Barbarians at the Gate: Credentialism and Loving Gatekeeping, Under Certain Circumstances…

Russell Michaels

Russell Michaels

Russell is inside his own mind, a comfortable yet silly place. He is also on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar Jaybird
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    Let’s say that you have two job openings and one applicant.

    What do you do? Do you hire the guy?

    Let’s say that you have two job openings and two applicants. What changes?

    Let’s say that you have two job openings and 7 applicants.

    Now let’s look at the Google… “how many applicants per job 2019”

    From Zety (never heard of it before):

    On average, each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes. Of those candidates, 4 to 6 will get called for an interview, and only one will get the job.

    Let’s say that you have one job opening and 250 applicants.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird
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      Let’s say that you have one job opening and 250 applicants.

      For interns, we’ll have something like 120 openings.
      It would be real easy for me to believe 100(ish) applications per job.

      At a typical College event we’ll collect something like 300 resumes. Typically that’s 6 “recruiters” (1 HR person and 5 warm bodies (me being one of them sometimes)). HR might do this twice a week for months.

      As one of the assistants I’ll do the heavy filtering on the first round. I’ll send 10-15% on to the next round.

      I give the occasional speech on “how to write a good resume” to college students. One of the absolute key mistakes I see time and time again is confusing “work experience” with “paid experience”.

      Another key mistake is not understanding the HR person (as in ONE person) handling this is a gatekeeper and is drinking out of a firehose. Anything which makes his job harder is probably killing your resume.Report

  2. Avatar Damon
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    There’s one thing a college degree provides to the hiring person. That you can follow a schedule of classes, show up, and follow the process. You “fit in” because you endured the process and were part of the group. If you need an office drone, that’s a decent indicator. Are there other or better ways to determine this? I’m sure, but it’s the “credentialled” that are, at least at large firms, calling the shots on “credentialisam” , typically HR, and we now how useless they are now.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Damon
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      says:

      There is another way around it. “Hey, Jaybird. We’ve got an opening. Do you know anybody?”

      “Yeah, I know a guy.”Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Jaybird
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        Indeed. That doesn’t mean that HR doesn’t have to fill out all the forms and such to follow process…and the person still, usually, must meet minimum requriements.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Damon
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          One of HR’s big roles is to protect the company from lawsuits.

          If you’re trying to “prove” that you’re not “ism” while hiring, then credentials (or a college degree) is something HR can point to in court while being a friend of a friend of the owner is not.

          The odds of every protected class being represented in your company at their percentage of population is zero. After you’re a certain size you NEED to be able to protect yourself from that reality.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Damon
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      Black people have lower educational attainment than white people. This contributes to the racial wage gap. I wonder how receptive the wokerati would be to the idea that credentialism is racist. Can we make this a meme?

      I think this might have legs. We need a catchy slogan.Report

  3. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    I think this is a bit of a simplification with some truths in it. The economy of the mid-20th century might very well have been a historical and economic anomaly. Partially boosted because the world need to rebuild after WWII, the fact that the Cold War shut out a lot of market competition (as well as markets for products and labor), the relatively brief time when unions were more respected than not and union-busting seemed relatively rare compared to today and the Gilded Age, etc. These are just a few factors.

    It is true that there is less of an ability to start in the mail room and work your way up to the C-suite but that probably happened rarely or the stint in the mailroom was more often just for show. There are a few examples but they are mainly anecdotes for essays and pundits. Companies used to have defined pension instead of 401(K)s. They also used to hire everyone directly instead of farming out to contracting agencies which often hire unskilled or low-skilled workers at a minimum wage without benefits like health insurance.*

    Is there too much credentialism? Potentially and probably but it is also too simplistic to say that removing credentialism, occupational licensing, etc will cure our economic and wage woes.

    *One thing that is not explored that much is the psychological benefit some or many employers seem to get at keeping wages low. The general econ 101 view is that a tight labor market should produce higher wages. However, there are always lots of stories during tight labor markets where employers whine about not being able to get enough people for various positions. Offering more money for these positions seems to be a last resort kind of thing even though economics tells us that it should be the first thing done. I have see numerous times where employers would rather pay a staffing agency 26 dollars a month (or whatever) and keep a position as minimum wage rather than pay more for the position and hire directly. I do think a lot of employers see their companies as fifedoms especially if they inherited from their dad or their father-in-law.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Saul Degraw
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      I suspect the realistic replacement for credentialism would be (more) nepotism.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to InMD
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        The great cause of formally educating Americans began as a movement, became a business, and has degenerated into a racket.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater
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          All goes back to the question of ‘what is education for?’ Is it jobs training? A capable self-governing citizenry? Overnight camp for the rich and insufferable? All of these things and more.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to InMD
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        There is still plenty of nepotism in society even with credentialism. I admit to being a partial beneficiary of it. My dad was a lawyer, I went to law school but graduated during a bad year for lawyers. My dad’s connections helped me get contract gigs and one really good full-time gig (many years after passing the bar) which eventually let me get enough experience to be in my current position. I am still probably a bit behind professionally but many of my classmates are not practicing as lawyers so in other ways I am ahead.

        But nepotism also seems to produce different reactions based on the field. The person who decries my situation might be totally okay with the son or son-in-law brought into the plumbing supply business or paving contract business founded and built up by his father or father-in-law. FWIW, my interactions with said types often makes me seem them as mini-Trumps.Report

      • Russell Michaels Russell Michaels in reply to InMD
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        No, more like more in person or phone interviews. The average resume gets looked at for an average of six seconds. That’s not enough time.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Russell Michaels
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          I’ll tell this story again.

          When I worked at the restaurant, I had a manager who worked for a year on the floor of the stock exchange. He would constantly yell at me about the resumes he’d get for folks who wanted to work the floor or the kitchen or whathaveyou.

          “Back in New York, it was one page! White paper! Not ‘Bone’! Not ‘Ivory’! Not front and back! One page! If it didn’t conform, we threw it in the trash because we didn’t want to hire anybody who didn’t know how to make a resume! Look at this! We’ve got a 19-year old girl applying to work the counter with a two-page resume on blue paper! How in the hell does a 19-year old get a two-page resume???”

          He was kinda high-strung.

          The point I got from him, though, was that the resume was the first test for the person.

          If you are not capable of doing research and following instructions, you won’t make a good fit. If your resume does not conform to the rules that are pretty plainly stated by a thousand style guides out there, you either don’t know or don’t care and those people don’t work here.

          So there are a lot of one-second “nope, doesn’t conform” resumes that just immediately get tossed in the trash at a lot of the big, big, really big places.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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            My takeaway from this is how utterly worthless the labor of the prospective employees was.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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              Anybody can do the job of a level one guy. Anybody.
              But not anybody can do the job of a level two guy. The only people who will make a good level two guy is someone who is really good at being a level one guy.
              Level three guys? They’re harder to come by. You have to go through a lot of level two guys to find a good one. But they’re worth their weight in gold.
              Level four guys? You find one of these that is good and you’ve found a license to print money.

              I mean… you’ve worked jobs where there are different tiers, right?Report

              • Avatar Ozzzy! in reply to Jaybird
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                I’d go back to the old engineering adage / loop that the best engineer keeps on getting promoted until There isn’t any more engineering to be done, just managing other engineers.

                They look out over the mountains of really good, unique work they achieved climbing this mountain and realize they just want to be back at camp 4, doing that hard engineering.

                Meanwhile all the other engineers can’t stand them since they keep doing the engineering they want to do, because the best manager isn’t a real engineer.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Ozzzy!
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                I’ve had managers that could do my job blindfolded.

                I’ve had managers that I tried to explain my job to and they didn’t understand.

                Of these two extremes, I’ve had managers who were *AWESOME* in both categories. I mean, I’d have taken a bullet for them.

                But I kinda prefer the former.Report

              • Avatar Ozzzy! in reply to Jaybird
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                I’m talking about want to manage and you’re talking about can do engineering. These are not exclusive, but I’d say are not normal.

                I’d wager that your categorization of those same people would fall into the want and can manage if you took an honest look back.

                Edit: maybe it’s simpler if I put it like this: would your favorite managers that could do your job blindfolded also manage Veronica well? Cause they won’t be a good manager if they can’t.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Ozzzy!
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                says:

                Managing people well… I’m someone who is not a good manager and has no insight into being one.

                I just know that I’ve had my share of bad managers as well who came up through the ranks in addition to managers who had degrees in managing people, certifications in managing people, and regularly took ongoing training in managing people.

                And I don’t even know that a manager who was good at managing Veronica (but bad at managing me) (or vice-versa) could necessarily be called a “bad” manager.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Gosh you guys sure like to think about managing me. Pity I’m not a sub. 🙂

                Seriously though, my “manager” isn’t actually a manager. Instead, he is a “team lead.” Basically, he is a fellow software engineer who reports to an actual “manager,” whereas I report to him.

                This arrangement has pluses and minuses. The plus is he is very familiar with the application we work on, so he is very helpful in giving actionable guidance. The bad part is I can’t bullshit him.

                Honestly, he irritates the crap out of me sometimes. On the other hand, he very often forces me to take a second look at stuff, reexamine ideas, and help get me out of tunnel vision. So, as irritating as he is, I quite like working with him.

                In other words, he’s the managerial equivalent of eating your spinach.

                I’m not sure if he would be a good manager in a non-engineering context, but that really isn’t his role.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Ozzzy!
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                They look out over the mountains of really good, unique work they achieved climbing this mountain and realize they just want to be back at camp 4, doing that hard engineering.

                After two years of managing a group of prima donna MTS, I gave it up and went back to being one. The company I was at sent all managers a summary of promotions and demotions each month. (What I did was officially a retreat, a voluntary step down in rank.) The month my change was in the summary, I got calls from a ton of department heads, most of whom I didn’t know, saying, “Good for you, wish I’d done that 20 years ago, now my skills are so out-of-date I don’t have that option.”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                What we are both saying is that the value of the labor to perform the level one task is virtually worthless.

                As in, worth so little that literally anybody can do it. Like the factory I worked at after high school, where the entry level task was to stack boxes as they came off the assembly line.

                What is different is that the factory hired, literally anybody who walked in the door for that task. Anybody, without even a high school diploma, so long as you could stand up and lift a box, you were good to go.

                Here we have college graduates, competing furiously to do the digital equivalent of stacking boxes.

                After I left the job of stacking boxes, I heard the factory went to China, and that robots now stack the boxes.

                I wonder at what point the level one digital box stackers will be automated.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                Here we have college graduates, competing furiously to do the digital equivalent of stacking boxes.

                Not at my company.

                None of the jobs I interview for are “anyone can do it” type stuff.

                Something I tell interns is the problem(*) with me telling them to get my coffee, isn’t that it’s a waste of their time, it’s a waste of my time.

                I want them doing stuff that lets us judge whether we should be offering them a serious job the second they graduate.

                (*) There are lots of other issues too that I’m handwaving and I don’t drink coffee.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
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                For every opening, how many candidates are there?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                I don’t have numbers and it’s not my role to know.

                However I’d be very surprised if it’s less than 100.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Chip Daniels
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                I wonder at what point the level one digital box stackers will be automated.

                The level one digital box stackers were automated long ago. Lots of higher jobs, too — eg, spreadsheet software has eliminated a huge number of dedicated programming jobs.Report

              • Russell Michaels Russell Michaels in reply to Michael Cain
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                Most office jobs are easy as pie to do. Virtually anyone with two functioning brain cells can do them adequately with little training. That was my point!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                I wouldn’t say that “anybody can do it” is “virtually worthless”. We saw recently with the failed attempts at lockdown that there are a ton of “essential” jobs out there that are worth a great deal indeed.

                It’s just that anybody can do them.

                What makes us notice their value is when they still need to get done but people say “nah, I’m not going to do that” in large enough numbers that the people who want to hire folks have to start sweetening the pot (or allow people who want, for example, groceries delivered to add a bonus).

                But if you want someone who is good at the jobs that not just anybody can do, you’ve got to figure out how to find them.

                How do you figure out who the best Tier 3 guy would be?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                We have these jobs that “anybody can do”, and yet the number of applicants is so vast that the main job of the manager is to invent spurious reasons to dismiss 99% of the applicants.
                And one of the spurious requirements is a college degree which is obviously not needed.

                That indicates to me a surplus of labor.Report

              • Russell Michaels Russell Michaels in reply to Chip Daniels
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                Exactly.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                That indicates to me a surplus of labor.

                Or a surplus of signalling.

                It used to be that a college degree really meant something and made you stand out.

                Ergo having a college degree was the ticket to a great life.

                Ergo everyone (including the gov) decided that everyone should have one.

                We have these jobs that “anybody can do”

                Which jobs are you talking about? Aren’t the examples on the table working in grocery stores and delivering the same?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                That indicates to me a surplus of labor.

                Yes. Exactly. This is why I continually bring up links to government reports that discuss the impact of immigration on lower skilled wages.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels
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                Kind of abstract, and only marginally related to the topic, but I’ve been wanting to talk about this. You all know the mantra “The real communism has never been tried.” Right? I often feel there is an unstated “The real capitalism has never been tried” that no one talks about.

                “In a magical real free market, none of this {awful stuff} would happen.”

                Which no doubt Hayek repeated to himself again and again as he sipped cocktails on a plane on his way to visit Pinochet.

                But anyway.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to veronica d
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                The best analogy I’ve seen is that the marketplace is an ecosystem, where complex systems interact.

                Like if a large company falls, a dozen new young ones feed off the remains like seedling off an old rotting log.

                Very nice, very efficient.

                But like how a lot of people romanticize Nature (with a capital N), imagining that it only produces wonderful thriving life, we forget that plagues, system collapses and mass extinctions are a perfectly normal part of the natural world.

                There isn’t any iron law that the marketplace will always need labor in sufficient quantity to make us happy.
                It’s entirely possible that an efficient market will set the price of labor at levels that are barely above starvation.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels
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                I agree, but I’m going a different direction. Specifically, I’m more countering the fantasy of libertarian ideas of capitalism.

                Under capitalism, some people get very rich. In turn they engage in regulatory capture and rent seeking, because why wouldn’t they? Morality? Values? Anyway, the libertarians then argue against “big government.” But the actually political process doesn’t do what libertarians want. Instead, the political process gives us politicians who promise to shrink government power. What they do instead is attack labor movements, destroy social safety nets, interfere in foreign nations on behalf of business, and otherwise push any policy, including authoritarian policies, that benefit the bottom line.

                Note, this isn’t limited to the Republicans. Clinton and Obama were totally on board. (But note, FDR was not, but gosh that was a long time ago.)

                Anyway, my point is this is what happens. We should notice that.

                My bigger point is this: when societies are pushed past the breaking point, the business class will back fascist authoritarianism, because capitalism as practiced is incentivized to do so. The fact that capitalist ideology is contrary to fascism is irrelevant. People follow incentives.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                It’s entirely possible that an efficient market will set the price of labor at levels that are barely above starvation.

                The number of people who starved last year was zero. Wages were rising last year. That was the reality that you want to take a hammer to because… why? Cherry picking? Some types of labor went down in value? The media has gotten better at focusing on hard luck stories?

                There isn’t any iron law that the marketplace will always need labor in sufficient quantity to make us happy.

                Without the virus, we’re at full employment and had to keep adjusting upwards what “full” meant.

                As far as I can tell the real problem is “make us happy” is exceptionally vague and the goal posts can be set so unhappiness is there no matter what the underlying facts/numbers say.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to veronica d
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                I often feel there is an unstated “The real capitalism has never been tried” that no one talks about.

                No one is arguing we go back to the 1920’s or before. There was stuff that needed to be outlawed, the glory days of unionism existed for a reason.

                Having said that I think the gov should use its ability to destroy jobs sparingly. Job creation should be viewed as a right, not a privilege. Making job creation harder for various social “goods” ignores that job creation itself is good.

                “In a magical real free market, none of this {awful stuff} would happen.”

                What/which “awful stuff” would that be?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Dark Matter
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                I saw a lovely tweetstorm that discussed how “Capitalism” is merely another name for the market-based exchanges that have happened since forever.

                It’s like how bees make hives.

                Arguing for Communism is like arguing that bees shouldn’t make hives.

                This isn’t to say that the current system of cronyism is somehow optimized… of course, it isn’t. And, indeed, the threat of Socialism (or the guillotine) has done a great job, historically, of bringing cronyism to heel.

                But arguing that capitalism itself is bad misunderstands the whole “people exist because they get born, then they grow old, then they die” thing that all of us have going on.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird
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                I think it’s fair to say some level of trading is part of what humans do but I wouldn’t mistake that for thinking modern consumer capitalism is a natural state. We spent a long period of time as a primarily agrarian species with trade making up only a very small part of society and culture. It certainly was not an activity the vast majority participated in more than very minimally. Even in the early modern era when you can see seeds of modern capitalism being planted trading was seen as a less than honorable path.

                Now that slowly changed once we had the shipping technology for European nobility to benefit from it even as it created a newly threatening merchant class. Those merchants are the ones who doomed the monarchs though and the folks facing the guillotine were not ‘capitalist’.

                None of this is to say ‘modern capitalism is bad’ just that I think that analysis strikes me as severely lacking in historical accuracy. We’re at most only a few centuries into anything people today would recognize as ‘capitalism’. Even that’s probably stretching it when you consider the way manufacturing (to say nothing of consumer financing) has changed over the last 150 years.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
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                The clash of political/ economic systems was the epic battle of the twentieth century, and the only state of things that any of us have ever known.

                So we sort of assume that the outcomes of societies- whether they are just or unjust, prosperous or impoverished- are the inevitable outcome of their systems.

                But this view of things would be incomprehensible to people throughout history, even to the founders of America. They didn’t establish America as a capitalist or socialist state and would have seen this thread as puzzling.

                And although they had markets, they also had commons and weren’t shy at all about using government power to direct the factors of production when they felt is necessary.

                I think what we are witnessing here in the 21st century is the ending of that systems based approach.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
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                No idea where we’re going, but we’re a long way from Jefferson’s yeoman farmers of the 18th century, that’s for sure.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                And although they had markets, they also had commons and weren’t shy at all about using government power to direct the factors of production when they felt is necessary.

                Scale and history are important here. Communism hadn’t been invented. Ditto the Totalitarian State. Our population was 4 million, and 97 percent lived in rural areas. America was basically empty. We’ve had 250 years of economic experiments throughout the world since then. We’ve watched various states take over various things and seen the outcomes.

                “Direct the factors of production when they felt is necessary” is a tool best used at the extremes. WW2 would qualify. Short of that there would need to be a serious discussion on what you want to do, why, and whether there are better ways.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
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                We are living in a state which confiscated vast tracts of land, forcibly rounded up the owners and forced them onto camps, then redistributed the land to peasant farmers.

                This experiment seemed to have turned out pretty well.
                Well, for everyone but the original owners.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Chip Daniels
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                And the Great Plains ecology when the land give-away policy that was ill-suited to that environment was continued. As much as I love the various Great Plains ecologies, I am more convinced than ever that the Poppers were right: biggest failed agricultural experiment in US history.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                More killed than rounded up, but yes, the origin of every country is “killed, kicked out, or divorced from the original owners”.

                This experiment seemed to have turned out pretty well.

                Agreed.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Russell Michaels
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          6 seconds isn’t long enough to scan a resume into the computer, which I do for everyone I process in person. It is long enough for me to look at a resume and realize it’s DOA.

          For example it’s written in stone somewhere that we need a GPA of 3.0 or above for an intern. There’s a few other serious filters as well.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
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      I think another reason for the mid-20th century exception is that during that time period many business people saw having these big massive corporations with hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands one employees across the United States or world as prestigious. Everybody wanted to be the biggest, so that’s why they did direct hiring for everybody from the person who changed the toilet paper in the bathrooms to the top guy, and it was nearly always a top guy. You also wanted a big fancy headquarters and branch offices of your own. While there might be some prestige in bigness for some corporations, many more want take pride in able to do more with less. When way they do less is by renting out space rather than building their own headquarters and using contracting agencies or the lower paid staff.Report

    • Avatar Stillwaterw in reply to Saul Degraw
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      Is there too much credentialism? Potentially and probably but it is also too simplistic to say that removing credentialism, occupational licensing, etc will cure our economic and wage woes.

      Perhaps this is a bit nitpicky, but has *anyone* said that ending credentialism is a “cure”? Seems to me that most folks who are against it believe that the benefits are outweighed by the costs. That is, eliminating it would make things better, not perfect.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwaterw
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        The whole “it is too simplistic to say that doing X will solve Y” thing has shown up before.

        Oscar wrote an essay saying that we needed to fundamentally restructure the police, end no-knock warrants, end the drug war, make the police use recon drones, develop more non-lethal options for police, end QI, and limit police unions.

        What was one of the responses? “I am not sure that abolishing QI is the magic bullet people imagine it to be.

        In the future, when you see someone say something to the effect of “we see a problem, here is one of the things we need to do to address the problem”, see if anybody responds with “I don’t know why people think one of the things we need to do to address the problem will solve the problem”. You may be surprised at how often it bubbles up!Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Stillwaterw
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        Some of the more enthusiastic advocates for ending licensing and credentialism seem to believe that it will lead to a great burst of entrepreneurial energy and wealth as millions upon millions of people set up their own home businesses, etc.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq
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          What I’ve read is people arguing not that decertifying will create millions upon millions of dollars, but that it will positively effect the prospects of individuals to open businesses of their own which would have the effect of lowering prices and creating more choices for consumers. So, nothing major, just a step in the right direction.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Stillwater
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            I think it would be a good step but probably wouldn’t do much for prices. There are silly licenses for barbers/ hairdressers. Do they need licenses; nope don’t see it. So if there are suddenly twice as many hairdressers prices will go down. Still we should get rid of unnecessary certs but i also don’t see it creating some great boon. I’m a bit skeptical of “more choices is better for consumers”. More choice is nice but often ends up having mixed results.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to greginak
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              The recent unpleasantness has led to some greater focus in my family on hygenic practices by salons.

              Things like, “when they drop a tool on the floor does it get picked back up and used or does it go in a ‘Dirty’ pile?”

              Or “what do they do with tools between customers, do they get dunked in some kind of disinfectant or do they get thrown back in a drawer with the rest of the tools?”

              Or “after a customer is done does the workstation get cleaned up, or does it get vaguely swabbed at with a dishtowel?”

              And, y’know, these are the kind of things that certification does make sure you do, or at least it makes sure that you know about these things and that you can do them well enough to satisfy the inspectors.

              So, you’re right that certification can be a shakedown by the local government that’s looking for revenue, but it’s not like there’s no reason for it.

              That said, I’d be happy enough to rescind the certification requirement but add a requirement that each place of business post a sign with its certification status. Green “G” for good, Orange “A” for acceptable, Red “X” for failed, Grey “N” for hasn’t-been-tested. And let consumers decide whether they’d prefer G or N…Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck
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                says:

                Facebook had a meme getting passed around regarding how many hours of training were needed for various professions (like hair stylist, nail care, florist, etc.) and compared that to police academy training.

                Shakedown is an apt word in a lot of places.

                When it comes to occupational licensing, there is always the claim that the credentialing is to protect the consumer. The kicker is how that term, ‘protect the consumer’ is defined.

                Ideally, it should be “the minimum demonstrated knowledge to protect the consumer from legal, health, or safety concerns”, and not “the demonstrated knowledge that satisfies the examiner that the consumer will not be subjected to public embarrassment”.

                It’s one thing to protect the consumer from objective harms, but something else to claim to protect the consumer from subjective harms.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                The arguments that I saw in service to credentialing for barbers/hairstylists was that lice was a problem in the past, as well as a handful of other diseases that can be transmitted through prolonged intimate contact. (And, joking aside, grabbing someone’s hair and running your fingers through it multiple times is intimate contact adjacent.)

                This strikes me as exceptionally reasonable. It’s important to tell barbers that they need to keep the blue fluid in the thing that holds the combs *FULL*. And they need to put the combs back in that thing after they use it on any customer and keep it in there for a full minute or two before going in there again.

                The clippers need to be cleaned. The seats need to be sanitized. The aprons need to be tossed into the dirty clothes. The hair needs to be swept up.

                How long do you think that hammering this stuff out should take? 4 weeks, full time? Hammering out the do’s, don’ts, and others? Make them watch a hygiene film about the ravages of lice? The dangers of Hepatitises B and C and HIV?

                Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to greginak
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              says:

              Besides the credentialing, barbers and hairdresses are probably not helped that much by the business model where they rent chairs from shops and salons. Same with taxi drivers who lease medallions.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Saul Degraw
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                says:

                You are free not to patronize folks you think cause a safety risk. My “hairdresser” rents a booth and she’s very safety aware. Besides some of her actions being “the law”, she doesn’t want to jeopardize her license. I don’t care one way or the other, I go to her because I like her and she cuts my hair correctly and nicely. Unless she did something totally unsanitary, I’d probably keep going.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to greginak
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              says:

              I think the claims about prices is to get the FYIGM crowd interested.

              The real benefit is just lowering the bar so more people have access to opportunity.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Maybe. I think the price argument is more about ideology and thinking there is free and easy money/growth to be picked up. Sort of like tax cuts will bring growth.

                More opportunity is the goal and harder to argue against i think.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to greginak
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                says:

                I think there is an argument for price if there is cartel behavior in the local market.

                For instance, the case where you had to get a ton of training to be a florist, and then you had to essentially seek the approval of an examination board that was made up of the existing florists in the market.

                Or cases like having to get the complete morticians certifications just to be able to make caskets.

                In those kinds of instances, reducing the credentialing requirements serves to break the monopoly/cartel and will impact prices.

                But how often is that the case…?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                I think there is an argument for price if there is cartel behavior in the local market.

                That certainly does happen. A couple years ago I fielded 5 electrical bids for my wife’s new business location. Every one was identical (and ridiculously high). I asked last guy to submit why that was the case and he said everyone uses the same software to generate prices at the same rate per piece. So, there’s price fixing going on!!Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                That’s a sneaky way to do price fixing without actually doing it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Yup. When I asked him about it he said something like “we all run the same price generating software”, which didn’t really explain it to me, so on followup he explained that the software determines price as a function of two variables: the number of boxes installed (light fixtures, outlets, light switches) and price per box installed.

                “So you all have the same price per box, then, eh?”

                “Yep.”

                Live and learn yo.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                I guess they compete on customer service then.

                I hope…Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                That is a fair question. I have a pro credential and the ethical standard is that we can’t discuss fees at all since that would be price fixing. I’ve seen people verbally reprimanded for even getting close to discussing fees. Breaking cartels is a good thing though.Report

    • Russell Michaels Russell Michaels in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      I never said to get rid of it. Be aware it exists and resolve to couch things against its invidious nature.Report

  4. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    Granted, it’s been a long time since I was involved in hiring decisions, and it was at large companies doing a variety of technical work. And while we knew what we wanted the person to do when we first hired them, we weren’t sure what we would want them to be doing in a couple of years. Someone with some experience had a track record. For someone fresh out of school, a CS degree told us that they had managed to pass classes in formal data structures and compiler theory. A math degree told us that they had passed either modern algebra, real analysis, or both. More importantly, the degree made it at least likely that they had learned certain patterns of thinking about problems.Report

  5. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    When it comes to the Ivies, it’s not even the basics Damon mentions upthread, it’s just the whole “Are you a Harvard Person?”, and all that implies.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon
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      says:

      At the highest echelon yes but for the vast majority a degree is a way of filtering seas of entry level applicants with no or minimal experience. You’re sifting through resumes for ‘tier 1 support representative’ or ‘data entry tech’ or something like that. No one has any real experience at anything. One applicant has a degree from a local commuter school and one doesn’t.

      Is this the greatest way of determining competence? No. But I don’t know that taking the credential out does much for the problem of ‘how do I pick a person among a bunch of people with no clear differentiation?’

      Like I said above I think the realistic answer does not become roll the dice on the plucky kid from the wrong side of the tracks. It’s hire Bob from accounting’s kid. Which may actually be worse than how we do things now.Report

      • Russell Michaels Russell Michaels in reply to InMD
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        says:

        It’s called the interview process.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Russell Michaels
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          says:

          Anyone who gets to a phone interview has made it through one and maybe multiple filters based on the resume alone. Every system will have filters of some kind and will not involve talking to every applicant. If it isn’t a degree
          it will be something else.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to InMD
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            says:

            When I was on the budget staff for my state legislature, one of the requirements for applying was that the cover letter and resume be submitted on paper. There were typically 50-60 applications for the one or two openings each year. At some point after I had left I heard they allowed e-mail submissions one year, and got several thousand. I believe they have gone back to paper as a filter.Report

  6. Avatar Katarack21
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    says:

    So…you think $30,000 a year is a “high-paying job”?

    That’s hilarious.Report

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