Sometimes I think I’ve heard it all, but this employer puts a new spin on respecting the job candidate…
This week’s Ask The Headhunter Newsletter generated a lot of sharp comments via e-mail, as well as many requests that I post it on the blog. I’m glad to oblige. (The newsletter is free, but it’s not archived online, so only subscribers receive it.)
A reader’s story:
I’ve applied for a job in the $80K-$90K range. I’ve learned that the company in question had high turnover in the past few years because they took advantage of their employees. Now, they claim to have changed. But, in a phone interview, I was told the job required a 50-70 hour work week, plus on-call duties for some weekends. I’m scheduled for a 3.5-hour interview, and I just received the e-mail below from the recruiter. This is the first time I have ever heard of something like this, and I have to say makes me feel uneasy.
“I wanted to give you a heads-up on something, should you receive a job offer from XYZ company. I know that you have not received an offer YET, but I do like to let all of my XYZ candidates know about this during their interviewing process.
“XYZ company has all of their new employees sign an agreement to stay for at least 18 months. This is because of the importance of their projects and contracts and because of the investment from their part with new employees and training and so on. They have everyone sign an agreement to stay for at least 18 months. If you do decide to leave before then, you are required to pay a small percentage of the fee that they paid to the recruiter for your hiring. The percentage lessens each month and the longer that you stay with them, the less you have to pay if you decide to leave. Unfortunately, this is becoming more common among employers.
“However, our recruiting firm has our own guarantee and we will cover you up to two months (60 days). Therefore, if you happen to decide to leave before your 60 days is up, then you are not required to pay anything. Does that make sense? The HR manager will discuss all of these details IF they decide to extend an offer to you. This is usually not a problem for my candidates, as most people will not accept an offer if they do not plan on staying for at least 18 months, and you still have that 60 day period that my firm covers.”
Have you ever heard of such a requirement before accepting a job offer? This does not sound very good to me.
What we have here is a recruiter who is a maggot trying to attract flies to a dying company. I wouldn’t touch a deal like this with a ten-foot pole. Pay them if you leave? Insane. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit! While some might admire the recruiter’s audacity for explaining this in advance, the recruiter’s claim that it’s common for employers to make employees pay to quit a job is one of the most pathetic sales pitches I’ve heard yet.
To paraphrase P.T. Barnum, There’s a sucker born every minute — and the world can’t use them up fast enough. I know it’s astonishing, but I’m sure the recruiter’s ploy works. By “divulging” the “quitting fee” in advance, some folks undoubtedly decide to take the chance. My guess is you’ve already answered your own question. Please let me know.
The reader’s follow-up:
Thanks for your reply. Good to hear the same from an expert. After a five-hour interview with four directors and the Chief Information Officer, I still had no idea what my daily work would be. (See Don’t Suck Canal Water.) I learned about conflicts between managers, and about chaos as an operating strategy.
Big Brother was working the front door: sign-in and sign-out is required, even for lunch. The whole environment reeked of Theory X. One of the directors told me in the interview, and I quote, “If you want to be a slacker, working only 40 hours, the door is revolving.” Weekend work and overtime are required. One director said that, in general, they do not promote from within. The HR person said they have 100 positions to fill. It’s amazing what you can learn in a few short hours.
I left these meetings with two directors disputing which one would hire me (two separate jobs), but I rejected them both.
I like to work. I am fully engaged, and my drive to complete a task is internal. I don’t need anyone to motivate me. This sounds like a dysfunctional organization. I’ve already had plenty of experience with that kind of abuse.
It is unfortunate that this is still part of the corporate landscape. This is what happens in an area where good jobs are scarce. (See How Employers Poison Their Well.) I choose to move on, possibly out of town, and not be part of it.
Thanks for your advice!