The recruitment industry is a varied one, offering all sorts of interesting insights into other sectors and the state of the economy as a whole. As its one of our specialisms here at I-COM, we’re always keeping a close eye on what people in the recruitment world are discussing and there’s one word on everyone’s lips at the moment: Candelisa.
If it means nothing to you, you’ve obviously not been tuning into Channel 4’s latest fly on the wall documentary The Job Centre. The show follows the events of Bradford-based recruitment agency Candelisa People, run by Jane Vincent. One young school leaver accepted her first ever job through Candelisa and was tasked with sticking labels on mop buckets for her entire shift. The stickers had to be applied by hand, without any air bubbles or wonky angles. Her supervisor pointed out how important these kinds of roles add to the business, as well as teaching young workers basic life lessons that they take with them throughout their careers. It sparked a conversation at I-COM about our first jobs and what we learnt from them, as well as the moments we’d rather forget...
Graham Allchurch, head of content
What was your first job: Shop assistant at a discount store in Speke, Liverpool, managed by my uncle.
What did you learn: Loads of scouse phrases and insults. Seriously though, I learnt the importance of using your initiative and not just relying on seniors to tell you what to do. And importance of general politeness and good customer service. Also that going to work hungover is always a painful experience.
Most memorable anecdote: One morning a lad who worked there called me over and said "look at this". He got out of his bags an expandable truncheon (not a euphemism) and told me matter-of-factly this was his weapon of choice in the 'straightener' he was having in the park that night. A ‘straightener’ in Liverpool is a fight to settle two people's differences. Later that day he won a grand on a bet. Weird day.
Fiona White, head of PR
What was your first job: I worked in the kitchens of a local restaurant when I was 14. Most people from my high school worked there at some point, for £2 an hour.
What did you learn: I picked up a few basic chef skills from working on the dessert counter, but most of my role involved tasks like pot washing, food prep and cleaning the worktops and floors at the end of every service. The evening shifts were long and tiring, but it definitely taught me the value of hard work and made me appreciate having my own money. Oh and I learned that Gordon Ramsay isn’t the only hotheaded, swearing chef out there.
Most memorable anecdote: I once spent nearly an hour manually separating dozens of egg whites into a gigantic bowl to use for meringues and desserts. When the bowl was full I picked it up to take to the whisker and dropped it on the floor. Handfuls of slimy tea towels, clothes and rolls of kitchen paper later I realised there is no easy way to clean up raw egg.
Alex Ryan, client services manager
What was your first job: Barista at Costa Coffee
What did you learn: The importance of working in a team and supporting each other. Sometimes you've got to do the jobs you don't want to do (cleaning toilets, clearing up baby sick) but don't complain, just do it. Work can be fun and most of the time it is fun! Customer service is key and sometimes you have to bite your tongue, even when you know you're 100% right. Finally, practice makes perfect, especially with those pesky flat whites!
Most memorable anecdote: There was always an element of competition between the baristas in regards to making the perfect coffee. This led to drawing pictures in lattes. One time it went wrong and the top of the latte resembled a certain male organ. (It was surprisingly very easy to do). I went to remake the drink for the customer, a 60-something year old female and was stopped in my tracks and told, 'Don't worry, that's how I like it.'
Laura Turner, content strategist
What was your first job: Working in the Greengate Mini Market in Rochdale, serving beer and cigarettes (probably illegal given that I was only 15).
What did you learn: I learnt a lot about dealing with members of the public, as well as how important it really is to have basic skills like maths!
Most memorable anecdote: It’s more of a quirky fact, but the shop used to be owned by a married couple who gave my mum and sister their first jobs there too. It was under new management when I worked there, but it was the same shop that they had both worked in.
Judy Leung, project manager
What was your first job: My first job was taking orders in my Uncle's takeaway, in one of the roughest council estates in Essex. It's a rite of passage for all Chinese people to have worked in a takeaway at some point.
What did you learn: I learnt that the word 'couple' meant exactly two - before that, I always thought people used it loosely to mean a few!
Most memorable anecdote: It’s not the happiest story, but a memorable one. On one shift I had my bag stolen when I went to the kitchen - some drugged up guy leapt over the chest high counter. A couple of days later a woman walked in and started talking to me, then I saw she was wearing my stolen watch.
Laura Joubert, digital marketing intern
What was your first job: I spent a month working on a sweetcorn plantation in France during one summer.
What did you learn: I learned the difference between male and female sweetcorn, as it was my job to ‘castrate’ the male corn ready for harvesting.
Most memorable anecdote: It was during this job that I realised I was allergic to sweetcorn leaves, not ideal!
Mindy Gofton, head of digital strategies
What was your first job: My first job was the summer before university, working nights in the Days Inn call centre booking hotel rooms.
What did you learn: I learned the art of dealing with very, very unhappy and angry customers. People would phone at 10 or 11pm from the middle of nowhere wanting a room, and blow up when the only hotel within 400 miles was full. Every call was recorded so if you even got a little sarcastic you could get into trouble.
Most memorable anecdote: You could get fired for hanging up, so we had to be polite to everyone. As we were open 24 hours a day, we'd get loads of weirdos and perverts calling. I once got rid of a dirty phone call by out-grossing him - I'm surprised I didn't get into trouble for that one, but they couldn't say I wasn't polite! There was another guy who phoned nearly every night saying the police were coming and begged us not to turn him in. He never said what he'd done though.
What was your first job? Let us know in the comments below.