What's odder than a bunch of $2 bills, you ask? Why, it's the email I got from a placement firm with notice of a contract position for a content writer and online marketing communications person.
It's lovely that the recruiter thought my resume conveyed that I'd be a fit for the position. Sort of. Here's the job description and laundry list of qualifications and expectations (I actually don't fit everything to a T but could certainly do the job). This is certainly a more senior-level job than the pay befits.

Online Marketing Copywriter Position
The Online Content Consultant will be responsible for web text based content production, producing engaging content on the Telecommunication website.

Responsibilities include: idea generation for lifestyle articles, researching existing SKUs, developing marketing touts, features descriptions, technical specifications, "in the box " details, Meta descriptions and mobile summaries. You will work with the cross-functional teams such as: (NOTE: I AM BLANKING THESE OUT BUT IT WAS A LIST OF FIVE TYPES OF TEAMS).

This person will serve as the subject-matter owner during the review and approval process.

Successful candidate must have:
-Strong communications skills and ability to effectively manage multiple projects varying in scope and deliverables while remaining focused in a high-pressure, fast-paced environment to ensure the target delivery of time-sensitive projects are met.
-Lead the content production process including researching specific SKUs online and utilizing marketing sell sheets, internal resources and outside researching, when applicable.
-Lead weekly and as-needed conference calls or in-person meetings to provide status, transparent communications and resolutions on delays or issues.
-Attention to detail, extensive proofreading before submission and diligent editing are a must.
-Ability to write with the target audience in mind and within telecommunication Brand Voice.
-Understanding of SEO guidelines and objectives when writing content creating content.

-Excellent written and verbal skills. Creative concept writing a plus.
-Understanding of Telecommunication products/services and trending mobile technology products.
-Must be a self-starter, able to work with minimal supervision while maintaining ownership as project expert.
-Experience working with website content creation and maintenance.
-Ability to prioritize and manage multiple projects based on marketing timeline.
-Strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
-Ability to communicate effectively with individuals at all levels.
-General knowledge of database structure with experience in Adobe Cloud Reporting, Adobe Experience Manager and Client Application Lifestyle Management tools.

Bachelor's degree preferred.
3 years marketing experience or equivalent; 3 years web content management experience or equivalent; 2 years e-commerce content writing; 2-5 years business system analysis experience or equivalent.

(NOTE: I have no idea what "or equivalent" could indicate in that section; either you've performed those tasks or you haven't.)

How much is that copywriter worth?

Note the long list of deliverables expected; the level of client communication and team interaction; and subject matter expertise. These are qualifications that presume a few years out in the work force with some pretty meaty content creation experience, not to mention serious "get out there and run your show; tell 'em what to do" experience. Now, for anyone who has the right stuff and is looking for a challenge for three to six months as a contractor, this could be a pretty juicy resume builder for a copywriter with managerial and great client/team chops.

So, how much would you pay for all of this? Think about it for a few minutes.

(Sad to say, no Ginsu knives were included in the rate).
As a senior-level copywriter, I firmly believe I deliver great value to my clients, whether they are the agencies I support or the small businesses who I help market. But where's the value for me? Are you ready for the big rate reveal?

"Up to $27 an hour."

Excuse me, what? For proofreading and editing, knowledge of Adobe products, ability to work unsupervised yet motivated and productive, able to churn out industry-specific content and so much more for ... up to $27 an hour? That is all the job candidate is valued at? Effective communication about industry products that attract potential customers or convert visitors to users -- how much is that worth to the firm?

I totally understand the whole trickle down economics of agencies and contractors; I'm part of that food chain. Client pays a certain rate to the placement agency which then has to pay the writer from that fee. But I wonder what the company is paying the agency in this case. If it's twice the rate, $54, the company should just hire direct and get the candidates worthy of the expectations, at a price that makes more sense.

What is the value the contractor brings to your company?

It's not about hourly rates and nickel-and-diming everyone; it's about the value that the copywriter, marketing consultant, graphic designer or other contractor brings to the company. It's seeing the value of having someone take these critical business-building tasks off someone else's figurative plate, managing a key part of the business in several ways (based on the job description). There is value in handing over this important marketing effort to a seasoned pro who will represent the company in the best light (online and in person).

Companies--and placement agencies--really need to look at what they are asking and what they are paying for it. This scheme cheapens the whole business and it's unconscionable. But you know what?
Someone's going to apply for and get this position at this unseemly rate that is far from commensurate for the experience, skills and knowledge that are expected. And that brings all of us down a few pegs.

Rant over. Gotta go sharpen some Ginsu steak knives.