Painstaking person

Painstaking person
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First Published: Fri, Feb 10 2012. 10 24 PM IST

Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg
Updated: Fri, Feb 10 2012. 10 24 PM IST
I dislike using Facebook now that it has become so complicated. It no longer has the innocent charm of those early days when you could play Scrabble with an assortment of attractive strangers. Right now, at any given moment, there are updates sliding into, rolling on top of, shimmying next to, and sometimes brutally assaulting other updates with sticks.
Yet, despite all this confusion, occasionally the most amusing update pops up on my screen and sends me into fits of hysteria. Like earlier this week when someone posted a picture of the most candid newspaper job advertisement.
Photo: Bloomberg
The advertisement was for the position of chief executive officer at a metals company. I am not exactly sure when this advertisement appeared in newspapers. (Legal disclaimer: it could be a hoax.)
The black and white advertisement is of the utmost Scandinavian minimalism. A box with the words ‘Chief Executive Officer’ emblazoned across the top, with two short columns of text beneath. The text starts off normally. There is a brief profile of the company followed by the statement that they are looking for a “hardworking, tough, dynamic, aggressive and painstaking person for the above post”.
So far so good. A brief list of necessary qualifications follow. And then things get a little unusual: “The candidate should be fully competent, strict disciplinarian, sharp and a hard task-master.”
The next paragraph is superlative.
“He should be able to maintain high degree of discipline with firmness and tremendous leadership, not allowing looseness or latitude at any cost. He must be capable to handle senior level people whose habit is to make excuses followed by arguments thus wasting time and energy of seniors. The person who is not tough with high moral values and not able to take strict action like a live-wire need not apply.”
Merely re-typing that paragraph for this column makes me want to change into camouflage, parachute into the company under the cover of darkness, punch one or two ‘senior level people’ in the face, rig up the whole office to explode, and then, while the building goes up in a fireball, dive out of a high window into a waiting helicopter, inside of which Raveena Tandon is waiting for me dressed in a leather...
I digress. You get my point.
Like everybody else I laughed at this picture and shared it with friends and family. But then I realized something: for a change here was a company that was being completely honest in its job advertisement.
Instead of padding the advertisement up with pictures, slogans, vacuous mission statements and fancy fonts, it was being entirely matter-of-fact. For their CEO they wanted a total badass with an ability to crush dissidents. This is not, the ad indicates clearly, a job for gentle managers who read books on sustainable leadership, or says things like “let us focus on the process and not the person”.
No thanks, says this company, before kneeing you in the groin. They want someone with a criminal record and a samurai sword.
I think the company deserves tremendous credit for it.
Because, let’s face it, most job advertisements suck.
Advertisements usually come in one of two types: simple-terrible and complicated-terrible.
During economically troublesome times like these, companies tend to issue advertisements that are painfully to the point. Most of them are little boxes full of accurate but terribly boring qualifications and requirements:
“Major private airlines company requires male and female customer service executives. Graduates between 22-28 with pleasing personality are invited for walk-in interview in Bangalore on Friday at 11:30 AM. Sorry this has now been postponed to 12:45 PM in Kochi and has now been cancelled. Madam, you please keep quiet or I will call security, ok?”
On the other hand, you have those boom-time half-page job advertisements that go on and on about everything in the world but the job itself. Readers who applied for jobs during the dotcom boom may well remember them:
In the top left corner, two cheerful Caucasian people in suits point at each other and smile very much like registered sex offenders. In the centre, a young professional swoops through an airport looking radiant, with the company logo looming in the background. “You are young, dynamic and international. Just like us,” says the caption.
And in tiny font in the bottom right corner, the job posting: “Warehouse Manager - Toxic Waste Division (Gummidipoondi).”
What blatant chicanery. Compare both these ads to the refreshing frankness of the CEO posting. What I like best about that ad is that it not only prepares the candidate for the job, but also gives him a true sense of his co-workers: argumentative weasels.
This is a groundbreaking innovation. Why don’t all job postings have a single line dedicated to frankly describing your potential co-workers? That information could help many applicants take a call. If you are an HR manager you should seriously think about this.
Meanwhile, I have now started a collection of bizarre job postings. Please contribute wholeheartedly.
Cubiclenama takes a weekly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at cubiclenama@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Feb 10 2012. 10 24 PM IST
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