17 April 2009

As the World Turns

For the last few months I've been combing Cragislist New Orleans looking for part-time work. While I am grateful to have found two folks who need me for two or three hours a week in their home offices, I need 15 hours of work to move from Poverty Row to a less pressured lifestyle. I haven't done any research but I'm wondering if some of the particularly frustrating trends in the New Orleans job market are generally in play across the country.

Scams

They're mostly work-at-home opportunities and two
slimy varieties predominate. In the first, you can make $200 a day or more. The catch is usually either a) there's a one-time fee up front to get hooked up to this fabulous offer, or b) the link provided for response/inquiry/application does not work.

In the second, the advertiser feigns humility. "You won't get rich from this opportunity but it's pretty nice spare change..." Many of them pay once a month. All you have to do is provide your name, address, telephone number, SSN, PayPal account ID
or bank account number and perform the assigned task for a month--e.g., edit amazingly poorly written business letters. I don't know if these outfits actually pay. The one I tried didn't require revealing personal financial information but I was only able to stomach two days of the work and gave up.

Another opportunity pays home workers for filling out offers online. They, too, pay out once a month. You're instructed to come to their site each day and click on links that lead to product offers. Pay rate is 5 to 15 cents per offer completed. I gave it half an hour of attention. Luckily I had the good sense to use a throw-away Yahoo account when completing the offers; the mailbox was flooded with junk mail by the next morning.

Shortage of Part-time/Temporary Work

In the current economy, I would expect to find an abundance of part-time and temporary positions available. It's standard for these positions to not include benefits of any kind and you'd think employers would jump at this cost-saving strategy. The opportunity to hire quality workers at a substantial savings. But if you eliminate all the work-at-home scams, it's slim pickings for folks who want or need something less than 40-hour-a-week, permanent placement.

Ridiculous Requirements

Of the few "legitimate" job postings, I'm astounded by the audacity of the employers. Are they serious?!! Do they actually find people willing to accept their terms? They do not reveal the name of the company or the business they're in. They do not reveal their location. They require a resume and a cover letter. They're looking for a minimum of two years' experience;
fluency in obscure software applications; an "energetic team player" or "mature, professional demeanor"....; and you must
have a car. The pay is $8 to $10 per hour and the ads usually include at least three grammar or spelling errors.

Triangulation

In the "old days", you responded to a job posting with a resume and cover letter, received a letter or email or phone call acknowledging receipt, and were either invited in for an interview or received a "thanks but no thanks" letter.

I wasn't happy about the disappearance of the acknowledgement step; sending resumes out into the void made job-hunting all the more disheartening. You never knew if they received your resume and it was humiliating to labor over a cover letter that didn't even merit a "thank you, but we hired someone else" letter.

In the final permutation--and, yes, I say "final" because I think I've reached my limit, hit the wall, so to speak--resume/cover letter submissions are acknowledged with an email like the following:


Hello,

Thanks for showing interest in our job posting. ____ Marketing is a company specializing in building unique internet advertising solutions for our clients. We are currently seeking talented people to join our company.

We are pre-qualifying applicants online to ensure we only spend time on serious job seekers. To begin, go to http://ca???????????r.deltarig.com/ and fill in the applicant form using your unique ID number:

2- - - -6

This number will grant you access into our pre-qualification site where you will be presented with one of our advertisements. Fill out this offer so we can build your application profile. After your input is confirmed, you will receive an email with a resume upload link. We will review all the information we gather about you and let you know if you are selected for an interview.

Regards,

B______ Fr_____g
HR Recruiter
______ Marketing

Or

Thank you for your interest in E______! After reviewing your information it is clear that you are qualified for the position. However, your online application is only the first step in the recruitment process. In light of the issues facing our industry we are taking a selective approach to final approval.

You are REQUIRED to complete a 2 minute evaluation to help us learn more about your personal background. On the first page you will be asked to fill out information in regards to our associated network. You MUST enter the required fields on the first page accurately in order to be directed to the following page which pertains specifically to your personal review. On page 2 select the link that says “applicant survey.” On this page we ask that you fill out this information accurately and honestly so we have a better understanding of you on a more personal level.

Click this link to get started:
http://www.E???????.com/application.php

Once we’ve received your answers, a phone interview will be scheduled to complete the application process. We appreciate your time and hope to start working with you soon!


Best Regards,
S_____ G_______

What? It's clear that I'm qualified BUT..... What risk does the employer seek to avoid by asking qualified applicants to jump through additional hopes? What do they risk by simply calling me or inviting me in for an interview? Has the marketplace truly become this dangerous?

OK. I'm going to follow the links and give it a try. But I think this is the end for me. And I don't know exactly what I mean by that but I do know that this is not a game I want to play any longer. It's time for a change in approach and direction and strategy.

Stay tuned.....

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