Thursday, May 16, 2013


Does anyone else find that job postings are, well, obnoxious?

Perhaps it is just me, and perhaps things are colored by the fact that I am unemployed and thus always sporting low-grade, isolation-induced, low self esteem, but:

I find that job postings are often written in a tone that is just barely shy of scolding, so strong sometimes in their "don't screw up" message that it makes you feel as if you already have screwed up. The term "proven ability," for example, makes me think of an elementary school report card: Bailey has "proven" that she can now work in art class without overusing the glitter or glue.

Does anyone else find the word "proven" in these contexts (not the art context, that is a hypothetical, friends) condescending?

I have to remind myself that there will--or should be--a training period when I start a job, and I won't be expected to walk in and know automatically everything about a company and how it carries out day-to-day functions.

Again, maybe I am in a biased seat (I am), but let's look at some examples, shall we? These are from actual current job postings:

  • "Ability to think through fast-paced reaching news situations and act prudently without making mistakes"

Because people never make mistakes, obviously. And anyone who can make it through an extended interview process these days should have "proven" that they are perfect and polished enough that he or she won't make a mistake on a new job.

The thing that makes me laugh here is the term "reaching news." Do they mean "breaking news"? Did the job posters themselves make a mistake here? Hmm? I could see how that could be a buzz term--news that reaches people--but I am skeptical. A Google search turns up nothing.

Came across this gem today:

  • "In addition, we ask that you are a happy and relatively well-adjusted human being."


Could this be a little more insulting? Could I walk into an interview for this job and ask the CEO if he/she is a "relatively well-adjusted human being"? I would be shown to the door!! This is outrageous to me. However, I see a loophole. "Relatively." So, one could fall just about anywhere on the well-adjusted scale, eh? If it's relative in an applicant's mind, then there's no argument, right?

Seriously. Unacceptable. It is fine for a team to want applicants to be easy to work with and capable of getting through an average day of work without dramatic incident, but there is no need for it to be expressly written on a job posting.

Last week the LA Daily News had a front page story with the headline, in all caps, "HIRING HELL." The art that accompanied it was the back of a woman's head, facing a room full of interviewers. I read the article and could totally, totally identify with the things that it discussed: people being sent through several interviews, job postings that "shoot for the moon" in their expectations of candidates, being asked to provide freelance work as part of the interview process.

I understand that our country is experiencing economic difficulty. I'm not ridiculous or naive. I get it why things are so over the top. But they don't need to be so over the top. I shouldn't have to feel nervous to press "Publish" on this blog post, lest potential employers see it and think I am a disagreeable person to work with because I am speaking up about this issue.

I can strike up a genuine conversation with just about anyone. I don't create drama in an office or, anywhere, really. I can work under pressure--I'm a journalist, for crying out loud. My family moved three times before I graduated high school: I am insanely adaptable.

But I am human. I will make mistakes.

I have proven myself in many situations. I learn quickly, should you ask me to dislodge a wad of paper from deep inside a copy machine, make hundreds of espresso drinks in a two hour period, ask someone about his business plan and then put it in simple language for the public to digest.

But in any job, I will still need to learn something new.

I have creative thoughts and ideas that you, as a creative company, might love to hear.

But I respect you as a successful entity, and I need your help to teach me your communication standards and schedules and whatnot so that I can most effectively insert myself into the corporate conversation. Please don't expect me to walk into your doors and have everything figured out about how I will perfectly contribute to your environment.

So, please, Companies:

Keep your job descriptions shorter than a novella. Tell me the overarching things you need me to do for you. The non-negotiables. Speak to me with respect. Give me a chance to prove to you that I am well adjusted, without expressly asking me to do so.

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