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‘Apply for our science job!’ A guide to inane job ads

Depending on who you talk to, the current job market is either the best in years, the worst in years, or somewhere in between. So that’s helpful.

But for you as a job seeker, all that matters is whether you can find a single good job. It’s like eating at a restaurant. You don’t have to appreciate every burger on the menu in order to have a delicious lunch; you just have to find one you like. Ideally, a burger with health insurance.

Unfortunately, most information about potential jobs comes from job postings that aim to boast about the company, list requirements that no single candidate could ever fulfill, and generally get your hopes both up and down at the same time.

Job postings evoke a small but nonzero amount of excitement. You start picturing yourself in the role: imagining a montage of the important work you’ll do, the feeling of satisfaction as you recline in your desk chair with your arms behind your head, and how you’ll really stick it to your former thesis adviser. At the same time, you remember the 20 other jobs for which you’ve applied this week, only one of which has even sent you a perfunctory, “We hereby confirm that we received your submission. This message has been auto-generated regardless of whether we received your submission.” Maybe your nonzero excitement should be a little less nonzero?

To help you decode the science job market—and hopefully make you feel better about your place within it—here’s every science job posting ever:

Are you ready to join a team committed to success? No? Fine. We’ll wait.

The Science Business is the world’s foremost business for science! See, we like to start our job postings that way so that you’ll feel stupid if you don’t apply. Also, you can’t fact-check something so vague. The Science Business is pioneering cutting-edge forefronts at the vanguard of innovation, combining today’s technology with tomorrow’s spearheads to lead the field in breaking new, state-of-the-art ground—all while remaining true to our core mission.

As an employee of The Science Business, you’ll have an opportunity to use your expertise in a project-focused environment. You’ll conquer obstacles; engage with challenges; and be part of a dynamic, driven team of professionals. Or, if we don’t hire you, you won’t.

We are seeking a forward thinker for a demeaning full-time entry-level position at our fast-growing, self-motivated, expertly bedazzled organization! (Note: Only forward thinkers need apply. No backward thinkers. All backward thinkers can themselves screw go.)

The term “full-time” is to be interpreted as a minimum of 168 hours per week, subject to increase if the qualified applicant successfully masters time travel or human cloning.

Qualified candidates should be able to see the big picture, drill down into the details, implement deliverables, deliver implementables, impeliver demilents, and other buzz phrases that apply to literally everyone and no one.

The individual selected for this position must be a team player, though he/she will neither operate on a team nor will he/she play. Playing will result in immediate termination.

Excellent time management is a must. Proficiency in verbal and written communication is desired but, frankly, kind of a reach. After all, we’re hiring scientists.

We offer a competitive salary, which is a statement that defies analysis because, like, competitive with what? With lemonade stands? We’re very competitive with lemonade stands. We also offer benefits. This job—for example—is a benefit, in that it is not overtly a detriment.

Salary is commensurate with experience. We choose to count your 4 years of undergraduate education, 7 years in a Ph.D. program, and 5 years of postdoctoral work as a total of 0 years of experience.

Also, we will not actually tell you the salary anytime soon. Nope. We know you’re hoping to at least get a general idea of what a position like this will pay, but because everyone feels a little uncomfortable talking about money, we simply won’t tell you unless we offer you the job. Thus, if the offer is unsatisfactory, we will have wasted your time and ours.

The Science Business is an inclusive environment, meaning that the selected candidate will be included on several projects against his/her will.

Minimum qualifications:

  • Ph.D. in science (or equivalent master’s degree with cash bribe)
  • Fifteen years working at the very job we’re advertising
  • Surname shared by member of upper management
  • Don’t, like, put random stuff in your nose

Maximum qualifications:

  • Nobel Prize
  • Some sort of deification


  • Postdoctoral fellowship. Ha ha, you spent 5 years doing a postdoc, and now it’s optional!

We offer:

  • Free onsite desk usage
  • Generous benefits, such as the feeling of a job well done
  • A business address where you can have your holiday gifts shipped to avoid spoiling the surprise

Please note that this job description is not exhaustive; duties and responsibilities are subject to change. Which is to say, we can make you do anything, and you can never claim it’s “not in my job description.”

For full consideration, applicants must submit (1) the online job application, (2) CV, (3) a resume that is somehow different from your CV, (4) a statement of research interests, (5) a detailed research plan, (6) the results of experiments yet to be performed, (7) oops—note to HR, please delete number 6, (7) names and contact information of 12 references, (8) a cover letter in which you describe everything you’ve already said elsewhere in the application, (9) a series of invasive tax forms—each more fiendish than the previous, (10) ten lords-a-leaping, (11) a list of your extracurricular activities since seventh grade, (12) a notarized paper clip, and (13) a fervent written plea with charcoal drawings of your financial dependents dressed as destitute waifs.

All applications will be reviewed by Human Resources because, in a building full of scientists, we feel the best approach to find a qualified colleague is to defer to our only office of nonscientists. This makes sense.

Please submit all materials to Human Resources by the deadline of last Friday.

We will hire an internal candidate.

Oops—note to HR, please delete that last line.

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