Sunday, 23 February 2020

Making the Right Choice for You

A few weeks ago I made the tough choice of terminating my employment when I'd just started a new job.

It was difficult because I'd been unemployed for most of the previous year, until some Christmas Casual opportunities came up, but then went back to job searching come Christmas day.

The job I'd applied for seemed interesting and I was excited to get a call shortly after applying, saying that they'd like to bring me in for an interview.

During the chat, I got to know a bit more about the company and the role, and figured at the very least it was worth a go.

The role was a sales consultant for a loyalty card where I'd essentially be a telemarketer, one of the most disliked people on the planet.

The interview was slightly different to what I'd done before, where it started off as a group of 3, including myself, then done individually, then a phone roleplay where we'd be selling a similar loyalty card to one of the interviewers so they could get an idea of our phone manner.

After leaving the interview, I'm not sure whether it was self-doubt or my gut instinct telling me it wasn't the right job for me, but I felt sure that I wasn't successful, and had even considered what I'd say when I got the call the following day telling me I wasn't going ahead.

I felt kind of excited at the prospect of not being picked, even though it meant that I'd have to work for the dole, but I'd had a look at the activities on offer and one was for arts and crafts which was perfect for me, so while money would be a continued hurdle, I'd be doing something I was really excited about and would presumably enjoy.

Much to my immense surprise, the call I got the following day was to say they'd love to have me on board and the training would start the following Monday, if I was still interested.

Given that my job search contract that I'm required to sign every month in order to keep getting benefits and assistance, states that I need to apply for jobs that I can do, and not just ones that I want to do, I figured that I didn't have a choice in the matter and I could at least try it out, knowing that I was getting paid to be there.

I felt a lot of hesitation through the whole process, from reading through the on-boarding documents which had been sent to the wrong email address, to being in training and learning about what we had to do for the job. Nevertheless I persisted, thinking that it was just new job jitters and they'd eventually pass.

The first week was practising the script within the group and I'd gotten great feedback from everyone for being able to read so clearly, which I attributed to a combination of self-development course and the tools taught on affirming language, as well as acting classes I'd taken and how to use my voice to bring different tones to a character's lines.

The second week was starting on the phones, and given my level of flexibility in timing, I was rostered on from Wed-Fri, which mean that I was the last one to start their first shift for that week, and was absolutely terrified about it.

The first part of my shift was just listening in on calls with staff members who'd been there for at least a year, to get an idea of how the process worked. I felt calmer after doing that, although a subtle sense of dread at knowing that at some point, I'd have to be on the phones and doing what they were doing, but would need to follow the script exactly, at least until I was an established staff member.

The second part of my shift (at least from memory), was being paired up with another new recruit that I'd done training with, and continuing to practise with them, ahead of my manager's call, following which I'd be jumping onto the phones and the real work would begin.

The manager's call got pushed back to the next day due to time constraints, and I was relieved for that, but also terrified because I knew what would await me when I got into work the next day.

Upon my arrival, the training manager advised me to continue working with the same recruit from the day before until the manager was ready and we'd each be having our calls, with her going first because her initial call hadn't gone as she'd hoped.

Eventually it came to my turn and I was eager to get it over and done with. My anxiety was high and I just went through the script as taught, but felt more pressure on myself to absolutely nail it on the first go. I'd be told by another recruit who was part of the training that the manager's call was more daunting than actually being on the phones and I was nervous because I'd never done one before, which made perfect sense.

I managed to get through the call, then the manager called me to his desk and we went through the script and the parts that he highlighted for me to focus on. Much to my surprise, all the emotion I had pent up, came out when I started talking to him and I started crying saying that I was being hard on myself and wanted to get it right the first time. He was lovely about it and said that there was no expectation for me to get it right, especially on my first go. I'd make mistakes, but just needed to keep going and it was all part of the learning process.

I was appreciative of his support and understanding, but couldn't stop crying about it. The worst of it was over, so it was time to move on to the next stage, yet when he suggested I take a few minutes to get myself sorted, I went to the toilet and sobbed all over again, even though I knew I only had a mere minutes to pull myself back together and head back into a full call centre room where it was painfully obvious I'd been crying.

When I got back in, one of the other recruits asked me if I was okay, and I had to fight the urge to break down in tears again, casually indicating that I was so-so, and hoping that wearing my glasses would shield at least some of the redness in my face.

The training manager called me aside as well and suggested we go through the script again before I got on the phone. I deliberately avoided looking at her, even though I was sure she was aware that I'd been crying, and broke down again a little bit whilst talking to her and saying that I wasn't sure if it was just that the role was so different from what I was used to and that she wouldn't have hired me if she didn't think I could do it, but also that I wondered if it was the right job for me to begin with.

When I started on the phones, I still felt a lot of apprehension about contacting people, and while part of me wanted the calls to be either disconnected or no answer, I knew that it just meant I'd have to make more of them until it was time to finish for the day.

I was immensely relieved when I was told we'd be doing training the following day which would take half the day, and hoped that the morning group meeting would drag out so I wouldn't have to spend any time on the phones until after lunch, which only left me with maybe 2hrs or so of call time.

Much to my dismay, the training started later than I'd thought, so there was about 15mins of calls to make, and I knew I'd just have to get on with it. Hearing the manager tell us new recruits that we wouldn't have the pressure of sales targets just yet, only added to my misery. Where I was seated was right next to the sales leader board, and while the ambitious side of me thought it would be awesome to get to the top of it, my physical and emotional state wanted to be anywhere but there.

Throughout the training I felt a feeling of dread knowing that I'd have to go back to the desk and resume making calls when it was all over. I constantly checked my watch hoping that time would go faster and the session would go over time so I'd have less time until the day ended.

Much of the training was around company values and reflecting on what they meant to each of us, which for me felt like what I already knew within myself as a person and what I was looking for. If anything, it helped solidify for me that I wanted a job in customer service, talking to people and helping them, as opposed to selling them something that they may not want or need for very valid reasons and pushing them to hang up if they weren't interested.

As soon as I'd arrived at work, I'd gone straight to the toilets and cried again. When lunch time came, the feeling of immense dread saw me do it again and I made feeble attempts at enjoying the break and talking to other employees in different departments about their experiences.

I noted that the overall vibe of the place whilst friendly, seemed to be meh and like people had settled into their positions. Some of them were great at their jobs, whilst others just seemed to do it because it served an immediate need or purpose.

The people were nice, at least the ones that I talked to, and they'd become a family team during their time working together, but it just didn't feel right to me.

I pushed through for the rest of the day and was called into a meeting room with the training manager at the end of the day with the rest of the recruits who were on the same shift and we were told that she'd sit down with us on our next shift to work out of personal sales plans, or something like that, and I felt even more apprehension about the week ahead.

We'd been trained to reading basically word for word from the script and that the end result would either be that they hung up on us, or we got the sale, we just needed to be persistent about it.

My approach had been to just take it on face value if they gave valid objects and made it clear they weren't interested, to thank them for their time and close the lead on the system. I'd also been told more or less by one of the permanent staff members that the people we were contacting had stayed at a hotel that was covered by the card, but didn't necessarily consent to be contacted by marketing, which I thought was wrong.

The sales approach was to start off with the pitch, then add in deal sweeteners some of which they were already getting in the membership, but we weren't to mention until the very end if they were still objecting to it. This further cemented the belief that the role wasn't for me. I'd prefer to be upfront with the person and only sell to people who were interested, although in this context, that would be the equivalent of taking the easy way out.

I noted to myself that I had persistence and determination, but it was for things that I really wanted, like pursuing a career in acting and modeling. Arguably things that also required the same amount of tenacity that an outbound sales job did, also the same level of rejection too.

I agonised over the weekend as to what I was going to do if I felt like such an emotional wreck at just the thought of going into work and how I'd be able to shift my focus. I was listening to a video by Manifestation Babe's Kathrin Zenkina on my way home as part of a 5 day challenge she was running, and recalled her pointing that that we always have a choice in everything that we do. If we're in a job that we don't like, we can choose to leave. If we're around people we don't like, we can choose to not be around them, etc.

It occurred to me the following week as I emailed my energy healer for support, that I could choose to let go of this job that I clearly wasn't enjoying, and just trust that something else would come up in it's place.

The thought of emailing the training manager to let her know of my decision was the first time I'd felt peace since I started the job. It was like the sun had come out after heavy storm clouds had been weighing everything down, and that was the biggest indication to me that it was the right decision for me, and I wondered if that was what my instincts had been telling me ever since the job had been offered to me.

I planned out the email, remembering that the manager and training manager had told us during the interview and in the initial phone call that the job wasn't for everyone, and it seemed like they'd already given us permission to leave if we didn't want to be there, something that I've always felt like I needed.

I wrote and rewrote it for maybe 30 mins, until I was happy enough with the final edit where I mentioned that it was impacting my mental and emotional health, that I felt I was more suited to customer service roles (knowing that I wouldn't be able to change departments until I'd become permanent, but that would take at least 6 months), and ultimately thanking her and the manager for everything.

It was nerve-wracking to send it and I constantly wondered what the response would be and when it would come through. Would she refute what I'd said and tell me they were just objections? She was trained in self-development modalities herself, which made her ideal as a training manager in that role. Would she call me to discuss further and I'd have to fight to stand my ground and try not to cry again, because I felt like a little kid that didn't want to go to school and was potentially being told off by a parent or teacher? What other possibilities were there?

Much to my shock I guess, she didn't respond at all. I ended up texting her to see if she'd received my email, as much as I wanted to just cross it off my to-do list and move on, I also didn't want to get a call from her at the start of my next shift and have to explain why I wasn't coming in. She responded back apologising for not having done so before, acknowledged the email, and wished me well. That was it. All done with.

I felt a sense of relief, mingled with peace and excited for what was to come next. I also felt proud that I'd made the difficult choice of leaving what would have eventually become a stable job, because it just didn't feel right for me, and that was okay. It gave me clarity around what to look for in my next job, which is a huge step in the right direction.

I did wonder what the rest of the recruits would think when I didn't return, and occasionally still do. I wonder if they're still at the job and doing well, or if the recruit who was constantly mirroring my own doubts and being down on herself had ended up staying or moving on as well.

I also wondered whether the whole thing had been some kind of ploy to get noticed and attention from people, at least on a lesser level since I knew by the constant emotional turmoil that it really wasn't for me.

Part of the reason I didn't want to be there was because I felt triggered by seeing two of the other recruits who were both in committed relationships, being so buddy-buddy all the time. I wondered if it was just that they were on the same wavelength as each other, or whether it would possibly turn into an office romance of sorts, neither of which admittedly were my business.

I'd hit it off really well with the guy during training and felt comfortable around him, but a sort of third wheel when the girl had joined our group during roleplays. I didn't like feeling jealous of their connection or of seeing it every time we were in, but knew that it was yet another thing for me to work through.

I asked the therapist I was working with about the situation prior to leaving and she pointed out that whatever I didn't deal with there, would just come up again in the future until I'd dealt with it. I felt okay with that, assuming that the next situation was a more nurturing environment that I was excited to be in, and then the issues that came up wouldn't feel so heightened on top of everything else I was experiencing.

It's been a few weeks now and I've had an interview, but mostly a lot of rejection notices from jobs I've applied for. I don't feel particularly phased about it though, because I know that something good is coming up that's perfect for my next stage, and as long as I keep the faith about that and don't get discouraged, I can't go wrong.

On the plus side, after I left the job, I joined with a talent agency within walking distance of it, and got a text the next day checking my availability for an extras role on Home and Away, which I'd grown up watching. It would be my first paid professional job and a step in the direction I really wanted to go towards.

Everything is still in motion, but I'm doing what I can each day to keep things going and to remind myself that as long as I trust my instincts, I'll always make the right choice for me.

1 comment:

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