Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Get Rich Quick...Yeah, Right!

As one of the many unemployed in recent months, I have devoted a huge portion of time to looking for, applying for, and begging for work. When I first started out I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed—even somewhat excited about the possibility of something new. Since I had been a career counselor and coach for over ten years, I felt that I knew exactly what to do to land my next gig. I polished up my resume, spread the word, and started searching every possible venue for the most recent job openings in fields that matched my skills and interests.

Needless to say, I am still not (after almost four months of looking) gainfully employed. What started out as selectivity and hope has, at times, turned into desperation and fear. In those valleys of despair I found myself sending out my resume in response to ads that, in a less frantic state of mind, would have seemed a bit “off.”

Here’s an example:

**Help Change Others' Lives Effectively Through Education** (SLC area)

We are in search of business consultants that can teach people how to develop their own business and utilize a business network. If you're passioinate about the power of education, and want to earn an income that would allow you to change your life, interview with us!

Since my background is primarily in education, I was very intrigued by the first headline. Obviously, they aren’t too serious about education, or they may have spelled “passionate” correctly; however, I thought I had nothing to lose by finding out more. I received a call right away—from about eight of these types of companies—all of which had spun their angle in a slightly different way. I had applied for sales positions, office manager positions, business manager positions, education positions, and even assistant positions that all turned out to be one form or another of a get-rich-quick or pyramid scheme.

During the initial phone conversation regarding this “education” position, I was given the impression that there was a company actually building a Salt Lake City office and they needed people to head up the management and sales aspects. The gentleman I spoke with was very complimentary of my resume and experience, and being such a sucker for flattery, I ended up scheduling an interview to meet with “Bill.”

A few days later I arrived for my interview. It was at a conference center. I could tell immediately that this was not going to be an intimate one-on-one between me and Bill. There were about six perky greeters who wanted to know my name, who had invited me, and even tried to get me to don a nametag. I told them there must be a mistake, as I was here to meet with Bill for an INTERVIEW…for a JOB. I slowed down and spoke louder as if I were addressing a group of people who were hard of hearing. They smiled and said, “Yes, we’ll let Bill know you’re here. In the meantime, go on in and join everyone—our company owner is about to speak—you’re really in for a treat.” Against all odds and common sense, I actually went in and sat down. I quickly recognized the self-help, feel-good, use our system and you’ll be a millionaire by next month rhetoric. I stayed about 15 minutes, and then quietly excused myself.

This happened to me two more times. Even when I asked explicitly before scheduling the interview if there would indeed be an actual interview for an actual job. I heard people bear their testimonies that this was the one true get-rich opportunity. I saw people cry as they explained how destitute they were before and how nothing but this service/product/scam had been able to save them. I have no doubt that people can make money doing some of these things: selling an investment system, selling natural, earth-friendly products, selling financial analysis consultations, etc. But what they don’t tell you is:

  • Most of these opportunities require an up-front investment of anywhere from $100 to $6,000
  • No real money is made until you sign up other rubes to be part of your team/group/pod/cult
  • It can be very hard to get out of one of these “opportunities” after you “try it out.” One company that sells natural products automatically ships you new products every month for which they charge you a minimum of $60 and which you can only cancel in writing and only if they receive your letter during certain days of the month.

Now that I have become savvy to these types of schemes, I don’t apply for anything that gives me any reason to question the validity of the ad, and the veracity of the actual “job.” These companies seem to be everywhere right now, and the combination of unemployment, economic downturn, and fear provides the perfect climate for them to flourish. I don’t think all companies like this are evil, but I think that many of them are unscrupulous and are taking advantage of desperate people who feel they have nothing to lose.

Read more about MLM and pyramid schemes in my story on www.utahstories.com & don't forget to check out my other blog at www.wasatchwoman.com as well!

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