The Employment Game

If you’ve ever looked for a job, you will be familiar with the following routine:

  1. Check the newspaper/online job boards.
  2. Post your resume/apply for jobs.
  3. Wait.
  4. Wait some more.
  5. Receive an impersonal email thanking you for your interest, but that someone else was chosen.
  6. Repeat.

Searching for a job has always sucked, but in the last 20 years it has gotten even worse.  Sometimes, it might be you:

Trisha Zulic, a hiring recruiter based in San Diego, got an email from a job applicant recently with a single word in the subject line: “Management.” The email itself included only four words: “Attached is my resume.” Zulic was trying to fill management jobs at four different companies, so she emailed back and asked which position the applicant was applying for. The response she got: “Any company. Management.”

At that point, she moved on to the next candidate. “He didn’t even know what job he was applying for,” Zulic says. “I didn’t even look at his resume.”

If you’re that guy, then there isn’t much hope for you.  You should always know what job you are applying for.

That article blames the lack of a job on the applicants.  But most of the time, the applicants are not the problem.  So what is keeping you from getting an interview (never mind getting a second interview or, God forbid, a job offer)?

1.  HR departments.

Most people have heard of Human Resources.  But do you know what these people actually get paid to do?  I didn’t either, until I found this:

HIHR Executive Summary

On page 6 of the HIHR Executive Summary, it lists the “Greatest Challenges Faced by Today’s HR Leaders”.  Here is the list of their top four concerns in order:

Measuring HR programs in Financial Terms  35%

Delivering Workforce Metrics and Analytics   26%

Driving Internal Mobility and Career Development   24%

Enabling a Strong Self-Learning Culture   23%

Well, surely HR must care about the types of people they are hiring, right?  Wrong.  Only seven percent of these HR ‘leaders’ said that the selection and recruiting of talent was their biggest challenge.  It’s no wonder that companies with HR departments are so f*cked messed up.

But wait, there’s more!

This, friends, is the trouble with HR. In a knowledge economy, companies that have the best talent win. We all know that. Human resources execs should be making the most of our, well, human resources — finding the best hires, nurturing the stars, fostering a productive work environment — just as IT runs the computers and finance minds the capital. HR should be joined to business strategy at the hip.

Instead, most HR organizations have ghettoized themselves literally to the brink of obsolescence. They are competent at the administrivia of pay, benefits, and retirement, but companies increasingly are farming those functions out to contractors who can handle such routine tasks at lower expense. What’s left is the more important strategic role of raising the reputational and intellectual capital of the company — but HR is, it turns out, uniquely unsuited for that.

And here’s the list of reasons why, according to the author of that article:

1. HR people aren’t the sharpest tacks in the box.

2. HR pursues efficiency in lieu of value. Why? Because it’s easier — and easier to measure.

3. HR isn’t working for you. Want to know why you go through that asinine performance appraisal every year, really? Markle, who admits to having administered countless numbers of them over the years, is pleased to confirm your suspicions. Companies, he says “are doing it to protect themselves against their own employees,” he says. “They put a piece of paper between you and employees, so if you ever have a confrontation, you can go to the file and say, ‘Here, I’ve documented this problem.’

An actual headhunter has put his finger squarely on the problem:

Don’t get me wrong: There are some very good people working in HR, and there may be a legitimate role for HR in many companies. But HR’s domination of recruiting and hiring has led to a disaster of staggering magnitude in our economy. In the middle of one of the biggest talent gluts in American history, employers complain they can’t fill jobs.  (emphasis added)

According to NewsHour’s latest estimate, nearly 27 million Americans are currently looking for work, either because they are unemployed or under-employed. (The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] reports 12 million unemployed. I prefer the NewsHour figure because it tells us just how big the pool of available talent is.) Concurrently, BLS also reports that 3.7 million jobs are vacant.

What does HR call this 7:1 ratio of available talent to vacant jobs? It has a special term. HR departments and employers call this 7:1 edge “the great talent shortage!”

I would go on about the scores of problems that HR departments are causing, but I would only be doing a poor rehash of things that Aaron Clarey has already written about here, here, here, and hereUncle Bob has also chimed in:

Now we have “Human Resources Departments” which hire dumb young women with worthless college degrees. They’re make-work jobs that, I’m sure, pay way too much.

I was interviewed for half an hour and asked stupid questions they clearly memorized from a textbook. They looked to be about 25 years old and clearly had no idea what they were doing.

One question was, “Do you smile a lot?” Since I had decided I didn’t want the job, I answered, “I hardly smile at it. In fact, I glower a lot.” Of course I didn’t get the job, which was fine with me.

These days, when you’re interviewed by HR you’re supposed to give the “right” answers. I suggest you don’t do that and instead tell the truth: “You do know of course you have a make-work job and if it was eliminated things would get better?”

Yep, that sounds about right.

2.  Companies that fraudulently advertise jobs that don’t exist.

Yours truly covered the fraud that is being committed in the job market:

So companies are posting jobs.  Whether or not those jobs actually exist is another thing altogether.  One thing that these companies may be doing is creating the job ‘opening’ after they have already decided who they are going to hire:

Many open jobs are never advertised at all, or are posted only after a leading candidate—an internal applicant or someone else with an inside track—has been identified. Sometimes, as in Mr. Nottingham’s case, a hiring manager creates a new position ahead of schedule to accommodate a favored prospect.


Another thing that companies are doing is advertising these ‘open’ positions, even when they have already decided to promote someone internally.

…the practice irritates many job seekers, who feel shut out of companies and often don’t know they are applying for phantom positions.

“You never get a fair opportunity to show what you have to offer,” says Jo Ann Bullard, an HR specialist who was laid off in April by Orc Software. She says she has since applied for more than 500 jobs and has interviewed for several of them, only to later learn from HR contacts that those companies preferred to promote insiders.

3.  Federal employment laws and regulations

These are the 10,000 pound gorillas in the room that no one wants to talk about.  From the minimum wage to unions to anti-discrimination laws, the federal government has distorted the current labor market into its current state.  Take the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, for example.  This law provides tax credits for businesses that hire:

  • Veterans
  • TANF Recipients
  • SNAP (Food Stamp) Recipients
  • Designated Community Residents (living in Empowerment Zones or Rural Renewal Counties)
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Referral
  • Ex-felons
  • Supplemental Security Income Recipients
  • Summer Youth Employee (living in Empowerment Zones)

There’s something seriously wrong when you are basically rewarding someone for committing a crime by making it more profitable for companies to hire them than a law-abiding citizen.  I can just hear the business owner now: “Well, Jesse robbed me but it’s okay because I got that tax credit from the government!”.

And how about about the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would

prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with at least 15 employees.

The Heritage Foundation raises some pertinent points:

ENDA could also have serious unintended consequences. It would impose liability on employers for alleged “discrimination” based not on objective employee traits, but on subjective and unverifiable identities. ENDA would further increase government interference in labor markets, potentially discouraging job creation. It does not provide adequate protections for religious liberty or freedom of speech. Finally, especially related to issues surrounding “gender identity” and “transgender” employees, this law could require employment policies that, with regard to a number of workplace conditions, undermine common sense.

Yeah.  Let’s create more special groups and give them more special treatment.  That’ll work.

It’s hard enough to find a new job without interference from these parties.  It was bad enough years ago when your most pressing worry used to be your lack of experience, along with the question of how you were supposed to get experience when you don’t have experience and no one will hire you because you lack experience.  As this hard-working young man finds out to his chagrin, it just doesn’t matter:


* Please note that no members of any HR department, ex-felons, or gender-identitied persons were harmed in the writing of this post.


Categories: Fraud, Hmm, Job Skills, Liars, Not Economics, Unemployment

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