Wolf-Pits and Devil's Work: Fake Job Ads
Updated: Feb 16
I’m ashamed to admit it, but recently I experienced a rather embarrassing morning. I’m not just talking about a bog-standard woops moment either. No, I’m talking about the type of event that my, *ahem*, “friends” will be poking fun of for a while.
It all started when I applied for a job online. Something along the lines of: Trainee Property Sales Executive / £18,000 - £20,000 per annum + Commission.
I looked the company up on Google, and it turned out the job was posted by a recruitment agency - one that specialised in placing graduates into Sales roles. The agency was given 4.4 out of 5 stars by reviews.
‘Well why not?’ I thought. Property is a good career. Hopefully I’d make something of myself. Plus, the fact that it’s a Trainee position must mean they’re not fussed about experience.
Being the imbecile that I am, as I clicked on ‘Apply’ the following words shot through my dense, swiss cheese head…
‘What’s the worst that could happen?’
Around a week later, I got a phone call off an energetic up-and-coming type. The kind of Yuppie that could pull off the name Chad, or Justin. He explained that he was very interested in my CV, and after around half an hour on the phone, he said that he was excited to work with me as a candidate.
The next step was to come into the office and meet with him. There’d be a few clients there, he explained, as well as some group activities to complete so they could see what I was like as a person.
‘Even if you don’t get a job with the property client’, he said, ‘there’s a chance we can sort interviews for other companies we work with as well.’
So, the naïve young chap I am, I said that all sounds great. Not fishy or unprofessional at all.
To be pathetically honest, I actually couldn’t wait.
So, the day comes, and I climb into a humid train that snakes me across the country.
When I arrived at the agency’s building, I buzzed their office.
‘Hello? I’m here to see Chad?’
The door opened without a response.
Upstairs, there was an entire room filled with professional looking sorts. All just standing around, not doing anything. Another round of I’m here to see Chad? and a woman behind the desk ushered me into the crowd of suits.
All the other suits chatted away to each other. It turned out they were all here to see Chad too. Or Justin. Or whichever business-casual Yuppie had called.
Now, normally this would set off alarm bells. But these guys were all talking about which esteemed uni they attended. This wasn’t one of those pyramid schemes that preys on the local area kids with no future and too much ambition. No, I was in the company of Oxbridges, Durhams, Metropolitans.
After about half an hour, the suits and I were whisked off into another room, where we were sat on office chairs, school assembly style. Three very serious people with clipboards, presumably the ‘clients’, watched us as we got comfortable. Before I’d even unbuttoned my jacket, the biggest Chad I’d ever seen stood in front of us.
I’m talking swept back hair, bright blue suit and gold watch. It wouldn’t look out of place if he’d have been flipping a coin over and over.
The Justin-Chad-Hybrid got us all to stand up, one by one, and tell everyone where we’d graduated, and what our greatest achievement was. The other suits told epic tales of how they’d designed complicated thingamabobs that were now being used by MI6, or the Saudi Arabian military.
I told the Justin-Chad that I’d once won a local short story competition. He didn’t seem impressed.
What occurred next was an entire morning of intense business pitches and ‘group activities’, all designed to see which one of us was the loudest. Me, being me, didn’t fare very well in this wolf-pit scenario.
At around lunchtime, I was told to go home.
Although I was disheartened, by the time I got home my girlfriend had done some serious online snooping about this agency. What I’d failed to realise is, although this place had 4.4 stars, all the top reviews were clearly fake.
When we found the more honest ones, they painted a clear picture of what had actually happened.
The agency hosted these wolf-pits twice a week. They waste tens of thousands of graduates’ hours per year resulting in numerous stories just like my own.
So what was the reason for all of this? Let me explain.
Recruitment agencies work on a commission scheme. This means the agents only get paid if a candidate they put forward snags the job on offer.
This usually means most recruitment agents will work tirelessly to ensure their candidate has the best possible chance.
Unfortunately, on the flip side of this, it also gives room for a lazier, less ethical style of recruitment.
These rotten agencies post fake job ads to catch the attention of desperate candidates. Then they drag hundreds - if not thousands - of people through their system in the hopes that they’ll be able to shove someone into a job less appealing than the one they applied for.
The ne'er-do-wells will then wipe their hands and collect a fat pay cheque.
Reading these honest reviews were deeply disturbing.
In a heart-breaking tale, someone had even picked the wolf-pit over a genuine job interview.
But why were these honest reviews few and far between? Well, as it turns out, for some reason Google lets companies delete any review they want, unless it’s on a specific site such as Glassdoor.
Even the jobsite Indeed.com lets reviews be deleted.
This creates an unsettling situation for all of us. With companies having power to post jobs that no one will ever get, and delete the voice of anyone trying to warn others, how can anyone know what’s real and what isn’t?
I wish there was something more I could tell you about this, but there isn’t. I was scammed, plain and simple. What I will say though, is this:
Be careful when searching for jobs. Research every company you apply for. And if anything seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Take all this into consideration, and please, please, for Pete’s sake, just don’t end up in the wolf-pit.