The Evolution of Incompetence and How to Deal With It

In the last 35 years humanity has lost a lot of established institutions which were the basis of social and economic stability. The ‘80s ushered in a 40-year cycle of the slow disintegration of and ultimate total renunciation of the Keynesian economic model in favour of unchecked free-market capitalism.

Over the same time, the human population in the west doubled and the advancement of automation has erased many of the jobs of the past. This new model has given rise to the “gig” economy and an ultra-competitive market for full-time jobs with benefits. For many people this new model doesn’t work because they simply can’t compete at this level.

Some become desperate and rather than update their skills, they adapt new tactics that include dishonesty and manipulation. Many job-seekers either overstate their skills and education or blatantly lie. To weed out these people, companies have invented new ways to detect dishonesty and overconfidence in candidates including rigorous tests and hours-long interviews. The irony here is that many of the companies employing these tactics are operating under ambiguous and/or chaotic business models themselves. Job definitions are often vague and many smaller firms are not above lying outright about a position to engage “the right person.”  In other words, both parties are guilty of implementing the “fake it until you make it” scenario.

As free-market capitalism has evolved, so have the coats of bullshit necessary to conceal incompetence as success. American President Donald Trump is a perfect example. He has devoted his entire career to creating the appearance of achievement rather than being successful. On the evolutionary scale, he is the lowest form of grifter. The kind who plays the victim when someone dares call him out on his illegal practises, non-payment of services and quid pro quo dealings.

In this ecosystem, the importance of knowing your value and setting strict boundaries are paramount. As an individual gains experience, they will spot a grifter or a dodgy company from a thousand miles away. Here are a few red flags to look out for:

  • Is the potential employer vague with the definition of their demands?
  • Do they frequently draw the communication back to the topic of money?
  • Do they acknowledge to e-mails asking for concrete information?
  • Do different bodies within the same organisation tell you different things with respect to the same topic? Do they say one thing on Monday and something different on Wednesday?  This one is particularly important as it might reveal a chaotic working atmosphere and/or a communication problem within the organisation.
  • If something makes little sense, then it probably isn’t true.

The crucial fact in these situations is to communicate your desires and attributes clearly. If need be, get out and get out early. Time is money. Do not waste it on someone who will a.) likely not hire you; b.) attempt to get out of paying you for your services; c.) pull a bait and switch regarding your responsibilities once you’ve signed a contract.

For women, it often takes a long time to learn the value of themselves and the lesson that setting professional boundaries are a good thing. There is no greater word in the English language than “no.”