A local nonprofit with which I've been affiliated is selling Christmas trees to raise funds this year, and they asked Pat Rice to run it. He's a little overextended, so he came up with a brilliant and charitable idea: he'd hire someone at $9 an hour to help him run it, paying the salary out of pocket as a donation to the nonprofit. He posted on craigslist and, within hours, had 117 applications, most with sparkling resumes packed with great experience. Most way over-qualified.

He ended up hiring three people and spending $1,000 on the project -- and deciding to start a nonprofit job-creation program, as well, to put all these valuable unemployed individuals to work doing good things. And then this morning on BBC, another story described a man who ran a small construction crew; he posted jobs on craigslist, too, and he too received hundreds of great applicants within hours. He picked the college-educated, over-qualified job seekers to work for him; so he could listen to NPR on the job site without complaints.

It's a bad time to be looking for a job, but if you're hiring for a low-paying job, you've got the cream of the crop hoping to work for you. And it's interesting to see many white-collar types searching for work in decidedly blue-collar jobs; the promise of Joe the Plumber is paying off and Americans, more and more, are seeking the sorts of skills that get your hands dirty and promise way more exercise than the walk to and from the conference room. It's not surprising that, when I announced on my instant messenger's chat client status that I was "working at Starbucks" (I was using the wifi there to write), one of my friends thought I was actually working for Starbucks (hey, she figured, Starbucks has a generous benefits policy!)

The economy may be in trouble, but there are silver linings; and some real opportunities to expand your set of marketable skills. If you're unemployed, where have you looked for work?

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