We had an entry-level position in my office, so we posted the opening on the Internet, and in a matter of minutes, resumes started pouring in. “This can’t be real,” I thought. “Some hacker from North Korea is pranking us. Kim Jong Un is at it again.” Or maybe it was that numb-nuts from WikiLeaks.
The job was suited for a kid right out of college who wanted to break into the business, for someone with a liberal arts degree who had the ability to write, think critically and deal with other members of the human race, from Kanye West to Stephen Hawking. You never know who you’ll meet, so you have to be on your toes.
The “ideal candidate” had to be able to talk intelligently or semi-intelligently to whoever called on the phone — animal, vegetable or mineral. We needed someone with the necessary verbal skills to carry on a conversation and do more than text-message and send 140-word tweets.
A survey by the New York Fed concluded that two major problems for manufacturing and business leaders are finding workers who are punctual and who have interpersonal skills. A lot of them stroll into the office any old time with their eyes glued to their cellphones.
Some 42 percent of business leaders said they couldn’t find punctual employees, and 48 percent said communications skills were lacking. Sixty-five percent of manufacturers said punctuality was a problem, and 60 percent cited lack of interpersonal skills.
Our online job posting got a great response. We received hundreds of resumes from news executives, lawyers — the applications from lawyers kept increasing by the day — three from janitors and people in facilities maintenance (I am not making this up), and countless others with degrees in sociology, psychology, biology, and various “ology” areas of study.
One applicant was in fashion merchandising, and two were former colleagues of mine, struggling to find something new. I didn’t spot any health-care professionals, so I assume they’re all gainfully employed and that Obamacare hasn’t cost them their jobs.
What does this tell you? It tells me a lot of people are out of work. A lot of people are desperate. A lot of people want to move on. A lot of people are sick and tired of (pick one) their jobs, their bosses, their companies.
At the same time, I’m convinced there’s a subculture of job-hunters out there who submit their resumes whenever an opening comes along — from dog-catcher to fund-raiser for the Clinton Foundation — regardless of whether they can do the job, want to do the job or hope they can do the job.
Despite what politicians and elected officials claim about the economy improving, there’s desperation all across this great land of ours. Middle-aged job hunters over 50 are having as hard a time finding work as members of the Millennial Generation, trying to break into the workforce.
A recent analysis showed that 40 percent of unemployed workers, about 4.6 million, belong to the Millennial Generation. What does that mean? Their college degrees can’t get them jobs? Companies aren’t hiring? Baby Boomers aren’t retiring? (Some 2.5 million Baby Boomers are jobless, along with 4.2 million Gen-Xers.)
I suspect corporate America isn’t doing its part to create jobs and is probably sitting on billions of dollars in capital rather than investing it so people can work. Plus, companies are sending jobs overseas, where workers are cheaper and where they can bury profits in offshore tax havens.
I’m not smart enough to decipher all the economic forces at play, but in my own simpleminded way, I believe greed is a factor. Of course, greed is what made America great. Greed got us in into this pickle, and greed will get us out again, if we’re lucky.
Adding to the misery, there’s also a clash between generations in the job market. More than one Millennial, aged 18 to 34, has accused me of taking a job away from their generation and tried to push me toward early retirement, even though I insist I’ll be working until I’m 70 for the sheer pleasure of getting up every morning at 4:45, commuting on Metro-North and contributing to Social Security.
You see, I’m punctual and my communication skills are functioning at peak performance — on most days. Well, maybe on some days.
Contact Joe Pisani at joefpisani [at] yahoo.com.