Here’s how one actress stated her case: “Not only do I believe in Ripp Media’s ability to deliver human and intuitive touchpoints through physical and technological interaction, but I can contribute to this strategic investment for the modern enterprise by bringing my diverse experiences …” It was like reading Mad Libs.
What makes this particularly amusing is that Ripp repped Martin Shkreli, doing crisis management for the weasel who roared. Pitches from flacks find my mailbox constantly, most of which read pretty much like Ripp’s actress applicant. Mad libs. We’re a nation awash in meaningless gibberish, jargon words strung together haphazardly, conveying the barest impression of meaning without actually saying anything. Delete.
But sitting with a group of people a little more than a year ago, all of whom had an M.I.T. degree under their belt in STEM, buying them beers (because that’s what old guys do), I learned about changes since my day. Jobs were online. Much of the time, the job descriptions read like mad libs as well, replete with jargon about diversity and inclusion, collaboration and atmosphere, and, if lucky, maybe a sentence about what the actual job was. Even then, the description was nearly incomprehensible.
But a few things were clear.
- The job was entry level.
- The job was for a company that couldn’t guarantee it would be around a year from now.
- The job was more about playing well with others than actually doing anything.
- The job required five years experience.
- The job didn’t pay enough to eat.
On the bright side, applying for the job was easy. Applicants upload their resume in advance and include a generic cover letter, and you just hit the “apply” button. On the dark side, you would never hear another word about the job. Companies used to send a “thanks, but no thanks,” letter. Now, silence.
The trick, according to HR people, is to game the algorithms that vet the applicants by using key words. If not, no human ever sees your resume. But what enables an applicant to get past the first level of scrutiny ruins them on the next. The same nonsense keywords make them sound like idiots to a real person. Not that it matters, since they hear nothing back anyway. And so, they pound on that “apply” button over and over, because it’s easy and why not?
But why won’t they put in the effort to prepare individualized, serious cover letters to let a potential employer know that they really want the job, they’re serious about it and they’re willing to put in the effort to get it? Because there’s no payback for the time and effort when their resumes disappear into the ether. Apply for hundreds of vague yet crappy jobs, put an hour into each cover letter, hear nothing.
You can’t blame employers for being frustrated at the quality of applicants and applications, but then, you can’t blame job seekers for not dedicating their best efforts to that entry level job requiring a masters degree, five years of collaborative team leader experience, and pays “up to” $22,000.
It’s the gig economy, yo.
I am a job seeker on Indeed.com and check my very specific alert daily. I expect to get leads for part-time job offers to teach or tutor Spanish, English and/or English as a Second Language within 15 miles of my home.
Well, most of the leads point me to job offers in faraway states that require teaching licenses in physics or chemistry. Further, why am I being offered full-time executive assistant or elder care positions at $12 an hour?
After my beers with the kids, I went onto Indeed and searched for jobs. The results were crap. It’s unclear whether the problem is that the search function sucks or that the jobs descriptions were so convoluted and meaningless that the search algorithm can’t do its job. Fifty pages of results failed to produce a single job that met the search criteria, but it did produce 50 pages of time suck to find that out.
And to hone in a bit more, the beer boys offered one additional treat. A resume sent to a company that seeks an electrical engineer by an MIT electrical engineering graduate doesn’t get a nibble. How is that possible? This isn’t some vagary like “product specialist,” but an electrical engineer. That’s what they’re looking for. That’s what the applicant is. Still, not a word.
Then there’s the one in a hundred, maybe thousand, time that they get the email saying they want an interview. Does the 22-year-old interviewer know how to vet their mad Python skills or whether they can tell a sexy circuit board from dreck? Not so much. They want to know if they’re Uber-type of people.
At ATG, we are ambitious, engaged and excited about transforming the way the world moves…Our teams are passionate about developing long-term technologies that advance Uber’s mission of bringing safe, reliable transportation to everyone, everywhere.
So are you ambitious, engaged and excited? “Uh, sure.” But are you passionate? “Yeah. Okay.”
Do you enjoy technology? Are you an independent problem solver with a high level of technical curiosity? Are you willing to put in lots of good ideas to help bring new technologies from prototype to production?
Is Uber asking whether an EE hates tech? Whether they’re co-dependent, or can’t problem solve their way out of paper bag? What blithering idiot wrote this tripe? And what does the job offer the seeker?
- Employees are given Uber credits every month.
- The rare opportunity to change the way the world moves. We’re not just another social web app, we’re moving real people and assets and reinventing transportation and logistics globally.
- Smart, engaged co-workers.
Salary? Not so much as a mention. Doesn’t Uber credits cover that?
Ripp’s complaint makes complete sense. So, too, does the actress’ jargonized cover letter. If Ripp was serious, then he would have done better to do some legwork on his end and go out and seek the person he needed rather than put the job on Indeed. He got what he asked for, and that’s the best the gig economy is going to do. It’s easy-peasy and sucks for everybody.
But of all the people for whom it sucks, it’s the guy who needs a crisis manager for his legal disaster and ends up with some desperate kid whose strongest skills are that he’s “ambitious, engaged and excited.” Qualified? Who knows, but is she “passionate”? Indeed.
As reliance on technology pervades everything, we’ve accomplished the goal of making everything far quicker and easier than ever before. It’s just that it sucks for all involved. We achieved efficiency at the cost of effectiveness. I look forward to the next press release from Ripp Media to see how well they chose their new hire, given the vast array of people from whom to pick. And I can’t wait to see how well Uber’s self-driving car works. From a safe distance.