Buzzwords of Inconsequence

Imagine, for a moment, David Foster Wallace sitting on a stage, reading a contemporary job posting. Just think about it: the buzzwords, the multi-hyphenates-to-nowhere, the deep-seated confusion on his face as he comes to the phrase “primary core stakeholders.” Just off-stage, Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller are half a pint from blackout. Ayn Rand fashions a shank from the leg of a table. Sylvia Plath asks where the kitchen is.

You see, I’m not even scraping the bottom of the labor barrel here. No, I’m looking at mid-level jobs at big, established companies--companies that expect employees to “oversee delivery of all event deliverables related to content development and delivery.” That’s an actual fucking quote.

Oh, it gets better: one posting uses the words fearless, tactical, and strategic in ten words. I probably wouldn’t mention it--for militant language is The Language of America--but frankly I’m concerned that I accidentally applied to the Green Berets.


There are sentences with fourteen commas and deeply ironic headings like Marginal Qualifications. Meanwhile, one post expects that I’ll be competent at “advanced problem solving and manage ambiguity.” Holy shit, it's Dostoyevsky: The Sequel.

Lastly, we come to the phrase “Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent experience.” If your company is looking for the best of The Best, then I expect that every applicant who can’t show a diploma from an accredited institution will somehow prove that they once paid a lot of money to lock themselves and all of their emotions inside a beige cinder block death camp for four years. Yes, I want proof that they’ve eaten plastic bottle vodka for dinner.

Like everything I say, this is deeply irrelevant.

Like everything I say, this is deeply irrelevant.

Not every post is dripping with buzzwords of inconsequence, but the ones that are have a consistent theme: it seems as if people have just kept adding and adding without taking anything away.

Is there some backspace-less keyboard for HR people? A persistent glitch in Microsoft Recruiting Office? I ask because six paragraphs isn’t so much a verbose introduction to a company’s "mission statement" as it is a verbose obituary.

More than anything, though, I ask because it seems to be a self-defeating practice, whereby the relevant qualifications are buried so deeply within a listing that good candidates get discouraged. Simultaneously, not-so-good candidates continue to apply without reading the ***Very Important Instructions*** in the ninth paragraph... which begets even more text for the next posting and wastes even more time.

That said, I probably should've considered the agony of obtaining a job before I threw mine in the dumpster.