Singles ads are notorious for their sneaky little phrases that mask reality. We all may have learned — perhaps the hard way — that “big boned” generally means obese, “homebody” means couch potato and “mature male” often translates to a guy who is roughly 103. Those seeking “adventuresome” men or women are usually out for kinky sex while a guy who “knows how to treat a woman” probably drags her around by her hair.
Help wanted ads are much the same way. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics telling us the nation’s unemployment rate was still jammed at 9.1 percent as of August, plenty of people who have not yet given up on the job hunt are surely finding their own array of sneaky phrases. As a freelance writer who is always scouring job ads, I have learned to quickly dismiss potential prospects that contain a number of catchy lines.
“Great exposure in international market,” means no pay for writing bobblehead descriptions for a website based in China. “This is a very easy job,” means very little pay, or a rate of about 0.07 cents per word. Any ad that proclaims a job is perfect "for the right person" is sometimes seeking a person who thinks it's right to be subjected to slave labor, work weekends, evenings and Christmas Day, and count parking the boss's car as part of their duties.
Tricky phrasing is especially apparent when it comes to job descriptions. No longer is a sales clerk a sales clerk. The position is spiffed up and now called a “store associate” or “retail ambassador.” A busboy has become a “table purification expert” while the poor sap who gets stuck refolding towels after customers unfurl them all over the home department is a “replenishment-merchandising associate.”
Although the internet has made some aspects of the job search easier — like never having to leave the house — it brings its own set of woes to the hunt. Many job sites no longer simply let you visit and browse without handing over blood samples, your firstborn and your most precious asset of all: your email address. Your precious email address will suddenly and mysteriously end up in the hands of people who have nothing better to do than bombard your inbox with bogus job offers and shoddy opportunities.
“Own your own franchise.” “Drive a Mac truck for money in two days or less.” “Police officer position starting at $52K.” “Join the wonderful world of tea.” Half of the links will take you training opportunities somewhere in Utah while the other half will ask for a down payment of more than you’d make your first year as a cop. Please note that anything with a subject line that includes the word “legitimate” is usually not. “Legitimate work from home jobs.” “Legitimate business opportunities.” “Legitimate work for the right person — very easy job.”
Job site search engines also have a lot to learn. Punch in “writer” and you might get “insurance underwriter.” Restaurant searches come up with random non-restaurant positions in Cookeville, Tennessee. An art-related job search once resulted in a catheter nurse position at an Ohio medical facility. And most job sites now start off with a tricky entry form that is not even related to the site, such as a registration form for mortician training or online learning from the University of Phoenix. Once you figure out where the “close” button is on the forms, you are then graced with a slew of Google ads that range from “Need an agent?” to “Write an e-book” with “Legitimate work at home jobs” in between.
Hopefully everyone already knows the ads touting work at home opportunities making $7,892 per day are full of baloney, as are any jobs that make you pay to start working. “Invest in this software/business package/marketing plan and earn up to $99 an hour.” You’ll make out better if you save your money and retire from the job market to the couch, pursuing a lucrative career as a “big boned homebody.”
Ryn Gargulinski, aka Rynski, is a writer, artist, performer and poet. Her column runs in the “Tucson Weekly” print edition monthly and weekly on Friday on “The Range.” See more writing and art from RYNdustries at ryngargulinski.com and rynski.etsy.com.