Words: Grant Runyon
I’m told that the core skills requirements for landing an office job in Jersey are literacy, numeracy and a clean criminal record. In a well-educated population this does little to narrow down the competition, so as well as promising the interview panel that you definitely haven’t murdered anybody it has become common to be quizzed at length about how your non-work skills translate to the office.
When I was last unemployed this might have been as simple as elaborating on the paragraph tacked on your CV that says you play squash, like reading, or that old classic “socialising with friends,” but competition for today’s best jobs is cut-throat and you’re unlikely to stand out simply by announcing that, yes, you do really enjoy human company when you’re not at work. Instead we’re starting to see the winning candidates stake their claims to the prime positions by demonstrating the career relevance of running a marathon through a desert, deadlifting a Fiat 500, or maybe strangling an adversary to submission with just the muscles in their thighs. I know that Jason-Statham-levels of hardness is a quality I personally demand in the person who administers my mortgage, so it’s good to see management taking an interest in the candidates who aren’t afraid to go that extra mile – especially if that mile is through a filthy ditch covered in barbed wire.
KNOCKOUT CANDIDATE: THE MARTIAL ARTS FAN
When I was growing up, being “into martial arts” meant that you owned a Bruce Lee box set and might have taken a few karate lessons at Fort Regent. Most of the guys who did this grew luxurious pony tails, and it definitely wasn’t something you’d talk about to a prospective employer unless they ran a shop that sold video games or nunchuks. This all changed when Mixed Martial Arts exploded in popularity, uniting fans of boxing, roundhouse kicks and Hulk Hogan in one socially acceptable and Instagram-friendly lifestyle. It’s now unremarkable to make water-cooler conversation about how you spent Saturday night being kneed in the back by a doorman from Bristol, so telling the interview panel that you’re a cage fighter underlines your dedication to dull, painful training as well as a high tolerance to a working environment that runs the risk of permanently damaging your brain. When I’m in a boundary dispute with my neighbours it’s also reassuring to know that my advocate could, if needed, smash a pile of bricks or planks with just a single blow of their fist.
WHAT DO YOU BRING TO THE TEAM? Strong under pressure, know how to exploit weakness, good at ignoring a crowd that might be baying for your blood .
IDEAL JOB: Lawyer – no loyalties in the ring. Will mercilessly inflict pain and damage on their opponent, but will still shake hands with them afterwards.
ADRENALINE JUNKIE: THE EXTREME SPORTS ENTHUSIAST
You would think that somebody who enjoys wingsuit flying or free climbing might not choose to work in an office, but those corporate health plans come in very handy if you’re unlucky over the weekend and your lung gets impaled on a tree branch. There’s also a limit to how much adrenaline most people can take, so a working environment that many of us might consider dull could represent a lovely calm alternative to a person who spends their off-time jumping out of planes or hunting sharks with a speargun. HR professionals have also realised that there’s a kind of Darwinism at work – if you’re into this kind of stuff and still alive you’re probably skilled and organised, or perhaps just lucky. There’s also the chance that these adrenaline seekers might demonstrate the “motorsport effect,” where one of the main skills needed to operate a tiny car at incredibly dangerous speeds appears to be having the off-grid personality of an accountant who likes to spend Saturday night ironing their socks.
WHAT DO YOU BRING TO THE TEAM? An intense understanding of the fine print in insurance liability, the ability to make snap life or death decisions, the hard-won knowledge that man is the deadliest prey of all.
IDEAL JOB: International currency trader – take dangerous gambles at high speeds, try to avoid causing a gigantic crash.
GOING THE DISTANCE: THE ENDURANCE RUNNER
I often liken working life to crawling through a muddy trench, whilst being shouted at by sadists, only to receive a pathetic and ultimately worthless reward at the end. For some people, this is also what they like to do on their days off. Going for a normal run stopped being impressive a few years ago – if you want to stand out you either need to run hundreds of miles in one go, or do a normal distance run in a field that resembles a game show obstacle course themed around the first hour of Saving Private Ryan. With names like Tough Mudder, Nuclear Racing and the Chocolate Starfish Egg and Spoon Race, these feats of mucky endurance are sure to impress management by demonstrating your willingness to endure any amount of filth and punishment if there’s a chance you might come out in first place.
WHAT DO YOU BRING TO THE TEAM: stamina, a degree of masochism, and willingness to crawl through a ditch somebody else has dug for you.
IDEAL JOB: Generic office drone – you don’t ask where you’re going, or why, you just try and get there a bit faster than anybody else.
ELITE CANDIDATE: THE DOOMSDAY SURVIVOR
Most of these activities, whilst extreme, represent a deliberate alternative to the type of comforts we’ve become used to in our daily lives – comforts we’ll happily return to after a measured and character building amount of hardship. There is a much smaller group of people out there who’ll endure every activity on this page – not because they enjoy it, but because they see it as essential training for a grim and uncertain future. They have built their lives around a philosophy that predicts the imminent collapse of human society, and the lack of consensus amongst their ranks over whether this will be caused by climate change, zombies or pandemic flu means they need a preparedness plan for any situation. Having to deal with late accounts and IT problems is unlikely to have much effect on a person whose definition of “calm under fire” refers to their feelings about being shot at by masked goons whilst looting Benest’s of Millbrook. They will definitely work hard in the office, but don’t expect to be invited around for drinks and nibbles because they live in a blacked out bedsit full of machetes and dried foods, and are only working to earn enough money for a down payment on a bunker somewhere in Canada. Never, ever get them involved in a conversation about the ethics of cannibalism.
WHAT DO YOU BRING TO THE TEAM: extreme resourcefulness, cool and composed in the face of certain disaster, the ability to make the best out of any situation (if salt and pepper are available).
IDEAL JOB: Business continuity expert – ensures your invoices will still be sent out whether the delay is caused by rain, snow or the inevitable fall of mankind.