Sunday, January 10, 2010

How To Get a Job with the Census Bureau

The two major clients for whom I create computer slide presentations announced they were moving out of California this January. This turn of fate made a phone call from the United States Census Bureau just before Christmas feel like a serious godsend. They were offering a lowly clerk's job that is possibly lasting for most of the year.

I started last Monday in temporary offices set up in the Hamm's Brewery Building at 15th and Bryant, an interesting old structure built in 1915 and repurposed at some point in the 1980s. You can even go visit the penthouse in the skinny tower with its views stretching for miles.

When the census was last held in San Francisco in 2000, the dot-com boom was in its decadent, late period bloom and it was just about impossible for the agency to find halfway employable people to work the thousands of temporary jobs that open up every ten years. This time around we are in an opposite part of the economic cycle, with even minimum wage jobs just about impossible to find.

The city and county of San Francisco is separated by the Census Bureau into two sections, with the shaded area being called "San Francisco East" (the map is approximate). It is roughly bordered by Lyon Street from the North Bay, follows along Baker Street until it takes a turn at 17th Street near Buena Vista Park and then goes directly east to the Bay, with a loop around Treasure Island. San Francisco East, then, is essentially Core San Francisco, encompassing the Marina, Pacific Heights, most of the Western Addition, much of the Haight, some of the Castro and inner Mission, South of Market, part of China Basin, Civic Center, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Downtown, the Tenderloin, Chinatown, and North Beach.

San Francisco East is gearing up to hire hundreds of people to become enumerators, crew leaders, and other roles. The jobs will start in March and extend from six to twelve weeks, with renumeration at $22 an hour, including paid training. In this particular economy, that's a great job if you happen to be out of work, and the hours vary from part-time evenings and weekends to full 40-hour shifts.

To get hired, call 1-866-861-2010 and give them your zip code. They are especially looking for people who actually live in San Francisco East who would like to count their neighbors. It's an important task, because population dictates money and political power so it's in all our best interests to make sure everyone is counted.

The process is as follows. After calling the phone number above, you will be scheduled for a test at a nearby center consisting of 28 questions to be answered in 30 minutes. Half of them are fairly easy math and vocabulary multiple choice questions, while the other half are deliberately confusing instructions accompanied by maps. I would highly recommend taking the practice test beforehand which you can download by clicking here. You are hired off of your test score, so both resumes and interviews are completely superfluous which is sort of interesting.

You will also be fingerprinted and given a quick background check by the FBI before being sworn in as a federal employee. I've been advised that a DUI ten years ago is not a deal-breaker on the road to being hired but that being a convicted stalker probably would be. In any case, good luck, and hope to run into you somewhere in the middle of this adventure.


zoo said...

good luck sf mike, and great pics as usual, a luso hug
we need to have a coffee one of these days

janinsanfran said...

There you go! Sounds good.

Kit Stolz said...

Thanks for the advice...I'm thinking about applying, though by now the thought of an actual 40 hours a week job is a little alarming...

sfmike said...

Dear Kit:

Most of the jobs up for grabs at this moment are "enumerators," meaning you go out and count your neighbors who didn't fill out their ten-question census form this year they got in the mail. Most of the jobs aren't a full 40 hours so I'd say go for it. The jobs will be starting in March and going through May/June. Plus, you get paid for extensive training involving lots of acronyms, manuals, forms and so on.