answer to a question

I posted this on a networking site in answer to the question:

Why do people apply for positions for which they have zero qualifications?

Gentlemen, excellent questions and answers. Being a search software developer rather than a recruiter, my views may be a bit different. However, doing this for the past 10 years I have seen such a variety of people that it is hard to draw across-the-board conclusions — rather we may be looking at a more abstract, philosophical answer to a very complex series of questions. To break this down a bit….

First, you have your anal-retentive supervisors, team leaders and hiring managers, who write absurdly restrictive demands to qualify candidates. This is an aspect of the process I have never understood, although I also fail to understand the corporate mentality in general. Why would any company want to restrict their hiring opportunities, especially in technical areas, where the biggest part of the job is learning new stuff? That’s what techies do, they learn new stuff every day — and half the stuff you learned years ago doesn’t apply any more.

Next, you have your chair-warmers, phone-answerers, desk-occupiers and warm bodies in general, employees who have reached their Peter Principle level of incompetence early in their careers. All too often the job reqs are handed to these people to pass along to recruiters, and they do so with absolute accuracy, not changing a word or punctuation mark, not thinking or questioning, not open to comment or ideas. They may have no contact with the department where the employee is needed, and no interest in learning anything about it. They often receive resumes and look for points, not for people.

Then you have your upper management types with their capitalist-pig mentality, interested in a golden parachute at the upper reaches of the corporate ladder, and not much else. Clearly they have some ability to have climbed so high, but in many cases they lose perspective, they lose a viewpoint of innovation and openness to new ideas.

Finally, at least for the purpose of this post, you have your great unwashed masses, scrambling for enough money to cover the mortgage and tuition payments, keep the car running and finance the occasional foray to Starbucks.

Now, with the electronic age well upon is, with Citicorp and Disney joining the spammers, the shotgun-blast method of marketing has taken over our culture. It’s a numbers game. Job posters want to get their job in front of as many eyes as possible. Candidates want to get their resume in front of as many hiring managers as possible. Regardless.

What do they have to lose? It’s a numbers game, remember? If you send your resume to 10,000 people, what does it hurt? you may be routed to 9,999 spam filters and trash bins, but what’s the penalty? What’s to lose?

In a previous lifetime I was a farmer and nurseryman, and I came to the awesome realization that all biology is opportunistic. If a weed can grow, it will. If a virus can infect, it will. Really, that’s what our human hope is — opportunism for survival and procreation, albeit perverted by the world we live in, but a basic biological drive nonetheless. The world is flat, and an undreamed-of, science-fiction level of competitiveness awaits us.

We live on hope, upper management hoping for the golden parachute, middle management hoping to climb the ladder, vast armies of peons hoping not to get downsized, and the great teeming masses hoping for a new opportunity, hoping endlessly, hoping against hope, dreaming of greener pastures, long-lost love, and the latest model cell phone.