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MAY 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 5

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Send Us Feedback: Decode the truth behind the word jumble that is the job market

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Reading Between the Lines
Decode the truth behind the word jumble that is the job market

Employers know that it is a worker's market right now. Unemployment is down. Qualified workers are at a premium. As a result, creative writing (read: lying) has become a must for human resource managers everywhere.

  President William Clinton
WANTED: EXECUTIVE
Requires: ability to read Charlotte's Web, keep pants on during working hours, put up with First Lady. No smokers.

Perks: Private jet. Command of military. Define words as needed. Sex with Interns.


It's near impossible today to find a worker who can do a job properly, let alone find one who will do it for minimal pay, long hours and no encouragement. So rather than sweeten the pot with lucrative stock options, private jets and personal assistants, companies have begun encrypting their job descriptions hoping to snare a naive rookie who hasn't yet learned to read between the lines.

Sure, you feel powerful and in control: you're a worker bee in a giant hive with a desperate need of honey. You graduated from college; you read some books on resume writing (read: lying); you're not wet behind the ears. Regardless of how confident you may be, somewhere cackling in the dark, a can of warm Jolt soda at the ready, a crack communications specialist formerly with the FBI has written another ad targeting you. You are not ready.

"It's a mine field out there," said an anonymous job placement agent over a lunch of greasy cheeseburgers with calcium-enriched Tums for dessert. "Everywhere you step, no matter how lightly, another job blows up in your face. These applicants think they'll be the one to break the code, but they won't until it's too late. Then they're stuck in their 'office with a view' or a tiny cube with midget-sized walls."

So, before it becomes too late for you, study the following list of coded descriptions. Please read it, if for no other reason than to pay tribute to the investigative journalist who gave his life while breaking the code. He was on the brink of something big about "employee parking" when he disappeared. But not before he discovered that an "Executive Bathroom" is actually just a normal john with one vent and a scented blue urinal mint.

  Mark McGwire
WANTED: SLUGGER
Requires: swing big stick, lumberjack physique, affinity for Sports Center, fitness supplements.

Perks: Office with a view, adulation, competitive salary, free sneakers.


Competitive Salary - We remain competitive by paying less than our competitors.

Join Our Fast-Paced Team - We have no time to train you.

Casual Work Atmosphere - We don't pay enough to expect that you'll dress up; well, a couple of the real daring guys wear earrings.

Must Be Deadline Oriented - You'll be six months behind schedule on your first day.

Some Overtime Required - Some time each night and some time each weekend.

Duties Will Vary - Anyone in the office can boss you around.

Must Have An Eye For Detail - We have no quality control.

Career-Minded - Female Applicants must be childless (and remain that way).

Apply in Person - If you're old, fat or ugly you'll be told the position has been filled.

No Phone Calls Please - We've filled the job; our call for resumes is just a legal formality.

Seeking Candidates with a Wide Variety of Experience - You'll need it to replace three people who just left.

Problem-Solving Skills a Must - You're walking into a company in perpetual chaos.

Requires Team Leadership Skills - You'll have the responsibilities of a manager, without the pay or respect.

Good Communication Skills - Management communicates, you listen, figure out what they want and do it

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SUBMITTED via e-mail by Brian MacPherson.
PICTURES:Clinton by Kevin Lamarque copyright © Reuters; McGwire by Tom Gannam copyright © AP Photo.