Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's Hairy Out There

(Once again, I have no idea if everything should be capitalized in the title)

So friends, this time I am dispensing with the humor and writing about something serious. Where are the jobs?! I have now been unemployed (by my calculations) for eight months and I have to tell it's not because I haven't been trying. Fortunately I have been able to keep busy and work toward my career at the same time with some key purchases I made at the start of my unemployment (camera and editing suite) and now I am happy to report that my portfolio hath grown considerably. But even so, the job market today is wrecked and everyplace wants someone with experience, even though you could probably teach a monkey in a month to brew some coffee that tastes just as good (if not better) than a Starbucks cup.

To those of you who found a job recently, how did you do it? I mean I've applied to everything I have a bit of experience in, and some things I didn't but knew that within a week I could do it as well as anyone. I mean, come on, if a coffee shop is looking for someone with "at least three years of barista experience" there is something wrong with the job market. I am now of the philosophy that in today's "world of work", it is better to go for a job above your experience level than below it. Here is my rationale for my thinking:

Let's say you a business owner. You need someone to operate a cart that shuttles boxes from one end of a warehouse to the other for packing and shipping. It's a job that most anyone can do, and therefore would be simple to hire for right? Well, say you put out a job posting that reads "Need a cart operator for moving boxes. Must be able to lift 25lbs and be on time. No experience necessary." With a job posting like that you are liable to receive 100s of applications and resumes for this one position. So in order to weed out all the people who just want something that pays you put, "Need a cart operator for moving boxes. Must be able to lift 25lbs, have forklift and warehouse experience, and high school diploma." Now you may get down to about 50. At this point you might just take those 50 and read through the first ten and pick out three of those to interview.

The problems don't stop there, because even if the employer successfully weeds out a good portion of those who just need a job, there might be a few that escape through and then just dump the job after they land a better one. Employers know that people are settling right now, so they tend to take slightly under qualified people in the hopes that they stay on for longer than a month or two. It's a revolving door with a majority of low paying jobs, though more so right now than say a year or two ago.

This is why I believe the answer to our current economic crisis is to not sell ourselves short. If we settle for less then we all get less, but if we strive for more, for better, then we all benefit.

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