You’re Not the Boss of Me

I moved from Birmingham to London and started my current role in March 2016, working as a Marketing Exec for a medium-sized company. Now, I’ll be 100% honest with you, I took this job as I wanted to move to London and it was the first job that was offered to me, on a decent salary.

In the 1.5 years I have been here, I have endured three terrible managers, which has pushed me to start job hunting again – except this time, I know exactly what I’m looking for and I won’t settle for anything less. POW.

Getting back out there and actively looking for the perfect job has been really challenging. The process has really opened my eyes to the fact that many employers and recruiters are not welcoming. In fact, their total lack of professionalism is pushing good candidates away.

Here are some examples to explain what I mean:

Recruitment Agencies

  • One recruitment consultant asked me to come into the agency for an hour, to sign up. I asked to do this at either 8am or after 5pm so it doesn’t interfere with my working day. She confirmed Monday at 8am was fine. I turned up to find the office locked, and no answer when I phoned. The receptionist turned up after 10 minutes and called the consultant I had arranged to meet. Turns out, she had ‘diary problems’ and was still at home. She then had the nerve to tell me (via the receptionist) to “go over to Starbucks, grab breakfast and wait for an hour” until she gets into the office. I declined as I didn’t want to be late for work. I never heard from her again.
  • Another recruitment consultant emailed and asked when I could call her to discuss a role she had emailed me about. We arranged a call for 1pm the very same day. I spent 2 hours of work time researching the company and preparing to be grilled about my experience. At 1pm, I found a quiet corner, and gave her a call, just to be told by her colleague, “She must have forgotten, as she’s gone on her lunch break for an hour. Can you call back at 2pm?”. I ignored all her calls and emails after that, as she didn’t even apologise.
  • I spent 2 hours with one consultant at a marketing recruitment agency. I specified exactly what I was looking for, and the locations I was looking to work in (North and Central London – or anything within a 45-minute commute). He even emailed me a summary of what we had discussed, which I approved. He gave me a call a few days later and said he had the ‘perfect’ role for me. He spent 30 minutes explaining the role, the company, salary, and asking me loads of questions. I was quite excited by this point, actually. Then he slipped in that the commute is ‘only 1.5 hours each way and will involve 2 underground changes and a train, plus it’s an 8.30am start’. GOODBYE.
  • Same conversation as above, with another agency, for 30 minutes. Except this job was in a good location, just 4k less than I’m paid now (She knew my current salary). Seriously this is the nonsense I have been wasting my 30-minute lunch breaks on.
  • One agency were going to put me forward for a role, and they emailed me asking to provide a reference from my CURRENT employer. OK so I’ll just ask my MD to spend time writing a reference for me, for a job I probably won’t even get, shall I? Complete disregard of my privacy, and great way to get anyone fired. I declined, obviously, and they couldn’t take my application any further.

Employers

After being messed around by job agencies, I started applying directly to companies. I started getting quite a few interviews in. Result! However, I’ve found that employers are just as disorganised and weird.

  • One company held a phone interview, a one-to-one interview with the Marketing Manager, another one-to-one interview with the Marketing Manager and company CEO, and then informed me that I made it to the final stage – where I had to deliver a presentation to the CEO and 2 other directors. I wasn’t informed beforehand that the interview process was in four stages. Also, bear in mind that I had to make excuses to come in/leave work early, and I’m sure my manager thought I was dying as I was always at the ‘doctor’s’. Anyway, I turned up 15 mins early for my presentation (on a USB stick as I wasn’t told about what format they required.) They made me wait for 45 mins as one of the directors was late. No apology, either. I went in, expecting to plug in my USB. There were no laptops, no projectors, the room was a tip. They ran around for another 30 mins trying to locate a laptop and projector. They couldn’t. In the end, I used my own work laptop and they all huddled around my screen. They proceeded to tell me that the Marketing Manager was no longer with the company as she “had problems ”, while glancing at each other and sniggering. Not cool. It was a Friday evening, the presentation was scheduled for 6pm, yet I was still there past 8pm. Once it was done, I went to the loo – which was probably the dirtiest toilet I have ever seen. I didn’t use it. I also declined the job offer a week later – purely for the fact that they wasted my time, the toilets were rank and they generally came across as rude, unprofessional idiots.
  • In the space of one week, one employer changed my interview format twice (eg face to face or via Skype). My interview date and time were changed three times, the interview location changed three times, and the interviewee name was changed twice. Having changed my annual leave request a million times to make it to this interview, I got fed up and cancelled the whole thing without even giving the employer a reason. They didn’t deserve one.
  • I recently managed to get an 8am interview with one company, which I thought was ideal as I would probably get into work for 9.30am and wouldn’t need an excuse. I turned up early, they introduced me to the MD (it was mentioned in the confirmation email that the MD would be interviewing me). The MD explained that two team members would be interviewing me first, then another director, and then himself. GROAN. Each interview was around 45 minutes long and I had to answer the same questions three times to different sets of people, so I was absolutely exhausted by the end of it. Why not just sit in the same room for 40 minutes and get it over with, quickly and painlessly? Also, why was I not informed of the format of the interview beforehand, to at least allow me to plan my time at work? Why was there no consideration for my time and situation? Another one I declined. Unnecessarily long interviews, no information beforehand and no respect for the individual are severe turn-offs.
  • Another thing that really annoys me is that for most roles, you don’t really find out about company benefits until you accept the offer. Employers don’t realise that mentioning things like free lunches and on-site gym at interview can really sway people (especially skint Londoners) into saying yes.  It’s always been reiterated that asking about benefits and salary in a job interview is deemed inappropriate, but shouldn’t employers use the interview as an opportunity to sell the role? What differentiates them from other companies? What would make the candidate accept this role, and not another one? A lot of ads don’t even mention company benefits, so do we assume that there are none?
  • I recently passed a telephone interview, and attended a face-to-face interview for a large, well-known company (within their industry). It was in a huge building with many serviced offices inside. I was taken to a little meeting room by the reception area for my interview, which really irked me. I wanted to see the work environment, the people, and get a feel for the company culture. As one of my questions, I asked the director how he would describe the company culture. His reply was “Everyone is friendly, I guess. Our team just get on with things.” Right. So your JD specifies you want someone adaptable, a good fit for the team etc, but how will I know if the job is right FOR ME, without even getting a glimpse of what I would be expected to adapt to?

Yes, employers are interviewing candidates, but they need to bear in mind that the interview may be the candidate’s only real insight into the company – We are judging them just as much as they are judging us. The fact that they are offering a salary is, quite frankly, not enough.

It seems the majority of recruiters or employers are completely ignorant of the fact that although they may be offering a job and salary, successful candidates will be offering them around 40 hours of their week, their skills, their expertise, essentially a large chunk of their life. A candidate is expected to pull out all the stops and excel at a job interview, but is it too much to expect the same from the recruiter/employer? Say, for example, the candidate rearranged an interview 10 times, or turned up 45 minutes late, without an apology – they, most likely, would not get the job. So why should employers behave in that way and get the candidate?

In my case, I already have a job, so I have the luxury of only considering the roles that tick ALL of my boxes. I don’t NEED a new job, I just want one. However, in most cases, an employer NEEDS a new candidate.

Who is the one missing out here? Definitely not me.

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