Friday, December 3, 2010

Career Planning , Handling the Interview and Bogus Recruiters

RECRUITMENT INTERVIEW OR FREE IDEA SHOPPING FESTIVAL?
 A CAVEAT FOR THE INNOCENT FREELANCER AND JOB HUNTER.
Getting the right job  entails a lot more than doing well in an interview. There is a need to ascertain whether the recruiter is serious or not. Increasingly, there are instances of interviews being conducted as  "free ideas shopping festivals". Candidates are asked to come back with presentations on what they would do if they joined. Feedback on this is never given and invariably some of the suggestions and ideas are then implemented by the recruiting firm! Sometimes, the intent is to obtain competitive data and interviews of candidates from rival firms offers this in plenty. An advertising agency head who was posted in one of the southern metros in India, always made it a point to interview every single candidate who applied. He was not familiar with the city nor could speak the local language and therefore spent most of his time interviewing candidates! Not surprisingly the agency soon lost most of its clients and there was no one willing to join the place when the actual necessity came!.
I am giving below an example of one such instance wherein an advertising agency head which handles pharma clients, called me to discuss possibilities of a long term association as a dedicated  account planning consultant. After an hour long interview where he went into my whole life story and horoscope, he wanted a presentation of my strategy planning cases. This took another 3 hours and post this there was yet another session, this time on a "pitch" he was working on. I did the presentation and never got a response. On repeated followups, I was told that his team also came up with similar ideas and therefore he did not see the need for a planning resource! I asked him if I could see the presentation finally made. This he agreed and a date was given where his deputy showed me the presentation. My worst fears were confirmed. The presentation was based on the key recommendations I made with some superficial slides to mask the source and to create the impression of originality. His deputy was more candid and admitted that my presentation was of great use and was used in parts!!
I sent them a bill for the work done which was 50% of the actual fees.But it was never paid though they did use the ideas!! This is a well known group and not a hole in the wall agency!!
A letter sent to them is pasted below and for legal reasons  and since some well wishers still work for the agency, the name of the agency is with held.

16th  September 2009

To
XXXXXXXXX
Sub: NuvaRing Presentation

Dear all,
The purpose of this note is to table a point of view on the whole “recruitment exercise” that I have willingly participated in. It is understandable that one should recruit carefully and complete the due diligence. Appreciate the time spent by all of you.
After a detailed interview and going through three of my presentations, we had agreed to look at a test exercise to see how I would tackle a pharmaceutical  strategy pitch. I had agreed and mailed the suggestions for the “Nuvaring” exercise in a “powerpoint”. There was no discussion on compensation.
 I was heartened to finally receive a response from XXX that I would be shown the presentation made to the client finally. On inspection, it seemed that quite a few decision points were on the same lines as the presentation as mine and YYYY did admit that some points were used. The segmentation variable of using only those women who were in a committed relationship, or mono-androus, whether married or not, was found to be used as the final "demand idea"or creative concept “ring of commitment”! This was not my recommendation. I however did recommend recommending the semiotics of the product, since it had cultural cues and had given creative hot buttons as example. The creative hot buttons were liked by XXX and YYY.

I understand that the recruitment option is now ruled out but not because there is something “wrong” with the presentation made. Apparently standards are higher?. I have no issues with this. XXX has however mentioned that they are open to the idea of doing freelance work as and when it comes up. So apparently there is some utility in terms of strategic contributions and it is a case of organizational fit?

In the light of all this, I am suggesting that a usage fee be paid for the time spent and the effort taken. Admittedly “some” of the “points” were used.  There is some utility seen which has prompted an offer of freelance.We are in the “ideas” business and ideally time spent is not the criteria for payment, however in the freelance business, it is a criteria and the fee paid is on the scale of the assignment.

I am suggesting therefore, a lump sum of Rs 75,000 (seventy five thousand only) being the minimum fee chargeable for a five day assignment +service tax as the total amount payable. I am also attaching an invoice to facilitate payment. You are free to disregard this and I am not going to pursue this.
 
Having burnt my fingers and having heart burns in a couple of cases where recruitment interviews have ended up being “free ideas shopping festivals” and the culprits are the champions of copyright protection and ethics, I am a tad disillusioned and now am going to be unrelenting on business safeguards.

Thanking you all for the time and for being transparent in your dealings. If you had not answered my calls and shown me your work, I would not have known what happened to the work I did! I am therefore not pressing this and merely suggesting this as a closure on a note of goodwill.

 Yours sincerely
Vinod Natesan,
 Mayan Consultants International
Mumbai 86

The assignment done is attached with this link. I then got the entire creative done with the help of a freelance art director and copyrighted the work. The client was also informed of this by my lawyer. The agency did not won the pitch and therefore this idea was never seen in the media.

 This is being published in public interest and as a caveat for freelancers and job aspirants. Lack of ethics is not a "small agency" phenomenon, even the so called top draw entities do it!!

On a more positive note, here is a link on preparing for interviews. Common sense, but I guess that is rather uncommon these days:)
A good article on doing well in an interview.

http://www.campaignjobs.asia/article/304658/10-tips-to-stand-out-at-an-interview/


6 comments:

beena said...

what they have done is simply unethical. we work on trust...its nothing short of stealing! hope u have CCed to his superiors too.

Vinod Natesan said...

Vinod – I studied your article. Tried to put my comments. Somehow the blog did not accept my comments for want of some id….
Here they are.
Vinod
My professional view as a Talent Search professional:

Your knowledge on advertising and its dynamics and clarity of thoughts would be frightening for your peers, boon for your juniors & pupils.
Deal only with the genuine stake-holders for your business deals.
With every best wish,

Rajendra S Bisht

Vinod Natesan said...

Thank you Beena, I have informed the Client and the chap did not get the business. I have informed some people in the pharma industry also so that peer pressure would work. A well wisher in the organisation took up the matter with his superior. However egos come in the way and nothing has happened so far. By blogging this I hope the senior people come to know and do something about it! The agency is a multi-national and part of a huge network!!

Vinod Natesan said...

INTERESTING FEEDBACK WHICH HAS PROMPTED ME TO WRITE TO McCann and report this payment issue with Rana Bawa of McCann Healthcare Mumbai.

Vinod – I studied your article. Tried to put my comments. Somehow the blog did not accept my comments for want of some id….
Here they are.
Vinod
My professional view as a Talent Search professional:

Your knowledge on advertising and its dynamics and clarity of thoughts would be frightening for your peers, boon for your juniors & pupils.
Deal only with the genuine stake-holders for your business deals.
With every best wish,

Rajendra S Bisht
___________________________
Preeti Gopalkrishnan Wow sir! Admirable indeed, their professionalism!
Saturday at 11:39pm ON FB
-----------------
Vandana Natu Good u did that....incidents of this nature happen all the time!! It's time they got a trip to the court.
Saturday at 6:14pm ON FB
------------------
Vistasp Hodiwala ON FB
Pretty revolting stuff, this, Vinod. I can completely relate to your sense of disgust and disillusionment. Great that you put this up. Actually, you should have named the creeps and forewarned everyone!
......................
AJIT DANI on FB
i am posting it on my wall.
my condolence for your pain, my hatred for those inchworms, my shame for being (in spite of being pure) part of the industry, my thanks for your blunt and much-needed courageous step.
ah, my remembrance to George Orwell, here.
'Man is vile and can get used to anything.'
Ergo. My question, here, is:
Are we too vile to have gotten used to THIS?

Vinod Natesan said...

FEEDBACK CONTINUED.
It is more of idea shopping festivals then recruitment as idea factory inside the org has grown old...
More » By Anit Rangra on Linkedin
______________________________

From:
Virtual Zo!
...
Add to Contacts
To: Sanjiv
Cc: vinodnatesan@yahoo.com
accept it.

if you are into Service industry -

somewhere along the line, we all have faced some ****ing *****er ******ing idiotic clients
who ******ng don't know what's the *****ng price of our service. Let alone the value.

well, this is something
that will ring a bell or two.

the expletives hidden in asterisks are not personal angst.
it merely reflects the pain a friend has just gone through because
of such *****ng client of him

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2a8TRSgzZY&feature=player_detailpage
------------------------
#
Vandana Natu Good u did that....incidents of this nature happen all the time!! It's time they got a trip to the court.
December 4 at 6:14pm ·
#
Preeti Gopalkrishnan Wow sir! Admirable indeed, their professionalism!
December 4 at 11:39pm

Arun said...

Scamsters seem to be sprouting everywhere under every conceivable garb! Are we turning into a "banana republic", as Rattan Tata said? What happened to professional ethics and courtesy? Where did professional pride and satisfaction go? How can such blatant piracy thrive in such a high-profile sector?

I really hope the "captains" realize that such underhand tactics will one day drag the whole ship under.