Friday, July 22, 2011

Maybe They Should Call It a White-Old-Man-Cession...

Yes, yes, I know: I've been absent for a while, but I have been quite busy. Looking for a steady job in the blasted heath of what used to be the economic capital of the world can be quite the time-consuming task.

It's also becoming a damned-near futile one. Unless you speak a foreign language.

I say this because it is true. For upon entering the Department of Labor here on Staten Island (what used to be called 'The Unemployment Office'. In Reichsfuhrer Bloomdouche's New Yorkistan, we're supposed to call them 'Employment Centers' keeping with the now decade-long Bloomberg tradition of calling something exactly the opposite of what it's supposed to be for political purposes) one cannot help but think that English must have been replaced as the Chief Lingua Franca at some point, and whoever did it just forgot to tell us.

You will find all sorts of literature there in the Employment Center -- about your rights as a worker, about state wage and overtime laws, how to apply for welfare -- but few, if any, of these pamphlets are written in English. There's Spanish, Creole, Polish, Ukrainian, Arabic, Cantonese, but no English.

The same goes for the Bloomberg Administration's most efficacious, cost-effective, and low-tech solution to the problem of finding a job in tough economic times: the Job Board. Or, as I like to call it, a bulletin board full of minimum-wage grunt tasks that all end with the sentence 'Se Habla Espanol".

If you're a Native Born, English-speaking job seeker with actual skills, you're shit out of luck. The Employment Center apparently doesn't exist to get YOU a job -- for all the times I've been in there in the last five years, I can't recall anyone ever actually doing anything to help me find an employer. Instead, it's always been 'fill in this paperwork, and wait for us to call you. That call, incidentally, never comes -- and frankly, I wonder just what these people are doing on any given day (other than encouraging illegal immigrants to apply for welfare benefits while also hooking them up with jobs).

There was once a time when the Job Market made sense. People needed other people with actual skills, and so they did something that nowadays seems quaint and anachronistic: they employed a Personnel Agency to go out and find qualified candidates for whatever job they had available, and to perform a very valuable service in weeding out the marginally-qualified before arranging interviews. These Agencies put you in touch with prospective employers, there was often a series of interviews, and if you made the right impression upon the hiring manager, you very often got the job.

No more.

Today's Personnel Agency is  little more than a whorehouse for temporary workers. You get pimped out on short-term projects,and wind up having to split your earnings with the agency, who incidentally, also gets a fee for supplying your services. Temp work always sucked, but it never sucked this badly. You might also try to find some (again, temporary) work with what's euphemistically called a 'Consulting Agency', but again, this is sort of like Indentured Servitude: whatever contract you negotiate under the auspices of the 'Consultant Group', you're going to lose about half of it before you even see it.

That's if you can manage to elbow the Indians and Chinese out of the way first, so that you can even get a sniff at a contract. They're willing to work at such ridiculously-low rates that you wonder how it is that they manage to survive, until you remember that they come from countries where famine is a fact of everyday life. These are people who could stretch a pound of rice and a dozen cockroaches, for a family of six, out for half a decade, if they really had to, and skipping meals eighteen days in a row is no big deal.

Anyways,the Personnel Agency and 'Consultantcy' groups have had their primary function of connecting employer with potential-employee largely superceded by that most impersonal of contraptions, the computer.

See, nowadays, you may not even get to see another human being when applying for a job, and depending on how the computer is programmed to do it's job, you  may never even get an interview even when you're infinitely qualified. Your resume goes into a the dark, murky depths of cyberspace and winds up in some hiring manager's PC, and the next thing you know, his 'puter is deciding for him whether or not he should invest any time or effort on you.

I wonder: How many people would have been hired if they got as much as ten minutes of face time with a Manager,but they never got that opportunity because the computer rejected and shitcanned their resume before the Manager was even aware it had been received?

Well, don't fret that personal-factor bullshit none, because technology has an answer for that, too, in the form of Facebook. It has now become common to see a space on an online application where one can put in their Facebook and Twitter nonsense, particularly a link to a Facebook video of you trying to sell yourself to potential employers (why bother with videos when you can you just as easily invite people in to TALK to them? What's so 'interactive' about Facebook or Twitter, in this regard, and really: would you hire someone based upon their ability to use internet shorthand and avoid the 140-character limit?).

It isn't enough to have qualifications and experience, anymore, now you must master the intricacies of Social Networking and Personal Online Marketing just to find a job? What kind of bullshit is this, other than a way of keeping people -- that is,the older folks, who might be making more money -- OUT OF the job market?

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the nuts-and-bolts of the Modern Job Search. It gets far worse.

Another useful tool in days past was to 'know somebody' who could whisper a word in someone else's ear, or perhaps get you a shot at a position, but those days are long gone. Despite all this bullshit about a 'connected' world and Social Networking, even if you DID 'know someone' the chances of them being able to connect you with a job opportunity are rather slim for two reasons:

1. There ain't no jobs, and the job your contact has they might only be managing to keep by hanging on by their fingernails. They ain't rockin' boats, they ain't stepping forward to put themselves out, and they certainly ain't bringing potential competition into the office.

2. You DO realize that most of the jobs you (and by that I mean 'I') can do with all your qualifications and experience can be done in India, China, Russia, Pakistan, South Africa, Ukraine, and Indonesia for a fraction of the price you'll ask for, right? Why should anyone pay you $150,000k a year, plus bennies, when they can get some third-party Asian coolie to do the same job for $15k (often less), and they don't have to give him medical, a pension, or vacation days?

Then there's the 'BA or equivalent' routine.

I don't know when it became necessary for EVERY job to require a bachelor's degree, but I can pretty much say that it is perhaps the most ridiculous requirement imaginable. I don't have a degree, myself, and quite frankly, I didn't NEED one; I learned my trade by doing, not by sitting in a classroom, learning to parrot a professor who has no actual EXPERIENCE, while piling up unpayable debt.

As a former hiring manager myself, I saw so many college graduates that I began to wonder if they weren't making them on an assembly line somewhere. Most of them, incidentally, couldn't write, count, or find their own asses with both hands. So, imagine what a shock it must be when you pick up an ad for a Computer Operator's job (a job that is, frankly, about as close to factory work as you'll find in the IT industry) and it requires a BA or 5 years of experience.

No problem: I have 20+ years of experience, right? Should be a shoe-in. Except there's no degree for a job that doesn't really require one. And if that excuse doesn't confuse you, try this other one:

Oh, right...I'm too old. Apparently 44 is the new 81 when it comes to employing people, especially if it's in the financial industry and they have to abide by some of the more onerous...and expensive ...state laws. Like the Pension Law that states that if you underwrite any State business, then you MUST contribute a lump-sum payment into your employee's pension fund, based upon their age. A 40-year-old working for a financial firm that underwrites New York State debt, for example, costs that financial company $10,000 a year in pension benefits before he even walks through the door for his first day of work.

Fail to make that pension payment, and you'll never underwrite another bond for New York State.

Of course, no one ever tells you you didn't get the job because you have no degree or are considered too old, you simply don't get called back. Ditto when a background check reveals you've been treated for a mental illness, despite the fact that your medical records are supposed to be private. I'm beginning to think it's probably worth eventually getting caught by claiming a disability on an application, just to have some additional legal protections,or get myself higher up on 'TheList'.

I guess I always could go back to school to learn a set of new skills, but applying for financial aid (State or Federal) is a bit tricky, you see. I'm not Black or Female enough, according to the one consultant I've spoken to on this subject (yes, he actually said those words!). Are you sure you don't have any Muslim, or perhaps Pacific Islander, in your background? Too bad; that would have made you golden.

Same thing for Government Work: not black or female enough, and besides, I have this nasty habit of scoring '100' on every civil service exam I've ever taken, which means I get called LAST for any job, assuming I even get called AT ALL.

I can't stock shelves at the local supermarket: I'm over-qualified, they say. I can't program mainframe systems, or run massive mainframe complexes; I'm under-qualified -- no degree -- despite the fact that I did exactly these things for over 20 years. I'm not bi-tri-or-quadri-lingual, which I'm told puts me at a distinct disadvantage in the 'Global Marketplace', but then again, the 'Global Marketplace' is right here in the United States, sucking up welfare benefits, undercutting wages, and filling the 'Employment Office' with pamphlets written in Sanskrit, Cuneiform and Hieroglyphics.

What to do, what to do?

I guess I'll have to do one of those 'reinventing myself' routines you used to see on Oprah before she got tired of hiding her raging 50-pound-a-day bonbon habit from public view. I mean, I could start a business of my own, but certainly not in this country, that's for sure. The taxes and ObamaCare mandates alone would kill you. But even going overseas to start a business could be tricky. After all, you need to find a business concept that will attract local interest.

That means any plans I had for teaching basic hygiene in El Salvador are probably doomed to fail before I even begin. Do you know how many e coli-on-spinach cases we'd avoid if Salvadorans just washed regularly before they picked it?

Ditto for my other great idea, which was to introduce soap to Pakistan. I figured I could corner the soap market,and be the biggest importer of the stuff by simply putting a few dozen bars of Ivory or Irish Spring in a suitcase -- this would represent about a 5,000,000% increase in Pakistani soap imports -- and selling them on a street corner in Karachi. Pakistanis will pay anything, you know, just avoid each other's stench.

Seriously, though, I have to find something to do, and soon. It's starting to look pretty bleak, now and I'm running out of time, what with a sick mother and bills to pay, and all that. So, if there's anyone out there that needs a relatively-smart guy with a work ethic, willing to pay a decent wage, drop us a line at the Lunatic's Asylum and make us an offer.

I'll pretty much consider anything that doesn't involve a foreign object being inserted -- or forcibly removed -- from my rectum.