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Published:September 8th, 2007 14:37 EST
One Door Closes

One Door Closes

By Sean Stubblefield

There is something fundamentally wrong in the way of our employment “system”… the process of hiring and getting a job. We all Know it, or should. And if you don’t Know, then you just aren’t paying attention.

Being unemployed again has brought this annoying point of fact to the front of my awareness.

 

Unless we have particular work experience, employers won’t hire us. How are we ever supposed to get experience if we don’t get hired? Where and how else are we supposed to learn the skills of a job without actually doing the job? Is on-the-job-training too difficult for employers to provide or understand?

Do you employers not see that the inherently ironic and illogical contradiction in this creates an unnecessary predicament for potential employees?

Employers who “think” like this are not only denying themselves access to potential suitable candidates, but are also severely limiting the options of possible qualified employees. Seems to me such employers are too lazy and/or inconsiderate to bother training the untrained. In a sense, these employers collectively shoot themselves in the foot by restricting the number of people who are-- or could be- qualified for jobs.

A large part of unemployment is due to this problem of being unemployable. Sure, I could fairly easily get a McJob, but that doesn’t pay my bills. That’s not the standard of living I want for myself. Finding just “any” job is not good enough.

I see a great many job ads requiring people to know all the specific and obscure tasks of a given job going in to get so much as a passing thought towards being hired. Really? You expect to find a good amount of people who know how to do that AND that?! And want to? And are available? And who just happen to see your ad? Some particular combination of things maybe one out of three hundred people in the city might know how to do? Yeah, good luck.

Maybe I could do that job. Perhaps I’d be an awesome “whatever”. But even if I wanted the job, we’ll never know because, unless it is an entry level kind of position, employers typically won‘t give you or themselves a chance to find out. There are lot of jobs I am capable of doing, of learning to do. Yet because I have no previous experience, I won’t get hired. I won’t even be considered.

In some cases, even prior experience won’t help you if you haven’t done that job in recent years.

What this results in is employees getting “type-cast”, as sometimes happens to actors. It manufactures a situation in which the already difficult task of gaining employment is made pointlessly harder.

In the last ten years, I’ve cycled through the same three jobs, because when employers look at my resume, all they see is what I’ve done and foolishly assume that is all I can do.

Bored, now. I want to do something else, something new and different, that I‘ve never done before.

But-- Christ on a stick!-- no one will let me.

 

And if you do get an interview, it is amazing how often incompetent interviewers ruin the experience with an attitude of indifference or interrogation. And with that most insipid of questions/ demands:

“Tell me about yourself.”

What?! Did you seriously just ask me that? How original. I hate that question with a passion. Because there is no good & proper way to answer it. How could I possibly summarize myself-- or any person-- in any meaningful way with a few sentences? Tell you about myself-- in what sense?

I’ve also noticed a great many employers and interviewers who seem more interested in someone they could socialize with than who can do the job they are interviewing for. I mean, is this a conversation or a frakin’ interview? I’m not interviewing to be your friend, I‘m here to do a job and get paid. That is all. Anything else is negotiable and extraneous.

There is a ridiculous abundance of job ads actually listing “outgoing” or “friendly“ or “extroverted” or “sociable/personable” or “energetic/passionate“ or “strong/excellent verbal” as qualifiers. Really?

And because I’m not gonna be your lunch buddy, or because I don’t smile fakely & for no reason, or because I won’t kiss your butt I won‘t be hired-- even though I can do the job? I am automatically disqualified, as my introvertedness and sincerity are stupidly held against me. If that’s your approach, then I don’t want to work for you anyway.

Plus, many employers in Houston prefer “bi-lingual”… which we all know means Spanish. As if!

 

 

And stable, long term work history? Many employers want long term commitments from employees, so a habit of job-hopping is often a disqualifier, since it shows a pattern of not staying long in one job-- presumptuously implying you will be leaving this new job soon, if hired. So what if I leave a year later?

Not everyone wants a career, not everyone can get the career they want, and many of us-- bored (as I am) by the mundane options available-- are just looking for a job to pay the bills, as a means to an end… so they can go about the business of living their life. It is true that work enjoyed is more play than work. But, alas, many of us are not fortunate enough to “make a living” doing what we love, leaving us no choice but to “get a job” and work for a living rather than play for a living.

What many employers fail to realize, recognize and accept is that in the modern world-- in the modern market economy-- careers or jobs-for-life is an outdated and diminishing mentality. No one is rightly expected to do the same thing their whole life anymore, and no one should be, nor should they have to-- it is unreasonable, impractical and undesirable except for a decreasing minority. How incredibly dull and stifling that would be, especially for those who want to move on. Variety is the spice of life.

Why contrive our limited time alive with bland banality?

The world changes, people change, conditions change. Jobs change. Employers, as the provider of jobs, must become more flexible and deal with it.

 

And then, whenever you are hired, too many employers tend to forget that employees are people, not mere tools to be used with impunity… treating employees like cogs in a machine instead of individuals. People in the company often get sacrificed to procedure and protocol.

The job that employees do, the company they work at, is not the whole of them and their lives. The job is not the centermost point in most people’s lives-- they have other things to do, other responsibilities to fulfill.

(The same applies to the relationship between college professors and students, but I digress)

It is said that the customer is the most important concern of a business. Really? But you would do well to remember that there is no business done without employees. THEY are, thusly, equally as important as the customers. If you are going to expect the people who work for you to accommodate the needs of the company, the company is going have to reciprocate by accommodating the needs of the working people. It’s only fair. Or we just might take our business elsewhere.