Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Business Ethics

In case anyone noticed (I understand life gets busy) I haven't been posting as much the past two weeks, as I've been busy doing other things. It turns out that if you want to get a job you have to APPLY for jobs. I thought jobs came to me! Speaking of which I'm considering tattooing my resume on my forehead. Think it would make things easier, in the long run. Font would have to be pretty small, though.

Anyways, I've learned some interesting things about the business of applying for jobs. I've discovered that there is a plethora of para-legitimate companies out there "Looking to hire immediately!" In case you didn't know, "para" is from the Greek, meaning something like "to the side". Here's legitimate companies, and over there on the side, a series of other than legitimate companies.

What do I mean by this? Well, I've decided not to mention them by name, but they happen to be in the Atlanta area. I'm sure there are similar ones everywhere, but I'll stick to my direct experience. I applied to a couple positions that were billed as entry level sales and marketing. They didn't have any particular requirements, which should have been a red flag enough, but I've been scattering apps far and wide like buckshot, so to get an interview was a thrill.

I read something online about what a difference it makes to prepare for your interview, that so few people do this, so any sort of preparation will put you ahead. So I started to dig around the internet to learn more about these two companies. The weird thing was that I couldn't find hardly anything about them. Their websites were sparse, veneer-like. I couldn't for the life of me discover what these companies actually did. They were like the "papier-mache Mephistopheles" described by Conrad in Heart of Darkness (which is one of my favorite literary images of all time, by the way). I went back to Google, started typing the name of the company, and Google's search suggestion for the next most commonly typed word after the company name was "scam". Uh-oh.

That search revealed lengthy testimonies written by various former employees and those who had interviewed with the companies but decided not to accept the positions. They said pretty damning things, like the interviewer outright lying during the interview process about what the position actually entails, deceptive promises about promotion, and a failure to reimburse for mileage as promised, on and on. In this regard Glassdoor.com was helpful as well. I had never heard of it before but use it fairly extensively now.

This brings me to ask the same question I ask about a hundred times a day: what did people do before the internet? This information was absolutely crucial to me and my life. I would have figured out how maleficent these companies were eventually, of course, after working for them, but I'm so glad I was spared such a fate.

This brings me to a couple more interesting questions: How is it legal for businesses to operate this way? And if it isn't legal, how have they continued doing so? Some of the testimonials were pretty heartbreaking. Who is protecting us from organizations that seek to drain people of their time, energy and money? I guess the Better Business Bureau would be it, but I couldn't really tell you what they do. And it's not like I have evidence of them defrauding customers, only the people they hire, it seems. I know I am naive, but this should not be allowed to happen.

Unfortunately this leads me to toot that same old horn, that of the evils of capitalism. These companies obviously fill a need, or they wouldn't exist. I'm not saying I have a better economic system up my sleeve, but when people are desperate to work and will take any job they can, companies can treat them like the expendable chattel they are. That's not right.

I canceled both interviews. I need "practice" interviewing, but not like that.

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