He's actually very nice.
March 20, 2012 9:04 PM   Subscribe

We have a close friend who needs a job solely for the benefits. The catch: he has been out of the work force for five years and isn't particularly social or skilled. Any thoughts?

Our hetero life mate J. spent the last five years administering both of his parents' (separate) estates and living off of the profits. We love him dearly, but he is dysthymic/depressed (won't go to therapy -- long story) and prediabetic, and he smokes the most godawful cigarettes known to humankind.

He also uses his extremely neurotic dogs, one of whom has a pacemaker (yes, really), as an excuse to stay in.

His COBRA is running out, though, and he needs to get a job -- any job -- to get benefits. It doesn't have to be particularly high-paying, but I don't know what he could do.

He has virtually no resume. He has an associate's degree in graphic design; he used to work in the advertising department of a major newspaper. But that was quite a while back. He's willing to go back to school, but... for what? Luckily, we're here in a state capital with a major university, so he can take civil service exams, but who knows. He isn't in good enough shape to do anything requiring standing/lifting much, and he's not the customer service type, so retail is pretty much out, and I'm hesitant to suggest food service.

So do you have any tips for someone easing back into the workforce after such a break? And any ideas for what he might do?

(We love him, for reals. He is very loyal and kind, even though he does his very best to appear as if he's in training to be a serial killer. Who else would bring a ventriloquist's dummy to a wedding reception?)
posted by Madamina to Work & Money (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
What about government or university administration? Something officey or back room, where people have time to develop an appreciation of his good qualities?
posted by pickypicky at 9:31 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

If he's not able to stand all day, Starbucks is out. There's a lot of moving and bending and lifting and on-your-hands-and-knees-floor-scrubbing. Not really as easy a job as many would think.

Look into temping through Aerotek. These jobs are usually data-entry or something similar, so sitting, and very little customer-interaction. They offer benefits to contracted temps that work 20 hours per week.

Pretty much all the other jobs I can think of that give benefits to people with weak resumes are retail or foodservice. Barnes and Noble might be one of the more tolerable retail jobs, if he's willing to explore that option.
posted by erstwhile at 10:06 PM on March 20, 2012

A data entry job?
posted by livinglearning at 10:08 PM on March 20, 2012

If he has enough to live off his parents' estates, are you sure he can't just buy his own health insurance?
posted by amaire at 10:23 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Call center?
posted by salvia at 11:20 PM on March 20, 2012

Check out some non-profits in the area. I worked for a non-profit for six years a while back and folks were extremely welcoming and accepting. Also, (and I mean this in a good way) we seemed to attract people who didn't really fit in at normal job, job-type jobs.

Also, it sounds like aside from you he may not have a lot of friends. Non-profits can be great places to build relationships. Depending on what type, you develop a sort of underdog, in-the-trenches camaraderie.
posted by Ducks or monkeys at 12:05 AM on March 21, 2012

He could work in a print shop, if he has design skills. Not as a designer, but a printer. That is, taking other designers' horribly set-up files and wrangling them into a printable form. If he worked in a small shop and not, say, Kinko's he might also not have to stand up all day.

I have met a lot of dour, anti-social printers, and the customers seem to care more about expertise and results rather than bubbly customer-service type salesy personalities.
posted by Arethusa at 12:40 AM on March 21, 2012

What benefits does he need besides health insurance? A quick scan of the what's available on the net suggests that if he can afford the COBRA rates, he can absolutely afford private insurance. (And keep in mind that insurance for low-skilled or entry level jobs tends to be really bad.)
posted by oddman at 5:26 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who works at Trader Joes. Apparently you can get benefits there by working there much less than full time.
posted by o0dano0o at 6:55 AM on March 21, 2012

Maybe have him check out the places on this list. These places have lots of positions that don't require particularly skilled labor. Now whether those jobs are available is another question. But it's a place to start.
posted by greta simone at 7:18 AM on March 21, 2012

^assuming you're talking about health insurance, not retirement funds or whatever else.
posted by greta simone at 7:19 AM on March 21, 2012

If you are still in Madison, the civil service exam is absolutely your answer here. He's going to have to learn MS Office, but if he's a graphic designer, he can probably learn the software. Grammar is also a big thing and he'll likely have to work close to full time to get the benefits...but people who score well on the test get interviews regardless of work experience and there are quite a few local jobs that pull from the exams.
posted by mjcon at 8:47 AM on March 21, 2012

A friend in similar circumstances is the overnight security monitor for a Security Guard/Alarm company. He watches the computer monitors in case somebody gets in trouble at a location. They have to insure the guards for every conceivable eventuality, so my friend has got the best work-related insurance coverage policy I have ever read. He works three 12-hour shifts a week.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 10:11 AM on March 21, 2012

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