July 23, 2018

Do Any Millennials Want to Work at the IRS Non-ironically?

Hating the IRS is as American as baseball and capital punishment. This almost universal derision may be part of the reason the Service has such a hard time finding younger employees. Bloomberg reports that more than half of IRS employees are over 50 while only 3% are under 30, citing a recent speech by IRS Commish John Koskinen.  

With this in mind, the Service is appealing to the altruistic nature of Millennials, hoping that their desire to make a difference will help them recruit a new generation of employees:

Millennials do want to work for an organization that benefits society and to see how their work is tied to the bigger picture, says Dan Schawbel, founder of workplacetrends.com. The IRS is doing its best to market itself as such a place: “There’s an agency looking for new talent to enable growth for our entire nation,” reads the recruiting page for students and recent grads. “You’ll be part of a tax collection process that funds our nation’s most vital programs—from securing the nation and protecting social services, to maintaining parklands and forests, building libraries, opening museums, enhancing schools and much, much more.”  

On the other hand, Americans for Tax Return Reform intern Alexander Henrie believes that only the most devoted hipster would entertain the idea of employment at the IRS:

The only millennial that would like to work at the IRS would do it ironically, so that they could use a typewriter and snapchat about it every day.”

Don't write it off! It could actually work. 

The one ploy that isn't suggested in this piece is an idea from another Bloomberg article from last month, on David Foster Wallace's obsession with taxes and the IRS:

The key is “to find the other side of the rote, the picayune, the meaningless, the repetitive, the pointlessly complex,” says a character in Wallace’s last novel, The Pale King. Don’t think of tax preparers as bland pencil pushers. They’re “cowboys of information,” Wallace wrote, who wade into minutiae and come out with useful answers.
 
Another character, Chris, is a lazy “wastoid” stoner who, while watching a daytime soap, gets inspired to sign up for tax classes. He meets a passionate tax professor and eventually joins the IRS. In many ways, Chris was taking the advice in Wallace’s much-admired 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College: Don’t float through life just trying to entertain yourself, Wallace urged graduates. Instead, “choose what you pay attention to” and “choose how you construct meaning from experience.”
This quite a trio of recruiting strategies: altruism, irony, embracing chaos.
 
So, who's interested? If you're under 35 and any of these sound good to you, the IRS could use your help.
 

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[DealBook/NYT]

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