I am often approached by people wanting advice to help them with their job search. I always come away from such a conversation wishing I had a magic wand that could create a job from thin air, or at least a magic bullet or that could instantly transform their situation. The truth is (I am ashamed to admit!) I don’t have such power. So much of what I know to be good advice is down to the application of practical common sense and the sheer dogged determination to apply it relentlessly on a daily basis no matter how demoralised you may feel. Anyone can offer advice, its easy. You just say what you think. Actually applying it is the hard part. I have seen no better exponent in recent times of the real desire to make a change, evidence of a great attitude and the persistence to make it happen than in the form of 23 year old Mark Wheeldon from Staffordshire in the UK.
The story was reported last week in the Daily Telegraph (www.dailytelegraph.co.uk). Wheeldon sounds like a genuinely decent bloke. He sacrificed two years of his life to look after his former partner who was suffering with rheumatoid arthritis. As a consequence, when he decided to get himself back in to the jobs market, he found himself with a two year gap on his CV and no references. Disillusioned with living on benefits and wanting to take responsibility for his own future, Wheeldon “concocted a plan to get himself noticed on the jobs market”. His plan? He decided to stand on a roundabout at one of the busiest road junctions in the area in which he lived and advertise his services to all passers – by with a hand painted sign asking “please give me a job”.
How many would do this? Was he worried about feeling humiliated? Did he worry about what people would think? Was he desperate? I don’t know the man and no little of his personal feelings at this time. What I feel about him however is clear. I think this guy is a hero. He is to be celebrated. I hope this doesn’t sound patronising. He took action. He was innovative, creative, determined and he threw himself in to changing his life. I take my hat of to this kind of person for there is much I find to be admired in his behaviour.
Was he successful? For three hours he stood in torrential rain with little joy but no sign of giving up. Vince Champion is the Director of a local Timber Factory. According to the story, he was out that morning getting Bacon Sandwiches for his colleagues (which says much about the kind of boss this guy is) and spotted Wheeldon at the roundabout. He picked him up and drove him to the factory where he gave a soaking wet Wheeldon an interview. After 20 minutes offered him a job.
“I was really impressed by his determination and he has the right kind of attitude that we want here. Now he’s getting on brilliantly and fitting right in with all the other employees. I wish more people could show the same kind of determination to find work”.
Champion is recruiting for attitude and I for one applaud him for this. He is a great example to so many of what talent you can attract to your business by taking a chance and approaching things differently. He recognises he can give people the skills and experience provided they have the desire and willingness to learn, to apply themselves. So many employers could gain much by adopting a similar approach to hiring.
We can learn much from Wheeldon’s story. Know what you want, devise a strategy to achieve it and stop at nothing until you get there. Mark Wheeldon is an inspiration to us all.