The Read

Six Jobs Too Good To Be True

Dust off your CV and start thinking about how you can bag these unbelievable roles

Occasionally, you hear about jobs that are too good to be true. And the fact that they are too good to be true means these vacancies end up being giddily shared around the world within minutes of being posted. Last month, Mondelēz – the sugary multinational that owns Cadbury, Oreo and Toblerone, among other chocolatey brands – announced it was looking for a chocolate taster. Based at the firm’s Science Centre in Reading, UK, the successful applicant would need to work a challenging eight-hour week and give “objective and honest feedback” on new products. Unsurprisingly, within a matter of days, applications were closed, and no doubt inboxes were overflowing.

Being paid to eat bars of Milka isn’t the only job it’s impossible to imagine doing as you peer up from your untidy desk. Here are six other enviable jobs for which many apply (if there even is an application process), but few are chosen.

Instagram cruiser

As long as the Wi-Fi signal is good enough, cruise ships are manna to the frequent Instagrammer. A different, beautiful location to pose in every day, more food than one can fit into frame, and towels twisted into swans. (Like, like, like.) Now imagine getting paid for it. American cruise company Royal Caribbean is offering a £3,000 “internship” – plus food, drink and cabin space (a free holiday, basically) – to travel on three of the company’s cruise ships over three successive weeks taking pictures for Royal Caribbean’s Instagram account.

Alternatively, El Camino Travel, a boutique American holiday company, offers the option of sending a professional photographer on your trip, who will give you 20 social-media-worthy pics to upload to your accounts every day. You’d be surprised how far having holiday-picture-taker on your CV can get you in this social-media-obsessed age.

Private island caretaker

In 2009, a canny campaign by Queensland’s tourist office offered one lucky person the chance to be paid AU$150,000 to spend six months as caretaker of an island paradise off the north-east coast of Australia. It made headlines around the world as “The Best Job Ever”, but it wasn’t quite Robinson Crusoe. Can you really be caretaker of an island with a five-star hotel on it its beach?

Away from the world of canny Aussie PR, there is a world of actual private island caretakers who look after some of the planet’s most desirable properties when their owners are busy elsewhere polishing their golden helicopters. For obvious reasons, being employed to maintain the private paradise of the ultra-wealthy means it’s difficult to talk about the specifics of the job. But thanks to the anonymous posts of a man who, in 2009, was looking after a celebrity’s private island, we have an idea of what it involves. The caretaker of a Bahamian private island described in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session how his job on the island combined everything from repainting boats and installing solar panels to filling fridges and pretending to dress as a native islander to scare off noisy tourists/trespassers. Think of it as working on a yacht, only with more homemade weapons.

If you can’t get paid to island-sit, then look to Mr Caio Rodrigues Rego, who left his job in São Paulo 34 years ago to be the unofficial keeper of Ilha dos Gatos in south-east Brazil. In 2015, he described his job, which also involves scaring people off with spears, as “the best in the world”. His wife and kids disagreed. They left him there soon after he arrived in 1982.

Lighthouse keeper

This is the age of automation, as cars, factories and even restaurants staff themselves with code and algorithms. One of the first jobs to go was the lighthouse keeper. Who needs a man or woman to turn a light on? It’s one of the most endangered jobs on the planet – the last manned UK lighthouse closed 19 years ago. There are only about a hundred manned lighthouses left around the world, with just one in the US, near Boston.

Fortunately for many of Canada’s lighthouse keepers, the Canadian government decided in 2011 that there was still a place for these protectors of ships. There are 27 staffed lighthouses on British Columbia’s rugged Pacific coast, including the Pachena Point lighthouse on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which is manned by Mr Calvin Martin and his wife.

The lighthouse is accessible in two ways – a 17-mile hike from the nearest town or via helicopter. It’s the chopper that drops off a month’s worth of supplies every time it visits Pachena Point. And no wonder. There have been some horrific wrecks attempting arrival here or passage by sea, including the Valencia, which went down with 133 passengers in 1906. It may come as no surprise that this particular lighthouse was built a year later, and it’s been manned ever since. Suffice to say, being a modern lighthouse keeper doesn’t just involve replacing lightbulbs. A keeper at Cape Scott, up the coast from Pachena, explained that the job involves filing detailed weather reports every three hours, starting at 3.40am. At least the commute is good.

Official keeper of the Stanley Cup

The problem for Canadians is that their monarch keeps most of her unusual jobs – Mounties aside – in Britain. But while the Yeomen Warders, protectors of the Crown Jewels, stick to the Tower of London, the protector of Canada’s most treasured silverware has to ferry the 124-year-old 15.5kg trophy around North America.

The Stanley Cup, named after Lord Stanley, the Queen’s Canadian Governor General in 1893, is presented each year to the winner of the National Hockey League’s championship. There is no replica, so the winning team gets just 100 days to spend with the trophy. They also get Mr Phil Pritchard, who, as part of his role at the Hockey Hall of Fame, has to accompany the trophy at all times, whether at a charity event or at a member of the winning squad’s hot tub. Mr Pritchard, who shares the role with other colleagues, has been lugging the Stanley Cup around the world since 1988, providing 24-hour supervision when it’s away from its home. The keepers go through an impressive 24 pairs of white handling gloves per season – more, you’d imagine, than most players do.

Despite Canada being the sport’s spiritual home, and the Hockey Hall of Fame being based in Toronto, Mr Pritchard has been forced to put in extra miles with the cup. A team from north of the US border hasn’t won it since 1993 and Toronto last won it in 1967. Let’s hope he’s allowed to take it as carry-on.

Butler, Buckingham Palace

It’s hard to keep an eye on the skirting board dust when you’re busy welcoming presidents and asking charity workers “Whit do you do?” Which is why the Queen employs household staff to look after everything to do with hospitality at the royal palaces, from housekeeping to upholstery, flower arranging to telling Prince Harry to keep his feet off the sofa (well, not that last one).

One of the most prestigious roles, due to its proximity to the monarch, is royal butler. It’s not a lucrative affair, by any means. A recent advertisement for the role of junior butler included overseeing catering and presentation of the various royal palaces. Alas, the pay was a very unprincely £15,000. But – and it’s a big BUT – this fairly paltry sum for a five-day week includes free accommodation at the most prestigious address in London. The cheapest one-bedroom flat nearby will set you back £3,000 a month. So add that £36,000 to the priceless value of eavesdropping on the planet’s most famous family (one imagines your free bed also comes with a gratis non-disclosure agreement) and this buttling becomes a ludicrous affair. So get working on your “ma’ams” (just remember it rhymes with “ham”).

Michelin Guide inspector

They have the power to make or break multi-million-pound operations with their opinion on any given day, and get paid to eat the finest meals on the planet. On the other hand, they have to eat plenty of bad meals. Good or bad, that’s 200 meals a year, often solo, every day of the week, except weekends. Still...

Inspectors for the Michelin Guides come exclusively from 10-plus-year backgrounds in hospitality and, before being anonymously set on the world’s chefs, are taken to the company’s HQ in France to train before being sent out with other inspectors to learn what it means for a restaurant to be worthy of the elusive three stars. Only then are they furnished with the bottomless expense account paid for by most of the world’s car drivers.

Perhaps the hardest thing isn’t working out a way to eat two multi-course meals (one inspector told The New Yorker she tried to eat every course offered) per day, but keeping one’s anonymity. The Guardian described the machinations around the guides in 2001 as mysterious as MI6. One errant tweet or Instagram post and your goose is cooked. But at least you’ll know how well.

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