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Monday, August 1, 2011

Listening to WNYC this am (I'm sure that some people instantly stopped reading after "WNYC"...ha!), and  Brian Lehrer covered the infuriating practice of employment ads making it clear that the unemployed will not be considered for positions. The host asked journalist Catherine Rampbell, who has been covering this story for the New York Times, if, when she interviewed HR people, she wasn't tempted to ask if their actions weren't, in some way, unpatriotic. Which, given the state of the country, is an interesting point. How is it helping our country to have all these people unemployed, who otherwise could be contributing to their communities, etc.?
But Catherine Rampbell had a very valid reply: when companies post ads saying only the currently-employed will be considered, they're not doing it to be cruel. From the companies' point of view, it makes perfect sense: they only want to hire people who will make them profitable. People who will be a good long-term investment for them. So, are they stereotyping all unemployed people? Of course. Are they arbitrarily assigning degrees of values to humans? Yep. But successful job-seekers will understand this, and plan their job hunt accordingly.
You must keep your skills current and market them accordingly to what the market wants, not what you think the market should want. This isn't really about you, it's about how are going to fill a need. (In a sense, it's like the difference between a small business and a hobby: a hobby is about what the owner wants, a business is about what the client needs.) You went to a prestigious college or university? Fantastic: use all of those alumni connections to find out about opportunities and get in the door...but then you'll have to have something tangible to sell, besides the fact of your graduation.
You know, and I know, that you have fundamental, intrinsic value simply because you are a unique human being. If necessary, write that down on a post-it note and put it above your desk, next to a great photo of yourself. Look at that whenever you start to feel down. You're fantastic and you deserve a great, how are you going to demonstrate all the value you bring to the table and get that job?
Job-hunting is about what you, and all your skills, your background, your experience and your connections will add to any particular business. And that's nothing personal, it's just business. That seems a little cold-blooded, right? Maybe, but once you understand it... you can make it work for you.
Here's a link to the WNYC piece:

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