How prospective applicants may be fooled into thinking they will be "knowledge workers."

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Knowledge Gigs Sans Knowledge Support

They used to be called white collar jobs. At some point the concept shifted to “knowledge worker,” though that idea seems to have lost some of its luster. Regardless, apart from maximizing earning potential, the goal of a college education — or that of ¬†other time-intensive learning endeavors — is to land a position in a knowledge worker profession. In principle, such jobs are less likely to be automated out of existence, or to drift offshore to lower cost labor markets. But who is rating those prospective job opportunities on their true knowledge orientation? For a time, we did.

At, we rated published job opportunities on the basis of these factors:

  • Computing Assets Specific software provided by the organization to support knowledge-related duties, e.g., ontologies, intranets, metadata, catalogs, third party software. Access to third party databases, including reference libraries, bibliographies and respositories.
  • Model Descriptions Descriptions provided for abstract models required to perform the duties of the position.
  • Collaboration Anticipated collaboration assistance anticipated within the probable workgroup of coworkers, peers, customers and vendors.
  • Mission Relevance Relevance of the position to the overall mission of the organization.
  • Citations References to standards, content, or knowledge frameworks used outside the organization.
  • Discovery Burden ¬†Estimated effort to perform knowledge discovery for the particular domain given the tools, experience requirements and other disclosures about the position
  • Qualifications Relevance of the stated qualifications to the activities described for the position.
  • Domain Specificity The extent to which the knowledge-related challenges of the position are connected to specific dimensions of the domain.
  • Overall Quality An estimate of the overall quality of the position description.

Sadly, we encountered so few jobs with enough details regarding these aspects of the position that the endeavor languished. So much the worse for prospective applicants who are duped into thinking their position will involve knowledge work.

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