Help Wanted Gone Wild- The Weird And Wacky World Of Craigslist Want Ads

Filed under: Features,Finding a Job,Labor,Opinions/Blogs |

By R.W. GREENE— There are few things more stressful than being unemployed when you don’t want to be.

Your future is uncertain. The world, too often, seems smaller and darker than it actually is.

You’re likely on a budget, restricted from buying fun things. Few things amuse.

Craiglist want ad: If you're going to be surrogate mom, work with the best.

Craigslist want ad: If you’re going to be surrogate mom, work with the best.

Except for the place where you may be spending a great deal of time already—the Craigslist want ads.

Ever thought about becoming a surrogate mom? Come work with the best!

In the Olden Days when print newspapers were a community’s main form of communication, an assiduous job seeker would be out at sunup, buying the morning paper.

You’d hunt through the small 6-point classified ads, which were usually stashed behind the sports or business section [Can we get a graphic of some classified want ads?], and spend most of your day chasing down the job.

You did that every day until you found a job.


But the classified want ads were often pretty terse and full of odd abbreviations. That’s because classified ads were (and are) sold by the line.

Employers rarely offered more than a couple of chopped up sentences to explain who they were looking for.  (And no, the money saved on want ads did not go to fatten up employee paychecks.)

No such space restrictions exist on Craigslist.

That seems like a change that mostly benefits the job seeker. Employers can spend as many words as they want describing the opening they have and the person they want to fill it.

This additional precision should make it easier for you, the job-seeker, to decide whether the position is worth pursuing.

In reality, Craigslist’s open-season-on-prose zeitgeist creates a different set of hurdles. Sometimes bluntness rules:

I need someone to use the social media to sell my product (books).       

Others add in an obnoxious level of presumption:

Who is DAEGIS, you wonder?

To which one can only reply: No, I don’t. Now go away.

Many employers, too many, choose the path of the second-person interrogation:

Are you interested in building new features for a highly successful transaction processing platform? Are you passionate about scalability, latency, and security?

Craigslist want ads: Fulfill your dolphin trainer dreams.

Craigslist want ads: Fulfill your dolphin trainer dreams.

If not, then perhaps you are this person:

Were you on the path to fulfilling your dream of becoming a DOLPHIN TRAINER, possess some of the training it takes to become one, but a life event steered you off track?

I’m dying to know what kind of apocalyptic event could have stood in the way of the dream of training dolphins.

Some employers are looking for only the most basic of skills, like a recent one pleading for “REASONING ABILITY:”

Ability to apply common sense understanding to carry out instructions furnished in written, oral, or diagram form.

Members of Congress should probably not apply for that one.

Craigslist also allows for a fair amount of room for misdirection. An ad for a “Senior Level Manager of Existing Real Estate Company” concedes that “Experience in Real Estate helpful but not necessary,” but also requires that you complete a personality test on a Tony Robbins website.

By contrast, freedom from editing frees other employers from the chains of obfuscation. Thus, this somewhat desperate appeal from a Miami hair salon:

We are looking for someone who is bilingual (Spanish/English) is a MUST!!! Someone who is organized, professional and DRAMA FREE!! 

There are challenging jobs offered that are also apparently well-paid:

Certified K-12 Teachers Wanted in the UAE – A Well Paid Challenge (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Some employers seem to be throwing the net as wide as possible, starting by shouting out criteria that could apply to just about everyone: HAVE YOU EVER FANTASIZED ABOUT JUST TURNING IT ALL OFF AND ESCAPING TO A SIMPLER LIFE?

It turns out this back-to-the-land appeal is a come-on from a cable TV reality show producer, who wants to build a show around families who give up modern conveniences like electricity and texting. (The dolphin training gig was also part of a reality TV scheme.)

But there is always a sublime to offset the ridiculous.

A hospice needing a chaplain recently was seeking someone with qualities that would do not at all well in reality TV:

Knowledge and understanding of human behavior and communication and the influence of cultural and spiritual values in providing spiritual care.

Craigslist want ad: Ability to identify sea turtles to species; Ability to locate & identify sea turtle nest and crawls;

Craigslist want ad: Ability to identify sea turtles to species; Ability to locate & identify sea turtle nest and crawls;

Another in this line of more gentle vocations needed folks comfortable with spending nights on the beach:

Conduct nightly beach walks to monitor for possible sea turtle nests along various beaches in Virginia.
Work overnight shifts; Report interactions with endangered/threatened species to various government agencies; Ability to identify sea turtles to species; Ability to locate & identify sea turtle nest and crawls;
Potential nest relocation; Detailed data recording; Work independently while following technical instructions;  Get along well with diverse individuals; Maintain objectivity;  Work in adverse/inclement weather conditions.

There were times in my unemployed days when I’d have taken that job in a minute.

As long as it didn’t interfere with my dolphin-training dreams.

 Copyright 2013 R.W. Greene

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