Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Brooks Announces Job Search

In a shocking development, New York Times columnist David Brooks today served notice on international panditry that he is looking for a job, by publishing his résumé cover letter in lieu of his usual Tuesday op-ed piece:
Dear Employers,
Would you like to have a powerful impact on the culture and moral ecology of our era? Would you be interested in correcting some of the perversities at the upper levels of our meritocracy? Would it give you any satisfaction to help cultivate deeper, fuller human beings? If you answer "strongly agree", "somewhat agree", or "neither agree nor disagree" to any of these questions, or if you're not very sure what a moral ecology is, you need to get your HR staff to shake themselves up by adopting the following principles:
Bias hiring decisions against perfectionists. If you're in the opinion business, you're probably inundated with applications from strivers with 3.80 grade point averages, degrees from prestigious research institutions, and résumés as long as your arm detailing their successes in band, lacrosse, Rotary International, and starting their own nonprofits devoted to solving problems you didn't know existed. 
These future Krugmans, Kristofs, and Blows frankly don't even know what an opinion is. They will research an issue to death and give you a column so tight nobody can even disagree with it without looking like an idiot. Instead go for somebody who's not afraid of making a mistake or embarrassed by getting caught in it, somebody willing not merely to defy the conventional wisdom but to not even have a clue what the conventional wisdom is.
Bias hiring decisions toward duelists. Look for naturally combative employees who will
Bias hiring decisions toward dualists. While everybody and his brother want to jump aboard this newfangled mind-body monism thing, Cartesianism continues to be the only approach that makes any sense;
Bias hiring decisions toward dualists, by which I mean people who have done something unfashionable in their otherwise stylish lives, like practicing a religion, appearing on Sunday-morning network television, or spending years defending a pointless and catastrophic war from its critics in the most intemperate and arrogant language. I realize that is not what "dualist" normally means, which just shows how outside-the-box I am myself.
Bias toward truth-tellers. If an applicant refuses to admit to telling the truth on every possible occasion, she may not be a totally honest person. Someone full of stories about how truthful he is is a much safer bet.
Don't mindlessly favor people with high G.P.A.s. Wait, did I say that already? But I have a different reason this time: people whose college grades were too good clearly were not concentrated enough on their majors but made time for all sorts of other things, devoting serious attention to classes that were totally boring. Instead of being dualists they were pluralists, doing more than one unfashionable thing at a time. This could turn out to be someone whose devotion to you is not single-minded or double-minded, but scatterbrained. You need somebody who got a C in History of South Asian Art, Marine Ecology, or Portuguese, not somebody who thought these odd subjects were somehow important.
Reward the ripening virtues, not the blooming virtues. Most employers think their young employees should be young, with the fresh and excitable qualities of youth, and their older employees older, quieter, mellower, and informed by experience. It's much more fun if you look for young fogeys in Hart Schaffner Marx talking like diplomatic correspondents and middle-aged airheads talking crank social science.
Reward those who have come by way of sorrow. Don't even ask.
Reward cover letter rebels. Why give a job to someone who writes a normal cover letter? Look for somebody who does it in a really unconventional format! Like putting it in the op-ed page of the New York Times! It's like proposing marriage on a baseball scoreboard, a sign that they really care.
I hate being a nag, but if you fail to click the link at the end there, you will miss much of the piece's emotional impact.

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