Real Jobs For Unreal People
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – With the collapse of the new economy, a host of formerly employed people are now formerly employed. Having developed their skills in the nouveau operating environment, these ex-operators are now roaming the brick-and-mortar business establishments of the nation and the world, looking for ways to transfer their digital abilities to analog assignments.

Unfortunately, the capabilities that were valued in the halcyon days of derring-do and flimflammery don't automatically translate to our current situation. Yet those in the digital diaspora have enormous gifts that took them to the top of their now defunct professions! Many are young and good-looking. All they need, as a group, is a little help turning the things they know into jobs that actually need to be done. As a public service, then, let's look at some now dysfunctional functions and how they may be morphed into lucrative gigs in the global here and now.

Before: Web designer. Back when the Internet was cooking, there were many, many jobs for people who designed the product. There were sites dedicated to delivering Chinese food to your house if you wanted it, free of charge. Others would provide you with information about classmates you had no use for 20 years ago, free of charge. There were online phone books, in case you had lost yours. And every site needed designers to make all the little boxes that said things like OKAY and NO THANKS.

After: tattoo artist. Many of the people who were dedicated to the Internet economy now seem to have tattoos, and need people to design and draw them. Although this work doesn't pay as much as Web design, its product lasts longer. Best of all, any stock options you receive are likely to be worth about as much as those you got in your old job.

Before: vice president, dot-com sales and marketing. Internet companies needed more positioning than a heifer in heat. The people in charge of this process had to know how to take the concept of the new company, slice it up into tiny pieces, and serve it to advertisers and consumers.

After: meat handler. A cow is likewise inedible until it is cut up into digestible pieces and cooked. It takes only a little study and a slightly stronger stomach to make the transition to this sector of the service economy.

Before: dot-com investment banker. Trillions were raised by jolly salespeople able to persuade otherwise conservative investors to pony up vast sums on little more than vapors. Some of the ideas seem rather foolish now, and the valuations placed on these companies appear...optimistic? Recently one smart company wrote down investments that are now worth some $48 billion less than they were a few years ago. This is a testament to the power that messianic investment bankers infused into the market. Shall that talent go to waste?

After: shaman, Pulau Tiga, Malaysia. Not at all. The power of the shaman lies in the faith he or she is able to produce in the village. Shamans are looking for folks who believe in them implicitly because of their ability with words and their impressive makeup and feathers.

Before: tech sector stockbroker. In many ways, the stockbroker was the most important player of all, once the initial money had been raised. For while many who were involved in new-economy enterprises believed that the product on the screen was their raison d'etre, the real activity of the average dot-com was selling securities. The fact that these entities were being merchandised without benefit of business plan, cash flow, or even, much of the time, common sense only makes the achievement of these professionals more admirable.

After: ice salesman, Alaska. Around the globe, people want to buy stuff simply because it is offered to them. Does anyone really need hot dogs that plump when you cook them? Sneakers whose heels light up when you walk? Wine that costs $400 a bottle? A car the size of a hotel room? Cheese puffs? The genius of our system is that it creates opportunities for those with the gift for making others part with their money happily, simply for the pleasure of exercising the right to spend. Nobody is better prepared to shoulder that burden.

Before: new-media journalist. None of this would have been possible without the staunch efforts of the journalist pundits who prognosticated until they could prognosticate no more. The Internet was going to replace radio, television, human speech, the microwave, sex, drugs, and the music business. To date, it has replaced nothing but itself.

After: high school cheerleader. They leap! They dance! They know which team they're on. True, standards for physical attractiveness and fitness will have to be relaxed when these members of the fourth estate run onto the playing field, but that's a fair trade for the verve that they will bring to any assignment.

Before: president and chief operating officer. This was a big title. But the wired operating chief mostly had the job of running around and making sure everybody got what he needed. There was little glamour. There was a lot of worrying and aggravation as the boss lurched around in a never-ending game of whack-a-mole trying to beat all the challenges back with a stick. And it was the prez who was the first to see that the conceptual emperor was walking around with nothing but his prospectus in his hand.

After: fast-food chef. How much more fun will this job be! Food is something you can touch, smell, and, obviously, taste. No doubt the pressure at mealtime can get intense, but it's nothing next to the heat felt when the 30-year-old CFO announced the company was down to its last $30 million.

Before: chairman and CEO, big The chairman, on the other hand, was about as important to the dot-com nation as Mount Rushmore is to the governance of the U.S. It's nice that it's there. It lends to the majesty of everything. Big face? Sure. But function? No.

After: bathrobe model. They have styles so nice these days that you can greet visitors in them and they won't know you just woke up. After a few years at this challenging assignment, you can graduate to being a management consultant.

Before: workout specialist. When it was all over, these folks came in to mop up the broken glass, reblow it, and heave it out there for another round. The workout job is a painful one but as cleansing and necessary a part of the process as any other. Now that the workouts are all but over, however, these gifted specialists are at liberty and looking for apt employment.

After: proctologist. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

By day, STANLEY BING is a real executive at a real FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name. He can be reached at