Thoughts and Job Search Struggles

It has been a very long time since my last post, far too long.

A lot has been going on in my life and I hope over the next few weeks to document a lot of it, but in the meantime, I wanted to post something I started before the current pandemic, thoughts about and my experiences with searching for work…  However, allow me to start with what will be an addendum, eventually incorporated into the work, a note of how things are regressing during the crisis.

I just got off the phone with a employment agency, as the non-profit I’m working for will be laying off a lot of people, and the range of jobs the agency has is limited to about three and is now offering only $10 to $13 an hour, down about $5 an hour on each end from even a month ago.

Anyway, I am going to start in the next paragraph and second section of what I am writing might be long, but I thank you for reading through it and providing feedback on how it sounds and maybe sharing some of your experiences if willing. Now without further ado, the beginning of what I started writing earlier this year…

Listening to my story“I imagine outside of Role-Playing Games (RPGs), job searches have never been fun, enjoyable or easy and the rewards found at the end, or the treasures found while striving to reach the end goal, are never as exotic and exciting as opening a treasure chest and finding Firesoul the Sword of the Eternals, The Staff of Erna or Glenlaire the Impermeable Cloak of the Dragons.

Sure, the “treasures” found along the way in real life are said to be experience (which is not to be undervalued) and if you succeed in obtaining employment, the end “reward” is said to be a feeling of safety and security through having income and whatever other ‘benefits’ are gained by having employment.

Of course, in many cases these days, employment barely lasts two years at most, hardly the time to build up a retirement fund if any employer still truly offers such a thing, and it is a joke to call the income offered for the work people desire performed to be a “reward”.

What is asked for versus the pay offered nowadays is akin to asking a NASA scientist to hold eight consecutive one-hour long astronomy presentations every day for a month to a group of visiting dignitaries, for the wonderful payrate of up to $18/per hour.

Such wonderful rates are increasingly offered as companies start classifying their jobs, even those requesting a high level of skills and experience as “entry level” or because, as I’ve been told several times, that amount is either all the company has budgeted for the position or all that the company really feels it is worth.

A recent example is a job I was offered via about four different companies (one company had two different people call me about it). The job would have been a senior administrative position with a major international corporation dealing in heavy machinery. The position was offering up to $20/per hour.

Ignoring the obvious fact at least one of those phonebank call centers doesn’t have a crosscheck feature in their own records to ensure they aren’t reaching out to a person someone else in their company has already spoken with (which is incredibly ironic since they want to be the exclusive “agency” for anyone applying to a given position), one of the other agencies that I dealt with was a bit refreshing as their agent actually made some sense and at least talked a good game.

As a quick aside, that agency having two different people call me wasn’t the first time such a thing happened.

There was another agency where on a Thursday, a lady named Janice, part of a local agency that is part of a national chain, called me to set up a phone interview for the following Wednesday. Then that same week on Friday, she called me again.

No, it was not to talk about a change to the interview or say the position had been filled. It was to make me an offer about the same position and to ask if I wanted to attend the same interview… yes, it was the same Janice who, once she realized her error, muttered something about looking at an old contact list and hung up the phone.

You ever feel like no one knows what they are doing, while you’re supposed to not only be a Jack-of-all but also a master-of-all-trades?

That it is if the entire world is merely going down a checklist that itself isn’t being vetted properly? That you’re becoming just a number on a list?

That no one truly knows or cares about what is going on beyond ensuring each box is checked on the list to show they met their quota for the day or week or month or merely to prove that they followed their proper procedures as a means to cover their own asses in case someone complains?

If someone wants to turn me into a number, can they at least assign me the number 007? Life and death situations aside, I’d love the items from “Q”, the gadgets, toys and special modifications to the cars. I will give a solemn promise that I would find a good “meaningful” use for each and every modification and item given to me, such as the lighter that doubles as a blowtorch or the pen with acid ink that could melt locks.

At any rate, for the position with the national company that I received three calls about, the one agency that has impressed me, initially at least, was the only one to actually acknowledge that the pay offered for that job was low for the talent that was being requested.

They acknowledged my skills were worth a lot more than an approximate 26% drop in my current pay (forget loss of benefits) being offered for the position, and also were rather candid in admitting they were having a hard time finding anyone to fill that position.

They were furtherly candid by saying the difficulty was in how the talented people they called, justifiably refused the offered payrate and anyone they found who would accept it, had skills, knowledge and experience to merit a call, but lacked the skills, knowledge and experience that the company would accept in a candidate.

The agent was also one of only three I’ve dealt with so far, that mentioned frustration at how they’ve continually stressed to a company, that the company will never get the candidates they’re looking for at that the offered pay range and the feedback being given indicated that the company had to raise the pay range offered and yet had that national company acting haughty, sticking to its guns and refusing to budge on the pay offered to candidates.

I suppose, like those companies with job descriptions covering no less than three pages and requiring no less than four years’ experience for all the duties listed and at least five years’ experience for the job’s major job duties but only offering, at most, $18/per hour (about a 33% drop in my pay), they will eventually find someone skilled, knowledgeable and experienced enough for the company to accept; a person who is also desperate enough to take the position at that level of pay, at least in the short run.

As such, the company will be emboldened and feel they were justified at having held their ground at that payrate since they found someone to take the job at that rate, and therefore repeat the process the next time.

Let me quickly add something about that particular offered position. Despite the low pay for what was being asked and required, it was one of few that, according to the agent I spoke with over the phone, actually offered some benefits, which admittedly is an increasing rare thing these days.

I’ve come to believe the offering of benefits is becoming rarer because of a ‘clever’ loophole companies use to get around any legal requirements to provide benefits, but more on that in a moment.

Honestly, a position not offering any benefits is insane. Especially for what is often being advertised as a position seeking “dedicated professionals”.

It is even crazier when there are jobs advertised at a local gas station, admittedly only starting at $12.00/per hour for a supervisor role, with “big benefits”. According to another sign inside the gas station itself, not only might it be up to $12.50 an hour for supervisor’s role but those “big benefits” include health, dental, vision and unspecified retirement.

Such a ludicrously low pay rate aside for a supervisory role (keep in mind in some places, starting positions at McDonald’s pay $15/per hour), and the fact they bill working four days a week as a benefit (I view it as one less day to be paid on an hourly basis) the fact benefits are even offered puts this gas station lightyears ahead of those places offering up to the glorious rate of $18 or $20/per hour for a non-supervisory role.

So how do companies get around offering benefits for the various positions they are hiring for, positions that often require specialized knowledge, skills and experience?

Several ways, though listing it as “entry level”, when it clearly isn’t, only impacts the offered salary and might buy them some time before they have to give benefits, typically 60 to 90 days.

No, it is because increasingly these positions are listed as being temporary, temporary to hire or contract.

In other words, companies are getting highly skilled, specialized knowledge from experienced professionals and skirting the law requiring the providing of benefits such as medical, dental, vision and any type of 401(k) or other retirement benefit(s), by classifying the employee as someone who is either a contractor or on a 3 to 6 month “contract” which might have the possibility of extension or conversion to permanent, at which time benefits would be offered, but not currently an actual employee of the company.

Now, in fairness, I have seen some postings both for long term and 6-month contract to permanent positions for which benefits are listed. In general, these benefits are listed as being ‘health, dental, vision, (and rarely) 401(k)’ in the vaguest of senses, but sometimes they do get more specific. Though when they do, it gets laughable.

They will indicate there is a 401(k), but then stress nothing is truly “vested” for a year (kind of difficult to reach if you are on what is only guaranteed to be a 6-month contract) and from some basic ‘teasers’ of the medical benefits offered, it seems clear the medical would cover little more than the very minimal, such as an annual physical, and of course they don’t list co-pays or deductibles which I imagine are very high. (tbc)”

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1 Response to Thoughts and Job Search Struggles

  1. angela1313 says:

    So far, everything you have said is depressingly true . Even universities are doing away with tenure and hiring on contract even as they are charging tuition so high only Ivy League schools charged a few years ago.

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