Re: Fix unemployment

Peter C. McCluskey (
Thu, 10 Sep 1998 08:35:17 -0700 ( writes:
>Earlier in the discussion, Robin Hanson suggested a taxonomy of unemployment
>(and suggested that we talk about only one sub-issue, a wise suggestion I
unwisely ignore):
>> 1) Search - one is between jobs, and doesn't want to grab the first job
>> that comes along. Similarly, companies don't want to hire the first
>> candidate that comes along.

>... The abstract problem of
>matching people to jobs is one that will become increasingly less difficult as
>time passes. I see advertisements for web-based job searching tools all the
>time. The information cost of finding a job should drop to near zero in the
>mid-term future (20 years) as access to near-perfect job information is
>available to even the poorest in the first world. Problem solved :-)

It sounds like you haven't experienced many of the problems associated with job searches.
The main change that the web has caused is to increase the amount of job information available. But too much information can be as bad as too little, especially when there is some motive for everyone to exaggerate their value.
Even if you take Brin's desire for transparency to the point of allowing anyone to observe everything that goes on in a company, the cost to me of determining whether I would fit in well at company X is more than just a few hours of my time. If my employment goals are vague and/or ordinary enough that hundreds of companies appear promising at first glance then no amount of transparency will give me access to near-perfect information. Add to that the fact that many people respond to this by sending out resumes by the hundreds or thousands, and many of these companies are overwhelmed with resumes, with the result that some people who have correctly identified a company where they belong get ignored because they don't know how to communicate their strengths concisely enough.

I can think of two small steps that would help reduce some of these problems. One is to have job applicants include with their resumes a small bet about whether the employer will find the resume interesting enough to justify an interview. This would help employers distinguish people who sending out resumes in bulk from those who have some idea where they belong. The other is to have employers routinely provide public evaluations of their employee's job performance. This would reduce the cost to employers of distinguishing accurate resumes from inflated ones, at least if our legal system can be persuaded to discourage all lawsuits over anything except clear-cut lies in the evaluations.

Peter McCluskey          | Critmail ( | Accept nothing less to archive your mailing list