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February 17, 2014

"How we ended up with a generation of no-discipline, no-talent job seekers"

Writing in the Washington Post, Marina Ein is ticked off

As a small-business employer, I have seen a disturbing downward talent drift in job candidates — most acutely in the past five years. When a job candidate’s first question is about vacation days or benefits, we know we have encountered collateral damage from the teachers and parents who believed in “softening the learning experience.” Armed with a meaningless bachelor’s degree from colleges and universities that allowed majors in non-core subjects, we see youngsters who cannot write, research or think analytically. Their lack of discipline is evident in job applications filled with typos and cover letters that reveal no interest in teamwork or service — rather, they emphasize their high opinion of themselves. (Many young job seekers come forward with an executive attitude that is backed by zero capabilities).

See also "The Skills Employers Wish College Grads Had".


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Tom Dougherty

Marina Ein should realize that more than a third of one's total compensation is in benefits. A job candidate is rightly concerned with the amount of compensation received from a prospective employer and whether the compensation offered is competitive with other employers. Maybe Miss Ein is disturbed because her small business does not offer competitive benefits. Miss Ein might be seeing a downward drift in talent because she is offering a downward drift in total compensation. Increase your compensation, Miss Ein, and you will find higher quality candidates.



"A job candidate is rightly concerned with the amount of compensation"

This is a ridiculous critique. If an applicants first question is "What will my salary be?" is just as inappropriate as the first question being "How many days off will I get?"

The reason those are ridiculous FIRST questions are laid out quite clearly by Erin. Imagine that you go to buy a car and before a car salesman will even show you a car, he says "How much can you afford?" It's tacky and makes clear the car salesman could car less whether or not you get the kind of car you are looking for, but that he is only concerned with how much he is going to make off the sale.

It's a used car salesman mentality to ask FIRST about salary and/or benefits. Used car salesman rightly have a reputation for being underhanded and sleazy. Who wants to hire an employee who demonstrates being sleazy and underhanded?

"Increase your compensation, Miss Ein (sic), and you will find higher quality candidates."

You're ASSUMING there really are higher quality candidates.


Yikes Tom. Of course non monetary benefits are important - but it's not something you bring up in a first interview. You are a perfect example of what this post is railing on. Lack of professionalism. You don't ask a girl what her bra size is on the first date.

Tom Dougherty

For Ken and Peter to defend someone categorizing an entire generation as having "no discipline" and "no talent" is outrageous and unfounded and in a business context would be "highly unprofessional". In most organizations, Peter, if you went around telling all the young workers that they had no discipline and no talent, you would be fired. To suggest that there are no high quality candidates out of the entire millennial generation and then suggest that I am being ridiculous that a job candidate would ask a first question about benefits is laughable.

Tom Dougherty

One last parting thought on the subject of hiring. I have been on many hiring committees. We have hired many young people who are smart, talented, and have a bright future ahead of them. None of this "young people have no talent and no discipline" business. I have also had candidates with a first question about benefits and never once has anyone on the hiring committee held that against a candidate. Our hiring committees are not made up of HR workers. We have managers, supervisors, and floor workers on our hiring teams. We know the job that needs to be done and the right type of person to do it. We look at education, work experience, the way the application has been filled out, and the interview itself to determine the right worker. But hiring is a TWO WAY street and we want the candidate to ask questions too, to make sure we are right for them as well. If you have a taboo about a perfectly good candidate asking their first question about benefits, well then that is your loss. But then if you are willing to totally disrespect an entire generation as having no discipline and no talent, you have some serious issues.

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