Fictional employment agency
April 3, 2014 9:55 AM   Subscribe

My character needs a job. Help me come up with more ideas. Specs inside.

The job must be an anonymous 9-5 drone-type gig, analytical rather than creative, doable entirely by computer, and enable a middle-class lifestyle. It should be plausible for a college graduate but not require significant post-college education (no law degree, but a certificate could be OK).

Preference given to non-IT jobs, but I'm open to anything. Right now all I can think is accountant, but want to consider other options. (Document translation? Legal proofreader? Are these real full-time jobs?)
posted by elizeh to Work & Money (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Document translation, yes. Technical Editor (edits technical guides for accuracy), Coder for a software package that some company bought and customized all to hell [hired him/her from the software company directly], ghostwriter (once she built up a rep), copywriter [maybe someone from college started something and they just do the copy writing by email]
posted by tilde at 9:59 AM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Medical Coder. They work for the insurance company and they get the bill from the doctor's office and reduce it to acceptable codes so that the doctor bills can be paid.
posted by inturnaround at 9:59 AM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

GIS technician.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:00 AM on April 3, 2014

business analyst
posted by desjardins at 10:01 AM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Any kind of billing / accounts payable / accounts receivable clerk in a large organization. Not exactly an accountant because it is mainly data entry.
posted by magnetsphere at 10:04 AM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Couple questions:

1. How old is the person? A middle-class lifestyle changes with age. It would be perfectly normal for someone in the middle class to live with roommates if they're in their early twenties, for example.

2. Where do they live? A comfortable middle-class salary in a medium-sized town is not a comfortable middle-class salary in a city.

3. How crucial to the story is their job? Are we going to be spending a lot of time at their office?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:06 AM on April 3, 2014

Litigation Support, electronically filing/sorting/coding document evidence for legal cases. At the lowest levels (probably largely non-existent with improved OCR, but my husband was a keyword coder in the early 2000s) it's not very well-paid, but at a higher level humans are required to manage the workflow and project, determine taxonomies, create reporting, etc. An upside, possibly, is that the work is confidential so they wouldn't talk about it in more than vague terms outside of the office.

And billing/AP/AR/shipping manager, which has more responsibility than clerks but does not necessarily require an accounting degree - I work with these kinds of people, many of them have Business-type undergrad degrees but usually not masters or certifications. (And it's not unusual to start as a clerk while in college or not in college but then go to school and work up to manager.)
posted by Lyn Never at 10:24 AM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm an analyst and they're ALL over corporatations. I'm in Sales Operations, I work in forecasting and pipeline analysis.

I sit in a cube and fuss with spreadsheets. Other jobs that do that:


If you just need a title, Analyst will do. If you plan on getting into the job, you might need a bit of background.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:29 AM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Program Analyst for the Federal Government. A Program Analyst is a generic title that just about covers anything. What I did in one job (writer of procedures, etc.) is a lot different than what I do in my current job (work on user acceptance testing.)
posted by govtdrone at 10:40 AM on April 3, 2014

Guy in Fight Club was an actuary.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:34 AM on April 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just read this article about people who process federal retirement claims - in an old mine. Bizarre location, tedious job. Tragically non computerized though.
posted by ecorrocio at 12:22 PM on April 3, 2014

If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, I know of two people with unusual jobs who work at computers. One works for a pipeline company and monitors the flow of gas, opening and closing valves as needed. The other works for an organ procurement agency and matches anonymous donors with anonymous recipients.
posted by MelissaSimon at 12:29 PM on April 3, 2014

Real life actuaries are brainiacs (or maybe just the ones I know).

Insurance claims adjuster comes to mind.
posted by jquinby at 12:47 PM on April 3, 2014

He could be a receptionist depending on the company and the setting. It's plausible for a financial firm or a law firm to pay quite well depending on what they're after in a receptionist. And even with the "greeter" aspect of reception work, it's possible for that job to be utterly mundane and boring.

It's also possible for that to be dismally low-paying, of course. I once worked reception for a wealth management office for one of the world's biggest banks... which was a job they had outsourced to an "office services" company. Clients coming in were uber-millionaires and they were super, super security-conscious and big on creating the right image, but they were also cheap enough that they wanted an outside hire at the front desk and paid $12 an hour.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:50 PM on April 3, 2014

Supply Chain or Logistics. From my perspective, it doesn't get more shift oriented and mindless but still require a fair amount of higher education. Supply Chain makes sure the boxes are where they are supposed to do or made in the appropriate quantitiy - so its a lot of back and forth with plants and warehouses. Then Logistics makes sure a given poriton of the trucks in a fleet know what they are picking up and how to get there. These are the folks that make sure the truck goes on the right route, and have adequate support. There's a lot of problem solving, inspecting truck electronic manefestoes to make sure they've got the right palates, and otherwise sitting back and making sure everyone knows where they are going.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:51 PM on April 3, 2014

For something a little more interesting sounding but totally still brain-dead, soul-numbing and go-nowhere, how about a transcriber? Watching/listening to recorded media and literally just converting it to text. Could be connected to film/tv, legal depositions, marketing focus groups etc.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:30 PM on April 3, 2014

Lots of copy cataloging jobs at libraries don't require an MLS. Workflow examples from University of Illinois, Indiana State Library, Yale.
posted by jabes at 2:19 PM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

For the record, I am a legal proofreader and I work at home. My work is essentially freelance support for court reporters (the majority of whom are also home-based freelancers -- anyone doing depositions would be, or at least in five years I haven't encountered an exception). There may be people with this job title who work in offices, but if so, they're in a very different corner of the profession.
posted by thesmallmachine at 2:42 PM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Food sales- specifically to restaurants. Think Sysco employees. They work in a cubical farm and all day is taking calls from customers, entering orders into a system, and faxing confirmations.
posted by haplesschild at 3:28 PM on April 3, 2014

Bids and quotes coordinator- you access a central database to allow sales teams that call in or that contact you by email to give the price of things, and copy-paste data into contracts. Sometimes you get deals of a certain value signed off on.
posted by Phalene at 4:30 PM on April 3, 2014

If you want lists of job titles you may not have thought of, and relevant work experience/education, skills, salary, etc. the dept of labor has cool pages that give stats for different jobs.

Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook, here's a list of business and financial jobs:

O*NET has tons of categories to browse through, or you can search for the details of specific jobs.

I know a couple of people who do different types of regulatory compliance work for healthcare related fields that might fit what you are looking for.
posted by Atalanta at 6:27 PM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Purchasing and stock control.

You spend all day entering in codes and making sure Purchase Order A matches Item Receipt B matches Invoice C. It's boring, unless you end up with Scribbled Note A doesn't match Dot Matrix Printed B doesn't match Final Warning Notice C.
posted by Katemonkey at 3:21 AM on April 4, 2014

Fact checker for a magazine. I could imagine this opening up a lot of story possibilities.
posted by schrodycat at 7:13 AM on April 5, 2014

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