If I dyed my hair bright green and wore a t-shirt that said ‘I’m sexually attracted to bees’, you can bet that any recruitment consultant will still forget me the second I walk out of their office. They’re an odd breed, recruitment consultants. They are, of course, sales people who are paid commission to flog a commodity except in their case, the commidity is people. It’s like human trafficking without the sweaty lorry rides and fake passports.
The problem with this of course, is that humans are different. Vastly different. A recruitment consultant’s commodity never remains the same, therefore what choice does Kayley/Bernie/Odette/Melissa/Kanga have but to treat us as the same person with a variety of slightly different heads? The best course of action for any recruitment consultant worth her acrylic nails is to cross her fingers and hope to God she gets your name right.
“Hi daaaaarling! It’s Juicy from PA Pimps, I’ve got an AMAZING role I need to run by you.” It may well be an amazing role, Juicy, but it’s probably not the role for me, is it? For example, I specified a small agency based in the West End of London, relaxed environment and definitely nowhere corporate. The call I got this morning was telling me about a lovely role 3 miles north of the West End in the corporate office of major retailer. Why do we sit in interviews with these people, glassy smiles on our faces and bile in our gullet, pouring our hearts out about our ‘ideal working environment’ if they choose to hear what they like (or what they can through their overstyled hairdo’s).
Well, it’s because unfortunately, the London job market is as cut throat as a pirate who’s just lost a game of ‘Who’s Best At Throat Cutting?’ and is in a bit of a stabby mood. If you’re not represented by Tinky/Carynata/Lupey then generally you’re no one. Especially if you’re a PA. PAs and EAs (Executive Assistant – conjures up an image of handjobs under the desk for me, not sure why) are ten a penny. Not good ones, I hasten to add, a genuinely good PA is hard to find in a sea of bored pretenders. Ask any ‘career’ PA what her background is and you’ll normally get the same answer: Didn’t go to uni (or did but did a pointless degree like History of Basket Weaving), fell into a reception/admin/team assistant role and rose through the ranks to the heady heights of PA to middle management, then senior management and then if you’re exceptionally good at diary management and hiding your real personality in the workplace, a board level director. No one grows up wanting to be a PA. When I was asked at primary school what I wanted to be, I knew I wanted to be a journalist, but couldn’t spell it so I wrote ‘pop star’, like every other girl in my glass. When I finally did tell a teacher I wanted to be a journalist, she looked as though I’d presented her with one of my turds and then said ‘Oh you don’t want to do that! Ghastly profession.’ I believed her and I am not a journalist (totally her fault, of course). I coasted through school and hated the few months I spent at college so what was left for me? A life on the shop floor of Dolcis, later on Office or even (gasp) Russell & Bromley, or typing and answering the phone in an office where people go to the pub at lunch time and you don’t have to touch anyone’s feet? Obvious choice.
So if that’s the path onto which you’ve stumbled, you need a recruitment consultant, or preferably several, in your life. They are a necessary evil because generally, good companies don’t advertise their jobs on Gumtree or in the local paper. In fact unless you’ve registered with a few agencies, you’d think the whole of London was on a recruitment freeze except for bars and restaurants. The problems with consultants arise when their commodity turns against them. If you dare to hint that perhaps the role paying £10k a year less than your old Saturday job, based fifteen miles away on the bus, working for a vivisectionist doesn’t quite match your original criteria, you’re immediately blacklisted as a trouble-maker and your CV is stuffed in the filing cabinet under ‘Difficult’. So along you trudge to pointless interview after pointless interview simply to appease Meringue/Starrrr/Polyp so they’ll keep you at the top of the pile for when/if the right job does finally come in.
Job hunting is a souless, competitive, joyless task but what’s the alternative? A life spent on the sofa, drinking yourself to death watching Jeremy Kyle and scratching yourself, wondering at what point you forgot how to spell ‘Strongbow’, or fake smiles and air-kissing with Jocasta, Yappy and Blossom until they finally come through with a rent-paying job? No contest. If you’re seriously thinking about that question by the way, I’d switch from Strongbow to White Lightning; it’s cheaper.