Awfully Honest Job Ad Receives Complaints, Applicants

Maybe you’ve already seen this internship/job posting by Dalkey Irish Press which horrified a lot of people because of how abrasively honest it was about expectations from applicants. The ad included “start[ing] off at a low-level salary,” not having much of a life outside of work “(family obligations, writing, involvement with other organizations, degrees to be finished, holidays to be taken, weddings to attend in Rio, etc.),” and “being unavailable at night or on the weekends” as a reason to be immediately fired.

After seeing the Internet outrage and receiving many angry emails (and applicants!), John O’Brien, the American director of Dalkey Archive Press, wrote a response posted in The Irish Times that basically said: You guys, I was making a joke, but also, it’s sort of true that we want applicants who will put their blood, sweat and tears into the job because we’ll probably hire them if they do?

…the tongue-in-cheek advertisement was a call to apply for the internships (and the two possible positions) if you’re going to be serious and are ready; if not, then let’s not waste each other’s time. Usually this is couched in the sanitised language of ‘must be deadline-oriented, well-organised, ambitious’, etc. But as I think we’ve known for a long time, the age of irony is dead, and I’m a fossil.

It’s all very Devil-Wears-Prada-y I suppose. [via]

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11 Comments / Post A Comment

Blondsak (#2,299)

I enjoyed this post from the comments section in his response article:

‘ His new “intern” now has a Twitter feed @DalkeyIntern. Sample: “My daily three-minute toilet break is only two hours away now! #excited” ‘

julebsorry (#1,572)

In the US, I thought it was the law that interns cannot perform work that could be done by a paid employee…in other words, they can shadow, do some couriering or fetching coffee, and can provide small general assistance to the company employees…but couldn’t actually perform the task of, say, Editor. Now, I know the law is skirted quite often on this, but usually companies know better than to put it right in the job description. Are the laws substantially different in Ireland or the UK?

deepomega (#22)

@julebsorry This is complicated. First, the rules commonly cited are only for unpaid interns. (This is good, because anything we can do to eliminate unpaid internships is a win for society.) The six rules are:

- It must be educational (so no “go get my car washed” or “make me some coffee”)
- It must benefit the intern
- It cannot replace the work of a paid employee
- It cannot immediately benefit the employer (in other words, an unpaid intern’s work legally CANNOT BE USED)
- You cannot guarantee a job afterwards
- And the intern must agree, generally in writing, to not get paid

Obviously, these requirements are violated all the time.

r&rkd (#1,657)

@deepomega
My view is that it can usually be boiled down to this: If the unpaid intern position wasn’t there, who would do the work? If the answer is “no one would,” then it’s probably okay. If the answer is “we’d have to hire someone, or work our current employees harder,” then it’s illegal.

E$ (#1,636)

I thought the weirdest thing about the ad was that it demanded someone who was interested in all aspects of publishing, but wasn’t a writer him- or herself because that would interfere with fulfilling the job duties. That alone probably eliminates a huge amount of your talent pool.

deepomega (#22)

@E$ Think of it like this: If you’re advertising for a position working in the front office of the Yankees, you’re gonna look for someone who is passionate about all aspects of baseball but does not play it. Same thing here.

missvancity (#146)

@E$ There are a lot of us who work in publishing and aren’t interested in writing! Most of the work that happens at a publishing company is really unrelated to writing (other than press releases, etc).

E$ (#1,636)

@deepomega To extend the analogy though, wouldn’t you be willing to give that job to someone who played baseball on the weekends with friends, or played Little League?

Then again, maybe this director just got burned out by candidates who spent too much time writing on the job instead of doing it.

Megano! (#124)

@missvancity Yeah most book editors do not write books (partly cuz editing books makes it hard to turn off your editor brain and actually write something).

emmabee (#2,008)

The weirdest thing about this ad is that it was ever posted right out there in the open for anyone to find out about/apply.

AlliNYC (#1,725)

See, the problem is that O’Brien THINKS it’s satirical, having been in upper management for too long to realize that these exact conditions are the REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE that so many young people (or people re-entering the workforce) have found themselves in. He seems to think he was being humourous – or at least only halfway serious – but no one was taking it as a joking matter. The issue is not with “the current age of sterile online recruitment” but with the ignorance of employers to the dire straits of those of us just trying to catch a break from crushing poverty, student loans, credit card debt, and an uncertain economy.

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