Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An Employer's Market

Good Work (live) - The BoDeans (mp3)

It's a great time to hire someone. It's an employer's market.

Two weeks ago, I posted a job opening for my office. When I last filled this position in 2007, it was an employee’s market. Unemployment was down, and employee expectations were up. The housing bubble had not yet burst, and the Great Recession had not yet commenced.

The competition for this job circa 2007 was not terribly intense. If I recall, I received maybe a dozen applications, and we interviewed four people. We made the decision fairly quickly that one young woman was our best bet, and she was exactly what we wanted: young, capable of writing well, and with some software knowledge in design and photography.

The job is and was always intended to be a starter job. Stay 3-4 years, build up your experience and your resume, and move on to bigger and better things with my full support and encouragement. That’s exactly what happened with her.

But something wicked happened on the way to ‘11.

By the time I close it down on tomorrow, I will have received more than 30 applications, almost triple what I got four years ago. Same starting salary, triple the interest.

Only two have backed away after learning the salary; the rest... well, what was too low for consideration in 2007 has become good enough in 2011.

Salary. Benefits. Free lunches. Great vacation time. Who could ask for anything more, at least until we get out of the mess we’re in? Good enough for now.

My assistant director and I took a cursory glance through the pile of 25 we’d received by the end of last week and ranked them independently. We both agreed there were at least 15 people who could, for all intents and purposes, come in and do the job. Narrowing down the group has become an entirely different exercise in four years. Instead of looking for “capable,” we’re looking for “best fit” and “highest upside.”

I will turn away some 30 people. To the handful of candidates we interview, all but one will receive an awkward call from a guy who will sincerely mean that they’re awesome and have a promising future... just not with this particular job. And the comments will ring cold and superficial, and I will hate myself for having to say it, even if I'm trying my hardest to be sincere.

Apologies if this reads as a self-pitying post. That’s not my intent. I don’t feel sorry for myself at all. It’s part of the merry-go-round, and it goes with my intimidating and impressive job title and seven-figure salary (if you count the decimal points). But I can’t help, in moments like this, getting intensely aggravated.

My sadness and frustration goes at reading reports that, while the richest people in this wonderful country of ours continue to find ways to expand their financial portfolios at phenomenal rates, they don’t much seem to give a shit what happens below them. Their hot air balloon is so high up, they can’t even see the pissants down on the ground working for them. Or not working but sending out overqualified resumes for jobs that were once intended as entry-level.

Not only do most of the super-wealthy seem calloused to “their fellow Americans,” they generally seem to align themselves politically with people whose entire platform is based on not caring about other people except in ways that might judge them morally. Tea Partiers and hardline Republicans care what you do with your reproductive organs. They care what you do with addictive substances. But they don’t care whether you are doing OK, whether you are employed, whether The American Way has given you a golden shower... (and that's not a good thing).

Funny thing is, I don’t want my government solving all these problems, either. I’d rather see the private sector, companies with overcompensated CEOs, show up on the scene like Superman out of the phone booth and start rescuing people with good hard-workin’ jobs for almost-decent wages. But corporations have had several years of opportunity now, and they seem to be stuck in their phone booths. They’re too scared to come out.

Meanwhile, that Big Evil Government we hear about? It swooped in and rescued Detroit, Wall Street, and several foreign countries. Rescued. As in, saved the lives of dozens if not hundreds of companies, thousands if not hundreds of thousands of jobs. I didn’t really support the bailouts, but few reasonable minds can argue their efficacy.

So here I am, practically begging for conservatives to prove me wrong. And they can’t. Apparently because they all refuse to do anything productive until Obama is out of office.

That’s just not my kind of hero.

All of the images from this post are from the Ryan Star video for "Breathe." You can watch it on YouTube here.


troutking said...

1. Billy, you're being nicer than most by contacting those who applied, even with bad news. Most don't. Feel good about the humane way you are handling it.

2. Republicans suck. I hope Barack communicate better than he has so far about what he's accomplished to stave off an even worse economic situation because, as I mentioned earlier, Republicans suck.

Daisy said...

I never tire of the BoDeans.

goofytakemyhand said...

I agree with Trout's #1.

I'm still waiting for Old Navy to call me back after I interviewed with them in the summer of 2000. I'll give them a couple more weeks.

Anonymous said...

I randomly found your blog while doing a google search for the term "employers market." I am currently unemployed and on the other side of the hiring process, but I just wanted to say:

Thank you so much for calling people and notifying them that they did not receive the job. So many employers just never call back (or e-mail) even after two or three in-person interviews.

Paul said...

Thanks for the excellent article. I think that conscience has somehow become unfashionable when it comes to hoarding wealth rather than doing at least some good with it. As a society, we are reaping the finest fruits of the "greed is good" mentality right about now. People who have tremendous means but choose not to look past their own wealth don't seem to feel any shame today. I don't think that this was the case for the better part of our history.