My professional dilemma


Image courtesy of and Stuart Miles

I contract with hundreds of companies for a variety of work: mystery shopping, virtual assisting, merchandising, small business development, social media marketing, research,  etc.  These companies have other contractors.  Some have a handful, some have hundreds, some have thousands.  I’m not under any delusion that I’m the only one they’re working with, nor are they under any delusion that I’m only working for them.

A few weeks ago, an owner of one of the companies I contract with was talking to me about the problems he’s having in recruiting and keeping good workers. He goes through the arduous process of training them how to do the work he needs, but shortly after doing a few assignments, they all seem to drop off.  Where he used to have several dozens of people to rely on, he now only has a few.

I hesitated in explaining why…I didn’t want to insult the man, but didn’t he deserve to know the truth?

Fact of the matter is, he has unreasonably high standards for the industry, and pays way below market rate.  What other companies offer their ICs for a 4 page report, he offers almost half to do a 15 page report.  Once you submit your work, he contacts you for follow-up questions…and then has his editors contact you for additional follow-up questions.  All in all, you spend at least 2, if not 3 hours on one of his assignments, and only make $30.  Whereas, his competitors (other companies in the industry) pay $40-$50, when you’re only doing about 1 hour worth of work.

However, it is this commitment to professionalism that makes him stand apart, and keeps his clients coming back for more.  If I was looking to hire someone to perform the work he and his counterparts offer, he would win my bid, hands down.   As a worker, though, I choose my assignments with him carefully, as I know they can be a huge investment in time.  Like I said, I have hundreds of companies to choose to work for…why would I bother with someone who requires so much attention, when I would rather just make a quick buck?

So, what would you do?

Would you tell someone that the very thing his clients love about him, his workers hate?   Would you tell someone that as long as he continues to have impossibly high standards, he will always have turnover?


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