As most of us know, it is becoming increasingly harder to get a job in today’s America with the “new economy.” What once could be a job search from a few weeks or few months, has now become several months to over a year for a lot of people. Even in my recent job hunt it’s gotten a lot harder. After awhile it all gets to be frustrating and disheartening. You fill out more and more applications and get interviews very little of the time that give you high hopes, but nothing.
Many of us wonder why or how it is that in supposedly the richest nation in the world, so many are struggling to get employment nowadays. I’ve even been really surprised to see stories on other forums about people who are older than I am and have never had a paying job before. Of course, a lot of the people who wrote about them were just jeering them and saying they must be lazy and content to live in their dad’s basement. Probably for some, but there truly are grown adults out there who’ve never had a job because they never had what it took to get one.
Probably the most dreaded thing about filling out applications for today’s generation is the issue of having work experience. I’m learning how there are also many people even younger than I am who’ve never worked and don’t have any work experience, and ache at having to come up with it or explain why they don’t have it, or have very little of it. It remains to be a valid issue and question for many: how can I ever get work experience if no one wants to hire me?
This is the problem - if not the biggest - that a lot of employers are still very hardheaded about and continue to justify their reasons for wanting it. It’s almost as if they expect the entire population to be born with work history. Not everyone has been able to have a job since teenhood, so it should also be expected that there are those who are still trying to plant their feet firmly in the job world.
Most employers - particularly in the slave market of retail - have a laziness of their own where they’d rather just overlook a lot of people without work experience because they don’t want to spend the time training new employees. So it’s easier for them to just choose from the candidates who are already familiar with that line of work. And although job applications offer you the option of checking ‘No work experience’ or ‘Never held a paying job’ as if it’s okay and that the business can still give you a chance, most employers are not going to pick those people a lot of the time. I, too, agree that it’s unfair. Once upon a time, accepting new employees and training them first was a very widespread norm in jobs, nowadays it is far less the case unless the job requires specific know-how.
Many young adults have been told to just go somewhere and do some volunteer work to get work experience, and they will do it - myself included - yet it often still is not good enough for employers. And this is because while you may have gained the labor experience of it, employers also want to be able to see that you’ve had a salary in the past and have paid income taxes, almost as if they think you wouldn’t know how to handle money if this is your first paying job.
In actuality, the work experience requirement is pretty ridiculous because you could have plenty of it and still not get hired for the next job simply because the experience you have has nothing to do with that line of work! So why require it? If a social worker just lost her job and now applied to Walmart or JCPenny, she can still be overlooked just because she has no retail experience, even though she worked for 20 years.
Questionnaires, or “assessments”…
This is one I can get really fired up about, yet it shows me the most what’s really going on with employers’ methods of picking candidates. Today’s questionnaires on job applications - and they are always the ones you fill out online and almost always for large, popular corporations - are actually created to approve a very small few applicants. The vast majority of us who answer them are actually set up to fail, and this is because businesses are really trying to narrow it down so they can hire as few people as they possibly can unless it happens to be that they have several job openings. I learned this after having done them more times than I can count.
The questions are arranged so that you will answer in a way that will please the business. Although a note will pop up telling you to answer however you want or the best you can, and that there’s no such thing as a wrong answer, that’s actually a pure load of Bullshit. The questionnaires have already been setup to know which answers to accept as suitable and which ones say the candidate isn’t a good choice. So then it goes to HR, who reviews your “assessment” and alerts the job manager that you may be good a candidate if your answers have been satisfactory. I honestly have to say I hate questionnaires more than anything when I apply to jobs. To me they seem to be very dishonest, by asking questions in a certain way that could seem as if you’re a negative prospect, when you just thought you were being honest.
Sneakiness in the questions...
There is also a catch that I don’t think a lot of people notice in them: some questions are actually asked more than once in different forms to see if your answers will contradict each other or be consistent. For example, first question is: “You like doing a lot of things at once,” and a later one will be, “You get overwhelmed when there are too many tasks.” You may click ‘Slightly Agree’ or ‘Slightly Disagree’ to the first one but click ‘Agree’ to the second, or you may click ‘Disagree’ to both. Another example: one question is: “You like working with others in a fast-paced environment” and another is, “You like working at your own pace.” You may have answered ‘Slightly Agree’ to the first one, but ‘Strongly Agree’ to the second, and not remembering what you said to the first one. It’s questions like those that are meant to test you, and when you answer inconsistently - and more than once - you can bet that your chance at the job is out the door.
Even having to answer whether you agree or disagree “strongly” or “slightly” is ridiculous, and creates uncertainty. Many times I honestly don’t know how to answer or what to say because the question itself just seems stupid, or it feels like I’m supposed to pick something the employers want to hear. Some experts tell you that you don’t want to answer the questions perfectly, especially if you redundantly insist that you’re a leader, excel above all others, or are a goody two-shoes who will do what it takes to look out for the business, including ratting on a co-worker who steals, because it alerts employers that you’re pretty much trying to say that stuff to get hired. So you’re supposed to answer mildly, even though that can be bad too.
Questionnaires are also set up to know which applicants will be Yes Men and Yes Women. How you answer will decide if you can be owned and molded by the business. Large corporations like Walmart and Target want to be sure that you will be a loyal employee who won’t stand up for yourself or stand up and contest anything in the job that you feel is unfair. Corporations like these are just the kinds who are against unions, and they don’t want you in one.
You are not in control…
Whether they are going to admit it or not, most employers have the attitude that we as job seekers are at their mercy, and that we’re in no position to expect more or want things done a little more fairly. The way they see it is, we are the pool of overflowing fish and they are the fishermen who get to pick and choose, so if we want work then we have to put up with their system of things. This is how they’ve made it work in their favor. They know that the demand for jobs is higher and higher because of the present economy and higher cost of living, so they also know how to use that to their advantage. They will try to tell you that it's hard for them as employers to go through all these pools of candidates - which may be true - but they make their expectations high so they can only hire a few who meet them.
And especially with Latino immigrants. Many American businesses will hire them immediately because they know they can take advantage of them. While the rest of us have to prove work history, high school education, and prove that we are who we say we are, many Latinos get jobs first even though they have poor English, no American work experience, haven’t even lived in the country for a whole year, and only have a passport as their reliable document. American businesses hire them in a snap because they know they’re willing to work hard, for low wages. Businesses know that Americans won’t tolerate that so they try to pick the people they can get over on, and it works. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with Hispanics since I speak Spanish and have Latina friends, but it’s still the truth.
The new employment world is based on money for the business, not a system that works for everybody. That’s why the minimum wage has still not gone up very much in most states. It’s why immigrants who don’t speak English well are hired a lot. And why stores nowadays will only have two or three check-out lines open. I remember when I was a kid seeing almost all of them open at any store you went to. Not now. And all this is because businesses don’t want to have to use money to pay more employees; they’d rather try to cram in all the work with few, which is most often the case in retail, and why some of these businesses have high turn over.
So what do we do?...
What seems to be the case for me is that I must pursue my own personal art skills and talent as my main means of income. This is a case that a lot of people come to realize eventually. However, that too is difficult without the proper starting funds, yet you know you will be very successful if you're able to launch your business. Managing your own taxes will be a bitch, but at the end of the day it's worth it.
I'm also learning to aim for the middle, which means trying to train for a skill that's neither high or low, like auto mechanics, home repair, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, or commercial logistics. Many people in our generation today try to aim as high as they possibly can by going to school to be doctors, attorneys, accountants, and any other office jobs that will pay enormously because they want job security and wealth. This can hurt too because the 2000s are now seeing a lot of college graduates with degrees who they themselves aren't getting hired for the jobs they studied for.
Unless it's something in the immediate medical field that's always in demand like nurses and CNAs, you're still going to have to fight to get up that ladder. So one of the things to aim for is something that is in regular demand and pays well, and what people rely on, like the ones I mentioned. You also don't have to spend as long in school for those jobs either, most being from some months to a year or two.
If you can, try to aim to be your own business or learn a skill that will put you in a job with regular demand. A lot of us do try to just apply for anything we can in the hopes that it's a fast job, even if it pays shit, but we don't have to submit like that. That's what employers want us to do, the system is set up for us to try to please their high expectations while fewer and fewer actually filter through, but we don't have to bend that way. Plan your path for more. If you do happen to get hired somewhere in the meantime, that's great, but don't let it end there. Still aim for more advantages so that you can reach a place where you can either work for yourself or have a skill that gets you hired for a job that people depend on, and with good pay.