PEOPLE AREN’T WORKING BECAUSE THEY CAN’T GET A JOB

JOBS

^ do companies actually fill jobs ? Or do they only pass the unemployed along through a gauntlet of temporary exploitation to further unemployment ?

—- —- —-

Lat week I saw a job posting at a facebook discussion group. I don’t see job ads on facebook every day, certainly none for a significant position at a local non-profit.

That was the good news for those who seek a great job. Then came the bad news : the gauntlet of obstacles that an applicant needs to put herself through : (1) Submit your application online only, with cover letter and resume. (2) wait as some nameless person, or committee, reads who knows how many applications (3) if lucky, get called for an interview (4) who knows what you’ll be asked, or how you should dress ? (5) maybe be called for a second interview, perhaps by a team of interviewers (6) stress back at home while one, two, three or ten dozen people discuss your eligibility among themselves (7) perhaps now get called for background check (8) stress while the background check is done. And while your references are called. And while your previous employment record is looked at. And, and, and…

Meanwhile, your bills need be paid, so you continue on your current job, or you submit to the application process elsewhere, maybe at a lot of elsewheres.

Then comes the e-mail (always an e mail, only an e mail): “Thank you for your interest in job X; your application was carefully reviewed but we have chosen another candidate.”

Should you have asked your local politician to help you ? Maybe, but in most cases, the organization he or she might call would likely resent being interfered with. A call or visit by your local pol only works, sometimes, if the job is itself political, or with a utility. But if you have that sort of call upon a local pol, you’re probably not stressing a job  in the first place.

But you are stressing, because you don’t have political clout, and you do have bills to pay.

How do you get a job ? A good job ? I really don’t know how people get good jobs. One friend has applied, these past three years (!), to five hundred (500) jobs for which her resume qualifies her for. She’s been called to about 40 interviews, reached finalist status eight times : still no job.l Meanwhile she does part time work, when it’s available, or works at Costco.

She’s also 55 years old. They say “XYZ Associates is an equal opportunity employer” but at shoe leather level,. it is no such thing. More like “equal lack of opportunity.” But I digress.

How do you get a good job ? A minimum wage job, you can probably get without too many hassles. Dunkin Donuts, the local supermarket, cleaning services, Home Depot shelf stocker — these you can get hired for even if you are 55 years old, or the wrong skin color, or an immigrant. Perhaps you can get two such jobs and work (plus commutes) 17 hours a day. Good luck to you and your health.

Two minimum wage jobs, and you earn maybe $ 700 a week before taxes. You take home maybe $ 2200 a month, all of which goes to rent, food, transportation, and utilities. You need public assistance — food stamps, most likely, or EBT cash for two kids — to get by, and there’s almost no money left for a cell phone and none for anything else at all.

Meanwhile, you get a parking ticket which you can’t pay, or there isn’t money for auto insurance or car repair (and the 16 year old car you probably own always needs repair). It is expensive to be poor. It hurts your health, stresses your kids, breaks your relationships.; More marriages fail for financial stress than for any other cause.

But at least in the poverty world you can get a $ 10 an hour job. The problem is keeping it. Most minimum wage jobs experience enormous turnover.

Is it any wonder that people are angry ? My friend the 55 year old who has applied to 500 jobs has a fright to be angry. I would think less of her if she were NOT^ angry.

And what of those who are lucky enough to get hired for a “good job,” a job paying (let’s say) $ 78,000 a year ? Do you suppose that’s that’s the end of it all ? It is not. On the job, rivals for promotion talk you down behind your back. You are smarter than your supervisor ? expect a quick demotion. Or, your boss hits on you. How do you respond ? What if your firm is bought out ? Is your department safe from layoffs ? Likely not. Meanwhile, you have to meet your three month evaluation, ignore the back bites, smile and be happy, dress well, be a good team-mate, play tennis with your tennis-loving manager, take night courses to keep current in your field, learn a new computer language or operating system, and hope that one day you’re not fired and your company credit card shut off while you’re on a business trip.

Frankly, I would rather not have such a job. I would rather start my won business (as my partner and I have done with Here and Sphere) than be unlucky enough to get hired for a nightmare.

This is the vast majority, today of the world of organized, well-paid work. Bureaucratic in everything, pressured to fake stuff or lie about it, obligated to be humiliated, to lie, to pretend, and to do it for at least eight hours a day if not more only to see it ended by getting fired without warning.

Perhaps you will be one of the lucky ones to not be fired; to win a promotion.l But I will be much surprised if even then you aren’t very, very angry. How can you spend quality time with the family if you are working or commuting 12 hours a day and maybe taking work home on the weekends ? Sure, you’re now earning $ 125,000 — not that that’s luxury in Boston, where rents for executive condos run $ 3,000 to $ 4,000 and buy prices range from $ 800 k to $ 1.5 million — but how can you enjoy any of it ? Any day you can be laid off, or your spouse can run off with a new love interest (and you’ll be paying a divorce lawyer plenty) and there just isn’t any peace.

Life has played a hell of a bad joke on you. The land of opportunity ? Pure horse effluent. No wonder people are angry. A job is a boarding pass to the Good Ship “Suffer.” Assuming you can get one at all.

Many of us have given up trying. Can’t say that I blame them.

—- Mijke Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

 

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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