Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Due diligence an essential component of any job search

Looking for a job is a big enough challenge nowadays. Finding a job is hard. Finding a real job is even harder. Finding an employer that is willing to tell the truth just takes a few easy steps, but many people seem to be unwilling to be a little skeptical.

It’s ironic that job applicants are expected to tell the truth about everything, and reveal intimate details of their life and mind to a potential employer, even for a minimum-wage job with no benefits and no real opportunities to advance, but the employer is allowed to lie about every aspect of the job.

So they’ll tout decent pay, benefits, a nice workplace and more just to get you in the door, and play on your desperation by interviewing you, then revealing that things are not so good at the company.

Back in 2009, I made it to the first stage of an interview at Wal-Mart, and had to explain how I could actually do something without being told if I noticed that something needed to be done.

I had been Unicru’d through the initial part of the process, but apparently wasn’t good enough for the job, which was retrieving shopping carts from the parking lot. It makes you wonder.

I have been applying for jobs, though now that I have a nice gig writing freelance and doing work on the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s websites on the weekend I am pushing less hard. And the jobs I see posted make me wonder.

Of course, I want to play to my strengths, which are editing and writing, but some companies that are posting editing and writing jobs seem to be not quite on the level.

Applicants have to tell the truth; companies can lie like rugs and get away with it. They have the upper hand.

You have to be picky, I have always said. If you are being interviewed for a job and not being asked about the skills that you feel make you qualified for it, something may be wrong. Don’t be afraid. Ask that hard question before and, if necessary, during the interview: “Is this multilevel marketing?” or “Is this door-to-door sales?”

Companies are not afraid to respond to resumes that have nothing to do with the job they pretend to offer. After all, building a commissioned sales force is easy since an “employer” doesn’t actually have to pay anyone. No sales, no pay. It’s pretty simple, and just has to be kept hidden until the person shows up for work – unless the person actually realizes it before starting work and decides not to take the job when he or she realizes it’s laboring for free unless you can persuade someone to buy something.

There is one word that is the key to knowing what a job is all about. It’s “marketing.” If a company says it’s in the business of “marketing,” then chances are the job will be commission sales of some kind, even if they’re advertising for writers or editors.

Back in the day, “multilevel marketing” was the watchword, until it was dirtied by stories of people thinking they were getting a job. Then it was “network marketing” and finally “interactive marketing.” Notice the second word: marketing. You may need a job, but the “employer” needs a warm body on the street, working for nothing.

This is why you need to be cold-blooded and skeptical in your approach to any job ad. Parse it with care, and be critical. Beware of misspellings or promises of being hired immediately. Watch out for “blind” ads from companies that don’t even want to identify themselves to you.

And, for goodness’ sake, beware of any job with the word marketing anywhere in the ad. You’ll be glad you did.

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March 23, 2012 - Posted by | Life lessons, The jobless chronicles | , , , , , ,

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