James Innes-Smith

How to apply for a post-truth position

How to apply for a post-truth position
Text settings

Anyone over the age of 35 would be advised to hire a translator before rifling through the jobs section of the Guardian.

Looking for a role in education? You will need a first in doublespeak just to understand what it is you are applying for. When I clicked on a listing for an 'Infrastructure Support Officer' - not something I do very often admittedly - I was assailed by a tsunami of 'comprehensive, personalised, integrated, safeguarding of frameworks and best practices' masquerading as a 'vibrant and cooperative environment in which to work.' Having read the listing several times I am still no wiser as to what sort of infrastructure I would be supporting or why I'd need to be paid £75,000 a year for the privilege.

I can't work out whether the obfuscation in these listings is deliberate or just good, old-fashioned idiocy. Whoever writes this guff, and I'm assuming it’s the same person because it all sounds the same, is so mired in corporate speak that they seem incapable of composing sentences that convey a semblance of meaning. You would think a university of all places would insist on lucidity around matters of employment but read any recruitment listing for educational staff and chances are you'll be tearing your eyeballs out in despair.

Some positions are so devoid of substance that the ad simply reiterates the title in ever more mangled ways. Take this gem for Head of Wellbeing at the Fashion Retail Academy, a listing that sounds as though it's been penned by a short circuiting android: 'The Head of Wellbeing will be responsible for the provision of a comprehensive, inclusive, personalised and integrated student, learning and wellbeing support service that includes, but is not limited to, wellbeing, counselling, coaching, additional learning support, and safeguarding.'

As far as I can tell, all that's really required from the successful candidate is the ability to be nice to students. Even I could take it upon myself to be nice for £55,000 per annum. Maybe I should apply.

I'm also thinking of responding to Fife College who are looking to recruit an 'ambitious, innovative and energetic Director of Student Experience' which will 'oversee the delivery of a first class and successful learning experience'. But can someone explain what contributing 'to the college’s strategic and operational planning and performance reporting regime, including effective leadership of the Directorate’s planning and performance' actually means? Answers to the head of recruitment, please.

It isn’t only the education sector pushing these incomprehensible 'employment opportunities'. Legions of post-truth positions are being filled every day, either to make companies feel good about themselves or to gain vital social justice credit points.

Never one to miss out on the zeitgeist, even the Church of England is putting skin the game. The Bishop of York recently advertised for a Chief of Staff, paid £90,000 to be a ‘chief companion, support and critical friend.’ Clearly it wasn't pointed out to the Bishop that even the most principled employee might struggle to be critical when pocketing three times the annual salary of a parish priest. Surely the professionalisation of niceness has reached saturation point.

Should my applications to the above positions fail, I could always try my luck in the burgeoning diversity jobs industry. The prestigious Royal Central School of Speech and Drama where Lawrence Olivier and Judy Dench trained is currently looking for an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager who will be paid £45,000 a year. 

According to the listing, the successful candidate will need 'a relevant degree qualification' - at last, gainful employment for all those critical race theory graduates. The ad goes on to state that 'our mission is contingent on a diverse and inclusive student and staff body, bringing richness, knowledge, innovation, new understandings and skills.' Note the use of the plural 'understandings' - this is very much in line with modern progressive parlance; a singular 'new understanding' would imply that understanding is non-binary, which of course is discriminatory to all those other forms of understanding; see also 'masculinities' and 'histories'.

As we begin to confront the economic straits of the pandemic, these post-truth careers seem increasingly superfluous. Perhaps the painful road to recovery will return us to a time when salaries are awarded for work that is useful and restore some sense to the job market.

Written byJames Innes-Smith

James Innes-Smith is the author of The Seven Ages of Man — How to Live Meaningful Life published by Little, Brown on 5 November 2020.

Topics in this articleCulturePolitics