Tuesday, 3 September 2013
Some of you may be aware I’m currently looking for work. Being self-employed for ten years the last thing I really want is full-time employment for ‘da man’ but it’s an option I would be foolish to overlook. So, yesterday, having knocked my ‘interesting’ CV into shape, I began the long haul trawl through various job sites. My god, what has happened to the world of work?
Years ago jobs had proper names, names that told you what people did; butcher, baker… candlestick maker. So much were people identified by their trades that many took them as their family name. Archer, Carpenter, Draper, Fletcher, Fuller, Hayward, Mercer, Prentis, Taverner, Taylor… class assembly used to sound like a recruitment fair. (I have no idea what a Patel does, or did… if recent reports are true it may mean ‘lives off the state’.)
But back to the search. Jobs no longer have real names or defined purpose. Many are mundane roles genetically modified to sound more important and less judgemental. Thus nobody is looking for plain old nurses any more but there are many jobs in the burgeoning ‘care’ sector all of which appear to require an arm’s length list of qualifications of dubious utility; how many courses do you have to go on to be capable of wiping arses, chatting and doing a spot of light housework?
The realm of sales recruitment is just as impenetrably worded as ever: “focus heavily on brand awareness and relish the opportunity to create a personal and positive customer experience” In sales the ‘opportunities’ are always ‘exciting’ and ‘dynamic’ and ‘interactive’ and ‘focused’, presumably in ways that say, Ice Road Trucker, is not, even if it’s a counter job at Debenhams. Actually, I do know why selling is so oversold; I shudder to recall the years of my life when I did myself irreparable mental harm trying to sell stuff; it’s basically lying to people’s faces every working day of your life. That has to take its toll – for years I suffered Post Traumatic Sales Disorder.
The gobbledegook language of sales and management speak has bled over into the most ordinary of jobs and our litigious culture has added further layers of box-ticking bullshit. No wonder the poor old indigenous young Brits can’t get a start when even the most ordinary job is described in incomprehensibly vacuous ways and requires a ‘skill set’ a multi-lingual rocket surgeon would be hard pressed to acquire. No wonder they are reduced to mailing out multiple CVs with no hope of a reply – they don’t even know what a ‘Petrol Colleague’ (Asda) might be, let alone know how to sell themselves as one.
The truth of the matter is simple; most jobs are utterly basic and can be performed by anybody with a bit of what we used to call gumption. There are few occupations out there where the knowledge and skills can’t be acquired quite quickly and fine-tuned over a relatively short period. But in our politically correct, equality and diversity monitored, qualification-centric world it seems everybody must jump through those flaming hoops.
The art of finding a job seems to no longer be matching your ability to an employer’s needs but negotiating your way through the minefield of ridiculous HR rhetoric. It’s easy to see why there appear to be more jobs advertised for recruitment consultants (just sales, really, but selling people) than any other.