Job Search 2014: It’s a Brave New World


40s businessAs I continue my quest for gainful employment, it has become very evident to me that America’s Job Market has drastically changed.

The impatience of a technology-driven society is very evident…even in a job search.

Employers nowadays want to know what you can do for them today, not a couple of years down the road. And, with the economy headed down the ol’ porcelain receptacle, they want you to be able to do it with a limited or non-existent budget. Additionally , if you are being interviewed by a smaller company, Health Insurance for you and your family may not be included, due to the launch of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

This ain’t our parents (or grandparents for you young whipper-snappers out there) Job Market.

My folks were members of America’s Greatest Generation. I was born when they were 40. That being said, I can remember my Mother and Father, going to work everyday, to their jobs with Sears and Roebuck.

That’s right. They both worked for the same company…for 20 years!

You see, boys and girls, back then, unlike our impatient present society, employers hired you for the long haul. These employers were adept, through face-to-face interviews, at recognizing future employes’ potential, and were willing to invest the time necessary to cultivate that employee in order to realize a Return on that Investment (ROI).

Beginning in the 1980’s, the employer/employee dynamic began to change, as older employees, seemingly overnight,  became viewed as liabilities, not assets.

Take Sears and Roebuck, for example. As I mentioned earlier, both my parents put in 20 years with Sears.  In the early 1980s, after the Corporate Offices moved into the Sears Tower in Chicago, the young, hungry executives up there decided that the old model of employment with Sears was no longer viable.

Sears Employees, at that time, had a very nice Benefit Package, which included profit sharing, paid vacations, health insurance…the whole deal.

In return, at the store level, the employees were very happy, hard-working, and loyal assets to the company.

For example, my Father managed the Suburban Shop in a Sears Store, here in Dixie. His department consisted of a combined Farm Store and the Garden Store. He sold fencing, storage rooms, chain saws, tractors, go-karts, Sakrete (concrete mix), fertilizer, get the idea. I still remember him, in his 50s, loading bags of Sakrete onto a dolly.

The employees would also hold monthly management/recognition meetings before the store would open for the day. There would be skits, motivational speeches from management, and awards given. My Father, in fact, was Sales Manager of the Year, at least a couple of times.

The results of the way that Sears treated their employees, back in the day, showed up in their sales…and their reputation. When you walked in the door of a Sears Store, you were immediately greeted by the employees, and made to feel welcome. Their reputation ranked right up there with Macy’s Department Store in the Northern States and Goldsmith’s Department Store down here in the South. In other words, they were considered THE TOP OF THE LINE.

And then, it happened.

The bean counters and the young, hungry executives decided that taking care of their employees was interfering with their Revenue Stream. They began to “tighten the screws”, if you will, and started offering “Early Retirement” to their veteran, knowledgeable employees, so that they could replace them with part-time young employees, with reduced benefits, thereby increasing their corporate Revenue Stream.

So, how did that work out?

Not so well.

Sears had to close a lot of stores, before finally selling out to K-mart, which still finds itself in a precarious position, being trounced in the marketplace on a regular basis by Walmart.

So, you’re asking, what does that have to do with today’s Job market?

I’m glad you asked.

Nowadays, in our impatient society, powered by an universal quest for immediate results and gratification, employers and job-seekers alike have forgotten the old adage,

Good things come to those who wait.

Employers need to realize that there are skills you can teach employees and that the job seeker who is presently interviewing with you, can be cultivated into becoming a worthwhile ROI.

And, on the job seeker’s part, young seekers, just out of college, need to realize that, while universities can teach you knowledge, they can’t teach you experience. You may have to take a lower job than you had set your hopes on, in order to achieve greater success in the future.

To summarize, in today’s “microwave-version” of the job seeking/hiring process, perhaps both employers and potential employees need to slow down, move in a more deliberate fashion, and think a little more about what they want, in both an employer and in a job situation.

Prepare for the long haul.

Be Flexible. Be Adaptable. 

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.



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