Fear and Loathing on the Job Search

a strange smiley face

In my last post, I found myself unable to convey the emotions and thoughts that were triggered by Time, Incorporated’s job postings, and so I resorted to invoking a kind of verbal dynamism with bold text and short sentences, hoping that you might be able to hear what I was feeling.

Since then, I have written many words on the subject, none of which, much to my frustration, has stood up to revision.

In the interest of what Seth Godin and, by extension, most everyone in the world calls “shipping“, I’m going to focus on one small thing and try to explain why it’s significant.

Here’s an excerpt from one of the listings:

The ideal candidate is a relentless reader and idea generator, has a strong network of writers, and likes telling stories in a variety of ways, including long form narratives, essays, cultural criticism, trend stories and personal service.

Relentless reader?

Do you like to read books?

Yeah when it comes to books, I’m relentless. I can’t just read a book, I have to read it six times. The whole time I’m reading, I’ve got another book on the side so any time I have to turn the page of my main book I’ve got something to read until I’m done with that. Books just want to chill but I can’t let em. I go hard.

Oh dang, that’s crazy. Hey but do you ever have ideas?

Ideas? Once again I’m going to have to say I’m a relentless idea generator. I’ve got so many ideas it makes people angry to be around me. I can’t keep them to myself I just blurt out ideas constantly. Of course I’m much too busy reading to act on any of the ideas.

Has a strong network of writers?

You mean to tell me there are people out there looking for jobs and they have a strong network of writers? Up till now I believed writers a suspicious lot, unsuited for grouping into large networks. Also, with a network of writers at my disposal, what do I then do? I guess I just yell ideas at them while reading, and they execute.

Likes telling stories in a variety of ways, including long form narratives, essays, cultural criticism, trend stories and personal service?

These are not the varieties of ways I was thinking when I read the first part of that sentence. What exactly is a long form narrative, if we’re not talking about essays? Are we talking about short stories here, because I don’t think there are short stories in Time magazines and if there are they aren’t written by the staff. Of course I’m basing that declaration on zero evidence. For all I know, they do exactly that. Secondly, I would love to criticize culture as part of my job, but first I need to learn to make it into a story. Also, what personal service qualifies as storytelling? These people are looking for someone to do things I can’t even comprehend. If I can’t grasp that “what” of the job, how am I going to prove that I can do the “how”?

Ok so those are just a few of the thoughts I had while reading just one sentence out of the piles of sentences in the fifteen postings I looked at.

Taken as a whole, I would say that the sentence makes me want the job. After all I love to read and if paid for it I could certainly be relentless. Also I have an idea every ten minutes, the problem up to this point is now clear: I should have a network of people working on these ideas.

I would love to have a network of writers. They generally make good dinner dates, as we can always discuss good excuses for not writing more and the latest techniques for being productive, which we are actively ignoring.

I love telling stories, and I’m great at personal service, if that’s anything like customer service.

So yeah, give me the job.

And then, thinking entrepreneurially (I love adverbs, sorry Steven King and other adverb haters), this sentence really shines a light on the reasons I’m not making money as a writer. I should read more. I should also use people to bring my ideas out of my head and onto the market.

And I definitely need to learn how to tell a story through personal service. Someone who knows how to do that is never going hungry.

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