Kick’em while they’re down!

Part I

Anyone who has experienced unemployment knows that finding a job when you are out of work is not an easy task.  The job market has changed in recent years from one that valued great general experience and accomplishments to one that values high degrees of very specific training.  Many are finding that the days of hard working individuals taking initiative are gone, while those who toe the cooperate line are promoted.  Initiative takers of the older generation are learning that the old fashion go getter attitude is frowned upon in today’s corporate world.  To add insult to injury, many companies have implemented a “Hire only currently employed” policy unfairly shutting out many quality job candidates just because they are currently unemployed.

While some of these factors, such as very specific training, are explained away by a depressed economy and competitive job market, but why the “Hire only currently employed” policy? Implementation and enforcement of this policy is become increasingly more and more common. This policy has become so wide spread that a friend of mind was asked to brief the US Congress on the root causes of this issue.  This is a very frightening thought because if someone was to become one of the mass of the unemployed, what are they to do now?

My research on the web has turned up a number of theories to explain why this situation occurs.  Some say that this is part of a conspiracy to create a labor cost reduction, or in other words force Americans to accept lower salaries.  Many believe it is part of a conspiracy to outsource labor to foreign nationals.  Still others see this as one part of the Bilderberg Group conspiracy to bring poverty to the masses in preparation for global enslavement. No matter what the exact source of this policy, one thing is for sure, if it is a conspiracy, it has the support of Human Resource Professionals everywhere.

I want to take a moment and relate the story of an experience I had.  During a recent Job Fair I had an opportunity to speak at length with the Director of Human Resources to one of the companies holding a large number of major Government contracts.  It was quite an enlightening discussion for me.  This Director was explaining to me how all day long her time was being wasted by these “winey losers who were laid off”.  When I asked her for more details, she explained that as a rule the company doesn’t hire folks who were laid off or fired because these folks are the “bottom of the barrel”.  Anyone who is out of work was out of work for a reason she informed me.  During the economic down turn company’s cut the 10% or 20% of their least effective work force she indicated.  These are the folks that are now lining up like beggars attempting to “Trick” us into hiring them she concluded. 

Needless to say I was a bit taken back by not only the statement itself, but the passion in her voice.  She really believed in this!  So I asked her if the “Hire only currently employed” was a company policy.  She told me that the Company mandated that Human Resources identify and hire the best personal.  It was up to Human Resources and her as HR Director, to determine how to identify these folks.

So we stood looking at each other for a long moment before I spoke.  I told her that was a terrible attitude because there are so many reasons why folks are laid off. Additionally, folks that are fired often become some of the best employees after the experience.  But most of all I said, what are those who are unemployed supposed to do?  Just die?  As we discussed further I learned that she felt this policy was common and if not openly discussed in session during HR conferences, it is certainly addressed as a best practice during side bar and professional discussions.

Is there a Major Corporate Conspiracy going on here?  Maybe, but I think that it is more likely that what we see is an expression of the Nobility Instinct.  We at Dragon Tamers have discussed the Nobility Instinct and how folks instinctively attempt to migrate as close as possible to the Inner Circle and as far away from the “outer edge” of the herd.  An implicit out cropping of the Nobility Instinct is that even if we cannot move deeper toward the Inner Circle, we can increase our security by increasing the size of the herd between ourselves and the outer circle.  In fact one way to view the Nobility instinct is to see it as a drive to move as far from the outer edge of the herd as possible. 

When Corporate America assigned this very powerful role of selecting the membership to the herd, it was a perfect opportunity for the HP community to create rule sets that eliminates potential competition.  Kick’em while they’re down!  As I discussed in the posting on the Nobility Instinct, this is one of the instinctive actions taken by humans as they successfully move up or closer to the inner circle.  I want to strongly emphasize the word instinct here.  So while the HR folks have intellectually created and justified these rules, they do not exactly understand what drove them to do so.  If they were to detach themselves from the situation, they could see how illogical a “Hire only currently employed” policy is, yet they implement and enforce it anyway.

So if you find that you have become one of the unemployed, what do you do?

Part II

Being unemployed can seem like a desperate situation because not only are you struggling against public knowledge that you are unemployed, but also against the inner knowledge or the shock to your confidence that only gets worst the longer you are in this state.  Folks suffering from long term unemployment start to have difficulty making payments on their credit cards, car, and home.  As their credit rating suffers, so does their opportunity to gain employment.  As a person’s financial status degrades, so does their confidence.  So it also follows that as a person’s confidence degrades so does their “attractiveness” to the people they interact with.  Particularly if the unemployed is a family man, if their unemployment lasts long enough, they are often faced with marriage issues which often end in divorce (instinct to seek males who can protect and provide).  This will also add to the degrading of the confidence of the individual suffering from the long term unemployment.

If you find that you are among the masses of unemployed, the first thing you need to do is accept the truth of the situation.  You need to understand the very human instincts that you dealing with, both with potential hiring managers, as well as those that are influencing your behavior. 

In the aspect of those around you, there is a great deal of advice as to how to clean up your resume, and solicit for positions.  Most of those provide advice based upon experience of others, which may or may not work for you.  Here at Dragon Tamers we have two points to offer you to get pass this stage in your life.

1)      Understand that no matter whom you are, this experience WILL affect your ego and self-perception in a negative way.  So one of the key missions of the unemployed during this time is to either obtain or keep their self-confidence high.  High Self Esteem only comes from experiencing “wins”, so it is important that you ensure you surround yourself with winning situations.  Think about activities that help you feel confident, things that you are good at or small but challenging activities.  For myself I published two websites, target shooting with my personal side arms, sort current professional certifications, and worked myself to bike riding more the 30 miles every day.  Practice ego building each and every day until you are back to work.

2)      Make sure you get as personal as you can with the Human Resource people.  See it is much easier for humans to place people we do not know into a substandard class of people, but is much harder to include people they know and generally like.  Take every opportunity to talk as a person with a company’s Human Resource personal.  Let them see you as an individual, and not one of the “masses”.  I recommend that you get to know these folks even if the company they are representing doesn’t have any vacancies that are a match to you.  The HR personal are human and subject to the PIFTB Cycle as detailed in the posting on the Dragon Tamers website.  Demonstration of power is something that humans almost cannot resist.  When the HR personal are turning away those who are not currently employed, they are demonstrating their negative power.  However a demonstration of positive power would be to help someone with a “special” privilege get hired.  Who better to help but the fellow they have a good rapport with?  Bottom line, get them to see you as a human being and ask for their help. You may find that you just might get it.

I hope this has been helpful – please feel free to leave me your comments and questions, I look forward to reading what you have to say. 

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