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11:22am on Tuesday, 22nd August, 2006:

Failure to Reply


Around this time of year, I get letters from freshly-graduated individuals looking for their first job in the real world. Typically, they live locally and have sent off the same thing to every remotely promising company listed in the Yellow Pages.

Given that my business is a one-man consultancy, I never have any jobs for any applicants. I used to reply to their letters, thanking them for their interest and expressing my hope that they'd find employment elsewhere; after all, they took the trouble to write to me, and I did hope they found a job.

Of late, though, I've stopped replying. Part of it is that whole "generic application form for inappropriately-chosen company" thing, whereby some earnest recent graduate proudly proclaims their understanding of Visual Basic as if this were somehow relevent to me. In the main, though, it's that I often don't actually want them to find a job. If they could spell, if they had some grasp of English grammar, if they didn't use dice to determine which punctuation marks to use, if they could follow the standard format for a letter, if they had sufficient vocabulary to avoid using the same weird, distracting word multiple times: if all this, then I might be less put off by the fact that their knockout "honours degree" is actually a 2/2 in Computer Studies from the Polytechnic University of Central Nowhere. As it is, the thought that I might, by replying, encourage someone not all that bright to go off and find a job programming nuclear power stations is somewhat alarming. If they were dyslexic, fair enough, I might have some sympathy; dyslexia is not in general characterised by an inability to activate a spell-checker, though, and neither does it imply that you have to include the word "yet" in every sentence. If, after 21 years on the planet, you still haven't got your head round your native language, it's got to be something of an indication of dimness. If your degree is a crap/crap in Crap from the University of Crap, that confirms it.

I find it unfortunate that someone can spend 3 years getting a qualification that basically says, "not quite good enough". I guess it's just something we should expect, though, now we send 50% of the population into higher education.

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).