For Hire

Switching on the ‘For Hire’ Signs

Quids in! editor Jeff Mitchell believes there are seven things employers secretly look for that separate people who are right for a job from the rest. In his latest book, he reveals them.

“Being unemployed was awful. You feel worthless and not quite a member of society but I also remember how nervous I felt about going back to work. You get in a rut and rely on benefits, and fear not being able to pay your bills.”

Denise first attended the 7 Signs course run by Clean Slate Training & Employment in July 2014. It is a project set up by Jeff Mitchell in 2006, two years before he launched Quids in! magazine.

Denise recalls how she felt the first day of her course. “I had lost confidence in my abilities but I knew deep down that I did have something to offer. I felt pressure to set a good example for my daughter, but the Jobcentre sent me in directions I didn’t want to go. Do I look like I could erect steel shelves in a warehouse? I couldn’t. Bad advice destroys your dignity.”

A book written by Jeff was published in 2016 to help jobseekers think differently about job hunting. Called I’m Ready – the 7 signs that show you’re right for the job, it draws on 20 years experience with unemployed people who, for various reasons, routinely find themselves on the ‘no’ list when applying for jobs.

“The way many firms recruit is rubbish. They think their processes create equal opportunities but they don’t. It’s only a level playing field for people who have been working and whose lives have always been straightforward,” explains Jeff.

“I think there’s a different way. When you know what to look for, you can see which jobseekers really want your job and those who don’t. Now I want to help job hunters switch on those seven signs showing they’d make a great addition to a team.”

The book is based on a short training programme designed by Clean Slate. There are no teachers, just workers to help jobseekers discuss amongst themselves what employers really want.

When Denise took the course, it was run over just two days: “The 7 Signs training made me think about what I did have to offer. I recognised skills that I had taken for granted or just didn’t believe were of value. It also enabled me to focus and by the end I had a clearer view of what I wanted to do.

“I found the confidence to believe in myself once again and felt more positive about presenting myself to employers. I felt very motivated.”

Within a month, Clean Slate had recruited Denise as a peer support worker, giving Denise the opportunity to prove herself.

“Moving quickly into paid work was fantastic as it reinforced to me what the trainer had said. Although I thought I was capable, here I was doing it. Being employed gave me a real sense of achievement.” Denise later started running the course herself.

Shortly after taking the 7 Signs training, Denise applied for a coordinator role with Step Up, working for Thames Reach in London.

“I was so excited when I was offered the job. Working more hours and getting a decent wage is very satisfying. I see prospects for the future now, and my daughter’s face when I told her we might be able to have a holiday this year said it all. Other members of Step Up are on the same journey as me. We all want to better our lives.”

Anyone in London on low pay and part time hours can sign up with Step Up here. Members receive text alerts about relevant jobs and training, one-to-one support and access to events.


Name: Issy W
Previous job: 13 years at NHS
Background: Mother of four. Left work due to poor management support for
childcare, leading to stress. Later diagnosed with depression.

During the 7 Signs training we looked at skills and I was surprised how much I have to offer. I never thought of the skills I use in everyday life and how they can be transferred to other jobs. This made me feel more confident and keen to start matching my skills to opportunities out there. I realised I’m passionate about meeting new people and listening.

When I interact with them I become energised. I love helping people. I’ve started to see possibilities and have begun to prepare to overcome emotional barriers stopping me. I have chosen to work a few hours a week and will be building up as I feel stronger, working somewhere I can take a week off if I need to. There are companies who are flexible and value their people and their mental wellbeing. I will be very careful to make sure I choose a great employer in future.

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