We’ve all had those interviews and those managers which stick in our mind, never to be forgotten, have you ever wondered if you are one of those, and if so, if you were seen in a positive or a negative light? If you knew it was the latter, would it bother you, would you change your behaviour?
Arriving in London in my early 20’s, and I had something to prove, prove to myself, to my family, and to everyone who said I wouldn’t last more than a week. Coming from a small town in Somerset, and with minimal qualifications and experience, I had never been to London, let alone lived or worked there, but I knew I could do it, I knew I was capable.
I registered with a few recruitment agencies and started attending interviews within the corporate world, in huge buildings taller than I had ever seen before. Agency interviews, telephone interviews prior to being put forward for a role, and then interviews with the Hiring Manager of the company itself, they seemed never ending. I can still remember every single interviewer who cross examined me on my lack of qualifications, and every single interviewer who knocked my confidence during the interview.
They were ruthless, and I had debated moving back to Somerset on more than one occasion. I felt like London was chewing me up and spitting me out, and felt that maybe I had been naïve to think that I could secure a role with no prior corporate experience. The agency decided I should look at temporary positions in order to grow my experience and my CV, and this was the route I chose to take.
Within every role I can remember every boss who made me feel insignificant, who raised their voice even when I was right, and every boss who spoke down to me, and made me feel worthless. All of these people played a part in my life story, my experience, and in my journey. The French MD who screamed and never talked, who would travel around the world and phone me at all hours demanding to know where her driver was. He, the Driver, would always be where he should have been, she however would always be somewhere else, usually shopping.
The Australian MD who refused to call me by name, and referred to me as “Sprat”, and enjoyed doing this, especially around her friends who regularly arrived unannounced into the office. Sending me out for their coffee, to drop off her dry cleaning, and to source lunch for them all.
I then also remember the fantastic Israeli MD who always said please and thank you, and recognised the extra hours I clocked up, so sent me home early whenever possible. He always returned from his travels with some chocolate or small gift to thank me for ensuring his extensive travel requirements were met. The Swiss MD who was genuinely interested in me, asked after my family, and never raised his voice, a real softie, and old enough to be my Grandfather.
Each one of these people influenced where I went next, the roles I then ruled out, and the departments and investment banks I chose not to work in again. However, with all of the above experiences, good and bad, and all of those which I haven’t mentioned, they all had one thing in common…
When the roles came to an end, and I asked each one of them for a reference, they all had nothing but praise and compliments both for my work, but also for my professionalism. This alone made me realise that not only was I capable of doing these roles, but also that I was clearly creating a great impression, little old me from Somerset.
I couldn’t wait for my contract with the French MD to end, and was taken aback when she asked me not to leave, and offered me a permanent position. Although the salary offered was tempting, being happy at work came first, and this role had not been making me happy. I always made sure however that I completed every contract, and always gave 100%, these roles were ultimately benefitting me, and my CV was looking great!
In life I always advise to take a positive from each experience, and to not take things personally. I realised that the bad behaviour of some of these people was not a reflection of my work, and that this was just how they treated all of their assistants. Life is about learning and growing, growing into the person you wish to become. I knew that I didn’t want to treat people the way I had been treated on occasions, so not only did I learn a great lesson, these roles actually toughened me up.
Never let anyone knock your confidence, and always believe in your ability. Know your worth, and never lower yourself to being a person you don’t like. Always follow your dreams, yes it was scary, but I am so glad I never gave up in London. I did it, I survived, and looking back at my CV, I can’t believe I worked at some of those amazing companies.
Never give someone the power to define your future, imagine those references and the difficulty of securing further work, if I had chosen to react differently to any of the above. I remember every role, and every boss, and I am now one of those people myself. I know that I’m remembered for the right reasons, and I still receive lovely messages from previous team members even now.
I always say that people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses, so always show respect to everyone, not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours. In a world where we should be anything, more than ever, be kind.