Have you ever watched the show Drunk History? It was on Comedy Central and recently canceled, unfortunately. They would have a storyteller voice over a series of actors portraying different historical events. The twist was that the storytellers were drunk. The passage of time often has a way of rewriting history, as will a few strong drinks.
Figures such as Teddy Roosevelt, Patty Hearst, Billy the Kid, Al Capone, and Lewis and Clark were profiled, as were significant historical moments like the Battle of the Alamo and Watergate. I imagine that if the show continued, we’d find a lot of the headlines we read today retold from their perspectives.
I think it would be hilarious to do something like this for HR and recruiting. It would probably be a little mortifying, too, when we all figure out how many of our practices are hundreds of years old. It surprised me when I started researching the first job postings.
Looking Back: The First Job Posting
The first job post I could find was from the 1700s. It was for a sailor who would go out into a treacherous night and may never return home. While it sounds scary, it was still better than most job postings I read today. At least it was honest. They didn’t oversell. There weren’t four paragraphs about how the company was so excellent. No buzzwords at all. They said a lot without saying much on that poster.
Something went wrong after that. Looking at job postings 100 years ago, you start to see the same trends that make most postings subpar today. First of all, that line about “now seeking motivated professionals” is all over job postings from a century ago. They were even using phrases and favorite buzzwords like “highly collaborative.” Stylistically, they look almost the same.
While I am all for a best practice, have you read enough history to know what kind of bias existed 100 years ago? Do you remember how the world looked? It’s not a world I would ever like to go back to, that’s for sure…