30-day trials are for infomercials, not jobs

As predicted, I got a phone call on Friday with an offer for the email marketing job I interviewed for last week. I was offered a “content strategist” position, which would involve figuring out the best ways to get emails opened and read, and links clicked/products bought. That part sounded interesting. All other jobs I’ve had up to this point have been more about writing the content and managing the design/lists/deliverability.

I already had some reservations about the company, but then they did something that brought my reservations to a whole new level: they offered me a TRIAL period with the job, so that “We can both determine if this is the right fit.” I know lots of jobs have something similar. And I’m okay with the idea in theory. I could treat it like it was a temp job, and I could really see if my reservations about the company were valid. Also, the HR person said that every single person at the company went through a 1-3 month trial, so it’s not like they were singling me out. (She of course, had no way of knowing this, but at the time, I was re-reading “Pledged” by Alexandra Robbins, and had just read the chapter about initiation/hazing in sororities…not exactly helping with my thought process on this!)

However. During the month-long trial period, they wanted to pay me much, MUCH less than I’m worth. Like, the same amount I made at my second internship – in Muncie, Indiana (which has a SLIGHTLY lower cost of living than NYC), when I was fresh out of college. It would barely be enough to cover my rent, a metrocard, and maybe some lunches. Not. Cool. But the HR person also said that if the trial period was a dealbreaker, she’d really like to discuss it with me before I made my final decision.

I’m so tired of companies thinking that they can treat potential employees however they want, with little or no respect. JOB SEEKERS ARE PEOPLE TOO. We have feelings, value, and lives that we need to support financially. Yesterday, my absolute favorite career advice blogger, Alison Green, wrote an excellent post about how there should be a Job Seekers Bill of Rights, and I totally agree with it.

But back to my ridiculous offer. I asked if I could think about it over the weekend, because I had really mixed feelings about it. The part of me that knows my temp job is ending soon (who is, incidentally, the same part of me that writes the commas in my NYC rent checks) thought that I should at least consider it.  The job is a side of email marketing that I REALLY want to explore, and this would be an opportunity to do so.

But the part of me that has respect for myself and knows that I’m worth more than a few bucks above minimum wage was really, really insulted. I currently work three days a week at my contract job, and my take-home salary is more than this company was offering (before taxes). Also, I’m not in complete panic mode financially. Andy’s been getting a lot more freelance work lately, and I don’t seem to have much trouble getting temp/contract work. When I accept a long-term position, I want it to be one that I’m really excited about. I’ve had too many different jobs the last few years, and I’d love to be able to stay put for a while.

I went back and forth with it in my head all weekend. I asked friends and family for their opinions on it, and pretty much everyone I talked to said that I should only take it if they’ll pay me the same salary during the trial period that they would pay for the actual job.

Yesterday I sent an email to the HR person expressing some of my concerns about the trial salary, and asking some of the questions she didn’t give me an opportunity to ask during the interview. I’m still waiting to hear back from her.

I definitely know which way I’m leaning on this (no matter what her response is), and it looks like I might have something else in the works anyway.

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5 Responses to 30-day trials are for infomercials, not jobs

  1. Isn’t this the company that was shady, anyways? It doesn’t sound like a very solid opportunity, and they’re definitely undervaluing you. (I mean, sure, I work for minimum wage…but only because it’s fun. I also do volunteer work. At MY company, I make almost $20/hour…pretty solid in this area.) Your experience is worth more than that.

    • Kristin says:

      Yes, it is. So I’m not too heartbroken about it.

      Regarding your minimum wage job- you at least get an employee discount and free merchandise from a store that you really like! I think that would be worth it. 🙂

  2. Seashell says:

    Wow, are they serious??? I can’t believe how employers get away with how they treat potential employees just because so many people are out of work. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  3. Mel V. says:

    Wow. I’ve worked for a company that had a sixty day trial period, and gave employees a modest salary increase at the end of the trial period. I do mean modest – they certainly weren’t trying to shortchange their employees, and I actually thought it worked out pretty well.

    This… just sounds weird. I wouldn’t do it unless they’ll pay you the full amount for the trial period.

  4. Pingback: Things are gonna change; I can feel it. | The Settlers Give it Passion

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