Why So Many Job Requirements are Bullshit

Published: May 03, 2020

A data entry job that requires you to be able to lift 50lbs over your head. A programming job that requires you to have a valid driver’s license, while never leaving the office. An email sent from an HR rep on the other side of the country, sent well after 5pm saying that the job you applied for can’t be done remotely because of the need for face‐to‐face, real‐time communication.

These aren’t job requirements, they’re filters meant to weed out “undesirable” candidates using criteria they otherwise couldn’t (legally) get away with. You can’t ask someone “are you poor?” but you can sure as hell ask if they have reliable transportation and check their credit score. You can’t reject someone because they’re disabled, but you can require them to be able to do some physical task that is completely unrelated to the job they’re applying for.

And while a lot of these hiring practices have been going on for a long time, COVID‐19 has put a spotlight on one in particular: remote work. For years, disabled folks have been told that the job they’re applying for or working at just can’t be done remotely. “Nothing beats face‐to‐face collaboration!” they say as they attach a powerpoint deck to an email, asking for feedback and for their coworker to update the deck with their half of the slides.

Some companies will even go so far as to list work‐from‐home “flex days” as a perk they offer. How the fuck is being able to do a job from more than one location a perk? Also, isn’t this a tacit admission that your office is terrible? If not, then why is it a benefit to not work from there?

It’s all bullshit. And now with companies being forced to allow work from home, everyone can finally see it. It was never about collaboration, it was about control. Companies are inherently distrustful of their employees and want to keep them in an environment they can monitor. After all, if you’re at work, you must also be working, right?

I think that companies are going to have a reckoning when all of this is over. For months, the majority (if not all) of their employees have been working from home. Why the hell would said employees ever want to go back? Who would choose an hour commute in a car or crowded bus over a 10 second walk to a home office or a 5 minute stroll to a coffee shop? And, if companies can show caring and understanding about someone needing to juggle work and childcare, why can’t they show the same understanding with someone trying to juggle work and their health? And to be clear, I’m not saying that companies should lower their expectations for disabled employees or applicants. I’m saying they should judge everyone by the quality of the work they produce, not by when, where, or how long they worked.