nice.jpgI’ve written endless stories about how tough hiring managers and HR folks have become when it comes to job applicants. They don’t want smokers, fatsos, people with bad credit, excons, and too old or too young workers. And forget about landing a job if you’re unemployed.

I know all this makes you grumpy, but you’ve got to get happy, and fast.

A job requirement that seems to be showing up in more help wanted ads lately is — NICE. Yes, employers are now looking for nice people to fill their ranks.

The TED conference company is seeking a production editor for its offices in New York and in addition to needing “Comfort with HTML” and “an ability to listen deeply and critically”, you better not be a jerk.

The TED ad clearly states: “We only hire extremely nice people.” Being a bastard is not a protected category under our nation’s labor laws, so TED can get away with requiring pleasant people only apply.

If you’re thinking TED is a progressive company and aren’t surprised they’re adding this unusual request, think again.

Congenial candidates are in high demand at a host of companies and for a variety of jobs.

If you want to be a medical leader for Take Care Health Systems, a division of Walgreens, you need to know that the company “is proud to be an equal opportunity employer of nice people!”

Even though exclamation points aren’t very nice, the company still wants you nice people applying.

The staffing company Adecco is hiring packaging and warehouse associates for a company in Cypress, CA, and they want you to know that “The warehouse is clean, comfortable environment, and with nice people.”

For those of you thinking of relocating to London, there’s a gig for a sales consultant open at BusinessMobilescom, one of the UK’s biggest mobile firms. But you won’t land this job if you’re curmudgeonly because, the company says, “we only hire nice people!”

If you’re not really the nicest person, you may want to put on your genial game face to at least get through the interview. You can show your dark side after you land the gig.

And speaking of your dark side, being unpleasant is actually better for your career, especially if you want to climb the ladder. At least that’s what one study found.

When it comes to being a leader in a highly competitive situation or during tough times, altruism can be perceived as a sign of weakness, while being selfish and aggressive shows strength.

Those are the findings of a new study by researchers at a trio of universities: the Kellogg School of Management, Stanford Graduate School of Business and Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.

“Being selfish makes you seem more dominant and being dominant makes you seem more attractive as a leader, especially when there’s competition,” said Robert Livingston, a co-author of the study and assistant professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School.

The study concluded that “altruism does increase prestige,” but people who are generous or altruistic can appear weak or gullible, Livingston added. “It basically makes you look less dominant and less power seeking. That’s the paradox,” he said.

So, be nice to get in the door, then get mean. If you just can’t muster nice, not even for an interview, you could always remind the recruiting manager of that old saying: Nice guys, and gals, finish last.

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