I got a job six months ago as a technical recruiter for a third-party contractor whose field techs replace parts for warranty customers. It's a family business with about a dozen employees in the office. Things are hinky there. Please help me understand what's going on and make a decision. Sorry, but it's very long.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total)
When I was hired my boss, the operations director (also the son of the CEO) said that this was a growing company and there was plenty of room to move up. He said that the $9/hr was entry level, and after three months I would most likely get a raise and definitely get benefits. The benefits part turned out to be true.
A week or so after I was hired, he brought me into his office for a meeting and showed me a rubric of recruiter expectations that were tied to raises. During the interview he had NOT mentioned that raises were similar to commissions in that they were directly tied to how many techs we hire.
"Level One" was to fill four job requisitions (reqs) per week. My boss said the current recruiter was accomplishing that. I was hired to replace the current recruiter as he had gotten another job. Part of the expectation was to maintain a contractor retention rate of 80%, measured monthly. I was completely new to this industry so I took everything on face value. I didn't have any way of evaluating how realistic these expectations were.
"Level Two" was to fill 5-8 reqs/wk, "Level Three," 9 res. "Level 4" did not have a numerical goal, it just said "fill all reqs per week." This position also included more admin work and training new recruiters.
There were no salaries in writing attached to these positions, but my boss said it would go up by a dollar an hour per level.
Here I should note that I am a mid-career professional entering this new field due to the lack of jobs in my own. I have made two to four times more than this wage and I spent six years as a freelancer, so I am completely unaccustomed to this sort of job environment. I really needed an income, though.
I was often pulled away from normal recruiting duties to call customers and apologize for work not being done. Other times, a tech quit abruptly (usually over really low rates that would not even cover mileage) and I had to spend one or two days just trying to find someone to fill the position. My boss would pile task after task on me without telling me how to prioritize my work and I felt like I couldn't get anything done. A lot of these tasks were administrative even though the sheet he had given me said administrative tasks were part of Level Four.
I took a moonlighting job just to stay afloat. It also pays $9/hr. Between the two jobs I don't have time to look for anything new. The moonlighting job has no benefits but I could work 40 hours there if I wanted to. They do offer small performance bonuses. It's a friendly, fun atmosphere.
My three months came and went without a review. I did get benefits, though. I did not push for a raise because I was feeling iffy about the job and did not know how long I planned to be there. It was very stressful work for me and I didn't feel I was performing up to par. I felt like if they gave me a raise I would be obligated to stay, or if I left, I'd leave on a bad note and not get a good reference. But I didn't expect them to give me a raise anyway. I wasn't meeting the objectives because there were too many fires to put out. My boss also had me start hiring for projects -- temp jobs that pay hourly. He said those counted as filled reqs.
During a meeting, I said something that I had no idea would be considered a big deal or inappropriate. My impression was that my company was being underpaid due to what the market will bear in the new economy and we were forced to pay the technicians substandard wages because of that. I had heard from some of the ex-techs (who were still in our system, and whom I periodically would call to see if they wanted to be reactivated) that my company used to pay ten times what they pay now. I asked my boss if he thought we might be able to pay a more competitive rate at some point. I thought it was understood by everyone that in the economic downturn, businesses were forced to pay less than they realized was sustainable.
To my surprise, my boss told me the rate was very fair and reasonable, and really was competitive with what other companies paid per call. This is not what I had heard from most of the techs. To be fair, some of the techs are OK with that rate, but it seems to depend on what part of the country they work in and at what point they are in their career.
I didn't argue. I got the impression that I should just keep my mouth shut and I did. However, ever since that conversation, my boss has continually harped on me that I "don't believe in what I'm selling." He has told me that the retention rate depends on how well I sell the job to technicians. This doesn't make any sense. I have no control over a person's decision to stay at a job once I hire them. I am not their manager. No one has blamed him for the high turnover in the office, for which his misleading, confusing management style is directly responsible, as well as the low pay. I feel I am being set up to take a fall or that they are planning to force me to quit or fire me "for cause" with a paper trail to prove it.
A month ago my boss gave me a new rubric. He had raised the bar. The new "Level One" was to fill 10 reqs per week. "Level Two" was 13. "Level Three" was 15. The wages remained the same. We had another recruiter at that point who left. I was the only one. All of a sudden my boss started being really nice to me. He told me I was a "great recruiter" and he wanted to expand the department. He asked me if I would be willing to train new recruiters and maybe write some in-office instructional manuals and I jumped at the chance to use my true skill set, writing and training. He said I would get a raise to do this work, but he would have to talk to his dad first. I thought I might have the chance to grow with the company.
Last Friday, he met with me and told me that I hadn't accomplished the numerical goals he had set, so a raise was out of the question, and they weren't sure if they needed any writing tasks done. (They do, but that's another story).
I had accomplished the goals of the initial rubric, by the way. I had hired 5.5 techs per week. My retention rate was lower than the rubric, though. Unsurprising as I have no control over these people. My boss at that time said I had hired for more projects than I had for field techs. However, I was just doing what he had told me to do. He said projects are only 8% of our business. But before, he had said they counted as reqs!
I told him he didn't have to give me a raise, I just wanted to do the writing and training projects (I was thinking I could use them as marketing tools for a real tech writing job but I did not tell him that). I told him that my true gifts were in writing and verbal communication and training, and I wanted to make a contribution and found that kind of work very fulfilling. Co-workers have moved from position to position and I didn't think this was a bad thing to bring up. We had even had a meeting the previous week where they said they were changing their customer service structure so that people could work in jobs that were more tailored to their talents and interests. I tried to be as positive as possible even after having been told I would not get a raise.
I told him a high-pressure sales job was not the best fit for me, but even so I would try to do my best at it. That was all he wanted to hear. I told him that if he met with me and gave me concrete goals for the day every day -- how many techs to hire where and by when -- it would help me be more productive. He agreed to do that, but then proceeded to take the next two days off and not even bother to tell me.
He hired a new recruiter. At one point she asked me about raises and I took her outside to tell her about the rubrics I had been given. The CEO saw us talking but was too far away to hear. A few minutes later the other recruiter said our boss (the son) had just emailed her and told her not to ask me questions about the job. This was after he had said he wanted me to train new recruiters.
At that point I thought, OMG, I am about to get fired. But that was yesterday and so far, I am still here. I don't know what I've done wrong, though. I've worked really hard here and done every task my boss has told me to do, but I have not been able to meet these arbitrary reqs. They are completely unrealistic, especially the retention issue. And I'm quite demotivated at this point. I know that no matter how hard I work, he will always move the bar or set some other expectation I can't meet and will never give me a raise even if I work myself half to death. I want to quit. I feel I've been wronged and I don't want them to get another thing out of me. I may write those manuals on my own and use them as a mockup to try to get another job.
But I have benefits here. And people are advising me to wait until they fire me so I can get unemployment. But the unemployment I could get from a $9/hr would be minuscule, if they even allow me to get it. Should I quit, keep my dignity, work the 40 hours at the moonlighting job that are available, and just hope I can get something to supplement that? Like the freelancing I used to do when the economy was better? Should I suck it up and try to do the impossible at this job? I hate it. It's horribly stressful and killing my soul, but I'm scared of only having one underpaid job without benefits.