Something has been bothering me, something that I need to get off my chest.
Since I put up this blog, I've had several people contact me because they found
my resume via a search engine. In talks with these folks, they of course ask me
what I'm looking for in a job, and why I might leave my current position, etc.
Many times, I have had a phone or personal conversation that goes something
like the following:
Me: One thing that is important to me is freedom, ability to do side work for
extra money and own any code that I write at home.
Them: Well, we have to protect our business...
Me: I understand that, and of course I could not do anything that was
competing with you, but rather smaller projects off hours for people who can't
afford a consulting company.
Them: Well, we're looking for someone to help grow our business. We need
someone who can help with sales calls and write proposls, and your skills are
clearly what we are looking for. If you have extra time we would expect you to
spend that time helping us with sales, and writing proposals, and preparing
Me: I see, so, I assume side work like this would not be allowed at your firm?
Them: Correct. We expect you to be too busy to do side work anyway.
Me: Ok. So, I assume I would be compensated for the time I spend doing these
things, since you have identified these activities as vital to your business.
Them: Well, no. Only billable work is payable. Sales work is not billable. Our
people are salaried and no compensation is available for sales work.
Me: (In a last ditch effort to make some sense of where this person is coming
from) Oh, I see, so you must offer some small sales commission or annuity based
income if the sales effort is successful then?
Them: (Answering in a tone that I might expect if I'd offered to sell them
Crack Cocaine while speaking Russian) No ...
Me: I'm not sure this is a good fit.
Someone called me again today, and I had this conversation with them. Before I
make my point, let me reiterate:
Doing work outside the company is forbidden
I am expected to work overtime constantly, as part of my job
No addtional compensation is available, even though the work is of vast
benenfit to the company
Are we becoming a nation of white-collar slaves? Are we so averse to risk we'll
let somone own every hour of our lives as long as they promise a regular
paycheck? Don't get me wrong, I understand that from time to time at any
company there will be a need to put in more time. When something big hits, its
"All hands on deck", and you hope your efforts are remembered later. But, this
all to common conversation is insane. You will require me to work overtime, so
much so that I can't even go work at Blockbuster for free movies if that's what
I wanted to do. You won't pay me for overtime, and on top of that you won't
even throw me a bone if my efforts bring great success to the company.
Why anyone would knowingly enter into this is beyond me. If you have technical
skills as well as the ability to not make an fool of your company in a sales
meeting, you're probably not going to have too much time finding employment.
Furthermore, if you are actually successful in being a sales person and
delivering work, why would you want to do so for free so that someone
else can reap the benefits of your skills and your hard work? On top of that,
if I turn out to be no good at this task, you'll likely fire me and replace me
with someone who is good at that task. If I turn out to be good at the dual
life of delivering good work and doing sales, I might start to think I should
be working for myself, or having other people work for me.
Can someone please explain this to me?
Now, I am not advocating getting paid if you happen to think about work at
home, and as I already said, I think employers asking a little extra during a
crunch is perfectly acceptable. However, asking someone for their talents, and
giving them an up front guarantee that you will in no way pay them for their
time nor will you let them supplement their income is ridiculous. Saying that
you'll "take care" of someone, implying that they might get a slightly bigger
raise next year if they work 500 hours of overtime, is also completely
ridiculous. We all know that the time we could trust Corporate America to be
fair ended long before we had horrible examples like Enron to show us
that "We'll take care of you" is a crock. If you intended to pay me for my
time, pay me for my time. If you try to paint a scenario in which you
want me to think you are going to pay me for my time but the only vehicle for
this is a yearly review, I'm going to be very suspicious of your intentions of
goodwill and fairness.
I'm not advocating a strict "What's in it for me?" policy either, although you
are the only person looking out for you, usually. I am happy to say that I have also
talked to two or three business owners lately who sing a much different
tune. These conversations include things like:
If you bring us a sale because of your relationships, reputation, or time
spent, we'll cut you in
If we ask you to work off hours on sales work, we'll throw you a bone for your
time if the sale does not pan out
We won't pay you hourly for your time on sales work, but if you do help us get
sales we will give you a small %
Share the work, share the reward
Fair is fair. Something for something. Why do so many employers in IT offer Nothing for Everything?
Am I being unreasonable and selfish here? I don't think so, but comments are