Job List Wilderness

My husband and I are searching for jobs in the United States. This has led to reading thousands of job posting advertisements on sites like Indeed.com, LinkedIn.com, Cragislist.com and others. We’re both college graduates in our mid twenties with a mixed work history, mostly in education and mostly in Asia. We have our hobbies and passions we’ve spent our non-working hours developing. We graduated from an excellent university. Jobs were scarce in 2009 when we graduated, so we both went abroad, worked on building up experience and continued to learn.

Looping around back to the present we start reading the requirements as listed in these job advertisements. It’s tragically hilarious. I swear they’re being written by copy monkeys hopped up on something legit.  I’m not talking about all, just some. There’s just enough of them that its like yeast seeping into the whole loaf of bread. Many jobs, and this does apply to most, do not even list the company from which they come. Zero research into the company possible.

It seems every job requirement lists requirements like “must have 5+ years of dental office experience” for a office coordinator position. Really? I learned how to teach a massive test to a bunch of high school students in a month and doubled their testing rates over the next nine months without doing anything even remotely questionable or having an hour of formal training.

If there are a few words that I could magic out of every job ad I read I would start with “expert. Then I would move on to “energetic”, “desire to succeed”, “excellent”, “driven”, “proven track record”, “success”, “team player”, “self motivated” and “written and oral communication”

Especially if any of those words  are used then and finished off with: “minimum wage and full time”. Look up living wage and compare it to minimum wage and you’ll understand why that would get me hot and bothered, the bad way.

My husband and I will find jobs. There’s really no choice about the matter. We have the ability to take a different road, adapt and learn new skills. We will change careers and probably in the end, five or ten years from now, be working for ourselves or a team we love.

What’s getting to me is just how soul crushing this system of seeking employment can be. In the dark quiet of our thoughts, we know that we can’t all be “experts”. When I think of experts, I’m thinking of people like Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, and Yo-Yo Ma. They knew or know their field in ways that other people don’t. They are above and beyond the average practitioner of their trade.

Those are extreme examples, let’s bring it down a bit. According toe Google definitions an expert is someone with “a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge or skill in a particular area”. Comprehensive knowledge of anything is a pretty high standard. It takes years to develop. Do you really need an expert in anything to sit down and schedule appointments at a doctor’s office? Could you take a journeyman? Someone who’s well trained? A capable, well rounded human being with people skills? Where’s the pipeline creating these “highly skilled and experienced professionals”?

The point of my diatribe on job advertisements is they rarely seem to cut to the heart of what an employer needs. Many advertisements read the same or practically the same. My husband recently found a IT position at two different companies with exactly the same job posting. As a job seeker you can do your best, write a nice cover letter, tell them you’re a functioning adult with oral and written skills that makes you into an upstanding member of society. Then you can cross your fingers and hope that you get looked at out of the mass of other applicants who also stared at the job advertisement and wondered who wrote it and what did they really want.

It’s a soul crushing experience, sending out resume after resume, like a blind man at a shooting range, hoping that you’re going to wing a target here or there. I can only image it is equally frustrating to an employer, shifting through reams of resumes, hoping to find the one that sparks a bit of recognition  and tells them that this is the person who will fit into the team, be able to earn their trust and truly get the mission and vision of the company.

As a job seeker, I would love to craft you a beautiful cover letter showing you exactly how I can provide for your needs in the workplace. I would love to only apply to places where my talents would actually excel, but I’m shooting in the dark. Someone turn on the light.

I’m already turning away and looking for employment beyond the pages of jobs lists and newspaper ads. I’ve only been at this a week, but logically the odds seem to be against almost anyone making a good match out of this. It’s like online dating without a photo or a bio.

Here’s the lesson I’m learning from reading job descriptions. Employers seeking employees, put as much thought, description and soul into your advertisements as you hope dozens of applicants will put into their applications. It boils down to communication. If you want to attract the “amazing”, “talented” and “driven” people you say you want, then put a little of that into your posting. This is not an opposites attracts situation.

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