The last time I looked for a job, seven years ago, many fewer listings appeared online. These days they appear no place else. Your Sunday paper (assuming you still get a “hard copy” tossed onto your lawn once a week) is much slimmer now that “Help Wanted” ads are – mostly - a thing of the past.
But that’s not the only thing that’s changed. The descriptions of these positions read like something out of Samuel Beckett or Tom Stoppard. Remember Rosencrantz and Guildenstern endlessly flipping that coin in hopes that once, just once, it’ll turn up tails? Substitute superlatives for that penny and you’ve got a pretty good idea what today’s job descriptions can look like. “Considerable experience” is “essential.” “Significant experience” (is that more or less than “considerable?”) with multiple tasks, including working with qualitative and quantitative data, is “critical.” Do you have a “demonstrated history of success” working independently? Of course you also “must be a team player.” Don’t bother applying unless you are “dependable, detail oriented, resourceful, flexible, organized, a willing learner and possess a professional demeanor.”
Sound ridiculous? Those are quotes from an actual job description posted online last month. And the listing didn’t target people at the apex of their careers. Try a Bachelor’s degree with five years of experience.
I’ve been out of law school for 25 years and I don’t possess half those “essential” characteristics. Who is writing these things? If s/he doesn’t want to fill the job, why advertise?
I know it’s harder to write a hundred words than a thousand. “The memo would have been shorter but I ran out of time.” But if employers can’t be bothered to compose a realistic description of a job’s responsibilities, and identify fairly how much experience is needed to perform them, then how can they expect anyone to take them seriously? Based on the number of Stoppard-esque ads I’ve seen recently, I’m afraid that’s a rhetorical question.
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