I’ve really been trying terribly hard to avoid this rant that has just been coming on for a few weeks now. And it’s still possible that it might be partially deflected through the use of humor or sarcasm, but hopefully not too much cynicism. It all started with the ad I ran for a graphics person. I wrote my standard advertisement, describing the job, stating the qualifications, the work environment and inviting qualified candidates to apply. I used a local job board that has worked pretty well in the past.
This time it didn’t. The first resumes that came in were from carpenters and sheet metal fabricators. Here’s a sample from the responses I received (verbatim):
General Laborer Mainly Construction Carpentry ,Concrete ,Metal ,Roofing & Highway Construction As well as Residential work well enough to be a Choosen Laborer Which Means if the company wanted to send some to win a contract that was I.Which earned me Advanced Wages ,Pay for Mileage & transport and also Lead.
One should never accept pay in lead. It causes brain damage.
Qualified responses like this were accompanied by resumes from airframe mechanics and a couple of welders. I briefly considered using the same job board to advertise for a sheet metal fabricator, working on the theory that if the ad for a graphic designer produced sheet metal resumes; well, you get the drift.
So, I advertised on CareerBuilder. I wrote a clever, upbeat advertisement this time. Here’s how the ad went (verbatim again):
- 1/3 Artist
- 1/3 Computer Geek
- 1/3 Generally Nice person
Actually, we’d prefer it if you’re 100% generally nice. As a graphic design/prepress specialist at Alphagraphics, you are allowed to:
- Play with computers
- Create layouts for brochures, business printing, and occasionally very strange projects
- Interact with our customers
- Manage the workflow of files to all of the printing devices in our business
It’s a pretty neat job, especially if you’re interested in learning the technical aspects of graphic design and printing. The working environment at AlphaGraphics is enjoyable, but fast-paced. If you’re ruthlessly efficient and can laugh while you work, please apply.
If you need a serene, quiet workplace where you can work in isolation with Mozart playing softly in the background, please talk with our competition.
Compensation for this position will start between $9 and $13/hour, depending upon your level of experience. Benefits including health insurance and retirement are available after a preliminary training period.
Here’s the serious part:
We’re looking for a career-oriented individual. That means that we want you to be serious about what you’re doing and we’d like you to plan to stay for a while.
You should have a working knowledge of the Adobe CS Suite (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat) and be comfortable working with both Mac OS and Windows operating environments. This is a good position for a talented designer who is starting out, but you need to know the software. Additional knowledge of Quark Express, and the Microsoft stuff is also helpful.
A college degree is not absolutely required, but some college or very related work experience is very strongly recommended if you apply for this job.
You will be expected to communicate calmly with customers and your co-workers, occasionally in the midst of mayhem. If you can juggle and chew gum while on roller skates, we’d like to talk with you.
We do require references from your previous employers. We’re looking for an individual with some solid work experience under their belt. If you’ve changed jobs every six months, don’t apply.
In my naivete, I thought that this was a pretty clear description of the position and of the type person that we wanted to hire. And in fact, the resumes did seem, at first, to better fit the job description than did the respondents from my first effort. There were not sheet metal fabricators or airframe technicians and many of the resumes claimed to represent individuals that had actually seen and operated a computer. My initial enthusiasm quickly waned as I began sifting through the resumes, scheduling interviews and actually talking with those who had applied for the position.
After 1 1/2 weeks of interviews, I now have a better appreciation of exactly what it takes to find a job in the 21st century. Here are Poor Richard’s conclusions:
- It is not necessary to read the job description in the advertisement. In fact, it might not be necessary to read the advertisement at all. This would explain why sheet metal fabricators and convenience store personnel are perfectly comfortable sending an application for a job for which they are totally unqualified.
- It is not necessary to know or keep a record of the jobs for which one applies. This explains the vague response, “Who?” when the applicant receives a call from the prospective employer. It is also perfectly acceptable to have a profane or rude voice mail message resident on one’s phone, prepared just in case a prospective employer calls. “Leave a message and I might call you back,” is not the attitude that I value in someone who might potentially talk with one of my customers.
- It is not necessary to return a voicemail from a prospective employer who calls not once, but twice.
- It is not necessary to actually show up for an interview that has been scheduled.
- It is completely unnecessary to be able to actually use the prerequisite software to qualify for the job. One must only assert that, “it is not a problem for me.” This explains the candidate who lists graphic arts or design as an area of educational concentration, but cannot figure out how to open Adobe Illustrator on a Mac.
- It is not necessary to have references from previous employers, even when the prospective employer explains that this is a prerequisite. It is also not necessary that the previous employer actually remember who you are. (Seriously . . . one seemingly promising candidate provided a reference and name of a supervisor who vehemently denied ever meeting him. I considered this to be problematic).
- Compensation parameters listed in the job description are to be totally ignored, as is any requirement for a stable work history. This explains why mid-level managers earning $55000 a year would apply for a job that pays an hourly wage of between $9 and $13/hour and why lots of young people who have experienced 6 or 8 jobs since graduating from college in 2005, now want to experience the position we are advertising.
It is perfectly acceptable to think that the job sounds kind of fun and expect the prospective employer to hire you and actually pay you while you “try it out,” notwithstanding that his investment in time, payroll and training all goes out the window when the “next best thing” comes along.
I studied for a bit in Germany in my college years. There is a great German phrase that describes someone who has reached and fallen over the precipice of frustration. That individual is said to be “ganz schoen wutend,” missing the umlaut over the u if I recall correctly. It is one of those phrases that really cannot be adequately translated into English. It means something like “entirely and exceptionally furious.” It is descriptive of the degree of frustration I have experienced recently.
After exactly 5 weeks of searching, I finally have two viable candidates for the design position. Perhaps I can hire one of them . . . if they show up for the final interview.