March 15, 2008
Liz published this at 3:55 pm
Too Secret for Me
You must guess how hard I tried not to write this. I sat down, turned around, wrote several emails, found their blog and asked for help. . . . But I also think bad practice is bad practice and bad service is bad service. I don’t want any more of my friends asking their friends to get involved with a service that seems only to serve itself.
It all starts with an invitation that reads something like this . . .
I’ve requested to add you as a friend on Doostang, an invite-only career community started at Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. You can use Doostang to find a job or internship, network, and access valuable career information from peers and industry professionals.
Who wouldn’t be curious about something like that?
3 Reasons I’m Sorry I Joined Doostang
Harvard, Stanford, and MIT . . . pretty enticing. Some great things have some out of those schools. Some folks who have gotten nowhere have also started in exactly the same places. But most folks who go there are smart in some way — eh?
Inside Doostang are networking opportunities and job listings — some are open to all; many are open only to members of certain “professional groups.” There in lies the rub. To be considered for membership in one of those groups, a member must
- complete a profile
- enroll 20 new members in Doostang
- AND request to join.
Note: The new member cannot see much more than the group’s name. There may be a slight description, but you’ll find no qualifications for membership, no viewable list of members, no sample of jobs that they’re hiding behind their membership.
The invitation above touts the core value they offer, but the rules are that you deliver your value to them before they deliver that core value to you — if they do.
Who’s serving who?
Reason 1 — Secret Meetings
I invited 20 of my friends who joined. Then I applied to four “professional” groups — two I cared about. I was rejected from all four of them. What appeared was single sentence that stated simply your application was rejected — no details were given. No sender is anonymous. The qualifications needed are stated nowhere. There was an invitation to contest it.
I went to the forum to check that out. There I found a thread which said that nearly everyone gets rejected from every group! The information came from a Doostang team member, stating that each group decides who will fit the qualifications of the jobs they offer. I visualized a secret meeting in a secret room. I would quote what I read and link to it, but I can’t (see reason three.)
Reason 2 — Secret Club
I took up the offer to reapply to two groups, pointing out my experience in the given areas. I was accepted. The jobs weren’t as exciting as one might expect.
Many of the job listings use that phrase “top-tier school” as a qualification. Guess that would exclude Truman Capote, Bill Gates, and Matt Mullenweg, all of whom left that path to make their own success.
Unfortunately, some highly qualified friends with deep educational credentials and visibly successful careers did not have the same reapplication success. My friends feel “taken” because they shared their high level contacts only to be treated this way.
Perhaps being rejected was more of an honor than getting in?
Reason 3 — Secret Locks on the Door
While there. I wrote roughly 3 emails asking to start a conversation about consulting possibilities regarding jobs that were offered. When I got no response from all three. I decided to sit back to watch how things worked. I watched for what seems a month.
About 4 weeks ago, I was greeted with this screen.
I waited two days thinking it was a cookie or cache issue or software issue at their end. Nothing. Then I wrote to one of the founders, an address I had from helping a friend with an earlier issue.
I said . . .
For two days now and no apparent reason, Doostang no longer recognizes me.
My user name and password don’t work and my email is not recognized.
I find this a serious problem. Can you help me resolve it?
After sending it a second time, I got this reply:
Forwarded it along thanks. Not much more I can do from here.
I wrote a comment on this post at the Doostang blog on February 28th — it’s still in moderation. You can see it there.
UPDATE: ONE THING HAS CHANGED. They took down the post on which I commented. Someone from Doostang also visited my Linked in profile. Still no one attempted to contact me about this matter.
They have my contacts. I apologize to my friends to whom I sent invitations. I hope that your experience is better than mine.
Harvard, Standford, MIT . . . top tier on the Internet?
UPDATE dated April 02, 2012: Please read read the blog post Doostang Today: An Apology – Better Late Than Never written by me and Jeff Berger, CEO of Doostang, which was acquired and reorganized last summer.