‘Who’s your favourite off Love Island?’
Was this a trap? Was I in the wrong Costa?
Nope – this was my first ever introduction to recruitment.
Interviews aren’t new to me. I’ve had various ones throughout my life for a variety of jobs, and before this experience I’d assumed every process had the same lifeless rules to play to – talk about your brilliant grades, appear pristinely dressed, pass the online test and you’d be fine.
(Oh, and ten points every time you use the words ‘motivated’, ‘passionate’ and ‘punctual’.)
So when I met Paul and Sam at a coffee shop to interview for Orama Solutions, their instant deep dive into ITV2 trash telly had me lost for words to say the least.
A career in recruitment hadn’t ever really crossed my mind before I’d dropped them a LinkedIn message late one night. I’d been creative ever since I could remember, so naturally
I’d gone down the whole ‘do what you love’ route and chosen to study Visual Communications at Leeds School of Art.
Graphic design and photography all day sounded right up my street. Let me spare you a novel – it really wasn’t.
It was intense, the hours were long, the work was tough (and they say art students have it easy) and I realised after six stressful weeks that, actually, making your hobby a full-time thing was great for some but, for me, self-inflicted torture.
I went back home, and back to the local Waitrose, I was part-timing at before I left for university. There was clear progression and I knew I could rise high quickly – I was in a management position within two years. I didn’t think I wanted to be there for long, but ever get caught in a cycle so comfortable, a path laid out and everything, that you can’t help but just go with it?
Well, I’d been there five years before I could notice.
The progression opportunities were still enticing at this point. Everything else about my job was bogging me down. The hours were obscene as were the deliriously long shifts, which meant work-life balance was nowhere to be seen. Add that these hours were spent managing a team of 30 to the mix, and you’d be able to understand why the great responsibility teamed with the lack of escape meant something soon gave way.
I snapped. I threw in the towel. I handed in my notice the moment I realised I needed to go.
Not because I was giving up, but because I wanted something more, and I knew I was worth it. I wanted to be somewhere where I didn’t dread going into work. I wanted – and I know I’m going to sound unapologetically millennial here – a career that’d be challenging, but with added purpose. A career where passion came naturally (as did a healthy sleeping pattern).
As I said, my door into recruitment was a complete fluke. A friend’s husband was a recruiter himself and I looked to him for general advice, but he assumed I was considering a career to mirror his. One persuasive pitch later, I was typing ‘recruitment London’ into LinkedIn – no prizes for guessing which company’s internal vacancy was the first to appear on the page.
I’d heard about recruitment’s bad reputation, about how it was a ruthless industry to operate in. You can imagine my surprise, then, when the very first question I was asked by my current CEOs was a Love Island-themed one. The next one wasn’t one I was expected either. Neither was the one after that.
In hindsight, I can say that is Orama Solutions in a nutshell. I wasn’t being asked whether I had a degree. I wasn’t being asked to recite what I knew about the industry. I was being asked the unasked, the unexpected.
(Honestly, I barely heard an interview buzzword leave anyone’s mouth.)
This was the turning point. This was my in.
Because, within an hour or so, my preconceptions of recruitment at Orama had been totally deconstructed. An open, equal conversation between the three of us convinced me not only that Orama was the right place for me, but also that I was the right fit for them. There were no smoke and mirrors, no headache-inducing riddles to trip me up.
Coachability and determination were prized above knowledge, likeability above grades on a piece of paper. The team was young, the team was innovative, and these qualities haven’t been lost in the two years I’ve been here. We work with the world’s most in-demand technology start-ups, so I’m contributing to one of the most important causes on the planet (no pressure), but the incredibly relaxed environment means I’ve found something that I can genuinely be dedicated towards minus the stress flare-ups. And, even when the stress hits without warning, there are always people to help you regroup or a laugh to be found somewhere in the office.
I was challenged at university.
I was challenged after university.
And you better believe I’m challenged at Orama – except, here, it’s a different kind of challenge. It’s a challenge that breeds character, with an office full of like-minded people backing you to the end.
I thought recruitment would be a room full of lone wolves and conflict.
Not at Orama.