Sunday, 28 September 2008

Con job

I’ve just resigned a job which the most extraordinary bit of deception persuaded me to accept. In a nutshell, I was interviewed for a job that didn’t actually exist – or at least only part of it existed.

The advert in the paper was for an admin officer cum PA. The job description was similar. The questions I was asked at the interview were based on the job as advertised.

But when I started work, I discovered the admin officer job didn’t exist. It was all a funding scam. There was funding available for an admin officer so that’s what they advertised for. In reality I was doing little more than answer the phone and greet visitors.

The two senior staff who had recruited me acted as though this was entirely normal and nothing unusual had happened. They assumed I would be quite happy doing very little and they could leave me to my own devices the rest of the time.

Well, spending my time checking blogs, reading the papers and watching Barack Obama’s speeches was fun for a while, but then it palled. I wasn’t learning anything and I wasn’t using my existing skills. I was in danger of completely vegetating. So I decided enough was enough.

Now this is a charity we’re talking about here. Somebody funded them in good faith to create a phantom job. Somebody funded me to sit on my arse all day indulging myself in whatever way I wished.

I’ve written before about charities wasting money and this is a classic example. If the money’s available, grab it fast. Who cares what it’s used for? Just produce a phoney purpose for the cash and stuff your pockets. I’m sure it happens all the time (along with the perfectly valid spending, I hasten to add).

The next time I’m interviewed to be an admin officer, I shall ask a few searching questions. Like, is this on the level or is it all smoke and mirrors? Is this job any more real than Tinkerbell?


  1. Oh Nick, I'm so sorry. How frustrating and disappointing to be put in this position. A man of your skills and capabilities deserves to be stretched, challenged and trained.

    I hope you manage to find something more suitable soon.

    Big hugs


  2. Although of course we can't name the organisation involved, I'd like to add that the area of work the charity is involved in is so-called 'community relations'.

    We don't know exactly which funding body was the victim of this scam, but one source of the organisation's income is from foreign charities which are donated to by people of Irish descent who want to do something for the country of their ancestors. Perhaps these organisations should ask more questions about what exactly is being done with their money.

  3. Hulla - Stretched, challenged and trained would be good. Ah well, I have another job interview lined up....

    Jenny - Indeed, there isn't enough accountability to the people who give the money in the first place. They donate assuming the money will be spent wisely but so often it isn't.

  4. Nick,I hope there's some way that firm and their funders can be stopped ever doing this again.I'm sure your glad to be out of it now.
    I was doing some voluntary work, in between jobs, in a charity set up by a church in East Belfast many years ago when something similar happened.The job for director (I think it was)was advertised and interviews for the job were carried out. All the staff and the boss/director knew that he was keeping his job and none of the interviewees would be successful.The boss kept his job.Looks like charities here get away with murder.

  5. Dave - That story about the director's job doesn't surprise me. I think it's very common for a job to be advertised externally to comply with equal opps rules, when all the insiders know it'll be surreptiously offered to one of them. Very frustrating for the outsiders who do an interview innocently hoping for a result.

  6. Oh Nick that's such a shame. You sounded a while back like you were enjoying at very least the atmosphere and the people. Terrible that it turned out this way but good for you for sticking to your guns. Good luck with the job search and yes, next time try interviewing the interviewer! And I despair of the time and money wasting of so many charities. I stopped supporting the Cancer Council due to the immense amount of paper and promotional stuff they sent to me. Surely that would have been better spent on research. Good luck.

  7. I'm sorry it was a bad experience; but at least you stuck to your values. How many people would have stayed and flown under the radar just to get the paycheck? Not everyone would recognize, as you did, that the paycheck isn't worth the waste of talent. I hope you find something else that's challenging and a puts your skills to wise use...with nice people and decent pay. I

  8. Baino - I had no complaints about the atmosphere or the people, they were a fabulous bunch. Just a shame this fabulous bunch couldn't find me a fabulous job!

    Nicole - True, plenty of people would have just seized the chance to do whatever they wanted all day and wait for the pay cheque. But I was getting bored witless.

  9. Sorry to hear about that Nick. Here's hoping something better (and genuine) turns up for you soon

  10. Thanks, Caro. Of course I shall now be absolutely paranoid that whatever's being offered me is pure fiction.

  11. Oh this makes me froth, Nick. Maybe I'm one of the few who demands a full accounting before donating. I.E. I've stopped most of my cancer donations due to administrative abuse.
    Recently here I observed the perversion of governmental grants.
    I'm reminded of the old maxim - a door closes and a window opens.
    I sure am hoping that for you and good luck with the interview.
    I firmly believe that the employer shoud be just as much under the microscope as the potential employee.

  12. Sorry to hear it didn't work out. At least you didn't stay and end up in a vegatative rut - fair play to you!

  13. www - Absolutely, we should all be demanding much more information about how our money's going to be spent before we fork out. Charities rely too much on our trusting altruism.

    Quicky - A vegetative rut is right. Any longer and I think I would have become a turnip!

  14. As you know I am both naive and suspicious when it comes to charities. Some charities start off small and do good but then grow to become big businesses and even end up as NGOs - particularly in Africa where they seem to contribute to the problems they claim to be solving. If the charity you were working for had the moral attitude that allowed them to take funding for a non-necessary post you are well out of it mate.
    You will find something more worthwhile....or something more worthwhile will find you.

  15. Herschelian - I think you're right about small charities having more integrity but the big bloated ones having lost a few principles along the way. I'm definitely well out of it.

  16. There is entirely too much deception in the world, but when it is designed to bilk money for so-called charitable purposes, it becomes obscene.

    I'm glad you quit. Your integrity is more important than any job, but sadly, there will be many takers for a position with so few demands and easy pay.

  17. So disappointing when there's so much good that the money funding such a position could actually do. I absolutely admire you giving that position the heave-ho. What a shame.

  18. Heart - Sadly you may be right that there will be plenty of other takers for such a cushy number. And more cash goes down the drain.

    Liz - True, that money could have gone on some genuinely useful project rather than me indulging my personal whims.