Photo by The Coherent Team on Unsplash

We’ve all had those defining moments in our life. Yes, you know the ones where you just throw your hands up in the air and shout “plot twist” or “oops”. More often than not, they have something to do with a job, a relationship, or finances.

I’ve had quite a few of those moments, but this one will stand out for a very long time. This was a lesson in making sure we choose wisely, in this instance, I didn’t thoroughly research what I was getting myself into. When faced with making a choice to work remotely, I didn’t take into account that things might not be as they appear. Companies can take advantage of those who have never signed an agreement to work for a corporation out of state, especially when the business is trying this out on a temporary basis. There are equipment issues, VPN set-up issues, and a myriad of other things to consider when choosing a work-from-home position. It can get confusing, and quite frustrating when the process is not quite as easy as it should be, and things get tangled in the waiting game. What’s even worse is when you have a company that is lack-a-daisy about getting important processes completed while you are waiting to get to work.

As an aspiring author and former techie, I have had my share of career mishaps. I’ve done contract work, direct hires and have sat through many a training session only to be thrown to the wolves or left to dog paddle in the deep end of the pool. Usually, these jobs were live, with assistance in getting real classroom time, and then what one would call the duck pond, a place for newbies to learn how to do their job. I’ve climbed the ranks, did every awful shift from early to graveyard, paid my dues, and made it to team lead and eventually supervisor. After about fifteen years one does acquire a distaste for the corporate world, and I swore that I would never even look at another call center position or find myself applying for an entry-level post with one.

I was between jobs, COVID took over the reins, and being an author of unknown works, I was between a rock and a hard place. Not having the funds to run a business (magazine), find advertisers, etc. on my own, I jumped at the opportunity to work remotely for a very well-known tech company with the promise of a contract-to-hire role. I went through the duel interview process ( both the client and the recruiting firm) and was initially thrilled when informed that I got the job. The pay was good, the training was seven weeks, four of which would be virtual classroom, three of what they called nesting. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

What happens when a company uses deceptive recruiting practices? What recourse does one actually have when a bait and switch is done? Cloud support is cloud support, however, the job I signed up for and was informed would be technical support had absolutely nothing to do with IT at all, it was sheer billing, with three other tiers of it that we would later be trained on if we were lucky enough to be chosen to stay. The caveat to all of this is of course the company would have to choose to keep us remote, which they already have a team who are planned to return on campus in the fall, there is a call to return to on-site after Labor Day, or we would have to relocate to said state where the call center is located.

At first, it was a year, then six months, and finally it was then changed to 90 days, temp. of course, no benefits, what would be the point? I later found out that it was weekly pay, not bi-weekly, which meant more in taxes would be taken out as well, and of course, a smaller paycheck, if benefits were included, my pay per week would dwindle down to not even worth working for. Mildly put, I’d be making $1,200 a month, which is not enough to pay rent, bills, eat, take care of myself and my pet. I am single and frugal, but come on, let’s get real. To add insult to injury, non-contractors (who actually are employed by the company) are offered benefits, paid time off and paid holidays, while we are not, and employee discounts at local businesses.

Now, this job is fine, if you are going to school, living with someone, only using this as pocket change, but as for a career, no. I did not agree to a temporary job. While it looks good on a resume to say that I worked for (insert big name company) in reality, it means nothing if tenure cannot be built. I spent a majority of my classroom time without the tools that I needed to do my job, because of a password generation/authentication issue on the backend, that just could never get resolved. Yes, it took a month, and still no resolution. Thirty days doing nothing, and I was told to be “patient” I’m not one to sit, I have a strong work ethic, and I want to be able to do my job, that shouldn’t be that difficult. I’ve patiently sat long enough, with a few emails in between to figure out why this can’t be done. I have done my due diligence and have a notepad filled with notes on processes taken during the learning period of our training. When one is engaging HR and team managers the first week of employment, that probably isn’t a great indication of a job that you’d want to stay with. I sincerely tried. The training department is wonderful, but just how wonderful are they when they promise to have something resolved by the end of the business day and weeks ( in my case over a month) later it still has not been done?

What does a worker do to protect themselves against companies that do this? Are there laws that state a bait and switch is illegal? As you can tell, I’m a journalist, and yeah, you better believe I’m returning to my roots and leaving this in the dust. I have to warn people what they are potentially getting themselves into; it would be unethical not to do so, especially when people are seeking a career, not a pit stop. This is a story that I would love to explore more. I feel taken advantage of by the staffing agency because in their haste to meet the demands of recruiting bodies to meet their contract, they failed to fully disclose what the position entailed.

My greatest advice to avoid this kind of mishap should you choose to accept a work from home position is to read the fine print. Make sure that it matches what is being presented and ask questions if it doesn’t. If the company seems off at the beginning, take it as a red flag, and do not stay as long as I did.