After graduating early this year with one of the least vocational degrees, I didn’t expect the largest array of job prospects. Nevertheless, I was surprised by how hard it was to find a way into any entry-level role outside of hospitality. Lowering my standard of work from “entry level but challenging, with upward mobility in an interesting field” to “pretty much anything that pays”, I searched around Seek, applying for all kinds of roles.
With each rejection email I grew slowly more despondent, wondering if I would be stuck in the grind of hospitality work forever, and never get the kind of challenging career-like job that plenty of people seem to find.
During my long searches on Seek I noticed a recurring theme. Jobs from an employer called Sidekicker appeared prominently in almost all category searches, promising opportunities with little experience required. Following the links in the hopes of applying directly for one of these roles, I soon found this wasn’t possible. As far as I could tell these were not job listings so much as ads recruiting casual workers for the Sidekicker platform, and the roles advertised were available only to “sidekicks” (casual employees of Sidekicker).
To apply for any of these one-off or short fixed-contract jobs you need to make it through Sidekicker’s six-stage screening process, including face-to-face interviews, a short seminar, and skills testing at a Sidekicker “onboarding” centre.
Sidekicker says only 15% of applicants make it through this rigorous process, but it’s not clear to me whether this is due to selectivity on its part or to large numbers of applicants deciding at some point that this tedious procedure isn’t worth their while.
I went through the onboarding process and after being interviewed, watching the seminar and pouring water into wine glasses in a simulated dining room, I was accepted to be a sidekick in the hospitality worker category. I never finished building a profile and sending in the necessary paperwork, however. I had been drawn in with the hope of getting out of hospitality, and it seemed like a lot more hoops to jump through for the kind of low-paid work already available in far more direct ways. After looking into Sidekicker’s policies further, I decided that working for them would have been a sad waste of time. I sensed something dystopian about this new work model and wanted no part in it.
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