On October 25 of this year, I began a social experiment. No letting the person in front of me decide what I eat for a day, ordering one item at every fast food place, or going to the worst rated business in my hometown. Instead, I challenged myself to see what happens when you apply to one hundred jobs in the post-quarantine, employers claiming “nobody wants to work” era.
The challenge, happily, ended when I got so bored with it, I decided to violate one of the rules and apply for one of those “gig economy.” jobs like Uber, DoorDash, GrubHub, and Instacart. Only without a car, all but Instacart Shopper is out for me, and they are not hiring.
Needing to stick strictly to online gig work, I put it to tutor for a website called “TutorMe,” which turned out to be a great opportunity for me to earn money doing some of the work I am called to do…teaching writing and related skills.
Here is just some of what happened up until the day I received the offer to work as an independent contractor through TutorMe:
To launch the challenge, I applied to six jobs. Two of them are in the literacy and writing teaching category, and are jobs I would love to work. The other four were jobs that may not involve work I feel called to do, but are jobs I could do, based on my eleven years and nine months of experience in customer service.
One, <Big Box store>, invited me to submit a virtual recorded interview. The interview offer came so quickly, it has to be an automatic response to anyone who applies. The position they would consider me for is an unspecified temporary holiday job.
To complete the interview, I had to watch a recorded interviewer ask a question, then record a video of myself answering it. Nothing…and I mean nothing…upsets me…makes me nervous…and flat out lowers my confidence more than having my picture taken or being filmed, and watching myself while it’s happening makes it ten times worse. I would literally rather go onstage in a swimsuit or other revealing outfit, give a speech to a large crowd, or take a test in my worst subject.
People think I’m being dramatic, displaying false modesty, or even teasing or playing around with them when I tell them this, and ask them not to take my picture, show me a picture of myself, film me, or make me look at myself on video. I am not. I have stopped speaking to people because they wouldn’t back off and leave me alone about videos and pictures.
To get through these five videos, I unfocused my eyes and intentionally sat in some weird lighting so I just looked like a blob to myself and didn’t have to actually look at a clear shot of me on video. Then I answered each question quickly and submitted my videos without playing them back.
The people watching them will probably think I’m high. And the only answers I could think of involved my six and a half years experience teaching adults and the ten years I spent as a reporter before transitioning to teaching. So even if they do realize I was just uncomfortable on camera, they’ll think I’m lying about not being a reporter anymore, and just assume I’m there undercover to break some big story. I expect my first rejection letter of the challenge within the next day or two.
Day 2: October 26, 2021
<Big box store> actually accepted that video interview. Honestly, it makes me wonder who they turned down. I have a phone interview scheduled for tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. I’ll be at work at my real salaried job, my teaching job, at that time, but it will be a good time to take a break. I should have most of my work done.
Right now, I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do if they offer me a job.
Day 3: October 27,2021
On Wednesdays, I schedule semi-breaks. That is, I make sure my laptop is open and the university (where I have a salaried teaching job) webpage is on the screen at all times in case a student needs to speak to me during office hours, but I take a break from all the other work I’m doing at the time, such as grading, participating in the discussion board, writing lessons, or writing and sending outreach.
On most days, semi-break time is spent checking in on the freelance writing portion of my career, doing a quick chore, checking on Callie, checking the news, etc. Today, it was filled with a phone interview from <Big box store>
At first it seemed as though they weren’t interested in me because I didn’t have Saturday availability, but in the end, I was offered a temporary cashier and other front of store duties position. The next step was to send me authorization to carry out a “consumer report” on me. This means they want to check my credit history in addition to looking for a criminal background. They may also want to check my social media.
There’s really no need to waste the background check people’s time. Temporary cashier at <Big box store> is not a job I would take as a side gig. It would force me to rearrage my whole schedule only to end in about seven or eight weeks.
And then there’s the money. The pay is $15.00 per hour. According to the paycheck calculator website, Paycheck City, I would clear $715 per check if I worked 30 hours per week and got paid every other week. That only comes to $357.50 per week. And that’s before you deduct those expenses that are supposed to be “optional” that often are not. No, you don’t “have to” buy drinks on your break or lunch on your lunch period every day you work, but when it’s faster to go to the snack bar or deli than it is to dig your sack lunch out of the fridge in the break room….if somebody else hasn’t eaten it by the time you get there….you wind up doing that. I’d wind up taking an Uber to get there and home at least once per week. When it came down to it, I would be spending a lot of hours working at <Big box store> simply to enable myself to keep working at <Big box store>.
Come back next Friday to learn how the next few days of the challenge went…
As more and more people both search for jobs and quit jobs to become independent workers or entrepreneurs, we are forced to take a closer look at the world of work overall. Traditionally, work has been approached purely as an obligation in America. The attitude has been, “You take any honest work you’re offered, and you give your all to that work, no matter what. Work exists to earn a paycheck, not to please you.” Today’s culture tends to promote adopting the exact opposite view. “I don’t have to do anything unless I enjoy every minute of it. It’s all about me, and if something is not pleasing to me, I not only should, I am entitled to simply walk away.” But for most of us, reality is somewhere down the middle. We understand that bills must be paid, commitments and contracts must be honored, and even the best jobs have their unpleasant parts. But we also understand the harm that can come to us if a workplace is unsafe, exploitative, or otherwise abusive.
Abusive behavior in the workplace is often called “workplace bullying.” While we typically associate bullying with children and teens, it can exist among adults too, and the workplace is a common setting. Here are just a few more of the myths we hold on to about workplace bullying.
“Workplace bullying” is not real. It’s just a way for whiney, entitled people to get their way.
The term “workplace bullying” refers to a situation in which someone at work uses positions of power to intimidate, sabotage, humiliate, deceive, frighten, or control someone else at work. It does not include everything that happens at work that you might not like, or isolated incidents where a supervisor or colleague is less than pleasant. Some do misuse the term, but just because some people use a term incorrectly does not mean the real problem is nonexistent. People declare themselves “triggered” when they are in fact annoyed, upset, disgusted, saddened, discouraged, angered, sickened, irritated, or discouraged. While this can be unpleasant, it does not mean that people who suffer from PTSD due to extreme trauma do not experience flashbacks in response to certain stimuli (The correct usage of “triggering” and “triggered”.)
That coworker who insists upon holding loud personal conversations on the company phone, not caring who else has to do their work, is not a workplace bully. Neither is the office curmudgeon who is snarly and generally unpleasant to everyone. But if someone is positioning himself outside the door of one coworker hoping to sabotage the person’s business Zoom meeting with that phone call, or the supervisor makes a point of being warm and welcoming to everyone but curt and rude only to the two people who work under him, that is workplace bullying.
“Workplace bullying” is just a politically correct term for someone being an everyday jerk.
Workplace bullying goes deeper than simply working for or with your standard, everyday unpleasant individual. These people can certainly make you miserable, but the workplace bully engages in deliberate, targetted behavior designed to exert an inappropriate level of power over another person. While the workplace jerk may snap at everyone who says “Good Morning,” the workplace bully will make a point to only snap at a select few people, in view of a crowd of higher ups, just to watch the target slink away in embarrassment. The everyday jerk will do all he can to make sure he’s the center of attention in meetings and allow nobody else to be heard. The workplace bully only prevents her targets from participating, or hides the announcement from certain people to make them miss an important meeting.
If you just ignore the workplace bully, they will stop doing what they do, and leave their target alone.
Bullying is done so that the bully can feel powerful in some way. A bully who is ignored is more likely to step up their efforts to feel powerful at the expense of other people rather than accept being ignored and find something else to do. Ignoring the person, or at least ignoring the bullying behavior, may indeed be the best course of action. But it will not be a sure fix for the bullying. Nor will it solve the problems the bullying may cause.
Someone who regularly hides files and folders from a certain coworker in order to embarrass him in meetings will not likely stop if people just pretend they don't notice. The "charge" they're getting is coming from watching the target's embarrassment later, so neither confrontation nor making a point of pretending not to realize it was them is going to change their behavior.
The rest of the staff or other group can solve the problem by banding together against the bully.
This plotline makes an inspiring novel, play, or movie, but it almost never works out as seamlessly in real life as it does in a story. For this to be effective, absolutely everyone who comes in contact with the bully in a professional capacity would have to agree to a plan to cope with the bullying behavior, and do their part. But we all know real people don’t function that way. In real life, there is always going to be that person afraid to speak up and possibly become the next target, or get demoted or fired. There is always going to be that person who enjoys soaking up some of the limelight the bully gains when they abuse their targets. And there are always going to be people who simply do not care enough to do anything about it. Thinking the target only has to make everyone aware of the situation and ask for their support and assistance is nice, but naïve, idea.
The bully has low self-esteem. If you prop up their ego a bit more, they won’t need to bully anyone.
Author and San Diego State University Professor of Psychology Dr. Jeanne Twenge has written extensively about narcissism and bullying. Twenge often argues that narcissistic, bullying people do not need to learn to love themselves more. They need to learn respect for other people. Contrary to popular belief, bullies actually love themselves very much. They love themselves so much, in fact, that they think their need to feel powerful, admired, feared, or whatever charge they’re getting out of their bullying behavior, supersedes another person’s right to simply do his or her job or go about their day in peace.
All workplace bullying can do is make you feel bad. It can’t really hurt you or your job.
Being the target of a bully in any situation does much more than just give a target a bad day. Bullying worsens workplace stress. Excessive stress can play a factor in worsening heart issues, depression, anxiety, energy levels, and focus. It can make it difficult to impossible to complete the tasks of a job, leading to decreased productivity.
Workplaces that ignore or encourage workplace bullying can earn bad reputations among potential clients, employees, or contractors. This of course can lead to a shortage of people willing to supply the labor, services, or goods the company needs to function.
Although it is not as openly discussed as workplace issues such as low wages, unreasonable job requirements, lack of benefits, and sexual harassment, workplace bullying is a serious, but often misunderstood issue in today’s places of business.
While the common narrative seems to be that jobs are everywhere but nobody wants them, the suggestions for side gig work are the same things we’ve been reading and hearing over and over again for the past several years. Articles on job advice websites continue to recommend driving for Uber or Lyft, filling out surveys, and signing up to do things like walk dogs on Rover dot com or offer babysitting services via Care dot com. Almost none of the content is different. They just change the title of the article to suggest that these opportunities are going to take off in the coming year.
Finding a second salary or wage earning job that brings you as little stress as possible remains the most secure option for earning supplemental income to help with holiday expenses for the 2021 holiday season, or to reach a goal or have a little extra in the coming year. But the process of finding and securing these jobs has undergone some noticeable changes over the past year and a half.
Auto responses and interviews by bots are increasingly common.
Submitting a job application on indeed dot com often generates a congratulatory message letting the applicant know that the company is interested in moving forward with their application. While this would be great news during job searches of the past, today these messages arrive before anyone at the company would have time to even open someone’s cover letter with the click of their mouse, never mind read the cover letter and resume and make a decision. Rather than indicating interest in you as a potential employee, these responses let you know the person in charge of hiring is not at all interested in reading over your credentials. They want you to call, or in some cases, come into the place of business, as a first step in the hiring process, not the second or third.
Being asked to complete an online skills test in customer service or other skills related to the job, or being asked questions by a bot before scheduling an interview also seem to be used more and more by employers.
Job requirements have grown more demanding, even for entry level and other low wage jobs.
There is a meme circulating on Facebook titled “This is the problem.” The text consists of a copy of a job ad for a part-time, entry level position at a preschool. According to the ad, they are looking for someone to accept the responsibility of caring for and teaching a room full of very young children on their own for only ten dollars an hour. And the creator of the meme did not even select one of the more extreme help wanted ads out there. It is not uncommon to find job ads asking potential employees to combine the work of two or three jobs for a single minimum wage. One local ad, for a temporary job cutting and packaging a single item for holiday party trays and gift baskets, asked how many years of experience people had with that single item as a screening question.
Entitlement and “professional victimhood” seems to have gotten a promotion to management.
Entitlement and “professional victimhood,” has been a problem for many years. Kids are given participation trophies and awards for behaviors that would have once been considered common decency, and they grow up to be adults who expect raises and promotions at work simply for showing up at the office. People are raised to believe that nothing should ever displease, inconvenience, or upset them in any way, and they grow up to call the manager because a store clerk didn’t smile at them, or worse, call the police because somebody who doesn’t look, think, or live exactly like them has something they’ve come to believe should be theirs and theirs alone.
In today’s job market, many in charge of hiring have embraced this mentality wholeheartedly. Managers hang signs lamenting that “nobody wants to work” or they need patience and understaning because they are “short-staffed,” as though anyone jumping to take any job they offer is persecuting them. One hiring manager responded to an applicant’s marking themselves unavailable on Saturday not by taking on the responsibility of filling the job openings with people who can cover all shifts, but by begging the applicant to change their own schedule because they, the manager, really need someone to come in on Saturday.
Job seeking has always had its challenges, and finding work you can do in addition to the main work of your career can be especially difficult. Hopefully, knowing a bit about what to expect can help make that a little easier for those seeking work for the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022.
All professional artists do not have low incomes, but many do know what it’s like to struggle financially. If we do not personally have difficulty making ends meet, we probably know someone who does. In addition to the financial issues themselves, those who live on low incomes must also fight against myths about their finances and their lives overall.
Myth: People who are poor are only poor because they make bad choices when it comes to work and money.
Reality: The amount of money you have is the result of a wide variety of factors coming together. And while your own behavior does indeed play a large part, it does not alone determine your wealth. The amount of money your family of origin has, the place you were born, the time you were born, your physical and mental health, and the educational opportunities available to you are just some of the factors that determine your financial situation. Singlehandedly ruining your own finances is possible, but it’s certainly not the only way a person might be classified as “poor” in terms of financial resources.
Myth: People with low incomes do not work.
Reality: During the recent quarantine, we learned that we cannot survive without the people who stock grocery shelves, ring up our purchases at the grocery store, prepare our restaurant meals, and deliver everything to us. Most of these jobs are among the lowest paying in the country, despite demanding so much of those who work them. According to a November 21, 2020 article by Michael Sauter in USA Today, the middle class in New York begins at $30.797 per year. Someone working forty hours per week, for four weeks every month, and all twelve months per year in a $15.00 per hour job in customer service is going to earn $28,800. That means this person will work full time, and still not be able to earn a middle class income.
Myth: Poor people live lives of luxury provided by government programs and charity handouts.
Reality: While there are individuals who know how to “work the system” and use social programs in ways they were not intended to be used, it is both unfair and incorrect to assume that individuals who behave this way are representative of absolutely everyone who has ever used them. There are mid-level corporate employees earning upper middle class incomes who embezzle funds and cheat clients too, but that does not mean everyone you see working in these positions is doing so.
Myth: Those who complain about not having enough to live on are just entitled and narcissistic. They don’t want to work because they think they’re too good for all the available jobs out there.
Reality: There is a lot of narcissistic entitlement in our culture today. It is all about me and what I think and feel about everything, what’s most comfortable and convenient for me, all the time. Perhaps the most striking examples of this sense of entitlement are those who think that just because they own or manage a branch of a major corporation, they’re entitled to other peoples’ labor. They list jobs that would not allow a potential worker to pay their bills, but would also prevent them from working a second job to make ends meet. They then play the victim when people are not lined up around the block begging to work for them. Someone who has two months of living expenses in their savings account and no paying work is going to need to spend those two months treating finding work that will pay their bills as their full time job. If they took a job that required them to work full time, but only brought in a small portion of that amount, they wouldn’t have time to continue searching for a job they could actually afford to keep.
Myth: Poor people could solve all their money problems if they just learned to budget better.
Reality: Budgeting is important, but you can only budget the money you have. When someone’s income runs out before their most basic needs are met, no skill in budeting is going solve that problem. If you have $1,000 to live on every month, you can’t budget your way out of your landlord raising the rent to $1,200.
Myth: Financial freedom is available to everyone. The poor can just sign up to work in the gig economy and solve all their money problems.
Reality: People who work in the gig economy are selling their services. In order to make money, there has to be a market for those services. A poor person certainly could sign up to drive for Uber or Lyft, shop for Instacart, or deliver for DoorDash, if they had the means to own and maintain a car. But they would still have to get customers in order to make money. Gig work is an option for some people, but it is not a sure path out of financial difficulty.
These myths can make excellent material for our art work. Protagonists can struggle against them. Antagonists can perpetuate them. They can serve as the building blocks for an excellent short story, novel, play, or film. But they can only do damage when applied to real people who struggle to get by in the world.
As most of us practically moved to the internet over the past year and nine months, more and more painful truths about life online have become apparent. While the internet is a great place to do everything from errands, socializing, working, and going to school, there are some things that happen online that we struggle to see or at least to accept.
Money gurus who promise you can make thousands running an online business every month are just going to charge you money to tell you how they charge people money to learn how to run an online business.
Whether it’s “how to get started in real estate” or “how to earn a living as a freelance writer” or “how to sell physical products,” the people who make a living doing it online do not have some special secrets they can only teach you if you fork over your money. If their type of success is contingent upon buying a course, how did they manage to do it, when they were “broke”….and they’re always “broke”…when they started?
If you’re interested in a field, you can learn about it online and at the library for free, just like they did. If it is something that requires formal training, licensure, or a degree, spend your time and money on training programs and courses that lead to something tangible you can use in the field, like your license, certificate, or academic credential.
People whose online space is constantly covered with compliments, praise, and over-the-top words of encouragement are often receiving that treatment not because they’re genuinely liked, but because they attack anyone who displeases them in any way.
No matter how many psychological studies report comparing yourself to other people online is damaging to your mental health, we all still do it to some extent. It’s hard not to notice that Suzy Z. who used to sing at the ABC Club posted a video of herself singing in the bathroom and got two hundred likes and a request to come back to the club when it reopens, but your professionally made music video only got fifty likes and somebody asking if that was you they saw at Dollar Tree last Thursday.
But forget all that politically correct advice about your own journey and how unique and special you are. Take a deep dive into Suzy Z’s online presence. The last few times I’ve noticed a ‘Suzy Z” on my social media feed, a deeper look revealed behaviors such as telling anyone who pointed out an error in something they posted that they were no longer speaking to them, copying dialogue, with real names included, from confidential support groups to their public timeline and inviting friends to mock the person, and basically doing the online equivalent of taunting people and throwing a screaming fit.
Chances are, very few, if any, people are that dazzled by Suzy Z. They’re just afraid to speak to her unless it’s to tell her how wonderful she is, because they’ve seen what she does to others who have displeased her.
Job hunting groups, and many job boards, are near useless, and are often clogged with scams and people trying to promote their direct sales/multilevel marketing products and teams.
The website “Indeed” (www.indeed.com) seems to have every “help wanted” ad employers post online. If you’re looking for work at a college or university, add “Higher Ed Jobs” to your search resources. Nearly every other online job board is only going to have copies of a few of the same listings you already saw on these two sites. These listings are often old and randomly selected, designed to persuade you to sign up for a paid membership or click on pages owned by the same company more than to help you get a job.
Joining job hunting groups is often useless as well. Most job hunting groups are populated entirely by scammers and people trying to sign up others to their multilevel marketing companies.
Once you have exhausted the listings on Indeed (and possibly Higher Ed Jobs), you’re just going to have to resort to old fashioned job hunting methods like walking around town with your resume, networking, and checking the local papers.
Everybody who pours out their heart on the internet does not actually have the problems they talk about.
By now, we all know that a “catfish” is someone who pretends to be someone else entirely, or a fictionalized version of themselves, with the goal of tricking people into fake, usually romantic relationships. Some do it just to see how much they can mess with other people, most do it for money or gifts.
But “catfish” are not the only internet liars out there. Some people are displaying what psychologists refer to as “Munchaussen by Internet.” The term refers to “Munchaussen Syndrome” or “Munchaussen Syndrome by Proxy,” mental disorders in which the person induces, deliberately worsens, fakes, and/ or exaggerates illness or disability in themselves or another, the proxy. (Munchaussen Syndrome by Proxy is also a form of abuse). The primary goal is to create and maintain a self-image as a “patient,” or “caretaker,” and to gain the admiration, sympathy, and attention those things can bring. Money, benefits, and gifts may be a secondary goal.
In Munchaussen by Internet, the person fakes or exaggerates a mental or physical illness or disability online to receive this same attention and admiration, with a possible secondary goal of getting gifts or money.
Of course most people who share their troubles online are not faking things, but if the person appears to be either in crisis or miraculously improved every time someone else gets too much attention, uses their disability or illness as a weapon (You can’t criticize, argue, or disagree with me, I have this condition), or makes fantastic or contradictary claims, they may not be genuinely suffering.
Internet memes are easy for anyone to create, including people who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.
Just because something is posted on someone’s facebook or Instagram in a big font, with a colorful background and/or a picture, that does not make it true. It doesn’t even make it a logical, reasonable personal observation.
Consider the meme at the top of this article: Studies show businesses that hire writers make 30% more profit than those who allow their staff to do their writing.
Might want to hire me based on that, right? Who couldn’t use 30% more profit? But while I would certainly love the business….please don’t hire me based on that meme, because I made that statistic up. All I had to do was type in “free meme generator,” click on a site called “Canva” and sign up with my facebook account, and I now have the ability to create and post memes saying any false, self-serving thing I want. It took me all of a minute. If I really wanted to look and sound official, I could have done another draft in about ten more minutes, centering the text neatly, adding a picture, and claiming the studies were from any number of literacy or business organizations that would have no idea I was using their name….or a similar name….to promote my lies.
The internet is great. It is the setting for many blessings, and many of us would not have survived 2020 through early 2021 without it. Just remember that, like any large public gathering space, it can…and often is….used for less than honorable purposes.
Fall 2021 is a time for job hunting for many of us. New opportunities to play music or read in person again can mean new projects to fund, new instruments and computers and other career necessities to buy. The recent lockdown has left many behind on our bills. Or, we may need a break or a treat, and just want to save up some extra cash to fund that.
Driving around town and watching the news, we get the impression that these jobs are so easy to find, you can simply send out an email or walk in the door, and find work, but the actual experience of searching for a job is still daunting. Intimidating requirements, form rejection notices that arrive almost as soon as the application is sent, and low salaries for the work described are still a part of the process.
Adding to the confusion, some of the jobs you see listed are not really jobs at all. They aren’t scams, in that it is not impossible to make money, but you are not working for a paycheck. Here are some of the signs that the job you’re applying for is not actually a job.
One of the “perks” is the ability to set your own schedule and your own fee.
Many remote work jobs, even those that pay salaries, allow you to set your own schedule within their needs. If you teach at an online university, the students’ papers are due Tuesday at midnight, and the grades are due on Friday at midnight, it is up to you whether Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday is grading day, but one of those days needs to be spent grading homework. But when you’re offered the opportunity to completely set your own schedule and your own fee, you’re not truly being offered a job.
Companies that allow you to set your own schedule and your own fee are offering you the opportunity to market yourself as an independent worker through their website, usually for a portion of your income as a sort of rent.
Many tutoring websites operate in this manner. Hiring you simply means giving you a tutor account on their site. Potential students will then see your tutoring page, and have the option of hiring you as a tutor. If you charge $30 per hour, you may actually earn $20 for each hour you tutor, as the remaining ten goes to the website for the space on their page, use of their platform, and the publicity being associated with them brings to your tutoring business.
The word “freelance” is in the job description.
The term “hiring a freelance…” does not truly make sense, and is used mainly so that people looking for freelance workers can post on the job boards. When you see a job listing claiming to be “hiring a freelance” something, what they are really doing is looking for an independent worker to hire for a single, specific project or series of projects. They are not offering a position with their company.
On the surface, this may seem like no big deal. If you’re hired to give music lessons to kids online, or tutor college students in math, or act as a virtual assistant to someone for four hours per day, five days per week, for a six month term, you’re going to be doing the same work, and the same amount of work, whether you’re an employee or a freelance worker.
It becomes important, turns into a very big deal, at tax time, and when those six months are up. No matter how devoted you are to a company, if you are a freelance worker, they are still your client or customer, not your employer. You are your own employer, meaning you have to deduct money from your own checks for taxes. It is also very likely that once the project ends, the company that hired you will no longer need you. You will still be a freelance tutor or teacher or virtual assistant, but you will be one without a paying project to work on, meaning no income.
“Potential” income is listed.
When there is no base salary or wage, only “potential” income, you are looking at an offer of a commission only sales job.
While this technically is a job, unlike the freelance listings, it is not a job in the way we typically define the word, as a situation where you do a certain amount of work that produces a specific result and get paid a certain amount for that work. You will only be paid a percentage of what you manage to sell.
The most well-known example of this is multilevel marketing. These companies file paperwork listing you as an independent consultant, meaning that for tax purposes you are in the freelance category. They present it as having your own business. You do not. You have a commission only sales job with that multilevel marketing company.
These opportunities are often presented as having unlimited income potential, but your income is actually limited by a lot of factors, including the market for the product, the market saturation of the product, the market for competing products, the amount of time you have to devote to the work, the amount of energy you have to devote to the work, and the amount of money you have to invest in your sales goals. While there is something like a 97% chance that you won’t, you still might make enough money in an mlm to pay all your bills and live all your dreams. But you also might earn absolutely nothing, and even wind up losing money.
Other commission only jobs are not typically this slanted toward failure, but your income can and will fluctuate from nothing, especially when you first start out, to whatever your specific circumstances brings.
The place “hires” continuously.
Many YouTube content creators who cover working from home seem to miss this sign. You will often see YouTube videos encouraging you to apply to a certain company because they are “always hiring.” And while it may be true that they are always looking for new people, they are probably not hiring in the traditional sense of the word.
A business who never seems to stop looking for people to join their team is likely to be offering freelance work, rented workspace, or commission only sales work, rather than steady traditional employment. Even the world’s largest corporations only need so many staff members to fill each role.
They expect you to bring in….or have…a lot of your own materials.
Any job is going to expect you to have things that are common to several jobs; access to the internet if you need or want to work from home, clothing appropriate for the workplace, a car or other reliable transportation to and from offline jobs. But if you are expected to use items or services specific to a particular job that you would be unlikely to be able to use anywhere else, an employer typically provides them for you. In order to teach online as a faculty member of a university, I was expected to have consistent access to the internet, but the microphone headset I needed to record lessons before the school switched to Zoom was mailed to me at no charge. Offline jobs may expect you to wear dark jeans or black or beige pants, but they will provide you with shirts featuring logos, name tags, and other items you would not be able to wear anywhere but at work.
When you see a job that expects you to furnish a large amount of career specific items yourself, take a closer look at the job description. They are probably looking for an independent contractor who already owns these things for their freelance business.
Taking any of these types of jobs is not a sure path to failure and financial loss. They are not hoaxes or scams. Just make sure you’re clear on your relationship to the company, your responsibility at tax time, and the way you will be getting paid before you agree to take the job.
Everywhere you look, businesses are hiring, but everywhere you listen, there’s a conversation about people not being able to take many of these jobs, because they are not “good jobs.” But what makes a job a “good” job…or at least one that would be a good job for you?
The job pays enough money to cover the expenses you need it to cover with the base, or average pay.
This will be different for everyone. A “good job” for someone who just needs to pay the rent on a single room in a shared apartment is going to be different than for someone who owns a home and has kids to support. But whether we’re talking about a job that earns the $80,000 per year salary you need to care for your family and pay off a collection of old bills without going broke, or a third side hustle you took on to earn that $100 you need to get your nails done every month, it’s a good fit for a job for you if the base salary, wages, or wages plus average tips covers the expenses you need it to cover. It becomes a poor fit, a bad job, when you find yourself begging for overtime, running yourself ragged to earn bonuses, or working three times the hours you expected to work to earn a commission.
The work is honest.
Of course you do not have a good job if the work involves selling a substance that could earn you a lengthy prison term and kill any customers that use too much of it, or if your side business involves pretending to be someone else online to trick people into sending you money. But all perfectly legal work is not honest work.
Multilevel, or network marketing companies require you to manipulate people into thinking their products are superior to others on the market, even when those claims are untrue, and to further manipulate them into believing they can earn unlimited income by signing up to work for them, often at a great financial loss. Some of them require you to promote dubious claims about the healing power of shakes and pills and workout routines. Most of them make you promise “free” trips and prizes that actually cost the person a great deal of time and often money, to earn.
The amount of money you need to spend to take the job is reasonable given what you will get out of the job.
Never pay anyone directly to get to work for them. Anytime someone tells you that you must pay for classes in order to work for them, asks for a startup fee, or insists you have to pay for training is not offering you a job. They’re trying to scam you.
But there are times when we have to buy things in order to take a job. If your whole wardrobe is black jeans and band tee shirts, you’ll need to buy some clothes to work in an office with a business casual dress code. You may need to invest in an upgraded computer in order to work from home successfully, or a pair of pricey work boots for safety in some workplaces. Many people find they need to purchase small personal items like coffee cups, lunch boxes, pens, and notepads to take back and forth to work.
Whether the expense is worth it, whether this is still a good job for you, depends on why you’re taking the job. If this is a new career, a second career, or something you’re hoping to have as a day job for the foreseeable future, new electronics, safety equipment, or clothing may be a reasonable investment. But spending anything more than a dollar or two would defeat the purpose of taking a temporary job you only need to raise money for a single project.
The job is at least tolerable.
The old-fashioned attitude about work, which argues that you are there to do a job and get a paycheck, and that anything you have to put up with should simply be tolerated, leads to worker exploitation and abuse. However, the contemporary attitude of entitlement, where we think everyone else is responsible for making sure we never have to do, see, read, hear, or think about anything that does not delight us, is narcissistic and detrimental to society as a whole. Somewhere in the middle is a more realistic view. You do have the right to a workplace free of hazards and harassment, but you are there to do a job, and that job is not always going to be fulfilling or fun. There will always be things you simply have to tolerate at work.
What you can tolerate and what makes you decline to apply for a job is going to vary by person. Standing all shift is probably not fun for anyone, but some can handle it, and some might not be able to walk the next day. Laughing off insults from strangers is easy for some people, while others may take it to heart, and might want to avoid customer service jobs.
Even if you do not actually like a job, you should at least be able to function once you leave for the day. If you find yourself unable to walk, sit, get out of bed, or stop crying, raging, or complaining after every work period, it’s not a “good job” for you.
You are actually making money.
As long as we’re getting a paycheck, we think we are making money. But in some cases, this may not be true. We could be breaking even, essentially working for free. Or we could even be losing money.
Think of working in a very trendy enviornment, such as a clothing boutique. While you may be able to get away with a small initial investment of a few items of workplace appropriate clothing, you may be expected to regularly update and add to your wardrobe in order to keep with the image of the store, or invest in pricey cosmetics and salon treatments. Many jobs keep you far enough away from home that you will need to go out for lunch every day, or purchase extra groceries that can be stored in the employee break room.
When these expenses start to add up to the same amount, or more, than the paycheck, you are not making money at the job.
A “good job” is always one where the workplace is safe, serves an honorable purpose, and pays decently. Beyond that, what makes a “good job” depends entirely on the worker’s goals for the work. A good, or even a great job, for someone else might be a terrible job for you, and you may wind up loving someplace someone else couldn’t last a week.
Many of us are looking for work. Some may have lost jobs that were part of our second career or an important day job. Others still have our main source of income, but are faced with bills or new expenses that come with the return to public space and offline work. Many of us simply need some supplemental income to fund a vacation or allow us to enjoy life again. Regardless of your level of need and your reason for seeking additional income, you are probably looking for it with some of those things “everybody” knows in mind. But there are a few pieces of such conventional wisdom that no longer hold true.
If you can stick it out for a year at an entry-level, low-wage service job you hate, better offers will come your way.
It is no secret that entry-level customer service work is usually not pleasant. You have to be on your feet for hours at a time, the tasks are often boring, and everyone from the customers to upper management gets away with treating you like dirt. And we haven’t even gotten started on the paycheck.
In the past, if you took one of these jobs anyway, and you could put up with that type of work environment for about a year, that sent a strong signal to employers hiring for better jobs. It let them know you were responsible, reliable, willing and able to follow directions, and able to cope with people on their worst behavior. Today, experience in entry level fast food, retail, or other service jobs seems to send the message that this is the only type of work you are suited to do.
This is not to suggest you should never do this type of work. If you need a paycheck, any paycheck, as soon as possible, and a fast food restaurant offers you a job, take the job. If you just need some extra cash, and you have the opportunity to wait tables at your cousin’s restaurant on the weekends to earn some, do it. Just don’t count on this type of work as a steppingstone to something better outside of the job’s field.
Always show up for an interview in professional business attire.
Wearing a suit, with a tie for men, is standard professional business attire. In the past, it was standard job interview attire. Today, this is not always the case.If you are interviewing for a job that has a professional business attire dress code, or a more conservative business casual dress code, a suit and tie, or the women’s equivalent, is still appropriate for your job interview.
In very casual workplaces, showing up in professional business attire will only make you seem out of touch with the workplace culture and unprepared for the job. You still need to dress professionally. If everyone who has the job you’re applying for wears neat khakis, oxford shirts, polo shirts, and loafers, wear something similar. If the staff wears jeans, tennis shoes, and tee shirts in the company colors at all levels, wear neat, dark wash or dark colored jeans and a clean, solid colored oxford shirt or tee shirt, not stained cutoffs and a ratty shirt with a beer logo. But you don’t need to wear a suit.
An interviewer showing you around means you got the job.
We used to think we could tell whether or not we got the job at the end of the interview. If the interviewer ended the meeting with a clipped, “Thank you for your time,” or “We appreciate you coming in,” keep looking, because they’re not interested. A relaxed, friendly demeanor and phrases like “It was nice to get to know you” or “We’ll be in touch,” were neutral. It might mean you got the job, or it might not. They could just as easily mean you seem cool but unsuited for the work being offered, or that you’d be getting a rejection letter soon. But if they showed you your future desk, took you into the break room and showed you where you could keep your coffee cup and fix your morning beverage, and made sure you knew where the restrooms were located, you were hired.
Some workplaces do reserve introductions to the whole staff, tours, and non-work details like where employees like to sit on their coffee breaks for people they intend to hire. Others do this as part of the screening process. They want to give other staff members the opportunity to form an impression of you and give their input, or to see how you behave in a situation you could not possibly have rehearsed for, as you can for the typical questions in the job interview itself.
Being asked a lot of detailed questions about what you would do in a typical day or for a specific project is a great sign that you got the job.
This one is more of a recently corrected long-term misconception than something that changed. It has always been tempting to assume you got the job when the interview is going particularly well, and being asked for detailed information and ideas is going to make you feel like things are going well.
It can be easy to forget that someone who was planning to hire you would have numerous, continuous opportunities to ask you these same questions. If they’re asking you for detailed ideas about the job during the interview, this likely means they have no intention of hiring you, and are just looking to collect ideas from as many sources as they can.
There is a lot of job hunting wisdom that remains true. Learning about the company before the interview, preparing answers to common interview questions, getting there on time and arriving alone, and putting away anything distracting, including your phone, while talking to the hiring manager will always be good practices. Other conventional wisdom may have been true in the past, or is true for certain industries, but could have a detrimental effect on your own search for work.
One of the first questions people ask when they see Artist Cafe Utica is, “Do you make money doing this?”
Tiny niche sites do not have the ability to pull in the often astonishing amount of advertising revenue brought it by the internet’s most famous bloggers and vloggers. Sites with large potential audiences can earn ad revenue directly from their site or channel. Small niche sites typically do not draw in enough traffic.
A site or channel’s potential audience is measured by taking ten per cent of the target population. That’s the number of people you can reasonably expect to follow you. You then take ten per cent of that to get the number you can reasonably expect to actually interact with you, that is, read your articles, watch your videos, and make purchases from your site. Using statistics on the percentage of artists in the United States and the population of Utica, this site’s potential audience is around 1,500 people. This means 150 people following and 15 people reading each article would be a great success. But advertisers would not see it this way.
Programs like Google Adsense and sites like YouTube monetize people producing content aimed at an entire generation of Americans, or other groups with numbers in the millions like “Stay at home parents,” or “everyone in the United States who likes to save money.”
Sites with much smaller target populations may not draw the direct advertising dollars, but there are ways to monetize tiny channels and pages.
Online portfolio/product or service sales space
The writing, music, or other artwork on a small channel or site serves as a portfolio for potential customers or clients. Pieces or services are also typically for sale.
The articles in “Library 315” serve a dual purpose. They are free articles for readers, but they also serve as samples of the kind of writing I can do for potential clients. . A reader decides they want an article for their newspaper, blog, or other website, or that they want something they can submit to newspapers or blogs as a press release. I write the article to their specifications, under the terms detailed on the site. Once the project is finished, the client pays my fee.
Site visitors can also purchase one of my novels through Artist Cafe Utica.
A small page or channel’s content is sponsored in the exact same way a big channel or site’s content is sponsored. Someone pays to have the site owner insert some type of product or business promotion into the post.
The main difference between sponsorships on tiny niche sites and those for ones with much larger audiences is the income potential. YouTube stars like Ryland Adams and David Dobrik design content for entire generations of Americans. Their subscriber counts are in the millions, and their work often becomes “trending,” which means their viewer counts far surpass the expected one per cent of that for each video. But even if they only get ten per cent of their four to eighteen million subscribers watching a video, the content is seen by an enormous audience. This means it is worth the investment for a major corporation to pay them tens of thousands of dollars simply to mention their company in a single video.
A site the size of Artist Cafe Utica can do the same thing, on a much smaller scale. My fee to mention your business, service, product, or organization of your choice in a single article is $25.
Niche YouTube channels and websites also have the option to seek sponsorship for the project as a whole. Sites like Patreon and GoFundMe allow an artist’s supporters to pay them a certain amount of money either one time or on a monthly basis, as a way to pay the artist for any free content they might offer, show support for their career, and basically “tip” them for producing their art.
Artist Cafe Utica has space reserved on Patreon so that nobody else can raise money under the site’s name, but there are currently no ways to become a patron of, or sponsor the site as a whole. Should you create your own niche site and decide to add a site sponsorship or patronage income stream, both Patreon and GoFundMe are free and easy to set up to receive payments.
Income generating research/experiments
Most of the more common social experiments cost money. If you want to write a review of Burger King’s new menu item, you’re going to have to go to Burger King and buy it. If you want to do a haul video featuring items from a local store, you have to spend some money there first.
Other experiments, or research for articles or videos, can actually make money. YouTuber Ryan Trahan has successfully increased his cash in “Turn $.01 into $1,000” experiments. Trahan generously donated the profits from his latest version of this experiment to a fan. Others have conducted similar experiments, and both used the process as content for their channel and kept any cash they generated.
Tiny niche sites and channels may not generate millions, but they can grow into great resources for your career, your finances, and the people your content aims to serve.