Monday, June 1, 2009

Of Mice and Freaks

We recently had a little rodent attack in our garage. That is a euphemistic way of saying that there are mouse droppings everywhere. It is beyond disgusting. Seriously.

So I placed an ad on Craigslist saying that I needed a few people who can deal with ickiness who will clean out my garage. It needs to be swept out and everything needs to be wiped down with a bleach based cleaner. I would provide rubber gloves, cleansers and face masks. I was paying a big twelve dollars an hour for this job, which is basically what we can afford. I posted the ad and sat back.

Instantly, I was flooded with responses from people who are desperate for work and cash. We had nearly fifty of those. It kinda bothers me that so many people are willing to do this sort of work for so little. That tells me how bad the local economy is.

Here's what I learned about job hunting in general from this experience:

1) if you are answering to an ad that specifies a salary, don't respond that you will happily do it for more. We had a few people saying that they would do it for $15/hour, with a minimum number of hours guaranteed. The thing is, I got flooded by emails from people who offered to do it for even less than $12/hour, so all things being equal, why on earth would I use the more demanding respondents?

2) I asked for references (these workers are going to be in my home). Anyone who responded without at least one phone number for me to call got dumped in my delete pile. If I ask for a reference, give me a reference. One person even berated me for asking for a reference for such a menial job.

3) while I didn't ask for experience since this is a fairly simple job, some people responded by listing references and cleaning experience. Those people went right to the top of the pile. If you have something relevant to the position, offer it up, even if the potential employer didn't ask for it.

4) People that sounded illiterate went to the delete pile. I know, you don't need good grammar to bleach a garage, but it helps if I can communicate easily with you.

5) One of the stupidest things you can do is offer to come here to do the job with your significant other. Yeah, that's just what I want. One girl even said that she and her boyfriend would be happy to show up to clean the garage, but her boyfriend would be doing most of the work. So why would I pay two people if only one is working? This isn't a day in Six Flags, it's a yucky job. I don't want people socializing. I want them scrubbing.

6) Lots of sob stories. I didn't penalize people for them, but I did ignore the stories and hated myself a little for that. It bugs me when someone writing a job response says he needs money to buy groceries. If he's got enough money for internet access but can't afford to eat, something is wrong with his prioritizing. And anyway, I want the best worker, not the neediest worker. This will probably sound harsh, but I feel like it's unethical to share your desperation with a potential employer. It puts them in an uncomfortable position. I know this sounds pretty mean-spirited, but I want to choose someone objectively.

7) Finally, this was my favorite response. Really, 99% of all responses were normal. But this one freak was the ray of sunshine in my day.

Dear Garage Woman, I know this is not going to be what you expected, I have a fetish that could work for both of us. I enjoy being Dominated and have much experiance (sic) role-playing as a naked houseboy. You would not have to pay anything to get your garage cleaned, if you would explore your Dominant side and give me orders and instruct me. I live in ____, I am 52 with black hair, blue eyes, 240 lbs. I can travel and am free as early as noon today. -Sir Rocket.
Yeah. He's not going to get the job. It would be a little problematic to have someone cleaning my garage, er, naked. LOL. I love Craigslist.


Abandoning Eden said...

there's free internet at pretty much every free city library. And if you're unemployed, the unemployment office also has computers you can use to specifically look for jobs. Which they were doing when they contacted you clearly :)

WebGirl said...

Yeah, that's what I thought initially, or at least wanted to think. Except that his email address domain is Look, the bottom line is that I just don't know.

Anyway, it's sort of besides the point. I just don't think it's fair to reveal this sort of information to an employer in a free market. I don't want to hear "hire me, I'm so poor." This isn't a charitable gesture; it's a job posting. I want it to go to the person who would be best at it, not the person who needs the money the most.

RY said...

Great post!
As an HR executive, I agree with you.
I recently interviewed a down trodden man for a position and my heart was breaking for him the entire time/. In good consious there was no way for me to move him along. He gave me his sob story about being all alone and having child support payments, etc. He was not able to speak a straight sentence and did not look presentable. As an unofficial rule, I usually do not give my stamp of approval if the individual gets too personal on the interview. It is a real red flag.

WebGirl said...

RY, interesting perspective. In that case, there were two things going on. It wasn't just that he was laying his story on you, it was also that he was not a presentable candidate. I think if I were a recruiter and he came to me for an interview, I'd be brutally honest with the guy for his own sake and tell him to a) pull himself together for job interviews if he ever wants to get out of his rut, even if it means faking it and looking more confident than he feels and b) not share his sad story with interviewers.

Remember that interviewing for a job, like dating, is cold. The person who is going to win the day is the one who puts the best foot forward, not the one who needs it the most.