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Wanted: Job seekers with no skeletons

The White House

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Barack Obama announced today that he's going to resign from the Senate effective Sunday. That clears the way for the Governor of Illinois to appoint a replacement for him. Obama's got some appointing to do, too. Thousands of political jobs are waiting to be filled in the administration. If you want one of them, though, you'd best be prepared to come clean. Really clean. Thanks to the New York Times today we've gotten a copy of the questionnaire the transition team's sending out -- seven pages, 63 questions, no stone left unturned.

Marketplace's Rico Gagliano takes more on how the Obama administration's trying to avoid surprises.


Rico Gagliano: You think reformatting your resume for a new job is a hassle? Try applying to work in the White House.

Larry Haas: My name is Larry Haas, and I was communications director for Vice President Al Gore.

Haas recalls the vetting process for that gig. Endless reams of paperwork. And of course, the background check.

Haas: Agents are coming around and they're asking your neighbors whether you're an upstanding citizen and all the rest.

Gagliano: Like FBI agents?

Haas:Yes, the FBI is doing a background check.

But Haas says compared to today's application process? His experience was a breeze.

Haas: I just think there's a greater sensitivity now to self-induced public embarrassment.

And there are now so many more ways to publicly embarrass yourself. During the campaign, bloggers had a field day with info gleaned from the MySpace page of Levi Johnston, Sarah Palin's future son-in-law. Not surprisingly, the Obama transition team is asking job applicants to disclose every piece of electronic communication that could come back to haunt the president-elect. That puts most folks out of the running. Including, me. At least, according to my pal Tim.

Rico: Tim, I'm thinking of applying for a job in the Obama White House.

Tim: OK.

Rico: You think I got a shot?

Tim: Rico, I mean, there's plenty of stuff with you on the Internet. I know there's video of you impersonating a clergyman, giving a prayer at a grilled-cheese cooking competition. It's no Jeremiah Wright, but it's, uh . . .

Rico: I was giving a fake prayer in praise of cheese! That was good clean fun.

Tim: You know, look who's laughing now.

Gagliano: By the way, I contacted a few serious applicants for positions in the Obama White House? They had no comment. They didn't want to say anything that would hurt their application.

In Los Angeles, I'm Rico Gagliano for Marketplace.

About the author

Rico Gagliano is the host of Dinner Party Download.

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