I'm not so sure people deserve meaningful employment anymore.

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pattywannamack
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I'm not so sure people deserve meaningful employment anymore.

Post by pattywannamack » Fri May 26, 2017 10:33 pm

So I haven't been posting too frequently and there's two main reasons for this.

1) I am a little disenfranchised with high school sports in general, and after seeing tons of people from my generation get sports scholarships and come out the other-side with more problems than opportunities, I really think it's a dream that only a chosen few should pursue. Plus the recruiting is so blatant nowadays, it's just not what it used to be...even when I was in high school and recruiting was very rampant.

2) I have been directly managing a team of about 15 employees (and indirectly managing about 45 or so through the people that I manage) and have had that job responsibility really eat up quite a bit of my time this year.

I am here to write about my experience on point number 2 and how I think we have things a bit backwards when it comes to looking for employment.

Now I do work for a smaller family owned business in the live entertainment industry. We put on fashion shows, concerts, charity gala's, things like that. Our industry is a little different in the sense that everything is mission critical. When an event is scheduled, nothing on God's green earth is going to change the day of that event (meaning, if a client only gives us two weeks to prepare for a major event...we have to make it happen). When the actual event is happening, nothing can stop the "show" from going on, so technical failures, miscues, etc are absolutely not an option. It's a stressful industry because everything is so "mission critical" but it's rewarding in a lot of other ways. For instance I've probably met more politicians, celebrities, and people in positions of cultural influence and power, than most others have. Another interesting thing about the industry is that it is service based, and the tides of business can change on a whim. For instance some events that have had 20 year runs in California, may decide to host in New York the next year, and that's hundreds of thousands of dollars that your business won't see the next year, even if you executed that particular event perfectly. So the lines of marketing, sales, etc, get a little blurry as a personal relationship will often generate as much money as a whole sales team can bring in, and sometimes despite your perfect efforts, business just disappears.

Anyways! I assumed my role in a bit of a transitional time for my company, where a few key people decided to go different directions. As a result I've seen quite a few people quit (some gracefully, others not so much), I've hired a few, and I've had to fire a few. What I find interesting is just how hard it is to find "good" people. When I say good people I don't necessarily mean people who are qualified, but I mean people who are motivated for reasons other than money, and who put a great deal of effort towards executing their job in a genuinely professional manner (e.g. going the extra mile to please a customer, or doing so in a way that is particularly cost efficient for the company, or elevates the caliber of work that the company displays). On top of all that, I generally like the people I work with to not be a**holes too.

We'll first start with resumes...

Holy crap I hate resumes. About 90% of the resumes I get are complete garbage and this is after I have had people filter out ones that are completely irrelevant or unqualified. I see a lot of resumes that are full of typos, show consecutive employment at a lot of places (as if I am supposed to be impressed that you run a music studio, and also work at Starbucks at the same time), and in general lack a list of concrete skills and accomplishments. There's also a lot of resumes which show pay-rates that just aren't in-line with a person's skill level and I find those to be a huge turn off.

For all the talk about how hard it is to find a job, there's a whole lot of people who lack the basic ability to make themselves look attractive to an employer (and I'm an easy sell...don't have typos in your resume and don't make your employment history look like a liability waiting to happen), or who are unwilling to acquire the skills that an employer genuinely needs.

Every time we put out a listing we get about 100 resumes of which about 5 get considered for an interview, of the 5 maybe 2-3 actually schedule an interview. What I find a little interesting about listings and job openings is how the success rate is completely random. We post a listing on craigslist, a higher end jobs listing service, industry related websites, reach out to our network of industry contacts, and we occasionally hire a head-hunter. So far we've had about as much success getting randoms off of craigslist as we have had paying a decent premium for a head-hunter.

I find interviews to be relatively easy as you know within about 5 minutes whether the person is going to be a fit for your company or not. There's a few things that I have noticed in interviews that lead to someone's employment not panning out well.

-Extremely confident behavior, lots of promises, and the constant stream of accolades and accomplishments that they have obtained. Every single time we've hired someone who showed this in an interview they were gone within 3 months.

-Trying to negotiate pay during the interview. Buddy, if we thought you were worth more we would've offered it right off the bat.

-A disconnect between listed skillsets and real life aptitude. It's pretty easy to tell when someone only knows a fraction about what they say they know.

We'll shift into managing employees. Now I will say that I do very much enjoy the team that I work with, and given the "mission critical" nature of our job we do ask a lot of them, and everyone on our team works hard and makes lots of sacrifices for the good of a production as a whole. That being said, it's interesting to see the almost antipodal nature that people will display at some point when employed.

-You get people who want more hours, but don't want to work late, and don't want to work weekends.
-You get people who want to make more money without showing a dramatic improvement in skillset, execution, or attitude.
-You get people who want to be in leadership positions, without demonstrating any of the reliability, interpersonal skills, or downright communication necessary to be in that position.
-People who only want to do the "fun" or "easy" parts of their jobs, even though the other aspects are dramatically more important.
-People who want to take vacations during your busiest weeks, and then scream at you for hours when you have a slower week or two.
-People who carelessly damage company property and then complain that the company doesn't have the newest equipment, tools, etc.
-People who want some aspect of the company to improve, but want someone else to improve that part of the company for them.

The list can go on and on.

The point I am trying to make is that I am not so sure people should feel entitled to meaningful employment, because the vast majority of people that I have encountered don't demonstrate the qualities that would make them worthy of meaningful employment. As a manager I personally don't want to hire people who just show up and are okay with the status quo. Complacency is what kills companies, and in nature only the fittest survive. Does that mean your life has to be all about work? Of course not! But I feel like I am seeing a shift where lots of people expect stress free jobs that pay them all sorts of money and are completely flexible with their personal lives. Where raises are guaranteed by virtue of being with the company for another year more. Where real responsibility can be dodged just because you aren't the person who pays the bills, signs the pay checks, etc. I just don't think that's a reality. Even if it was...how could you not feel guilty...or unsatisfied...knowing in the back of your mind that you really aren't accomplishing anything of meaning in what you call your "career"?

We live in a culture where it's all about "what can I get from you" as opposed to "what can I do for you?" and I guess people feel like that mentality goes both ways in the employee/employer relationship. Just given some of the people who I've interviewed, hired, fired, seen quit, and currently work alongside, it does concern me. I feel like we've lost a balance and you can only either be ultra-competitive or completely incompetent as far as employment is concerned. The ultra-competitive get showered compensation, but in exchange for their livelihood being dictated by the company. The completely incompetent are relegated to an existence where their efforts yield a life that is not sustainable...yet their efforts truly aren't worth anything more than that.

A part of me does think this entitlement stems from how we school people. Kids these days are practically given A's just for doing the work and answering inconsequential questions on a test, not by showing a true mastery of a skillset or subject. Schools also don't necessarily imbue lessons of hardwork, and sacrifice...things that are pretty essential for starting any genuinely meaningful career in my eyes (this is were athletics come in I guess...but only so many people do that). Part of me also feels like schools do a poor job teaching risk and failure and I've encountered tons of employees who are too scared to take a calculated risk...the point where not taking the risk caused serious issues, and others who have resigned on the spot the second a client or someone wasn't 100% happy with their work. It's not easy taking risks, and it sure as hell isn't easy dealing with a failure, but it's probably better that these skills are developed in the safety of a school environment and not on the job where other people's livelihoods are at stake.

We can't necessarily put this all on school I guess...I just find it very interesting how we have a country that loves to work, where we say you have to go to college to get a job, yet I get a huge sum of people with college degrees who I want and need to employ, yet are woefully incapable of working in any professional environment that could realistically support a middle-class lifestyle. The few that I think are capable of working in a professional environment, don't always want to because they are too busy chasing a dream job that doesn't even exist.

Just my thoughts on the whole matter!
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Wabash
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Re: I'm not so sure people deserve meaningful employment anymore.

Post by Wabash » Sat May 27, 2017 3:58 am

Interesting observations.

I believe you make some great and valid points.
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Re: I'm not so sure people deserve meaningful employment anymore.

Post by not4u13 » Sat May 27, 2017 8:07 am

Very interesting. I also manage a team, but the nature of the work is very different. I'm an IT guy and therefore my team is a bunch of IT people. Some that work for me have been with the company for almost 30 years, others less than six months. I'm hiring only experienced professionals and just interviewed a candidate yesterday. I find a lot of similarities in what you described above.

I struggle with resume's. There are so many opinions out there about what makes a good resume. I've tried to help my kids create a good one and they tell me all about the advice they are given from professionals about what it should include (or not) or the format they should use (or not). The bottom line is that a resume should clearly show the experience and capability of the individual through their employment history. That's tough sometimes and other times, not so much.

Looking at my kids (20 something adults) I find something quite interesting. Their current and past employers have all heaped praise on them for their work ethic, competence and attitude. They've all received offers for promotion at their various entry level positions. Still, when they submit their resume, it is hard to get an interview. When they do get the interview, the success rate seems to be about 70%, which is great. But here is what makes me wonder. Are we throwing away potentially great employees by doing a poor job of initial screening? How do we find the diamond? The glib, all talk, professional is going to be very good at writing resume's and conducting an interview. That often doesn't translate to good performance once they are hired. Conversely, the dedicated and hard working, no-nonsense individual who learns quickly and tackles new work eagerly, is hard to pick out by reading a piece of paper.

I'm conflicted on this. Some of my team are not doing the job and in my company, the exit door is down a very long hallway with many gates and checkpoints. It can take more than a year before they find it. The hiring process is critical. It has taken me more than six months to fill a position sometimes. Frustrating to say the least.
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Re: I'm not so sure people deserve meaningful employment anymore.

Post by John Q. Public » Sat May 27, 2017 9:52 am

pattywannamack wrote:-People who want to take vacations during your busiest weeks....
Reminds me of the guy who called me - his boss - during our busiest week of the year, when I was working 16-hour days (at least), to ask if I could cover for him so he could go skiing. Only person I ever wanted to fire.

It sounds to me like these people are hourly. Do they get any perks or benefits? Have their hours been cut? Do they feel like have a stake in the company's success or like they're really part of a team? Are they made to feel like they're appreciated? Are they made to feel like they're assets or liabilities? That can make all the difference in the world, especially with hourly workers. Are they paid for breaks? Do you buy them lunch? Do you do any company events or outings? Are they paid for those? Money isn't a motivator but lack of money is a strong de-motivator. Does management trust them or does it feel like they have to be watched? Does management work alongside them and "feel their pain" or do they feel like they do all the work and management collects the checks for it?

I've worked a long time, I've been both salaried and hourly and I've had great managers, bad managers and really bad managers - and worse, I'm cursed by having a degree in it, so I've really appreciated the good ones but the bad ones made the jobs especially excruciating. The most important tip I can give is to put yourself in their shoes and ask what they need to become motivated. Most people really do want to do a good job. It's just a matter of finding a way to encourage them or to not discourage them. Unless they really are bums. In which case, hey, you hired them.
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Re: I'm not so sure people deserve meaningful employment anymore.

Post by MDDad » Sat May 27, 2017 10:09 am

not4u13 wrote:I struggle with resume's.

I'm conflicted on this.

Frustrating to say the least.
I also struggled with, felt conflicted about, and was frustrated by resumes for about three decades. And it seems the more "resume advice" became a profitable industry, the more frustrating the product became. Unfortunately, except for personal recommendations, they are still probably the best introduction into a potential candidates' abilities, as long as we see them as no more than a starting point. I think I probably saw every format there is, and I still feel today that the reverse chronological ones, with the current job described first and previous ones in descending order, were my favorites. They allowed me to see professional progression, stagnation and gaps more easily than other formats.

My pet peeve was always the lack of accomplishments described. I probably read a thousand resumes that said something like:

"1996-2001, Engineering Manager -- Managed a team of 35 hardware engineers in the design of capital medical equipment and disposables."

Those resumes frequently went in the tank. I didn't particularly care what the job title was, or what the published job responsibilities were. It made the brilliant, innovative manager and the guy who just kept his finger in the dam for five fears look the same. What I always wanted to know was what the candidate had accomplished at each level of advancement, in objective, measurable terms. It always surprised me, even with all the professional resume advice at their disposal, how many people were unable to articulate that one critical point.

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Re: I'm not so sure people deserve meaningful employment anymore.

Post by John Q. Public » Sat May 27, 2017 10:46 am

The biggest thing I always found missing from resumes and interviews, both, was "what can the person do for me?". Tell me that one and you about have the job.

And a question for people doing hiring these days - Is it common for people to include a picture in their resumes now? I got one like that years ago and I thought it was the silliest thing I'd ever seen, but I get the impression it isn't uncommon, now that anyone can do it. I even know of an employment site that requires one. I stopped using it when they did that. Seems like that sort of thing would be asking for legal trouble from the employer's POV.
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Re: I'm not so sure people deserve meaningful employment anymore.

Post by Bick » Sat May 27, 2017 11:16 am

Long time employer of mostly entry-level teams over the years, so here's my 2 cents.
not4u13 wrote:Are we throwing away potentially great employees by doing a poor job of initial screening? How do we find the diamond? The glib, all talk, professional is going to be very good at writing resume's and conducting an interview. That often doesn't translate to good performance once they are hired. Conversely, the dedicated and hard working, no-nonsense individual who learns quickly and tackles new work eagerly, is hard to pick out by reading a piece of paper.
One of the best tools we developed for the hiring process was the online application w/ customized questionnaire to help with the screening process. By no means is it a silver bullet, but it most definitely helps to screen candidates more objectively before scheduling an interview.
pattywannamack wrote:We live in a culture where it's all about "what can I get from you" as opposed to "what can I do for you?" and I guess people feel like that mentality goes both ways in the employee/employer relationship. Just given some of the people who I've interviewed, hired, fired, seen quit, and currently work alongside, it does concern me. I feel like we've lost a balance and you can only either be ultra-competitive or completely incompetent as far as employment is concerned. The ultra-competitive get showered compensation, but in exchange for their livelihood being dictated by the company. The completely incompetent are relegated to an existence where their efforts yield a life that is not sustainable...yet their efforts truly aren't worth anything more than that.
I think much of this entitlement stems from the nanny state mentality of worker's "rights" where employers are often vilified, and the white knight of unions or lawyers are more than willing to save the day and take care of the oppressed. This as opposed to the old school thinking of team (company) first, taking responsibility for your own development to improve your marketability for higher paying jobs. The "I want, therefore I deserve" attitude is pretty comical at times.

My disappointment comes from the extra burden being placed on employers at the entry level by driving up the labor cost with higher minimum wage. It really does reduce the number of kids who can get their first job to learn the basics of what it means to be successful as an employee, and a value to higher paying employers.

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Re: I'm not so sure people deserve meaningful employment anymore.

Post by not4u13 » Sun May 28, 2017 6:30 am

The jobs my kids have had through college pay greater than minimum wage. Not by much mind you, but over. Yet, they were entry level. By the time one of my kids graduated, they were actually working three different jobs, really because of the different experiences each of them provided. The biggest payoff was learning the work ethic of having a boss, keeping to a schedule and following sometimes idiotic rules. Those are life lessons that people coming out of college having not worked do not yet know.

I agree with MDDAD about the overall style of a resume. My personal preference is the following general format.

1) Make sure the name and contact information is very clear and at the top. All too often people bury that to try and get the content to one page. Remember, you want them to remember who you are.

2) Preference for me is to have a career objective of some sort. It helps me see where the person thinks they want to go. I realize this is often customized to fit the job being applied for, so may not so useful, but it does help me to understand where they think their ambition is and if it aligns with my vision for the position or the company for that matter.

3) Progression of employers, starting with the most recent. I like to see the job title but then, stick to accomplishments. If your job title has changed by promotion throughout your employment, then put it in there as part of the progression as sort of a subheading. Understanding promotions is very important and all too often that gets buried in the format. It makes sense that those jobs with a longer duration would have more accomplishments. Accomplishments are less important for jobs that were 20 plus years ago, but it's still important to list some of those.

4) Education is always next. This should be pretty short though. I like to limit it to degrees and certifications. For example, I recently completed the Certified Scrum Master and Certified Product Owner certifications. I would list those. I was previously a Certified Banyan Specialist. That was many years ago and that product isn't even relevant any longer. Probably not worth listing.

5) I like a section on special skills and interests. This helps see the person behind the job a little. Do they enjoy woodworking (shows patience and craftsmanship). Are they an avid reader? Do they enjoy the outdoors?

I've seen people advise that instead of having that employment progression, an experienced candidate should have a "recent accomplishments" section. Right at the top, list out the things that you've done recently that have had a big impact. That's not a bad idea, but it lacks context. I prefer to see those listed with the employer section.

I've also had my kids indicate their "job duties" under employment. While that doesn't get to accomplishments, some of those entry level jobs don't provide much opportunity to really accomplish anything. Seeing what the employer trusted them with and what skills they developed as a result of performing those duties is important.

That said ... Apparently my advice isn't getting them a lot of traction, so perhaps I should rethink it.

It's really tough because as a hiring manager I might have four or five different people talk to the candidate, often at the same time. It's amazing how different the opinions are about the some person from the same conversation.
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Re: I'm not so sure people deserve meaningful employment anymore.

Post by MDDad » Sun May 28, 2017 9:16 am

not4u13 wrote:2) Preference for me is to have a career objective of some sort.
This has always been useless to me, as it is usually a patronizing restatement of what's contained in the employment ad.
5) I like a section on special skills and interests. This helps see the person behind the job a little. Do they enjoy woodworking (shows patience and craftsmanship). Are they an avid reader? Do they enjoy the outdoors?
Another section I've always found a waste of time. Candidates know what to put in this section, and it's the easiest section to fake. I don't really care if a person enjoys classic movies or long walks in the woods. Any red flags like "I enjoy working on the torture chamber in my basement that has become the envy of my friends" or "I enjoy collecting automatic weapons and Nazi Holocaust memorabilia" probably won't be listed. Furthermore, any discussion of personal likes and hobbies during the interview can be a potential H.R. landmine.
...some of those entry level jobs don't provide much opportunity to really accomplish anything.
True, but even in entry-level jobs, things like "never missed a day of work and was never late to work during my entire 18-months in this position" or "always accepted added shifts on short notice when other employees couldn't work" or "was McDonald's employee of the month twice in one year" help create a positive impression of determination and accomplishments.

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Re: I'm not so sure people deserve meaningful employment anymore.

Post by not4u13 » Sun May 28, 2017 9:59 am

Thanks for the perspective. I guess I tend to think of people as generally honest. I should know better with some of the fiction I've read on resume's where I know the candidate's background.

I had a guy ask me to be a reference. That's generally frowned upon by HR, but I liked the guy so I told him to shoot over his resume. I really don't want to be a reference for someone unless I understand what they are telling people. The stuff he listed as accomplishments were largely either my personal accomplishments (e.g. Successfully managed a desktop migration program for 3,000 users on time and under budget ... He was a technician), or were a complete fabrication. When I called him on it he defended it saying he "could" do those things, so why not embellish a little. I told him to send me a corrected resume if he wanted me to be a reference. I've never heard from him since.

It makes me really wonder ... How would you know what the person accomplished and didn't by reading the resume?

I once had an interview (many years ago) where the person interviewing me basically called me a liar. I worked for a manufacturing company and I described how I had devised a forecasting method based on sales history data and current inventories to determine the build mix and I used that in creating the production control schedule. He insisted that there was no way a company would allow a college kid to set a production control schedule. Truth was, I presented my methods to the plant manager in a presentation and he liked it and told me to go. The plant manager was not a command and control guy. He wanted his team to figure things out and run with them. I tried to explain that, but the guy just kept calling me a liar. Needless to say, I did not get that job, nor did I want it after that.

Anyway, this thread is something to seriously think about. I'm right in the middle of it either personally with my kids or professionally as I've had to hire several people recently. The short of it is. Resume's are horrible.

Oh ... And the interview process. You basically get an hour to figure out fit. We expect answers to interview questions to be in a STAR format. The answers should start with the (S)ituation or (T)ask they will use as an example followed by the (A)ction they took to address the situation or task and ending with the (R)esult or outcome of the effort. It's not perfect but it avoids the "I was great" type of answers. It gets to their experience at having faced some of the scenarios we call out during the interview.
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Re: I'm not so sure people deserve meaningful employment anymore.

Post by Omar Bongo » Sun May 28, 2017 7:17 pm

I struggle with resume's

Is an elementary understanding of English grammar important in evaluating a resume?
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Re: I'm not so sure people deserve meaningful employment anymore.

Post by John Q. Public » Sun May 28, 2017 9:41 pm

Probably a hindrance if you're looking to hire an engineer.

I don't know anyone who likes resumes, whether they're writing one or trying to read through a pile of them.
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