I know this may cause an unleashing of “how dare you” kind of comments so first let me say, I know for a fact that there are many people who are truly looking hard for work. They make job hunting their business. They are up early, investigating every lead, sending out resumes, applying on line, and applying for any job they think they would be able to do. And when they get a job, they are grateful and they work to keep those jobs. These are NOT the people I’m talking about in this blog.
However, every time I hear of unemployment statistics, I cringe inside. Because the statistics I hear don’t address something I see quite often. There are a certain amount of younger people (and perhaps older people, but I’ve seen this first hand at the younger age) who do several things which get in the way of them becoming an employment success:
First, they assume they won’t get work. They hear all the horrible news in the papers, on TV, and on the Internet about how unemployment is rising, and people cannot find work, and companies are letting people go, so they start off right away with the assumption they will be unsuccessful. This mindset leads them to…
Second, they don’t try that hard to get a job. I’ve heard complaints such as, “I’ve been trying to get a job for four months and there’s nothing out there.” When digging a bit deeper, the “I’ve been trying to get a job” meant that this particular person applied for a job, and then just waited. Or they applied for five jobs and just waited. Or they went to a mini-mall and went into a few stores, where they were told “you have to apply online” so they took that as a “no.” So they spent perhaps an hour out of a week looking for work. But then, miracle of miracle, one of the few companies they applied to calls back, they go for an interview and get the job, and then….
Third, they don’t want to work. I think, perhaps based on being handed a lot of things when they are young, there are those in the younger workforce who don’t really want to work. They don’t have a good work ethic. They want to say they are working, they want to show up somewhere five days a week, and they want to get handed a paycheck. But work? No thank you. Why do I say this? I know someone who has found two jobs so far, basically using the method in the previous paragraph. They’ve been fired from both jobs for “allegedly” taking longer or more frequent breaks than were allowed. Basically, they weren’t working.
So here’s what I say about each of these problems:
First, there ARE jobs out there. I get a daily email from a local job site. Granted, not all of the jobs would suit all people, but every day I get notice of 10-20 or more openings in various local companies. The jobs are as varied as traffic directors for a local event, to retail positions of various types, to full time office work with benefits. That’s just from one site. Perhaps it would be useful to measure how many of the people who are counted in the unemployment statistics are actively looking for work. That would certainly give a better view of how big the real problem is. But bottom line, we have to change the starting mind set of our young people – there ARE jobs out there. Some of them are tough and physical, and some of them are not, but jobs do exist.
Second, job hunting skills need to be taught nationwide. I’m sure some schools and organizations do this, but it should be required to learn financial planning and job hunting in high school (I threw the financial planning in there, which really doesn’t have much to do with the blog, but is equally critical). When a person needs a job, the job hunt really needs to be their one focus – just like having a job. They need to get up, shower, get dressed for work, and hunt. Today there are a LOT of sources for jobs – online sites like Monster.com, careerbuilders.com, snagajob.com, and many local sites, depending on where you live. There are also the newspapers, both online and in print and local marketplace type publications. There are the companies themselves. A prospective job applicant should be hunting for the types of companies they want to work at and then pursuing those. Make an appointment to talk the Human Resources department. Ask around family and friends to see if you know anyone who works there. Go into the store and ask to speak to the manager. Write a resume. Practice shaking hands, looking people in the eye, and speaking clearly. You need to present yourself well, both in writing and in person. Bottom line, it’s a job to find a job.
Third, when you get a job, work. In the example above, a person obtained a job in a warehouse, where the basic pay was dependent upon getting a certain amount of work done per day. If the person did more than the base expectation, they made extra. Overtime was also available. Hard work was rewarded. There were only two 15 minute breaks and one ½ hour lunch break allowed. The person in the example earlier was fired for taking a longer break. Here’s what I’m thinking. If this person was truly working his/her butt off, and was getting to work on time every day and was doing the base amount of work, and they took one break one day that was a bit longer than allowed, my guess is the boss would have talked to them and given them a pass. Companies WANT people that can do the work; that’s how they stay in business. So if this person was indeed doing the work, they would have been given at least one pass for an error in judgment. At least that’s what I would have done if they worked for me. So my guess this particular person wasn’t pulling their weight.
When anyone gets a job, if they expect to keep the job, they need to put 100% of their effort into their work. They need to show up on time or perhaps a bit early. They need to do what is asked of them, and while it is not required, going above what is expected is a great way to keep a job. And is also a great way to turn it into a career.
So the bottom line here is that there is some percentage of people who are included in the unemployment statistics who should become a footnote of sorts. These are the people who simply are not working at finding work, and who are not working when they find work. Including them in the big bucket of unemployment statistics simply isn’t creating a clear picture of the unemployment problems. When I hear the news about the unemployment statistics, I always question how many of those people are truly looking for work. Because it’s the ones that are truly looking to work that should be getting the available jobs, not the ones that just want someone to hand them money. Money really does not grow on trees – it has to be earned.
Those are my thoughts on the subject. What are yours?