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'Job interview left me with crushed vertebra'

Published: 07 Mar 2014 12:02 GMT+01:00

Who is Clio Almansa?

Up until a few days ago, she was just an ordinary young woman from the Catalan city of Mataró. Once an aspiring professional dancer, in recent years she has been trying to pave her way to a career in marketing and sales.

So why is she The Local’s Spanish Face of the Week?

The 24-year-old has graced the covers of numerous Spanish dailies and made several TV appearances after her story was spotted by Spanish newspaper El Mundo earlier this week.

Back in October 2012, Almansa took part in a gruelling applicant selection process to become a cleaning products salesperson.

"There were between 40 to 50 candidates taking part in these motivational courses which were meant to makes us overexcited so that we’d sell more," Almansa told Spain’s national broadcaster RTVE1.

Organizers would play music at top volume, give inspirational speeches and stage competitive games such as getting applicants to stand on top of chairs and try to push each other off.

It was in one of these trials' over the three-day selection process that Almansa’s life changed drastically.

Was this when she was trampled on?

Yes, and the lead-up to the accident was slightly surreal.

Recruiters divided the candidates into groups and told them to stand at opposite sides of a big meeting room. One of them then told the applicants he would leave a €50 note (worth roughly $70) in the middle and whoever grabbed it first could keep it.

"He threw it on the ground and it was like an avalanche," Almansa told El Mundo.

"Even if I’d kept completely still I would have been dragged along."

Almansa was trampled on by the mob of job-hungry youngsters, leaving her with a crushed vertebra and bruises on her head and shoulder.

"I've never felt so much pain in my life.

"Everyone got a fright because I just couldn't get up. All I remember after was that they called an ambulance to take me to the hospital."

How bad was the damage?

The young woman was only in hospital for a few days but had to take pain tranquilizers and wear an orthopaedic corset for two months after the accident.

"It took me a year to fully recover but even now it still hurts sometimes," Almansa told El Mundo.

So she didn't get the job, right?

In fact, she did. Recruiters at Ecoline 2010 offered the temporarily disabled youngster an indefinite contract on a part-time basis.

But the reward for her ordeal was short-lived.

After being paid the first month, she received a fax confirming her dismissal, arguing that she hadn't passed her trial period.

"I felt humiliated and shocked, the whole situation was surreal."

Has she done anything about it?

Almansa's lawsuit against the cleaning products company started this week.

The dancing enthusiast from Mataró in Catalonia is suing her former bosses for hazing and physical injuries.

"They take advantage of young people without experience who are desperate to find work, and assume they can put them through trials like those."

Since her story went public, numerous former employees and applicants of Ecoline 2010 have contacted Almansa to tell her of their own ordeals with the company.

Many have expressed concern over their cutthroat approach when sacking sales team members after just two months or how they would force them to sell cleaning products to their own family and friends. 

What does Almansa's story tell us about the situation for young Spaniards today?

With youth unemployment currently at 55 percent, young people are desperate to find work.

The Spanish press see Almansa's story as an example of the lengths these young jobseekers are willing to go to secure employment.

Don't miss stories about Spain, join The Local on Facebook and Twitter.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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