6-14 may: new well paying job! Well, almost...


Thursday may 6th, I had been alone at home with the cat for nearly a week, programming on a website without a clear deadline...

within 26 hours from first phonecall to 'you're hired'

At half past ten I was stil lying in bed when the phone rang, which I was just too late vinding. A bit later, voicemail gave me a massage forum some recruiter I didn't know (Freek forum Corso) who had found my resume on the internet, and who wanted to place me at a VBA assignment in Amsterdam; interviews would be held that same day. I thought 'that's just the next conversation that's doomed to failure; I don't feel like that stuff, just now my website business is getting off the ground' and slept a little more.
An hour later I got another call, from some mobile phone, for a VBA assignment in Amsterdam; interviews today. I replied that someone else had already called me about this... but before the caller hung up I asked if this might be a job at a financial institution. That was the case.

Then I started thinking... I probably had an ideal resume for this (because of my experience at ABN AMRO) and had to be in Amsterdam that day anyway. Despite Drupal working out nicely for me, this job would probably make a lot more money, which I could use.. . and if people were wanting to hire someone so quickly, that would work to my advantage (because people have less time to google me and deny me for unclear reasons). I wanted to give this a try.

Corso looked like a solid company, so that's the one I called back. It turned out to be an assignment at ING Bank, my previous experience was a good match... so Freek was going to set up a meeting through his contact (while I jumped under the shower).
What followed after he called back, was a 25-hour long 'rollercoaster ride' of telephone calls, e-mailed various (assigment and resume related) documents, jumping into a suit and tie and into the train, phone calls, phone calls, interview at ING, phone calls, phone calls, interview at ING...
I didn't know yet, how many layers of middle men there were between me and ING. But I looked at the whole process with a sense of humor, when Frank told me to travel to Amsterdam, on the way to the train I was called by a man named Mike who was acting very busybusy-canIcallyoubackintwominutes-fast-recruiter-like and rushrushed to Sloterdijk station to say hi in person and drop me off in his car at an ING office half a mile away... where I appeared to have a meeting with yet someone else, a Robin who talked to me a little before we went into the interview with the ING employee who I was supposed to replace Smile1

During the interview with Robin and the ING person there turned out to be more responsibilities to the work than Robin was aware of. The conversation went positively and I had the feeling I could present myself well. I was honest about the experience I did and didn't have, and in saying that I saw the additional responsibilities as a challenge I would have no problem with.
I would have to return friday the 7th (when Robin would be gone) for a second interview wit my future manager (who wasn't there that day). So at the end of the conversation they said 'I would hear in an hour whether I'd have to come back the net day'. Well - my feeling after the conversation was like 'I wouldn't know why they would not invite me back - and just out of the interview, Robin appeared to have the same opinion and said the rest of the process would happen without issues. The interview that friday (with 2 ING people) to my feeling went about the same way as the one from the day before... at the end the two gentlemen looked at each other from the corner of their eyes and told me 'we'll let you know our decision later... or... wait, can you leave us alone for a bit? We'll call you back in shortly'. Well, at that moment I knew enough...

Yup, I was hired on the spot.

Of course I immediately called Mike and Freek, who put into motion a gargantuous process of paperwork which ING Bank needed in order for me to start working. They were really happy that I'd been so flexible and accommodating in the past two days... but I had no problem with that at all. I just thought it was cool to suddenly show up at the ING's doorstep and talking to seven people. And it was really nice that I got a positive feeling from all people and conversations; this was a very productive 26 hours. By now I was really looking forward to starting here, working daily among people again, cooperating to build something good and in the process convincing everyone that I was really good at handling everything.

saturday - tuesday: document collection run

I was told everything I needed: a 'statement of good conduct' (official thing from Dutch government), officially certified copies of my passport and last diploma, a 'declaration of secrecy(?)' and questionnaire about earlier employment which I needed to sign for ING... and signed statements from my employers over a five year period that 'they didn't know anything to make me unsuitable for a position in finances'. That would need to be received and processed by ING Bank (and one official document was going to take two weeks), but they wanted me to start next wednesday. Funny people Wink

Well, that friday afternoon fresh out of ING offices I was just unable to get a document application through at the city council. Over the weekend I prepared documents as far as possible, and thought about what I'd do with Tommy Hilfiger Europe. After all, I didn't know whether they would sign an agreement for me. Partly for that reason, I had set the date to meet personally with Freek, at the next monday... so I would be able to talk this over with him.
To be prepared, I filled two copies of the questionnaire about earlier employment, with on the second one a statement about the preemptive ending of my assignment at Tommy Hilfiger. (I said I had never felt any tension among colleagues and have never had one official word from Tommy Hilfiger about a conflict. So if the assignment was indeed terminated by them - which I wasn't completely sure of - then that's probably based on a misunderstanding, and I have no reason to believe they would have doubts about my suitability.)

Monday was a day full of running around and talking: to the Utrecht city council for a document, the shed of my Amsterdam apartment for digging my diploma out of a box, back to the city council for another document, with a phone practically glued to my ear to rearrange plans... and then to Tiel to meet Freek at Corso offices.
That again appeared to be a good call, because I could talk to him about what to do with the Tommy Hilfiger isseue. When I said there might be an issue there (though they'd never told me anything) so I didn't know how they'd react to the request for a statement. Freek proposed he would call them to check out their reaction. A few minutes later he came back with good news: he'd talked to my former contact there, who normally inquired how I was doing, said the document could be mailed to her and said whe would take care of it.

Now I had the idea that the last real hurdle had been taken. Everything still seemed to fall into place just like it did before the weekend. I now had a list of five employers, who I would email a signed request for a statement on tuesday. At the same time, Mike was trying his best to get approval from ING Bank to start the next day. When I already had gotten two out of five documents returned withing two hours, Mike said things would just be a formality. He would arrange things at 8:30 the next morning, so I should be ready at the trainstation in suit and tie Smile

At the same time I got a rather disappointing email from "Liz Mayhew, Vice President Human Resources" of Tommy Hilfiger Europe, saying "Your email has been passed to me for response, in line with company practice / Tommy Hilfiger will not provide you with reference information". (Of course they didn't say why not, because they know well enough that would work against them.) This crushed my expecation (afer the earlier phone call with TH) that everything would be alright. Now I had to call Freek to explain things, and in the end I told him how I had received publicity after defending a controversial court case[Dutch link], and was let go a week later (after having worked without problems for four days).
Freek agreed with me that we would not bother Mike with this, and said he'd find out how bad it would be, if one reference didn't get returned. I sent two business like/polite emails to Liz to make my position clear.

With this setback, things were suddenly less sure, but I decided to just be ready for work on the next day, like Mike had told me. (Maybe ING people would be easier to talk to about the nonsense of this refusal by Tommy Hilfiger, if I would already be doing useful work.)

wednesday - friday: failure

At 8:25 I was at the station in a suit - and enthousiastically already took the train to Amsterdam, to be as close as possible. Mike called that he was working on it and that the documents would be taken care of quickly, but that it would take a while... and I went looking for an internet connection and power outlet, near Amsterdam Central Station.

Afer working for an hour in the Barbizon hotel lobby, I got... a phone call from Freek. He told me he had read some things about me on the internet, and had decided to cease contact with me. I told him briefly how his apparent suspicion of me supporting 'bad things' were untrue, and that noone (including him now) had ever given me a solid reason to terminate a relationship with me. Of course that didn't help, since he had already made up his mind, so I just let him go. He would also call Mike.

So I got Mike no the phone shortly afterwards, asking things about what he had just heard. Obviously he was pretty concerned and he wanted to hear my side of the story. I told him that I was not a 'creepy pedo' but did voice a well reasoned opinion about subjects related to pedophilia, and was regularly dumped by people for that reason. Mike staid he would do his best for me, but he was going to postpone the decision until friday. He also asked for a written kind of 'self supportive statement' that he could use. So I immediately typed up an email** [Dutch link] (which of course got too large;)) and traveled back home.

After an hour I got Mike on the phone again, saying he read and understood things, and he would keep supporting me. He then (and over the next days, repeatedly) gave me the advice to really try and get the slander removed from Google. I thought that was a pretty neat reaction. But anyway, that friday he called and told me my job was off. Despite my other four employers having sent a statement, the company doing these 'security personnel checks' just sees the box "statement from Tommy Hilfiger" unticked, so I can't start at ING offices. Apparently there's nothing to do about that.


It really is too bad I didn't make it. Despite me having some doubt at the very beginning of the process, after the interviews I was really looking forward to work together with other people in an office, prove myself, build something good.

For the rest, I'm content with how I handled things. Communication with everyone went really well. Freek also told me that there is much more MS Access work for 'young dynamic people like myself', than I thought. It's only a shame that my good resume in that area primarily holds 'a bank and a clothing brand with an image fetish', for whom I'm a pariah without good reason. But may it still is possible to get well paid project work somwhere, matching the immediately-applicable knowledge and experience I have at the moment.

At ING bank, this almost succeeded. And I'd be willing to take the risk that people at the office themselves would complain or act strangely. In direct contact I have the experience of coming across well, and being ever better able to say what is needed, also about this weird subject. I'm also content about how I handled the question and the rejection phone call; it's good exercise.

So this hasn't been a completely lost week. But oh well, I'll just continue doing my website work (which makes much less money, but is fun). And I'll think about how I might be able to use this whole story...

  • 1. At the end of the first day, I understood what the structure of recruiters was like, and why this assignment had to be filled so fast that there wasn't even a full job description yet. In the evening of may 4th, someone inside ING Bank asked a colleague of a semi-external bureau (Robin of Yoozz) if he knew someone to fill the position of an ING colleague, who would leave may 20th. Robin said "sure" and... started making phonically because he would be on vacation on may 7th, and the 5th was a national holiday. An acquaintance of Robin (Mike) was charged with handling things in the meantime, he contacted a.o. Freek from Corso, who found and called me on may 6th.