Freelance writer Dennis Hensley calls them Job Hogs: media people who seem to be everywhere while everyone else is out of work. Like Ellen Degeneres. Or Ryan Seacrest.
"Ryan Seacrest wants to be Dick Clark, the original Job Hog," he says. "That I get. But Ellen being the spokesperson for Cover Girl -- that's just greedy. I mean, when you think of cosmetics, who thinks of Ellen Degeneres? She hasn't done her own makeup since high school."
While I agree that making oddball observations then dancing to a chair for a living doesn't have anything to do with mascara or foundation, I'll remind you that Cover Girl's slogan is "the easy, breezy beautiful woman" which sounds like F. Scott Fitzgerald describing the town whore. So their judgment is suspect.
As for Ryan Seacrest, I've never understood the TV announcer career track. When Seacrest was a kid, did his mother say, "Tell your father dinner's ready," and young Ryan suddenly thought "Whoa! I could make millions at this"?
So it's natural that media freelancers feel frustrated. "Everyone I know is like, 'I just want a job,'" Hensley says. "When someone has 17, it's a bummer."
And apparently, Job Hogging is a real sociological phenomenon. In a piece for 3quarksdaily, fashion model-sociologist Ashley Mears (talk about job-hogging) reports that employers hiring for Fashion Week ascribe to a herd mentality. She and social networks expert Frédéric Godart studied the Style.com show reports from Spring 2007 and found that of the 677 fashion models used for shows, 75% walked in just 5 shows, while an elite group of fewer than 10% did over 20.
And one, Coco Rocha, did a whopping 55 shows. The reason: everyone else wanted her.
In behavioral economics, Coco Rocha's success is a case of an information cascade. Faced with imperfect information, individuals make a binary choice to act (to choose or not choose Coco) by observing the actions of their predecessors without regard to their own information.
This is how the rich get richer. I know a computer technology millionaire who is now living on his income from corporate boards. "I see the same people over and over again," he said, on condition of anonymity, "which is how corporations keep making the same lousy decisions."
But he's not about to turn down the work. And neither is Dennis Hensley, who recently got hired to write for Joan Rivers' new show on E!, Fashion Police. "And if a free-lance gig suddenly came along, I'd do everything I could to take that, too," Hensley says.
Makes sense. Success begets success, which is why the nation's unemployed have to get out and participate. Several of my friends have begun volunteering as a way of keeping themselves in the mix. It's why I keep creating projects on spec -- to provide new information for a possible information cascade.
Given a choice between hustling up jobs or hustling to keep them, it's better to be a Job Hog.
And that, my friends, is The Upside.
Ryan Seacrest's secret: Or, how job hogs pig out