“Hello,” a bright voice says through the telephone, “is this [insert your name here]?” You answer yes. You might even say, What can I do for you today? “Well,” the voice continues, “I’m [insert name], from American Income, and my regional manager has sent me your resume. She told me I just have to call you because you seem like an excellent match for our company.”
Oh. Oh? You are befuddled. You’ve just graduated from college and getting desperate for a job. Companies don’t call you back when you apply. It’s hard to even get an interview. Your brain is scrambling to recall when you sent your resume to a place like American Income. You know you would have remembered a name such as that.
The American Income rep doesn’t give you much time to think. “I just want to say congratulations for being such a great match for our company. Do you have a few minutes?”
Yeah. Your voice is shaky, you try to calm it, steady it, because you’re beginning to understand this is big. A company, contacting you, and you’re starting to realize that you never sent them your resume, they searched you out on the internet. You’ve just posted your resume on Monster.com, that must be where they got it from. If you had any questions about how good your resume was, here is the confirmation that your hard work, compiling your accomplishments, work experience, and educational accolade, has paid off. Your resume was good! And you were skeptical about its quality? One day on the web, and you’re already getting calls from employers?
“Okay, [insert your first name], I want to do a brief phone interview with you. It’ll only take a few minutes. Okay?”
The rep continues, asking to tell you about yourself. Your mind is still reeling; excitement, anxiety, surprise. You try to settle down, tell the woman about yourself. If you don’t, you might not get any further than the phone interview. That would be a shame. But remember, they’re after you for once, and not the other way around.
“What are your strengths, would you say?” You give them to her. You tell her you are honest, an honest person. You say you are trustworthy, punctual, cooperative. “Good, that sounds very good, you sound like just the person we need.”
You’re ecstatic, but you don’t allow it to show over the phone. That wouldn’t be professional. If you’re excited over this, it means you have just graduated from college (which you have), and you’re giddy (meaning desperate) for a little corporate attention. This would be similar to the freshly-turned 21 year old in the bar. You know, the ones who are excited to actually be in a bar, who use large hand movements, are bright-eyed, talking loudly, pointing at things, slapping people on their backs.
The American Income rep says she has interview openings, two days from now. She gives you the address, asks if you know where it is. She says, “I need to ask you to do a couple of things, okay? Bring a fresh copy of your resume for us, and references. Also, remember to dress for success!”
You feel good. Things have turned around. All of those companies you applied for, the few you interviewed with, all of which never called back, can go to hell. A major company has just sought you out, from all of the desperate people on the internet, and thinks you would be a perfect match for their company. You type in the web address the woman gave you.
The web site is formal, very professional, and all about helping people. “Our Mission is to Protect Every Child and to Serve All Working People” is their motto. You believe in helping people. You believe in protecting children. You’re a good person. Your resume must have reflected that, along with your intellectual, academic qualities, because not everyone can work for prosperous companies.
American Income is not only a subsidiary of Torchmark Corporation, which just so happens to be a Fortune 500 company (which makes you smile), but also has “over $15 billion of life insurance in force” and “is nationally recognized as one of the significant carriers of supplemental insurance in North America.” Did you get all of that? It’s not like you to brag but, then again, it’s not like you to get a phone call from a Fortune 500 company, seeking you out, ready to woo you onto their team.
So you have less than two days to prepare. First, you’ll tweak your resume. Secondly, you’ll throw together the best references you can find. Those things can wait for tomorrow. Right now, you are going to shave, get a haircut, and try on your dress clothes. Shirt and tie. Those expensive gray pants you save for occasions like this one. You’ll have to buy a new pair of black socks. A nice pair. A Fortune 500 pair. Like the big boys where.
All night you are nervous, anxious. You think about how the entire day tomorrow you have to prepare by researching everything on the company’s website so that for your interview (which will at first consist of a one-on-one encounter, and then move to a group interview, so the rep said), you can match your qualities and strengths to those of the company. You are going to tell them how prestigious and formal their company is, using facts and points from their mission statement. It is easy to see why you are a good match for this company; you have the same values they do.
The next day you prepare. You get your old printer to work again. You print a fresh copy of your resume, with a few minor, but important, altercations. You print a sheet of references, beautifully organized, very professional, just like American Income. You sweat for awhile. What are you missing? Should you type a cover letter? Would that be impressive, because the rep never asked for it, but you did it anyway?
You go to bed early that night. You see that actor Heath Ledger died, and you feel sorry for him and his family. You understand that bad things happen, even to good people. For a second, you wonder if it is selfish for you to be excited because, as the news portrays, bad things are happening all over the world. People die young, people starve, and animals are brutalized. But don’t forget, the next morning is your shot at becoming a real businessman. Feel bad later. Businessmen have emotions, and that’s no crime, but they just know how to ignore them.
You keep thinking about the Fortune 500, and how fortunate it is that you have a college degree and the necessary skills to attract such illustrious attention from that high-brow corner of America. You wouldn’t be surprised if other companies didn’t start contacting you. In fact, you tell yourself, start getting used to it. As a young, educated person, perusing the job market, many companies will see that you are exactly what they need.
You get up earlier than usual. It is your day, Lord have mercy. It is either your time to shine, or to get blown flat on your back. Do you have what the fast-paced, ruthless business world demands? Do you have the character? The guts? How amazing would it be, to be pulling in $50k your first year on the job. It’s not something that everyone can do. You practice answering questions about yourself while you take a shower.
A big breakfast is essential to starting the day off on the right foot. A cup of strong coffee will also help your mind to be alert when you are hobnobbing with the big wigs at American Income. You are nervous when you lay your dress clothes on your bed, looking over your conservative attire; white dress shirt, subdued blue tie, and so on. It’ll work, you say. It’ll be a success. The first step to achieving in the business world is being positive. Are you positive? As you are eating your oatmeal you decide that you are very positive indeed. Everything is sunshine for you. Bad things don’t exist. Heath Ledger just got caught up with the wrong crowd. It’s simple to avoid tragedy. Lollipops and unicorns.
It is one hour before you have to leave for the interview. Your palms are sweaty, and you’re not even there yet. Your face doesn’t look as good as it used to (not that it had ever looked great, but now, for some reason, it was worse), and your bowels are acting up. Like maybe they want to get up from your office chair and go back to bed. You think of your bowels, pulling the sheet up over their heads, and asking you to let them know how it went when you get back. Straighten up, you scold them. You only live once. Or so it appears.
Your bowels listen, but suddenly you have an idea. A bit of a nervous realization might be more like it. You’ve only researched the company’s website, and it is kind of vague, but that’s professionalism. It’s probably hyper-educated, and you it’s your fault that you can’t quite understand what they do, exactly. Insurance, yeah, you know, and they stick up for working men and women, yeah, you know, but something is missing. Try Wikipedia. You come up with nothing on American Income. Try Google.
Your bowels again. This time they’re curious. Google knows something you don’t know. And so do many other people, apparently. A complaints board, as it’s called, concerning American Income Life Insurance, shows up near the top of your search. Your eyes are all over that computer screen. You catch flashes of words and phrases: scam, don’t go through with it!, American Income fraud.
You are a reasonable person, that’s why you have the potential at being successful someday. If there was one complaint against American Income, that would be okay. If there were two complaints, that would make you leery, but you would go with an open mind. There are, however, complaints too numerous to count. Your coffee, the last cup of the pot, tastes funny.
You read the testimonials from people all over the country; California, Denver, New York, etc. They all say the same thing. Each had received a phone call, someone had seen their resume and decided they would be an excellent match for American Income. They were to bring a crisp new copy of their resume along with them when they came for a two-part interview. And, as always, everyone was told to dress professionally.
The overwhelming consensus toward American Income: Don’t Go Through With It. Why? American Income is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company, aka, a Pyramid scheme. Some employees even lost money by accepting a job with American Income due to having to acquire their insurance licenses and endure six months of training, all funded by you, the new employee. Some employees were working 80hr weeks, running to training programs around their area, visiting potential clients, and going to work everyday. Many employees never even got paid for their hours. Every dime you accumulate from selling life insurance has to be distributed throughout the chain, resulting in minimal gains by the time it trickles down to you. You are responsible for creating your own team, sometimes as soon as one month after joining with the company.
You call the number on your phone, the one that had come two days ago when you were least expecting it. Nobody answers. You can leave a message. You call again, five minutes later. Nobody answers. You leave a message, polite and restrained, although you feel angry. Your mouth is dry because you finished your cup of coffee, even though it was cold. You sound stupid, trying to enunciate while leaving your message, except your tongue keeps sticking to the roof of your mouth. Your not coming for the interview, the company isn’t for you. You hang up. That’s right, you told them. You’re not going to show up.
Back in your bedroom, you fold up your nice clothes. You place that new pair of black socks back in the drawer. Maybe you can still take them back to the store. You weren’t that excited anyway. It isn’t you to get excited about selling yourself to a corporation. That’s why you didn’t major in business. Because that stuff doesn’t excite you. It would take a lot for a company to be able to woo you into wasting your precious time, even if the pay was great. That isn’t like you, and it never has been. You don’t wear fancy dress clothes. It would take a lot to make you change who you are for a job. It would take a pretty impressive salary and benefits package to get you to work for a major corporation.
At least now you can take a nap. You were up early, after all.