THE BLOG

Who's Behind This Ad Promising $100K for a Personal Asst?

02/12/2009 07:12 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In 2006, shortly before my daughter graduated from college, I clipped a roughly 2" X 2" boxed ad from The New Republic and mailed it to her.

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE/PERSONAL ASSISTANT
New York City--Highly intelligent, resourceful individuals with exceptional communication skills sought to undertake research projects and administrative tasks for one of Wall Street's most successful entrepreneurs. We welcome applications from writers, musicians, artists, or others who may be pursuing other professional goals in the balance of their time. $90-110 k/yr to start (depending on qualifications). Resume to: gen8R@spsfind.com.

I urged her to send her resume, although I did so with trepidation because there's something about the ad that borders on the creepy. Who is this guy? (I assumed "one of Wall Street's most successful entrepreneurs" was a guy, but he could be a she.)

I figured that the ad was running in a magazine that could not be more serious and respectable. And, in my opinion, my daughter had every quality requested. Her impressive resume would prompt, at the least, an interview, and possibly an offer.

She planned to move to New York after graduation, hoped to land a job in publishing. We both knew that if she found that job she would make less than a third of the low end of the amazing salary promised.

So she answered the ad, but received no response--no acknowledgment of receipt, no "sorry, but" email.

She found a job, and although I continued to notice the ad, I thought no more about it, until a couple of days ago when I was reading the current issue (2/18/09), and there it was at the bottom of the far-right column on page 37. With the economy and Wall Street sinking fast, the ad seemed even more incongruous and weird.

Is "one of Wall Street's most successful entrepreneurs" still successful? As I re-read the copy, I also wondered how many "highly intelligent, resourceful individuals with exceptional communication skills" he/she has hired over the years? Who are they? What was the nature of the work did they did as a "research associate/personal assistant?" How many hours a week were they required to work--nights? weekends? to collect "$90-110 k/yr to start (depending on qualifications)?"

I don't know many college students who read The New Republic, but I do know parents who do. I can't imagine I was the only one who suggested, "Send your resume. It'll take five minutes." And that was back in 2006 when college grads were still landing jobs. To members of the class of 2009, "$90-110 k/yr to start," looks like the sort of salary that people going into banking might expect, except that those jobs no longer exist..

I called the magazine Monday--people on both the editorial and advertising sides--and, not surprisingly, received an email on Wednesday: "....we can not provide you with any further information regarding this ad or our client."