Nothing in this world does more to boost my ego than rejecting a job offer that I consider to be insulting.
As you know: I have, for the last several months, been eking out a meagre existence editing scientific papers on a freelance basis. Right now, I’m only freelancing for one agency but, with a view towards expanding my income base and getting more regular hours, I have been applying to freelance with other companies–the hope being that if I get enough of these contracts, I can cobble them together into something resembling a full-time job*.
Now, for those who have never applied for such work, the standard practice is this: you find these companies, make reasonably sure that they’re not scams, e-mail them your résumé, and then wait a few days for them to get back to you with an editing test that they will use to evaluate your skill level and decide whether they want to offer you a contract. So it was with this particular company.
These tests generally consist of a page of instruction, followed by one or more samples of badly-written academic text for you to correct. What stood out about this company’s test was that the instructions themselves were rife with basic grammar and syntax errors, to the extent that I considered correcting them as well in my finished document, before deciding that that would be too cheeky for a work application. Anyways, I sent this test in, and thought very little about it for the next month and a half or so, until last week they got back to me with an evaluation of my test. Their committee graded my editing skills as 8.5/10 which, in practical terms, meant that:
Your editing is close to good, but you have missed at least one minor grammatical error, and left out some text needing style improvement. You will join us as trainee and you can improve considering our feedbacks[sic].
This, I will remind you, was a communiqué from professional, English language academic editing company. They concluded the e-mail by informing me that they needed a few days to consider whether to offer me a contract. Already, I could feel my heart soar at the prospect of considering their feedbacks so as to bring my editing ever closer to good!
This very morning, my prayers were answered! The company sent me a fresh e-mail, offering me a contract by which I would substantively edit scientific manuscripts, and for which I would be paid…some compensation amounting to appreciably less than the minimum wage in my province. “We realize this may sound low,” they said, “but it is what is necessary to compete in this globally competitive industry.” Which, frankly, I would have been a lot more likely to believe if their direct competitor (operating out of the same city, no less) wasn’t already paying four times this amount for the same service.
So I very politely told them to go to hell. It feels good to know that I’m not that desperate.
In my mind’s eye, I can imagine this company’s Human Resources staff sitting around scratching their heads, saying “but that’s the tenth graduate degree holder to turn down our offer in the last month; I don’t understand it!”
The moral of the story is that you get what you pay for.
*At least until I find a real full-time job.