Bernie Anderson
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Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Multitasking: The Job Requirement Trope

The successful applicant will have the ability to multitask and pay attention to detail

How many posted job descriptions have a line like this one?

I have the ability to multitask and ...

How many resumes have this listed as a skill?

It's the ultimate employment trope. Multitasking.

The rise of connectivity.

I remember the day I had to start carrying "the pager" for a job I had in the 90's. It was a leash to work. In an emergency, anytime, day or night, someone could contact me.

Things escalated quickly from there.

Now, on-demand, 24/7 responsiveness is expected and multitasking is considered a skill.

But multitasking is not a skill.

It's something of a myth.
(and this book has been around for 10 years.)

Call Newport (Who wrote one of the most important books I've read in the past five years. If you haven't read Deep Work get the book today. Read it. Then read it again.) is on point.

“Many people have convinced themselves that it’s crucial that they are always connected, both professionally and socially, but the reality is that this requirement is self-imposed. Shallow tasks like reading and responding to emails or checking social media might prevent you from getting fired, but it’s deep tasks that produce the value and build the skills that get you promoted.”

The implications of Newport's statement are profound.

Here's what I say in light of this:

If the words "ability to multitask" are on your resume, take them off. You're being dishonest with yourself at best, and lying to a potential employer, at worst. You might as well, say you have the ability to fly and leap tall buildings in a single bound. Stop saying you have an impossible skill.

If you are applying for a job which requires you to have the "ability to multitask," look for work elsewhere. They're asking for the impossible. You don't want or need that.

You can't multitask anyway.

Relentlessly seek employment where you make your highest contribution.

Avoid spending large chunks of life in jobs where busyness is the highest value proposition, and the rearrangement of email is the most important task.

Life's too short. And you have something better to offer.