Friday, July 17, 2009
If at First You Don't Succeed....
I'm afraid I have some frustrating news to share. As you know, I interviewed for two jobs this week and regret to say that both positions were offered to other people. In situations like these, one often wishes to know what decision process that went into the matter, why one was deemed insufficient for the job, and what the hired candidate possessed that I did not. Naturally, I'll never have the benefit of a behind-the-scenes understanding, even though possessing it would put my mind at ease more than this nebulous resolution which is, of course, all that I was provided. "Highly qualified but not what we were looking for" has become one of the most maddening motifs I've ever encountered, and I get it so frequently these days that it creeps into my dreams.
The way that the economy is these days, one should scarcely be surprised. With a tremendous pool of potential applicants vying for almost every decent job, employers are overwhelmed with the sheer numbers and have the luxury of selecting their dream candidate. In the past, when jobs were more plentiful, employers had no choice but to hire those whose credentials weren't a perfect fit. What upsets me is how employers have modified the job description of many jobs, increasing the minimum number of years of related work and expanding the skill sets one must have to even be considered. Many of these positions pay about as much as the average entry-level position, but companies seek a candidate who should, in all fairness, command a much greater salary. Not only that, nonprofits in particular require work experience that could only have been attained by those who had the luxury of working unpaid internship jobs. Unpaid internship jobs are only a feasible option for those who come from affluent backgrounds where Mom and Dad covered their expenses. Most people who had to work for a living during college and graduate school to be able to stay afloat did not have this option available to them.
Employers continue to silently trim benefits. Some offer only health insurance these days, having eliminated 401K options, life insurance, and other perks previously offered in good times. One employer with whom I interview saved money by offering only the cheapest group plan for health insurance, which provided only baseline coverage and capped any service at a certain dollar amount per fiscal year. In other words, if one got critically sick, one could easily expect to exceed the minimum coverage amount and be expected to pay the rest out of pocket. Even with the threat of a public option for health care, private companies offer individual plans at a tremendous expense that only those with substantial means could afford, and none of these covers pre-existing conditions. Since I have a pre-existing condition, purchasing an individual plan, which was an expense I could barely afford as is, makes absolutely no sense.
Most of the problem is due to an over-saturated job market. In the worst job climate since the Great Depression, the odds are astronomical that one even gets an interview. 17 out of 20 applicants for any posting should expect nothing further. 3 out of 20 should expect an interview at all and, of course, only one of those will get the job. I have probably put out somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,100 to 1,200 job applications since the end of March and have gotten a grand total of 4 interviews. Frequently I receive e-mails from employers who praise my credentials in some detail, but quickly add that I was one of 800 other applicants for the position. The only thing one can do in this situation is just apply, apply, apply. I took two days to do my interviewing here and then began yesterday methodically sending out applications yet again. I don't really have much other choice, nor does anyone, really.