Reasons To Be Cheerful #49: Jobs I Didn’t Get

3 Sep

Avid readers of this blog will know a little something of my career woes, which have previously been compared to waterboarding. Well this week, after another patronising and meaningless addition to the inbox folder marked ‘career’ I got to thinking about the narrow escapes I have made during my relatively short working life. The ones that got away, if you will. Here’s a choice selection.

1. The Racist One

I’m naturally wary about using this volatile term as noone wants to be a parody of Ali G, but at least three white people I know thought this particular incident was racist, so I’m gonna go ahead and type it. After being successful in the first phase of an application (you know, the bit which normally leads to an actual real life interview) with a fitness fashion company, I was required to do no less than three writing tasks. One of these was to be in the style of ‘our founder, Tara*’ (*not her real name). Tara Double-Barrel it turned out, was looked up to as some kind of deity in the fashion of dear leader Kim Jong Il (RIP). I’m unsure why, as what I read of hers was tantamount to Sloane piss shaped into legible letters, but there you go. Anyway, after at least four hours spent on said tasks, I was rewarded with the following response:

“We enjoyed reading your task, unfortunately however you have been unsuccessful on this occasion. We are looking for something incredibly specific, a tone of voice that is ultimately of our founder, Tara*, and brings out her British personality.”

Even discounting the general grammatical errors in this response, I had to say that I was flummoxed. If Tara was the benchmark of the ‘British personality’ then I  had clearly been living in some kind of dreamworld for the past 26 years. I suppose I just don’t ‘get’ the ‘British personality’. More fool me eh.

Our founder, Tara

‘Our founder, Tara’

2. The Green One

After my obligatory post-uni travels I returned home jobless, penniless and on the hunt for an internship. After a few months I did the whole ‘bus thing’ and a few offers came along at once. One of these offers was from a small environmental publishing company. I’d got through the interview by falsifying green credentials and talking about how much I loved the Guardian (actually true). In the end, I had to renege on my acceptance of this three-month part-time unpaid (that’s THREE negatives) position as I had been offered a full-time paid position. The bosses were less than happy and I got a stroppy email. Looking back, I’m pretty sure it was a lucky escape from three months of contrived do-gooding.

Missed opportunities?

Missed opportunities?

3. The Token One

One of the other ‘buses’ that came along around the time of the green publishing company, was a communications internship with the Portishead police force. Despite being nearly half an hour late for the interview, I seemed to be something of a hit with the detective superintendent that interviewed me. He made constant references to Raj, his previous intern and also let me know that he had a very clever daughter-in-law – black – who was a lawyer. He seemed a nice sort, but I think he saw me as the new Raj. Tokenism isn’t generally for me, but when push came to shove I had to turn it down because nice detective wasn’t entirely sure if the whole scheme might not get pulled. Cheers.

I, Token

I, Token

4. The Soul Destroying One

Strictly speaking, this one is a job I didn’t keep. In a standard post-uni left turn, I somehow landed myself a sales job the first summer after graduating. This was all out, balls deep, bell-ringing, lunchtime coke-snorting, tacky-suited, sweaty, hideous sales. It was not for me. But somehow, during a recruitment process that was actually described to me as being ‘like The Apprentice’, I was flattered and fooled into believing that I could be one of those people. A sales person. Eurgh. The office’s central walkway was proudly called ‘pitching alley’, I was selling a ‘summit’ that cost around £20,000 and specialising in ‘Business Intelligence’. To this day, I do not know what that term means and I’m even less sure of what justified the use of the term ‘summit’ over conference. What’s more, I was encouraged to lie to scary, snooty PAs in order to get through to their bosses: the much vaunted ‘C level execs’. Never take no for an answer, never put down the phone. It was horrendous. I lasted five weeks and noone was surprised to see me go. A particular low point was one of the bosses telling a racist joke when he took my team out for lunch. There was also the time that he strode towards me, saying loudly ‘Lucie, you’re doing GREAT and I KNOW that you’re going to make a sale this week’. He had clearly learnt my name just to deliver this confidence-building line. Shame he couldn’t see me at lunch the next day.

Since when is this a positive prospect?

Since when is this a positive prospect?

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: If I wasn’t so precious about my soul I’d surely be a lot richer)

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