Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Unemployment: the sad truth

Anyone who recently has glanced at a newspaper, watched TV or listened to the news on the radio (I hope these #s of informed are LARGE) must know that unemployment is high and hiring is – to put it simply – S-L-O-W.
Now, while the causes for the lay-offs and shutdowns are many, and the arguments over continuing high numbers are a topic for debate, there are other aspects that should be well known, but sadly seem rare in the collective knowledge of people today.

“There are plenty of jobs out there” Well, there ARE jobs listed online and in the classified, sure. But not everyone has an engineering degree, has a history of selling pharmaceuticals to physicians, has 5+ years of multi unit retail management experience, is an RN, has a CDL, ETC -ETC. FURTHERMORE-There is the specter of competition to contend with. In today’s market, you need to match a job description 110% just to GET the interview. It is a buyer’s market without dispute. I just met a plumber who has been out of work for years- finally getting a job driving a truck.

“Some people want to just collect unemployment/aren’t willing to take ‘any’ job.” Oh boy- where to start on this one?! First it can be agreed that there are SOME who will just take what they can get from the system. I need to again refer to the above, however, in that there are so many unemployed that competition for EACH AND EVERY job CANNOT be ignored. There are hundreds of applicants for an average posting. In this, it is understandable for a hiring manager to whittle away at those without experience matching the company or perhaps even industry. In addition, there is SOME credibility to those turned away because they have far surpassed the level of the position advertised. I will debate some points of this however:

“Sorry- you’re overqualified.” As I have repeated- Competition is the chief villain for the unemployed today. Having said, I would argue there are various levels to debate. If say, you are looking to hire a sales re, and a former company Vice President applies, - you may move on to other resumes. But I would argue (as a former hiring manager) if the position previously held is, say, but one level above that advertised, an interview would tell you if a ‘bargain’ could be had. Sadly, I would have to state today’s recruiters & HR managers are short sighted, looking at the “He/she won’t stay” angle despite the harsh reality of the economy and job market we are in.

Furthermore are other disturbing trends (and frustrating ones if you are among the unemployed). Recent news stories not only reveal scams such as pay for job leads, but other work at home or ‘franchise’ type schemes. But even worse is the list of articles revealing that some hiring managers have a policy of “the unemployed need not apply.” The numerous reports of this not only cede credibility, but reinforce the older practice of ‘the longer you are out, the less we want to hire you.’

One other area of comment and facts about information I find not widely known: The numbers counted in the unemployment figures do not tell the whole story. Left out are people not collecting because their compensation has run out or because they (luckily?) have multiple part time jobs while seeking a FT one. Still others are left out because they have temporary (contracted) jobs despite the length or lack of benefits many offer. Sometimes reported as the “underemployed number,” it can be as much as double the unemployment rate.

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