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Job Hunting with Craig

March 12, 2009

I am not one of the 8.1% nationwide that is fully unemployed right now, but I certainly fall into the much larger percentage of people who are under employed and actively looking for more (preferably better) work. So I have a new daily habit of reading each and every job listing on craigslist for the Los Angeles area—and sometimes the Orange County listings too. On an average weekday, that amounts to around 750 listings, not counting for repeats, spread across a variety of categories, from art/media/design to government to the catch-all etcetera section. Needless to say, there’s a lot of scanning involved and I probably only click on a dozen or so listings a day, dismissing the grand majority by the headline. I apply for about 4 or 5 a week. This daily obsession hasn’t come even close to panning out for me yet. I got one job, at an art gallery in Los Angeles, by responding to a craigslist post back in September and, since then, the closest I have come to finding work through Craig was getting a callback from a sculpture who needed someone to hammer bottle caps flat, paying per cap. I didn’t take it.

Many of the job listings are totally mystifying, especially those in “sales.” Apparently, “sales” is a completely general talent, having nothing to do with that which is being sold. If you can sell insurance, you can sell luxury cars—there’s absolutely no difference, as long as you’re a Closer. Closers need only apply. Even if sales were my “passion”—a very common wording for these posts, I should note—I don’t know how I would choose amongst sales jobs when the majority of them fail to mention what, exactly, is being sold. I can sell food. I had some minor success selling books. However, my ability to sell has nothing to do with my passion for the act itself, but solely for the product I am selling.

But my confusion is somewhat solved by reading some of the postings that do mention the product or, in this case, service, is being sold.


I loved Six Feet Under and this job has some echoes of the sunny-on-the-surface-dark-at-the-core sensibility the show embodied, making it darkly humorous to me, in that light. But I imagine it would be a nightmare of a job, passion for sales or not. Sure, it is one of those someone has to do it positions, but could you imagine cold calling funeral homes, asking them to promote your burial at sea services? Having to pitch the Catalina cruise package (check out their webiste) to a grieving spouse, kid or sibling? And even if death is, in essence, recession proof, I can’t imagine that business is booming right now.

The polar opposite of working in the funeral industry must be working as a baker. That may not read quite right—a maternity nurse would be closer to the literal opposite. But if you think about it, being a baker must be the ultimately fulfilling job: You sell people sugared bits of happiness, a far cry from a boat to scatter ashes off of. This is an image I have long held . . . until I saw this listing seeking employees for Sprinkles, the cult cupcake bakery in Beverly Hills. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a bakery located just off of Rodeo Dr. could find a way to cast some terrible corporate culture pall on my image of being (and, in addition, working at) a bakery. Why, I must ask, is it necessary to referrer the people selling cupcakes as Cupcake Associates? Would that make the kid serving ice cream at Dairy Queen a SoftServe Associate? The bartended a Liquor Associate? Why Associates? Why not serves or cashiers? Sprinkles is a massively successful business and has spawned countless Sprinkles-inspired rip-offs throughout the country (never mind that they jacked the concept from Magnolia Bakery in NYC), so they are entitled to a Big Business mindset. But why they feel the need to bring that Big sensibility to their retail staff is beyond me.

With my image of working at a bakery shattered, the next best thing may be “The funnest job on earth,” or, in Sprinkles terms: Medicinal Marijuana Associate. There are plenty of typos on craigslist and online in general (I’m sure there are a few in the post, try as I might), but this one is priceless.

I met a girl who works at a Medicinal Marijuana dispensary in Long Beach and was fascinated to learn that, not only did she work as a volunteer, but that she got tips and “other perks,” as well. Of course the people working at dispensaries are pot heads—how could they not be? But other perks? Can you really make off with government weed that easily? It would seem so, as this listing offers not just an hourly wage, but “benefits.” And tips? Does anyone tip their pharmacist? You must, however, have extensive knowledge of marijuana strains, plus a bunch of professional sounding referrals—areas I am sorely lacking in, unfortunately. Since Eric Holder has called off the Fed raids on California dispensaries that were such a regular occurrence during the Bush Years, this could be a totally interesting and now much safer job. To watch the people of all different walks of life coming in to get their stash would be incredibly interesting—not to mention those “benefits.” Best of all? “Please send us a resume to –
with “TAKE ME TO THE TOP” as the subject.”

Other memorable listings I’ve come across include the Creative Genius (his words, my caps) who was looking for someone to write down his random ideas. The CG claimed to come up with all sorts of great ideas for stories and fantastic dialogue constantly, but couldn’t be bothered with the drudgery of actually putting it to paper. The hyperbole was amazing, really, and I would quote it for you here, but the post was flagged and is sadly no more.

The porn jobs that come up are usually an entertaining read, in a middle school-humor kind of way. They often come across as being totally straight-laced, with a quick aside at the end about having to view adult material. But try as they might, some have great innuendos mixed into the position titles (no Porn Associates), like Quality Control. What exactly does a Quality Control person do for a porn company? Actually, I’m not sure if I really want to know . . . And do I need to make a joke about applicants needing to be skilled in oral communications?

The craziest job listing of all, to be sure, was for a position as an in-home caregiver for an elderly man who believes aliens are hunting him. The post links to a website with further information about the job, being offered by Dream Life Gaurdian, as well as a message board for people to air their thoughts and beliefs about aliens—which I guess is some sort of vetting system for applicants? I don’t know. The webpage describes the man’s condition in the following paragraph:

There is another important element staff should know: Our client believes in aliens. Wholeheartedly. He blames the death of his wife to aliens. He claims that she fell down the stairs while she was trying to make her escape. Until now, he claims he’s their test subject and they continue to make regular visits.

The message board on the website, which you really need to read for yourself, comes across more like a support group for the alien-hunted than the protectors of the elderly and mentally disabled. Skeptics and hoax-criers have contributed as well, not to mention a few political conspiracy theories thrown into the mix. My favorite post (of the bit I’ve read) was written by someone who claims to have held this job previously:

my friends i must tell you the truth about this awful hell-house! did you ever see the story “amityville horror?” well that is what it like — but so much worse. first, the place looks like a bunch of pig people lived there for like a hundred years. then i meet the old man. his teeth looked like he hadn’t brushed them in weeks. i mean they looked like had sweaters on them. or something. and don even get me started about those toenails!! i mean i thought michael shermer’s feet were awful, but these were like cottage cheese. ugh, gross-out city! the boss-lady told me when i first started that i would get 3 fifteen-minute breaks a day, plus a lunch break, but never once did nobody from “headquarters” ever check in on me or the old man to see how we were doing? does that sound normal no it doesn’t. every day i practically died of thirst because godforbid i drank anything i would have to take a bathroom break later and leave the old man alone– nevermind that bosslady already told me that if i ever left the old man unattended that it would be grounds for revoking my visa and i could be put on the next plane home! and I am a U.S. citizen!! so goo d luck to you if you apply for this job and you get it. just remember they have cameras up all over the house even in your bedroom andbathroom. it’s so disgusting.”

The old man’s Victorian house has no staircase—it was removed after the death of his wife and replaced by an elevator—is described as having “many interesting qualities.” No stairs? Aliens? Is it bigger on the inside than on the outside too? Maybe this is a hoax for a new Mark Z. Dainelewski novel, a sequel to House of Leaves?

It is definitely a luxury to be able to talk shit about jobs that are available out there, especially with the economy being so terrible. I am lucky to not be in such a position that I am able to look at these as comedy instead of viable options for work. But even if I was considering any of these positions as jobs that I might hold myself, there’s probably little chance of me landing any of them. Case-in-point: The high school janitorial position in Ohio that brought in close the 1000 applications. I found a post for a “sign twirler” position in Downtown L.A. recently, a position which seems like the ultimate bottom rung, something that would require no skill or previous experience as an applicant. Apparently, things are quite as straights forward. Applicants not only have to undergo a background check, but some sign twirlers compete in nation-wide competitions. So, in theory, I could be competing for this $8/hour job with this guy:

Which brings the line from Swingers to mind: “They went with someone who had more theme park experience.” I don’t know if I could handle not getting a sign twirling job, even if I did loose out to fancy trick boy from the video. So I’ll just keep applying for the jobs I’m somewhat qualified for and, until that magic, mystical moment when I find myself fully employed, laughing at the bits of comedy that craigslist throws my way.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Torres permalink
    March 13, 2009 12:20 am

    Try painting on girls tits

    • Willy Blackmore permalink*
      March 13, 2009 12:25 am

      I hear its a good gig if you can get it.

  2. Hilary Nelson permalink
    April 28, 2009 1:30 pm

    I just moved back home after living Portland since september. I can totally relate to the craigslist horror, I spent a good amount of my total time in pdx on craigslist and got to the point where I was applying to 2-3 posts a day. I heard back from a few . . . nothing valuable except one I heard back from the week I returned home which was to teach a screen printing class at a middle school . A cool job although it was located an hour away from pdx. Anyway its good to know that Oregon is second only to Michigan in unemployment highs and that pdx peaked in March so perhaps I am not totally unemployable and somewhat talented . . .

    I liked a post looking for someone to take care of a cat, written from the cats point of view, describing its “master” in the most complimentary of terms. Oh no wait, I hated it.
    Anyway, I am enjoying your blog Willy, and good luck on the job hunt.

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