Getting fired and why it was the best thing to happen to me…

So I got fired from my first ‘real’ job. About six months into my probationary period my line manager sits me down at the end of a full day – with the Director’s PA and says “I am sure this isn’t a surprise but I have picked up on hints from you and I know better than anyone that Recruitment isn’t for everyone – so we are letting you go.” Shock. Horror. Relief. Surprise.

In fairness it was a pleasant firing as firings go I believe. I remained stoic during the actual firing (obviously cried later – because you know, ‘just got fired and all’) and I like to think I was gracious with my exit, thanking them for giving me an opportunity and letting them know how great it is to learn from successful women etc.

But the funny thing is, I was planning on handing my notice in the next day – they just beat me to it.

Why did I take the role?

I knew when I took the job it was a ‘stop gap’ kind of role for me. I didn’t have a great perception of the recruitment industry and I think this isn’t unusual. I was a Psychology graduate twice over having completed my Masters in Clinical and Health Psychology last September and I actually was temping for my employer before they offered me a permanent job working with them.

I was five months out of University and still didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do. Finding that perfect graduate job still hadn’t been actualised – shock horror! I was aware that I didn’t want too big a gap on my CV and I was offered a salaried role and the lure of earning money again was high. Despite my negative perception of recruitment and going against my self-made promise not to go into recruitment – I took the role! Some people might say I have no self-control but I’m not sure I agree… you do have to try these things, right?

What I learnt from working in an all female recruitment team of 12

A lot. I learnt a lot and I am genuinely grateful for that. Recruitment is a fast-paced industry and when your product is people there is a lot of risk involved – we all know you can’t control what people do. So there can be a lot of stress around people dropping out of work at ten to six in the evening. I was working from 8:30 until 6:30/7pm Monday to Friday and my actual contracted working hours were 9-6pm on an entry level salary. Doing less hours would have been frowned upon.

What was interesting was working in a sector with KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and literally not having enough hours in the day to meet targets sometimes – at least that’s how I felt in the beginning. One thing I did learn was how vigilant you need to be with your time in Recruitment. A key skill for any workplace really and one I’ll take forward.

As my first Graduate job I learnt that you need to be inspired by your managers.  Really this is so important. People lead people, people will even do illogical and stupid things for people they like and respect. So it is imperative to respect your managers and want to work hard for yourself but also for others. As you will always have bad days or even weeks at work. And ultimately it’s not the money that will keep you working hard but the internal motivation that you want to do it – and being inspired by your management is important in keeping you focused.

What could I have done differently?

I do believe that in a target driven environment you need to be 100 per cent head in the game. IF you aren’t happy at work or if you were – like me searching for other jobs and filling out applications and arranging interviews on evenings and weekends – that split focus will show through. So I do know I could have committed myself to my job more but I just didn’t want to. And ultimately this is probably the prime reason they let me go.  

What I would tell other grads?

For more recent graduates out there – especially those from a psychology background. If you are unsure about what you want to do, if the NHS puts you off or if you just want to try corporate life – the best advice I can pass on is to get on the Job ladder and even if it is something you aren’t 100 per cent into at the beginning we are so naive to the world of work, you will learn something valuable from almost ANY salaried job if it’s your first.

In fact since working in recruitment my perception of the industry has changed – I have more respect for it, the people work very hard and there is a lot you can learn from a fast-paced environment like that. When I was interviewing for my new job they loved the transferable skills I gained from recruitment and offered me the job an hour after the interview and a nice salary increase.  

The market is strong for candidates at the moment, many graduates are involved in many process for many different jobs and the most important thing that employers want from graduates centre around attitude and softer skills rather than harder ones – probably since graduates are pliable and so we can still learn harder skills (e.g. internal system etc.) fast.

But in the meantime, go out there be positive and work smart, try your best then if its still not right go out there and see where you land, it’s not so scary once you push your boundaries or get fired – how much worse can it get really?

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Written by Katie Patel
Katie is a recent graduate having completed her BSc and her MSc in Clinical and Health Psychology at Newcastle University last year. She's now a Graduate living in London trying to figure out her true passion by exploring the wider working landscape and documenting her progress. Interests include but are not limited to; cheese & chocolate, reading, climbing and travelling.
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