By | Prarthana Sethumadhavan | Founder & Director – Sakalya Holistic HR Solutions
Rajat adjusted his tie as he waited to be called in for the interview. He preened at the glass door, hoping that he looked crisp, sharp and confident. This was his 15th interview in the last six months. Could he crack this interview and actually get the job? All his previous interviewers or potential employers had said how happy they were to have met with him and that they would revert back to him soon.. That, in an employment parlance was an unstated message, that the expected offer would not come your way.
As he sipped the water from the Bisleri bottle, Rajat went back in time. He was Ivy League and had graduated from IIM Ahmedabad no less. It had been a proud moment for both him and his parents. His parents were over the moon on his graduation, and a six figure salary in one of the leading Investment banks. Life was on the roll. He had joined the company and was soon frustrated with the cumbersome procedures, the matrix hierarchy and reporting structure. He was looking towards more autonomy in his decisions and implementing his ideas in the workplace. Was that not why he had slogged the nights off at the dingy IIM brick room, eaten inedible food at the mess- losing ten kgs of weight in the process – to create his brand and impress upon his company- his value? How could he do that, if no one gave him the chance? Silent frustration had started simmering in. He was on the lookout, though it was barely twelve months into the job. Surely he would get a better option, and he could bring in the brilliant changes he had so wanted to bring on, knowing that it would impact the bottom line of the company.
An Ivy league credential, and a year experience in a leading bank gave him his next jump. His new employer was impressed by his ideas during the interview process, and had agreed profusely with the same. Rajat had been filled with vigor for his new role. He had joined and was introduced to his new boss, Mrs. Malathi Menon, IIM-A batch `90. She was sitting at her position with 15 years of banking experience behind her, and had worked up the ranks. Rajat was suitably impressed and intimidated… a bit. Malathi was savvy, knowledgeable crisp and blunt – with words and people. She gave Rajat his new assignment. It was an assignment to spear head –Inclusive Banking, in line with the Govt’s mandate to have bank accounts for every citizen of the country. Rajat would have to get his hands dirty on the job. He was required to build a business model for the bank to get at least one lakh consumers for the `Financial Inclusion Programme” in 3 months, as well go to the field to ensure actual implementation of the same. The assignment was challenging. Rajat started his work, with one resource dedicated to him, namely Vidya, and could share two resources from Malathi. Vidya was a graduate in commerce, married with an infant baby at home, care taken by her mother in law. She had made it clear to Rajat that she would not be able to put in hours post official working hours. Shared resources had promised support after they had delivered work given by Malathi. Rajat had to work 18 hours daily, including weekends to build the model for the Financial Inclusion. Many an attempts had been vetoed by Malathi, since it did not comply with the bank standards and regulations of risk and KYC norms. Rajat took support from his new ally – the cigarette that helped him focus on the long hours he needed. Bleating for more support had not earned him any brownie points with Malathi. On the ground implementation, took him to the remotest villages to meet with people that seemed totally alien to him. KYC was a nightmare with them. Language was a barrier and encouraging them to enrol for a bank account with meagre earnings and no savings was like a fight against gravity. He was tired both mentally and physically and the job had lost its lustre. He knew he could not keep up with this pressure. He was on the lookout again. His reviews with Malathi had not gone very well, and she had hinted that if he did not meet his targets, she would have to reassign him, which was a corporate equivalent of a demotion. At that moment, he had totally hated her and her guts, and felt she should have shown some camaraderie to a fellow graduate of her alma mater. None of that had happened.
Eight months in his new role, he got an offer from another company. He chose to leave banking. Two stints with the industry had left him disenchanted. A change of scenery was what would re enthuse him.
Two jobs in two years and he was raring to go. His next stint was with the telecom sector, which he realised was like banking in customer acquisition. High customer churn, disgruntled customers, billing nightmares, complicated product offerings and a highly competitive market. Was there no end to this?? When he was doing his stint in IIM, he had dreamed of a cushy office, a group of flunkies who would hang on his every word, and thump him for his creative ideas, and he would see the bottom lines improving every quarter as he implemented all his ideas for the organisation. The reality however was less glamorous, and he had impossible targets, tough bosses, and a highly competitive workplace.
Today, he had a total of twelve years of work experience behind him, and stints in ten organizations. He had been unemployed for the last 6 months, since no one wanted to recruit a person who showed such a regular lack of stability in his jobs. His resume looked chequered like a snakes and ladders game. For a few of the stints, he had climbed the ladder, whereas, many a times, desperate to change his job, he had taken a job that was of a lower role and salary. Looking at his profile, he wondered, had he really done it all? He could not believe the hop skip and jump on his profile, and now the last 6 months were a yawning gap. He was no longer looked upon as a coveted employable resource, rather an Ivy league maverick who could not hold ground, had no developed skill and competencies and would bolt should the waters get rough.
He suddenly heard his name called. He kept the Bisleri aside and picked up his folder and went in. The air conditioning in the room was freezing. Were the people looking at him equally cold? He shuddered inwardly. Four faces devoid of any emotion were looking at him.
The one who introduced himself as Adil Ahuja asked him to run him through his professional career. Rajat started and found himself talking of his meandering career, much like the river that takes the next best turn that comes to her. He did not sound impressive even to himself.
His next questions –
“ What have you been doing for the last 6 months?’ – Gulp – Searching jobs! (could he even say that!)
“ What are your strengths’’ – Multi sector experience?! Multi role experience??! Multi geography experience??! Multicultural experience??!!!
“ What are your weaknesses’?
“ Why have you changed so many jobs in your career?’’
“ Which is the longest you have stayed in a job’? – Hmm – 13 months
“ Which is the least you have stayed in a job’? – Hmm- 5.5 months
“ What special skills and qualifications do you bring to the table’’?
“ What have been your achievements?’’
“ What was your most challenging assignment and why? How did you deal with it?’’and the volley of questions continued……
Rajat felt the sweat start to trickle down his back. This interview was no different from the previous ones he had attended. Why did it always come to his changing jobs??? Surely he could change the job if he found it unsuited to his requirements? It was the cross on which he had now been crucified the last fifteen times.
He gathered his papers, thanked the interviewers. “ We will get back to you’ they mouthed. Yes he knew how that went. Gloom and desperation clouded his mind. He was faced with the loss of his idealism, loss of his dream and the reality that hit him everywhere he went. A promiscuous resume would get him nowhere.
He called his consultant and gave him the feedback given by the organization. Gyanesh thanked him and said that they had no other potential roles on the pipeline, and for those that were, the specs were very stringent and the employer had asked for solid experience of 10+ years in the role and in the industry, preferably in the same organization.
Rajat said he understood, but did he understand at all? He was in professional doldrums. His resume, which was his ship to charter the corporate seas was stuck in the middle of nowhere now, since it had stopped port too many times. While the journey had been adventurous while it lasted, an anchor was now far away. He was stuck and did not know how he would ever navigate out of the situation. He had attended fifteen interviews in a dried up job market, only because he had the brand of an Ivy League. Even that had run its course now.
He would call Rupesh, who was the top consultant of the town, once again, maybe beg him if needed. Hopefully, he could conjure the rabbit out of the hat! He now needed a conjurer to get him that one employer who would make him an offer. Maybe he would then stick to the role and leave his promiscuous behaviour behind… and rabbits did come out of a hat !
To be continued…..
The writer is a Certified NLP Practitioner (SNLP) , Leadership & Transformation Coach, Corporate Trainer in Leadership Development as also a POSH trainer and Consultant. Please connect withSakalyahr@gmail.com for Executive Coaching/ Leadership Training Solutions and POSH trainings, creation of ICC and aligning of HR policies with POSH.