Friday, June 18, 2004

Wanted: Indentured Servant

When someone posts a job listing like this, which I’ve trimmed down to a manageable paragraph from its original near-novel length, you think it must pay well, right?

Boutique motion picture distribution consultancy firm with international clients is looking for a right-arm to the president.

Ability to utilize Outlook at expert level –Ability to use Excel spreadsheets at expert/near-expert level – especially for creating letter-perfect documents of companies’ sales availabilities for multiple international territories; Excellent scheduling and travel arrangement abilities are crucial. IFDC attends three movie markets per year and meetings are scheduled for the President as well as our clients. IFDC does not utilize a travel agency – YOU are the travel agent. Excellent telephone manner and ability to stay cool under pressure essential – especially when dealing with irate vendors with whom the company has disputes. Ability to utilize Microsoft Word at near-expert level, primarily for correspondence purposes and mail merges. The President takes care of his own correspondence, but you will be responsible for composing professional and cosmopolitan correspondence with an eye for satisfying a variety of cultures (i.e., Japan, Western Europe, West Indies). Full range of office manager duties. Light accounting/bookkeeping responsibilities and dealing with billing problems. Personal assistant duties are fairly light.

But then you scroll down farther and see this:

Salary: $400.00 per week

For you math wizs, that a mere $20,800 per year, practically unlivable wages for a town like Los Angeles, but all too common in those “boutique” type operations.

So my friend, who is currently looking for a job and has had enough, decides to write a little letter to this company and let them know how insulting a listing like that is to someone who is educated, fits all of the qualifications above, would undoubtedly do an excellent job, but doesn’t live with their parents and actually has some bills to pay since they went to college to get those near perfect skills.

She says it better here:
I just had to comment on your listing. It's not only completely ignorant and insulting to think that you can find someone with all of those qualifications for $10/hour, but is bad for the general state of the entertainment industry. You honestly think that someone who acts as the right arm to the president of your company, creates perfect spreadsheets, deals with international clients, books all travel, helps with bookkeeping AND does most office manager duties is only worth that piddly salary? I'm sure all of us in the industry either know many people who were laid off or have been laid off ourselves, and I must say the spirit in which your company seems to operate only contributes to the degradation of the fine people in this business. Why not pay your employees what they are worth and make your contribution to rebuilding this tattered industry into the lucrative and creatively vibrant business it once was? As long as the entertainment companies keep promoting the idea that "everyone wants to work in this biz so let's just pay as little as we can" the no one, not even you, will ever be able to feel secure in their jobs or truly get ahead financially.
Good luck finding that perfect assistant.

But the story goes on… wouldn’t you know it, she got a response!

You want to know something about Hollywood? The REAL Hollywood? Most of the truly talented and capable people are grossly underpaid and it's the "sharks" who make the money.
Funny thing is, you sound like me. Which is why I'm leaving the company.

The moral of this story, kids, is they never tell you that the Hollywood glamour job leads to a luxurious life of ramen noodles.