Two Facts

[Content Note: Privilege; bootstraps.]

1. David Brooks is still being employed by the New York Times to write a garbage column.

2. This week's garbage column is like a trophy to garbage.

Under the headline "The Employer's Creed," David Brooks metes out advice to employers about who they should and shouldn't be hiring. Now, generally speaking, I agree with the advice that the perfect résumé does not axiomatically translate into the perfect employee, and I enthusiastically advocate abandoning the idea that someone with a less traditional résumé should be reflexively rejected. Sometimes people with the most interesting lives and experiences have the least impressive résumés.

But. BUT. Bear in mind that David Brooks has long been a proponent of BOOTSTRAPS! and a denier of the advantages of privilege when you read this shit:
Bias hiring decisions against perfectionists. If you work in a white-collar sector that attracts highly educated job applicants, you've probably been flooded with résumés from people who are not so much human beings as perfect avatars of success. They got 3.8 grade-point averages in high school and college. They served in the cliché leadership positions on campus. They got all the perfect consultant/investment bank internships. During off-hours they distributed bed nets in Zambia and dug wells in Peru.

When you read these résumés, you have two thoughts. First, this applicant is awesome. Second, there's something completely flavorless here. This person has followed the cookie-cutter formula for what it means to be successful and you actually have no clue what the person is really like except for a high talent for social conformity. Either they have no desire to chart out an original life course or lack the courage to do so. Shy away from such people.
So, basically, now anyone who precisely follows the model that "lifting yourself up by the bootstraps" has always required (within the confines of Corporate America) is either unoriginal or cowardly. Perfect.

That's maybe the kind of thing that makes some sort of sense to say in the brainpan of someone who pictures "middle class, able-bodied, thin, white, cishet male" as the default human job applicant, but it starts making a lot less sense when you take into consideration that pool of applicants may include, as but a few examples:

People who are not able-bodied, thin, white, cisgender, straight, and/or male, for whom approaching a vanilla "perfection" has been their only means of being competitive.

People who are first-generation travelers through the middle-class process, for whom the "cookie-cutter" model may be the only model to which they have access, simply by virtue of its ubiquity, as opposed to people whose parents and other relatives have provided multiple models of navigating middle-class access to them.

People with names that indicate a background, ethnicity, religious affiliation, etc., prejudiced responses to which have "othered" them throughout their lives, who have learned that conformity in other ways is required to balance their very names.

People who have overcome learning disabilities, social anxiety, illness, neglect, oppression, and/or other limitations to achieve what they've long been told (by people like David Brooks) is the right résumé of accomplishments to achieve success, whose arrival at this "boring" result is, in fact, indicative of a bravery paper cannot convey.

That's not a comprehensive list.

I'm sure David Brooks would balk at the suggestion that he seems to be moving the goalposts, now that people from marginalized classes are scoring goals in larger numbers. But if he doesn't like that accusation, then perhaps he should stop writing garbage that invites it.

[H/T to Shaker Mod aforalpha.]

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus