Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Marginally (well mostly) unrelated title: Would you bite down on a rancid steak just to see what happens?

"You don't expect me to fall for that, do you?" (Image Credit: ufotable)
I don't normally post personal stuff here, besides travelogues and random untraceable thoughts, but this one was too good to pass up. Good, in this case, being relative- it's good (for myself) because I didn't make any foolish moves, though if you're looking for an epic tale of betrayal, revenge, and last minute weapon upgrades- you'd be better off reading a random page on Uncyclopedia. At the very least, this post should be more entertaining than the Wikipedia article on lichen- unless of course you happen to be a budding ethnolichenologist.

Many a classic book begins with a letter- or so I'd like to say, as for the life of me I couldn't think of one, and tried to google for "books that begin with a letter", which Google cheerfully deciphered as books that begin with a letter (A) or did you mean (B) to (Z)? I suppose I could have looked for a synonym for "letter", but I ended up getting distracted by a Wikipedia article on epistolary fiction. No matter. My tale began with an email.

I received an email from some chap called "Yosef Hedlund". Normally I'd hesitate to reveal names, but since this one here is likely as real as a vegetarian dish pretending to be meat, I think I'm fine with making an exception here. The title of this email: "For ◎◎ ◎◎: You are welcome to submit your job application for a local Assistant Manager position." The double circles up there (whatever they're called) are a substitute for my real name, which contrary to what you may think, is most certainly not Liliana the Loquacious, and surprisingly easy enough to figure out, despite my not having explicitly mentioned it here before.

The contents of the email itself were interesting, to say the least. Here it is reproduced in full:

Assistant Manager Employment Offer in Japan.
Dear ◎◎,  After examining many managerial CVs received from our partner HR agency in Japan, I came to a conclusion that you should be included in the shortlist of Assistant Manager candidates open at our company.  We have studied your resume thoroughly, and now, after getting an approval from the senior management, would like to inform you that you would be the right person for this position and could significantly contribute to the company’s growth. Let me describe in a few words the company’s profile and the position you are invited to apply for.

With a massive expansion campaign taking course, the company has launched a smart recruitment drive with the aim of hiring an adequate number of new staff members.

We arein search for confident, responsible, and ambitious people who wish to begin a career in a strongly-positioned international investment company. The company is located in the EU, with several representative offices across Europe, and can boast a wealth of valuable industry experience.

The position currently open at the company offers outstanding growth prospects in fields such as finance and customer service and does not require previous finance-related working experience or specific financial education, however, if you have any, it would be easier for you to get adjusted.

Your employment will commence with a entry level training paid in full by the company, which will gradually develop into an inspiring and challenging job that involves dealing with both in-office and off-site tasks. The company offers every new employee a friendly job atmosphere and guarantees overtime pay, paid leave, bonus schemes, retirement savings, health and dental insurance, and professional development courses. 

The base pay rate is 700,000 JPY per month. The performance extra payment, amounting to 10% of your monthly salary, is paid monthly.

  • Position type: Assistant Manager 
  • Location: Japan / Country-Wide 
  • Opening date: March 03, 2015 
  • Closing date: Open until filled
  • Requirements: Citizenship or Permanent / Temporary residence in Japan 
  • Relocation Assistance: Relocation assistance provided 
  • Visa Assistance: No Visa / Work permit assistance provided
  • Training / Evaluation: 30 days of training / evaluation. Salary is paid during training / evaluation period. 
  • Working hours: 4 to 8 hours per day. Extra bonuses are available for the highly motivated and dedicated employees.
  • Full-time hours: from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Japan Standard Time 
  • Part-time hours: from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Japan Standard Time

CONTACT US BACK If you're willing to accept this employment offer, you must make sure that you can start your training in the upcoming 2-4 weeks.

We are looking forward to your reply to this letter.

Once we have received your reply, we will provide you with a thorough description of the position including company information.

We hope for your positive feedback and will be glad to work with you and finally set dates for your initial interview with the recruiting company.

Applicant Tracking System.

Well. How many alarm bells were set off? I'm afraid to say that none went off at first. It was close to midnight and I was about to call it quits for the night- I only picked up "employment offer", "Japan", and "700,000 JPY" (which managed to elicit a muffled expletive), before tossing my phone aside. In the morning I read the whole thing in full while filling myself with cheap coffee. I didn't spill any of it.

The alarms went off one by one. The first bell rang when I read "managerial CVs received from our partner HR agency in Japan". This was odd because I doubt that any recruitment agency would have released a CV without my permission- I did however find myself wanting to believe that the offer was real, and idly entertained the possibility that someone somewhere screwed up. Then again- managerial CVs? I don't have any managerial experience yet.

I noticed that there was also zero clue as to which company was hiring- even if the hiring company requests recruiters to keep their name confidential, some tidbits or clues as to their nature of business are expected- or at least, that's what I normally do. Josef's 'description' was wordy but ultimately said nothing about the company. All I could glean from the text was that the company is probably involved in the financial sector, and is from the EU. Well that narrows down the list considerably.

The next warning was the base starting salary of 700,000 JPY. Despite the position being titled 'Assistant Manager'- despite it mentioning 'entry level training'. A realistic comparison would perhaps be 'Management Trainee' positions frequently posted by companies like Nestle or AEON. I know for certain that I'm not at that experience/salary level yet (unfortunately)- on the highly unlikely chance that the offer was actually for an actual managerial level position; an if it was to be a entry-level position which would segue into a managerial position- a salary almost 3 times that of average entry-level positions did not seem likely.

I had no intention to believe anything Josef said at this point. I googled "700,000 JPY salary entry level" and came up with a long and detailed discussion on Linkedin- which had near carbon copies of similar emails other persons had received. Long story short- the general consensus near the end of the thread was that this was some sort of elaborate scheme for identity theft.

The final clincher? The signature. Who signs off their email using a generic software name instead of their own name? Sincerely, Applicant Tracking System? I might as well sign off my work email as "Sincerely, Microsoft Outlook". As explained succinctly by one young chap:

"If it indeed was an email from a staffing agent/recruitment company/agency/whatever they want to call themselves, who's the recruiter and what's his or her name? Simply signing off as "Applicant Tracking System" certainly seems quite strange (to me anyway) for a staffing/recruitment company, especially for one working in the Japanese market."
Touche. I'd thought of playing along with Yosef, but couldn't bring myself to take (waste) any time on it. Though I had no qualms wasting my time typing this out. Moral of the story? Don't be too trusting and do some research before committing.

...that conclusion is just so sensible and entirely out of character that I'm actually ashamed of it. If you're reading this, and you've received a similar email, treat yourself to some fun with Yosef!

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