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Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Great Job Hunt

Since I dropped out of the job market in 2007 for health reasons and also because I wanted to do something of my own for a bit, I had been inundated with some great job offers and some not-so exciting ones. Three years later, I'm back in a full-time job but I've also had a fair share of experiences that I thought I should share.

They are meant to highlight hypocrisy, evasiveness and that slippery-floor feeling, where you can feel the person is doing a bad job of trying to pull the rug from under your feet and hopefully pull it over your eyes! Well, it didn't work with me and so I thought I should tell everyone else about it. We've all heard of job-seekers fudging resumes but job-givers are not beyond acting weird either. So here goes...

1. This is a website that used to take stories I had written for my ex-employer - moneycontrol - because we had a content sharing arrangement with them. The site is affiliated to the CII and showcases India in a positive light to foreign investors through articles and research powerpoints put up online. I got in touch with them to offer working part-time on their content. In my e-mail I mentioned I live in Mumbai and that I would like to work at their office here, if they had one. After two weeks of silence - a lot of people don't know the art of acknowledgement - I sent a reminder and then heard from someone there, who asked me if I was willing to come out to Gurgaon as they had a vacancy there, which I was not willing to do. She then told me she would discuss the matter with people at her end and then do a con-call with me to take this further. The con-call happened where she again asked me to come out to Gurgaon and when I said no yet again, she told me that she would send across some PPTs for me to edit, and see how I did it. She also left it to me to quote a figure, in terms of time spent on doing the PPTs. They were on the food processing industry in India and Assam. She sent it to me on Friday evening and I sent one back on Monday morning and the other bigger one back on Wednesday. After all this, she realised that she would not be able to make out where and if I had done any work on those PPTs and hence she didn't want to give me any more of them to do.

I e-mailed her back and pointed out to her that she should have thought about this 'before' sending me the PPTs in the first place. After all, she had discussed this move with her colleagues and then done a con-call with me..hadn't she? What followed were e-mails which were in typical cover-your-ass mode because how else can you back out of a situation where you want to get work done, but for peanuts or for free.

2. This little magazine was hiring a features editor and both - a headhunter and a friend got in touch with me about it. I decided to go ahead and pursue it and see what it was all about. I didn't hear from them for months and so I took to calling up and finding out what had happened. They hemmed and hawed and I was told the editor was never in. It's amazing how the magazine gets published every month without him. Anyway, when I was finally called in to meet him, he told me they had hired for the position already - this was in March this year - and that he was looking out for someone to help with any contract publishing projects they got. The fact is, this magazine does not do much of contract publishing and I was just shown a couple of tiny booklets put out for a pharmaceutical company every other month or so. I didn't think they had the means to hire me for insignificant amount of work that may or may not come in every month. I was right because after all the due process was done, I never heard from them except to tell me, I was not acceptable to them.

So, why call me in the first place for a position that was not there to begin with, and which does not justify hiring anyone? As of today, this magazine's masthead does not even have the name of the 'new' features editor they had told me they had hired. If anything, since this magazine has gone bankrupt in the US, the names on their masthead have dropped to just the bare minimum, so it's possible that even the position that had been advertised, has not been filled as a cost-cutting measure. What's more, the previous issues even had the ex-editor still on the masthead and possibly on the payroll, as a consultant. That's not the case anymore, as his name has been removed lately. With two editors around - it's no wonder the current incumbent never felt the need to be in his office much! In fact, when I was called over for my interview and I was doing my written test, he kept getting his Facebook profile updated by a staff member, with his latest holiday pictures.

3. This is a newspaper that had a vacancy which seemed like 2000 redux - meaning like the first job I had when I began working in 2000. So I turned down the job but asked if I could write for them. A senior editor talked to me and told me how things worked and what the deadlines were. All said and done, I finally asked her about payment and she said she needed to 'check' on that and would let me know. Well, for a major newspaper that claims to take freelance content, she didn't know how much they were paying their freelancers - or that's the impression she wanted me to get. So, I waited for a week to hear from her and sent her a reminder. Guess what..she's still checking up on this after all this time.

4. This is a brokerage firm's online magazine that is difficult to spot on their own site unless you know where to look. They got in touch with me to write for them. I was told by the editor that they did not give bylines but paid between Rs 2- Rs 4 per word, depending on the content and the seniority of the writer. I was told by her that quotes were sourced by them and I would have to give a written sample - this is after they had looked up this very blog and got in touch with me.

The sample was submitted on 'Power Trading in India' and the worldly wise editor saw two paragraphs on carbon emissions in the entire article, and said she couldn't accept it. Again, I emailed her gofer - the editor got this person to answer e-mails on her behalf and she edits a 27-30 pager PDF and not even an actual magazine - and told her that this was supposed to be a test to decide on future payments and was not to be published. Well, that girl had the decency to apologise for a very abrupt and in my opinion a non-transparent experience. That writeup I did for them has been posted by me on this blog, last month. Take a look and see if you don't find it worth reading, considering the topic is as exciting as watching paint dry.

Moral of the story - Willingness to work should not be confused as willing to be snubbed.

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