February 11, 2014

The 7 ways the top 10 tips from HR professionals don't help 1 damn bit.

I was looking for help and support resources for the HUGE number of unemployed and underemployed people in this country who are probably going to need to find new ways to make a living.
What I found was terabytes of the same old HR pointers and tips regurgitated in multiple different dimensions and folds. With colorful charts, handy bullet points, short lists, you name it.
And not a damn thing that provided the support that they all were instructing you to go find!!
This country, its politics and culture, promote the mythology that hard work and a desire to succeed will result in financial success.
And the reverse of that is that if you are NOT successful, NOT employed, struggling...then you obviously just don't want to work hard enough or don't want success enough. You just aren't trying hard enough. And it is your fault that you are in this situation. You should be ashamed.
The end result? You feel isolated and ashamed. All the benefits you apply for are designed to "weed out" those deemed to be "not trying hard enough", and make you question again and again your own failure.
When you need support and assistance the most, you are dehumanized and isolated. And if your benefits run out? You don't even count anymore. You are no longer numbered among the unemployed by the US government. Which means that the dropping unemployment rate has less to do with more jobs and a lot more to do with less people getting benefits.
Washington Post 9/6/2013

The truth? You are legion.
US statistics from January of 2014 shows 10.2 million officially unemployed. 7.3 million are "involuntarily part-time employed" - hours cut or only job available.
And this last bit is a quote from the report: 
In January, 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. 
They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
Among the marginally attached, there were 837,000 discouraged workers in January, about unchanged from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.8 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in January had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

So the math looks like around 11 million people who have no jobs and need one. And another 7.3 million who are getting less work than they need. 13 million people in the US had cancer in 2010
(http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/cancer-prevalence). So where are the support groups for the unemployed? The National organizations advocating for them?
Where is that ribbon?
Unemployment Awareness?
We fought like hell to make people unashamed to admit that they have mental illness, breast cancer, erectile dysfunction for heaven's sake.

Why do we still shame those who don't have a job? Those whose jobs have been shipped to other countries, whose industries have vanished, whose skills are no longer valued?
Who does it benefit to marginalize and shame people who need basic healthcare, food, a place to live - because there are no jobs for them?
The scandal is not that people are poor, that people need work, that people need help. The scandal is that they are being shamed for it.
So take your "7 mistakes of job hunters", fold it until it is all corners and shove it up your arse.

1 comment:

Rhianon Jameson said...

A spot-on post (and something we can agree on!). The media have a fixation on one unemployment measure (U3?), which is important but not the whole story, while often ignoring the broader measures of unemployment and underemployment.

I tend to think of the usual measure of unemployment as people who are between jobs for one reason or another. You've moved, been laid off, fired, got pissed off with your boss, your boss got pissed off with you, you won the lottery but found that the money only lasted six weeks,... people have a near-infinity of reasons for switching jobs. The fraction of people unemployed goes up during recessions, of course, because finding that next job is harder, but most of such people eventually find something. It's a problem, and that's what unemployment insurance is for, but it's a problem that's largely dealt with.

Long-term unemployment, or underemployment, or people counted as no longer in the labor force even though they want to be, is a different animal, as you point out. The world has changed on these people, and they need to do something else with their lives but are often unable (and sometimes unwilling) to adapt. If you're a master typewriter repairman, it's small consolation to be told that there's a nursing shortage. If you were a middle manager making $150,000 a year and can't find a similar job because companies everywhere are reducing the number of middle managers, it's hard to accept the idea that in order to get another job you're going to take a huge pay cut. And people later in their careers have the additional problem that retraining is often not worthwhile, and that employers are often reluctant to hire older workers into entry-level jobs because the return on those workers is lower than for people newly in the labor force.

It's a tough problem. Government policies can make the problem somewhat better or worse, but government can't solve the problem of the out-of-work typewriter repairman or middle manager. And no one should feel safe from that possibility. Worrying about whether your job will be there next year keeps many people up at night, but worrying about whether your profession will be there in five or ten years is what should really be keeping everyone up at night.