I am posting to publicize one seldom used term and to introduce a new term, two bullets that we can use in our war against the higher education scam. Both of these concepts contradict the Doctrine of Meritocracy that Americans almost ubiquitously accept as an unquestioned axiom, probably because they were indoctrinated to believe it. So, using and popularizing these terms will help us spread our cynicism.
The new term is "reciprocal proxy nepotism". (A Google search does not return any hits, but perhaps another term exists.) Reciprocal proxy nepotism is when two or more people at different companies bestow reciprocal favors for each other's relatives.
For example, suppose that Partner A and Partner B work at different businesses that have anti-nepotism policies. Over lunch Partner A says to Partner B, "Boy, it sure is tough out there today for new graduates. My Daughter A can't find a job in our field." Partner B says, "My Son B can't find a job in the field either." So Partner A agrees to hire (if he can) Son B and Partner B agrees to hire Daughter A. Or maybe they just make very strong hiring recommendations at their firms. The reciprocity might be unspoken and assumed, and it might also have a temporal separation. An unspoken expectation might be, "I'll hire your niece this year, and I'm sure you'll return the favor for my son when he graduates two years from now."
I don't know how often these types of arrangements actually occur, but I wouldn't be surprised if they occurred frequently in tight, competitive job markets. Such occurrences obviously contradict Meritocracy where people are supposed to obtain jobs and opportunities based on objective merit and not the circumstances of their birth and family connections.
The other intriguing term is "resume deflation". Resume deflation is when a person crafts a resume that purposely omits what should be a valuable credential that shows that he possesses what should be an attractive character trait (educational attainment, intelligence, ambition, skill, professional experience, etc.) in the hopes of improving his candidacy for a job. Sadly, resume deflation has become a sign of the wretchedness and perversity of our society and the times we live in and it isn't a secret, but few people have a formal term for it.
The concept of resume deflation contradicts the Doctrine of Meritocracy because, according to the doctrine, people should receive rewards for their positive character traits and hard work. However, in reality many employers will discriminate against people who are overqualified or who are trained to work in other fields for various reasons, some of which may, as a practical matter, be understandable and legitimate from an employer's perspective. This kind of discrimination reminds of a concept that novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand once introduced, a "hatred of the good for being the good".
I came across "resume deflation" while listening to an NPR story, The Long, Winding Road Back from Unemployment. I was intrigued and a Google search returned only 163 hits. One of the hits was for an article at the Workplace Diva blog titled "Is Hiring Smart Applicants a Dumb Move?". It's a short blog post that cites a study purporting to show that hiring overqualified applicants is often a good move. I enjoyed this quote:
No employer wants to feel like a quick rest stop on the road to Careertown.What most hiring managers and other employment decision-makers don't realize is that in today's post-apocalyptic world (in an economic sense), there may no longer be a "Careertown" for many people to go to and/or the road is fraught with huge and often insurmountable obstacles. Jobs in many fields have been outsourced and/or many fields have contracted. Also, many people who can objectively perform career jobs well may have been rendered unemployable in their fields simply by virtue of their having been unemployed or undermployed-and-involuntarily-out-of-field for a period of time. Hiring managers are generally successful people, so it's difficult for them to understand just how bleak the job market is for many college and professional school graduates.
I hope that people will begin using and popularizing these new terms and that they will stick: reciprocal proxy nepotism and resume deflation.