When a small consulting company in Chicago was looking to hire a summer intern this month, the company's president went online to check on a promising candidate who had just graduated from the University of Illinois.
Tien Nguyen, a college senior, signed up for job interviews but said he was seldom contacted until he withdrew a satirical online essay.
At Facebook, a popular social networking site, the executive found the candidate's Web page with this description of his interests: "smokin' blunts" (cigars hollowed out and stuffed with marijuana), shooting people and obsessive sex, all described in vivid slang.
It did not matter that the student was clearly posturing. He was done.
There's a quote that leapt up and smacked me between the eyes, a little later on.
Ms. Rose said a recruiter had told her he rejected an applicant after searching the name of the student, a chemical engineering major, on Google. Among the things the recruiter found, she said, was this remark: "I like to blow things up."
He's a chemical engineering major! Of course he likes to blow things up: this is why he's in love with chemistry!
It's terrible that the recruiting industry is used to find talent for companies these days: recruiters only know about recruiting, and are highly unlikely to find the right people for the job - more often they will find someone qualified on paper than anything else.
Though there's no chemical engineering equivalent of silicon valley as far as I know - there's no real fly by night startups. There's only monolithic companies that blunder on through life never really achieving remarkable things - in part because they rely on stuffy recruiters to find their talent; in part because they are all caught up in image rather than actually getting things done.
But what can you do? You can't fight big business, you can only wait for generations to die off.