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“Get the Job Offer, No Matter What!”

get the job offer no matter what badgeRead the first half of this story on LinkedIn

The employment-agency counselor got up from the seat and closed the door to the tiny windowless interview room. She sat down again and looked at me intently.

“If you don’t go on the second interviews that our clients request,” she said, “the agency will drop you. We won’t represent you. And I could lose my job.”

I thought she was conning me. “Oh, come on,” I said. “That’s ridiculous. It’s a waste of your time to send job-seekers on interviews they don’t want to go to for jobs they don’t want.

Anyway, what about my time? You’re not paying me. I’ve spent hours on buses and trains this week. Don’t I have any say in the equation?”

“No,” she said. “You don’t.”

She looked at me, and I saw something naked and scared behind her eyes.

“Then I guess you’ll have to send someone else on those interviews,” I said.

The employment agency lady’s shoulders shook. She started crying.

“Don’t!” she said. “I’m a single mom. I have a one-year-old baby. I have to keep this job. I can place you in one of these jobs. That placement will make this month’s quota for me.”

I couldn’t speak. I didn’t understand what she was saying. “Wait a second,” I said. “They actually tell you to strong-arm people like me to go on interviews for jobs they don’t want?”

“Of course,” she said between sobs. “That’s our business. I have to tell the applicants to take any offer they get.”

“That creepy guy at the print shop in the South Loop,” I said. “He’s a lecher. He’s gross. He doesn’t want a Gal Friday. He wants a playmate. Why don’t you send a male applicant down there?”

“The client specifically asked for a girl!” she practically wailed. “I don’t know anything about your job,” I said, “but isn’t that illegal?”

the underemployment trap

“Yes,” she sniffed. “It is illegal. But my boss says  ‘He’s the client. Give him what he wants.’ The last girl quit because the guy wouldn’t leave her alone. That’s why I hate this job.”

I had seen criminal activity before. I had worked in restaurants and bars. I saw a guy get shot and killed on 42nd street in New York in a drug deal.

I knew that people did illegal things. I just didn’t know those things happened in offices, such that sweet single mothers would have to choose between breaking the law and feeding their babies.

“Why don’t you tell your boss that the horrible companies didn’t want me?” I suggested.

“My boss talks to the clients every day,” she said. “She’s going to hear about it if you refuse a job interview.”

I was angry. I didn’t understand why I bore the brunt of this screwed-up situation. I tried to think of a solution, but I couldn’t focus.

“I have to go home and think,” I said. “Maybe something will come to one of us overnight.” I was disgusted, and exhausted.

The next morning my counselor called me at home, excited. “I just got a job order in,” she said. “It sounds perfect for you. It’s a greeting card company, very fun, growing fast. We’ve put other people in there. It’s a customer service job for four seventy-five an hour.”

I went on the interview and got the job. I called the employment-agency lady to tell her the news and to thank her. The woman at the front desk of the employment agency said “She’s gone. She left. She quit an hour ago.”

“Get the job offer, no matter what” is the worst job advice one person can give another. If your mom or dad gives you that advice, we can give them a pass because they love you and their love can manifest as fear.

If an employment-agency person or a job-search counselor or someone who’s supposed to have your back advises you to be someone you’re not just to get an offer for a job you’d hate, I recommend that you get your advice somewhere else.

When you tell a person to ignore his gut and do or say things he’d never do or say just to get a job offer, you’re doing him a horrible disservice. You’re saying “You don’t deserve to get a job that deserves your talents. You don’t get to make that choice. Go undercover, instead. That’s what it takes to earn an income.”  

Don’t let anyone dampen your flame like that. You have to say no to the wrong things in order for the right ones to come in. When you tell the universe that you’re a victim, a sheep, and a person without choices, you set the tone for the way your life will go. Run away from people who advise you to shut down your sturdy gut and your six senses. Those people are not your friends.

Downloadable E-Book: Career Altitude InventoryI started my customer service job the following Monday, a lovely fall day in Chicago. The company grew, I became an HR person and I never heard from the agency lady again. Nevertheless, she’s a patron saint in the Human Workplace.

She and I pierced the scaly hide of Godzilla together, just a tiny prick but a momentous event. We did it in a windowless conference room in a joyless office where greed had overcome humanity.

She told me the truth about her struggle with Godzilla, and I’m grateful to her for that. Sometimes it’s enough just to know that it’s not you, that you’re not crazy, that people around you really are doing and saying things no person should do or say.

We need to give each other that reinforcement whenever we can.  That’s how we’ll keep Godzilla at bay until our collective Human Workplace flames drive the monster back into the murk he crawled out of.

Our company is called Human Workplace. If this story resonated with you, jump here to learn more about the Human Workplace mission.

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Note from Michael, Human Workplace Operations Manager:

“Dear friends, sorry if you had trouble getting a connection to our blog today. We have had terrific website traffic since we launched our new site in November, but we were blown away by the surge in traffic to our site today after this story was published on LinkedIn. We are scrambling for more bandwidth now!  Sorry for the inconvenience. Thanks for supporting Human Workplace! Contact me if I can answer any questions for you. Have a tremendous day!”

Please leave a comment below!

28 replies
  1. André
    André says:

    This is a great story, and you are such an amazing storyteller!
    The heart of this story is so simple and yet so complex. I think it can happen instantly that moment when you start valuing yourself and stop playing a role. But this is a paradigm that comes to us since we are born. First we have to fit our parents’ expectations, then at school you have to fit a certain role, then you want to fit those kind of relationships you see in the movies, etc. We are constantly being pushed back to be ourselves therefore to run away from that standard is really hard.
    It has been a process for me more in the personal side, but currently because I have a job I don’t like (and because I started Reading your articles) I so value myself much more, and I am never again going to accept an offer without thinking: is this the right thing for me? Am I going to be able to be myself? Because then I ask myself…if we are not being ourselves, what are we being? And is this what we call living?

    Reply
  2. Dave
    Dave says:

    Liz:

    It’s only recently I’ve begun reading your posts and every time, I learn something new. Truth be told, not having been employed for the past two years, I had begun to questions my capabilities. Now, thanks to you, I’ve got my mojo back. I’ve gone to a few interviews recently, have used your ideas during the interview, and feel very positive about my performance. At one place, I called the company’s bluff (it’s a Hispanic TV network, not publicly owned, and I’m not a Hispanic!). I didn’t get the job for the most contrived reason, but I’m relieved because I’d have to work for a neurotic female who’d have tried to second-guess and micro mange me because of her own insecurity about how her experience would have stacked up against mine! I do hope I’ll land somewhere that deserves me, and when that happens, you’ll be on my list of “thank-you” note recipients. Meanwhile, keep these illuminating, insightful posts coming to my Inbox. I can’t thank you enough. Happy new year.

    Reply
  3. Linda
    Linda says:

    Be true to yourself and know your value, and these will help you choose a job or career that you can feel good about being in, every day! Great article.

    Reply
  4. Afedziwa Hayford
    Afedziwa Hayford says:

    What a story! I had an interruption mid-story and could not wait to get back to it to finish reading. This story called attention to the importance of the human element that we need to use all our resources, not only our brain but also our instincts to fulfill our objectives.
    Though it was focused on the job hunter, it could apply to the person hiring or anything else. Thank you for sharing this story!

    Reply
  5. Phil
    Phil says:

    I am so glad that I read this today! I needed a shake back into my own reality.

    You see, I’ve worked in the staffing business for many years and recently shook myself free from Godzilla and started my own recruiting firm…out of my home…with an insanely tight budget. It may have been premature with not enough planning, but it has been my Chicago. The end of my savings is near and I’ve thought about going back into the workforce to find my next Godzilla. You have stopped me from making the worst decision of my life. Sure, it will be a paycheck, but at what cost?

    Thank you, Liz!

    Reply
  6. dkw1975
    dkw1975 says:

    I was unemployed for several months this year. I wish I’d read your article first. It wall worked out. I’m in a great place, but I went on so many second and third interviews for jobs I didn’t want and then was made to feel like the criminal when I turned down the offers….

    Reply
  7. Jonathan Streeter
    Jonathan Streeter says:

    Speaking only for myself, it takes a lot of self-confidence to stop the interview process when I know it’s not going anywhere. The advice sometimes I’ve sometimes received is “it’s great experience to interview, even for a job you don’t want”. But that doesn’t make sense because the experience I need to have under my belt is presenting myself in a genuine manner, expressing myself honestly, and being engaged with the interviewer.

    A few years ago I was interviewing for a firm where the hiring manager and I really hit it off. But when I had a chance to meet the CEO (who was rude and officious), I called her back and said “This isn’t a good fit, and I bet you will find someone who really will make this job work!” At that time I was under the gun financially, but I knew that working for a leader who rubbed me the wrong way would make me resent the job and feel trapped.

    Again, speaking just from my own point of view, walking away from the process at that point –as difficult as it was– ended up giving me more confidence in myself.

    Reply
  8. Anuja
    Anuja says:

    Love the story! Perfect timing for me, as I am interviewing for my next opportunity. I have already come across some pretty shifty recruiters, so this story gives me the fortitude to deal with them. Will consider your advice seriously. Thank You!

    Reply
  9. Jessica Tseng
    Jessica Tseng says:

    I absolutely LOVE this story! Thank you and thank you for sharing. I’m in HR and in the recruiting services. That’s something I believe too. Don’t place people in any jobs jsut to gt the money and move on to the next one. Do it with dignity and compassion if possible. This Godzilla will be my favorite inspiration from now on. 🙂

    Reply
  10. Sally Burgos
    Sally Burgos says:

    Thank you for sharing, this is a great story. The complexity of life, finding your niche and getting the job you define a success is a common goal to most. You must value yourself but how do you get employers to see your value without a stigma (age, seniority, or any other underlying factor for that matter). You could succeed academically with honors but apply this in a real world setting… To have great negotiation and communication skills very important because I feel you will always have something to prove.

    Reply
  11. Andries
    Andries says:

    This story was inspirational! For the last couple of months, a lot of insecurity was generated around me with people’s contracts not being renewed, other people leaving, etc. I was so busy at the time, that my approach was to get my work done and then look at some opportunities. During this time, I applied for several jobs, but either I wouldn’t hear anything or I didn’t get a good feeling during the interview. In the new year, all of a sudden some opportunities presented itself, which I thought was lost and forgotten. And some new ones. Your article/story, really armed me with the approach I should take for the upcoming interviews. Thank you very much! 🙂

    Reply
  12. Lakshmi
    Lakshmi says:

    Hi,

    I came across this post on LinkedIn. It is an amazing piece, very inspirational.

    Courage is one of the most important virtues to have. I can relate with the author’s experiences. Even though I did not go through those kind of ordeals, I have been in situations where the work environment was making me terribly unhappy yet I stuck around because I thought I had to.

    Our own limiting beliefs play a large part in our destiny.

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

    Reply
  13. Mike Putzer
    Mike Putzer says:

    Well told, well written! – can think of several times when I have had to “walk away” from what someone else thought was, “the right opportunity.” Thank you for putting this out there!

    Reply
  14. MartinM
    MartinM says:

    This is what I always talk about. I wonder why everyone around me has just become contented with mediocrity. Shouldn’t be the case!

    Reply
  15. Wallace Herndon
    Wallace Herndon says:

    Excellent article!! It is sad that many people spend one-third to one-half of each day doing a job that they dislike. Life is short so make the best of it. Vow to yourself to look for a job you enjoy and are passionate about. Make that change so you can be the best you can be.

    Reply
  16. David G
    David G says:

    What a fantastic message, and one I really needed to read today in particular. Having just completed interviewing with two companies this week out of state I returned feeling unhappy with both of them for different reasons. But I was feeling a bit like I should be willing to settle rather than stand in my own truth and recognize them as not being the right fit. This article has reminded me that won’t be good long term. I’ve been out of work several months, but I’m not financially strapped so I’m not desperate. No need to keep going on either of these if they aren’t the right ones. And if I do get an offer this article has given me a much stronger sense of being able to give a professional “no thank you” in reply.

    Reply
  17. Fidane Binaku
    Fidane Binaku says:

    I love reading your stories, I have recently found you on LinkedIn and I just cant get enough of them, Thank you so much, you are amazing.

    Reply
  18. Sue Straight
    Sue Straight says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I, like you, am a musician (singer/harmonica player/songwriter) and also a writer. I absolutely LOVE your writing voice!

    I was laid of from a VP of Sales job in May and have been sending off resumes like crazy, with minimal results. I’m a 52 year old woman who has been involved in the wine industry for 30 years, but even getting an interview has been like washing a cat – difficult and painful. I feel like I’m losing my mojo.

    By default, I have just launched my own DTC wine consulting business and I’m vacillating between excitement and terror.

    I just wanted to tell you that for me, yours is a voice of hope.

    Thank You!

    Sue Straight

    Reply
  19. Matthew
    Matthew says:

    “Sometimes it’s enough just to know that it’s not you, that you’re not crazy, that people around you really are doing and saying things no person should do or say.”

    I cannot describe how much that sentence just cheered me up. Thank you Liz, you have turned my day around 🙂

    Reply
  20. Brian Didier
    Brian Didier says:

    Dear Liz and Michael,
    Thanks for sharing this story – and since part 1 was written on LinkedIn, I noticed there that you’ve gone over 100,000 followers now! Congratulations!!!

    As a teacher I’ve not had to deal with office environments or Godzilla like you and most readers, but my students both in the USA and Asia have let me know how terrible it’s become in the non-human workplace….. since discovering your writing and HR efforts in the “human” sphere only a few months ago, and realizing that you’ve been ringing the alarm and fighting this good fight for decades, my hopes are rising and confidence growing that the good guys are going to win in the end, indeed.

    Your “Human Workplace” is much needed – and will triumph – around the world, I can just feel it. It makes me so happy for all the people you are serving (as evidenced by so many touching comments giving you thanks). Best wishes and prayers to y’all for continued growth and success in 2014! 🙂

    Reply
  21. John
    John says:

    Liz,

    This is the first time I have read your blog and it is was great! I have had many second thoughts because I quit a job after six years. The President was concerned about one thing. The bottom line. After years of explaining wage freezes that he promised staff would not happen and hearing things like “they are from here and won’t leave so I don’t have to give them anything” I left. Many people have told me that I had a good job and should have kept it no matter what. While this posting was not about leaving the logic still hit home. Keep posting and I will keep reading!

    Reply
  22. Rabia Tahir
    Rabia Tahir says:

    I started reading your posts because I can relate to them – another newbee 🙂 learnt!! Thank you for this article!! I was starting to lose hope. Because I made the decision not to settle for less than I deserve; and have learnt how, when and why to negotiate (thanks to this and your previous articles), it is taking me longer to find a new posiiton. Two years down the line and I am still looking – but I am better armed. I sell “me” with confidence!! And I have realised how truly worthy I am!! Third only to Oprah and Madiba, I salute you Liz!! 🙂

    Reply
  23. Bruce
    Bruce says:

    Very enjoyable read. However, I have a problem with this approach at this point in my life. If I were a 19 year old again, then passing on a less than perfect job would be an option. Now at nearly 63, I find myself in the job market again in a less than stellar economy, in a career field that is fairly narrow. Needless to say, it’s scaring the crap out of me. I have no intention to jump at just anything, but how do you recognize the difference between a somewhat less than perfect fit and the ideal? All I know is I need a job, won’t be retiring, probably ever, and the project I’m on ends this year.

    Reply
  24. Donnas
    Donnas says:

    I was a very young mother when I went job hunting. I landed a job at a metal recycling place as…not really sure what the job title was. The business was run by two brothers. Both of them were middle-aged, round, balding on top and intense. One of them really enjoyed my work and I got three raises in six weeks. That was very good for my ego and my family’s needs. The other brother decided that since I was cute and very female, since just having a baby, that I needed to service his customers in a different way. There was no talking about it. Either I spent time with his customers or I was unemployed. So, I went to the unemployment office. At this time, early 70’s, it was difficult to get unemployment and it only lasted a few weeks, maybe 24. I explained to them what had happened, I was able to draw unemployment even though I had only worked there for 6 weeks. I drew unemployment until I got a “much better” job doing actual keypunch at MetLife for $1.85 an hour. Ah…the good old days.

    Reply

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  1. […] Came across this piece about someone who was, essentially, guilt trip/coerced into taking a job through a placement agency; quite tragic – though there’s a silverlining in the end (Human Workplace); […]

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