I’m Ready: 7 signs that show you’re right for the job is the book the Social Publishing Project is currently crowdfunding. It’s a self-help guide for jobseekers that offers a different approach for people who have followed all the usual advice. I’ve been involved in work projects for homeless people and the overlapping groups for more than 20 years, previously at The Big Issue and for the past 10 years at Clean Slate Training & Employment. The book describes the difference between jobseekers who make it and those who don’t.
At Clean Slate we offer paid work experience within the core service as well as in our distribution enterprise and a handypersons company we set up. We present ourselves as an employer and that immediately distinguishes ourselves from the Job Centre and their commissioned agencies. The 7 signs are the things we caught ourselves unconsciously assessing when deciding who was ready for paid work and who was not.
I was out with a local news team yesterday. They were filming our distribution team in Bath and I was explaining how the point of the exercise is partly to provide paid hours, (earning some extra cash certainly gets people’s interest), but it’s more about providing space for jobseekers to realise how much they have to offer. They realise they can work and start to think about they’d really like to do. Knowing your skills and passions are two of the seven signs. It’s also where they learn or are reminded what employers want: If you’re late, the team will leave without you; say something inappropriate and you’ll be pulled up; work hard, to time, and you get paid. Knowing what employers want, and knowing how to ask for help when you need it are two more of the signs. Putting your back into a role you’re not interested in long-term shows motivation… that’s another.
Back at the office, we run regular two-day training events built around the 7 Signs. Here, jobseekers review what makes them tick and how much they have to offer. We help them set goals that will inspire them to go out and prove themselves ready to employers. We help them package these goals, their skills and passions and a clear message about what they want to do next. They role play what it means to be the boss, dealing with difficult situations or recruiting new staff, and they see themselves in a new light. One person jumped up after one exercise shouting ‘Oooooohhhhhh!’. We’re not entirely sure why but she found work in a bank within a few weeks after that. Vision and presentation, being able to express all these things to employers, are the other two signs.
The book reads as a short novel, following the progress of a rough sleeper who we first meet while begging on the streets. Through paid work and the 7 Signs training, he begins to rebuild his life and, most importantly, his hope. It is designed to engage and inspire jobseekers and I hope readers say: ‘If he can do it, I sure as hell can’. Along the way, there is practical advice and a number of exercises to explore goals and next steps. It offers something different. The Work Programme it ain’t.
Backers of the crowdfunding campaign pledge their support not as a donation but with the expectation of a reward. They may want one book or a bunch of books to donate to a local project, for example, or they might want the full 7 Signs training alongside copies of the book. Backers join a community of like-minded people who recognise an off-the-shelf offer just isn’t going to cut it for the residual ranks of jobseekers in the UK now. Employers and the government are going to have to get more creative to build the right bridges from welfare to empty vacancies. I’m Ready offers some ideas. If you’d like to know more, get involved here.