My life just keeps getting crazier. You’ll recall that when my initiatives to land a Cruise Ship job failed, I applied to a financial institution out of frustration. That lead to a phone screen. I wasn’t sure why – I used the same exact resume I used when I applied to Vanguard four years ago, five years ago, six years, and seven years ago. There was literally nothing different about my resume except that I had worked more years at the family business. Oh, and one of my internet buddies who works for Vanguard wrote some good things about me to the recruiter. Maybe they put a lot of weight on her vouching for me.
I did not have a good feeling about the phone screen. I was living in a random AirBNB trailer in Albuquerque, borderline depressed because a woman flew out from Florida to hang out with me and was disappointed with my in person personality, also sad because I didn’t hear anything back from any of the cruise companies.
Imagine my surprise when Vanguard wants to fly me out to Phoenix at their expense, provide me with a comp’ed hotel, car service from and to the airport, and expense my meals. I felt like a VIP! Who reading this blog would turn down a paid-for visit to one of Vanguard’s campuses? My dad was shocked they would do this. My friend, who works at Vanguard on the east coast, was shocked that they would do this. “Vanguard is so cheap! I am floored!” They easily spent $500 on me for a position that would have paid, I think, around $35k.
These were some of the things that I heard: “If they don’t give you the job, whoever made the decision to fly you out probably has a lot of explaining to do”.
“Nobody flies people out anymore. I can’t imagine they’d fly you out for this job? Maybe they identified something in you and want to groom you for something else. Look at your friend Josh was doing night shifts for 1-800-Dentist, but is now a director there. it’s incredibly hard to find good people.”
I’ve always been a miserable failure at selling myself. I like to fly under the radar in life and in career. Queue the irony of having a self-titled blog. Unfortunately, being modest and flying under the radar is not how you convince companies to hire you.
Vanguard would be a dream company to work at for this Vanguard investor. But only in Arizona. No winter weather for this California kid. 37.5 hour work week, Starting out with 18 days PTO, dirt cheap health care…and what could be more fulfilling than contributing, in whatever small capacity it is, to the operations of your funds? When you work for Vanguard and you are a Vanguard fundholder, you are indirectly working for yourself. The funds own Vanguard and you own the funds. Except you get awesome perks and benefits, you get a structured work schedule, structured work responsibilities, and you don’t have the stress and uncertainty of actual self-employment, and they happen to have a campus 15 miles north of the dirt cheap co-op’s you’ve been eyeing. I totally would have bought one of those co-ops, too, if I was offered the job.
The interview went just about as expected. I stunk up the behavioral questions. But I’ve always stunk at behavioral questions. I thought I rocked the case study and I was hoping my passion for Vanguard and personal financial competence would overcome any behavioral incompetence. Since it didn’t, you can imagine it feels pretty demoralizing.
The team leader was even asking me extra customer service questions that weren’t relevant to that specific position. When my dad asked me how it went, I said that I wasn’t sure, but I also thought I bombed the phone screen, and they flew me out there after that, so I really didn’t know what to expect.
“If they offer you the job, will you take it?” “I guess so. I wasn’t planning to go back to work this soon, but it’s a great long term opportunity. I think I’d be a fool not to”
One of my friends @ Vanguard had mentioned: “I know a lot of the problem with the people on the phones has just been incompetence lately (or so it seems) Not necessarily lack of customer service skills, so hopefully that works in your favor.”
Unfortunately it didn’t, which makes me wonder if my attempts at answering behavioral questions are even worse than I perceive. I definitely got the vibe from the second team leader I talked to that I was more knowledgeable than most applicants who come through there.
I interviewed with the Institutional side, so it was funny when she mentioned that this side is dealing with employees of companies who use Vanguard for their 401(k), I chirped up “They are so lucky!” She said “Not all of our clients think so.” I guess I might enjoy the retail side of Vanguard more since at least those people are investing with Vanguard by choice, but isn’t that a crazy thought to readers of this blog?
It’s probably inconceivable to some readers with as many horrible 401(k)’s out there, that there are people in this country who would complain about having a dirt cheap 401(k) with Vanguard as custodian. And I would have been one of the people taking their phone calls.
While touring Vanguard, I did learn that they have an “Email team”. I would rock that job all day long and I would love doing it. I’m not a natural phone dude and I made that clear to both team leaders I spoke with, and that might be why I don’t have the job, but I also know I’m competent enough to be trained to become a competent phone dude, and I thought I expressed that, but maybe I didn’t. So it is a bit disappointing that working for Vanguard won’t be my reality. At least not this time.
The silver lining is that I saw enough of the co-op to know that I could totally live there and have a ridiculously low cost of living. The bad news is that without a job offer in hand, I’d have to be more transparent about my assets to the co-op and I’m not sure that I particularly want to do that.