I met Chris though Facebook. The vision of a better labor market aligned the Zero Unemployment Movement and his page, Follow Chris’s Journey into Employment. Christopher Wightman is Deaf, from the United Kingdom, and believes that his journey to employment will help others with their employment difficulties. Chris is making a difference in helping people gain satisfying work.
I was fortunate enough to ask him a few questions:
1. Why did you start this Facebook Page?
Hi, Last year in October I was made redundant – and it was that day October 13, 2011 – that set me on a path to changing my life forever. I was a used to be an employment advisor for a Deaf charity and I saw more and more people becoming unemployed and in the Deaf community it is hard for Deaf people to get a career as sometimes they can be a victim of indirect discrimination.
It also hit me due to the amount of people going to job centers, signing on to receive their unemployment money, and accepting this is what is going to happen. I began to think that there is something I want to do to help people, as well as myself, and this led to the birth of Follow Chris’s Journey into Employment.
2. Who are you?
My name is Chris and I am 27 years old with a degree in Business Studies with Human Resources Management. I have also been trying to attempt my CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) as well. I have 6 years of experience in working in Human Resources, Managing Charity Sectors, volunteering for a wide range of charities, and working in the employment advisory sector.
3. How has the response to the page been?
At first, it took everyone by surprised. I think the people that knew me best, knew why I was doing this and it was not for my own gain. One of the biggest problems with recruiters or employment advisors is that we tend to use the words ‘I Understand.’ We all do it without realizing. Sometimes it can be a very frustrating to hear that from someone who is in a paid position and can still go home every night without having to worry where their next pay check is coming in.
So I think it is an employment advisory page with a twist, and the response has been incredible, especially in the last few months. I have helped people with application forms, interview preparations, CV training and anything else that would make them more employable.
4. How did you start running employment workshops?
Basically, after I was made redundant, I went to a local CAB (Citizen Advice Bureau) to attend a money advisory course. In small groups, I started teaching people how to manage their finances better. So it gradually became that I was able to combine both the finance and employment together. I ran the workshops in a low budget cost, I would ask community centers if I could use a small room for no charge and I would encourage people to bring their own food, drinks etc. to keep the cost down.
I produced the material from scratch and my knowledge from working in the employment sector in the past. I also attended and kept up to date with any legislation changes within the community and where I live.
5. What do you think we can do to approach full employment?
I think to be honest, the amount you are not working in life, is the moment we have the opportunity to change things for the better for ourselves. You need to evaluate your life and decide what you want to do next. Is it possible for ourselves to retrain for a new job or go into new business? Everyone is going to be different – if you have commitments – mortgages, children, etc., then your priorities in life are going to be different from someone that does not have those commitments.
The best investment anyone can do is improve themselves as a person and increase their value to employers, but the important thing is they are doing it for themselves too.
If by 6 weeks you have not gained full time employment, by all means volunteer, volunteer and volunteer! It is the most rewarding thing a person can do and you gain new experiences and skills. I believe by volunteering you are showing your commitment to improving yourself and it covers the gaps on your resume/CV, and it shows that you are jumping out of your comfort zone.
My advice is, Believe in yourself and how you value yourself as a person and how you can increase that value not only to your future employer but also to yourself. Grab every opportunity there is out there for you.
How can the Candidate Experience be Improved? Attend ”SmartUp: Candidate Experience” on Aug. 8 in San Francisco to create discussion with CEOs (Gautam Godhwani of Simply Hired & Jerome Ternynck of SmartRecruiters) influencers (Jessica Miller Merrell & Pat Sharp) and 2 job seeking candidates.