Monday, July 26, 2010

It's About Time Someone Told the Truth About Job Hunting!

Kudos to writer Diane Stafford and the Kansas City Star for running an article--linked here-- that tells the truth about job hunting these days. I've been saying this for a while, and some have rolled their eyes, thinking I was making excuses for people.

Employers are looking for the impossible. As one commenter to the Star article put it so perfectly: Basically, they are all looking for a highly skilled 30 year old, with 20 years of experience in the field, who still lives at home, and will work for $12/hour.

Employers don't want to train. Employers don't want someone who has enthusiasm for the job but less than perfect credentials. And God forbid you have ever had any trouble, job trouble...ever been fired or asked to resign. Heaven forbid that you are introverted and have trouble "networking" and making connections or cold calling people...

What's going to happen is two things: The work world will become less diverse. It will be filled with "salesman" types who will become the only ones able to work through (or around) the tedious, attacking and adversarial hiring process. All the introverts, less than perfects, too old and too young will be left by the wayside. That's a lot of different problem solving abilities to leave untapped. Secondly, because the "perfect" are small in number, employers will outsource overseas and use temporary and agency help instead to actually get the work done. The longer they go with the opening unfilled, the less likely they are to fill it, as they discover they can live without a person in that job slot.

According to the article, employers are frustrated that they are not getting applicants with "the right qualifications" but I would dispute that. I would say that employers are not getting applicants that they don't have to show loyalty to or do anything for. They just want cogs, ready to drop in a spot, so they can work and make a profit for The Man.

I just reread that sentence and it sounded amazingly cynical and bitter--is that your impression too? Listen, I believe in earning your keep, in proving your worth, in showing merit to receive reward. I know no one "has a right" to a job. However, the way the employment system is now is not a pure meritocracy. It has become this crazy biased place where getting a fair hearing is very close to impossible, where it's more about who you know rather than what you've done, and where certain traits and characteristics are more valued than others--not necessarily because they're better, but because they are simpler to maintain and easier to understand.

I also believe that employers--companies, partnerships, mom and pop--do need to make a profit or at least break even. However, it seems as if more and more employers are being ruled by "unenlightened self interest" to borrow the phrase from author Yves Smith. Companies with share holders are ruled by the quarterly profit report so are reluctant to do things that might cause that profit to suffer. Service suffers as the goal is profit over all else. I keep thinking that this raw focus on the bottom line is going to cause the downfall of the capitalist system. Ms. Smith has a way more educated take on this in this editorial from the New York Times. And I know that she is not the only one to posit in the pages of The Old Grey Lady that endless concern with quarterly profits is bad for capitalism.

If we actually manage to muddle out of the current economic situation, we have some hard thinking to do about the way we do business for and with each other.


peedee said...

I read these articles in the paper all the time. This one was spot on.

It was looking at these "how to get a job" articles that were telling the reader how to dumb down their resume and only give the facts and no "fluff" that partially made me rethink my job. Or the fact that I didnt care if they fired me or not from said job.

The market is beyond tough right now and I would dread being in it.

I was hired 4 years ago for this job and I didnt have exactly the "right" qualifications. I didnt have phone sales experience. But I wow'd them with my shining personality and they decided to give me a chance. =)

In todays market I wouldnt stand a chance. =(

Good stuff as usual girl!

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Amen amen! And it STARTED long before the downturn.

So much lack of respect, so little attention span, so little care. They don't care who you are or what you know--or the potential you might have-it is very sad.

Very frustrating, too. I remember a lady I wanted hired and everyone was afraid of her but she was nice and had great customer service! it turned out pushing for her hire was the worst thing i could have done for her. She did not fit in with the "predictable". It was a shame.

Ann T.

Bob G. said...

We have come SO far from the days when a person WILLOING to work was offered a bottom-rung position off the sreet, SIMPLY becasue they had the DESIRE to achieve.

I worked for a publisher ages ago in Philly.
Started iout as a MESSENGER...running all over the east coast, securing copyrights and gathering volumes of medical books...very tiring.
IN SEVEN years, I was running the day shift COMPUTER OPERATIONS.
Worked my way through the ranks...the way it should STILL be.

The job left me when our company was bought out. People with more tuime in than I were let go...and that was in the 70s!

BUt every years I was with the company, we had people who TOOK the time to TEACH you the next job on the "ladder" that YOU reflected well for the company.

A real shame that mindset and tradition went away.
Met a lot of good mentors and role models there.

Very good post!!

PFL0W said...

companies really do want the "perfect candidate", as you say---young, even good-looking, energetic, with 20 years experience (at age 30?) and who will, yes, work for $12 per hour and PAY THEIR OWN HEALTH CARE.

And our government is requiring a "working wage".

It sucks.

And in sales? Yow. Fagheddaboudit. In sales, they want you to take a full commission job. Sure. That's perfect. If you sell something, they and you make money. If you don't, you're the only one out of the time and money.

We're screwed people.

And you hate unions.

Mo Rage
the blog

the observer said...

peedee, Ann T and Bob G:

Thanks for telling your stories--I was hoping to hear stories--both good and bad. I would have loved to have heard a story of success, but I think they are getting kind of rare.

I was just glad to see someone write the truth, and not babble endless advice that may or may not work.

Thanks for reading along.
The Observer

the observer said...

Mo Rage:
Thanks for dropping in--you are always welcome!

I have never actually written about how I feel about unions. In some ways I am pro-union. It was the efforts of the unions that helped set in place the sane work rules and safety stuff that we see today. On the other hand, unions had gotten rather greedy, and unless a company was willing to withstand brutal union tactics, it was easier to give in than try to stand up to the union at the negotiating table. Also, unions ruthlessly enforce the status quo--they change glacially, if at all.

We've had major changes in the work force of America. Most jobs are non-union. Manufacturing jobs have declined. In general, jobs that do not require education/training have declined in number. The employee-employer relationship has changed--and not for the better.

I don't have specific answers to our problems in this area. Who knows? Workers getting together and forming unions (again) may be part of the solution. All I know is that the current situation will not have a good result for most employers and most employees.

The Observer