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1,923 job bids rejected...now I'm going it alone

AFTER applying for nearly 2,000 jobs in less than a year, Richard Shakespeare has given up on his fruitless quest and started his own business.

Derby's most dedicated job-seeker, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was made redundant from internet bank Egg, where he was a customer relations adviser, in September 2009.

He spent the following 12 months ferociously trying to find work.

Using a spreadsheet to keep track of his applications, he sent 1,923 letters, either posted or e-mailed, to any employer within commuting distance of Derby.

He applied for about six jobs a day, spent about £25 a week on stamps and attended hundreds of interviews.

In one aptitude test Richard, 27, scored 98 per cent but was still overlooked for an administrative position in the public sector.

Finally, demoralised by 12 months of rejection, he has abandoned the job search to become a consultant advising businesses on disability issues.

"I applied for absolutely everything that I could physically do and didn't know how to get out of the unemployment trap," he said.

"After nearly a year without a job offer, I was starting to get depressed and the number of suitable jobs seemed to be going down."

Richard, of Swallowdale Road, Sinfin, was prevented from taking a job paying the minimum wage because he would have lost the redundancy insurance that was paying his mortgage.

It was his daily quest for a job that eventually inspired him to set up his business.

He said: "Interviewers would feel uncomfortable and nervous, unsure as to how to treat someone who's disabled. It struck me that there must be hundreds of businesses that had no experience of dealing with disabled people and would benefit from speaking to someone with a real-life perspective on the matter."

After attending free events organised by Business Link and networking with local businesses, he decided that his idea could work.

For the past few weeks, he has been working from a small office at the iD Centre – a building designed for start-up businesses – off London Road, Derby.

"Now that I'm self-employed, the pressure is really on me to make ends meet but I'm determined to make it work and I'm confident that I can," he said.

He has already picked up clients. One of his first was the Novotel, in Long Eaton.

In late October, he visited as a mystery guest and later reported back to the manager and briefed employees.

Mike Colman, the hotel's general manager, said: "We do a lot of disability awareness training with our staff but I wanted a fresh look at how we treat disabled guests.

"What Richard did was to bring disabled issues to life, which was extremely valuable. He's a personable guy and very knowledgeable. He really struck a chord with my team.

"As a result of his work, we have made tweaks to how we treat disabled guests. I meet regularly with other hoteliers in Derby and I will certainly recommend that they get in touch with Richard."

Richard has also worked with Nottingham-based podiatrist Wendy Wells.

She said: "Richard's knowledge and experience have been really useful to me while I have been setting up my podiatry practice.

"He has advised me on current legislation and has helped me with any queries that I've had."

This article is taken from the Derby Telegraph website.