Traipsing Through The Minefield: The Online Job Hunt

If you’ve ever looked for a job on Craigslist, you know that most of them try to sell you on the idea that you need them as much as they need you. Phrases like “will be great experience”, “gain exposure”, or “will be awesome for your portfolio” didn’t used to bug me as much as they do now. They usually imply that referrals or experience will be your payment, rather than actual money. But only you can decide what’s good for your portfolio. Looking on sites like Craigslist or Kijiji for creative jobs can occasionally result in a great opportunity….but the internet is a minefield.

Many postings are for barter-style payment. For example, photographing perfume in exchange for three bottles of said perfume. This is great if you are in the market for perfume, or if you want to build a portfolio of tabletop/product photographs. If you have a scent allergy, or really want to photograph architecture, don’t waste your time.

Think about all of the costs involved before you get involved in a project. Sure, $50 for a one-hour shoot may sound alright, but consider how much time you’ll spend getting there, editing, etc. And what if you have to rent a car? (See our post on quotes and money here). See if you can negotiate to cover your expenses. If you’re actually losing money on a job, make sure it’s something you really want to do.

Consider having a contract that lays out what your responsibilities are, what the fees include (ie for $50 do they get every image from the shoot, or just three final files? Will they be retouched?), what the timeline for payment is, and how the client can use the images.

Be careful about setting precedents with people who may want to hire you for more than one job. If you agree to a full day shoot for $50 this time, the client will expect to only pay $50 next time as well. If the client gets every shot from the day, they will always expect every shot. That kind of thing.

Be safe. It goes without saying that the internet is a haven for crazies. Don’t work with them. Don’t even talk to them. If you get any kind of weird vibe from anyone, be sure to take someone with you, or just call it off. $50 is not worth it.

I don’t generally recommend using Craigslist or Kijiji for job hunting because of the potential for scamming and rip-offs. I don’t like having my time wasted by flakes, and they seem to gather to those sites like moths to a flame. However, I also know that sometimes you need the work, sometimes you need the fifty bucks, and sometimes there is a diamond-in-the-rough job on there.

Most of my experiences have been negative but how about yours; has anyone gotten an awesome job off craigslist?

image source: Wikimedia Commons

1 Comment

  1. So glad you are tackling this tricky subject—this is something all students and recent grads need to know, haha!

    I haven’t really had any job-hunting experiences on craigslist, but I’m generally of the opinion that craigslist, and other sites like it, are great for buying and selling second-hand furniture.. not so much for developing your career. I tend to look with a doubtful eye at jobs that are ONLY advertised on craigslist. Posters can (and do) do all kinds of unsavoury things under cover of anonymity, like asking for a job candidate’s photo, because the site isn’t well-regulated.

    As for whether or not you should take low-paying or non-paying jobs for “exposure,” this is a touchy subject. I know several different freelancers who feel differently (but equally strongly) about the issue. Lifehacker showcased a pretty good flowchart on the subject, but even that should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Personally, I think this sums it up (sorry, can’t remember who said this to me): If you work for free to be known, then you will be known.. as someone who is willing to work for free.


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