They are situations vacant where the employer is seeking to fill more than just the position. Ukrainian jobseeker websites are littered with listings for office positions that require the applicants to do more than answer the phone and file. Some of the advertisements barely conceal their intent and some have all the subtlety of a brick. From investment and finance companies to Internet portals, it seems the trading of sexual favours by a job hopeful – otherwise known as “casting couch syndrome” – operates freely in Kyiv. What’s more, the continuation of those favours once an applicant has been appointed seems to be essential to both keeping the job and advancing up the career ladder.
Like much pop culture, the casting couch or casting-couch syndrome traces its roots back to Hollywood. It was coined in Tinsel Town’s so called “Golden Age” of motion pictures and referred to the couches in offices used for sexual activity between casting directors or film producers and aspiring actresses or actors. In the West the practice, undoubtedly still exists, but covertly and with inherent risk should the law become involved. Not in Kyiv...
The Job Description
Simply type “intim” in Cyrillic into the search box on almost any Ukrainian job website and you’ll find them. “Intim” is shorthand for sex. One website job2.kiev.ua hosts some of the most blatant. “Secretary for intimate relations,” the heading reads, before detailing a salary of 3,000hrv for a woman aged 18 to 38, education is not required and the hours are subject to agreement. “The head of the company requires a personal secretary, for intimate relations, a slender girl with a pleasant appearance, without complexes.” To apply, all an applicant has to do is send a resume with “at least three pictures, preferably in a swimsuit”.
That advertisement is tame compared to the next, a female 18 to 30 wanted for: “Answering phone calls, record management, organisation and planning of the manager’s day, meetings, possible trips and an informal relationship with the manager (intimate).” To be considered for the position, a jobseeker simply has to send: “Resume with contact information and photos (in a suit and naked) close-up and in full view.” She also has to undergo a check-up with the company doctor at her own expense and provide her medical history. The ad concludes with a guarantee of “complete confidentiality”.
At jobsite.com.ua, a personal assistant is wanted for a company called MaksInvest. The salary is, surprisingly, listed as 10,000hrv, she must be aged 18 to 25 have a pleasant appearance, accompany the manager on travel, be unmarried and provide “other services”, and her photos must be topless. Yet another website vip-personal.com.ua goes even further. Its sole purpose is to recruit girls to fill vacancies where sex is part of the job. The website’s landing page is direct: “Save yourself the chore of searching resumes and determining applicant readiness for sex. Contact us, and very soon you’ll have a few resumes on the table. Just choose your favourite one, and we’ll assign you an interview with the girl.” Intrigued, we decide to apply for some of the positions listed.
The Honey Trap
The plan is simple, first a Gmail account is set up in the name of Olena Ivanova, she is, of course, fake. The next step is to construct her Curriculum Vitae. She’s a 23-year-old, stands 175cm, weighs 50kg and recently graduated from Kyiv Polytechnic Institute’s Department of Management and Marketing. She is looking for work in business and communications. She is computer literate and competent with programmes such as Linux, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, as a bonus she also has a typing speed of 85 words per minute. Then the clincher – her appearance – as an added carrot Olena has modelling experience working the catwalk at Ukrainian Fashion Week in 2011 and 2012. Persona created, it’s time to do a little casting of our own.
A colleague here at What’s On is up to the challenge, volunteering not only to play the role of Olena, but to send swimsuit photos to some of the jobs listed. She secures an interview from her second application, but then the ruse starts to unravel. Where the plan was to trap the potential “employer” somewhere public such as a caf?, record the interview and possibly confront him, he’s playing hardball. The employer is insisting the interview take place at his apartment – a potentially risky situation for our “Olena”. The pair exchange messages with each other, Olena makes various excuses as to why she would prefer the caf? option; she’s shy, nervous as this is her first ever job interview, maybe they can meet first and then go to his apartment? He is unwavering. His final SMS reads: “Have you changed your mind?” Olena’s reply is swift. “No, have you?” With that the communication ends, whether he found his ideal candidate remains a mystery but the turnover of these jobs across the various sites suggest these employers eventually find the right employee – or is that victim?
Listings for the secretary willing to do the hard yards can be found here:
Someone for filing and fondling
Personal assistants wanted for mixing business with pleasure
The perfect secretaries needed to bring some bang to business
Persons wanted to add some heavy petting to the payroll
Pre-screened, primed, ready and willing workers