What makes me proud?

About a year ago I found myself in a desperate position. Things at work had taken a serious turn for the worse and I found myself in a position where I felt I had no choice but to find a new career.

After a couple of weeks of tentatively applying for a various positions that I was really nowhere near qualified for, I finally received a call from a company that looked fantastic. The role was in recruitment, a field that I felt I could master. Somehow I got through the initial phone call, despite having no idea who I was speaking to having sent out so many applications and CVs. Incredibly I was offered to take a phone interview the next day and managed to prepare myself well enough to get through sounding relatively knowledgeable about a role I knew nothing about.

At the end of the call I was told that I had passed and was invited to an open day as the final part of the process but that this event was not for another two months. Looking back now, what I did next was simply crazy.

I made the decision that I WAS getting this job and there was nothing in the world that could stop me. Time was on my side and I intended to use it. I learnt everything there was to know about the company to the point where I would comfortably beat their CEO on a quiz about his own business. There was no way they would say I had not prepared for this.

Next up I set about dealing with my lack of experience. I took a home course to the level that their own employees would take and became a qualified recruitment consultant even though the job required no experience, I knew this would make me stand out from the crowd on the day.

Now here is where it started to get a little bit silly. The company itself operated in recruiting professions in Oracle databases and to be honest I didn’t even know what that meant and realised that this was another obstacle in my way, so I did what any lunatic would do. I took another home learning course, this time on Oracle databases.

The simple problem here is that I do not even own a computer, let alone know how to use such complicated systems yet after dedicating my life to this course I somehow completed it. I now hold qualifications in Recruitment consultancy, HR management and Oracle databases and was starting to sound like the perfect candidate for the role after all.

I still had one more trick up my sleeve though. Having stalked followed almost all of their employees through LinkedIn to find all I could about their day to day operations I noticed that they generally all had hundreds of connections working roles within the fields they were recruiting for. I could match that.

I began adding connections from all over the world who specialise in anything that would be of interest to my future employer. By the time I had finished I had (and still do!) over 800 connections with all forms of IT skills but particularly knowledgeable on Specific databases.

I had certainly reached a point where even I realised this was a little extreme for an interview preparation but had become obsessed with the new role. I couldn’t wait any longer and things at my job were only getting worse so I called the company and asked if they had any positions that needed filling right away. They seemed to appreciate my eagerness and I was invited to come for an interview the very next day.

I spent the next 24 hours getting a haircut, buying a brand new suit and going over notes to ensure I could recite anything I had learnt under pressure. Then the moment came…

The interview was going relatively well. I had managed to show off as much of my hard work as possible and seemed to have the interviewer on my side until the question came “What are you most proud of in life?”

Now a little advice to anyone wanting to break into recruitment. The answer to this question should be either something financial or that shows your drive. My answer was simple and not what they wanted to hear. “My son.”

I told her all about how he was growing up and learning so quickly and the challenges that his Mother and I face every day with him, knowing in my head this was not what she was hoping for. The job was gone, the qualifications I now have are meaningless and it was back to square one.

The very next day I got in touch with a recruitment agency to help me find a new job. The irony that recruitment companies need to hire other recruitment agencies to fill their roles was not lost on me but I was running low on ideas.

The agent I spoke with asked me all about my interview and was sure that the family talk is where it all fell apart. He was brutally honest that these companies are looking for financially motivated and extroverted people rather than a family man. He managed to get me an interview with another company within a week and the cycle started again, this time without the crazy research stage.

Once again it was all going pretty well until that question came, “What are you most proud of?’ Of course I know the correct answer now so this is an easy one. I have managed huge businesses, broken sales records and organised spectacular events. Obviously I replied ‘My Son.’

I didn’t get that job either but I stayed true to myself. If ever anybody feels like asking me what makes me proud or for my greatest personal achievement, please be aware that you are opening yourself up to me telling you all about my little man whether you want to hear it or not.

Bridges can be repaired and I am still in the job I felt so desperate to leave at the time but now I am happy. The team I work with are fantastic and appreciate my circumstances and lifestyle. They know the importance of family to me and are just not stupid enough to ask me that silly question!

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