Have you ever been hired for a position that didn’t exist?

Didn’t think so. Oddly enough, I have. It was a few years ago, and would turn out to be the second to last job I’d ever have. I’d moved back to my small BC hometown to help my family and manage my dad’s restaurant. He was going through a divorce and as a result after some time was forced to shut down the restaurant – a decision that neither of us took lightly. As much as I didn’t like cleaning deep fryers at 6am every day, I really did take pride in knowing it was my dad’s dream I was helping. As it turned out, I was a pretty decent cook, too! (Who knew?) I began job hunting again and sent my resume out to any number of places. One afternoon, I got a call from a company in Burnaby. The president had reviewed my info and visited my website and was very interested in meeting with me. My Talon was washed, waxed and fueled before I even hung up. Burnaby! A return to civilization! A return to creative, branding and marketing work! I was very excited.

A few days later, I met with the president of the company at his office. He was a pale middle aged man with a soft, almost squeaky voice. He asked the standard interview questions and seemed genuinely interested in my portfolio and my work history. He asked if I thought I could adapt my work to fit his company’s industry, to which I said of course! I briefly met the team of people working at the office, about 8 people. A few days later, the job was mine.

I was thrilled and relieved. I had sacrificed my career a year earlier to move back home and help my family. I knew I had done all that I could in that time and it was time for me to resume my own path. Time to get back to work doing what I really loved – and time to get back to living in a city! I will be forever grateful to 2 of my friends that let me stay in their guest bedroom while I started my journey over. I planned on staying with them for a month or two to settle in, and then find a place of my own. I said See You Soon to my cat (who babysits my dad for me) and my family, and ventured off.

Day one started with another meeting with the president for a couple hours, talking about the company. I didn’t get a sense of passion or excitement, but he definitely knew the product and the business. Then one of the other employees gave me a tour of the facility – offices and a warehouse / shipping centre. I met everyone again and learned more of what they did. I was given some product catalogs and promotional materials and told to read up about the company. A pretty easy first day. Day two came around, and I was told that I should spend my first couple weeks working with everyone, so that I could learn how everything worked, and really learn about the company from the ground up. This meant manning the phones and taking orders like the two CSRs did, and helping out in the warehouse. Hmm. Well, okay, I’m not above any sort of work that anyone else at the company does, so why not?

Day three consisted of playing with stickers. All day. Some of the products were in boxes about 1″ wide and maybe 4″ tall.. and they needed to be labeled. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds… Well, if it has to get done, it has to get done, right? Then it was off to pick orders in the warehouse for days. More stickers. Then, taking orders over the phone and inputting into a very custom and half backwards customer management system. In between taking orders or trying to learn the computer system or applying a never-ending stream of stickers, I was always reviewing the product catalogs and company literature. Half to learn, and half to redesign the generic themes permeating everything. I was aching to get going, to start what I was really hired for!

While everyone was nice, I didn’t feel like I was really fitting in. It had only been a few weeks, but I didn’t feel a strong connection to anyone or anything. Arriving early one day, I noticed the only other car in the lot was a Mazda RX-8. I really like these cars, so I wondered whose it was. It turned out to be the president’s – a big surprise to me. Was he a car guy? Did he appreciate the rotary engine? The fact that it was only 1.3 litres, putting out incredible horsepower? We could talk CARS, not just work! This was going to be my initial connection to a more personal relationship… – no. When I asked him about it, he said he knew nothing about the car at all. He only bought it because he thought it was fast. It was his midlife crisis car. I was so disappointed, in both him, and for the car. Buy a bmw, buy a used Porsche.. but an RX-8 is such a unique, niche car… He seemed a little uncomfortable speaking anything about cars at all, so I never brought it up again. He was a soft, doughy-looking man. I decided I didn’t need to like someone outside of the office to work with them.

More days went by, and finally, I was going upstairs, to my office. But first, I was going to have to move furniture between offices and a boardroom. This turned into another day or two of not doing my actual job, but hey – gotta be the good team player, right? Finally, it was time to move into my office. A great big desk, a big leather chair (that I had to move into place) … and the mighty Fraser River right outside our front doors. I was ready to get to work. Except I had to man the customer service phones again.. but I could at least do it from my office. Finally, FINALLY!, the day came – promotional work for me to do. An upcoming sale. A newsletter to create. Let’s go! I got a hint of information from the sales team about what was going on, so I started creating, waiting for the details to finalize the piece. They never came. I waited. I put more stickers on boxes. Pulled a few orders in the warehouse. Re-read the product line.

The president came into my office, a little quieter, a little softer than usual. What now? Did three thousand catalogs require three-hole punches? Probably, but that wasn’t it. He told me that I “may have” noticed I hadn’t really been doing the job I’d been hired for since I started. I stifled a laugh and agreed. He cleared his throat, and, not looking directly at me, explained that he had been so overwhelmed with my resume and portfolio, that he had hired me without really having a position for me.


I was shocked, mad and hurt. He carried on, telling me how he had wanted to hire me before some other company did, thinking that they could create a position once i got there. What. The. Good. Heck? As the red mist covered my vision, he explained how that position hadn’t materialized, and they didn’t have a fit for me. There was nothing negative to say about me or my work or work ethic or blah blah blah… How hard would you have to poke the Pilsbury DoughBoy to watch his stuffing spill out? He handed me a cheque and employment record, saying he’d be happy to provide a reference should I need one. Did I want to say goodbye to my former coworkers? No. I didn’t.

I didn’t tell anyone I’d been let go for a while. I couldn’t comprehend. I couldn’t swallow my anger, and couldn’t process my shock and disappointment. Eventually I told my friends I was staying with, who were kind enough to let me stay without paying rent while I kept job hunting for places that actually had a job for me. I started freelancing again, picking up some branding and package design gigs. It was barely enough to keep me afloat, and the stress really got to me.

It was a big learning experience. From the incredibly gift of support my friends gave me to the horrible kick in the career that place had been, I felt emotionally all over the map. Had I known a bit more at the time, I may have started my company then, but I’m happy I didn’t. My head and heart weren’t in a good place, and I still had much to learn. The time spent in the months after that experience really helped shape my determination to start my own business. From being told I didn’t have enough agency experience, to being told by the president of another company that I was “Too creative to handle their creative” – every setback made me more determined.

For the record, I didn’t rupture the doughboy.