Gig economy job listings (and jobs!) don't have to be terrible. But they usually are.

Let me preface this by saying that there are big, major, deep problems with the emerging gig economy. Theoretically, I like the flexibility of it, and I think the future of work is people working fewer hours, likely in more short-term jobs. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with that; the problem is simply that we have a society that's set up such that the only real path to even the middle class is a full-time job with a decent salary and good benefits. As long as healthcare is tied to work, and as long as the barometers of success (not to mention survival) revolve around workaholism, this trend Is Bad For People. Once we start getting single-payer healthcare and a universal basic income (UBI), then we'll be cooking with gas. 

With those caveats aside, let me tell you about Rinse. It's a gig economy type company that will come pick up your laundry, clean and fold it, and then return it. 

I suspect Rinse, like Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and others, must be having a hard time finding enough drivers/workers/shoppers, because Craigslist is absolutely lousy with the same ads for those companies, posted multiple times per day.

But Rinse did something that made me take a click their ad to learn more: 


There's just 3 characters that intrigued me here: W-2.

Responding to the main criticism (and legal liability) of the gig economy, Rinse put right in the subject line one of their best competitive advantages: at Rinse, you're a W-2 employee, meaning not only that you're not responsible for paying employer-side taxes the way that a contractor is, but that you're also protected by all the laws that protect W-2 employees. This includes recourse for sexual harassment by supervisors, co-workers, or customers, worker's comp requirements, and the like. 

Clicking through to the ad itself reveals even more goodies that address exactly the concerns most folks considering these kinds of gig likely have: 


I love this ad for many reasons, but the main one is that they're not spending a ton of time on marketing language or getting you to buy into a mission or anything like that (not that those are bad things to do, necessarily). They have a set of ideas here that offer them a competitive advantage over other similar companies, and they're using them!

They're explicit about your status as a W-2 employee, the amount they reimburse driving costs (which is the IRS standard amount), what the hours are, and what the perks, benefits and possibilities are. Those 5 bullet points do more to attract the people they're looking for than anything else they could possibly put there. 

Let's compare that ad with two from the most ubiquitous gig economy companies: Uber and Lyft. 


Lyft's ad is nice and bright and colorful; solid branding. They rely on things that most people already know about Lyft, if you've spent any time talking to a Lyft driver: Flexibility, weekly-plus pay, keep your tips. Not bad, but it doesn't give you any particular reason to favor working for them over, say, working for Uber (as you'll see, Uber also is relying on a "guaranteed income" pitch, which works slightly differently but is more or less the same thing). Not to mention, up there in the right-hand corner, they note the employment type as "Employee's Choice." What does that even mean? Cause, legally, it is not the employee's choice to be classified as a contractor versus a W-2 employee. Those are defined ideas that are determined by the work being done and the amount of control an employer has over the work. And of course, a quick look at Lyft's help section makes clear that, of course, drivers are W9 contractors, making this ad pretty dishonest IMO. 


Uber's ad is really the worst of the 3. They're still hyping a minimum earnings, which... whatever, fine, that's good. They also mention weekly pay, along with a mysterious statement that "With Uber, you come first" which tbh is not a statement that literally any Uber driver I've ever talked to would agree with. Uber also gets points docked for a similarly deceptive note that the employment type is "full-time" despite a note at the bottom (sorry, cut off from the screenshot) indicating that drivers are indeed contract employees. There's very litter to actually attract anyone in this ad, outside the guaranteed earnings after 90 days, and the boring stock picture they used doesn't even have a car in it. 

Looking at these three ads, which do you think is the strongest? It's possible that Lyft or Uber are doing other things that make working for them attractive, but there's no sign of them in the ad, so they're not leveraging them as a competitive advantage. 

Rinse didn't have to do any fancy research to figure out what people want from these jobs. A cursory look around would do it. They put those precious characters, W-2, in the subject line, and they focused their ad on why you, a real person, might want to work for them, even if you've been turned off by the rideshare economy. I'm curious to know if it's paid off for them!