I know what you’re probably thinking. Surely it’s obvious when a job is a scam? Well, I was so desperate to start work I had pulled wool over my eyes and left my critical thought at the door. This is my story about the process of being recruited, enrolled, and sucked in by a shady firm and how I only lasted only 3 days.
In week 5 of unemployment, an email popped up for a PR job at a newish marketing company. I thought I really had hit the jackpot.
The office was in a dingy, budget block in North London. I sat in the freezing cold (I had to be there at 7 in the morning, meaning a 5am start) waiting for my interviewer to come and speak to me, who was now 40 minutes late. There were about 20 people in that waiting room with me, with a constant carousel being interviewed by the same man. Mass hiring is often a sign of a terrible company.
Finally, it was my turn – I was in there for around 15 minutes. He asked what position I was going for (really?!) and said I would be better suited to their managerial program where, unbelievably, you can progress through 4 hierarchical stages in under a year and be making £150,000 per annum. Willing to believe anything they told me, I was hook line and sinker.
The next interview was 2 hours long, where we sat in a coffee shop and chatted about the role. I would be selling in the first stage, working from cool stands and running exciting events, no cold selling involved. At this point, you’d be earning £300+ a week, or more, depending on how hard you worked. The second stage would be managing a team at £700+ pounds a week, the third was working in the office on PR and finances, etc for £900+ and the last stage which was running your own office, to the tune of over 150 grand a year.
You could progress through the first stage at a maximum of 3 weeks – depending on how quickly you get the sales process.
I got the job and started two days later, with all the others that had got through to the managerial program. Looking around the table, I saw a collection of timid, meek people and couldn’t help but think – how on Earth are they going to manage a team, let alone sell anything? It was obvious to me at this point the company was desperate for employees. I sat around this table for 3 hours achieving nothing due to a ridiculous, disorganized morning. Later, we were told what we were selling…energy tariffs.
On my first day on ‘the field’, I found out we would be cold selling to people on the street. We would start at 8 in the morning, finish at 7 in the evening and then trape back to the office for a briefing – meaning it was a 12-hour workday minimum. We were taught to be pushy, ignore people’s requests that they didn’t want to change their energy tariff, and were given a painfully cheesy script. You were only allowed to take 20 minutes for lunch, which meant aching feet from standing all day.
To make matters worse, I found out from my coworkers it was a 6-day workweek. This was all for £50 a day, which is far below the minimum wage for any Londoner. You didn’t get money for travel either and the bosses would send you to areas that were sometimes £10+ each way on the tube. All in all, including travel from my flat to work I would be earning £25 for a 12 hour day. This was not what I signed up for and essentially charity work – any company you have to pay to work for is a massive red flag. The promises of progression were lies too, I met a very good salesman that had been street selling for 9 months and hadn’t moved up a rank.
The final nail in the coffin was you would only get your base salary of £300 a week if you made 2 sales. To put this in perspective, even with two seasoned professionals we only made one sale in a day. This was truly Mission Impossible.
I quit after a day and a half. Nearly in tears on the second day and feeling trapped in my poor decision, I realized that although I had given all my details over I had not signed a contract. Nothing was anchoring me to this job at all, so I hauled ass that afternoon and didn’t look back.
Don’t be like me. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.