Twenties Girl

Page 20


Natalie’s really into business mantras, and they’re all on Post-its around her desk. I keep sidling over and studying them, as if they’re the runes to some ancient religion, trying to divine what I’m meant to do. For example, The best talent is already in the market is stuck up above her computer. That one I do know: It means you’re not supposed to go through the résumés of all the bankers who were fired from an investment bank last week and try to make them sound like marketing directors. You’re supposed to go after existing marketing directors.
But how? What if they won’t even speak to you?
After doing this job for several weeks on my own, I have a few new mantras, which go as follows: The best talent doesn’t answer the phone itself. The best talent doesn’t ring back, even if you leave three messages with its secretary. The best talent doesn’t want to move into sports retail. When you mention the fifty percent employee discount on tennis rackets, the best talent just laughs at you .
I pull out our original crumpled, coffee-stained long list for the millionth time and flick through it gloomily. Names glitter off the page like shiny sweeties. Employed, bona fide talent. The marketing director of Woodhouse Retail. The European marketing head at Dartmouth Plastics. They can’t all be happy at their jobs, surely. There must be someone out there who would love to work for Leonidas Sports. But I’ve tried every single name and got nowhere. I glance up to see Kate standing on one foot, surveying me anxiously, the other leg wrapped around her calf.
“We have precisely three weeks to find a tough-thinking, hard-hitting marketing director for Leonidas Sports.” I’m trying desperately to stay positive. Natalie landed this deal. Natalie was going to woo all the starry candidates. Natalie knows how to do this. I don’t .
Anyway. No point dwelling on that now.
“OK.” I slap my hand on the desk. “I’m going to make some calls.”
“I’ll make you a fresh coffee.” Kate springs into action. “We’ll stay here all night if we have to.”
I love Kate. She acts like she’s in a film about some really thrusting multinational company, instead of two people in a ten-foot-square office with moldy carpet.
“Salary, salary, salary,” she says as she sits down.
“You snooze, you lose,” I respond.
Kate got into reading Natalie’s mantras too. Now we can’t stop quoting them at each other. The trouble is, they don’t actually tell you how to do the job. What I need is the mantra telling you how to get past the question “May I ask what it is in connection with?”
I swing my chair over to Natalie’s desk to get out all the Leonidas Sports paperwork. The cardboard file has fallen off its hangers inside her drawer, so with a muttered curse I gather all the papers together and pull them out. Then suddenly I stop, as I notice an old Post-it which has somehow attached itself to my hand. I’ve never seen this before. James Yates, mobile is written in faded purple felt-tip. And then a number.
A mobile number for James Yates. I don’t believe it! He’s marketing director at Feltons Breweries! He’s on the long list! He’d be perfect! Whenever I’ve tried his office, I’ve been told he’s “abroad.” But wherever he is, he’ll have his mobile, won’t he? Trembling with excitement, I push my chair back to my own desk and dial the number.
“James Yates.” The line is a little crackly but I can still hear him.
“Hi,” I say, trying to sound as confident as possible. “It’s Lara Lington here. Can you talk?” This is what Natalie always says on the phone; I’ve heard her.
“Who is this?” He sounds suspicious. “Did you say you’re from Lingtons?”
I give an inward sigh.
“No, I’m from L &N Executive Recruitment, and I was phoning to see if you’d be interested in a new position, heading up marketing in a dynamic, growing retail company. It’s a very exciting opportunity, so if you’d like to discuss it, perhaps over a discreet lunch at a restaurant of your choice…” I’m going to die if I don’t breathe, so I stop and gasp for air.
“L &N?” He sounds wary. “I don’t know you.”
“We’re a relatively new outfit, myself and Natalie Masser-”
“Not interested.” He cuts me off.
“It’s a marvelous opportunity,” I say quickly. “You’ll have a chance to expand your horizons; there’s a lot of exciting potential in Europe -”
“Sorry. Good-bye.”
“And a ten percent discount on sportswear!” I call desperately down the dead phone.