Donate to Absurd Job Vacancies! Donate to Absurd Job Vacancies! Donate to Absurd Job Vacancies! Donate to Absurd Job Vacancies! Donate to Absurd Job Vacancies!


Examine the expectations and inferences underlying selected job positions. Consider timely topics in career preparation and the struggle for fulfilling employment. Analyze what could be improved in either situation. If this blog reminds you too much of work, then peruse my namesake blog for lighter fare.

Fuck UWM and all universities! UW-Milwaukee and their brethren are mediocre. Click banner ads on ClixSense instead; it's a better use of time than a college education in the UW System.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Apple" At-Home Advisor

Job Title: At-Home Advisor

Apple’s customer support group, known as AppleCare, has a long-standing record of providing the world’s best customer support in the industry. The At-Home Advisor program is an opportunity to be part of this exciting team while you are in college — and best of all, you’ll work from home.

As part of the AppleCare team, you would be responsible for providing world-class technical support for Apple’s products and accessories, from software to hardware. Some of the products AppleCare supports include iPhone, iPod, iPad, iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, AirPort, and Apple TV.

The program begins summer 2012 and is one full school year. You must be enrolled in classes at the designated college throughout your employment and have a cumulative GPA of 2.7 or greater. You must be a current student enrolled in at least one class at the designated college for the duration of the one-year program to be eligible. You should be able to balance your planned school load with work. All majors are considered.

Your home office must be within a specified radius from your school. At home, you must have a quiet, distraction-free room with a door that can close to keep out ambient noise. You must have or be willing to get a desk, ergonomic adjustable chair, dedicated telephone line, and an Internet connection meeting minimum requirements.

Training will take place at your home office. Training lasts for four weeks (full-time), and the content is delivered in a virtual environment by an instructor. The topics covered include Apple product lessons, advanced troubleshooting, customer support essentials, job-specific tools and processes, and much more.

Having some experience on the Mac OS is beneficial, but if you have experience working on and troubleshooting other operating systems such as Windows and you’re willing to commit to training on the Mac, you could be a good fit for this program. Apple will provide you with a business-use iMac and telephone to be used for all work functions.

You will be working full-time during your four weeks of training and during the remaining summer break to ensure you become familiar with the job. Once you get your class schedule, your manager will work with you to establish a part-time schedule. During school, you are only required to work a minimum of 16 hours per week, including at least one weekend day.

As a support business, AppleCare experiences a large customer demand for help on major holidays. This requires AppleCare to have staff available to work on holidays. A holiday coverage schedule will be provided. Opportunities with Apple are available throughout the year depending on the business need. After completing the At-Home Advisor program, you will have many of the qualified skills that would make you stand out as a candidate when you apply.

An ideal fit is someone who is passionate about technology and experienced with computers, and who likes helping people and putting a smile on someone’s face. You must enjoy troubleshooting and fixing problems, working independently without in-person supervision, exercising multitasking skills as you manage multiple systems and applications, and giving people yet another positive Apple experience. If you are interested in applying for the At-Home Advisor program, visit

Compensation: Competitive salary & benefits DOE, monthly reimbursement of up to $50 for Internet and phone service.

Apple’s “At-Home Advisor” position is the rare type of internship which considers only student applicants but doesn’t necessarily count for course credit: Whether or not it does is entirely up to the university at which the student is enrolled. The description says that the hire will be paid a “competitive salary,” thereby meaning equivalent of minimum wage unless you have enough work history troubleshooting Apple products to make this internship a redundant experience. (Perhaps returning interns get a raise above the minimum starting salary, which is undisclosed.) It could be worse: Many internships are entirely unpaid.

However, Apple requires each advisor to have his or her own equipment, including “ergonomic adjustable chair” and “dedicated telephone line.” This apparently means that your work will not be credited if Apple catches you providing any advice over your personal cell phone or lounging on your couch as you guide the caller through whatever problem-solving steps are in the product user guide. (I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that meeting such furniture requirements is verified not only by an on-site inspection but also regularly monitored via the built-in iMac webcam / photo lens.)

So although Apple reimburses up to a combined $50 monthly for your Internet and dedicated phone line, you must pay up-front to establish such services, including installation fees, as well as purchase or borrow both a desk and the specified type of chair. Neither of those $100+ purchases are reimbursed. The successful applicant might search for those items at a Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul store, but just like a pair of second-hand shoes which fit, they are rarely stocked.

As with any internship, once you graduate, you are booted out of the position. The description says that the experience will make the incumbent into a “standout candidate when you apply,” but for what positions? Store sales associate? Help desk jobs which focus exclusively on Apple products? (Good luck jumping to Microsoft if Apple doesn’t hire you for any positions after serving as “At-Home Advisor.”)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hyper, Semi-Independent Clerical Worker w/ Psychometric Performance Bonuses

"Job Title: We are URGENTLY needing to fill 2 ft/pt positions in our Reedsburg location.

The position is part time but we would make it fulltime after 30 days.

The job is paid hourly with incentives on attendance, productivity and attitude.

We are looking for a high energy positive person. Able to take direction and work semi independently for short periods of time.

Hours for the position would be 5:00p.m.-8:30p.m. Mon-Fri & Sat 9a.m.-1p.m.

Experienced persons will be considered first as will resumes.

Job duties will include but aren't limited to: faxing, computer work, order inputting, inbound/outbound calls."

The “urgent” need to fill two untitled positions begs the question as to why those vacancies occurred unexpectedly. This urgency spills over into the syntax of certain sentences such as, “Experienced persons will be considered first, as will resumes.” Perhaps the job poster has been exchanging notes with whoever wrote the “warehouse assistant” job vacancy analyzed in Post 037. Irrespective of proper distinction of resumes as an attribute of qualified applicants rather than legal entities in themselves, this great sense of urgency gives pause to the analytical job seeker.

Did an employee and his or her friend both go rogue and quit without giving adequate notice? Did the company discover two of its employees stealing supplies? Whatever the reason, company desperation usually gives job seekers greater leverage in securing both a position and a higher wage. However, the clerical nature of the work and the lack of prior job experience as a requirement substantially negate that leverage due to the large quantity of applicants who self-certify as tolerating someone else watching their work except for when they are permitted to “work semi-independently for short periods of time.”

At least the job poster is candid about the company practice of explicitly scoring one’s “attitude” as a component of performance evaluations. This factor consciously and unconsciously influences managerial opinions of direct reports anyway, and at the extreme this results in favoritism such as permitting one or two employees to regularly violate certain work rules while everyone else is held to a gold standard. Hence, acknowledging this influence is beneficial to everyone by raising awareness about a sometimes overlooked issue.

While some might be concerned about pay increases being contingent upon attitude assessments, an excellent score on the attitude metric can be used to compensate for merely satisfactory productivity and attendance. This advantage is all the more critical when pay increases are given only to above-average performers but almost everyone is a highly productive. Showing that you are glad to help not only customers but also fellow employees can bump you into the “eligible for pay raise” category when coworkers are also on their “A+ Game” but do not express a love for their job or company.

Monday, February 27, 2012

"Best Western Inn" Desk Clerk in City of Beaver Dam, WI

"Job Title: Front Desk Clerk

Accepting applications for part time front desk clerk having smart personality with excellent customer care skills. Candidate must be able to work flexible shifts including weekends and most holidays.

Apply in person at:

Best Western Campus Inn

815 Park Avenue

Beaver Dam,WI

Compensation: part-time"

Considering how many job seekers inquire at hotel desks in a given week, it speaks volumes about management’s distaste for existing applicants. I suppose the Beaver Dam manager tired of the same chronically unemployed applicants month after month and hence decided to advertise as far away as Madison (about 40 miles away), a city which has plenty more hotels to hire front-desk workers before they contemplate an hour commute to Beaver Dam.

I understand the requirement of a top-shelf attitude towards helping the customer because when did admitting to having only “great customer service skills” ever suffice, outside of pizza places having a minimum wait time of 20 minutes? However, the job poster asks for not only the typical “excellent customer care skills” but also for a “smart personality.” There are clearer phrases to communicate the intent of the job poster such as “intuitive sense of decorum” or “readily notices customers before they try to get your attention.”

As worded, the job vacancy might be interpreted as being intended for “smarty pants” or otherwise sarcastic individuals. I believe this is what most people think of when hearing or reading the phrase “smart personality.” A requirement of above-average intelligence would be a waste of human capital because there isn’t much for a desk worker to learn once he or she has memorized hotel policies, which should nonetheless be written in an easily accessible manual and tend to change anyway. I hence believe that “common sense” is the meaning intended by use of the phrase “smart personality.”

Irrespective of descriptive semantics, the job poster and many other human resources staff believe they can accurately assess applicant adequacy (alliteration aside) via a snap judgment or once-over of an in-person applicant. (It’s a good thing those HR folks aren’t court judges!) The requirement to apply in person is supposed to be a behavioral interview in itself. The hiring manager would do well to act like an angry customer when someone requests a job application because how someone responds to people who act like jerks is a fairly accurate measure of how the applicant will act behind your back when hired.

To truly test for whether the applicant embodies savoir faire, esprit de corps, and a bunch of other personality concepts clichéd into French terms to sound more sophisticated than they are, it would be wise for the manager to act out some scenarios in real time to see the responses and composure of the applicant. While typically only luxury hotel managers actually use the aforementioned French terms, I apply them to this job vacancy because many hiring managers of economy chains such as Best Western Inn hold the same cavalier attitude, as evinced by including the obnoxious term “smart personality” in the job description for a doormat position such as desk clerk.

I know that hotel maids are technically below desk clerk in terms of authority, but those workers have the privilege of requesting the room occupant to leave for a room cleaning or to skip a room until the occupants leave. Hence, the desk clerk is least sheltered from customer demands and hence should not have a “smart” or skeptical attitude but instead believe the customer and kowtow to whatever extent necessary.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Lowe's" Lot Attendant w/ HAZMAT Duties|utmccn=%28organic%29|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=job%3bopportunity&__utmv=-&__utmk=60660525

Job Title: Customer Service - Loader (Seasonal)
Job ID: 304182BR
Job Category: Store Operations Support
Department: 0712 - Loaders (Lawn & Garden)
Employment Type I: Temporary
Employment Type II: Full-Time
Location #: 2309
Location Name: Wauwatosa, WI

Job Description:
Assist customers in carrying and loading their purchases. Maintain outside appearance of store by returning carts to proper location and cleaning/organizing as necessary. Greet and acknowledge all customers in a friendly, professional manner and provide quick, responsive customer service.

Job Requirements:

Must be available to work a few weekdays and both weekend days. Ability to apply basic mathematical concepts such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and knowledge of weights and measures. Understand and respond appropriately to basic customer and employee inquiries. Read, write and communicate using English language sufficient to perform job functions. Ability to operate store equipment in assigned area (including but not limited to LRT, telephone, paging system, copiers, fax machines, computers, CCTV surveillance system, key cutting, panel saw, paint mixing computer, blind cutting, forklifts, pallet jacks, electric lifts, etc).
Satisfactorily complete all Lowe’s training requirements (including annual Hazardous Material, Forklift certification/departmental training, etc). Ability to interpret price tag and UPC information. Able to wear all necessary personal protective equipment to perform job functions. Ability to work in both inside and outside environmental conditions. Physical ability to move large, bulky and/or heavy merchandise. Physical ability to perform tasks that may require prolonged standing, sitting, and other activities necessary to perform job duties.

This is actually a well-written job description except for the acronyms. While I know that “CCTV” stands for “closed-circuit television,” what does “LRT” mean in this context? I did myriad Internet searches but uncovered nothing relevant. How does someone know whether he/she can use an “LRT” if he/she does not know what it is? Within the context of the other devices listed, I presume the “LRT” is some type of office / telecommunications equipment. I also infer that “ability to interpret price tag and UPC information” means “ability to learn and remember merchandise codes after we teach you, preferably after the first run-through.”

Within the gargantuan paragraph which could use separation into several smaller ones, it is revealed that the seasonal loader will undergo training on handling hazardous materials and operation of a forklift. I finally found an entry-level forklift operation position! I grant that the forklift duties are maybe a fifth of total activities for this position, but it is an inroad to a warehousing career. That is more than what may be said for the typical retail sales associate who is never granted the privilege of heavy loading duties.

This would be enough to turn the title of this post to “awesome job vacancy,” except for the omission of compensation, which is neither “depending on experience” nor “negotiable” but rather is understood to be minimum wage – quite a low compensation for someone who handles hazardous materials and spends any given day on a forklift which might tip over and crush the operator. I do give Lowe’s credit for permitting the position to be full-time and hence eligible for benefits.

I hope no one sues Lowe’s for explicitly requiring their customer service employees to speak fluent English. It’s a perfectly reasonable job requirement, but most job descriptions omit this requirement and rely on the applicants to infer that a strong grasp of the English language is necessary to adequately respond to the majority of customer inquiries. At least Lowe’s doesn’t require applicants to self-certify themselves as having “top personalities” or as thinking, “Every day is the best ever!”

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Landscape Laborer w/ Design Skills

Job Title: Landscape Foreman/Crew leader (McFarland)

Date: 2012-02-22, 1:34PM CST

We are looking for a responsible, professional person to help lead our landscaping team!!
Valid drivers license a must, CDL preferred, must supply drivers abstract if offered interview
Minimum of 5 years of experience with a professional company
Must have thorough knowledge of landscape plants and construction and be able to demonstrate at interview
Please. . .. . . only skilled applicants apply!!

Competitive Wage and Benefits offered to the right person!!
If you have most of these qualifications, still apply, we are always looking for good people!
Please reply to this email with your resume attached.

How does one demonstrate “thorough knowledge of landscape plants and construction” at the interview? Does one diagram a hypothetical landscape showing the best places to plant the azaleas and hydrangeas? Does one describe the step-by-step process for grading and edging a terrace garden? There just might be an exam with questions such as:

“True or False: Pouring milk onto sandy ground makes the soil more viable for plant life.”

(True: Because sandy soil is moderately alkaline and because milk is slightly acidic, adding milk to the soil makes it more pH-neutral.)

“Explain the desirable pH range for growing plants.”

(6.0 to 7.5, because any more acidic than 6.0 tends to produce ferrous phosphates, because any more basic than 7.5 tends to produce calcium carbonates, and because such ‘–ate’ compounds are insoluble and crowd out other nutrients.)

After all, someone could research on the Internet and write a summary paper surveying the various landscape and construction methodologies as well as which plants thrive in which climates, soil compositions, and soil acidities. An academic fresh out of college would be able to write such a research paper and boil it down to some talking points, and it seems the job poster knows this because he/she begs, “Please – only skilled applicants apply!”

I suppose the requirement of at least five years of experience “with a professional company” means having planned, dug, and cultivated many projects for a landscape firm rather than having worked as a paralegal, administrative assistant, or call center worker. I imagine the entreaty to apply “if you have most of these qualifications” should be interpreted as, “If you’ve done fewer than five but more than two years of professional landscaping, then apply for our talent pool.”

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Emdat" IT Sales Agent

Job Title: Implementation Analyst Position (Fitchburg, WI)

Do you like working with clients? Can you walk a client though available options, understand their requirements, and implement those requirements to achieve their desired results? Do you have the patience and skill to train the end-user on how best to utilize an application for maximum benefit? Is every day the best day ever? If so, there is an Implementation Analyst position for you at Emdat, Inc.

Emdat designs, builds, and operates a series of applications to serve the Medical Transcription industry. Our clients are large transcription companies, who in turn, use our applications to provide transcriptions to Clinics and Hospitals. Emdat is the end-to-end technology solution that allows the transcription company to achieve operating efficiencies and deliver a superior product to their clients.

Emdat is looking for an Implementation Analyst in our Fitchburg, WI office. This is a new entry-level staff position that results from our continued growth. The Implementation Analyst works closely with new clients to teach them how to use the basic system as well as consults with existing clients on using more complex features. If you have the desired skills, we would like to hear from you. Please send a copy of your resume to
Compensation: Based on experience.

This job vacancy for “implementation analyst” reads more like a sales position. Although commission is not mentioned under compensation, the basic sales process of learning your customer’s needs and then selling the appropriate service(s) and/or product(s) is sales by any name. I checked Emdat’s website to check for other job titles held by its staff, but Emdat does not list any vacancies on its field-facing site.

I did come across a description of its medical transcription data interchange solutions. The disparate names take some getting used to because I imagine most people think “boy band which was popular a decade ago” when they hear the name of Emdat’s “InSync” service (which is trademarked as a network technology and hence is not an infringement upon the “NSync” musical entertainment trademark). At least the Emdat “Shadowlink” service, although shadily named, avoids an implicit association with a pop band.

I know that a magnetic personality helps a salesperson succeed, but requiring the client to believe, “…Every day (is) the best day ever,” is patently ridiculous. Why? Because only an irrational salesperson would really believe that a slow day in sales, as totaled by the close of business, is better than a prior day on which he/she made landmark sales. This Pollyanna outlook can also reduce the salesperson’s credibility, because for many in the medical profession, a given “today” is not the best ever.

Imagine if the salesperson said, “Today is the best day ever to buy our medical transcription application!” when in fact the acquisitions coordinator listening to the spiel has a million other things on his/her mind (which typically indicates an irritatingly hectic day rather than the perfect day). It is subtle behaviors such as stating assumptions about the buyer which bring pause about the seller’s claims about services and products: Under what assumptions are those claims true?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Jenny Craig" Weight Loss Consultant / Sales Agent;jsessionid=1F72F6C1A0340C8FD26DD83798FA6142?PSUID=ad770843-8fed-46ca-9d97-0572165cc496

"Job Title: Weight Loss Consultant

Description: If you're looking for a fantastic career with a fast paced company, then you've come to the right place. As a Jenny Weight Loss Consultant you will be the most critical link in ensuring that our clients have a rewarding experience that will keep them coming back and reaching their healthy weight goals. You will help our clients face the challenges of maintaining a healthy lifestyle through empathy, customer service, and an assortment of great Jenny products. You will be responsible for talking with your clients for weekly one-on-one consultations, keeping clients motivated, and recommending various menu options and tools.

We offer a competitive compensation package that combines hourly salary plus a commission structure that rewards based on performance. The hourly salary varies by market and there is no cap on commission earnings. Our benefits package also includes medical, dental, vision, a prescription drug plan, paid time off and a 401(k) plan, and a flexible spending account. We also provide regular paid training and we promote from within. For candidates living and applying for a Jenny job in Massachusetts, the first year of benefits does not satisfy the Massachusetts mandatory minimum insurance requirements. For candidates living and applying for a Jenny job in New Hampshire, benefits are offered if full-time service is maintained after 14 months.

Qualified candidates will possess excellent customer service, sales, and communication skills to work both over the phone and in person with our clients. Our consultants serve as positive role models for their clients in the pursuit of individual weight loss goals. We require our Consultants to possess either a high school diploma or a G.E.D."

The job requirements reveal that each “weight loss consultant” is actually a salesperson who must convince people that the Jenny Craig program will somehow compensate for their prior lack of willpower and discipline in the matters of diet and exercise. Much success for those in the program is due to being badgered by the consultant to eat lower-calorie foods and smaller portion sizes, akin to a diet police. The job description refers to this as “empathy and customer service.”

So how does the Jenny Craig diet differ from generic diets? Instead of buying any old “light” ice cream or reduced-calorie casserole, the client buys specially branded food stuffs. It is the job of the weight loss consultants to convince the client that the product differences go beyond the mere names of the “assortment of great Jenny products.”

I suspect there is a fine balance between selling enough tasty Jenny food to make the sales quota while limiting the individual’s daily consumption. After all, a dieter who likes a diet program for the delicious food is at risk for purchasing more products than the program recommends consuming and hence would gain weight, eventually stop the diet program due to failure, and finally order the food just for pleasure and not for dieting purposes. I know that Jenny Craig frozen food products are available in most grocers, and so the weight loss consultant must do more than shill food to persuade the client to renew his/her program contract.

There is an unstated job requirement which nonetheless may be inferred: Considering how the consultants must “serve as positive role models…(of) individual weight loss goals,” it may be surmised that each consultant must at least look like he/she lives the Jenny Craig lifestyle. Applicants with over 10% body fat need not apply!

Joseph Ohler's Affiliate Click-for-Cash Program

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Warehouse Worker Specializing in Manual Lifting

"Job Title: Warehouse asst. (Madison)
Date: 2012-02-22, 4:54PM CST
Established Company needs a warehouse asst that is: detail oriented, organized, hard working, has some computer skills. there is some heavy lifting involved. Pay based on experience. Over time available!
Please send resume if possible.
Compensation: $10-$12 Based on experience"

It seems that whoever posted on behalf of this “established company” is fond of understatements:

“There is some heavy lifting involved.” Right, this is a warehouse. Of course the successful applicant will lift boxes filled compactly with matter -- that’s what a warehouse stores.

Because there is no mention of using a forklift, it is common sense to infer the job entails lifting with one’s own unassisted bodily strength. The poster would have been better served by stating a maximum poundage to be lifted directly and another maximum poundage to be manipulated via simple machines such as by pushcart or block and tackle.

“Please send resume, if possible.” How else will someone get an interview? By sending a poem which incorporates industrial metaphors to describe his/her love of slinging boxes? Then again, prior work experience is less important for these positions, much like it is of minute significance for entry-level food service jobs: It’s not so much what you’ve done (except for possible forklift training, which would be added value in a warehouse), but what you can do (stack boxes for 10 hours a day without injury).

A telltale indicator that the job poster has little understanding of computers is when the job requirement says, “Have some computer skills.” That statement is too vague to be of any use, considering how many operating systems and hardware configurations exist.

Is the inventory system a database which is hosted on an AS400 server and accessed via thin client, or is inventory tracked in a spreadsheet which is saved to a local hard drive daily? These details matter when asking whether someone knows how to use your computer equipment and applications.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wanna-Be Economic Stimulator for Layton Boulevard in City of Milwaukee, WI

"Job Title: Economic Development Manager
Posted by: Layton Boulevard West Neighbors, Inc.
Date Posted: 02/21/12
Deadline to Apply: March 5, 2012

Job Description:
The Economic Development Manager’s responsibilities include a broad range of activities and strategies. The Economic Development Manager must be creative, entrepreneurial and adaptable to the changing needs of the neighborhood.
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Position Type: Full-time
Compensation: Based on experience.
Type of Employment: Direct Hire

Restructure the Economics in the Neighborhood:
•Create jobs by providing technical assistance to individual businesses.
•Identify retail recruitment and retention strategies for immediate implementation.
•Maintain inventories on business vacancies and properties for sale.
•Create and promote resources to potential business owners to establish or expand their business in district.
•Recruit new businesses to the district.
•Identify, secure, and promote resources and incentives such as grants, loans, permits, general contractors, architects, and graffiti removal.
•Establish relationships with landlords and property owners to encourage lease ups of viable retail businesses.
•Approach economic restructuring as a means to retain existing businesses and to attract new or expanding businesses to the neighborhood.
•Manage proposals with business consultants and third party vendors.

Improve Design Aspects of Commercial Corridors:

• Establish and implement milestones for commercial district design improvements.

• Promote design improvements and resources to business owners, including streetscape and façade improvements.

• Meet individually with business owners to identify individual design needs.

• Provide one-on-one technical assistance to businesses to improve their building and commercial corridor.

• Cultivate partnerships with institutions of higher education and others to provide design concepts and incentives for improvements.

Promote the Commercial Corridors and Neighborhood:

• Promote the commercial districts, with special events and retail promotions, such as Sounds of Summer concerts and Trick-or-Treat Street.

• Provide individual technical assistance to businesses and clusters of like businesses to promote them.

• Work with media and Internet outlets to promote the district.

• Create and implement marketing initiatives to generate excitement and awareness of the business corridors.

Organize and Empower Business Owners:

• Work with economic development committee to oversee the implementation of the economic development aspects of the Quality of Life Plan.

• Leverage other Quality of Life Plan strategies as opportunities to maximize impact.

•Recruit, train, coordinate, and manage the volunteers of the various project committees.
•Serve as a central point of communication for all committees, volunteers, staff, Board, and outside contacts.
•Facilitate the process of setting goals and benchmarks, identifying strategies to accomplish them, and monitoring the progress toward meeting the program’s goals.

•Prepare all reports required by the Community Development Grant Administration, LBWN, and other partners.
•Participate in staff and board meetings.

• Participate in other economic development meetings and panels regarding commercial revitalization.

• Assist in the development of LBWN’s and the Economic Development portion of the newsletter, website, marketing videos, facebook, and others media tools.

• Prepare and monitor the program’s budget.

• Supervise interns as needed.

• Write grants and reports and make presentations to investors and board.

• Work with media outlets to promote projects.

• Build partnerships with elected officials, city departments, realtors, brokers, and others.


• Minimum Bachelor’s Degree in Real Estate, Urban Planning, or a related field with community development and/or economic development experience

• Experience working with diverse populations

• Excellent problem solving skills

• Bookkeeping skills

• Strong ability to think on your feet

• Team player

• Excellent oral and written communication skills

• Experience working with public officials and media

• Ability to multi-task with a strong sense of meeting deadlines and follow-up

• High degree of professionalism, flexibility and initiative

• Exceptional organizational and time management skills

• Desire to make a difference in a south side Milwaukee neighborhood

• Ability to work evenings and weekends, as events necessitate

• Bilingual in English and Spanish preferred

Benefits and other compensation:

Attractive Benefit Package."

For compensation which lists “depending on experience” in lieu of an actual minimum and maximum, the Economic Development Manager combines many functions of a Chamber of Commerce, grant writer, property manager, urban planner, event planner, and public relations director. I imagine the backlog on these activities is already at a bottleneck due to the vacancy and due to the difficulty of finding someone to fulfill interim duties, considering how the neighborhood association known as “Layton Boulevard West Neighbors” (LBWN) assigns each director the work of three.

If the scope creep of the position isn’t enough to discourage most applicants, the neighborhood’s preference for someone who speaks both English and Spanish fluently hints at the myriad opportunities for miscommunication in this public relations-oriented position. Homonyms are one of the most insidious language phenomena because a well-intentioned translation may sound like an insult due to improper context or intonation. I suppose that if identification with the community and actual development expertise prove to be inversely correlated among applicants, then familiarity with the neighborhood would be a stronger factor due to the whole concept of “community empowerment” or “buy-in.” This mentality sometimes closes the community to outside expertise which it really needs, but thankfully this is a fairly technical position which is accordingly shielded from the direct control of a democracy.

Some of the job requirements obviously favor remodeling and landscape contractors, e.g. “Promote design improvements and resources to business owners, including streetscape and façade improvements.” How are local businesses supposed to afford those improvements except by raising the price? Although LBWN promotes its business district much like a downtown district would, e.g. with summer concerts outside retail establishments, Layton Boulevard is too close to the Old Third World District to really have a comparable identity outside the neighborhood proper.

And so with most customers being neighbors, one must be careful to keep overhead low, lest your customers ride the bus to Aldi or TJ Maxx instead of purchasing from your grocer or boutique. I know that business district assessments make rents around 20% higher than what they would be in an outlying office park. The stringent parking regulations and tendency for streets to merge southerly (such as near Layton Boulevard) also makes it a hassle for suburban motorists to go downtown; most go to the mall because it is more accessible to vehicular traffic. Hence, the primary benefit of downtown-style districts is the increased pedestrian traffic, but the Malls at Mayfair and Grand Avenue leach away many bus-riding customers, thereby leaving local residents and the occasional day tripper who wants to see what all the LBWN-generated hype is about.

One final strike against the LBWN district is that it is half a mile west of General Mitchel International Airport. While in theory this might sound advantageous, most airport patrons purchase goods and services either inside the airport or at their intended destination, not in an unfamiliar neighborhood some four or five blocks away. The noise generated by air traffic can also discourage some shoppers. In summary, whoever becomes LBWN’s next Economic Developer Director is almost certainly doomed to failure, and hence only masochists wishing to commit career suicide need apply.

Monday, February 20, 2012

P*ss & Moan Hotline Operator at WI Dept. of Revenue

"Job Title: Lottery Customer Service Specialist (Telemarketer)

Job Announcement Code(s): 12-00492

Agency: Wisconsin Department of Revenue

County(ies): Dane

Classification Title: / JAC:


Lottery Customer Service Specialist - Telemarketer

Type of Employment: Full Time (40 hrs/week)

Salary: Pay will not be less than the minimum of the pay schedule/pay range 07-04, $16.902 per hour. A six month probationary period will be required.

Bargaining Unit: Non-Represented

Area of Competition: Open

Deadline to Apply: 2/29/2012 by 4:30 p.m.


This position is located in Madison, at the Department of Revenue, in the Division of Lottery.

Job Duties:

Under the general supervision of the Telemarketing Supervisor within the Retailer Management Section this position is responsible for providing services to assist over 3700 retailers and non-profit organizations throughout the state in the sale of instant, pull-tab and on-line tickets. Responsibilities include: providing personalized retailer information regarding individual retailer and area game sales, winning tickets sold by the retailer, new games, products and lottery services available, and the types of games that individual and area retailers have had success. Work is performed under general supervision and requires emphasis on increasing ticket sales, providing customer service and problem resolution.

Special Notes: A comprehensive background check and a tax non-filer check will be conducted on the most qualified candidates.

Job Knowledge, Skills and Abilities: Knowledge of business practices and customer service principles and techniques. Ability to: develop and maintain effective working relationships with staff with in the division, in other divisions, departments and the public, to communicate effectively both in person and over the phone with customers. Skills in: Microsoft Office products (excel, word-processing, e-mail), effective written and oral communication skills with both internal and external customers the use of Contact management Software (Goldmine, Microsoft Dynamics CRM,"

Policy analysts are in for a treat, as in this post I perform some policy analysis of my own while incorporating citations from extant program evaluations. One of the things I learned in college is that a university is one of the least effective ways to learn policy analysis. Rather, one should scour the public records to find data to crunch and then see what patterns you can find. Doing this on your own time is preferable because you not only save tuition and the opportunity cost of lost employment hours spent in class, but you also are free of research deadlines and hence can be as thorough as you have the patience to be. I enjoy true academic freedom to write original, practical research when I want on whatever subjects I want without some professor imposing deadlines or scope constraints.

The above job vacancy might not seem absurd until you see that the State of Wisconsin pays people almost $17 an hour as the starting wage to shill the lottery to retailers! The preview for the civil service exam reveals the applicant must describe his/her experience in sales, customer relations databases, and automatic dialers. While there are relatively few people who have experience in all three areas, the same may be said of applicants for similarly specialized positions in the private sector paying $8 to $10 per hour. The state is just encouraging a deluge of unqualified applicants to waste HR’s time sifting through by setting the starting wage that high.

The full-time schedule mandates benefits which are typically avoided by private-sector employers by capping weekly work hours below 35 to minimize the likelihood that weekly hours will total 40 or greater, in which overtime pay would be mandated by statute. Although neither statutes nor agency rules mandate the payment of time off or vacations, it is customary in Wisconsin to offer those benefits to employees who average over 35 hours of work weekly. State benefits alone, including unemployment insurance tax paid by the employer, are about a third of the wage, and so the minimum hourly cost for the position is around $22.50. To truly grasp the magnitude of the compensation for a single Department of Revenue telemarketer, we need to multiply the compensation by the number of hours worked annually:

40 hours/week X 52 weeks = 2,080 hours

2080 hours – (10 furloughs and state holidays occurring on weekdays X 8 hours/day) = 2,000 hours

2,000 hours X $22.50 = $45,000 paid to Department of Revenue telemarketer (w/out commission)

Let us compare this to the typical private-sector telemarketer compensation:

34.49 hours/week X 52 weeks = 1,793.48 hours, rounded down to 1,793 hours

Because time off is unpaid for part-time employees, let us presume the employee does not request vacation but may have to use several sick days (while being certain to get someone to cover the shift). Let us presume a base wage of $8 but with the employer paying an additional $2 per hour to the state for unemployment insurance tax:

1,793 hours – 3 unpaid sick days = 1,790 hours

1,790 hours X $10 = $17,900 paid to private-sector telemarketer (w/out commission)

It is thus clear that the Department of Revenue pays over 2.5 times as much for a telemarketer as the private sector does. Wisconsin could reduce compensation expenses by paying some of that wage in commission and by capping weekly hours to 34.49 weekly. I know the University of Wisconsin System does the latter to prevent student workers from being scheduled full-time for the very same reason of cost control, so it’s not like the state can claim some moral high ground as the reason for overpaying its non-student workers, at least not without coming across as very hypocritical.

A worker who has been doing that job for a decade will garner $27.50 or so in hourly compensation when calculated at an annual average raise of 50 cents with benefits remaining a third of total compensation. This would earn the state telemarketer $55,000 annually in total compensation, or more than three times the base pay of the typical private-sector telemarketer. This is in addition to the multimillion-dollar contracts which Wisconsin has with advertising agencies to promote the lottery, with the most recent being an unevaluated five-year contract with the Milwaukee firm “York Hoffman,” which in turn faced no penalties or other consequences for the lack of oversight:

If the high pay given to such a clerical worker (paid by the hour, not by sales volume) isn’t outrageous enough, then one need only consider that Wisconsin is paying someone to promote gambling. “But problem gamblers have themselves to blame.” So do problem drinkers, but Wisconsin does not sell alcohol. Whether this is due to stiff competition from private alcohol retailers rather than due to some moral objection, the fact is that Wisconsin and other states promote gambling despite it traditionally being considered a vice and even outlawed in some cities.

Besides exacerbating gambling problems, the telemarketer is paid to ultimately gather tax credits for homeowners but not for any renters, although both purchase tickets. The net proceeds after administrative costs go towards property tax relief. This means that gambling addicts may rationalize their destructive behavior if at least some of their purchases are from the Wisconsin lottery. Many of these gamblers are renters who never benefit from that property tax subsidy because they do not own real estate. While I’m certain that gamblers will purchase lottery tickets no matter whether the proceeds are used to support causes dear to them (such as paying a few hundred dollars less on their next property tax bill), Wisconsin’s active marketing of a program which panders to people’s weaknesses seems incongruous with the otherwise moralist, patronizing stance of Wisconsin (which has banned public smoking and attempted to ban the sale of unpasteurized goat milk, among other things).