Are you a code sensei? A customer-service rock star? Do you have a passion for sales? Will you devote your life to conference calls, leaving your family and friends behind while you camp out under your desk, ready to dial in at any time?
If the answer to all those questions is “no”—or even a nervous, hesitant smile—then hopefully you don’t need to look for a new job anytime soon. If you do, get ready to convince prospective employers that you are a success-obsessed results ninja, whatever that means.
A generation ago, American job seekers might have opened a newspaper to find want ads with perfunctory explanations of desired skills, such as carpentry or customer service. Classifieds, after all, contain little room for florid prose. But in the past two decades, a changing labor market, combined with the internet’s ability to make things functionally more efficient but existentially far worse, has dramatically transformed how American companies recruit prospective employees. The result is the obnoxious state of the modern job listing, which is often short on details and long on silly demands.
Although this trend has some roots in start-up culture, it has spread to virtually all American industries and far beyond the bounds of urban office work. Alley, a co-working space in New York, seeks a social-media and marketing manager at the company who is “one part visionary, one part online warrior, one part pop-culture guru, a dash of precocious energy, mixed with a little lyrical whimsey, and served with a shot of espresso.” A listing for an Atlanta-based “customer support hero” at the software company Autodesk wants to hear from you if you’re “a ninja with your keyboard” who has “a passion for incredible customer service.”