to fill their fridges and put presents under the tree, so how did Matthew take to life in one of our stores at our busiest time of year? “I literally had no idea what to expect, but everything clicked into place very quickly,” he remembers. “And every year since, the atmosphere in our stores has been totally electric; we’re so busy it all passes in a blur. We’re always amazed that the festive season comes round so quickly!”

Matthew’s first Christmas with M&S had an added bonus: he knew he was soon going to become a permanent member of the team at our new food hall in Summertown, Oxford. “It was great to join a new store full of buzz and energy,” he says with enthusiasm. Matthew is still with us in Summertown all these years later, working on the till, where he continually strives to improve the service we offer customers.

“When I think about our customers in Summertown, I’m reminded of Charles Dickens’ novel: ‘Great Expectations’! M&S has a legendary reputation for great service but if customers see that you’re doing your best to provide it, they’ll be on your side and take you to their hearts,” Matthew says.

Matthew believes that it’s a team effort that makes every moment special for customers. Being on the till, Matthew is obviously ‘front of house’, but he’s quick to acknowledge the contribution of those working behind the scenes. “Customers don’t see the highly impressive backstage crew at work. Those dealing with the admin or getting stock ready do an exceptional job and without their efforts the store would grind to a halt.”

It was in one of our busy Christmas periods that Matthew feels he has made the most difference to an individual customer. “Once, our £40 hampers were three for the price of two. I told a customer of the offer at the till and he rushed back and grabbed the last hamper we had. With a beaming smile he told me I had made his daughter’s Christmas at no extra cost!”

Our people are always there for our customers and we’re there for them in their time of need. “When my mother died, I was given two weeks’ paid compassionate leave and there was so much support and understanding when she was fighting cancer,” Matthew says. “Sadly, a few years ago we also lost a much-loved colleague to the disease at a tragically young age and we have a fine track record in raising funds for cancer charities.”

M&S is that kind of place – so if you have tact, diplomacy, respect, good manners and a willingness to put customers first, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome as a member of our Christmas team. Find out more about opportunities available here.

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

Meet our Moment Makers: Luke

You can tell when it’s Christmas at M&S by the number of people dressing up. Luke tells us, “We had a staff engagement evening to showcase new lines for Christmas, and I and my colleagues in Kidswear decided to wear onesies and sleepwear. Mine was a gorilla one, and the picture still makes me laugh!”

Gorillas may not be the first things that spring to mind about the festive period, but Luke and the team clearly found a great way to let their other colleagues know what was available.

Surprisingly, he wasn’t always this outgoing. “When I started two years ago, I was incredibly shy and had no experience in retail. M&S has allowed me to develop myself – it’s really brought me out of my shell.”

We could vouch for that, as it’s not the only time Luke has been spotted on the floor in a onesie. “I was wearing one again when I was demonstrating a fish-shaped bubble blowing machine. By the afternoon, I’d sold out of all of them, and it created a great atmosphere on the sales floor.”

Luke describes the Christmas atmosphere as excitable – everyone’s happy and it lifts the mood across the floor. So how did he feel when he was told as a Christmas temp that we’d like him to join us permanently? “Very privileged. It shows that I’ve worked hard and I’m trusted.”

“My line manager, Sarah, has helped me develop my skills, which has made me gain a lot of confidence. She believed in me enough to work late by myself one night so that all new packs were merchandised and inspirational. She put a lot of trust in me and recognised me for the work.”

Luke’s immediate future is university. Which means his 20% staff discount has come in handy. “I’ve bought things like food and also presents for family, and I’m going to get all my essential bedding from M&S before the big move.”

People join us in a temporary job for Christmas for all sorts of reasons – the atmosphere, the extra cash and the discount. Sometimes there’s a permanent role at the end of it too. Find out more and apply here.

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

Progression through passion

There are more routes into Marks & Spencer – and career paths – than many people realise. Kate’s story is a great illustration. After graduating, she joined us in our Human Resources Shared Services contact centre, and her career has taken off from there.

Kate first worked at HRSS on the front-line support team, answering and logging calls related to all things HRSS and logging. Within months, she was investigating and resolving complex pay queries. A year later she switched to Systems support and then earned a series of promotions to reach Team Leader in March 2017. She’s now responsible for the eight-strong team who take care of the different HR systems that are so vital to the smooth running of the whole business.

This career journey was not one Kate expected. “Being fresh out of University, I don’t think I realised the potential that I could have as a career with M&S. The passion to develop and drive our people is inspiring and the support I received in this progression far surpassed my expectations.” 

Kate puts her progression down to, “Working in such an open, honest environment and having a support network with line managers and HR Business Partners. They have enabled me to express my areas of interest, allowed me to explore different roles and encouraged me to enrol myself on workshops.”

Ultimately, Kate’s attitude to progression is all about passion. “If you have the passion and the drive to do the right thing, M&S is the place to help grow you as an individual, personal and professional.”

To check for vacancies in HR Shared Services, click here

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

Meet our Moment Makers: Erlina

Erlina has known and trusted our brand since she was a teenager in Indonesia. And she doesn’t just extend her generosity to customers over the Christmas and New Year season. “As I’m a Muslim I don’t celebrate it myself, so I like to do more shifts over Christmas so that others can spend that time with their families.”

When we asked Erlina what her main responsibility is at work, we thought she’d say something about amazing products or being part of a team. Instead, she tells us, “It’s to make every moment special for our customers.”

We needed to know more, and she was happy to tell us. “I’m a Suit Advisor in Menswear, which means I get to spend time with customers to fit them with a suit and offer advice.”

“One day I saw an elderly couple who seemed to need help – the gentleman was in a wheelchair. He had just been given the all-clear from cancer and he wanted a suit so that they could go for a meal for their 50th anniversary. None of his fitted any more.”

“I fitted him in a suit, complete with shirt and shoes, and he saw himself in the mirror. He couldn’t believe how good he looked - he said his wife could see him as a man again rather than someone with cancer. They said they felt like they had fallen in love all over again. It was such a special moment.”

That was obviously a rewarding experience for Erlina. What else does she enjoy? “New products and the sale! I love having early access to new clothes and the fashion trends for that season. I also think it is a privilege to know what’s going to be in the sale and when it will start.”

We’re sure that the 20% staff discount comes in very handy. “Oh yes! I do a weekly shop in the Biggleswade retail park store and I regularly buy women’s fashion,” she says. “I took part in a fashion show that we did for customers in the Cambridge store and loved some of the products so much, I had to buy them! The 20% discount is very generous and I get 20% off the sale price as well.”

Whether you’re fashion-conscious or not, a temporary job during the Christmas season could mean you enjoy generous staff discount too, plus extra cash and maybe even a permanent role afterwards. Find out more here.

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

Making M&S Moments: Caroline

We aim to make every moment special for our customers. And our customer assistants really take this to heart.

Caroline’s role in our Events team involves greeting customers, helping them around the store and letting them know about current offers. She tends to go the extra mile. “I have been lucky enough to be able to help customers by finding products that weren’t available on the shop floor, which made them feel valued.”

Caroline’s efforts don’t stop on the shop floor or behind the scenes. “I’ve helped customers who are frail and not able to walk to the tills - I take the product, carry out the sale and bring back the item and their change.”

“Once, I realised that a customer was weighed down with the number of shopping bags so I picked some of them up and went with her to the taxi rank.”

Caroline would be the first to admit that she’s been a loyal customer for many years. Now that her daughters have started work, she’s introduced them to M&S formal wear. She also loves Autograph and our Limited range, and considers the food amazing.

It’s great starting out with some product knowledge, but how did she pick up the rest? “It’s very important that I have a current knowledge of where all products are and that I’m always aware of new lines and new display areas. My managers and colleagues are always quick to explain it all to me.”

And what’s the biggest lesson Caroline has learned? “That the customer’s experience is the most important thing, and you should always treat people the way that you want to be treated.  A smile and a hello costs you nothing, yet it can make someone’s day.”

Caroline rates the interaction she can have with customers as a highlight of the job. If you believe in putting the customer’s experience first, perhaps you could take on a similar role. Find out more here.

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

Meet our Moment Makers: Haleemah

Haleemah had never applied for a job before he applied to us. “I’ve always loved shopping at M&S – still do! – and felt that they had a different way to connect with their customers. At the busiest time of year, it would be my chance to connect with more too.”

Sometimes that connection is a memorable one. Haleemah tells us, “A customer came in looking for a particular cake for her daughter’s 6th birthday in a few days’ time. Unfortunately, we were out of stock.”

“I took her mobile number and promised I would give her a call as soon as it came in. I put it aside safely when it arrived, and the customer was so thankful I’d gone out of my way to help. I felt quite proud of myself – M&S teaches you to put the customer before everything else. Seeing her happy made me happy too.”

Great moments happen the other way around as well. What was Haleemah’s? “My manager, Rob, has helped me learn lots of skills at work. Through positive and negative feedback, I’ve learned to make real improvements. He pushes me to do my best and prove to myself I can do even better.”

Feedback and encouragement always help, and so do the rewards. “It’s great that we get 20% discount on all M&S products,” says Haleemah. “My family has shopped with M&S for years now, so to be able to get that was lovely. I use my staff discount almost every day – and with the Sparks card I get even more offers.”

As this is the first job Haleemah applied for, and she was only 17 when she joined, we asked her what she’d take from the experience. “M&S has really taught me to be independent and to take responsibility myself. I feel like I can now take on a big task and know that I’ll be able to finish it.”

Whether it’s your first ever role or your next move, a temporary job on our Christmas team could mean extra cash, a great atmosphere, 20% discount and maybe even a permanent role. Find out more here.

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

Meet our Moment Makers: Emma

When Emma joined us as a Christmas temp, she was at college. She’d always go shopping there with her family and everyone spoke highly of M&S. Now they all speak highly of Emma, because she’s Store Manager in Cambridge.

“I started off as a Customer Assistant in Colchester store,” she recalls. “I was trained by a lady called Julie on the Women’s Per Una department; she took me under her wing and taught me everything I needed to know.”

“Julie still lets customers and staff know how proud of me she is. She even tells new staff being inducted into M&S about me to inspire them to have a career like mine.”

Emma’s career path took her from the shop floor to the A-Level Trainee Management Scheme, on to commercial management and then to store management. In just her second role as store manager, she took a dual-site store through a multimillion-pound development to combine them into one.

“I’ve loved every part of my M&S journey from customer assistant to store manager,” Emma says. “I’ve met some amazing people over the years who have invested so much time in me and wanted me to be successful.”

“I believe people work for people, and I’ve been very fortunate to have been surrounded by great M&S employees. I’ve had so many career opportunities given to me and so many doors opened - I think they have allowed my passion and commitment to drive me, and it was never about a qualification. For me, M&S has the best training platform to be successful.”

Is there anything surprising about Emma’s current role? “I play a large part in supporting the region with leading Customer Service, and I manage section manager resourcing across five stores. My favourite part of the job – a lot of people wouldn’t know this – is that I mentor five managers in stores and head office to support their career paths.”

It’s great to know that Emma is helping other people in their careers just as she was supported with hers. And she’s living proof that a Christmas temp job can take you anywhere.

Whether you’re just after the extra cash, the 20% discount, the festive atmosphere or the chance of a permanent job afterwards, find out more here.

Inside M&S
19 September, 2017

HOW TO HELP (AND NOT HINDER) YOUR CHILD

Your child will probably turn to you first for help in navigating the career maze. There’s plenty you can do. But there’s one vitally important thing to remember…

You’re a parent or carer. No-one is more anxious than you that your child makes something of their life. And the good news is that you’ll be the single biggest influence on their thoughts and feelings when they come to weigh up the pros and cons of going to uni, moving straight into work or doing something in between.

Whether or not they listen to what you say is a different matter, and we’ll come to that, but let’s start on a positive note. There’s a multitude of things you can do at a time when your child’s head is being turned in all kinds of directions.

Talk to your child about possible careers from time to time, but don’t make a big deal out of or turn it into a lecture. There are plenty of opportunities for ‘careers’ and an exchange of ideas to drop easily into everyday conversations so the subject doesn’t seem forced.

It’s all about keeping as many options open as possible until your child decides what they really want to do. Finding a career path they love is often a long process of self-discovery during which they find out what really interests them and what they are best at. Be patient and encourage your child to keep learning more about themselves. Make sure they have access to a variety of activities and see what piques their interest. Challenge them to move out of their comfort zone. If there’s something they are particularly curious about, encourage them to learn more about the subject.

It’s never too soon to start thinking about the future. Building up a bank of experiences can be as beneficial from year 9. Remind your child to record all work experience placements and part-time jobs, and gain references from them. Positions of responsibility at school and taking part in out-of-school activities will also help later on in creating a good impression with course tutors or employers.

Networking is important, too. Help your child to explore possible employers, apprenticeship schemes and educational opportunities in your local area; keep an eye out for local open days or careers fairs. If their school has a careers advisor or careers library, make sure your child takes advantage of what’s available. You can also encourage your child to talk to family members and friends about their careers.

Above all, be open-minded and objective. Your child is a unique person. They are not you. Or a mini-you. Don’t assume they will automatically want to follow your academic route and move into the same career as you. Something in a job that might be a big turn-off for you might be a big turn-on for your child. Resist the temptation to tell them to avoid a certain path because it’s something that doesn’t interest you. Forget this crucial fact and your child is likely to switch off, any good advice you have to offer shunned.

You should also stay up to date. The world moves on, options for young people change, jobs are open to them that didn’t exist a decade ago, particularly in fields like technology. There’s plenty online to help you.

It could well be that – after being open-minded and objective – you still feel that your child is proposing a path to which they’re unsuited. Okay, becoming famous by winning ‘The X Factor’ might not be a realistic ambition, but don’t be too quick to rule out a certain career option. Take a more lateral stance at how your child’s strengths and personality could make a valuable contribution in that field.

Finally, remember that it’s your child’s future. There’s a fine line between giving guidance and support and taking over. Be prepared to let go. Up until 16 many educational decisions will have been made for them. Now might be the time to allow them a measure of independence.

Inside M&S
19 September, 2017

RETAIL. IN DETAIL.

Whether you’re a parent wondering what it can offer your child, or a teacher looking for class material, let’s take a look at the retail world.

First things first. What is retail? Essentially, it’s a company selling its goods and merchandise from a location, physical or otherwise. Shops and stores probably spring to mind. These include department stores, supermarkets, local convenience shops and boutiques, selling one or (like M&S) multiple lines of products. The major retailers have traditionally been located on high streets, but in recent years many out-of-town shopping parks have sprung up. There are other venues too; for example, you’ll find an M&S at many motorway service stations.

Then there are other ‘fixed’ retail locations, such as showrooms – think cars or even bathrooms and kitchens – and market stalls. Even a small kiosk outside a railway station selling newspapers counts as ‘retail’.

But different people like to buy things in different ways. Catalogue shopping is still popular especially among the older generation. But what has transformed shopping more than anything else? You’ve guessed it, the internet. Millions of us now shop online for the choice and convenience. The biggest and most successful retailers make use of multiple shopping channels. We certainly have at M&S: our online offering M&S.com now has 7 million registered users and weekly visitors number around 6.1 million.

We all need to shop and, taking into account the various channels, the retail industry generates billions of pounds every year and employs millions of people. Take M&S. Today, we operate in 59 territories and employ over 83,000 people who, in one role or another, serve over 33 million customers.

M&S can trace its roots back to 1884 and we will always be an icon of the high street. Many people work in our stores because they love meeting customers face to face, inspiring them with their product choices and creating a great shopping experience. But it’s not for everyone, we know that. However, the good news is that, like a lot of retailers, we offer a wide range of careers beyond the shop floor.

So what exactly is on offer? That depends on the retailer, its size and the products it sells. For example, being a big retailer M&S has many support departments such as HR, Buying and Marketing, which you obviously wouldn’t find in a small retail outlet. We specialise in food, clothing and homeware products, so we have teams that focus on these product lines.

Every retailer is different and we can only speak for ourselves. But the fact is, we take on lots of people, from different backgrounds, for a huge array of roles, either front of house or behind the scenes, all of which are essential for delivering for our customers.

Our stores are still the face of M&S and we need everyone from Customer Assistants to Section Managers and Commercial Managers. But we’re an online retailer, so we hire technology-minded people that push us to stay ahead of the competition.

Then there are the Designers with a creative eye for fashion… Buyers who hunt down the trendiest products around… Merchandisers who monitor sales and trends… Marketers who make the M&S brand stand out… Logistics professionals who run our supply chain … HR specialists who find and develop great people… shrewd business brains who look after our Property estate. We have true foodies working here too, in our Food Buying, Technology or Product Development teams. And ever wondered how a big retailer makes sure its shelves are always stocked or something you ordered online arrives on your doorstep? That’s down to people working in Distribution.

In short, retail offers a host of opportunities – and with the industry being so fast paced and ever evolving, that isn’t about to change.

Inside M&S

Merchandising

We’re one of the largest and most trusted retailers in the UK, with a massive range of merchandise to manage.

Key Information

  • Location

    Head Office (London)

  • Duration

    8 weeks in June and July

  • Salary

    £19,500 pro rata

Career questions?

Message us on WhatsApp*
07834 335603

*Service only available during office hours

Learning and Development

Experience is the best teacher, which is why M&S likes to throw you in at the deep end. Real responsibilities on real projects, from day one (no, really). But the learnings aren't just one way: we're eager to hear your fresh ideas, to have our ways challenged, in order to grow the business. Of course, it all starts with a comprehensive introduction to M&S. You're never on your own with us. During this time, you'll get a basic overview of our business, along with all the information you need about your new role and life with one of the nation's brightest brands.

Applying to join M&S

  • Online application

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    Stage one: online application and testing

    You'll need to apply online - where you'll take some online screening tests, after which there follows a short period of suspense. This is where your application rises to the top of our review pile. As soon as we can, we'll be in touch to let you know whether you've successfully made it through to the next stage of your journey.

    Be sure to check each programme page for specific closing dates as they may vary. If you miss the deadline, you’ll have to wait another year before you can apply again.

    Here are a few tips. On your application form, be sure you include all your work experience and clearly state how it relates to the role you are applying for – or what skills you learned in that job which you can bring to our programme. In the online testing, everyone completes a personality questionnaire and takes a situational judgement test. Then you’ll be challenged to show your verbal, numerical or inductive skills, depending on the scheme you’re applying for. It’s a good idea to practise online tests before attempting the real ones – you can easily find some online. Make sure you take the tests in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.

  • Come to an assessment centre

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    Stage two: come to an assessment centre

    If we like what we see online, we'll ask to see you in person. You'll then be invited to a day of group exercises, presentations and an interview. Not easy, but not as scary as it sounds. In Retail, assessment centres will take place in January, February or March 2018, although some Head Office schemes will hold theirs in December 2017. There are plenty of tips on other pages to help you perform at your best.

  • Receive an offer

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    Stage three: receive an offer

    If all goes well and there's a place for you on one of our schemes, we'll let you know by the end of March. All in all, it's a simple process: just hold on to those 'if only' thoughts and do your best to impress at every stage. M&S has roles waiting for you. Yes, you could make it happen.

  • Start with us

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    Stage four: start with us

    This is the moment you've been waiting for. Your first day! Head Office Business Placements start in July but Retail Management and HR begin in September. For Graduates, all Head Office roles start in September with Retail Management having various intake dates across July and September.

    Applications for our business placement and graduate programmes for 2018 are now open.

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