Craig Harris knows first-hand what it’s like to be told he didn’t have the right experience for a job. Here he discusses how he overcame adversity to land his dream role
“Success is what happens after you stop making excuses.” How true is this? Sometimes it’s easy to find the excuse for why we haven’t progressed in our career or why we’re not achieving all we set out to. “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “I didn’t have the time” are some great examples which are fuelled by fear and self-doubt. The truth is if you want something, you have to go get it. It’s your life and only you can change it.
I wanted to share the story of how I landed my first director-level EA job. Having worked as a PA/team administrator supporting a team of senior managers for two years, I knew that I loved the profession and wanted to progress. Of course, I was stopped by the same negative thoughts we all have, such as “do I have enough experience?” and “am I qualified enough?” but decided to try anyway.
I saw a job advertised to support the director of a national charity that was close to my heart and a great opportunity. Yes, I didn’t have all the experience they were looking for, but I knew that I could do the job, so I applied.
The agency that was advertising the role contacted me and asked me to come in to their office. They told me that it was unlikely I would get the role, as I had nowhere near the level of experience they were looking for, but they had other roles that would be more suited to my skills. My initial reaction was one of insecurity and embarrassment, but I also saw it as a challenge. So I told the recruitment consultant that I wasn’t taking no for an answer and demanded that they get me an interview. I knew once I met the director in person that I could prove I could do the job.
After a lot of back and forth between us, the agency hesitantly agreed to contact the director to explain my proposition. To my (and the consultant’s) surprise they agreed to the interview.
I attended and got the job, and as the saying goes the rest is history. The director in question is still a friend of mine and has told this story many times. She says that even though I didn’t have as much experience as the other candidates, by demanding the interview I showed courage, determination, ambition and drive, and this is why she gave me the job. I showed that I wanted to succeed and that I was doing all I could to do so.
My closing point is this – never be told that you can’t do something and never make excuses. If you want it enough, you can achieve anything.
Craig Harris is an award-winning assistant currently working in the third sector. Prior to his career as a PA, he worked in administration and customer service. He describes himself as a ‘PA for life’ and recently won the Pitman SuperAchievers PA of the Year 2017. He is involved in the EPAA’s ‘Not just a girl’s job’ campaign, which aims to get more men into the profession. Twitter: @Harris3thatsme