Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The day I applied to one of those '20 people needed NOW to start work TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" ads

Just before I finished my teaching degree I decided to apply for a commonly advertised position on the Seek job website.


So here is how it went down.

I heard back the next day after applying and they asked me to come in for an interview. No worries. The interview was at a was-a-house-now-an-office on South Road that is no longer an office anymore. It was very vague, mostly about my interests in Sport. I was coaching at the time, so there was enough to talk about.

I did ask some questions about the job. Some short answers. Different locations each week, the opportunity to build your own business once you had become established with the company for a little while. It concluded with 'Well we like you, job trial starts tomorrow to see if you like us.'

That was different. Usually it's 'if we like you'.

The next day I drove to the office again and sat in one of the morning meetings. They had a set target per person, per team, per day. Then a pep talk about how awesome sales had been. Apparently they meet together every day, which was nice. Soon it was off to the locations, and the interviewer had said I could ride with someone else, but I decided to take my own car.

The location: Castle Plaza. That was okay because it was close enough to my house.
The job: selling raffle tickets and donations for the Paraolympic Committee.

No one had been up front about it until now.

I spent two hours with two guys. The first was a young man out of school who wanted to join the Army but also wanted to make some money with this job first. The second guy was about my dad's age who was in the process of starting his own new business doing the same thing. (No, I have no idea how these things work and how businesses spawn businesses like some kind of frog-tadpole set up but there you go). They were both really lovely and earnest. My "job" was to sit on a chair they had brought with them and observe.

Here is how it worked, according to New Business Dude (NBD for short): each day you have a target. He was aiming for 20 ticket sales @ $6 each before 11am (we started at 9am). Now, if foot traffic is low, you can always adjust the goal accordingly. Each ticket has a commission of $2, but there is no base rate, so if you sell two tickets, well you have $4 pay for that day.

To get the customer's attention, you can call them over, or say hello. NBD suggested to have something to get them to pay some kind of attention. This team had photo boards and also NBD had a sign saying 'Paralympics Special Committee' which he waved around at waist height. Sometimes he would interchange 'How are you today?' with 'Will you give us a go?', especially if the potential raffle ticket buyers didn't seem too interested.

Lots of different people bought tickets, especially older couples. There were many people who said no, but surprisingly very few rude ones. Some people wanted to buy extras some they could be awarded with a special commemorative pin.

NBD and the young guy were both really lovely to me, but it got to 11am, the deadline I had given myself. The sales target had not been reached, but my limits of being polite sure had. I said thanks, this isn't for me, left, all the while  saying my twentieth prayer of thanks for driving myself to Castle Plaza.


Sales can be great for some people. I couldn't sell ice to Eskimos or even ice to 50 loud young people having a party without a fridge. I am also not into the sales pitch. I don't get pressured into buying things, or feel guilt/pity for not 'giving'. The entire time I was at my 'job trial' I felt a little duped, and also a little naive. I should have known it would be something like this, but I couldn't really until I tried it on for myself, and wasn't pleased with what I saw.

I haven't seen the young guy since, but I did see NBD out selling raffle tickets for the same company last year, which means he has been about five years into this gig. And obviously it is working for him.

After seeing enough of the process, I can understand why businesses do put out these ads. At this time, 2010, you were only paid in commission and I imagine the turn over of 'fundraisers' would be quite high. On the other hand, you are helping make money for an important organisation, in fact, many of the people 'selling' are trying to sign you up to support charities like World Vision or Amnesty. While others would say that too much money is being spent on 'administration' and 'revenue raising', there isn't really a huge volunteer force to help support income for the organistion, at least not without some kind of reimbursement. And so, I understand the reason behind some of the smoke and mirror behaviour of these business, but it wasn't a good fit for me, and, just for the record, I still am yet to purchase a 'raffle ticket'.