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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Bait and Switch on employment terms

Has this happened to anyone?

I recently applied to a job posting for a senior developer position at a 200+ employee company that was listed as a permanent/full-time position with benefits and 401k, etc...... I had 3 interviews (about 5 hours) with the company and they had lots of technical questions and I passed with no problems.  The company made me an offer, but they wanted me to sign up with a temp agency for 3 months as a probation period, instead of having me as a direct hire and with a probation period.  I completely understand a probation period; however they waited until the offer to tell me the true terms of employment.  I was never discussed or listed as a contract to hire position.  I asked them if it was a skills issue or a personality issue and they said no.  They stated that they had problems with a previous employee and they wanted to see if I would "mesh".  They never even asked for references or wanted to call references.  Needless to say I declined.  Is the sofware industry really going this sad direction?
Troy McClure Send private email
Thursday, February 28, 2013
You should have accepted it, as long as there was a mutual break clause at three months and they didn't swizz you on the terms.

The reason I say that is "previous employee not meshing" is a bit of a red flag for them too, so after the trial you might have been glad to walk.

I see why you felt annoyed, but it was probably the misguided fumble of an HR drone, rather than a deliberate company policy to deceive you.
Scorpio Send private email
Thursday, February 28, 2013
I think you made the correct decision. If they are willing to deceive you at this point in the relationship what are they going to be like in a year or two's time?
Tony Edgecombe Send private email
Thursday, February 28, 2013
I even understand the logic of this. In the UK you can be taken on as a full time employee but with a probation period - usually it's 3 or 6 months. If it doesn't work out the company can fire you with no legal repercussions during that period (IIRC the clause often says they don't even need to give notice). Is that not true in the US?

Personally if that happened here I'd be concerned they'd never intended to take you on as an employee and would keep stringing it along as an underpaid contract deal.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Thursday, February 28, 2013
In the US employment law varies from state to state.

I think I would have done the same thing as you did - take this as an early warning sign of bad things to come.  It may have just been an HR fumble, but still.
Jason Send private email
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Actually it's worse than that, because I've often dealt with agencies (from the other side, hiring people) and they can charge a fortune to let an employee go.

I've known an agency demand over $6000 for the hiring of a $5 per hour cleaner,

To the agency the cleaner is a cash cow. The agency did the work of advertising, interviewing and generally grooming the cleaner, establishing that they're a good worker and reliable, so they can make ongoing money from them.

If you go hiring them directly? Then that's all wasted and future profits vanish. As such if you look in the agencies contract you'll find that the company could NOT hire you after 3 months, not without paying a huge penalty first.

You did the right thing walking away, unless you really needed 3 months of employment.

Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Thursday, February 28, 2013
They intentionally misled you. It's the sign of an abusive culture.

I went through the same thing once.  The story was that I needed to learn their technology, and they just wanted to be certain I could. I learned the technology and cleaned up their backlog of work over the first couple of months. My "expiring contract" was not renewed.

Something to be aware of is in that type of culture, talented people  are seen as threats by co-workers. If you're hired then it's a fait accompli. If you're brought in as a provisional then co-workers will lobby to have you not picked up permanently and may even undermine your performance in passive aggressive ways.
Oh to be anon again! Send private email
Thursday, February 28, 2013
The only red flag I see is the statement about the previous employee. Was it an HR person who responded with that statement? If not then it could be just someone who doesn't understand current hiring practices.

From my observation, and the observation career services in some colleges, this is becoming or has become the standard process of hiring non executives and managers. It basically allows a company to pre-hire or try someone out before incurring the cost bringing on a new employee.

The company I currently work sought me out to work for them. I'd work for them in the past and they made me an offer to come back. Even though I was guaranteed a job and hired as a full time employee I still had to go through the 3 months with a temp service.

I recently we back to school to finish a degree. Almost done now, and the career services office there gets this question a lot. They've stated that regardless of experience most companies they deal with now use this a the method to bring in new employees.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Thursday, February 28, 2013
I have never seen this from a decent software company.  In the US there is no reason they can't hire you and then fire you 3 months later in almost every case. Yes it will increase their unemployment premiums. That shouldn't be an issue at most companies. In places where workers can't be fired, these type of approaches make sense. In the US, it is worker abuse most of the time.
Foobar Send private email
Friday, March 01, 2013
I guess you could always have upped your salary demand in an attempt to abuse them back. But, if you weren't desparate for the money, you probably did the right thing by walking away.
Andy Brice Send private email
Saturday, March 02, 2013
> Has this happened to anyone?

Yes, back when I worked for others. There was one job I was hired by a big well known government contractor R to work at company headquarters R, then after I *started work* I find that I am actually working for company S, which is located on the other side of the country and seems to exist only as a PO Box. I have to send *punch cards* (as an engineer) to this PO Box, and weeks later I get in the mail a "salary" paycheck back from this PO Box. Asking around I quickly find this is the case for most of the other engineers there. The think about this that drove me nuts though was that I had to actually use a punch card, from which I was docked for being late, but "overtime is not paid" because we are on salary, so hours are 8-5 with an hour for lunch. If I instead work 10-7, then I am docked for two hours being late, and not paid for 5-7 because that is "after approved work hours" and "salaried" doesn't get "overtime". I contacted the state employment commissioner about this and they said that unless I'm getting less than minimum wage over all, they're not going to look at it, don't care, and won't investigate.

There are other similar situations but I won't bore you with them.

> Needless to say I declined.

That is the correct thing to do based on the wisdom I gain in the years I worked within these systems. Trouble yourself no further about it.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, March 02, 2013
The main point of this story which I failed to state is that when they are deceptive on the very terms of which you are hired, then the deception will continue, and always to your disadvantage.

It's the same answer should you keep dating a woman who cheats?
Scott Send private email
Saturday, March 02, 2013
I have noticed similar patterns in a few employment agreements I have talked about with my FTE co-workers recently (I'm a contractor myself).

Sometimes it is not as obvious, but legally still probably the same, i.e. a statement saying that the agreement is in full power only after 3 months (words "probation period" are not there, but what it is if not?)

Then again, almost all of the companies outsource their payroll to a third-party entity. Interestingly enough, some went further and all the secondary IDs (such as, say, Windows domain id) belong to the payroll company, and not the main employer. I wonder if taken to court won't it turn out that the employee is in fact not?

An "optimization" scheme happening right now in a large company where my friend is working requires a large group of employees to become the employees of a consulting company with a 3 months "decision-making time". That is, in 3 month they may be let go without much trouble, this is how I read it.


Why anyone is surprised? The economy tanks. Companies are guarding their own interests.
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Sunday, March 03, 2013
" Is the sofware industry really going this sad direction? "

Nowadays Companies in India ( http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/03/25/india-it-sector-infosys-tcs-tech-staffin-idINDEE92O00720130325 )stopped hiring freshers and are concentrating on maximizing their Experienced Workforce's output. This can go in both ways, so we need to wait and watch.
Web Developers Send private email
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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