Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Corporate Musings: The Job Switch

                          Corporate Musings: The Job Switch

The Messiah was yet to call me. What started as a wish had turned to sheer desperation in the last couple of months. I knew to earn a call would require tremendous dedication. A call from the Messiah required a pot full of luck as well. I waited. And continued waiting.

The Preparation

I tailored my Resume with finesse. It contained everything - right from being the "bench leader" in Class 5, developing my capabilities to become a "class monitor" in Class 10 ( a demonstration of leadership qualities you see). I prepared lengthy justifications for why my scores fell by ten percent at each level of education.

Days were spent on SWOT analyses that I did and re-did. The tricky part was looking up phrases to fit the scenario. I just couldn't exclude "Ability to think on my feet" and "Not get bogged down by failure". The weaknesses were more interesting. I said "I've not honed my planning skills to the extent I'd like as I'm so good at thinking on my feet". I could remember one of my more experienced friends telling me "The interviewer must feel your weakness is a strength in disguise". (Whatever that meant!)Till then, I was happy stating "I'm a little lazy" and "I lack planning skills" in the face of the interviewer.

The biggest dilemma was whether to include an objective statement or not. Google had hordes which invariably started with "To be a part of an organization which provides me an opportunity to...." and later the statements lost me on management jargon. Given a chance I'd have stated "To quit my manager here and move to a different one...and over a period of time quit that guy as well" Somehow, it was always employee versus manager. May be my manager felt the same way too. I decided to discard the objective statement anyway. It would take a lot of explaining.

The Application was the first destination ofcourse. I entered  keywords even remotely connected with my
 aspirations and uploaded my Resume. And started hoping. I was under this presumption that the moment I upload my Resume, job offers would flood my inbox. It didn't happen that way. I started hitting the "Apply" button on every job that showed up. Initially it was excitement, later a habit and a month down the line, sheer desperation and frenzy.

I diversified my search. Appealed to the entire job portal community to get me a response.  A phone call. Then came the reference part. I texted long lost friends, who never figured in my day to day thoughts or communication. The recipient of the call generally recognized the purpose of my call within a minute. It took a lot of effort to show them I was genuinely concerned about what they were up to in life. (which was never my intention in the first place). As the search reached fever pitch, I wouldn't bother with the diplomacy. After a greeting, I'd jump straight to asking a reference...and the call would end in a minute. I lost my respect, but somewhere I was sure they'd remember the desperate job seeker even if there was a remote chance.

In the meanwhile, I started getting active on something called was not social networks anymore. I'd prefer the "professional network". I pinged a few faithful friends for a testimonial, made a list of skills I'd acquired (starting from Excel and Powerpoint) and updated my profile - a skill a day-so I'd trend all the time on my network. Then came the "Please review my profile" exercise. I'd like posts from HRs and say "Please review my profile" somehow hopeful the HR would notice my profile amongst a couple of thousand likes and comments. And then I'd follow CEOs and COOs to say "This trend you're talking about is a manifestation of the disruptive advances in the industry which preclude development in the long run but can lead to short term capital gain without impacting the market share and consumer preferences" Trust me, I was just there to attract the attention of those big guys.

I did receive a couple of calls. But the telephonic interviewer always would stump me. "Why do you want to leave the brand so soon?". And when faced with someone who actually asked the question, I was speechless. My heart would yell out the true reasons, which were entirely personal. Yet I would blabber some management crap, which never convinced me, let alone the interviewer. I'd sincerely go back home and refine the reasons. I'd convince myself that I wanted to move out for genuine professional reasons...and personal reasons were always secondary. Though I always knew the truth.

The Deliverance

Messiah finally called me. It was four months into the search and only I knew the rising anticipation in the morning and the sinking disappointment in the night.

The job opening had almost everything I was looking for. I noticed that a grade point lesser and I'd never have been considered. "Providence" I told myself. This was probably the most realistic chance in the 4 months. It was back to the drawing board. Back to the fine tuning key skills on the Resume and brushing up aptitude for an online test.

I cleared the test and waited for the dreaded telephonic interview. "So why do you want to leave the brand so soon?" And for once, I was honest...or nearly honest. At the end of five minutes, Messiah only said "We'll let you know".

The "We'll let you know" hung there a couple of days. It then was a week. Was he not the Messiah after all? I wondered many times. And then the mail arrived. Inviting me for a day long process at the company office. It triggered a new set of problems. Right from sneaking in that "sick leave" to attend the process to shelling out a bomb to book flight tickets at a short notice. "Is the offer worth the effort?" I asked myself. I'd have to compete with people I'd never beaten - from places whose names were intimidating on paper. And then the Messiah's voice echoed through the darkness "You have nothing to lose my Son". I made my decision.

The D-day dawned. There I was, in front of a mirror in the restroom of the company office. I had recently read about self talk and affirmations. "You can do it" I told that me in the mirror. "You have to" punching the air with my fist . I noticed an other candidate entering the restroom, smirking. He probably overheard me. The self talk ended there.

From then on, the day was a blur. There were times when I had to summon the last ounce of energy to make myself heard at the group discussion. I also had to be at my creative best to conjure up instances to demonstrate the behavioural traits I claimed I had. All this while continuously sizing up the fellow candidates who, I'm sure, had got this opportunity after their journey between anticipation and desperation.

It was nearly evening when the peon finally said "The Messiah will see you now". This was the moment I was waiting for. It meant I was at the final step after crossing all those obstacles, hopes and disappointments in the last few months. I had to just ensure that this was not an other case of so near yet so far.....

I entered his room and the Messiah asked me to sit. He glanced through my Resume for a formality and then  looked at me. Something said he was reading more from my eyes and face.
"So...tell me about yourself" he asked. I started off with the well rehearsed answer which I'd memorized months ago. But he was never bothered in rhetoric. He cut me three sentences into the answer.
From then on, the interview was in a different trajectory altogether.
He needled me personally, probed areas of my life which I never thought were topics of discussion in an interview. I was visibly agitated. "Why are you so flustered?" he asked, with a piercing look, clearly enjoying the stress he was building on me.
Was the Messiah supposed to be that inconsiderate? At this rate, I knew I was headed only one way-out of the door. And then came those bouncers "How can I be sure you'll stick to this company, you seem to have a tendency to switch?" "What are your weaknesses?" "What are you doing to overcome them?" No amount of preparation helps under those circumstances. My mind was like an open book to him. He deliberately put me under pressure to see how I react. And I was reacting terribly ofcourse. All my answers were top of mind - there was no thought behind those answers - and hence there were absolutely genuine. Towards the end, he merely said "You are too impulsive." My mind blanked out at the statement. It was a quality someone else had pointed out a couple of years earlier. I had lost something big at the time too.
The Epilogue....Or Prologue?

It turned out that the Messiah liked me. Somehow, my efforts had paid off. I didn't know what he liked. Was it my earnestness...or my forced integrity...or my impulsive answers that bordered on aggression? Or was it just his instinct that I might do well? (In which case I still have a long way to go) Or did I happen to be at the right place at the right time? I still keep pondering about all this, even as I receive calls from friends now who want to switch and ask me how to go about it. (Life comes a full circle see).

The honeymoon has now ended and I've discovered the organisation isn't perfect as well. I've kind of started to appreciate the beauty of imperfection. (In case the Messiah comes across this piece). And I always wonder where my next Messiah is going to come from!

                                                                                                    - 30th March 2016

A job switch is commonplace. Retold here with drama and creative liberty.

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