Dumb ExCoworker Trick #649…

“The CoWorker Who Has to Ask Your Former Boss If She Can Use His Name As A Reference.”

I am positively slayed — as an infamous cartoon asthma chihuahua  said to an infamous pudgy cartoon cat back in the early Nineties, “The vastness of your stupidity never ceases to amaze me.”

I had a job interview this morning. They requested 3 references, yes — this before they even met me.

I gave them 5 for good measure.

At the end of the interview, they asked for a couple more — and wanted names from the company I worked for 4 years ago.

Here is the content of the call, after I said who I was.

Me: I was wondering if it would be okay to use you as a reference.
Him: Did you clear this with Miss X? [the company owner]
Me: (taken aback and wondering what his game was): I don’t believe that’s necessary to do.
Him: I don’t do things like these. I will have to ask her if this is okay and I will call you back tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the company is waiting on the names….and this guy is acting like he’s in 4th grade and has to get permission from mom so that he can go on the science class camping trip. Man.

And wow, you can’t call me and let me know if you asked her or if the asking is pending… yeah, go leave somebody hanging in the lurch.

I bounced this situation off several other people; somebody told me that there is indeed a rule with many companies that no references from the company are given to fomer or current employees. It’s another nanny-everybody legal thing; they won’t even speak to a prospective employer who calls, asking for the verification of Employee X’s employment status.

I was sick to my stomach calling this company — and now I’m sicker to my stomach than that right now. I am slayed indeed and I still cannot believe what no class and uncouthness exists in this company, along with the vastness of stupidity. Not to mention the dire and complete amount of domination and control that this owner still has on her employees.

144,000 Unfilled jobs in Illinois

I saw this article yesterday and it talks mostly about the Illinois budget but I caught this: “We need those college credentials now more than ever before. In Illinois, nearly 140,000 jobs are going unfilled because workers lack the necessary skills.” http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/12769694-452/lt-gov-sheila-simon-state-needs-long-term-investment-in-students.html

Ok, my question is if there are all these unfilled jobs where are they? The want ads are very skimpy. Even the online sites are mostly full of scams and stupid jobs.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is used to push the college agenda, as in if you go to college you will have a job. Really? I have a Masters in Communications and Instructional Design, and this was a technology intensive program where one of my classes I was required to learn about the new technology then. Keep in mind this was 10 years ago so technology keeps changing but I take classes online to keep updating my skills. Yet despite all of this I am unemployed 4 years. I know teachers, lawyers and yes even scientists all unemployed. So what exactly do they want us to learn to fill these jobs?

Am going to demand answers…

Regarding why I did not get the job I interviewed for.

There has not been very many interviews this year. I’ve gone on a very small handful of them.

2 of the companies I will not pursue; there are a couple more, plus that company from a few weeks ago, where the CEO told me “hr will call you” and HR did not — I am taking a ride to each of the 3 companies and am asking them what happened that I did not get the job.

Perhaps I will not get an answer. I want to go on record as one of the masses who refused to vanish into the mist. It is the principle of the thing.

Why Is This Time Different?

In 1979, when I was finishing high school and starting college, I read Howard Ruff’s How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years.  I was aware of inflation, was starting to understand what it meant, and I remember a few perilous months in early 1980 when the price of gold shot up, and it seemed at one point that the economy might go off the rails.

Now we face the same problems as back in 1979, only worse.  Howard Ruff has updated How to Prosper.  But we got through the last thirty years in mostly decent shape.  There was no hyperinflationary collapse.

Why is this time different?

More specifically, the bad things that we feared at the end of the 1970s never materialized.  Why should I worry this time?

Two thoughts:

  • In 1979, we were still a productive country.  The Chinese were not in the business of manufacturing anything and everything for export.  There were still many businesses that were run in the interest of providing whatever goods or services they purported to provide, rather than making this quarter’s numbers.
  • In 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected President.  Much has been written about how he turned the country around and made us prosperous again.  But he didn’t balance the budget, and indeed, first brought us into the era of huge deficits.  Reagan was every bit as inflationary as his predecessors, if not more.  But there’s one difference:
    • Under previous Presidents, inflationary spending went everywhere in the economy, and consumer prices went up along with everything else.  When the price of bread and gasoline go up, people get angry.
    • Under Reagan and subsequent Presidents, inflationary spending got directed into the investment markets.  Consumer prices still went up, but nowhere near as quickly as before.  But the stock market and the real estate market shot up.  When the prices of houses and stocks go up, people are happy, as they think they’re getting richer.

In 1979, we had margin for error.  That margin has been relentlessly squeezed out over the last 30 years.

Yes, it’s different this time.

A great deal of the unemployment problem: Hiring managers do NOT know what they are looking for

I’m convinced that’s what the problem is with many, if not most, hiring managers and interviewers.

This is why we are in the pickle that we are in.

How many times has this happened to you? You see a job ad; the job sounds perfect for you.

You fire off your resume; you get a call to come down and discuss the job.

And then you find out that what is in the ad does not reflect what the actual job duties are.

A very good example: the last interview I had.

The job that the company was filling: an admin assistant/customer service rep.

When I was at the interview, I asked what my job duties would be. “You will be doing the same thing as the other 2 people I have working in the office.”

This was a small company — maybe 8 or 10 guys in the warehouse, producing the product (wallpaper) and 2 individuals in the office. He had no other office staff; the owner did not have an assistant or admin.

What this was was an order taker/order processer job; that’s my guess. The “Admin assistant” part came in probably because there is paper work to be filed, the occasional email/letter to send a client, etc. That is not the same thing as being an admin assistant.

Meanwhile, this guy has been running the company for over 30 years. You think he would get it by now. NO?

A company that is 12 people tops, including the owner – and this would be the third admin. Nope.

He just wasted my time.

Here’s another example: During an interview, the hiring manager asked me “Was your admin assistant job sales or admin oriented?” I told her sales oriented.  “This job is heavily administrative…”

I have done BOTH. And besides, if it was heavily administrative, why was that fact not reflected in the job advertisement?

Any job ad you look at is automatically prefaced CONTAINS LIES AND OTHER MISLEADING INFORMATION.

What you are taking now when you reply to an ad is a chance.

When you get to the interview let your first question be “What are the duties of this job?” And then listen carefully. Also ask what you’d be doing on a daily basis and for the interviewer to give you an example of what a typical day on the job is.

Social Security

Many years ago, before I entered the workforce, I understood that Social Security is not a retirement program.  It is a tax, whose proceeds are used to pay retirement and other benefits.  The difference is subtle but important.

In a real retirement plan, the money collected from you and/or your employer is invested over time.  In a defined-benefit plan, there is a commitment to pay you in the future at a specified rate.  In a defined-contribution retirement plan, the money is held in your name and invested.  But in either case, the money is invested in a productive enterprise, so that it will grow, and the amount paid in at the beginning is driven by the amount to be collected at the end.

Under Social Security, the money that you and your employer pay is lent to the rest of the government and spent.  The money that you ultimately receive in benefits is paid by current workers.  The vaunted ‘trust fund’ is an accounting fiction.  And the politicians who vote for new goodies can just as easily vote to take them away.

I didn’t know about defined-benefit and defined-contribution plans in 1979, when I was finishing high school.  But the rest of it, I knew back then.

And it wasn’t a deep dark secret: I read about it in books from the library and bookstores.

The government wants us to believe that Social Security is a pension plan.  They even send out statements every year with the benefits that we might receive, if the politicians don’t change their minds.  But it isn’t so.

Now, I’m roughly halfway through my working life.  With the recent discussions over the Social Security tax, it’s really clear that it’s fake.  (The employee share of Social Security tax was cut by a third a couple of years ago, as a temporary measure.  The cut was continued after raucous debate, as it was the only tax cut that reached the majority of ordinary Americans.  A real pension plan, driven by the need to pay people in the future, would never do that.)

Yet people still believe that Social Security represents a commitment for their retirement.

Now that I’m halfway through my working life, I would have liked to believe that Social Security would be there for me.

But now I’m sure that I will ultimately retire in a coffin.

Gay Marriage

This week, President Obama, our Non-Leader, came off the fence and indicated that he was in favor of marriage between two people of the same gender.

On one level, it seems eminently reasonable.  Civil marriage gives a couple a passel of legal rights with respect to each other: inheritance, joint tax returns, access to medical data, etc.  If two men or two women are in a committed relationship, and want to avail themselves of these rights, they should be able to.

But outside of the legal definition, and the couple themselves, is such a couple really married?

Marriage has existed for eons as a basis for family and children.  It’s true that not every married couple has children, but if you have a man and a woman who presumably like each other’s company sleeping together, you have to at least admit the possibility.

Today, heterosexual marriage is not the ‘basis’ that it used to be: some 40% of the births in the United States are to unmarried women.   Admitting marriage between two men or two women would further erode the status of marriage as a benchmark for families.

And this is what many people worry about: not so much the rights of gay couples, but the impact of redefining ‘marriage’ so that it is no longer exclusively heterosexual.

Unfortunately, railing against it won’t help.  The societal forces that led us to consider gay marriage won’t go away if we pretend they don’t exist.  The Rick Santorum solution–if we legislate the morality of the 1950s, we’ll all be happy and prosperous again–won’t work.

While I acknowledge that gay marriage is an idea whose time has come, I don’t have to like it.

Another dropped ball

Last Tuesday I sent a resume and on Wednesday, I called the company to verify receipt. The email went directly to the company ceo.

He got on the line and told me the next step is an interview with the HR department, 7 time zones away.

I waited all day Thursday and half the day on Friday: no phone call here. And no email from HR, asking me when I am available and what time, for a phone interview.

Yesterday I sent that same gent an email, telling him I never heard from Hr and would he know when the interview by phone is scheduled for — these high end execs all have calendars, right? — it’s now after 2 pm and I never got a hollaback from the ceo.

I consider this a dropped ball. Common sense and courtesy has it, does it not, that you email first and ask when the candidate is avaiable for a phone interview?

I did some research and googled; this is a very “young” company with 2 offices: one here and one overseas — and their LinkedIn lists about 12 positions in the office stateside — but no names are attached to each position.

Wow. Are they looking to hire 12 people (including the job I applied for — that one has no name attached to it, either) or are these positions currently filled but the person’s name is just not filled in?

This company oddly reminds me of a start up I worked for briefly way back in 2000.  The company was fine — until it sort of exploded and the director of management hired many many new people (that’s a story in itself). That’s when everything imploded and went down.

There was nobody to supervise and monitor these new bodies (it was an unspoken “there’s your seat; welcome aboard. Get the hell to work”) and there was no routine for each person. IT’s hard to describe but this was sort of like a reverse lifeboat drill.

That company was sold to some other concern several months later and the parent company itself went out of business — securities fraud.

Anyway, I consider this a dropped ball.  If you can’t follow through on a phone interview, wow…. what can I tell ya?