As a still-unemployed person, I have signed up to receive multiple daily emails that aggregate job openings based on my chosen keywords. Most days, they’re pretty useless, though occasionally potential employment shines through – a job description that at least merits an application.
But as I scanned my emails from ZipRecruiter and Simply Hired this morning, I started to wonder what criteria the algorithm used to determine which postings to send me. For example, how on Earth did it decide ‘Chaplain (Protestant) for Veteran’s Affairs’ was a writing job? It’s hard to think of a job I’d be less qualified for, aside from ‘Nuclear Reactor Maintenance Engineer.’
I also get information on openings for ‘Counsel, Legal Affairs’ or ‘Transactional Real Estate Paralegals’ – both considered ‘writing jobs’ – and, my personal favorite, ‘Advisory Forensic Technology Data Analytics Sr Associate.’ (What does that even mean?)
The emails about ‘editing jobs’ are almost as interesting. I realized pretty early on that I was going to get as many postings for video editors as for text editors as the computer apparently can’t distinguish. But I ask you, in what way is ‘Scientist – Chemical Process Research and Development’ an editing job?
But the confusion can’t entirely be blamed on computers – there’s plenty of human error too. While I’ve found the Craigslist writing/editing jobs page to be useful and even lucrative, there are plenty of people who don’t seem to understand what ‘writing job’ means. For one thing, it means you need to pay for the work you are soliciting. Non-paying gigs are supposed to go under, imagine that, ‘writing gigs.’ Pretty simple. Then there are the people who ignore the category all together, or maybe think “writer” is code for something. (Like unemployable.) Tele-fundraising for non-profits (which sounds shifty all on its own) is not writing. It’s not editing. It’s sales.
A ‘Tech company looking for a Turkish-speaking associate’ is not a writing job. And, honestly, just because a job might involve some writing, doesn’t make it a writing job. Writing is a means of communication; we all write. It’s pretty key to business in general. Lawyers write – that doesn’t mean I’m qualified to be a paralegal. Doctors write – that doesn’t automatically get me into medical school.
Of course, there just aren’t enough ‘writing jobs’ for all the writers a college can produce – to say nothing of everyone who wakes up in the morning and decides to be a writer. Which is why I know – intellectually – that I should be looking for a dull office position to pay the bills, but it’s also why I can’t help wanting to find the perfect editorial position so that while I work on my comic, my YA novel, and my memoir, I can actually claim to earn a living with my chosen career path. I’ve done the boring job for the money thing. By this point in my life, I’d really hoped to be earning money doing something I liked, if not loved. I know that’s a rarity in the world, even for people with more experience.
But aren’t they called dreams for a reason?