Ben Williams worked in fashion retail for 15 years before leaving his job in 2010 to build up his freelance business as a Copywriter. He says coming to CareerBalance has given him “the courage to kick off” his new career.

What major issue did you want to tackle?

After 15 years in retail, I was unhappy and needed a change. I began working for myself as a writer, but things weren’t going well in the recession. I needed to choose whether I wanted to enhance my chances of getting employment in a copywriting agency or whether I wanted to increase my potential for freelance work. I also wanted to build up my confidence.

How did CareerBalance help you move forward?

My CareerBalance Consutant David Pullinger was excellent. He is really positive and disarming. We began by talking through what I wanted from the sessions and I took a series of tests to identify my strengths, weaknesses and career goals. Once I decided I wanted to remain self-employed, David helped me look at how to successfully build up my network of contacts. He also focussed on behaviour patterns to increase my confidence.
I’ve since secured two projects – a treatment for a documentary about the plight of gypsies in a Spanish prison who use flamenco dancing to bring them together, and an animation project for children’s education and conservation charity, the Jane Goodall Institute. I’ve already been asked to do a second phase of the animation project and I’m delighted about that.

Where did CareerBalance make the most impact for you?

Because working as a shop assistant is so different to being a writer, identifying my transferable skills and finding forward direction were pivotal. I realised I am used to chatting to strangers on a daily basis. The process of recognising my innate strengths really boosted my confidence. I’m now far more equipped to talk about myself and my abilities when I meet people at parties and work-related events. CareerBalance gave me the courage to approach people I might know vaguely and build up contacts and a wider professional network. All my work so far has come from networking.

How might things have turned out differently without the help of CareerBalance?

My personal strengths were always there, but it took CareerBalance to help me recognise them. If I hadn’t gone to CareerBalance, my work situation might have got me very down and I might even have given up and gone back into retail. But in my heart of hearts, I now know a freelance writing career is what I really want.

How is your new career going?

I’m far more comfortable promoting myself now and I’m currently working hard on building up clientele and tackling existing projects.

Would you recommend CareerBalance or go back in the future?

I hope I won’t have to. What CareerBalance has given me is the courage to kick off my new career. I wouldn’t rule out a refresher at CareerBalance though.

* Ben completed a career planning and self-marketing programme with David Pullinger at CareerBalance.

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