[Summer Guide] What Not to Do When You're Desperate and Hungry for Money

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What not to do when you’re desperate for a job

It’s shaping up to be a tough summer for job hunters. No jobs. No mercy. Highly depressing. And with credit becoming increasingly difficult to come by, that brilliant plan to spend the summer employed as a professional lady (or gentleman) of leisure is increasingly unrealistic.

I should know, I’m in the middle of a job hunt right now.

It’s no secret that newspapers are in trouble. Ours is no exception. When the Weekly laid off a few members of our editorial staff last December, my full-time job became part-time. Suddenly, I found myself beginning a job search in the worst economy since the Great Depression. That search has lasted for months now. I still haven’t found a steady job, but I’ve learned some useful things along the way. Here are some tips on what not to do when you find yourself desperate and hungry for money.

Jobs from the Penny Saver don’t tend to be real moneymakers. Do you honestly think that you can make $30 per hour stuffing CD jewel cases? You can’t. I tried.

When searching Craigslist for “gigs,” make sure you read the type of “gig” you’re signing up for. I had an unfortunate incident with a production-assistant job listing reading, “I’m looking for a female production assistant. Off camera position. Must be ok with nudity.” Turns out it was for porn. Go figure.

Cleaning houses isn’t that bad . . . unless they want you to do it naked. Watch out for maid ads that offer $50 per hour. Like this cleverly worded (and spelled) one: “maids need to work 2 to 5 hours a day make 100 dollars work allover calif must be over 30 must have phone and puter.” Yeah, this is a call for topless house cleaners. On the bright side, it would provide great material for your memoirs.

When you take a job, be sure to fill out any and all required paperwork and get copies for your own records. Even if the job seems legit. This recession is affecting everyone, even employers. And some will try to weasel out of having to pay you by saying such things as “Your check is in the mail,” “We lost your paperwork” and “Can I pay you in food stamps?” I get that we’re all hurting, but small-claims court is a bitch.

Stealing is a crime. That’s as much as I’d like to get into with that one.

When someplace wants you to pay them before being considered for employment—even if it’s for a position with the “federal government”—don’t do it. Ads saying that the post office is hiring might actually be a “training company” for postal employees that isn’t affiliated with the actual United States Postal Service. They’ll ask you in to take some tests—you know, basic English, math, I-swear-I’m-not-retarded-and-can-drop-envelopes-into-boxes-type tests. Then they’ll ask you to pay them $200 for an informational packet.

Summer is prime season for work as a birthday-party princess. You get to dress up in a poofy dress and receive tons of hugs. Who knew so many 80-year-old men liked Cinderella?

Professional dog-walking isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. There are a lot of rope burns and shit-cleaning involved. Kind of like an S&M party—without all the fancy knot work.

Blogging for other people is a thankless job. You don’t get any credit, and the job is 24/7. You can’t even put it on your résumé—not that you’d want to, since you’ve mostly been posting videos of dwarfs gone wild. It’s a niche market.

If you get a job working for a charity, make sure they’re a real nonprofit organization before you start. It’s surprising how many aren’t what they claim to be. And drug dealers need a place to launder money. Think about it. Anonymous cash donations? That’s some shady business.

Bonus tip: When your new boss gets arrested twice in one week, it’s time to cut and run.

When all else fails, go back to school. If you collect enough degrees, you can wait this recession out in the comfort of a classroom. Plus, college kids love to party. Partying beats being unemployed any time.

aparsons@ocweekly.com

 
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