Saying “I’m just not a sales-type person” is not an option, when every job is a sales job.

My response to the latest Marty Nemko workplace column on Psychology Today:

Most American jobs that cannot be outsourced have at least some sales functions associated with them. You can’t offshore emotional labor or personal touch, after all; and of course most corporations think the quickest way to increase profits is to make everybody who works there a profit center– I.E. a salesperson.

Plus, sales skills have long been a proxy for good people skills in general, so how many employers are just going to prefer a job applicant who likes or is good at sales? At the very least, someone with a sales mentality is very likely to be thought of as a better representative for the company and a better morale builder.

But beyond that, some companies are trying to force all their employees to act like salespeople.

I’m sure you’ve heard about Comcast and how they pushed sales quotas and functions onto ALL their employees– even the tech support and admin positions. And how Wells Fargo required their employees to meet unreasonable account quotas– inevitably leading to opening accounts that customers did NOT want, and eventually a lawsuit by the City of Los Angeles.

I have problems with upselling not because I’m bad at sales– I actually proved myself pretty decent at sales during my stint in retail– but because I believe that manipulating customers into buying something they don’t need is wrong. And it’s doubly wrong when you make this a job requirement… now you have an incentive to try to force customers to buy your service, or lose your job. Invariably, the most successful people in such a culture are going to be the ones who are willing to do that– who will NOT respond to the customer, but run roughshod over them.

So it’s not just about whether you’re a “sales type person”… there’s an ethical issue here. As in, WHY does my job depend on trying to disregard the consent of the customer? Even as an actual salesperson that’s bad– you are going to lose your customer base if you alienate them.


First post on The Tractatus: Amen, Graduate Fog.

What a breath of fresh air to find Graduate Fog. Boy, as bad as things have been here in America, it looks like the Brits are having it far worse.

I mean… unpaid internships for retail jobs???

And they’re about five years behind us as far as questioning the whole “blame the applicants” culture… if anything, they’re doubling down on these toxic, demoralizing ideas.

I’ll just let my first comment with GF speak for itself:

What really strikes me is all the “employability skills” talk. Five years ago we were in the same place the UK is in today– almost universal consensus on the part of employers to blame the applicants. Where we are starting to come out of this Hayley Taylor self-confidence-magical-thinking trance, I’m very sad to see that in the UK they’re doubling down.

I have a sinking feeling I know what “employability” really means. It’s someone who will turn off their dignity, own opinions and right to a personal life. It’s someone who will cheerlead the company brand 24/7/365, even in their personal life. It’s someone who turns off their empathy for fellow human beings, and thinks and acts exactly like the people spouting this crap.

It’s someone who, in other words, is in no position to make any constructive change at their organization, and has no time or energy for anything but survival.

If we have to become that kind of person, or adhere to an ever-increasing list of cultural demands, in order to be employable… then despite any proclamations of freedom from our government, we are NOT free. Nor can we think, love, or do anything else humans do at their best.

And that is inhumane. For humanity can only do its best when we can rise above survival. Where we have time, energy and money for friendships, love, art, adventure, and discovering who we are.

What do these employers think… they already have the workers they have in mind, the ones who have been carefully screened and selected to be EXACTLY like them? Is that why they’re almost universally decided not to care about education, hard work, or reality of what it really takes to become an accomplished worker?

Let me repeat: when you have to sacrifice your personal thoughts, character, personality and dignity in order to make a living, you are NOT free. No matter what any politician overly fond of using the word says.