Yes, Today’s Crazy Job Listings REALLY Have Gone Off the Deep End

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I’VE SEEN A LOT of job listings over the last few years, so why am I surprised at some of the preposterous skill requirements that some hiring managers seem to be looking for?

I shouldn’t be — but then I saw this one.

Here’s what was listed as the No. 1 required skill for a position as Advisor to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff — Office of the President at Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California:

“Demonstrated Christ-like behavior (emphasis added) through excellent judgment and diplomacy in working with diverse groups to address complex issues; highly regarded people management skills; and unquestioned integrity.”

Today’s crazy job listings

I wonder: Who among us demonstrates “Christ-like Behavior” these days, outside of the Dali Lama? And even though this job listing came from a Christian university, it begs the question — what were they thinking? Is this a serious job requirement, or the ultimate out card to dismiss qualified candidates who have all the skills and talents needed but may come up a bit short when it comes to emulating the Son of God?

It’s just one example of how crazy and downright ridiculous job postings have gotten in our current hiring environment.

I thought I was the only one who was bothered by this, but then I read this article from The Atlantic titled America’s Job Listings Have Gone Off the Deep End that showed just how widespread this practice is. Here’s the crux of what it said:

“In the past two decades, a changing labor market, combined with the internet’s ability to make things functionally more efficient but existentially far worse, has dramatically transformed how American companies recruit prospective employees. The result is the obnoxious state of the modern job listing, which is often short on details and long on silly demands.

Although this trend has some roots in start-up culture, it has spread to virtually all American industries and far beyond the bounds of urban office work.

    • Alley, a co-working space in New York, seeks a social-media and marketing manager at the company who is “one part visionary, one part online warrior, one part pop-culture guru, a dash of precocious energy, mixed with a little lyrical whimsey, and served with a shot of espresso.”
    • listing for an Atlanta-based “customer support hero” at the software company Autodesk wants to hear from you if you’re “a ninja with your keyboard” who has “a passion for incredible customer service.”

Recruiters are vague about what they want

Reading job listings like this makes me wonder: Who writes this crap, and how did they ever get hired to churn out pretentious garbage like this?

It’s like what I always tell my wife when we marvel over yet another terrible TV commercial (think Liberty Mutual’s Limu Emu) — “Somebody got paid a lot of money to come up with crap like that!”

Yes, many of today’s job listings are crap because they not only seem to be looking for super-human skills that nobody could possibly possess, but in the quest to come up with cutesy qualities for candidates to fulfill, recruiters and hiring managers have become terribly confusing and vague about just what it is they want and are looking for.

The Atlantic story also has an interesting observation on this phenomena from somebody who ought to know — Ian Siegel, the CEO of ZipRecruiter:

“Siegel points out that the hypercharged language is … poorly suited to the digital nature of most modern job searching, where 70 percent of résumés submitted via online job listings or uploaded to job boards are going to be screened by algorithms looking for keywords. “When you say ‘coding ninja,’ you’re not going to match against ‘java developer.’ If you say ‘spreadsheet guru,’ you’re going to miss the people with ‘Excel expertise.’”

In other words, silly job titles and over the top job postings waste everyone’s time because they aren’t specific about what the job requirements actually are.

Do employers really value great skills?

One more thing about the nuttiness of today’s job listings — even though they seem to require more skills and qualities than just about any candidate can possibly possess, the pay being offered doesn’t seem to value all those qualities very much.

Here’s a posting from the content development space, an area that I’m pretty familiar with. It’s from Cozymeal, a company that says it “offers the best in culinary experiences by pairing local consumers and companies with some of the nation’s top chefs for cooking classes, food tours and culinary team building events.”

The job listing is for a Freelance Content Writer and reads like this:

We are looking for a Content Writer (Contractor) who will be responsible for regularly developing great content for Cozymeal’s website, in particular chef profiles from scratch. We are regularly adding new chefs to the platform as well as creating new profiles for existing chefs. The individual in this role will be responsible for helping the larger Experiences team by creating content for 60 to 100 chef profiles per month.


  • 2+ years of experience as copy writer or journalist
  • Great writing skills
  • Strong command of Google Drive
  • Creative nature with a deep interest in the food space
  • Food writing experience (preferred)


  • $65 per 2,000 words

(rate varies by experience, chef profiles average 100 words)


Incredible demands but not much pay

Here’s my take: Cozymeal says they want “2+ years” of writing experience, but given the volume of content and specific experience writing about the food space they prefer, they clearly want and need candidates with a lot more than that.

So, I wonder: why are they only paying a miserly 3 cents per word?

I have worked as a magazine editor and editorial director for more than 20 years, and the going pay rate for freelance work hasn’t really budged in that time. It’s generally about a $1 per word.

Now, some get paid more and some get paid less depending on the market and other factors. I paid less $1 per word when I was editorial director for a group of pet titles and the writers were more enthusiasts than journalists, but they still got around 50 cents per word.

Paying “$65 per 2,000 words” in today’s world is ridiculous — and abusive — given how much Cozymeal wants out of freelance writers in return.

Yeah, I know they qualify the pay by saying that “rate varies by experience,” but when you start at 3 cents a word, I doubt that there’s much ANY writer can do to jack that up very much.

Even if they double it, you’re still talking the kind of pay prisoners get for making license plates

This is all part of the lunacy with today’s job listings. More and more of them seem to be about silly titles, unrealistic expectations, and companies wanting incredible work for terribly insulting and ridiculous pay.

As The Atlantic article points out, the job market is telling companies that if they really want to get good talent they have to improve what they’re offering, but many companies don’t want to do that. Instead, they’re choosing to focus on job listings themselves, including silly titles, an overloaded list of requirements, and ridiculously poor pay.

Recruiters and hiring managers know that the difficulty of recruiting and hiring people ebbs and flows, but one thing stays the same: solid job listings and offering reasonable pay ALWAYS help to bring good candidates in.

When will the people who green light today’s silly job listings figure that out?

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