In the summer of 2014, I worked at a recruiting firm. This meant that I was on LinkedIn for most of the day, reading thousands of profiles.
LinkedIn profiles aren’t much fun, unless they’re the profile of someone you can’t hire.
(Exhibit 1: The programmer who is so confident and secure in his job that he’s formatted his profile as a Dungeons and Dragons character sheet.)
I can be hired. Sometimes, I even want to be hired. So I can’t totally sabotage my own profile. Still, I wanted to have some fun with LinkedIn.
Epistemic status: Speculation. Grasping at a distinction that might or might not be useful. Playing around with dichotomy to see what happens.
The venture capitalist David Rose once told a group of students (I was there: I don’t think the speech was published) to think about things that “will have to happen” as technology develops, and to create businesses that will enable those things.
For example: If the Internet allows a store to have a near-infinite selection, someone will have to found Amazon.
I recently realized that Rose’s way of thinking parallels the way philosopher Nick Bostrom thinks about the future. As an expert on global catastrophic risk, he asks people to figure out which things will have to not happen in order for humanity to develop, and to create organizations that will prevent those things from happening.
For example: If nuclear war would wipe out civilization, someone (or many someones) will have to ensure that no two nuclear-armed groups ever engage in all-out war.
If you were to divide people into two groups — the followers of David Rose, and those of Nick Bostrom — you’d get what I call “Roseites” and “Bostromites”.
Roseites try to make new things exist, to grow the economy, and to enhance civilization.
Bostromites try to study the impact of new things, to prevent the economy’s collapse, and to preserve civilization.
Hello! I’m Aaron Gertler, and I’ve spent the last six months looking at hundreds of job postings on Yale University’s career site. Some of them were awesome; many were awful.
In the first part of this post, I examined common mistakes companies make when trying to hire students. This post is much happier: I’ll be looking at the common traits of my favorite job postings, and explaining how companies can use them to improve their hiring process!
Are you trying to hire students fresh out of college?
If so, that’s wonderful! We really appreciate it. I’ve applied to a lot of jobs over the past few months, and most companies I spoke to made me feel welcome and appreciated.
However, there are a few strange flaws I see in a lot of job postings. These aren’t just my pet peeves: I’ve also heard a complaints from many other students. And when a student has hundreds of jobs they could be applying for, a good job posting often makes the difference between keeping them on the hook and losing them in the wide sea of capitalism.
To help companies improve their hiring, I’ve written this quick guide to writing job postings for students. Some of this might be relevant to other job postings. Take what you like, leave what you don’t.
Today, I wish to share the tale of a man with a troubled past, and of a company that used a very flimsy excuse to rid themselves of this man, all for the sake of signalling.
I call it…
The RadioShack Dilemma
A few months ago, I learned about the story of David Edmondson.
Edmondson is the CEO of a company called eRecyclingCorps, but is best known for his resignation from the CEO position at RadioShack (a company with $5 billion in revenue) after it became known that he’d never actually graduated from college, despite his claims to the contrary.
This seems natural enough. After all, who wants a liar at the head of their company? (I’m assuming here that RadioShack forced Mr. Edmondson to resign.)
But certain features of RadioShack’s decision start to look very strange when you view them in the context of Edmondson’s career.
On the advice of Bing Gordon, I recently spent an afternoon reading through the last 17 years’ worth of Amazon shareholder letters, written by the somewhat strange and mostly wonderful Jeff Bezos. This was an interesting experience; if you like entrepreneurship, or business in general, I highly recommend it!
Here are some of my favorite excerpts.
“We brought [customers] much more selection than was possible in a physical store (our store would now occupy 6 football fields).”
“I constantly remind our employees to be afraid, to wake up every morning terrified. Not of our competition, but of our customers.”
Yesterday, a friend of mine mentioned that he’d been hearing the following words from many of his friends.
“I don’t know what to do with my life.”
Often, someone I know will say this with weary resignation, as though they are a literary figure doomed to wander the earth for decades, rootless and without purpose. And if they aren’t resigned, they’re panicking: “I don’t know what to do with my life!”
(You might hear the “panic” version a month before graduation.)
Something I’m glad I did: Sitting down with a large pad of paper, thinking about all the things that ought to exist, and writing them out as ideas for startups.
Time: 26 minutes for brainstorming (an hour is a long time) plus 90 minutes of research and blog-writing.
At the end of this, I had something like two dozen ideas, most of which were terrible. But a few were promising, and overall, it was a pretty good use of time. If there are things about the world you wish were different, you might enjoy doing the same.
The biggest takeaways from the experiment:
- Almost everything that you can imagine existing with current technology already exists, though it may not have been implemented very well.
- Following from (1): If you wish something existed, Google it. It probably does. (Example: Free wake-up calls from Wakerupper, which may replace my alarm clock.)
Something else that occurred to me:
Many problems in life can be solved if one tries enough new things. The greater challenge seems to be that many people don’t like trying new things. A great meta-invention would be an addictive app that rewards people for trying new things—but how would you convince people who don’t try new things to try it in the first place?
Most of the ideas are listed below. Steal them if you want to.