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RANT Functional Illiteracy Is Spreading Across the World

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MTF

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Functional illiteracy consist of reading and writing skills that are inadequate "to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level".

Whenever I'm looking for a new employee, I like to include in my job description a clear instruction to weed out those who don't read job descriptions carefully: "start your application with [SOMETHING VERY SPECIFIC, LIKE "DINOSAURS ARE EXTINCT"]." My reasoning is that if a person can't take the time to read the job description carefully, then they aren't particularly respectful, don't care about the job, and they won't be likely to follow future instructions and communicate well.

To filter even more low-quality candidates, I also add additional simple mandatory requirements, such as "shoot a quick 1-minute video in which you explain why you're a good fit for this position." (today I received an application in which the candidate said she doesn't have a video but is happy to meet in person even though this is a remote job and she lives in freaking Serbia).

You'd be surprised how few people actually read the entire job description and follow the easy instructions. For one of my previous jobs, out of 145 candidates, there were maybe 10-20 who followed all instructions. In my new job I require a password before you can see the application form (this alone reduced the number of applicants by a factor of five). Out of those who managed to find the password, there were just a few who followed the other instructions (like starting their application with a given sentence).

Today I received an email from a guy who said he can't apply because he doesn't know the password. Yet the password is given right in the job description! He took the time to email me but he didn't take the time to read the job description.

This also happened when I personally selected some possible good candidates and invited them to apply. Most don't take the time to read the job description.

I also had similar issues when looking for freelance writers and EDITORS. I'm looking for a person whose work is to read CAREFULLY and they show right off the bat that they haven't read the job post. Then they complain they can't get a job.

I also regularly deal with functional illiterates in my self-publishing business, when I interact with my readers (I know, it's so ironic). I give clear 3-step instructions how to receive a free copy of a book or something like that. No matter how easy I make the process, there are always some people who fail to follow the instructions or ask for something that I specifically emphasized is NOT available. Then there are people who simply ignore my requests (like "apply only if you have a valid Amazon account and actively post reviews") and then act surprised that a REVIEW copy was actually something I offer to REVIEWERS.

Another aspect of this is people who are willfully ignorant. Instead of taking the time to do proper research and find the answers, they waste other people's time or make stupid mistakes just because they were too lazy to read and educate themselves. I have a friend who's actually proud that he's not reading books, as if it was something to be proud of.

This article perfectly explains why it's so important to read constantly, as much as you can (of course, this isn't about reading for the sake of reading without ever taking action; it's about reading to advance in life):

General James Mattis is part of a long line of tradition of Stoic warriors. Just as Frederick the Great carried the Stoics in his saddlebags as he led his troops, or Cato proved his Stoicism by how he led his own troops in Rome’s Civil War, Mattis has long been known for taking Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations with him on campaign.

“Reading is an honor and a gift,” he explains, “from a warrior or a historian who—a decade or a thousand decades ago—set aside time to write.” Yet many people spurn this gift and still consider themselves educated. “If you haven’t read hundreds of books,” Mattis says, “you’re functionally illiterate.” Channeling Marcus Aurelius, Mattis notes that human beings have been fighting and dying and struggling and doing the same things for eons. To not avail yourself of that knowledge is profoundly arrogant and stupid. To fill up body bags of young soldiers while a commander learns by experience? It’s worse than arrogant. It’s unethical, even murderous.

Well, the same is true for much less lethal professions. How dare you waste your investor’s money by not reading and learning from the mistakes of other entrepreneurs? How dare you so take your marriage or your children for granted that you think you can afford to figure this out by doing the wrong things first? What is the upside of trying to make it in the NFL all on your own, and not looking for shortcuts and lessons from seasoned pros and students of the game who have published books? There is no real job training for an emperor or the advisor to the emperor, but you can imagine both Marcus Aurelius and Seneca read heavily from and about their predecessors. The stakes were too high for them not to.

In Mattis’ view, no Marine, and no leader is excused from studying. Consider yourself assigned to this as well. It’s wonderful that you’re reading this email, but more is demanded of you. Drink deeply from history, from philosophy, from the books of journalists and the memoirs of geniuses. Study the cautionary tales and the screw ups, read about failures and successes. Read constantly—read as a practice.

Because if you don’t, it’s a dereliction of duty.

source: If You Don’t Read, You’re Functionally Illiterate

What are your experiences with functional illiteracy? Do you think the problem is getting more widespread in today's constantly distracted world?
 

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Putt

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Recruitment is definitely where this is most visible, imo. It's (almost excusable) if you were recruiting for a low-cost role on somewhere like UpWork. For those guys, it's very much a numbers game.

I've recruited for roles in the office and received some of the most crazy responses. People who fail to read about any of the requirements of the job. People who walk into an interview and don't even know what our services are. People who submit resumes with sections in red that say 'ADD YOUR OWN WORK EXPERIENCE HERE'.

It's a joke. They waste my time, their time, and perpetuate this false economy of utter rubbish.

Is society to blame? The education system? Low labor prices? I have absolutely no idea but if you can't manage to actually CHANGE the resume template before submitting it, then you're not becoming my new Operations Manager.
 

Walter Hay

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What are your experiences with functional illiteracy? Do you think the problem is getting more widespread in today's constantly distracted world?
This subject is dear to my heart. I see not only the laziness that you encounter, but an abject failure on the part of both sides of the education system.

Teachers are failing to teach the English language correctly and students are failing to bother learning what little is put before them.

Communication skills are descending towards the ancient method of grunting, because understanding of how to construct a sentence is sorely lacking, combined with a very poor knowledge of vocabulary.

In news reporting every day I hear farcical statements resulting from ignorance of the rule of syntax.

Perhaps I should have started my own Rant thread.

Walter
 

MJ DeMarco

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start your application with [SOMETHING VERY SPECIFIC, LIKE "DINOSAURS ARE EXTINCT"]."

Love me some trip wires!

Whenever I hire a freelancer I always do this, weeds out 3/4 of the applications.
 

mon_fi

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Whenever I'm looking for a new employee, I like to include in my job description a clear instruction to weed out those who don't read job descriptions carefully: "start your application with [SOMETHING VERY SPECIFIC, LIKE "DINOSAURS ARE EXTINCT"]." My reasoning is that if a person can't take the time to read the job description carefully, then they aren't particularly respectful, don't care about the job, and they won't be likely to follow future instructions and communicate well.

To filter even more low-quality candidates, I also add additional simple mandatory requirements, such as "shoot a quick 1-minute video in which you explain why you're a good fit for this position." (today I received an application in which the candidate said she doesn't have a video but is happy to meet in person even though this is a remote job and she lives in freaking Serbia).

You'd be surprised how few people actually read the entire job description and follow the easy instructions. For one of my previous jobs, out of 145 candidates, there were maybe 10-20 who followed all instructions. In my new job I require a password before you can see the application form (this alone reduced the number of applicants by a factor of five). Out of those who managed to find the password, there were just a few who followed the other instructions (like starting their application with a given sentence).

Today I received an email from a guy who said he can't apply because he doesn't know the password. Yet the password is given right in the job description! He took the time to email me but he didn't take the time to read the job description.

This also happened when I personally selected some possible good candidates and invited them to apply. Most don't take the time to read the job description.

I also had similar issues when looking for freelance writers and EDITORS. I'm looking for a person whose work is to read CAREFULLY and they show right off the bat that they haven't read the job post. Then they complain they can't get a job.

I also regularly deal with functional illiterates in my self-publishing business, when I interact with my readers (I know, it's so ironic). I give clear 3-step instructions how to receive a free copy of a book or something like that. No matter how easy I make the process, there are always some people who fail to follow the instructions or ask for something that I specifically emphasized is NOT available. Then there are people who simply ignore my requests (like "apply only if you have a valid Amazon account and actively post reviews") and then act surprised that a REVIEW copy was actually something I offer to REVIEWERS.

Another aspect of this is people who are willfully ignorant. Instead of taking the time to do proper research and find the answers, they waste other people's time or make stupid mistakes just because they were too lazy to read and educate themselves. I have a friend who's actually proud that he's not reading books, as if it was something to be proud of.

This article perfectly explains why it's so important to read constantly, as much as you can (of course, this isn't about reading for the sake of reading without ever taking action; it's about reading to advance in life):



source: If You Don’t Read, You’re Functionally Illiterate

What are your experiences with functional illiteracy? Do you think the problem is getting more widespread in today's constantly distracted world?

Last week i put up an ad for my room because i'm leaving it. I'd say about 6/10 asked me questions whose answers was in the ad. The TITLE of the ad was "room in a flat share appartment", i got people asking when they could some visit "the studio"..... Now to be fair, i have applied to 15 or so jobs, which is not even a lot, and i don't want to waste time reading all the job descriptions. I just read what i will supposed to be doing and the type of candidate they seek so as to personnalize my motivational letter and that's it. So i understand both side of the story, even though i think there is a minimum of reading to do.
 

Lex DeVille

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Last week i put up an ad for my room because i'm leaving it. I'd say about 6/10 asked me questions whose answers was in the ad. The TITLE of the ad was "room in a flat share appartment", i got people asking when they could some visit "the studio"..... Now to be fair, i have applied to 15 or so jobs, which is not even a lot, and i don't want to waste time reading all the job descriptions. I just read what i will supposed to be doing and the type of candidate they seek so as to personnalize my motivational letter and that's it. So i understand both side of the story, even though i think there is a minimum of reading to do.

Have you got a job yet?
 

csalvato

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Whenever I'm looking for a new employee, I like to include in my job description a clear instruction to weed out those who don't read job descriptions carefully: "start your application with [SOMETHING VERY SPECIFIC, LIKE "DINOSAURS ARE EXTINCT"]." My reasoning is that if a person can't take the time to read the job description carefully, then they aren't particularly respectful, don't care about the job, and they won't be likely to follow future instructions and communicate well.

To filter even more low-quality candidates, I also add additional simple mandatory requirements, such as "shoot a quick 1-minute video in which you explain why you're a good fit for this position." (today I received an application in which the candidate said she doesn't have a video but is happy to meet in person even though this is a remote job and she lives in freaking Serbia).

You'd be surprised how few people actually read the entire job description and follow the easy instructions. For one of my previous jobs, out of 145 candidates, there were maybe 10-20 who followed all instructions. In my new job I require a password before you can see the application form (this alone reduced the number of applicants by a factor of five). Out of those who managed to find the password, there were just a few who followed the other instructions (like starting their application with a given sentence).

Today I received an email from a guy who said he can't apply because he doesn't know the password. Yet the password is given right in the job description! He took the time to email me but he didn't take the time to read the job description.

This also happened when I personally selected some possible good candidates and invited them to apply. Most don't take the time to read the job description.

I also had similar issues when looking for freelance writers and EDITORS. I'm looking for a person whose work is to read CAREFULLY and they show right off the bat that they haven't read the job post. Then they complain they can't get a job.

I also regularly deal with functional illiterates in my self-publishing business, when I interact with my readers (I know, it's so ironic). I give clear 3-step instructions how to receive a free copy of a book or something like that. No matter how easy I make the process, there are always some people who fail to follow the instructions or ask for something that I specifically emphasized is NOT available. Then there are people who simply ignore my requests (like "apply only if you have a valid Amazon account and actively post reviews") and then act surprised that a REVIEW copy was actually something I offer to REVIEWERS.

Another aspect of this is people who are willfully ignorant. Instead of taking the time to do proper research and find the answers, they waste other people's time or make stupid mistakes just because they were too lazy to read and educate themselves. I have a friend who's actually proud that he's not reading books, as if it was something to be proud of.

This article perfectly explains why it's so important to read constantly, as much as you can (of course, this isn't about reading for the sake of reading without ever taking action; it's about reading to advance in life):



source: If You Don’t Read, You’re Functionally Illiterate

What are your experiences with functional illiteracy? Do you think the problem is getting more widespread in today's constantly distracted world?

Have you thought about this from the applicant's perspective?

They are going through hundreds (thousands) of job listings, having to quickly discern if they qualify for this job, should apply for it, then figure out how to apply for it.

Each application is cognitively taxing, and they literally need to do hundreds of them.

IMO if you make your job posting unclear and full of tedious instructions like "INCLUDE DINOSAURS ARE EXTINCT AT THE TOP", your expectations are misaligned with reality.

On the surface level, this seems to be a good practice. You only want people who are going to be people who want to work, and that can follow your instructions with a high level of attention to detail.

Going deeper, and thinking about their side, you are actually selecting for things you don't want:

1. People who are not yet fatigued by the job hunting process and are still reading every single word of every single job to which they apply.
2. People who are so detail oriented they can't reasonably get good results because they are combing through every word in your job description.

If everyone else seems to be the problem: bad news. You're the problem. Sorry to be blunt on this.

Your real challenge is not finding people who are going to perform your tedious and mundane tasks to the letter to prove they are worthy. Instead your challenge is to find people who:

1. Are inspired by you and your business. Thus, they will be inspirational. And you must be as well.
2. Pull purpose and meaning from their work. Thus, you need to provide them a mission for them to focus on.
3. They need to be results oriented, not "directions" or "task" oriented. That means you need to give them the latitude to take efficient actions, not precise ones.

More actionably, I believe there are at least 3 possible areas where you can improve, based on the little I know:

1. Your job description probably sucks. If it is filled with secret tasks and hidden clues, it's probably not doing what it should be - selling ambitious people on joining the team and accomplishing the company mission.
2. Your pre-screening techniques need an overhaul. Make the first application very easy and standard – resume + cover letter. From a quick scan, you can throw away 90% of cover letters within 5 sec of analyzing them (e.g. no cover letter, poorly worded cover letter, copy/pasted cover letter).
3. The first call is where people give the biggest clues on the value they can provide to the company. Ask them questions like "Educate me on something you're passionate about in 1 minute", not questions like "how many websites have you made". You're looking for passion, ambition and clarity, not mindlessness like copy/pasting a tagline at the top of their cover letter.

Just my 2¢. Take it or leave it. But I think it will help you.
 
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MTF

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I've recruited for roles in the office and received some of the most crazy responses. People who fail to read about any of the requirements of the job. People who walk into an interview and don't even know what our services are. People who submit resumes with sections in red that say 'ADD YOUR OWN WORK EXPERIENCE HERE'.

LOL. I had a guy apply for a writing job and he was a developer and used a template for a developer job.

This subject is dear to my heart. I see not only the laziness that you encounter, but an abject failure on the part of both sides of the education system.

The worst part is that even with so much education available for free, few people actually use it.

Whenever I hire a freelancer I always do this, weeds out 3/4 of the applications.

And usually it helps get the top players, too.

Now to be fair, i have applied to 15 or so jobs, which is not even a lot, and i don't want to waste time reading all the job descriptions. I just read what i will supposed to be doing and the type of candidate they seek so as to personnalize my motivational letter and that's it. So i understand both side of the story, even though i think there is a minimum of reading to do.

Yeah so here's the thing as @Lex DeVille asked - any responses? What if you applied to just a few jobs but read them carefully and crafted an awesome proposal?

I see it as a good thing. It helps us separate the wheat from the chaff much easier.

100%.

They are going through hundreds (thousands) of job listings, having to quickly discern if they qualify for this job, should apply for it, then figure out how to apply for it.

My thinking is that I don't want to hire people who go through hundreds or thousands of job listings. I want people who are interested in the specific role at my company or any other similar jobs that are simply a good fit for them (not whatever they can find).

This isn't a gig for $5. I'm very serious about my responsibility as a potential employer and expect the same from any potential candidates.

If everyone else seems to be the problem: bad news. You're the problem. Sorry to be blunt on this.

Not everyone else is a problem. The first person I hired is a rockstar. I'm currently interviewing some new people and have possibly found another gem. Both followed the directions to a T.

Pretty much all the freelancers I work with regularly are rockstars, too. I'm very happy to pay them because they're top performers who deserve it. But first they proved their value by taking the time to apply the right way. For me, this starts with proper communication, which means reading the job description, asking yourself if you're a good fit, and only then applying.

2. Your pre-screening techniques need an overhaul. Make the first application very easy and standard – resume + cover letter. From a quick scan, you can throw away 90% of cover letters within 5 sec of analyzing them (e.g. no cover letter, poorly worded cover letter, copy/pasted cover letter).

I don't find much value in resumes or cover letters. I find job-specific questions, or ideally, portfolios, a much better way to filter the applicants. Until now (I've been hiring freelancers for several years, now I'm looking for full-time employees), I don't think I've ever looked at even one resume.

I guess we can agree to disagree on this as I definitely don't think that copy/pasting a tagline at the top of their cover letter is "mindlessness." It just helps discern serious candidates from people mass applying for every job they can find. For me, it's simply good manners and good communication skills.
 

SEOguy

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They are going through hundreds (thousands) of job listings
That's why they don't get any of them...
 

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csalvato

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That's why they don't get any of them...



The advice of singling out 5-10 companies you want to apply to and being selective is outdated.
Even if people try that at the beginning of their search, they soon realize job applications are a numbers game, just like marketing.

If you want to attract those candidates, it’s on you, the employer, to make your job posting as attractive as possible so you get those people.

If I saw someone asking me to put “DINOSAURS ARE EXTINCT” at the top of a job posting I would laugh in my head and move on.

Not hating on you @MTF ... I used to do stuff like this too until I learned better ways.
 
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davehig

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Maybe it's just my experience in my particular industry of web development, but the vast majority of job listings are complete garbage and are only worth skimming to get a general idea of what the job might involve.

Job ads are usually form templates filled out by recruiters for a job that they themselves don't actually understand, using technologies that they've never heard of. There is a seemingly random list of requirements that no living human can hope to meet, most of which are only connected to the actual job in some abstract sense. But each requirement will have an arbitrarily inflated experience requirement tacked on to it because the recruiter believes that this will automatically yield a higher quality pool of candidates for no extra work on their part.

Personally if I have to even so much as fill in a form in order to apply to a job I'm probably not going to bother. An email with a paragraph-long cover letter and my CV is all anyone is getting. My last job search consisted of me applying for exactly one job and getting it. But many people send applications expecting no response and so they get into the mindset that it's a numbers game... and it really is.

You can come up with special tricks for recruiting people, but I think that playing games and tricks with the job advert itself will just screen people out on a mostly arbitrary basis. It would be better to have some kind of short homework assignment or reading exercise to check the skills or mindset that you're looking for as part of the selection process.

In regards to the original question, I don't think that there's a plague of functional illiteracy. But few people have the time or patience to play silly games, or pour their heart and soul into a job application that 9 times out of 10 will be met with an automated rejection email.
 

csalvato

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I guess we can agree to disagree on this as I definitely don't think that copy/pasting a tagline at the top of their cover letter is "mindlessness." It just helps discern serious candidates from people mass applying for every job they can find. For me, it's simply good manners and good communication skills.

Your original post was on functional illiteracy, which is basically a complaint that most people don't read things fully.

At the same time, wouldn't you agree that, in order to be effective, top performers can't possibly read all things fully...?

Doing that gets top performers bogged down into the weeds where they can't be productive; it's focusing on the minutiae when the magic is in producing massive results, quickly, with little context.

For example, do you read every article that interests you? Or sometimes, do you have to just read the headlines and bullet points and put off looking deeper if it's really important later on?

Is it not a skill to get the bulk of the information and put together a fantastic application very quickly without reading every detail?

You can't possibly be selecting for that, because you're selecting for people who read word for word.

Something that I think we both agree on is that it's not necessary to read every word to be successful in a role. But that's what you're selecting for.

It sounds like you're happy with your hiring process (even though you wrote hundreds of words complaining about it...?), but if you wanted to explore alternatives, here's what I recommend as a hiring funnel:

1. Mission Driven Job Application asking for resume + cover letter + a quick question they can answer in 5 minutes that isn't a mindless task (e.g. explain why this job posting was interesting to you)

2. Quickly scan resumes and cover letters to eliminate total mismatches, such as poorly written and formatted documents. (I can do about >100 in 10 minutes, personally)

3. Go back and do a deeper dive on the 10-20 resumes which are actually interesting. This takes maybe 1 minute per review.

4. Send an email with 4 more questions that they can respond to in email. These are more smoke tests that you can review quickly, in less than 2 minutes per reply, to see that they put thought into it and have clear communication.

5. By this time, you're in the realm <2% of candidates that applied to your posting. Get on the phone with them and ask them questions to filter for ambition and base-level technical skill set.

6. Have the rest of your team do a more thorough technical and values assessment, if necessary.

In my experience this takes less time than when I was rifling through hundreds of job applications from uninspired people who barely fit the job description.

We often go from job posting to hiring a high caliber, salaried employee with 6-figures within weeks (not some $5 or even $25/hour freelancer).

Feel free to leave that on the table. I'm just trying to help because I've also felt compelled to rant about people not reading things, and being shitty candidates, until I realized what I could do to change it.
 

davehig

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99% of people don't bother. And that's the point.
You could accomplish the same thing by just randomly throwing away 99% of the applications you receive without looking at them. I don't think that making applicants jump through arbitrary hoops results in higher quality candidates.
 

magicmike

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Whenever I'm looking for a new employee, I like to include in my job description a clear instruction to weed out those who don't read job descriptions carefully: "start your application with [SOMETHING VERY SPECIFIC, LIKE "DINOSAURS ARE EXTINCT"]." My reasoning is that if a person can't take the time to read the job description carefully, then they aren't particularly respectful, don't care about the job, and they won't be likely to follow future instructions and communicate well.

To filter even more low-quality candidates, I also add additional simple mandatory requirements, such as "shoot a quick 1-minute video in which you explain why you're a good fit for this position." (today I received an application in which the candidate said she doesn't have a video but is happy to meet in person even though this is a remote job and she lives in freaking Serbia).

You'd be surprised how few people actually read the entire job description and follow the easy instructions. For one of my previous jobs, out of 145 candidates, there were maybe 10-20 who followed all instructions. In my new job I require a password before you can see the application form (this alone reduced the number of applicants by a factor of five). Out of those who managed to find the password, there were just a few who followed the other instructions (like starting their application with a given sentence).

Today I received an email from a guy who said he can't apply because he doesn't know the password. Yet the password is given right in the job description! He took the time to email me but he didn't take the time to read the job description.

This also happened when I personally selected some possible good candidates and invited them to apply. Most don't take the time to read the job description.

I also had similar issues when looking for freelance writers and EDITORS. I'm looking for a person whose work is to read CAREFULLY and they show right off the bat that they haven't read the job post. Then they complain they can't get a job.

I also regularly deal with functional illiterates in my self-publishing business, when I interact with my readers (I know, it's so ironic). I give clear 3-step instructions how to receive a free copy of a book or something like that. No matter how easy I make the process, there are always some people who fail to follow the instructions or ask for something that I specifically emphasized is NOT available. Then there are people who simply ignore my requests (like "apply only if you have a valid Amazon account and actively post reviews") and then act surprised that a REVIEW copy was actually something I offer to REVIEWERS.

Another aspect of this is people who are willfully ignorant. Instead of taking the time to do proper research and find the answers, they waste other people's time or make stupid mistakes just because they were too lazy to read and educate themselves. I have a friend who's actually proud that he's not reading books, as if it was something to be proud of.

This article perfectly explains why it's so important to read constantly, as much as you can (of course, this isn't about reading for the sake of reading without ever taking action; it's about reading to advance in life):



source: If You Don’t Read, You’re Functionally Illiterate

What are your experiences with functional illiteracy? Do you think the problem is getting more widespread in today's constantly distracted world?

I would argue that this is less a problem of people being more illiterate and more a function of information overload.

I know personally, in my life, I have so much stuff I need to read and so little time. I find myself skimming almost everything I read nowadays, because if I didn't I would read through things unnecessarily slowly.

If I miss a few key points here or there so be it.
 
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StarVoyager

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Not sure exactly how I wound up in this thread, but I have to say that @MTF and @csalvato should team up and create a service that handles all the points you've both made. You'd make a killing weeding out and finding highly targeted people that want to be valued for their skills and also don't want to waste your time or theirs when trying to find jobs or when you need an employee.
 

SEOguy

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Not sure exactly how I wound up in this thread, but I have to say that @MTF and @csalvato should team up and create a service that handles all the points you've both made. You'd make a killing weeding out and finding highly targeted people that want to be valued for their skills and also don't want to waste your time or theirs when trying to find jobs or when you need an employee.
Pretty sure headhunters do this, otherwise there's GetWanted.com
 

eliquid

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I'll throw some thoughts into the ring.

Years ago I did some experimenting with UpWork and LinkedIn job posts. I had multiple profiles and did different things on each applying to the same gigs from all my profiles to see what would work, what would not.

Want to know what I found?

As an applicant, I developed very deep hate for most recruiters and hiring managers and gig postings.

1. Projects would have a sense of urgency for hiring, but I would wait weeks/months before I heard even a peep back. Most of these I had even forgotten about by the time they finally reached back out.

2. Many would ask for sample projects, tasks, and trial work as part of the process. Many of these I would never hear back on although I spent time on them. At least 1 I actually found they took all my work, implemented the changes to the T, and never wrote me back. When I inquired about them using my work and not even thanking me, they finally reached back out to me and said they hired someone else instead. Someone else? Really? All the changes in their log were my recommendations only, so whoever "they hired" didn't add or do anything.

3. I would send info over on LinkedIn that was requested. No follow up from the hiring manager. When I followed up they would say they never got the info and was waiting for me to still send it to them. I would have to send screenshots of me scrolling up in the chat to show them I already submitted the details which wasted weeks of time.

4. I would go the extra mile and make personalized videos and extra recommendations. Those just about got me nowhere and took a lot of time to make, customize, and send off only to hear nothing back.

5. Job and gig descriptions would ask the moon and back. They would say they were looking for someone with a Master's degree, 10 years experience, tri-lingual, rockstar marketer, team leader, willing to work weekends for free, and ability to run the company by yourself, program complex software, welding, nuclear fusion, and hostage negotiation skills. While not getting hired, I would check up on the company months later to see the new hire. It would be someone still in college whose last job was in sales and had none of those requirements. If I did get a response back, I would find out the company had no benefits and the salary range was half what it should be.

6. Companies that say they are the best and only hire the best, but they only want candidates for jobs that live within their city and will take $40k for a job that should be $85k. What are the chances the "best" person that does this lives in the same city as you? Or that they work for $40k as "the best" at what they do? Such lies.. they are not the best because the best doesn't work for them, they are only willing to hire whoever will take $40k and is within a 50 miles radius of their office and willing to drive in every day.

Those are the tip of the iceberg of what I encountered.

So knowing that even when you stand out and jump all those hoops, you still encountered #1-#6 above, made me for sure not want to do all those things like "passwords" and "include this phrase in the subject line".

Been there and done that, and still went through all the shit.

Want to know what's funny?

I don't do any of that anymore, haven't for a long time. Even though I am not looking and haven't for the past few years, I decided to change direction and let people find me instead. I don't reach out or apply for anything now.

Today, I do nothing and I have people knocking down my door, email, and cell phone wanting to talk to me. They find me now on their time and I am the one dictating the demands.

Kinda odd how that happens.

If you are looking for the best to hire for a gig, why do you think they want to jump through your hoops to work for you?

That might work for mediocre and average workers, but I don't want to work with those people on my projects.

I seek out the best writers because I want the best content because I'm looking to push the best work possible. Those people have been through what I have been through and aren't going to waste their time with hoops.

Again, it prob. works for finding the best of the average people ( I've been in your shoes before and did this too myself before ), but it's not going to fly with the top talent.
 

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MTF

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@eliquid, seems like you had back luck.

Maybe my post sounds like I require a lot, but what I require takes very little time. Read my job post (a few hundred words) to make sure you can be a good fit (this saves yours and my time). This is the absolute basics. I can't understand how a person can apply to a job they don't even know is for them.

Then confirm that you've read it (the first sentence of your application; it might be silly but it's the easiest way to make sure I'm dealing with a literate person), and answer a quick question specific to the job (it's just a few sentences). Now I'm also requiring a 1-2-minute video but that's specifically for a sales position; I don't require it for other jobs.

When I select the best candidates, I give them a sample PAID job (and I don't use it anywhere, it's just a test job to help me figure out if they're good). This way I show that I respect their time and that I'm serious about possibly hiring them.

I understand that not every employer is like that, though. Thanks for sharing your experience as now I can see it from a different perspective and improve my job posts to show people that I'm not "that guy."
 

csalvato

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@eliquid, seems like you had back luck.

Maybe my post sounds like I require a lot, but what I require takes very little time. Read my job post (a few hundred words) to make sure you can be a good fit (this saves yours and my time). This is the absolute basics. I can't understand how a person can apply to a job they don't even know is for them.

Then confirm that you've read it (the first sentence of your application; it might be silly but it's the easiest way to make sure I'm dealing with a literate person), and answer a quick question specific to the job (it's just a few sentences). Now I'm also requiring a 1-2-minute video but that's specifically for a sales position; I don't require it for other jobs.

When I select the best candidates, I give them a sample PAID job (and I don't use it anywhere, it's just a test job to help me figure out if they're good). This way I show that I respect their time and that I'm serious about possibly hiring them.

I understand that not every employer is like that, though. Thanks for sharing your experience as now I can see it from a different perspective and improve my job posts to show people that I'm not "that guy."

I think you’re missing the point.

This isn’t about you. It’s about your candidates and our current society at large.

Your original complaint was that they weren’t reading everything and are incapable of the work.

Your proof of this is that they weren’t consistently performing the secret tasks you put in the job posting (whether they are at the top, middle, end, whatever).

But your conclusion is incorrect.

1. Yes, they aren’t reading everything. This is actually desirable, not a disqualifier as you’ve been using it.

2. Not doing your meaningless tasks doesn’t mean they would suck in the job. They either missed it because they are efficient or they are scoffing at it (as both @eliquid and myself do when we see this nonsense) and move on. I’d consider both of us top performers.

Without seeing your job posting’s copy, if I had to guess, you look like a micromanager, a person with unmeetable expectations or hiring amateur at the outset.

I know that’s what I think when I see job postings that have meaningless tasks, or when I’m asked to make a video for the employer which costs me a ton of time and only serves them and their ego, and often ones totally ignored.

So all the other stuff you do, such as a paid trial, while terrific, is not something candidates can see about you. All they see is that this is a company that doesn’t respect them or their time.

In other words, it appears that you use your job posting to weed people out. IMO that’s far too soon in the process.

The job posting is intended to win their heart to your cause, to get them to want to work for you, no matter the cost. It’s a sales opponent for you, your brand and your company.

Just like in marketing, it’s where you get people to raise their hands, not commit to marriage.

The dating equivalent to what you’re doing in your job posting is to go into a bar, approach a beautiful man/woman and say to them: “write your name backwards at the top of this napkin, and if you do that without question, maybe I’ll take you on a date.”

Then, when they don’t do that, saying to yourself, “yeah but if they just jumped through my meaningless hoop, I would have been a terrific mate, and provided great emotional support. I would have even bought them a Mercedes. Their loss”
 

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@csalvato, thanks for your feedback. I might try it with my next job post and we'll see how it goes. My approach does work for freelancers as I've made very few bad hiring decisions over the last six years but maybe I need to improve it for other types of jobs.

The truth is that I designed all these tripwires because I'm dead tired of horrible stupid applications. I get them all the time, in addition to other stupid emails. I just can't deal with this stuff anymore. Adding these requirements helps me filter at least some of the idiots.

This is a cover letter of a person who applied for my job today:

I'm a student who love cooking singing and dancing

And am a girl of my word

I do change in four modes matured, child-like, happy, angry

I'm a beautiful soul

I'm a girl who learns from her mistakes


When you get stuff like this you really lose patience with people. But if you believe that I might be scaring off good candidates then I guess I need to learn how to deal with stuff like that.
 

csalvato

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@csalvato, thanks for your feedback. I might try it with my next job post and we'll see how it goes. My approach does work for freelancers as I've made very few bad hiring decisions over the last six years but maybe I need to improve it for other types of jobs.

The truth is that I designed all these tripwires because I'm dead tired of horrible stupid applications. I get them all the time, in addition to other stupid emails. I just can't deal with this stuff anymore. Adding these requirements helps me filter at least some of the idiots.

This is a cover letter of a person who applied for my job today:

I'm a student who love cooking singing and dancing

And am a girl of my word

I do change in four modes matured, child-like, happy, angry

I'm a beautiful soul

I'm a girl who learns from her mistakes


When you get stuff like this you really lose patience with people. But if you believe that I might be scaring off good candidates then I guess I need to learn how to deal with stuff like that.

Yes and I apologize for pushing my point too hard. Character flaw. I actually went to go edit my post to say that I agree to disagree.

Even if you change the approach, you will still get cover letters like that.

My wager isn’t that it goes away, but that you see a dramatic increase in the signal to noise ratio and people like @eliquid wont write you off before they even try.

Thanks for talking through it and being a great all around dude.
 

eliquid

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@MTF and @csalvato ,

I've been on both sides.

I actually use to do these same tripwires and hoops. So I totally get it and understand.

In the same breath there were times in the past I needed to take gigs and work and had to go through these hoops.

Some jobs it's totally ok to hire like this. There are many people that just do not read or listen or follow directions.

Then there are some people that have been burned and jumped through hoops and got nowhere and largely gave up on doing these chores, but they are the best in the business.

It just depends on if you are ok on missing out on some people, to land others. For some jobs, that might be OK.. for others it may not be.

I couldn't imagine Micheal Jordan going through hoops to sign up for another basketball team if you needed an all-star rockstar. However, maybe if you just needed a good water boy, that would be OK for that job.

I think it depends on what you are comfortable with and what you need at the time you need it. Just be mindful though of the drawbacks presented here.
 

ApparentHorizon

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Here's my 2¢ from both sides:

1. As an ambitious freelancer/employee:

I'm not a natural leader, unless I have to be. But what I will do is come in as more of a partner, with the understanding and respect that this is your vision. I want to do the task you set at hand and at the same time, you listen to my feedback and have a discussion. If I'm wrong, tell me, and why. You can only gain, by teaching me to do it right for the future.

Telling me to change X or Y because you said so, is a huge turnoff, and I consider it disrespectful. At that point I lose all motivation and will just do the work. (Managers and 2nd in command are the most guilty of this, because they're trying to gain brownie points with their superiors.)

It's how teachers crush spirits in schools, then it's repeated throughout the workforce.

The day I stopped "jumping through hoops" was the day my life greatly improved. Often these hoops lead to some "project manager" or "HR" dept who had no idea what the job was about.

(You may have good intentions, but consider it from their perspective. Applicants get $h*t on, on the regular, as your OP implies.)

So I started applying to jobs where the description oozed passion. Often this lead to talking directly to the "leader."

2. As an employer:

This is mostly for programming, but my process is simple: Interview Questions to Hire for Character

The steps outlined above serve as the tripwires, without the "games."
 

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