Thursday, January 26, 2012

An Open Letter To Employers

Dear Employers:

What follows will be a list of 5 serious questions that I'm sure will only garner reassuring, though still unbelievable answers from you, but questions that need to be discussed nonetheless.  These are questions that I'm asking on behalf of people who are willing, able and have demonstrated in the past the ability to work.  I'm not talking about the people who don't care, who call out as often as possible, or who simply refuse, or worse, forget to show up for gainful employment.  In the worst economy that I can remember, and the worst economy that most people of job-holding age can remember, gaining employment has seemingly turned into the equivalent of winning the lottery or being able to ride a unicorn into town; one of those things that we're all vaguely aware might happen somewhere at some point in time, but not really to anyone we know on a personal level.  Despite the rhetoric of any politician who is currently occupied with trying to get elected or re-elected, I have yet to see much improvement, either in the actual numbers, or in the incalculable but still tangible morality of the country.  Perhaps some clarification on the part of us working simpletons might help at least one of those situations.

Question #1:  Just how much experience do you really need to learn or be able to hold down a job?


I used to think that graduating from an accredited college or university would be enough to secure employment in a job, but that has now proven to be an outdated theory.  I either needed to A) spend more money for a graduate degree that, despite its ability to really fill out a frame, will still prove ultimately useless due to the flooding of the job market or B) should have started internships at the age of 16, when I certainly had absolutely no idea what could potentially make me happy in a long term career, considering I was still navigating the tricky waters of prom dresses and second gear.  Considering that I've held down the same job for 5 years, and been "promoted" or at least laterally moved as is more likely to happen, well, anywhere these days, I (perhaps foolishly) have assumed that this would be testament enough to the fact that my learning abilities and drive are apparent even on resume paper.  It's not as if I'm working in a cubicle applying for the chief surgeon job at Boston General.  Are you really certain that familiarizing myself with software and getting acquainted with a new work environment requires 4 years of previous experience at a job that will have no bearing on this one anyway?  Can you truly not trust me when I say that, I graduated college, I drive a car, I pay my rent, I clean my clothes, I (sometimes) cook my food, I'm pretty sure I'm capable of learning any computer program on my own without the help of a supplemental class that will charge me 3,000 dollars that I don't have?

Question #2:  Do you even look at cold online submissions?


The internet has done wonderful things for the world.   It's opened a world of knowledge that few could have foreseen in 1988.  I am now able to know what all of my friends are eating in real time, how old Kirk Douglas is without having to open a pesky Almanac or Encyclopedia, and what everyone thinks is the biggest problem in the world (I'll give you a hint it's either something to do with religion or politics) thanks to the timely and considerate comments on that Coldplay video I watched on Youtube, yes, the ones where they're in giant stuffed elephant heads.  It's also made it possible so that not only are classified ads online, but several startup companies have made a pretty good living of posting job listings for various fields.  Do you happen to look at any of those submissions from Monster.com, Media Bistro, or your personal websites or is that just something that happens when your 13 year old intern has enough time to do it?

Question #3: Going along with #2, how many people do you hire who don't know someone already at the company?


When did the "it's not what you know, it's who you know" mantra become the most reliable piece of advice to both the employer and those seeking employment?  It seems, these days, that the only people who get hired without knowing someone at any company are celebrities, who, let's face it, probably don't need the kind of money they're going to be making anyway.  I mean, had I known that what would be required of me before getting an internship at (insert any magazine here) was that I have appeared in a viral video or reality show, I would have started working on my camera-ready appearance about the same time I was studying for the SATs, although even then, it might have been too late.  How are you supposed to network in college?  Was I simply not good enough at it, or was I too worried about achieving high marks in classes that no one in the position of giving me a job would care about?

Question #4: Why is it so difficult to let someone know about the status of their application...did you mean to put the job offer on the internet?


This one has a fairly short explanation.  I applied to a job in May of last year, and heard back about the position in October.  Surprise! I didn't get it, good thing I didn't get that apartment in the new city I was looking to be employed in.  Really, five months for a response?

Question #5: What happened to apprenticeships or internships for people who aren't just students?


I've never been afraid of hard work.  I'm also pretty proficient at saving.  Just because I don't have a clear cut path of, say, someone who's always loved medicine, or someone who's known they wanted to be a teacher since Kindergarten, why do my interests have to be limited to simply what I've happened to have experience in?  The reason I'm looking for a new job is so that I can change fields, why would I only be interested in jobs that are in the same field?  Why not allow me, if I can afford it, to work for you for free?  Why not allow me to make connections, to learn on the job, to figure out if this field is the right one for me, without requiring that I receive school credit and school credit only for it?  Why should every avenue for advancement require a toll to pass, when no one can even guarantee that there will be a job, despite the "availability" of one at the end of the road?












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