Jack of Every Trade Imaginable, or, What a Job Ad!

posted in: Eban's Blog, pirate, The New Media Cynic | 3

Is the “Jack of all Trades” thing getting out of hand? It would seem so.

At one time, it was alright, encouraged even, to become an expert at one thing. To focus on something and strive to be the best at it. This was what employers were looking for. Employers also paid well for that expertise.

These days, however, it seems that employers all want the, “Jack of all Trades/Master of Everything,” and they want that employee at a bargain price. Unfortunately, that mythical employee does not really exist. The more an employee spreads out across disciplines the bigger the chance he will master none.

In my field for instance, when looking at the employment ads, it seems the person writing the spot looked up every keyword available and then lists it as a qualification. It is not uncommon to see ads that want a web designer with top notch coding skills that also will act as a front and back end developer plus be an SEO expert on top of his graphic design and marketing background, and pull a whole project together for $19,000 to $24,000 a year in compensation. It is almost laughable.

Another ad I seem to come across is the company or individual that wants an update to their current site which they created back in 1999 using a web based wysiwyg. They want the latest garish flash flourishes, coding skills, database management, and so on, all for about $50. Why should that seem so far fetched? They created the site originally, you are just updating their hard work.

Even better is the ad that designates a prospective employee needs to be able to write code without using design programs, then lists expert Dreamweaver experience as a prerequisite. They don’t even get the disconnect in their own copy.

All that aside, I have come across the king of all employment ads today on Craigslist. This one takes the grand step that leaves all others in the dust. Here is a line from the ad.

“Ideal candidate will have SEO and pharmaceutical/Biotech experience.”

I know for a fact that most people that call themselves SEO experts all start in the pharmaceutical/Biotech field. Right?

It gets better. The ad says that since they already have a website, the SEO candidate does not necessarily need web design experience. Then under responsibilities and duties it drops these lines.

• Researching and resolving HTML code

• Assisting in layout of web pages when required


Then after even more technobabble about responsibilities it drops this one.

• Knowledge and experience with HTML and Excel

This is because we all know just how much writing code and using Excel have in common.

Yes, this is the one job ad to rule them all. Here it is in all of it’s glory.

Hey, employers, if I can impress one thing on you it would be this. There are some overlaps in the web business. You will find designers who can write code. You will have front end developers that can design. You will even find front end developers that can work as full on server side, all programming languages code monkeys. SEO experts? Who knows? But the main truth is that each of these things is a separate discipline. A professional discipline at that. So stop trying to fit all of these job descriptions into a one size fits all job and then attempt to pay peanuts on top of it all.

But hey, this is the world we live in now. Still, I would not look to the web design or SEO biz for someone with mad experience in the Biotech field, Seriously.

Photo by kalavinka

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3 Responses

  1. It’s also the “write a want ad by committee” phenomenon. You know, every mid-level cube-dwelling mid-level manager has to lift his/her leg on the thing and add a qualification: “Oh, yeah, the person should have Excel experience for the football pool…”

  2. Hi Dave.

    You nailed that one. That is the reason the word “meeting” sends chills down my spine.It is worse that the Borg Collective.

  3. Josh Menard

    Don’t be silly. I can do all those things and fight ninjas at the same time.

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