Friday, October 24, 2008

Monster.com: Aptly named

Maybe it's because of my recent past and trouble with the credit industry. Or maybe it's because I tend to cheer for the underdog in any given situation, or maybe it's because I really hate nonpassive advertising. But I've grown to hate monster.com with a zeal and passion that likely rivals that of a madman.

The concept behind it is simple. Provide an online market place where people can find the perfect job for themselves and apply at home at their leisure (perhaps in their underwear). There are a number of competitors, but Monster.com has done a superb job at cornering this niche in the realm of online cash cows.

This system is sponsored by a number of passive advertising methods, such as banner ads. This in itself is fine. But they also don't do a terribly good job at screening those who apply for access to your personal information. Pretty much any entity legitimate or not can access your resume, contact information and marketing preferences instantly provided they fork over a roll of cash to Monster.

This is an enormous problem. Granted, a large array of legitimate recruiters trawl Monster every single day looking for their next marketing director, registered nurse or marine biologist. But it seems an increasing number of shady pyramid scheme oriented folk are right alongside them, peeping at your telephone number, email and home address.

My situation several months ago was simple. I was looking for a part time job to replace an increasingly unpleasant retail position. I was religiously reading the classifieds, scanning craigslist and sifting through monster's established want ads.

I receive a call completely out of the blue from the assistant to a "Mr. Wolf." This Mr. Wolf saw my resume online, explained this lovely young receptionist. He was very interested in my credentials and would absolutely love to see me the very next day for a job interview to discuss the day I'd be able to start work.

I was excited for a split second before the skeptic in me took hold. That's not how things work in the real world. The offer sounded too good to be true. I inquired as to where he saw my resume, as his company name did not match any I had recently applied to myself. She quickly and discreetly mentioned a rigorous screening process, but that they saw me on Monster.com.

This in itself was odd, considering I had made a new profile live mere hours prior. But I made an appointment politely regardless. I immediately jumped in front of my computer, loaded their company website, logged onto scam.com and searched.

Their website was suspiciously vague about their industry and their hiring process. I dug and dug. I discovered that the company as a whole was owned by a Fortune 500 corporation, but it was as close to a pyramid scheme as you could be without being explicitly illegal. The job that I had been "cherry picked" for was an insurance salesman (I had no experience in the insurance industry, nor sales). Which is in itself fine, but research revealed that not only would I have to live wholly on commissions, but those responsible for bringing me in will always, no matter what receive a significant cut out of every sale I make, regardless of their involvement.

Dozens of former folks duped by this scam told tales of "one on one interviews" consisting of little more than a receptionist pitching a rah-rah-rah speech to 20 or more applicants in tiny conference rooms. Several former employees told of hidden licensing fees in the thousands of dollars, months until "residuals," high pressure office environments and pretty much endless cold calling.

Needless to say I blew off the "interview," deciding to not waste gasoline. Thinking that was that I simply continued about my business until recently. I discovered a coworker had the exact same experience. No experience in sales, no experience in insurance, a call from the blue immediately after posting to monster, an immediate interview. It turned out to be the same Mr. Wolf, but his experience happened several years prior to mine.

Talking to the missus about the issue revealed the exact same thing had happened to her.

In itself, this was fine. We were all smart enough to smell a scam and dodge it. But what if we were really desperate? What if we let wishful thinking cloud our judgment, because we were so desperate to escape a poor situation? We'd be stuck in a paper moon situation either cold calling with no hope of immediate pay or hiring people so we could leech off of their hard work, like Mr. Wolf.

How many people had been suckered into this scam, either too desperate or inexperienced to spot a quasi-illegal money sink? Mr. Wolf has quite the apt last name. He is a predator and he preys upon those who need the most protection. And Monster.com facilitated his disgusting mobius operandi. It'd be one thing if he really was cherry picking those with "experience" in sales or insurance. But he isn't. He's casting the widest net possible and luring every new comer to Monster into the gaping maw of his organization. And he was doing it, quite clearly for a number of years.

I complained to Monster, citing my research and the testimonials of my coworker and wife. Not only did I not receive a timely response, but I didn't receive one at all. Not even a prepackaged automated "Sorry. We're looking into it." I complained again. Still no response. I'm still waiting, Monster.com. It's been four months and six emails.

Am I surprised? No, not really. I'm not even that angry that it happened to me. It wasted a total of fifteen minutes on the phone and some research. What really irritates me is that this guy has likely duped people in my neighborhood. Good people who just don't have all the common sense in the world, or maybe fell victim to him on a day he happened to be on a roll. This is especially important in this kind of market.

Who's to say that stable jobs haven't been left over this guy and his lure? In especially desperate times people become more and more frightened. Maybe you're looking for a more secure position, looking to bail from an ailing industry. Or maybe you've been laid off and you need to pay the rent RIGHT NOW. When people are scared judgment tends to take a backseat. But it's critically important to keep a skeptical mind, especially when your career is on the line.

I'm not saying to blow off everything on the internet. Far from it, it's one of your most powerful tools in looking for a new job. But take it with an extra grain of salt than you would something from a newspaper. And for god's sake, research anything that looks fishy.

Further reading on Monster.com, job scams and general things to look out for:

1 comments:

Ray said...

There are many other sites to get matched to jobs

www.linkedin.com (networking)
www.indeed.com (aggregated listings)
www.realmatch.com (matches you to jobs)

good luck to those searching for jobs.

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