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The worst job spec ever... or the best? Plus, a response to Dalkey...

Do you want a job at Dalkey Archive Press? Are you sure? Cancel any plans to go to any weddings in Rio then.
Dec 13th 2012, 1:56 PM 20,622 29

IF YOU PLAN on taking any down time, going on any holidays, gossiping or generally going about your life, then a job at Dalkey Archive Press probably isn’t for you.

A job description for a range of roles in the publishing company, with offices in Dublin, London and Chicago, has gone viral after it was posted online with some er, unusual criteria.

They’re looking for candidates who:

are determined to have a career in publishing and will sacrifice to make that career happen; are willing to start off at a low-level salary and work their way upwards; possess multi-dimensional skills that will be applied to work at the Press; look forward to undergoing a rigorous and challenging probationary period either as an intern or employee; want to work at Dalkey Archive Press doing whatever is required of them to make the Press succeed…


do not have any other commitments (personal or professional) that will interfere with their work at the Press (family obligations, writing, involvement with other organizations, degrees to be finished, holidays to be taken, weddings to attend in Rio, etc.); know how to act and behave in a professional office environment with high standards of performance; and who have a commitment to excellence that can be demonstrated on a day-to-day basis.

The potential applicant is then warned:


Please, somebody, hold us.

Also, don’t bother applying if any of this sounds familiar:

…coming in late or leaving early without prior permission; being unavailable at night or on the weekends; failing to meet any goals; giving unsolicited advice about how to run things; taking personal phone calls during work hours; gossiping; misusing company property, including surfing the internet while at work; submission of poorly written materials; creating an atmosphere of complaint or argument; failing to respond to emails in a timely way; not showing an interest in other aspects of publishing beyond editorial; making repeated mistakes; violating company policies.

Other favourite bits include:

By the end of–or even sooner–of the internship/trial period, both the candidate and the Publisher should know that the Press needs the person and would be making a major mistake not to maintain the person for the future.
To apply, send a letter explaining the basis of interest in the position, why you want to work at Dalkey Archive Press, why you’re qualified, and why we would be foolish–in light of your knowledge, skills, and experience–not to want you to be an important part of the Press.
… assume that you will be one of the unpaid interns until you are ready to take on all the responsibilities of a position.

John O’Brien, the man behind the ad, has told Laurence Mackin of The Irish Times that there is definitely a tongue-in-cheek element to the ad, but that he’s also looking for people who are serious and ready to work.

What are you waiting for? Get applying!

Meanwhile, those scamps at Portnoy Publishing in Dublin have wasted no time in coming up with a response… of sorts:

December 13, 2012

Portnoy Publishing is currently not seeking new employees, but if we were we would most certainly be very picky indeed about who we took on.

For a start, we’d want to hire somebody who is willing to be paid for doing work. We realise this a novel (no pun intended) concept, but we feel it could revolutionise the whole industry. A person would come to work, do the work, and be paid for the work. They could then use that money for a range of things, such as food, rent, clothing and, provided they were fiscally responsible enough, personal entertainment or recreation.

At Portnoy Publishing we’ve come to realise that people are not robots or friendless, hermit-like orphans and as such may have other responsibilities, some of which may impinge on their working day every now and again. Other companies might want you to ignore a sick child, a friend in need, an elderly parent or even a dog that needs to be taken to the vet, but not us. We understand that from time to time shit happens which is beyond our control. We know that people need time off, they need holidays, they get married and generally have a life outside of the office.

Like others, we would expect high standards of professionalism and excellence (which company wouldn’t?) but feel a more human touch would benefit both employer and employee, and ultimately our customers. If you have a good idea, or some unsolicited advice, we want to hear it. If you’re not available for work at night or over weekends, well, that’s our fault for not giving you the required notice – or for not organising things properly so that tasks can be completed in normal office hours. While we wouldn’t want you playing Farmville, we want people who are comfortable with and understand the benefits that the online world brings. Social networking is crucial for any modern publisher, having employees who can engage with our readers and build our online presence is important.

We’re aware that people make mistakes, nobody is flawless. If you’re willing to learn from them then that’s as much as we can ask. We do not create vague, arbitrary office rules which create an atmosphere of tension and unhappiness. It is not a primary school, adults will be treated as adults and not small children.

If we were soliciting employees, we would acknowledge receipt of all applications, and we would communicate with applicants even if they were unsuccessful. It’s basic manners. We know what it’s like to apply for a job and not hear back. In our opinion it’s rude and unprofessional not to let people know their application hasn’t gone through. If we can provide feedback to our decisions, we’ll always do that too. Please feel free to contact us at any stage, we’re not that special that we can’t be emailed.

Candidates, if we were looking for any, would be asked to send a CV and a cover letter as is standard. We’d obviously like to hear why you think you’re suitable for the position and if you had any objection to being paid a salary for doing a job. We don’t want a zany 5 page spiel which is supposed to ‘wow’ us into hiring you for nothing.

Portnoy Publishing believes that people who exploit those desperate enough to work for free just to get a foot in the door, regardless of the industry in question, ought to be ashamed of themselves.

We don’t give away our books for free, why should we expect people to work for nothing to help us make those books?

Also, there’s a parody Twitter account, already:

Begorrah sure I’ll take one of your Irish accents>

The most hilarious police Twitter you’ll see today>

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Emer McLysaght


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