(If you don’t read this entire post, please at least see my update, below.)
I thought I’d blog about this, because I had a call regarding it on Friday.
He started normally enough, by telling me he had found me on a job search site, then started asking about my experience/qualifications. I asked if he wanted me to email them my up-to-date CV. He declined, saying “you can do it after the call if you like”.
I had an appointment and they had neglected to ask the usual “is it OK to talk right now?” so I was trying to get rid of them from the off, while not really taking it all in at normal speed. That said, I didn’t want to be rude to a potential new agency who might find me work, so I persisted.
Apparently they’ve been tasked with finding staff, but they must be MCITP-certified, and they can’t find anyone with this qualification. (I’d never heard of it, but it is a legitimate Microsoft qualification.)
To get around this problem, they’re willing to invest the time in training people to get them through the MCITP exams. Takes 3-4 months apparently. Alarm bells went off a bit for me here. Why would they bother training anyone? If you can home-study this exam in 3 months, how important can it really be? What recruitment agency would pay for this?
The training investment is to the tune of £4.5k. Even more ridiculous. But they’ll only accept people who pass their telephone interview. In a rush to get rid of him, I accepted this telephone interview for 3pm on Monday.
Apparently they both “try” and get you a job during the training, which will also be “22k minimum”. How can a theoretical job be at a salary of £22k minimum?
And you don’t have to pay for this training, but there’s a small admin charge of £79 per month. That’s a pretty fucking big admin charge, isn’t it? Again, I was trying to get him off the phone, so made the right noises, just to end the call as quick as possible. He said he’d email me confirmation of my interview time.
Thinking all this smells a bit of those training schools for becoming a driving instructor, which near-guarantee you a high salary upon completing your exams, I did a bit of research.
It’s not a great start when you Google the name of a company and get back results like “too much like Careerjobs UK?” with people asking if it is a scam, is it?
Especially not when it links to sites like this about CareerJobs UK, which use the word “scam” a lot, and feature people who have been promised lower amounts on the phone, then had differing “admin fees” taken from their bank account. Apparently they target the unemployed on job websites, and everyone passes their telephone interview to pass to the training/paying level.
Also from what I’ve been able to piece together online, I think they’re the same people who place adverts on Jobsite with titles like:
“IT Engineer **No Experience Needed** / Support / Network”
…that I’ve been ignoring for months. Replace “IT Engineer” with various other IT jobs if you like. They do loads of them, although IT engineer and database-related ones seem the most common.
Far from taking 3-4 months, the people on those forum threads estimate that the MCITP course takes a year, but can apparently be completed in 7-8 months at a push. A year at £79 per month is £948.
And even after that, a search on Jobsite for “MCITP” jobs in Bristol finds me three jobs that want people with the qualification. All three say you must have 3-5 years commercial experience at that level.
JobSource UK confirmed the interview time as follows:
Thank you for our telephone conversation today. Please view all details of how we can help you gain entry into the lucrative world of IT.
As discussed during our conversation I would like to confirm that you have been selected to attend an on- line interview at:
15:00 hrs on Monday the 12th of September 2011
You will need to be by an internet enabled computer to have access to all the relevant information. Our aim, should you be successful and accepted onto the programme, is to assist placing you into employment in an IT capacity e.g IT network engineer. Starting salary can vary significantly depending on age, experience, qualifications, company placement and geographical area.
Should you be successful for inclusion onto the IT Development Programme, at Job Source UK we aim to make the path to becoming an I.T professional as easy as possible. We’ll advise you on which programme to go for and what extra training to complete – all based on what you want to gain from your future employment. We will organise every aspect of your training and help you to secure a career that suits you.
In the attached files and links is all the information you need to take the first step of your new career.
I look forward to speaking to you again on the date and at the time stated above.
Our Web Site – www.jobsourceuk.com
Job Descriptions (see attached file)”
You’ll notice that the salary in writing now “varies substantially depending on age, experience and qualifications”, so is no longer “£22k minimum” like on the phone.
The attached file (he says “files”.. there was only one) is a sketchy 1-page document that starts with the words:
“If you enjoy problem solving and are technically minded, then you are well suited to a career as a Network Engineer.”
…and ends with an over-complex graphic which seems to suggest that network engineers have a start salary of £28,000, while at the same time stating above it that:
“There is currently a shortage of network engineers with typical pay/benefit packages of £28-£55,000. As a new entrant without IT experience you can expect a starting salary of £18-£27,000.”
…so it’s dropped to £18,000 now. Which is possibly still slightly optimistic, for someone with absolutely no IT experience.
I replied to it and told them I was no longer available at 3pm on Monday, didn’t want to attend and interview, and had no interest in their products. Hopefully that’ll be the end of it.
Update: 20th Septmber 2011, 16:35.
I’ve just been phoned by the guy who originally called/emailed me from Jobsource, to ask me to remove his name from this blog post. I have now done this.
He also wished to clarify some points. I made notes while he was talking to me and he told me that:
They want to make it clear they’re not scamming anybody, and it is possible to complete the MCITP exam in 3-4 months if you already have other Microsoft qualifications or the A+. Without them, it might take around 8 months.
They also clarified that they cannot and do not promise anyone guaranteed work.
They never say that most employers insist on MCITP-certification, but the ones they work with, do.
It is not the same organisation as CareerJobs. Somebody who used to work as an employee at CareerJobs left the company, and is now one of the bosses of JobSource. JobSource offers much better support to learners than CareerJobs.
With regards users being stuck in contracts, he told me that:
Any user can cancel within 7 days, but must do so in writing. This is set out in the terms and conditions of JobSource, which is emailed to those who pass the interview, within 30 minutes of being informed they are successful and them being signed up.
In effect, they are selling IT training, but do work with employers and have a 93% success rate of finding people work. They do not guarantee you a job. Neither they, nor anyone else, can.
I didn’t think my original blog post was that controversial really. I’ve just checked and I haven’t called it a scam, anywhere. Just a statement of things as I saw them, and what I found while looking for more information. I’m a naturally skeptical sod, and so when a company I don’t know calls me, I do my research. And that happens, whether it’s a recruitment company, a training company, or an employer inviting me to an interview.
I still think that the bigger problem JobSource has (bigger than an occasionally-grumpy blogger from Bristol) is that anyone who does a Google search will find the same Certforums and Techexams forum posts that I did. And while some of those posts complain about unimportant things like JobSource’s website layout (which I think is fine), there’s a lot of people comparing JobSource with CareerJobs, and CareerJobs doesn’t seem to have had the greatest reputation. Even some of them posting complete emails sent by CareerJobs, which appear to match word-for-word, the one that I received from JobSource confirming my interview invitation. I think if you’re using another company’s templates, while trying to distance yourself from them, you’re going to struggle.