Simone Sneed has been a brand ambassador for a telephone company, a backup singer in a local theatre, a freelance grant writer and a psychic in a scavenger hunt — all for a day.

Sneed found those jobs and many others in Craigslist’s Gigs section, where she finds work for a few hours or a day to earn extra cash. Sneed almost posed for an artist who wanted to paint her as a mythical creature that was half woman, half lion, but had to draw the line somewhere.

“I mentioned it to my mom and dad,” she said. “My dad is an artist and he said it sounded a little sketchy.”

At a time when many people are having trouble finding one job, some intrepid job seekers like Sneed are creating a patchwork quilt of many, all short-term gigs found through Craigslist and other sites where companies and individuals seek out part-time help.

When she didn’t get tenure, English professor Diana Bloom used the website’s services section to advertise herself as a tutor, editor and translator-for-hire. She’s been able to make a living through the work the website directs her way since 2002, while staying home with her young son.

All that without ever having to pound the pavement.

“I’m not very outgoing and getting my foot in the door to companies would have been hard,” said Bloom, of New York.

But for all the ease the site offers, most gigs and part-time work offer no health benefits, no sick days, no paid vacation.

“There is a clear correlation between economic distress and social distress,” said Paul Osterman, professor of Human Resources and Management at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Underemployment is not good news for families.”

And while some of the short-term jobs are on the books — like Sneed’s handing out seed packets and key chains for Sprint — others are not.

Job postings are down overall on Craigslist, the most-used job board in the United States, said Jim Buckmaster, CEO of But postings for short-term gigs are up.

Newspapers also run ads for temporary work, the kind of gigs often found on community bulletin boards. And temp agencies are reporting a flood of applicants for short-term jobs.

For those looking for part-time work, short-term gigs like those on Craigslist have their benefits. Musician Will Knox managed to parlay one into long-term employment by meeting a country singer who he ended up co-writing songs and embarking on a tour with.

“You don’t have to leave your apartment, and in the time it takes to go down to the job centre, on Craigslist you could have applied for 10 different jobs, found a new roommate and bought a ukulele,” Knox said.

For Sneed, the gigs are mostly a tool to pay off bills and student loans and supplement her full-time job. For a scavenger hunt in Albany, N.Y., she dressed up to sit in a coffee shop and wait for team members.

“I had to pretend to be a psychic, read their fortune and then give them a piece of paper with the next clue on it,” she said. “It was super campy and fit my temperament. I do enjoy indulging in a bit of melodrama every now and then.”