Hi! And welcome to today’s show.
We’re going to play a fun game, it’s called, ‘Spot the Bullshit’.
Your job? Keep an eye out for any pesky bullshit.
I walked into the office, cringing at the stained carpet and dreary looking windows, before plastering a smile onto my face and saying, “Hey, I’m Tony. It’s my first day.”
The receptionist gives a scathing look.
Ooooh, she looks pissed.
“Can you help me? I was told to ask for the Office Manager when I got here.”
The receptionist rolled her eyes. “Yeah, the office manager quit.”
“Oh, ah, I didn’t know that.”
Shit. That would have been nice to know before I accepted the job. “Well, who would be the next best person for me to talk to?” I asked.
The receptionist rolled her eyes again but gestured gallantly to herself.
Oh, fantastic. “Ah, okay. Can you show me where I’m supposed to sit?”
“And how am I supposed to know where you’re sitting? I didn’t even know you were starting today.”
As you can see, our first scenario featured Tony, an unsuspecting new employee who’s turned up to work on his first day, only to find a snooty receptionist and what has the makings of a spectacularly unhappy place to work.
“Hello, Annie? This is Kendra calling, from XYZ Recruitment. Great news, we’ve found you a temporary role. It’s for a bank, close to public transport, in a great location, and starts tomorrow. You’ll need to be there at 8am, I’m sending you through the details now, just follow the instructions and I’ll give you a call tomorrow to see how your first day goes. Okay bye!”
I snapped my mouth shut as the phone went dead.
“Ohhhhhhkay,” I breathed into the receiver, all the questions I had dying in my throat.
Not a second later, the phone pinged.
An email titled ‘Confirmation of Temporary Job Brief” popped up. Half the information wasn’t filled in. All it said was wear professional dress, and gave the address of where the job was, and who I was supposed to ask for.
Well, at least it’s a job! How bad can it be?
Fast forward 24 hours >>>>>
I looked down at my pencil skirt, blazer and heels and then back up again at the abandoned looking warehouse that matched the address I was given.
It was 7:55, and I’d been walking for 20 minutes through an industrial park, my hair was a mess, I was pretty sure my foot was bleeding, and my phone had zero data because I’d used it all trying to find this bloody place.
Hobbling up to the door, I knocked, only to find the bottom floor of the warehouse showcasing used cars. I’ve got to be in the wrong place…. I thought, knocking again. I could see a guy in the corner trying to ignore me. I waved to him, and he came over, looked me up and down, and told me I had the wrong address.
I pointed to the address, and he grunted, “Oh. You’re for the bank,” he pointed to a dimly lit staircase, “no one else is here yet. Just wait upstairs.”
The f*** am I doing here…I thought as I walked up the dark stairs.
And there we have Annie, the darling temp caught between a recruiter’s margins and what could very well be the start to slasher movie.
It was 9am, and I snapped a photo at the self-check-in, trying to smile despite my nerves. The machine beeped at me, spitting out what looked to be a visitor pass with a cheesy picture of me, front and centre.
Minutes later, my new manager comes down, gives a big smile, and says, “Welcome to the team! I’ll show you where we are.”
He led me through the office and to the second floor, to a cute little desk setup that had a water bottle, T shirt, and notebook on the top. I couldn’t help it, I was impressed.
“So, here you are! Induction sheet is this one,” he said, holding up a sheet of paper, “I’ve started sending your clients emails, so you’ve got some stuff to action there, but just start working your way through all this and let me know if you have any questions.”
Wait, work through what? I thought, as my enthusiasm dimmed.
“Hey super awesome team!” he boomed to the people scattered around at their desks, “This is Alicia! Make sure she feels welcome.”
Then he walked away, sat at his desk and put on headphones, not making eye contact with anyone. I read the sheet of paper, which I assumed was some kind of training schedule, with what looked to be a bunch of hyperlinks at the bottom.
Hyperlinks are super useful on a hard copy piece of paper.
“Hey,” I started, “can we back up a step? What should I start with?”
He took one headphone out, “Huh?”
Ah. Doesn’t like questions. Good to know.
“Where do I start?” I asked. “This paper doesn’t really tell me what to do first…”
“Just follow the sheet and let me know if you have questions!” he said in a tone that sounded like it should be used for children. “Start at the beginning.”
I looked down to the sheet. There weren’t any numbers, or dates, or even days of the week, just a long list of things which had no context, just scattered words like “internal servers” and “calendar management” and “client research”.
Maybe it was my bewildered face, but one of the other girls on the team piped up and said, “Start with your computer stuff, then the paper will make more sense.”
“But…” I started, then she too put on headphones and went back to work.
Guess this is going to be one of those ‘sink or swim’ type jobs…
Alicia, stepping into a steaming pile of ‘my manager doesn’t care or know enough to teach me’ was up for our third scenario, leaving only the lucky last.
I showed up to the job, and was met by a gruff site manager, “You one of the temps?” he asked.
“Good. See those guys?” he pointed to a group of three hovering around a big pile of debris. “Go do what they’re doing.”
Allllllllright-y then. I walked over to them, watched them for a bit, and then started working, following their lead and doing what they were doing. We’d had a good day, and probably only had a few hours left when the site manager came over,
“Yeah, we don’t need you,” he pointed to me “anymore, we’re all sorted for help. You can head on home.”
“Oh, the recruiter –“
“Yeah, don’t worry about them, we already spoke to them. Told them you were finishing up and that we didn’t need any help from here on out.”
Oh. “Oh, okay,” I said, totally unsure of what was happening. “You don’t need me to do anything else?”
“Nope, go head and hit the road.”
So I did, I left. On the way home I called the recruiter and told them what happened.
“Oh, don’t worry about that. They called just after you left, said they needed you back tomorrow.” She breezed.
“Are you sure?” I questioned. “The guy explicitly said they didn’t need me –“
“Positive, just turn up at the same time tomorrow,” she said.
“You’re going to turn up tomorrow, right?” she asked.
“I mean, if they need me, of course.” I replied.
“Good,” she said. “Have a good evening, then!” and then the phone went dead, and she’d hung up.
Fast forward 18 hours >>>>>
I could see the site manager giving me a strange look, even before I’d gotten to the site. He met me at the entrance.
“What are you doing here?” he grumbled at me.
“I told you yesterday we didn’t need you back here, why are you here?” he demanded.
“I called the recruiter after I left yesterday!” I said desperately. “She told me she’d talked to you and that you needed me here today again.”
The guy huffed, obviously annoyed. “Nope, they certainly didn’t call here!”
Lucky last was poor Tom, on the receiving end of an exceptionally poor recruiter experience.
So, how’d you do?…
Where was the bullshit?
All those stories (which were all real, by the way) are riddled with it. Bullshit recruiting, crap communication, terrible experiences at reception, and underwhelming support from management.
As the reader, you knew very little about the processes involved before the recruiter made contact. You ONLY knew their first impression on the job and subsequent experiences. Did it make you think at all about when you might have contributed to a first impression? If it doesn’t, maybe it should.
Every new hire is a new chance to grow your culture, improve your onboarding, and give newcomers an experience they won’t need a strong bottle of booze just to face again tomorrow.
Don’t be the bullshit in the room.