Honesty is not the best policy…

I have to agree with this. This set is one of the very many experiences I’ve had throughout my career and it doesn’t have to be working for someone that it happens. Even in business, some have resorted to fraud to protect themselves from… wait for it, fraud and theft. I’ve run into a couple in my time and dragged them through the courts. Most recently, we’ve banked the individual frauds for the next few years, as we’re not 100% convinced it’s the end of it (they attempted extortion through the process before). They’ll come round and we’ll be going for criminal charges, as they lied to the court in black and white (signed documents). It do me a great pleasure to see them locked up. But I digress.

The reality is that fraud is exceptionally common and the legal system doesn’t do much to help (indeed, in some cases, it’s even encouraged). This does two things to the market.

  1. Makes companies who have been taken for a ride ultra cautious — it’s better to lose good candidates and folk than take on even a single bad one. This means companies, faced with the problem of losing their best employee, will choose to lose their best employee.
  2. Makes candidates the victim of these “anti-honesty” practises — e.g. faced with a choice of going back to a client and informing them of a problem highlighted by a good employee, the employer will fire the employee.

Unfortunately, your take of recruitment nightmares are very tame. Recruiters in the UK have 3 laws created specifically for them, which should highlight the level of dishonesty in that exists in that sector. FWIW, what happened to you is rather tame by comparison to the events that used to unfold in the late 90’s and early noughties here on the other side of the pond. As you’ll know, recruiters won’t fight on your behalf.

A few years ago, I turned down a job through a recruiter. The interview went really well. The client had offered by the time I had got to the train station to catch the train home, less than 20 minutes later.

Prior to attending interviews on contract, I sometimes ask for standard contract terms. This is to see where I wanted to position the rate, since some guarantees need to be taken to protect the limited company I run. This time was no different. I had made it blatantly clear to the recruiter that the rate was contingent on the quality of their legal agreement (it is something I always do). If it wasn’t solid, I’d turn it down or ask for a 20% hike in rate to cover expenses to enforce it. They never provided it before time, hence the condition.

The contract came along a day later and it had clauses which weren’t acceptable on the rate. So I phoned them back and told them I didn’t accept the terms as they were, and they’d have to hike the rate or change the wording. They refused to do either. So I walked.

Later on, I was in the gym. I was called later by their direct of sales, who proceeded to shout at me down the phone. He challenged everything! Accused me of being a charlatan, that I had no integrity etc. He has never met me face-to-face and if he had, let’s just say, I don’t think he would have done that. In any event, that wasn’t going to make me sign. So after a very aggressive exchange, which included me shouting back at him (I noticed a very wide birth was given to me at the gym) I hung up on him mid sentence.

He called back, I asked him whether he understood why I hung up on him…

He said “No”

I hung up on him again.

That company has been blacklisted on my side and I’ve also recommended to every company or client I’ve worked through that they also blacklist them and take them off any supplier lists. As for me, the next role I got was 60% higher and the one after that was 3 times the first. I didn’t lose out on it.

The reality is that due to the environment companies work in, they rely on workers to tow the party line. For the workers who have ethical standpoints, they therefore rely on companies to make ethical decisions representative of them. However, how much money or revenue is in that? None, precisely! It is next to impossible to keep an ethical and honest standpoint in the tsunami of dishonesty that is endemic in some countries or industries, especially sales focused one. There perhaps 3 or 4 medium to large commercial organisations that I know of that support ethical practises. Indeed, many who have claimed they do, don’t.

The funny thing with honesty is that it is the most valuable thing a company can have. Companies have to understand the people inside their organisation who are free to say what they really think about your products or services, even negatively, are probably the fastest type of accurate feedback out there. They are representative of a population of people. They aren’t necessarily all developers, or tech staff. They likely represent users.

A culture which enforces dishonesty, immediately loses. The first time they get honest feedback from anyone is when a user outside the company uses it, and whilst that is valuable, it’s also way too expensive to catch the cr*p of the failure. Fail fast applies to the process inside too.

If you’re honest, sadly, in my experience, you’re going to be searching far and wide for a company to take you. You may even hop around quite a bit and yo’ll get zero support in that journey (indeed, most will go directly against what you stand for, for their own ends).

For me, I made the decision not to work as a permanent employee many many years ago, precisely because I couldn’t find a company which shares my innate view of how companies, as users of people, could and should work. As time goes on, more companies will start to reach that benchmark, ideally mine included. But for now, we’re a long was from that.

Best of luck!

Written by

EA, Stats, Math & Code into a fizz of a biz or two. Founder: Automedi & Axelisys. Proud Manc. Citizen of the World. I’ve been busy

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