Job Applications Insult My Intelligence

application time

(Photo credit: Mouse)

People like to ask me what’s cooking with my job search.  Unfortunately, I’m the one who’s cooking.  It’s to be expected in this economy.

And even more so because I have a Ph.D.

We all know that you have to arouse an employer’s hunger when you’re applying for jobs.  Employers seek specific entrees and they often spell out the required and preferred ingredients.

However, things change a little when your education is Piled Higher and Deeper because no one knows what to do with your ingredients.  When I apply for jobs, I present a recipe for myself that should taste good to employers.  Employers, in turn, have envisioned their own recipe for a Ph.D. like me.

Therefore, I offer two dueling recipes to you today: theirs (in red) and the one I wish I could submit to employers in its entirety (in blue).


An extra decade of sitting passively in class.  (This makes the entree stale.)

One year of coursework beyond a Master’s and ten sticks of buttery independent work

Barely one speck of discernable skills

Three heaping tablespoons each of long term planning, research, writing, foreign language, oral communication, teaching, intercultural competence, technology, instructional design, etc.

Fifteen tons of unbearable intellectual snobbery

Five gallons of experience keeping my “snobby” opinions to myself (when I’m not blogging)

Zero personality. None whatsoever.

Zero personality. None whatsoever.

100,000 British Pounds of excessive salary expectations because of the high wages professors make in comparison

Two British Pounds of recognition that many college teachers need food stamps to survive  (Sprinkle with one iota of understanding that a British Pound is not a unit of measurement plus a hint of irony.)

Immeasurable dedication to the major he completed the degree in… because no one finishes the degree otherwise

Too many years of work invested to quit before finishing the degree… even though I had become weary of the whole thing.  Mix that with 250 kilograms of endurance (one kilogram for each page of the dissertation)

27 pints of writing incompetence because he didn’t major in English

A sprinkle of wishes that people knew you don’t have to complete a particular college major to develop the skills it certifies.  For example, one can improve one’s writing by completing a 250-page dissertation and composing written feedback to students, plus emails and classroom materials, etc.

8 liters of slow-paced anti-deadline serum

A half dozen baking sheets of homework, every night, corrected and returned to students plus a dose of rapidly graded tests and essays.  And several lesson plans each week.

Less than a pinch of interest in trying anything new

Solid chocolate block of disgust for the old rinsed under a steady stream of warm eagerness for the new

Teaspoon of concentrated Love Of Old extracted from his insatiable desire to return to the ivory tower

Nothing sour or spicy (because speaking ill of former employers kills your job application)

20,000 packages of bloviating yeast because these educated folk explain everything on and on and on and on and on

20,000 packages of bloviating yeast because people don’t automatically understand how a Ph.D. qualifies me for a job.  Applications don’t rise unless you can connect your qualifications to the position.  If I had a BA in the preferred major, I wouldn’t have to explain and I would probably lack the writing skills to do so.

One million dollars worth of sterling credentials that should have allowed him to find a job anywhere he wanted, plus three cups of laziness

A dozen daily complaints that everyone assumes a Ph.D. makes it easier to get hired… and then they refuse to hire me because of it.  (Sear these on a grill first.)

Cooking Directions:

Place immediately in circular file for all eternity!

Insert behind desk and savor the aroma!

Um… no, that’s not what I meant by “savor the aroma.”  I meant that I would have a positive impact on the people around me.  Yeah, that’s it.

28 thoughts on “Job Applications Insult My Intelligence

  1. I found this witty and insightful.
    Unfortunately, I, also am presently unemployed with tons and tons of experience. I am looking, but am getting tired and discouraged. Good luck with your job hunt. 😊

    • Best of luck to you as well.

      I also have to admit that your comment scares me. We have a problem if the medical industry claims there’s a nurse shortage but an experienced nurse can’t get hired.

      • I started to answer and my IPhone would not cooperate. What I wanted to say is that doctors’ offices and/or hospitals prefer now to hire Medical Assistants (they are cheaper) or RNs ((they have higher degrees) rather than LPNs in the area I live in. To work in nearby states, I have to get another license or be recognized by that state by reciprocity or endorsement.
        Your situation frightens me because it makes me wonder about the lack of value placed on education in these economic times. Ah well, this too shall pass. 🙂

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  4. Love it! Though not a PhD myself, I’ve worked with and encountered them in my previous life…you really nailed the required recipe for most. Good luck in your search but perhaps you will develop your own path and career. You certainly have the necessary skills and drive to survive solo 🙂

  5. “A sprinkle of wishes that people knew you don’t have to complete a particular college major to develop the skills it certifies.” In South Africa we have this thing called “Recognition of Prior Learning” through which you can get university credits for skills acquired while working or studying in a different field. On the other hand, that might leave you even more qualified than you are now.

    It is worrying that people don’t want to employ someone because they are too qualified. How can you be too qualified for a job? I actually started my Master’s knowing it will close many doors for me, but as I plan to go into the non-profit sector that’s not such a big problem (until I start looking for funding, that is…) I assume your field is such that you cannot go into business for yourself?

    • Your assumption is correct that my (now former) field noes not lend itself to going into business for myself. Well, unless I manage to become the one in a million who gets a book deal from blogging…

      And I’ve seriously considered the “more school” route. The problem isn’t so much that it would leave me more overqualified, but rather that it doesn’t erase the Ph.D. It would also play into the “school addict who can’t function elsewhere” stereotype.

      There are two quasi-exceptions. If I obtained a teaching certification, employers’ objections would be financial. Schools are required to pay people with advanced degrees a lot more money and, since cash is sparse, that’s not a priority. Law school is another well-trod option but these days law students take on huge amounts of debt only to find that few law grads get hired.

      And some day I’ll write a post about the problem in American higher education where students are lured into degree programs that everyone (but the students) knows will not benefit them.

      • Afraid that problem is not just American. My degree is one of those, but mostly because my primary source of employers are uninformed about what my profession actually entails. Thus my Master’s, which crosses over into a different specialty and opens some different doors.

        Good luck figuring this out.

  6. I already blogged about my current frustrating external and internal (from my current position) search for a position that better suits the hours and my skill set, I cant begin to imagine the frustration of looking for a job when your unemployed. I have been with my current employer for 2 years and I am well aware how fortunate I am: 1.That I have a Job in this economy, and 2. it only took me 2-3 months to find the job I have

    • I know people in that position too. Whenever I hear other people’s stories, I’m always thankful that I don’t have a wife or kids to support.

      No matter how bad things are, they could always be worse.

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    • Nah. Even if the pay were good (and for a select few it is), that life has some serious drawbacks. Maybe I’ll write about them sometime.

      I liked teaching but I’ve never regretted my decision not to continue down the road I was on. Even after being unemployed for so long…

  8. Interesting thoughts with humor attached. Unfortunately, it’s hard to stay in that humor zone when bills have to be paid and no money is coming in. Mu daughter has been hired and fired within one year of each job. It turned out that’ when the insurance they have to pay kicks in. Now, that’s a kick. Unemployment keeps saying it’s her. At age 45, – oops, I gave her age – Oh, right she won’t see this … anyway, she is serious about a job not flighty. Two kids to fee on $0.00 is very bad and sad. Thank God – I don’t want my grandkids to starve so I give her money for food, rent, car payments, etc. How will I be able to survive my old age.
    Does someone have an answer for that?
    Was this a post for ranting? I feel so much better. If not, I apologize. This is, as you can see, a very touchy subject … and … not in a good touchy way.

    • Thanks very much.

      And I know you can relate to it because you’re in the Foreign Service. That application process is massive and I’m sure it was when you went through it (before they overhauled it).

      One of these days I’ll have to write about my experience taking the FSOT (to the extent I can do so without breaching any confidentiality agreements). I took it and passed last year and didn’t retry this year because the test isn’t as advertised if you’re unemployed.

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  11. OMG, I guess you must really love the interviews as well, lol! I have been pretty much out of work since I had to quit my good government job under duress a couple of years ago. Just lost my last job at the end of last year with the store closed because they were doing so poorly here. I think I’m done now and will just have to downsize my life and wait for death. Losing my home and moving into an “over 55” apartment complex. Good luck and God bless!

    • Oh wow. Good luck to you too. I can think of a couple of family members who are constantly stressed about their jobs because they’re in the same age range you are.

      Just be sure to find some volunteer work. Keeping busy is good and the work promotes sanity. Plus, it fills that pesky gap in your resume.

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