Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Now It's Time for the "Guess What is Wrong with This Job Posting" Game

Go skim this job posting for a freelance writer.

Can you tell me what is wrong with this ad?

At first glance, it looks like a really professional ad.  You get the idea this is a large company you get to write for, and they seem to promise several opportunities to do a variety of projects.  I like the selection of sales copy they need done, and it looks like a client that will you keep busy but have diversity of work to keep you from being bored.  They get a bunch of points there.  Yah for them.  Unfortunately, they get all those points deducted for several other problems with this ad.

First, go look down at the pay.  It is $2,500.00 a month.  That is a pittance for a task that is demanding a professional.  A professional that they expect to have a University education and years of experience.  The language is definitely asking for a top notch writer with lots of experience.  But they only offer $2,500 a month.

But my first thought would be no problem, this probably means it is only a few hours of work a week, and I can fill my income with several other jobs.  But you can't.  Because they are demanding you to be an exclusive writer to them, and they even mention they want you full time.  They're expecting you to write only for them, and likely write close to 40 hours a week, but only get paid $2.500 for the whole month.

The fact is that not every person can write well.  Definitely not every person can write top notch sales copy, which is a special skill within the writing skill set. Not all writers are great at this, and not all people are great writers.  You're looking at a narrow field of professionals, and this company is hoping to find a sucker willing to get paid a measly $2,500 a month.

Oh, but they promise the potential of bonuses for strong performing content.  This is the line used by several companies and editors when they hope to trick someone into working for a small amount of money.  I'm sure the bonuses are amazing and may even be your own small island, but the performance levels usually require a magic wand and a vivid imagination (like pretending you have the bonuses).  They usually aren't attainable, and that is done on purpose.  If they are attainable, then I'm sure the bonuses are enough to buy a coffee in the morning.  If someone isn't willing to tell you what the value of the bonus is, then assume it's shit.

Anyway, the kicker here is they expect an exclusive contract, which means you can't work for anyone else.  This means you're essentially an employee.  Except you're not, because it outright states you're still freelance.  This basically means they get all the joys of having a full time employee, but you don't get any of those pesky things like benefits or insurance or whatever.  They just give you the $2,500 a month, and nothing else.  No health, no dental, no anything that makes having one employer worthwhile.

Except they aren't you're employer.  They're just a greedy client that is attempting to sucker you into this deal, and forcing you to lose all your other clients.

If you look at the wording, they promise to be a taskmaster too.  Sure you get a week in the sun apparently, but they want you to come running any time they whistle.  They want you to drop everything for them, and working late at night is necessary too.  This is working late and long hours for a ridiculous $2,500.00 a month.

This would be different if they were looking at college students or writers who are just starting out.  Or if they weren't expecting exclusive rights or expecting a writer to treat them like they're a million dollar corporation willing to set them up with their own island in Caribbean.

Here is the thing, if you have a demanding client then they need to pay a rate that allows them to be demanding otherwise you kick them to the curb.  If they expect you to be highly skilled with lots of experience then they need to pay you rates that treat you like a skilled professional.  Any skilled professional should have the potential to make at least six figures.  You can't make that if your client is only paying $2,500 a month, and expecting you to only work for them.

Don't ever sign exclusivity contracts.  Because you're losing out on the whole value of being a freelancer.  Only go exclusive if they sign you on as a full time employee with benefits and a large salary.

Now, there are some clients that may expect you to sign an exclusive deal for their specific niche.  Once again I wouldn't ever sign it unless they agreed to pay you enough to make up for all the money you could have made with other clients in that niche.  Don't sign deals that hurt your way to make a living, even if you're just starting out and desperate for work.  If you have talent, then your time will come.  You just need to be patient and do the hard work of pitching to worthwhile clients.

But this client?  I hope they have a hard time finding someone.   This is an awful contract and an atrocious deal.  There is absolutely no positive for working with this client, unless you want to find out what sucks worse than ramming a screwdriver up your nose.

It is this job.  This job is worse.

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