Dalkey Archive Press announced they are hiring earlier this week with perhaps the worst job listing we have ever seen.
How bad? Well, the successful applicant will “not have any other commitments (personal or professional) that will interfere with their work at the Press (family obligations, writing, involvement with other organizations, degrees to be finished, holidays to be taken, weddings to attend in Rio, etc.),” be willing to put the survival of the Indie Press before their own for a very low salary, “look forward” to a “rigorous and challenging probationary period.”
And what would constitute grounds for dismissal? Great question! Just about anything, apparently:
Any of the following will be grounds for immediate dismissal during the probationary period: coming in late or leaving early without prior permission; being unavailable at night or on the weekends; failing to meet any goals; giving unsolicited advice about how to run things; taking personal phone calls during work hours; gossiping; misusing company property, including surfing the internet while at work; submission of poorly written materials; creating an atmosphere of complaint or argument; failing to respond to emails in a timely way; not showing an interest in other aspects of publishing beyond editorial; making repeated mistakes; violating company policies. DO NOT APPLY if you have a work history containing any of the above.
Well, we certainly won’t be applying. Nor will anyone with night or weekend plans, Twitter feeds or a history of ever expressing opinions. But even in these tough times for the aspiring literary assistant, there are limits. The job posting provoked an understandable backlash.
But it turns out, the posting was not completely serious. It wasn’t not serious. It was more a tribute to the type of Irish literature that Dalkey publishes.
“The advertisement was a modest proposal. Serious and not-serious at one and the same time,” John O’Brien, the American director of Dalkey Archive Press wrote in an email exchange with Irish Times. “I’ve been swamped with emails (I wish they’d stop: I’ve work to do), and with job applications. I certainly have been called an ‘asshole’ before, but not as many times within a 24-hour period.”
But all those people calling Mr. O’Brien an asshole are missing out on something. Dalkey Archive Press is hiring. And they are letting interns prove themselves.
“Strangely, no one (except the applicants) seem to have noticed that jobs are being offered: when does this happen with internships?” Mr. O’Brien wrote. ”In brief, I take internships very seriously, and take on only people I think might be a future employee.”
While Mr. O’Brien may have a point about our flawed internship situation, does that make his job posting any less abusive sounding and unrealistic? No, no it does not.
“So, the tongue-in-cheek advertisement was a call to apply for the internships (and the two possible positions) if you’re going to be serious and are ready; if not, then let’s not waste each other’s time. Usually this is couched in the sanitised language of ‘must be deadline-oriented, well-organised, ambitious’, etc,” said Mr. O’Brien. “But as I think we’ve known for a long time, the age of irony is dead, and I’m a fossil.”
No euphemisms here! We don’t really understand what the death of irony has to do with anything. But the most terrifying part of Mr. O’Brien’s response is his assertion that he has been flooded with job applications.
There has to be another way, aspiring literary assistants!