Throughout the recession, the nation's attention has been focused on macroeconomics: bank bailouts, foreclosures, massive layoffs and health insurance as well as the frustrating, but entirely predictable Congressional deadlocks ensuing. But this has blinded us to the opportunities for employment that are, literally, inches in front of us.
I am a recruiter and I have seen it all. I have seen grammatically challenged resumes, cover letters void of creativity and thank you notes fraught with typos. Even when candidates present perfectly written collateral materials, I have seen them butcher interviews due to a lack of passion and lack of integrity.
Honestly, I am getting tired of it. Why? Because THIS is one of three reasons why the economy is suffering right now. It is NOT because there are no jobs available. A basic search on Monster and Careerbuilder and on the hundreds of on line company career portals will prove that I am correct. The fact is that there are PLENTY of jobs available.
Job seeking is not a natural skill. Candidates have to market themselves at networking events and have to sell themselves during interviews. They have to find their way around recruiters like me and then convince hiring managers to give them the time of day. In many cases, due to job obsolescence, job seekers and newly returning veterans need to recreate themselves and to explain how their skills are transferable. Job seekers essentially have to become overnight entrepreneurs despite the fact that their self-esteem may very well be at its lowest point. And, while they're doing all this, they have to politely thank their friends and relatives for their "positive motivation" and politely thank their loan officer for giving them additional time before they foreclose on their house.
Job seekers need interview skills training, resume
critiquing, and one-on-one coaching and this is exactly what they cannot
afford. So, they get free help from people who would likely give the shirts off
their backs to them, but who have no clue as to actually help them because they
are not the recruiters evaluating their skills.
Job seekers also need additional education for some of the jobs they are interested in. There is a skill mismatch in many cases due to advances in technology. With additional education more job seekers may qualify for positions requiring transferable skills.
Reason number two relates to employers. Many of them are not willing to consider candidates who are unemployed because they see them as damaged goods. How ridiculous! With all of the downsizing that has gone on in the past few years, how dare these employers snub people that were other company's loyal servants. Most people have been kicked to the curb due to no fault of their own. And now they are suffering because they have the stigma of being unemployed. Seriously? The executives allowing this to go on and my HR colleagues that are just going with the program should be watching over their shoulders, because based on the current ebb and flow of business, they will one day find themselves in a similar situation.
And, what about the ageism going on around the country? People are being told that they are "overqualified" which we all know is a code word for old. Why a company would not want to hire a 50+ year old with years of experience in his field who has demonstrated loyalty and who can solve any problem thrown at him is beyond me. All these people want is to be productive members of society and to do a great job like they have in the past, and we tell them that they are "overqualified". Shame on us!
When jobs remain vacant, it is not only the job seekers that suffer. The current employees suffer from health conditions and burnout because they are doing twice as much work due to the vacancy. Company revenue suffers when sales and marketing positions remain vacant and retail business suffers because fewer people have money to spend on cars, home goods, and furniture. The hundreds of thousands of open jobs are literally stifling our economy. With an unemployment rate of 8.5%, not including uncounted numbers of the unemployed who have given up looking, the quiet despair of the downturn prevails and with it an increasing toll on families and businesses alike. The solution to regaining economic prosperity is to get these open jobs filled. More employed people mean an increased tax base. In short, everyone should be invested in this.
This year, I decided to stop complaining and start doing something to take control of the situation. In September 2012, I launched a 38 city national tour so that I can educate one million jobs seekers who are hurting. I am going to critique resumes, rewrite cover letters, and teach people how to get around recruiters like me. Along the way, I will speak at Human Resources events where I can encourage my colleagues to consider supporting and promoting unemployed, overqualified candidates to their hiring managers.
Let's open our hearts and minds to our fellow Americans. If we all work together, we can put out the fire and put the USA back on its pedestal where it belongs.