Talent Acquisition Workplace

Memes Tell Lies and So Do Job Ads

I’ve been a little busy lately (for ‘busy’ read ‘writer’s block’). While thinking about what to write next, it hit me out of the blue! Or should I say, Richard Branson told me…

Let me explain. On LinkedIn (a recruiting gem) there are countless memes flying about (for the less hip recruiters out there, a meme tends to be a picture coupled with a profound or hilarious quote, often by somebody of note). Actually the word meme was coined by renowned biologist Richard Dawkins in 1973, so there you go.

Where was I? Oh yes! Richard Branson was telling me all about how if somebody offers me a job I don’t know how to do, just accept the offer anyway and then learn how to do it. There was a meme flying about that stated just that. (Heart surgeons and pilots need not apply). Anyway, it got me thinking. How many of these so called quotes attributed to people on memes were actually uttered by them? We have all seen (skimmed past) these quotes; reading some and ignoring others.

My question; did Churchill really say:

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

I will answer for you. No, he apparently he didn’t. Google it. However, many people think he did, possibly because it’s plastered across a picture of him in a meme and posted online for all to see.

If Richard Branson did indeed utter every last one of the life altering quotes printed across pictures of his face, surely he wouldn’t have had anytime whatsoever to kite surf at Necker Island whilst simultaneously running airlines, trains, media and record companies. What I am trying to get at, I suppose, is that you shouldn’t simply believe everything you read (drum roll)… and that goes for some of the more fantastic sounding job ads out there (see what I did there, seamless)!

Some job ads really are too good to be true. Fancy an example? Take a sales role advertised with the tagline ‘OTE £120k’. A lot of the time, this is written when the sales role on offer involves relentless cold calling, no basic salary and paid on commission-only basis. The £120k cited is usually a figure that was once reached by the owner of the company and thus used as a barometer for all new starters.

I frequently see this kind of ad full of blown out figures used to entice recruiting newbies to various organisations. In actual fact, this exaggerated recruiting bait is undercut by getting no basic salary, under that 50% commission on every placement made. In reality, the successful applicant is then likely to be thrust into a saturated market, trying your hardest to pick up scraps and make one huge placement every month simply to carry on living. Is it any wonder so many new recruiters fall by the wayside?

Now, I cannot in all seriousness write a blog without mentioning Widget Firtling, Sprocket Noodlers or an obscure reference to a place in Lancashire, so here is my slightly tongue-in-cheek, too-good-to-be-true job ad. Watch out for anything even slightly reminiscent of this:

*Senior Sprocket Noodler – Turn Village*

This is the chance of a lifetime to work with an industry-leading sprocket noodling company. There is an unparalleled package on offer with a salary that cannot be matched, even by everything you have ever wanted in your whole life and more. 

Remember the wise words of Aristotle:

“The Internet is many things, truthful sometimes isn’t one.”

Did he even say that? Who knows.

  • Widgets are still superior in Lancashire. 
  • Turn Village is generously called Village; it should really be called Turn Post Office.

By Paul Murphy

Paul Murphy has been working for SER Limited in Engineering Recruitment for over 11 years specialising in the intelligent buildings sector – especially BMS (Building Management Systems). He is also it seems a part time keyboard warrior on behalf of recruiters everywhere.