Free Advice Friday: This Job, Not That Job

What I’m listening to: I’m a Mess by Ed Sheeran

neon free smells MGD©Short week for me. My son is visiting, so we’re off to enjoy what’s left of summer while he’s in town.

It’s funny how sometimes, you and a friend are on the same page. I received a job listing from a site I belong to, and it was bad. Really bad. Made me question, yet again, exactly why I wanted to join that site. I’m getting nothing out of it but low-paying job listings at this point. Most of them I don’t pay attention to, but this one….

It was so bad, Paula Hendrickson sent me a note the minute she saw it, too (we belong to the same site). She said it would be perfect for my This Job, Not That Job series.

Paula, you’re absolutely right. I’ve masked the name of the company, though I don’t know why. They offered it in public — they should be willing to own up to it.

Here’s the worst of the worst this month:

XXXXX is looking for experienced, reliable freelance reporters to contribute content for TheWire, a section of the website that covers trending news stories (from Ryan Lochte’s Rio mess to the latest “Bad Lip Reading” political video that has gone viral on social media).

Qualified candidates must be available for assignments during the day on an ongoing basis. Assignments will be issued Monday to Friday at about 7:30am ET, are due by 2pm the same day, and will pay $20 each (for a daily max. total of $160).

If you’re interested, please respond for more information and to complete a paid test article.

Let’s examine this a little closer.

….looking for experienced, reliable freelance reporters…

I can’t stop laughing. Really. The words “experienced” and “reliable” coupled with a $20 offer are just hysterical. But wait — there’s more:

Assignments will be issued Monday to Friday at about 7:30am ET…

“About” could mean anything. “About” 7:30 could mean whenever they get time, which could mean 10 am, noon, 1 pm…. the approximation makes me nervous.

due by 2pm the same day…

That. That’s why I’m nervous, particularly when you couple it with this:

for a daily max. total of $160…

So there’s a chance — a pretty good one — that you’re going to be required to turn out eight articles in a few short hours. Eight. Researched? Who knows? There’s little info to tell you the important stuff — you know, the amount of work involved in that $20 paycheck.

…If you’re interested, please respond for more information and to complete a paid test article.

Oh, please. Why the additional hoop to jump through? If you’re hiring “experienced, reliable” writers, they have published clips. If you know how to vet employees, you don’t need to “test” them.

Okay, so we’ve determined that’s a waste of energy. Let’s try something like this instead:

Alaska Airlines Magazine is the monthly in-flight magazine for Alaska Airlines, reaching more than 2 million travelers each month in nearly 100 destinations

Rates begin at $150 to $250 for short articles in the Journal section (200 to 600 words); $150 for business shorts (500 words); $500 for columns (1,600 words); and $700 for features (2,000 to 2,500 words). Expenses, if agreed to in advance, are paid on invoice. Expenses and rates vary in special circumstances.

There. Legitimate publication, fair rates. Took me five minutes to find it.


Writers, what’s the worst you’ve seen lately?

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  • Paula Hendrickson August 26, 2016 at 10:16 am

    But wait! There’s more! The little mini-post that was sent out to whet the appetite of what eager freelancers was misleading. It posted the rate as $160. Not $20 times eight “articles” per day.

    Another thing: Even the complete job listing didn’t even state the length of the “articles.”

    I didn’t really care about revealing the company’s name. I tweeted to them saying something like, “…You want experienced, reliable freelancers and only offer $20 per article of unspecified length? #goodluckwiththat #writing” and hashtagged the site I found it on. I had to hashtag them because their Twitter account has been suspended.

    And over on Anne Wayman’s forum, we’ve been brainstorming to come up with some good hashtags to include in social media posts about similarly bad job offers.

    • lwidmer August 26, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Proof that there are way too many red flags in this one to even consider it.

      Paula, I love that you tweeted to them, too. Ridiculous rates deserve pushback from all of us.

  • Cathy Miller August 26, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    I don’t understand how they can post this without following it with a Just kidding. Absolutely. Nuts.