‘I’ve got a degree in psychology – that definitely makes me a good choice.’
I was in the deep end at this assessment day. 59 people in a hall, the majority degree-educated – and then me.
It’s not like university wasn’t a viable choice for me at one point. After a gap year to take a breather from education, studying Sports Law seemed like a fitting next step. I’d always done well at school, and it’s been drilled into our generation that it’s natural to go to uni. School to sixth form to uni: that’s the way it works if you want to set yourself up for the best career.
The decision to do it differently was made after I did some serious thinking. We’re all egged on to go on to further education, it’s like a rite of passage – but was there a course I genuinely wanted to commit four years of my life to? Was it going to be worth it for me?
I mean, no.
That’s why I found myself at this sales assessment day in summer 2017.
The company were partnered up with loads of organisations that required junior sales people to join their ranks, and I’d worked my way up to business advisory at Vodafone through sixth form to now. I’d gone from small sales to advising senior clients for large business plans, and I’d even pursued Business Studies at A level – selling was already in my blood, and there’s no doubt I wanted more.
Aside from the team building and group work we were assessed on, I think the make-it-or-break-it moment for us was being asked to pitch ourselves for one minute to every company in attendance.
You can’t sell anything if you can’t sell yourself first, right?
Almost everyone’s go to when asked what made them sales material was to lean on their degree (apart from one person, who genuinely made a joke about working at McDonald’s and once upselling onion rings). It’s when I heard this same uni story again and again and again that I realised you couldn’t lean on a degree to get you by in these instances, else you’d just blend in.
Blending in is the worst thing you want to do when you’re looking for the best career – that’s why when it was my turn, I built my introduction on relevant experience and a fun fact that ensured I was on the radar (when you tell a room ‘I have a travel pillow signed by Ronaldo’, you would be).
On paper, I was the most average person in the room. Out here in the open, I stood out.
Which is why I was one of the remaining five at the end of the day.
Three companies wanted to have a chat with me. Two were fronted by professional and proper individuals who pitched the usual to me. One of them was represented by two guys dressed more casually than the rest.
Who were they? Orama, unsurprisingly.
I made sure I stood out, and so did they. Sam and Paul were approachable, not superior. They took an interest in me and not just what I could do for them.
Whereas every other company was selling the standard, Orama’s selling point was their difference – they didn’t probe my CV, it wasn’t a crime to crack jokes with them and they weren’t in miraculously creaseless formalwear.
I even did my final interview in swimming shorts (Calvin Klein, though) after Sam messaged me the day before: ‘we don’t do suits’.
I wouldn’t have dared do the same with other companies. But I’ve learnt more and more since joining Orama that, to us, it’s not about what your CV says, or your shoes or your shirt – it’s about what you have to say for yourself, about how you present yourself minus the superficial.
I cancelled the rest of my interviews. Taking a job at Orama was a no-brainer.
Looking at different agencies in our sector, what drew me here was hands down the transparency that the entire business is built upon. Anywhere else, it’s about grades, looks and corporate carbon copies as much as it is doing the job. Orama Solutions is beyond the appearances usual agencies are defined by – and we work harder than anyone else because of it.
I thought recruitment was more about looking the part, than being the part.
Not at Orama.