An email landed in my box a few weeks ago from LinkedIn promoting a series of articles about being the “ideal” job candidate. In true Waterworth fashion, I threw up in my mouth and immediately made a note to write a blog about this. Because I know that at least some of you fuckers actually believe that shit.
The Myth of the Ideal Candidate
In no time in history has the idea of an ideal candidate been more of a lie. Companies of every sort are increasingly looking for more diverse employees, and that goes doubly so for create positions like you and I would hold. The Reagan-era idea of fucking stuffed suits is so outdated that I can’t even. I can’t even.
If you asked 20 different hiring managers what they were looking for in an employee, even limited by the same job title, you’d get 20 different answers (how’d you like that cliche?). The one thing these descriptions would have in common is that those imaginary people are fucking breathing and looking for a goddamned job.
The next time you get all sucked up into yourself and whining that you’ll never be that guy that everybody wants, I say shut the Hell up and get on with life. In 2013, Inc. Magazine named the following qualities as the top must-haves for new graduates: “Accountability, Flexibility, Creativity, Communication and Passion.” A 2015 article featured in Forbes declared a potential hire should have these (poorly worded) traits: “Action-oriented, Intelligent, Ambitious, Autonomous, Display Leadership, Cultural Fit, Upbeat, Confident, Successful, Honest, Detail Oriented, Modest, Hard Working, Marketable, and Passionate.”
A Tale of Two Articles
Those two articles mentioned above came after about a half second search on the Googles. These are both reputable business magazines and both are highly respected in the business community, but in many ways they’re calling for different employees. An Inc.-endorsed employee is a whole different guy than a Forbes-endorsed employee. Both are functionally intelligent, but the first is a guy who gets shit done and the second is a guy who prioritizes wearing starched shirts over being functionally literate.
Modest, Confident and Hard-Working? I’m pretty sure they’re endorsing lobotomizing hires first. “Marketable” is my favorite from that list, though. What they mean is that he’s presentable, he can be shown to clients and they won’t run away screaming. He’s not a creative type. We’re messy, we’re not always the best with other people, we’re downright unfocused and disgusting at times. What can I say? Turning your brain inside out and quaffing Red Bull with abandon will do that to you.
The Results of My Laughably Scientific Small Scale Study
My incredibly small sample study is meant to illustrate one fucking thing — you can’t be all things to all people at all times. You can’t. STOP FUCKING TRYING! You’ve got to be yourself, and if that means you’re forced to hunt in a different stand of woods than your buddy, so be it. You can’t be what you’re not, you can’t be Confident and Ambitious and Modest. That’s the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever heard.
I’ve been a copywriter for many years and I can assure you that you can be the biggest mess in the world and someone will hire you for the right price. Someone will always have your back, once you find your people. There are types you’re going to work well with and types that you won’t, but there’s no fucking thing as the “ideal candidate.” There are only candidates, so put your best foot forward, let the world sniff how your particular funk smells and get on with it.