What’s Keeping You From Finding A Job

My post about the past two years of a friend’s adventure from getting laid off to looking for a job resulted in different kinds of comments in the blogosphere when it was featured on a few different sites. Comments ranged everywhere from agreement that it was her fault that she was still unemployed, to me being a horrible friend, me having an elitist attitude and looking down on unemployed people, etc.  I understand and welcome  everyone’s perspective, but can’t agree with them all.

These comments did make me think about all of the people who are actively seeking and having a hard time finding employment. As I mentioned in one of my responses to a comment on the other post, I know what it is like to try finding a job in the current environment. Between my mom’s home and mine, I am the only person that if fully employed. That’s between 6 working age adults. My mom is currently on disability, so I don’t count her. My step-father has been on a work slowdown since the factory that he works in will close in January after something like 80 years in operation. He’s a 57 year old blue collar worker. How easy do you think it will be for him to find a job? Due to efficiencies that I am currently working on to automate much of my own job responsibilities, I predict that I’ll probably be out of work within 5 months or so. Yes, I know, I’m making it easy for my employer to let me go by helping them to automate my work and outsource the rest. But what choice do I have? The job market here is brutally hard, especially if you are a blue collar worker, or if you work in the financial industry. But the fact still remains that while it is hard to find a job, it is not impossible.

With all that said, I am the first to recognize that there are a multitude of factors that are beyond our control that will make it very hard to find employment within a reasonable amount of time. While I won’t say that these reasons are excuses, they can help to explain why the official unemployment rate is hovering around 10% and why the country will never be the same again.

  1. The Rise Of The Third World
    Access to technology; improved educational resources; a globally entwined economy and financial system; and cash infusion from countries and large global conglomerates seeking access to natural resources have all combined to help developing countries rapidly emerge and evolve.  Many countries no longer need the U.S. to supply goods and services that they may now be able to produce.
  2. Manufacturing Shifts From The U.S. To Overseas
    The industrial revolution changed the economy in the U.S. from one of farming based to one based on manufacturing and producing items for the entire world.  That time has long passed as manufacturing has shifted primarily to Asia where raw materials are available, and labor is stunningly cheap.  President Obama thinks that the next driving force for the U.S. economy should lie with green jobs.  With China surpassing the U.S. as a leading supplier of photovoltaic cells used in the production of solar panels, that remains to be seen.
  3. Faltering Education System Within The U.S.
    The U.S. spends more than almost any other developed country in the world on educating students (behind only Switzerland and Norway) yet ranks 28th in math and 22 in science out of 39 countries studied for PISA’s (Program for International Student Assessment) 2007 ranking of students in math and science.  This lags behind countriesWhat's Keeping You From Finding A Job like Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Liechtenstein, and ahead of just nine other countries when it comes to education in math and science.   As more and more businesses turn towards technology, an emerging workforce that is knowledgeable in the sciences will help to keep jobs based in those key areas in this country.  Countries like China and India are able to crank out tens of thousands of well-educated students that are knowledgeable in these areas every year.  This had led to the phenomena of #4.
  4. Outsourcing
    Yes, outsourcing is leeching jobs from this country.  Areas such as programming, customer service phone banks and manufacturing have moved in large scale to countries that have a well educated work force that commands relatively low wages.
  5. Cost of Doing Business Within The U.S.
    We don’t like to admit it, but while starting a business in this country is easy, keeping one going is hard.  In NY there seems to be more rules than there are people about running your business. Did you know that if you sell a bagel whole it is not taxed, but once you slice it, the NY government considers it a sandwich which makes it subject to taxes? There are lots of rules to follow, which, if broken, can lead to excessive fines.  Taxes on employing workers, health care costs, and retirement costs are pricing us out of the international work force.
  6. Wages
    People will get angry with me for this, but the wages that Americans command relative to the rest of the world is high.  I’m not saying that we are living high on the hog, or that you can really raise a family on $7.50 an hour.  What I am saying is that companies like Nike can get away with paying $7.50 a DAY in another country instead of paying $7.50 an HOUR here. It’s not right, but they can do it.

With everything listed above and more going against the American worker, it’s no wonder that finding a job a hard.  But that’s the key; it’s hard, but not impossible.  As American workers, we have to change with the times or we will all be left behind.  Below are some industries that are actually hiring, and will be hard if not impossible to outsource in the future.

  1. Healthcare
    You probably already knew this, but as the baby boomer generation ages, there will be a need to people to help take care of them.  This is at all levels from Home Health Attendants to doctors specializing in geriatric care.
  2. Personal/Executive Assistants
    You do not have to have a business background to be an assistant.  My undergraduate degree with in biology and I was an assistant for 3 years at an investment bank in their healthcare department.  They needed someone that was both personable and knew some of the medical terminology that was used in the deal books.  Assistants can work in any industry.
  3. Language Specialist/Linguists/Translators
    If you can learn or speak multiple languages fluently, especially Arabic, Chinese and Spanish, you can be in hot demand.  As companies become more globalized, there is a need for individuals that are able to speak multiple languages to deal with people across the globe.  Even the armed forces need individuals with language skills.
  4. Intelligence
    The CIA, the FBI and ICE are all hiring people with lots of different backgrounds.  No, you do not have to be a spy to qualify for positions within these government agencies.  They need people with backgrounds in everything from logistics to large scale operations
  5. Green Collar Skilled Labor
    Yes, President Obama did have something right.  There is a need for people that can work on green jobs.  This ranges in everything from electricians that can wire homes to new technologies, LEED construction specialists, recyclers, and green construction managers.  If you’ve worked with your hands in the past, chances are that the green version of your former job needs you.

Beyond looking towards new industries, we must also change the way that we approach job searches.  Yes, you can tap your social network to see if someone is hiring, but your network might be all tapped out.  We must change our minds about what we are willing to do.  One mistake my friend made was that she refused to work longer than 9 to 5.  I am sorry to say that What's Keeping You From Finding A Jobthose jobs are rare.  The standard work day in this city is now 9 to 6 or 8 to 5.

We also have to consider jobs that we might not have looked at before.  Someone mentioned in the comments that I will be saying that we should do migrant farm work.  I would not say anything so extreme, but if you have been out of work for a long time, is delivering pizzas to make ends meet or to pay off debts so bad?  Many people are doing just that right now.

We also have to rethink what our positions are worth.  This is perhaps the hardest pill to swallow.  Employers have the upper hand now, and they know it.  I am sure that there are hundreds of people applying for every single job opening, so employers can have their pick of the litter.  This means that they can hire someone that is clearly overqualified and pay them less to perform the functions of a job than they would have in the past. This is simply because they know that there are lots of people – nay, hundreds, willing to take any open position.  It’s the hard truth, but it is the truth. Employers are resetting pay rates and it sucks, but that means that we might have to scale our own lifestyles down.

So, in a few months’ time when I get my walking papers (although I certainly hope not) I have a plan in action ready to execute to find a job.  I’m realistic about how much pay I might be able to command, and how long it will take to find something.  When I factor in everything that I have said above, I know that it will be hard to find a job, but it won’t be impossible to do so.  Just watch me!

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23 thoughts on “What’s Keeping You From Finding A Job

  • Well said! What I gathered from the original post was your observations of someone expecting to find the exact position she had before. She was unwilling to compromise. I see people like that all the time that have to find a job with the same salary as before or they will stay on unemployment. Unemployment for many of them is running out now.

    My husband works in a pizza place. He cooks and runs the counter. What that means is he gets to work next to the hot oven for his entire shift and earn minimum wage. The drivers actually make tips. Another pizza place was hiring recently and he called the contact number to apply. He saw it in the Sunday paper and didn’t know the ad ran on Saturday as well. There were over five hundred applicants for two positions. Jobs are very scarce here.

    • Man! Maybe it’s been suggested too much. Those delivery jobs could also be counted on for some extra money in college but it seems like you have to elbow everyone out of the line to get one now.

  • For me, your post was not at all mean spirited. I totally understood that you were just frustrated and were trying to help but getting angry that they weren’t trying to help themselves

    I have friends like that too. Too optimistic, not willing to admit they don’t have what it takes.. I mean, just pick up A job. ANY job. Money is money.

  • Yesterday I interviewd a lady for a job. She used to be a CPA’s assistant and later a bookerper for a company. Then she got laid off and could not find a job for a very long time. So, what does she do? She becomes a bus driver! She did exactly what you said – she looked at the job search from a very broad pespective. Great post!

    • People are doing it every day! If I get laid off nothing from flipping burgers to asking if I can refill a drink is above me. Degrees and all.

      • One point I don’t see made very often is that it can actually be very difficult to get a job you are “overqualified” for. Employers don’t want to hire someone who will quit as soon as they find something better, and with such huge pools of applicants it’s easy to pick a good candidate who isn’t as likely to leave.

        I do take your point that there are people who consider some jobs “beneath” them and aren’t even applying, but those of us who don’t mind honest work in any form are still running up against employers who seem to think the job they are hiring for is beneath us, so they hire someone else!

  • On point #3, are you saying Americans are stupid? 🙂

    That’s an interesting stat you say that you are only 1 out of 6 working adults working. Do the other 5 collect some help? Hope so.

    B/c my first job was at McDonald’s for $3/hr at 14, I have no problem going back there for $10/hr as an adult unemployed. I love apple pies!

    PS any way you can take out the captcha code? I’m blind and keep on getting it wrong!

  • I also didn’t find your first post mean-spirited. You were just being honest; the job market is tough, but it’s not impossible. I think that people need to be more flexible with their hours and more open to different positions.

    As for companies outsourcing, sometimes Americans can find jobs overseas as well. It might be less pay, but the cost of living is less too. Of course, this isn’t for everyone – a person would have to be in a certain position to move overseas (possibly single or a spouse who can move too and not tied down to a house.) Just another idea. 😉

  • It really is a tough maeket out there. I got laid off in January and here it is, April, and still no job offer, and not for lack of trying. I’ve been freelancing and receiving unemploymemt to stay afloat. Competitiom is fierce and interviews no longer guarantee you a position.

    • Absolutely competition is fierce. That’s why I think that we should ALL always have a side hustle. Something that will pay the cell phone bill so that you can answer a call for an interview. It doesn’t have to make you millions. It just has to contribute.

  • I think that the U.S. citizens also struggle financially because of laziness! We work one job and call it good. The rest of the time is for beer drinking and T.V. watching….

    True wealth is made because of our decisions after 5pm. For those that don’t realize that, they will be out of work and struggling.

    • I like my evening beer! Kidding, kidding. My time after work is devoted mostly to growing my blog and side business. If you look at the wealthy lists most of the people topping those lists are self-made. They didn’t wait for a job to make them wealthy.

  • Job search is the hardest job you will ever do and most if not all of us are ill-prepared to do it well! First you need to inventory your skills and match it to the job description or posting, then you need to have a great personality that will connect with every single interviewer. This is one of the reasons networking is your best bet, because someone who knows you is recommending you. The major stumbling block for getting that next job is not skills and experience, but your individual ability to market yourself. A skill we don’t practice often enough. I am sure you will find exceptions, but that is the major impediment to finding a job.

    • I think that we rely too much on “skills” and experience. The fact is that there are tons of people that probably have the same attributes but what sets you apart is your personality! You have to be able to form a connection with the interviewer relatively quickly and fluidly. No one wants to hire the next grumpy person.

  • Good comments here, but I have to say that Life and My Finances said it well about the beer drinking and TV, and how big gains are made after 5pm.

    I’ll add this: we have to avoid entitlement in order to make the most of our earning capicity.

  • Great breakdown on why Americans are losing jobs. How to adapt? Go back to school to make ourselves more skilled? Way to prepare for the possible lost of your job. How’s it going now?

    • It’s going! So far I’m still here because outsourcing is proving to be more expensive than they had anticipated. I’ve been granted a reprieve I guess. In the meantime, I’m working to get the blog more productive, learning some new skills and getting myself ready for the job search process.

  • Hi there.
    Well a job in our days is hard to find because the gouverments cuts the salarys and the number of jobs, so if we look for example for an IT job, in Romania, you can’t find it. You find something else where you do not have any experiences and it’s hard to work like that.

  • My friend totally changed her career. She was an Exec Asst and now she’s a medical biller. It doesn’t pay as much but she has less stress and less responsibilities, fewer OT hours that she’s required to do and a really short commute (15 minutes).

  • I’m one of those long-term unemployed people. Lost a job as a marketing writer in sept 2009 and since then have survived on unemployment benefits, contract work (one 3.5 month assignment, 1 5-week assignment) and freelance work, not to mention doing market research focus groups, online surveys, medical research studies and selling personal possessions on Craig’s List. I’ve worked for about 30 years.

    I don’t think many really understand the challenges of today’s job market. It’s easy to say, take any job, but employers an afford to be extemeey choosy. Unless you have done that exact kind of work before, the won’t even consider you. So while i have tons of work experience as a financial writer and a real estate writer, the employers looking for a healthcare writer never consider me because I haven’t done exactly that. It’s the same if I leave the world of writing. It’s fine if you want to switch careers, but most employers don’t make that easy for you because, as someone else here already pointed out, they don’t want to go to the trouble of hiring and possibly training you if they think you’ll leave at the first opportunity of a better paying job or one in your field. It’s an uphill battle trying to convince someone to give you a chance.

    • Fern,

      I think that with people in your situation there are a number of things going on. One factor that people might not mention is your age. People in their 50’s and 60’s are having a harder time finding a job. No, employers are not supposed to factor in your age, but they do. They might also think that with 30 years of experience, you might be “overqualified” for this opening. I’ve heard it before too.

      Being a job changer isn’t easy, and while every employer might not consider you, all you need is just one!

      Finally, the longer that you have been unemployed, the harder it is to find a job. Again, they’re not supposed to but they think that if you haven’t found a job after some time, there might be something about you that might not be desirable and they will overlook you.

      I would consider putting up ads on Craiglist advertising myself as a ghostwriter, checking out Demand Studios, looking at Yahoo for writer’s area, writing my own eBook (check out my post on how someone made tens of thousands by writing eBooks) and other alternative ways of making money. You’re already doing so, but you might want to consider stepping it up a little.

      Good luck!

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