Basement Readers,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am 26 years old. I’m a white, middle class, 99-percenter. I have a bachelor’s degree from a petty good undergraduate institution. In other words, I’m average. I have worked jobs in every field you can think of (including working in an actual field), but this booming economy prevents me from affording rent. So I live in my parents’ basement.

I am here to offer advice on the working world, because let’s face it: if the world is, in fact, your oyster, then it’s an oyster that’s been sitting in the hot sun for several days and smells kind of like a cat’s anus. Nowadays, once you leave college, you might as well go straight to the Department of Labor and file for unemployment.

Except you can’t, because you haven’t had a job. Quite a catch. So allow me to assist you.

This week’s edition of 9 to 5 is courtesy of Ed in Wisconsin. Ed writes:

Hey 9 to 5
I’m a senior marketing major and to be honest I have no idea how to tell which jobs are legit and which ones are duds. Is there a way to sort through the bullshit so I don’t end up showing up to an interview with a serial killer? Or worse, end up in a job I hate?

First off, why would you bring a serial killer to your interview, Ed? I’m not sure threatening a potential employer is the best way to get a job, but then again it’s not the worst idea…

Misplaced modifiers aside, that’s a valid question. Truth be told, you don’t know that you won’t be killed in an interview. People die in the office on a daily basis, mostly as the result of being driven insane by copier malfunctions, people not replacing the water cooler with a new jug, or the always-annoying cubicle neighbor who might as well have Parkinson’s because he never stops tapping his damn foot.

Still, there are some things you can do ahead of time to prevent being the victim of a fatal craigslist prank. (Ha! You fell for the old Murderous Interviewer gag! And now you’ve been hole-punched to death! Classic!) Here are some things to watch out for:

  1. Listings by HR Reps – I don’t want to generalize, but HR people are all terrible human beings. Whether you’re interviewing with them or trying to explain to them that you did leave the office at 6:15 and you do need those 15 minutes of overtime and you’re sorry they didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives and decided to just ruin everyone else’s chance at happiness, and how do they know you were the one who took a dump on their desk? Jeez. The slightest thing can set them off.  If you see a listing that requires you to interact in any way with a HR rep, don’t bother. Applicants looking to continue breathing need not apply. Which brings me to…
  2. Need Not Apply” – Any job listing with this phrasing might as well trigger some sort of alarm at the nearest police station (might I suggest a Bat Signal in the shape of a donut?). Nobody speaks like this. At least nobody under the age of 937. Rumor has it such strange verbiage was common in Transylvania. As in, “You need not apply pressure to that wound on your neck, it’s too late,” followed by a maniacal laugh. Anyone using such language on a job listing is most likely a vampire. Which means he/she probably works in HR.
  3. Compensation: Competitive – I was never good at math, but I don’t remember competitive falling anywhere within the typical range of digits. Or integers. Or anything. If you’re looking at a job posting and it says “Compensation: Competitive,” this most likely means that you will literally be competing for your life. Which either means that you will be subjected to some sort of Running Man-like battle royale with your fellow candidates, or else you will be cast on Jersey Shore and the producers will instantly tell Ronnie that you were hitting on his girl. Regardless of which situation you find yourself in, you could have avoided this by not applying in the first place. A real company will either tell you the salary up front, or, more common, tell you one salary up front and wait until April for the government to tell you that it comes with a special 78% income tax rate and that no taxes were taken out.
  4. ATTENTION COLLEGE STUDENTS – This listing might as well come with a death certificate. Not because you will be murdered by the desk-poop avenging HR rep, but because this is a dead-end job (just not literally). No employer is seeking a college student. As a college student, you have accomplished absolutely nothing in your entire life. Your greatest feat, to date, is that one time you took 10 Bacardi 151 shots in a half hour and somehow didn’t die. As such, you are not exactly ready to enter the workforce. An employer that seeks college students and has a proclivity for CAPS LOCK most likely works in telemarketing but strategically refers to it as a Marketing Assistant position. This job will most likely have you cold-calling random people to ask 1) if they’re happy with their current vacuum cleaner or, if you’re smart about it, 2) if they know of any job openings that won’t make you consider eating Ajax so you can go home sick.
  5. Anonymous Company – You’ve seen the listings. “Prosperous Marketing Firm,” “Busy Production Company,” “Up-and-coming Business.” All of these translate to the same thing: you will be interviewing with a guy named Sal who bought an office and now sits there in his Jockeys waiting for people to come talk to him and, maybe, give him some ideas on what kind of business he should actually run. If you want to be a part of Sal’s Lizard Pajamas company, by all means apply, but real companies will actually advertise their names in the job listing. It’s kind of an important detail.

I hope this helps, Ed. Bear in mind that I do, in fact, live in my parents’ basement, so take it all with a grain of salt. And a shot of tequila.

If you have a question about the glorious workforce, email me at