Stupid Job Postings: dream much? edition

Posted by amy on August 13, 2007

“Technically gifted and passionate RoR engineer wanted for one month”

As per policy, I won’t link to the offender. But what are the chances you will find a gifted and passionate engineer available RIGHT THIS SECOND to work a few hours a week for a month, at $50/hour, total payment capped at $2500?

I don’t like this whole job posting obsession with “passion,” anyway. It seems a bit much to demand not merely competence, productivity, honesty, attention to detail, professionalism, and time from employees/contractors, but also passion. It’s a bizarre conceit, I think, somewhat akin to the invention of romantic love in marriage. It’s an attempt to paper over an economic transaction under the guise of emotional attachment. It’s not enough for workers to give our time, our energy, our thoughts, and our creativity to our work — we must also give our very selves, the part of us that is able to feel passion.

I resent this attempt to colonize my emotional landscape. I don’t blame individual job-posters, of course; they’re just using the job-listing language of the day, and not thinking very much about what, actually, it means. Perhaps only freakish people who spent too much time reading cultural studies in college stop to think about the meaning of the current vogue for demanding passionate employees.

Is there evidence I haven’t seen that passionate employees are better employees? Passion does not necessarily improve one’s personal life; I don’t know why it would necessarily improve one’s professional life. On the contrary, passion would seem to most often be a disability at work. It clouds reason and judgment. It encourages overexertion followed by disappointment and ennui. It contributes to misunderstanding and strife, shortens tempers, and fosters unrealistic expectations.

Perhaps I’m just being pedantic, and what the job-listers really mean is “looking for someone who likes their work” but they must use “passionate” because of rampant adjective inflation. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to want to hire people who like to do the job. But that’s not the kind of information you’ll glean until you talk with someone anyway, so there doesn’t seem to be any point in putting it as a requirement on a job listing.

I see “passionate engineer wanted” and think “unrealistic and possibly abusive employer/client”. My passion is not your business, people. Ask me to be professional, mature, conscientious, skilled, creative, honest, efficient, knowledgeable, curious, persistent, thoughtful, and engaged — I can be all these things. But don’t ask me to be passionate. It’s not a love affair, it’s a job.

Popularity: 32% [?]

Theoretically Related Posts
  • Stupid Job Postings: “step up” and “Non-benefited” edition
  • stupid job postings: “bennies” edition
  • Stupid Job Postings*
  • Fearless Play. Or, What We Did in 2007
  • Trackbacks

    Use this link to trackback from your own site.


    Leave a response

    1. Dave C. Mon, 13 Aug 2007 20:44:01 UTC

      Heh, I was hoping this rant would also touch on the turn of phrase “technically gifted” a la “ostensibly impressive.”

    2. ryan Tue, 14 Aug 2007 07:42:37 UTC

      Words like that begin to irritate me, too, when used over and over by people who don’t hold meaning to the word itself. Anyone from 37signals who uses the word passionate doesn’t bother me, but some manager posting a job using the word passionate because he noticed the guys at 37signals use it, is annoying.

      Chances are, though, there are plenty of people who would respond to that. “Hey, I’m passionate about programming, why don’t I apply?” So, like you said, I don’t blame the managers posting those job offers for using it. Maybe it will backfire, and the really talented people who prefer not to use the word passionate will ignore the job because it’s an annoying description; but maybe not.

      And… That’s funny that you have a “poop” tag, by the way. How often do you see a site with content about poop AND rails?!?! Perfect!

    3. Ryan J. McDonough Tue, 14 Aug 2007 08:11:18 UTC

      For $2500 over a 30-day period, I can’t be sure I’d even show up. For $25,000 over the same time, maybe I’d be moderately enthusiastic. But perhaps for the bargain price of $250,000 in 30-days, then maybe I’d be “passionate” about coding :)

    4. amy Tue, 14 Aug 2007 08:38:12 UTC

      Yeah, that’s the other thing. If passion can be purchased at all, that price seems ridiculously low.

      Poop: I had to click on the tag to remember why I had it. Also, of course, a post on job postings:

      The thing about resumes and job descriptions is that there’s really no hope that most of what we say in them is going to be particularly useful in matching people to work. All the interesting, useful things to know about jobs, and about people doing jobs, come out later, after everyone’s already committed. So can’t we all just cut the crap?

      This comment thread is very ryan-centric, isn’t it?

    5. [...] Is there anyone in Boston doing going old J2EE, LAMP, etc.? I guess not. Pete Glyman, co-founder of Geezeo, is hunting down great Ruby on Rails developers . . . He says that the kinds “of things that are good to know [are] …Ruby on Rails (duh), MySQL, Subversion and Capistrano, RJS, Scriptaculous/prototype libraries and basic unix/linux. Even if you’re new to rails that’s cool… passion, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn and grow with our team are most important.” According to their page, “Geezeo helps people make ‘Educated Financial Decisions,’” which seems like a good idea to me. One thing I like about this solicitation is that it contextualizes passion a bit more than other postings we’ve seen lately. [...]

    6. stupid job description - Dogpile Web Search Wed, 03 Sep 2008 15:52:11 UTC

      Kramer auto Pingback[...] them Near You. Sponsored by: • Found on Ads by Yahoo! Stupid Job Postings: dream much? edition | thirdbIT … will ignore the job because it’s an annoying description; but maybe not. … The thing about [...]