Why You’re Unemployed

July 19, 2009

I spent part of Friday at a local employment centre, taking part in a mandatory program for job seekers. This is part of a process I’m going through that could lead to the government funding my retraining for a new career; I am now certain that newspapers are in their final decade, and I know that I have to switch paths now before I end up in a blue vest, asking if you’d like a shopping cart.

The session was interesting, if not new; everything we learned is readily available on pretty much every job website out there. What I found fascinating was the group taking part with me. I know why I’m unemployed: newspapers are cutting back staff at a record pace, leaving tight competition for very few posts. And I really don’t know how to do anything else.

I turned up at the session dressed fairly simply: dark trousers, blue Oxford shirt, blue blazer. And I shined my shoes. As I quickly discovered, I looked like the Dad of the group. Maybe I’m stodgy and old-fashioned, but I made some observations about my fellow “students” that helped me understand why some people don’t have jobs.

  • Out of 20 people, at least half had facial piercings.
  • A third had visible tattooes, one of them on his neck. It was a big black star.
  • We were handed folders with key information in them. I’d say half the people simply placed the folders on the floor under their chairs without looking at them.
  • The guy sitting behind me played a game on his iPhone through the whole session, without turning down the volume.
  • Two women spent much of the time text-messaging. To each other? Couldn’t tell you.
  • A quarter of the people were dressed for the beach.
  • One guy was visibly hung over.
  • We were  told several times during the intake process to bring a resume, but I was the only person who did.
  • Showers and toothbrushes were clearly not priorities for roughly half these folks.
  • When it was over, and we were filing out, I noticed many of those folders still on the floor, forgotten and ignored.

I understand that this may sound a touch elitist. But that’s not my intent. This was my first foray into the world of organized job-seeking, and I was startled by some people’s attitudes toward it. Not that the counsellors at the job centre make any kind of decision about employment, but I do believe that how you conduct yourself in a situation like that is indicative of how you conduct yourself while looking for work. Of course, this really improves my chances of landing that funding, I suppose.

The only thing I have to decide is what field of study to pursue. I have a lot of options. Who knows where they’ll lead?

P.S.: I should point out that one of the job centre “teambuilders” who gave us a pep talk had an eyebrow piercing. I guess I’m showing my age.


One comment

  1. That sounds a whole lot like the information/application session I attend regarding hiring for the 2010 USA Census.

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