RECRUITING: Not you. Ok, newsflash. They’re now welcoming crocheters. I know right?! The outrage! Might as well change their name to ‘Needle-Wielders Society’. And they tried to soften the blow by signing off with ‘Wooly wishes’. (Isn’t it spelt ‘woolly’ anyway? Adding insult to injury if you ask me.) That was NOT the way I wanted my March to continue so I made the decisive click to unsubscribe. They said they were ‘sorry to see you leave’ but I don’t think they’ve ever seen me (like, ever) so that’s a load of tosh isn’t it.
Yarn. Yawn. Lesson learnt: Don’t be fooled by the freebies – your email address is worth more than a pocketful of squashed Celebrations leftover from Christmas 2004 (practically vintage mind you)… Have some self-respect.
Now for some more flashy news. I am applying for jobs! Ok, not quite, but nearly. I took the first (and fatal) step of putting my CV online in the hope of the Internet doing its thing and finding work for me. You’ve got to be savvy about these things – none of that ‘do it yourself’ stuff. Who do they think I am, a fight-to-the-death, gritty grad? HA. (If you are an employer reading this, please locate some salt and pinch it now. And, for the record, I’m actually really keen and hardworking and conscientious and desperate and soulless and I crave long hours and teamwork and targets). So, what did the Internet find me? Celebrity status, that’s what. For 48 hours my phone was ringing non-stop*. So busy I nearly felt employed! People actually saw the CV and rang me up to talk about it – I’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I uploaded it but the shocked confusion in my voice undoubtedly gave away that I’m not exactly well-versed in the whole being-so-keen-it’s-cringe, job-seeking thing. They asked me to talk about my skills – I said that my CV pretty well outlined them, hadn’t they read it? Wrong answer apparently.
Having to deal with the incessant calls (and callers) was pretty demanding in itself, I thought. I mean, surely that experience alone merits a place on the CV: ‘I have excellent time management skills and experience of working under pressure to manage regular phone calls and emails’ (Feb 2015 – Role: Personal Administrator. Employer: Self-employed). After all that faff, you’ll pleased to know that one of the posts sounded interesting. It was something about assisting the assistant to the assistant hole-punch manager of a study-abroad organisation. I wrote a cover letter as requested, outlining my exceptional assistant skills (but of course not wanting to overdo it just in case any existing assisting assistants reading it might feel threatened). I didn’t hear back. I think it must have been addressing the email to ‘Dead Mr Thomas’ that did it. A tragic typo. Dear oh dear. Some people just don’t get black comedy do they. Well, you reap what you sow – I killed Mr Thomas, they killed my job prospects. I think that makes me a grim reaper. Getting off to a bad start wasn’t going to stop me, though – if it doesn’t kill you it will make you stronger and all that… (perhaps in light of my run-in with Mr Thomas that should be edited: ‘if it doesn’t kill you it will kill someone else and make you stronger’).
But somehow the job search went from bad to worse. The majority of calls I received were recruitment firms… looking for recruiters. One particular conversation took an interesting turn. After the usual introductory jabber finishing with ‘So does that sound of interest?’, I said that, sorry, I was looking for a job. Silence. ‘Yeah, um, I’m job-hunting’, I repeated, realising as the words fell from my mouth that being a recruiter is actually a job. I had essentially just dismissed this lady’s career, her livelihood, her raison d’être (gotta get the français in there somewhere, make my degree worth it…). A nervous over-enthusiastic laugh came flying back at me, ‘Brilliant, yes! Yes, so, the thing is, Miss, I wanted to talk to you about being a graduate recruiter! It’s a highly-regarded graduate job, Miss. I’m also a class of 2014 graduate!’ (Sidenote: I’m sorry, but who says ‘class of 2014’ in conversation? I swear the only place that phrase belongs is on the back of school/university leavers’ hoodies.) For a while I had to just sit listening to her sales soundbites, her favourites being: ‘This is a really target-based role with regular promotions’, ‘Recruitment can give you the lifestyle you deserve’ and ‘You have the exact skill-set for this position’. Not getting the keen responses she was hoping for, she eventually dropped the script and an awkward silence fell with it. Up until this point, she thought she was the one with all the questions. Oh, no no no. I said that now it was my turn, surely? Just out of interest, why she was working as a graduate recruiter… when she herself had only just graduated? Wasn’t that like being a careers advisor without first having your own career? Was she really ‘passionate’ about finding jobs for other people? Didn’t she want to go into one of those sectors herself? What did she study? Not recruitment, surely? What were her aspirations? Interests? Skills? Hobbies? Goals? Ambitions? DREAMS? (At one point it did cross my mind that she might not actually have any hobbies or dreams… or that this was in fact her hobby and her dream. I dismissed the thought – I was already too far into the interrogation.) I also told her that she didn’t have to keep calling me ‘Miss’ given that we both knew we were the same age (I mean, come on, that’s just weird). And also because I felt like it made me sound like a school teacher – which, by the way, is not a path I want to pursue. The only draw would be having an excuse to buy stashes of roller ball Pilot pens for marking. Not sure that outweighs the actual marking though. Oh and the whole lesson-planning thing. And then the actual teaching bit. Definitely not. Well, it turned out she had panicked and chickened out of forging a career in TV (her dream) and was drawn to the bright (fluorescent) lights of recruitment (aka call centres). It was time to get down to business – I had things to be getting on with (ok, not really, but it sounds right). I told her she should be pursuing her dream. She told me I should be pursuing mine. OOH, deflection. ‘Yeah? Well it’s definitely not becoming a professional cold-caller!’. ‘Yeah, I don’t want to be that either!’, she exclaimed, suddenly lowering her voice, fearful of revealing her true colours to the recruitment army surrounding her. She had broken ranks – a rebel was born. She finally relaxed and together we dismissed the recruitment rat race in favour of a creative, passion-led life, hatching plans for her escape. We were actually talking – like humans. She would go into TV… and I would work out what my passion was. We had a vision. It felt great – like that ‘organised’ feeling of buying a new diary, fully aware that a few weeks into January you’ll have stopped using it. In short, we were on the brink of… something.
Nine minutes 47 seconds later I hung up. It was as if a new page had been turned for a generation of graduates. ‘Passion over pay-cheque’ – I could see the placards. Now, in the bright light of hindsight, I’m having second thoughts. I think she was lying. Of course she wasn’t just going to waltz out of her office, head held high with the zeal of a freedom fighter. She must have thought (known?) I was a nutter and just played along, sensing that her original script wasn’t quite working its charm on me. She probably just made up the whole ‘going into TV is my dream’ thing, pretending to be on my side – being comrades, ‘in it together’. I was duped. It all makes sense. Her skill? Persuasion. And, failing that, being an anonymous kindred spirit to the disillusioned – identifying with me. Sharing my outlook – reflecting it all back at me. How cunning. Frankly, at the first sign of my ‘putting-passion-first’ plan going to pot, I would no doubt have ended up ringing her for some visionary morale-boosting. That would be her moment to strike. She would have suggested part-time recruitment – just for some cash to tide me over, nothing that would compromise our dream-chasing principles. That’s it. That’s how they do it. I would have become the next desperate, desperately-reluctant recruitment recruiter. Come to think of it, she’s probably there now, dialling someone else’s number, enticing them into the dark machine of swivel chairs, switchboards and sly sales.
And if you’re actually wondering where the job search has got to, it hasn’t really got anywhere. I think even LinkedIn has started feeling sorry for me – before, it pestered me every other day to post my job details and employment history. Now they just send emails asking if I’ve got any skills in Microsoft Word. Any suggestions, hints, tips or magic most welcome. Next time: Something about my raison d’être. Nothing about recruiters recruiting recruiters – of that I’m sure.
*My already-vulnerable-to-palpitations-and-blackouts iPhone suffered significant shock from all the recruiter attention and has since been sent to a critical unit at Apple’s hospital (‘iCare – quality care to the core’).