...some interviewers saw my weight as an indication of laziness... nothing could be further from the truth.
After being out of work for nearly two years, Jack Smith is delighted with his new role as a receptionist working for easyHotel, but he has a heartfelt message for other employers: “Please don’t make assumptions that a plus-size job seeker will have a lazy attitude to work.”
Twenty-five year-old Jack, who says that he is ‘big hearted and big framed’, felt that his extensive search for work was due to recruiters negatively viewing his shape rather than focusing on his employment record and the work he’s undertaken to improve his literacy as he is dyslexic.
Jack, who lives in Walton in Liverpool, was supported into his current employment by the Work and Health Programme, known locally as Work and Health North West, which helps local residents who have been unemployed for a long time, as well as people with health conditions, into work.
The Work and Health Programme, delivered in the North West by Ingeus, is commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions and receives support from the European Social Fund.
“I want to use my story to urge employers who are letting an interviewee’s body shape influence their decision making to think again — it’s a positive attitude to work that counts,” explained Jack. “I became quite despondent because I felt that some interviewers saw my weight as an indication of laziness - and nothing could be further from the truth. I was also concerned that my dyslexia was being perceived as an issue.
“I used to be a security guard, but I decided not to renew my operating licence because I wanted to try a different line of work,” revealed Jack. “I weigh around 20 stones and I think my size was an advantage in my former career, but I wanted a change of direction and decided to find a job in the hospitality industry.”
Jack was referred to Work and Health North West by his advisor at Jobcentre Plus, Pat McGovern.
Ingeus case worker Lisa Garnett put together a package of support: “We helped to develop Jack’s interview skills, which gradually boosted his morale. He also attended educational classes to improve his literacy and numeracy. Since Jack was concerned that his size was an issue, he saw a specialist Ingeus health advisor to ensure that his diet was healthy and balanced.”
Jack was encouraged to attend a recruitment day organised by easyHotel and with his newly acquired skills, and replenished self-confidence, he was offered the role of night receptionist at their Castle Street hotel.
“I’ve got my mojo back,” commented Jack. “Ingeus covered my travelling costs until I was paid. The people I work with are lovely and I have lost some weight as I prefer to use the stairs in the hotel when I’m answering a guest’s non-urgent call.”