A friend saw the advertisement in The Times and immediately thought the role described fitted me like a glove. “Why don’t you send in your CV?” Certainly on closer inspection the words in the advertisement rang bells – out came the highlighter to mark those important ones for the covering letter. How to make that all-important covering letter interesting? How to entice the reader, maybe a screening administrator with a list of prerequisites, to say “We must see this person.”? I avoided the trap of too many sentences beginning with ‘I’, confined it to three paragraphs so it was easy to assimilate, answered/highlighted all the relevant pieces from the advertisement, and enclosed my CV as requested. I even remembered to put the reference number on the envelope and sent it off before the July closing deadline – I probably kissed the envelope for good luck before popping it into the letterbox!
At least I received an acknowledgement – maybe an advantage of the recruitment being conducted by the company themselves. Three weeks went by; why is it that company timescales are so long, one’s own so short? A letter on the mat, the company name clearly visible. The heart flutters, the adrenaline flows – do they want to see me? Open: YES! How easy to get excited – the invitation to an interview, at the anonymous IOD. Panic; hastily read all the notes on good interviews, prepare a few answers to the tricky questions, above all clean shoes, carefully chosen shirt and tie, clean fingernails, plan the journey time, allow an extra bit, swallow hard.
The waiting room, a look around at the other applicants; how do I seem, and what impression am I making? On time, into the interview; nothing too hard, out in an hour – “We will let you know, but it will not be for at least a week.” I wrote the mandatory ‘Thank You’ letter, underlining my good points and enthusiasm for the appointment. Time passed. “They want to see you again” – the fax from home instructing me to telephone to arrange the time – early or late! This time a meeting with a Director, another ‘Thank You’ letter, two weeks later another interview, this time with the Managing Director, another ‘Thank You’ letter, more reinforcing, more passion; each time believing that I really was what they wanted. Interestingly, one question which caused a momentary pause before answering was: “And what books have shaped your outlook and philosophy?” – is it best to be truthful and say Jilly Cooper and Winnie-The-Pooh, or try Tom Peters and Charles Handy? Who knows; personally I believe honesty will always win.
I tried not to hassle them between these moments of action, no telephoning. Oh! The tension. Then another meeting, the last I was told, with two managers. Looking back, this was where it went wrong; I could do what they did and more, do what the MD did in terms of business development, what those two did not do. This was where the advertisement was screwed up, the goal posts moved. Another 7 days passed before I managed to extract the decision, another 3 days before the official letter – 14 weeks in total.
Looking back, one always grows from any experience, the realisation one is not a bad person for not being selected, it is just I was not the right person at this particular time. Interesting, I know one of the people the company selected; they are a great friend. Without detracting in any way from their strengths, if the company wanted them, I was never going to be chosen, as we are very different – complimentary but different!
One final thought. Sometimes appointments appear to have one’s name on them, and you pursue them in isolation, forgetting that the reason you are doing so is tied up with dissatisfaction in your current role. If this is the case, all options must be looked at and explored as, if the one you want did not have your name on it, you need other irons in the fire!