Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The devil made me do it

I was number 666.

During a single afternoon, 665 job-seekers managed to find the ad before me. The counter on the online posting told me so, and awakened the little devil on my shoulder.

As a new Canadian immigrant in London, vying against thousands of other PR consultants amid Credit Crunch hysteria, growing nationalism and massive job cuts, I've begun to wonder if I might need to sell my soul for employment. It's less messy than selling a kidney for rent. But I've already tried going corporate – trading my soul for a security card and cubicle – only to find myself, 4 months later, backpacking through Central America in search of it again.

This time, I decided to take a different kind of risk. This time, I'd run with the devil in my cover letter:
Although I was the 666th person to view your ad, I'll not be deterred. Not odds nor omen are any real match for the right candidate.
After attaching my CV, I hit SEND and laughed to myself. I knew I wouldn't get the job, but having written no fewer than 50 cover letters in recent weeks, it was fun to change things up a little. Besides, I wouldn't want to work for anyone who doesn't think I'm at least a little bit hilarious.

Two days later, I received an email. Of more than 300 applicants, I'd been selected as one of 10 to grill for ideas. I whipped up (read: sweat out) a proposal. I knew I wouldn't get the job, but having been out of work for a month already, it was nice to write something other than applications.

The next day, my potential employer asked me to come in for an interview. A motivational speaker first, he's now an extremely high-energy and successful all-rounder, writing books, making a documentary, and aiming really, really high.

He asked questions like, "What are three things you'll do that will frustrate me?" And, "What would you rather be doing with your life?"

And said things like, "Are you always like this?"
And, "I'd rather be a travel writer."

We joked a bit, fought to be heard, talked over each other, and then it was time for me to go. I had no idea how it had gone, but when I passed by the next candidate in the hallway, impeccably dressed, in a power suit with her hair pulled back tight, I knew he was about to make her head explode.

On Saturday, even with more candidates to interview, he declared me a finalist – one of three. Right now, I'm supposed to be reviewing a brief to discuss with him tomorrow.

I know I won't get the job, but ... but I just might.

If I don't, I'm going to ask Satan to hook me up with a couple of plane tickets to Thailand. He prefers hot places and, honestly, so do I.

That's me really happy on a beach nearer to the equator than I am now.


SLICE magazine said...

Love the blog.

(I would say growing nationalism in the UK is an understatement) some Canadian and Aussie friends of mine were turned away at the border, out of fear that they had come to work illegally. (They were back packers).

Wes said...

Congrats! I have always wanted to write more casual cover letters, but everything I read online suggest sticking to a strict format. Could Google actually be wrong?

Kate Savage said...

SLICE - Hey thanks! Wanna publish me? What? It's worth a try.

When were your friends turned away? That's terrifying! I'll admit I was nervous when I entered, having heard some horror stories!

Wes - If it's not worth writing about, it's not worth doing. Or, something like that. What am I talking about? I am just destined for the unconventional.

Mr London Street said...

I work for someone who finds me less than hilarious. He is clearly an android though and wears a bluetooth headset without a shred of irony. So basically I win.

Un-Bob said...

I would think in your line of work, a joke such as yours would demonstrate an ability and willingness to get yourself noticed. And that is part of what you do, right?

An old roommate who worked in market for a big company was impressed when a potential candidate sent him a decorated cake. I don't recall what was on the cake, just that he was impressed. Me, I'd have had the thing tested for explosives or at the very least rat poison. But marketing people live by different standards, I guess.

When you're up against a dozen, qualifications come first. When you're up against hundreds, you need to get them to even LOOK at your qualifications. After the first twenty or so resumes, eyes glaze over and the coffee loses its effectiveness.

And if you're responding to gigs listed on Craig's List? You'd better be first. And follow instructions. I got one follow-up email during one job search purely because I followed instructions. Apparently eighty-bazillion morons just blanket the web with their resumes, not even limiting their barrage to jobs they're qualified for. So you've gotta rise above that as well.

Blah blah blah. I got my last three jobs because of someone who already worked there. So what do I know?

i am playing outside said...

you sound pretty close to getting it. i'm thinking good thoughts for you! good luck!

I'm Kate... said...

Don't worry.... you got the job. I can feel it. :) Sounds like he's looking for personality along with qualification. Therefore - its in the bag! :)

Lisa said...

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you :)
I always wondered if it were possible to find a job where one didn't have to subdue their personality and become an automaton just to get in. I really hope you get this job, because it will give me a faint glimmer of hope :)

Un-Bob said...

Has said potential boss seen your socks?

wyliekat said...


Sometimes, taking the risks and being a bit cheeky in the right spots can really help. I'm so glad that you've made at least some progress on the job front - gives you the sense that it's not all hopeless, yes?

Fingers crossed for you.

Kate Savage said...

Mr London Street - You SO win. And be glad he's an android and not a zombie. While neither has any sort of joie-de-vivre, zombies can really stink up the office.

Un-Bob - I can think of a lot of things I could do to get noticed, and the line between acceptable and unacceptable is blurring. If it's allowed on prime time TV...wait. That could be dangerous.

i am playing outside - And now, I think I really want it. I couldn't sleep last night thinking about it, and it was top of mind this morning!

I'm Kate - Thanks man! I am still holding my breath. Hopefully, I'll find out this Friday. Yikes! Wow. I got myself all worked up.

Lisa - It better be possible. My only other option is becoming a tour guide, or selling drip coffee on the beaches of ... anywhere. THAT is how I am going to retire. The goods news is, the guy I hope to be working for teaches companies how to NOT turn employees into automatons. That's his mission.

Un-Bob - While I did break some interview convention, I kept my shoes on.

wyliekat - Exactly. If nothing else, I no longer feel hopeless. Actually, his positive thinking really rubbed off on me, and I am feeling more like myself than I have since hitting British shores.

Oh, and about 'strategic cheekiness', I'll be using it again.

wyliekat said...

Risk nothing, get nothing. A little strategic cheekiness with the right person can make all the difference.

Kate Savage said...

wyliekat - Like Carlo the Venetian!

Fuzzy said...

Congratulations!! It did seem in the bag, from what you wrote.

Kenneth and I and his family are coming to London April 23-26 for his birthday. No pressure, but if you feel like meeting up, send me an email.