A man who wore his CV on his shirt and cycled 50 miles a day hunting for a job has finally admitted failure and become a self employed – walking instructor.
Mark Richardson, 50, was so keen to find work he began travelling 200 miles a week on his bike wearing his mobile CV.
But his unique approach launched in October failed to bring in the flurry of offers and instead generous strangers just offered to buy him a drink – to cheer him up.
The former cross country ski champion applied for as many as 300 jobs and spent all of his time in job centres or on his bike.
Now the fed-up father-of-two has abandoned the ploy to set up his own business – as a Nordic walking instructor.
He now plans to grow a regular customer base of Nordic walkers – extreme cross country hikers who use poles to propel them through the countryside.
Mark, who holds a Guinness World Recorder for roller skating from Chanonix, France to Kent in 1987, said he couldn’t wait to get started on his new career.
He said: “I started applying for jobs and I thought as well as doing the traditional forms of looking for work I would do this thing with the bicycle.
“I got fantastic media coverage but I was quite surprised myself that I got no job offers at all.
“It was disappointing because I was expecting to get one or two offers. I did get a bit of a ribbing off my friends at the cycle club though.
“I got a few calls from well wishers and a call from a gentleman in Ghana because he thought it was a great idea and wanted to ask if he could give it a try.
“One guy did ring who said he might have a job going but then he never got in touch with me again.
“The fact that I am 50 and unemployed didn’t bode well and I thought it was time to just go for it.
“I am a reasonably fit person and I thought to myself that I had a lot of life in me yet.
“I am not going to wear that shirt anymore and haven’t for a while now. I would like to work for myself now.”
Mark first became unemployed when the retail store Millets closed down in July of last year.
The applied Biology graduate bought a shirt emblazoned with his name, email address and the words: ‘Seeking Employment – Intelligent, Diligent, Dynamic’.
Three months after starting his bizarre quest to find work the former lab technician has has decided to go it alone.
Mark, of Gaywood, Norfolk, has decided to put his skiing past into practice by becoming an instructor in the new fitness craze – nordic walking.
The job centre have supported his new venture, which will operate as a franchise, and even paid the fees he needed to get his instructing qualifications.
Mark, 1988 British Cross Country Ski champion, said: “I went to the job centre and I suggested this idea of becoming a nordic walking instructor and they helped me fund the courses that I needed to go on.
“A few months ago the idea of going self employed was terrifying but now I’m just really excited to get started.
“I will be working with Nordic Walking UK who will let people in the area know that I’m their nearest instructor.
“It involves using normal skiing poles and propelling yourself as you walk. Think of cross country skiing without the skis.
“People are burning off 20 per cent more than they would be if they walked normally.
“Nordic walking is becoming huge now. There are some groups around already and this is going to be the next big thing.
“It is going to take off but I don’t expect miracles. The first few months are going to be the hardest.
“I have had a few friends who are very interested. I have been asked to run a six week course for Active Norfolk.”
But Mark thinks that the job centres can help people if they take the initiative – even if the job market seems unforgiving at the best of times.
said: “If you have got a good idea the job centre will actively help you but a lot of people are too afraid to ask.
“From a young person’s point of view the job market is dreadful and when you get to my age people think I am probably too set in my ways. It is soul destroying.”
Mark spent three years working as a manager at Millets before the store was closed down and he lost his job.
Prior to that Mark, who has an HND in Applied Biology, has worked in a number of laboratories for leading companies.
Throughout his career Mark worked as a lab technician for British Sugar, perfume company Mercia Fragrances and building material firm Tarmac Ltd.
He has also worked for the RSPB, as an English teacher in Vietnam and in various outdoor shops in Chamonix during the ski season.
Mark lives with his wife Taoh, 40, and their two daughters, Liuh, 20, and Lah, 15.