Tag Archives: unemployed

Operation Find A Job Pt. 6–More Realistic Standards

6) You Need To Lower Your Standards. When all else fails, perhaps before you dip into being less than honest, check into your standards. A lot of people who have degrees have a standards problem, and a lot of people who had good jobs but got laid off have a standards problem. People with degrees want to go directly from college to a job that pays at least $50,000 a year, and people who had a job paying at least $50,000 a year want another job that is exactly like the one they lost that pays the same as or more than what they were making before.

Sorry. But you gotta do what you gotta do if you’ve been looking for a job for a long time and nothing has worked. If that means taking a pay cut, you take a pay cut. If that means doing something different in a different field for a living, do something different in a different field for a living. If that means doing something for which you perceive yourself to be overqualified, then you take a job for which you’re overqualified.

I also think people have incorrect ideas about being overqualified/underemployed. I could easily say I’m overqualified for the work I do. In fact, my “best work friend” Clara often talks about how a lot of people where we work have degrees and are overqualified, which is definitely true for her (she has an IT degree and has worked better IT jobs with higher pay prior to this one). But to me, unless their degree is in IT, Computer Science, Computer Engineering or anything like that, they are not overqualified–they are alternatively qualified, like me. IT has nothing to do with what I studied in school–nothing at all. So, taking entry-level IT positions doesn’t make me overqualified just because I have a college degree and a professional degree. In fact, when you’re making a career change or trying to break into a field that is different from the one for which you prepared in school, you’re going to have to start at the bottom in that field. You don’t just get to skip over step 1 because you’re past step 1 on a totally different track.

And even still, I’ve noticed that a lot of people with IT-related degrees had to start with the same garbage IT jobs I have worked. So, in a way, I am doing better than these people are because they spent years in school studying this schitt and are exactly where I am. At some point, will someone get an IT job over me because they have a related degree plus the experience? Yeah, I’m sure. That’s the way it should be, though. I still have every confidence that I will be fine in my chosen field. If that’s not the case, I will go back to [a cheap] school.

I’ve seen a lot of people turn down jobs because they “only” pay $12/hr. Um. So, remaining unemployed is somehow better than making $12/hr? Get over yourself. It looks worse when you’re applying for jobs to have a big gap on your resume, or to admit you’ve sat around doing nothing but applying for jobs, than to work a $12/hr job. In fact, you eventually reach a point where not having a job keeps you from getting one. So, get over your degree or your previous job and take that job that’s not good enough for you. And if you already have a gap, you might have to take my advice about being less than honest (see “Operation Get A Job” Post #2).

I’m not one to hate on certain majors, but most majors are general and don’t career-track you–at least not without getting a masters degree or Ph.D or another advanced degree (and oftentimes, not even those advanced degrees help). The mistake a lot of college grads make is they take a general degree and apply for all kinds of jobs that seem “prestigious” without having anything to show as to why they’re qualified for these positions, just thinking a college degree or a nice school name should do the trick. They don’t. As mentioned in #1, you’re predominantly “qualified” for low-paying jobs that have a customer-service aspect to them. You’re almost certainly not going to be able to take an English or philosophy degree into a healthcare or business position (love English and philosophy–minored in both and enjoyed them immensely, particularly English courses–I respect these subjects, but I’m just being honest and realistic). I know it’s a hard pill to swallow for new grads when they start realizing this, but this is how it is now.

If you have to move back in with your parents, move back in. If you have to work two jobs, work two jobs. You gotta do what you gotta do. Let go of your ego and your expectations, and stop worrying about appearances–these things are getting in your way.

Pt. 1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

Pt. 2–Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

Pt. 3–You Don’t Know How To Apply

Pt. 4–You Need To Learn How To Interview

Pt. 5–What Employers Value

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Operation Find A Job Pt. 5–What Employers Value

5) You Don’t Know What Employers Value. Probably the biggest misconception out there is about education. A lot of people who struggle with finding a job think they are not educated enough. Some of them have never attended college while others already have a degree and are thinking about going back to school. Throwing education at unemployment is not the answer, especially if you’d have to go into debt to do it. I know there are some cities in the US where you’ll see a lot of job ads that want someone with a college degree. But honestly, a lot of those jobs pay a salary you can make without a college degree at a job that doesn’t require one. And I’ve had a few jobs like that–many of them, if not all of them, had employees who either didn’t have a degree or who were currently in college.

Also, look carefully at various job ads some time. Many of the ones that ask for a degree also ask for some years of work experience. Unless it is one of those fields that requires a degree, i.e. nursing, teaching or law, the degree is optional and the work experience matters way more. Indeed, you can have that nursing or law degree or a degree related to teaching and still struggle to get hired because you lack a couple of years of work experience.

I’m not saying don’t go to college–at least not in this post, because I virtually grab people all the time and try to tell them not to go to college when they question it. Just understand that college is no longer the direct path to getting a good and well-paying job, because, unfortunately, so many people don’t know this before they take out huge student loans and proceed on towards a degree.

I was reading a blog a few weeks ago, and the blogger kind of made fun of people who complain about how expensive and worthless degrees are by saying, basically, “Well, then just don’t go to college. Duh.” Well, duh some more–people complain about degrees after they’ve already gone to college, not before. People don’t really go to college to party–I’d like to think most people aren’t going to take on 5-figure debt just for four years of having fun. They go because they think it will secure their future, or because their parents make them go because their parents think it will secure their future (happened to my oldest sister). If they knew before the fact that it does not necessarily do this, colleges would be a lot emptier. Unlike the blogger who was poking fun, I don’t view this as entitlement, either–or, perhaps I do but don’t see anything wrong with feeling entitled to what you were indirectly or directly promised (if not by your school or your parents, by society), which was not unemployment or working for $8/hr somewhere after graduation when you could have worked there for $8/hr before the fact.

So, I am simply saying don’t think college is the answer to your unemployment woes and, thus, start trading job applications for college applications. You need to understand that work experience matters more than college and graduate degrees in most cases. Go back to square one, and go through my first three pieces of advice on finding a job before you start applying to college or graduate programs. If you’re on point in regards to #1-4 and you’re still struggling, then it might be time to consider #6…

Next Time: Pt. 6–Time To Get Real[istic]

Pt. 1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

Pt. 2–Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

Pt. 3–You Don’t Know How To Apply

Pt. 4–You Need To Learn How To Interview

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Operation Find A Job Pt. 4–How To Interview

4) You Need To Learn How To Interview. Now, let’s say you’re one of those people whose resume must be right and you’re applying the right way, because you’re getting called in for interviews. So, you’re going on interviews. Perhaps you’re even making it through to the next round of interviews, when required. But after that, it’s crickets. Or rejection letters/emails. You don’t understand it.

Um, not too hard to understand–there’s something about the way you interview. It doesn’t even have to be that you come across negatively in any way. It could just be that someone is always coming across as more so the type of person with whom this employer would rather work. That’s fine, to a degree…but at some point, you need to be the one who comes across as the person an employer would most prefer to have.

I know a bunch of people who just don’t “get it” about interviews. Look, once you get called in for an interview, you’ve basically passed the qualifications assessment test–now it’s a personality test. Now, I know everyone nowadays has social anxiety disorder or is taking pills for something or the other. I’ve told you a thousand times on this blog that I can’t stand people. But it’s time to put on your tap-dancing shoes and give the performance of your life. If I can do it, you can do it. Act your ass off in that job interview. Be likeable. Be friendly. Be agreeable. Appear as if you’re easy to talk to and as if you can talk about a variety of topics that have nothing to do with work with absolutely anyone. Have that can-do attitude. Be outgoing. Even if this is not how you are, you need to be this way for 30 minutes or an hour.

In the earlier stages of my blog, I worked tech support for a small company. And I used to write about this female tech with whom I worked who had serious personality problems. I know that she had been applying for jobs and going on job interviews for years while working for this company because others there told me. She thought once she graduated from college that she was out of there, but it just hasn’t worked out like that. Still, she has seen others at this company come and go, several of them leaving for better, higher-paying jobs. I’m sure she wonders why other people are getting good jobs while she can’t, especially since she is very knowledgeable in IT.

Um. So, someone who is quiet, awkward, can’t look people in the eye when she’s speaking to them, speaks at an inappropriate voice volume (either way too low or spikes too loud while she’s talking), is overly emotional and has a habit of speaking in a rude way wants to know why she doesn’t get hired after job interviews? I can only imagine how her job interviews go. If she didn’t know how to perform around her co-workers, even to some degree, then I’m sure she’s not performing in job interviews…because the performance you give in a job interview is going to have to carry over to the job once you receive it, even if not full force.

I think advice articles steer people a little bit wrong when it comes to interviewing advice, and I think people make too big a deal about interviews. For example, I don’t really think you need to “study” a company before an interview and then whip out info about the company to show how interested you are. I don’t prep for interviews beyond what I’m curious to know. I certainly visit the company’s web site, I ask questions in the interview and I might even look up reviews from former/current employees. But I do it for me–not for the interview. And I think when you do it for you, it’s easier to come across as naturally interested as opposed to “interested because an article about job interviews told me to do these things.” If you’re busy thinking about what an article or web site said, then that’s where your focus is in the interview–not on showing the type of personality you need to be showing.

To me, interviews are just what I said–a performance, unless you’re the type of person who is naturally sociable and outgoing. A lot of us aren’t like that. If you need to do any prep, it’s to get yourself ready to be “on.” Interviews are about you seeing if the job is right for you, learning about what the job is and the expectations, performing (if you need to) in order to pass the personality test that is before you and talking about you–largely your resume and past work experience.

Lost in all the traditional advice given in interview pieces is not only that you need to show the right personality and hit the right chords with the employer in terms of who you are…but also that you’re being evaluated on your speech. It really does matter in a lot of cases, and I’ve had employers flatout tell me it matters that I speak well during the job interview. So be mindful of this, as well.

You have to understand that the need to perform does not equate to the need to be over the top and obvious about the fact that you’re not being exactly who you are. I just think there are examples all around us of people who appear to be confident, friendly, conversational and such that we can easily copy in a job interview, and that’s what we’ve got to do. If you’re not comfortable with this, I think the best way to get comfortable with it is through doing a bunch of interviews. I feel like most interviews, more or less, go the same way, and they are–as I said–largely about your resume, which is a part of the hiring process that you’ve essentially already passed anyways. It’s funny that people worry so much about what questions they’ll be asked, especially given that they’ve already passed the questions, for the most part. Now it’s about how you sound, act and look when you answer. Do interviews to get used to the questions, but, more importantly, to get used to performing and speaking a certain way while answering the questions. Do mock interviews or real interviews for jobs you don’t really care whether or not you get offered.

Now that I’m used to the performance aspect, when I am contacted for interviews I know that the job is as good as mine at that point. This is despite being a black female who is almost always interviewing with a white man or a white woman (and I would like to emphasize again here that you need to appear to have no problem talking to anyone about a variety of non-work topics, which might be the #1 reason why I can get white Southern men to hire me). The hardest part for me is just getting the callback. I almost never get rejected after a job interview–and, again, this is coming from a self-proclaimed people hater, a loner, someone who is socially challenged and quiet (someone who, if I were a white male, would fit the profile of a serial killer, if you will–I know this). If you learn how to interview correctly and focus on what’s really important in job interviews, neither will you.

What can I say? Acting was the first thing I ever seriously wanted to do with my life. Didn’t work out, but it’s serving me well anyhow. 😉

Next Time: Pt. 5–Employers and Their Values

Pt. 1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

Pt. 2–Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

Pt. 3–You Don’t Know How To Apply

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Operation Find A Job Pt. 3–How To Apply

3) You Don’t Know How To Apply. A lot of people seem to think Craigslist is a scam. But in my experience, it’s the best place to apply for jobs. There are definitely scam listings on Craigslist, but you have to learn how to spot them before you submit a resume. I always try to look for an email address that seems valid that is posted in the ad, i.e. it has a company name in the address, and look for a company name or site address that looks professional (i.e. not salesbiz.com) in the listing. I also look at how much the advertised salary is, and if it seems too high for the job description I don’t apply.

I pay attention to how often I see the same ad listed, spelling and grammar, and how the job itself is described. There are job ads that seem to be posted on Craigslist several times a month for several months, and that just seems odd to me–seems that if it’s a real position it ought to be filled within a month, and even if they’re having to re-hire that tells you something, too. I’ve mentioned a few times on my blog about a previous job I had where I repaired laptops, and I see that company advertising all the time on Craigslist. It’s a legitimate job, but there’s a reason they’re always hiring–the best employees get tired of the bullschitt and leave at some point, and they “lay off” people who can’t meet their unrealistic standards all the time but they lie to them about why they’ve been laid off, i.e. that they don’t have enough work.

Also, I’ve found that legitimate Craigslist ads tend to be fairly well-written, though this is not 100%. More on this in a second, but the general rule is ignore ads in all caps, poor spelling, and poor grammar–especially if they don’t have any information such as a company name or an email address that seems legitimate or professional, not a Hotmail or Yahoo! one. And be wary of jobs that seem too good to be true or like they will hire anyone, or jobs that sound like sales or multi-level marketing jobs that don’t pay a steady salary.

Another good use of Craigslist can be posting your own “seeking work” ad, but it depends on how you write it. No matter what, you will get a bunch of fake emails. But if you’re creative enough and write the ad with your mind towards what employers look for, you will also get actual employers responding to you. I actually got a job this way once, and the woman who responded to me sent a poorly-written email. If she hadn’t put the company’s phone number in the email for me to look up online and verify it was a legitimate business, I might have ignored it. But it turned into a job interview, and I was hired.

The first thing you’ll have to do is write a subject line that stands out from the hundreds of other “seeking” ads on Craigslist. Second, in the ad make yourself sound like an employer’s dream–no excuses, always on time, can-do attitude, pleasant demeanor. Make yourself sound like an ass kisser who is always happy and willing. Third, let them know what skills you have and what you’re interested in. I’ve been contacted for legitimate positions almost every single time I’ve posted this kind of ad (just not always with the kind of position I wanted), but it really starts with having the right subject line in order to get employers to click–something creative and something that lets employers know you’re different from other employees. Make it sound like it’s all about them, not about how you need a job right this instant.

So, I’ve gotten several jobs through Craigslist, but anyone who reads the blog enough will also see that I’ve gotten jobs through employment agencies, as well. In my opinion, employment agencies are hit-or-miss, especially depending on where you live, and you also have to be looking for certain kinds of jobs in order for them to be of real use. Employment agencies weren’t worth schitt for me when I was in Chicago, but they’ve been the primary way I’ve found work since being back in my hometown. In Chicago, it just could have been the kinds of jobs I was looking for, as I had no IT experience back then and wasn’t really looking for IT jobs when I first got there. But in my hometown, it almost feels as if IT jobs primarily hire through employment agencies. Pretty much everyone I’ve worked with at my current and previous jobs came through an employment agency, even if they are now full-time employees directly of the company for which we work.

I’ve also found jobs through job listings on college career services sites, and this was despite not technically being a student at that particular college.

I think these are the best ways to find jobs–Craigslist, employment agencies and career services sites. I have never heard a peep through sites like Indeed or SimplyHired, and the one time I heard anything from sites like Monster is when an employment agency posted an ad there (the one through which I’m currently employed).

I think filling out applications in any way, shape or form is a waste of time. You always want to apply for jobs to which you submit just your resume and cover letter. If they want an app after that, that’s fine. But you need someone to actually look at your resume, and you’re probably not going to get that when you apply via app, especially if you apply online. Most, if not all, sites use a filtering key word system that will wipe out even qualified applicants, but the thing is their applications are extensive and time-consuming. It’s not worth it to spend an hour filling out an application when you have a better shot at a job where you just email your resume after writing a 10-minute tailored cover letter.

And I’m surprised that people still physically go out and submit resumes or apps. This, too, is largely a waste, in my opinion. What’s worse is some people still advise people to do this. I’ve seen people say that it helps your chances for the employer to see you.

Look, I’ve worked places where people would come in and ask for applications or submit apps they filled out already. Greater than 9 times out of 10, you’re handing in your application to someone who has absolutely nothing to do with hiring you. That person takes your app and puts it in a stack that no one touches or in a mail thingy on the manager’s office door. That manager might go through those apps if someone quits or is fired and he needs someone right away, but more often than not your app is merely one in a million that just sits somewhere. The manager will hire someone via recommendation from a current employee, family member or from an employment agency before he hires someone who submits a handwritten app. And even if you get the opportunity to hand your resume or app directly to a hiring manager, it usually makes no difference at all. He/she will encourage you to your face, but your app is still going in the stack of infinity.

You don’t need to go anywhere. And the thing about going out asking for apps is these places usually aren’t looking to hire, kind of as I suggested above. Just stay home, hop on the computer, make sure your resume is alright, pound out a good cover letter for each job ad you like and submit resumes via email. Focus on places that actually say they are hiring and are asking for submissions–this gets more results than physically pounding the pavement and submitting apps to random businesses.

And one more thing before I move on–passing your resume on to someone else to pass on. I haven’t seen where this works, either. Usually, the person to whom you give your resume has no real influence, so it’s as good as your emailing your resume to wherever this person is sending it.

You’ll notice that I don’t mention networking, although that’s not to say that networking doesn’t work. But I recognize that most of us don’t have that networking sort of personality, including myself, and aren’t going to do it no matter what. Many job advice articles you read will continue to tell you that you need to network, but I’m telling you whatever I think is more important, works more often or is something that any of us can or simply must do. You don’t have to network. Still, in a sense, I did get my last job through networking. The best part was I hadn’t purposely set out to network my way into a job when it happened, which is so awkward. Whenever I’ve tried to network, it didn’t get me anywhere. So I say don’t force networking. Focus on the other tips I’m giving you, and if you see a natural opportunity to network with which you feel comfortable take it.

Next Time: Pt. 4–The Truth About Job Interviews

Pt. 1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

Pt. 2–Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

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Operation Find A Job Pt. 2–Your Resume

2) Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It. A lot of people don’t really believe this is the case. But let me tell you–if you’re sending out resumes and you’re not getting any responses, especially if you’re focusing your job search correctly and using a variety of mediums for applying, then the problem is your resume.

While searching for my first “adult” job, I ran up against a few people who wanted to get a few hundred bucks out of poor job seekers in order to properly write their resume. But instead of getting scammed, I kind of scammed all of these people. I would submit my resume to them for the initial free consultation and, of course, they’d rip it to shreds. Now, you’d think that these people, just wanting money, would tell you some things that aren’t exactly true about your resume just to sucker you in and get you to pay them. But one, in particular, gave me a lot of really good info. The others gave me one or two things that were true and useful, but the guy who gave me a lot of good stuff? I scammed the hell out of him. I took all his good info and ran, never to be heard from again.

He basically told me that resumes should have active words and not just state what you did. Resumes should focus on results and achievements. So…I took the info he gave me, took it a step further by doing internet searches on resumes that did what he said resumes should do, and I looked at those examples. I spent one weekend re-writing my resume to be more like those resumes I saw online. Then I continued focusing my job search. I can honestly tell you that since changing my resume using this guy’s advice, I have gotten great results/more responses from employers.

With a lot of people, they will say something like, “I know it’s not my resume. Others have looked at it, and they respond positively to it.” Well, the same was true for me before I learned how to write my resume the way this one guy who wanted a couple hundred bucks to do it essentially taught me without charging me. Most resumes I see are not like how this guy said they should be or the examples after which I modeled mine. They don’t show how you, as an employee, have made an impact and gotten results where you’ve worked; they state the duties for which you were responsible and assignments you completed. No one knows this is relatively ineffective because this is how everyone was taught that resumes should be written. But up against a person who has presented solid figures for how how much they increased revenue, brought in more business or drove up customer satisfaction? Merely listing duties looks kind of bland.

Obviously, if you’ve just graduated from college and don’t have much or any work experience, you have a resume problem. Still, you should be able to get a ranky-dank customer service job without having a resume full of results/impact. Best case scenario is you have internships, summer work experience, part-time work while in school or just something that looks like work experience that can go on your resume. If not?

You gotta do what you gotta do. And what you might have to do right here is be less than honest. Yeah, I said (wrote) it. And this goes for anyone who needs a job right now. If worse comes to worse, you might need to stretch the truth on your resume. And it kills me how so many people poo poo this. Most people will tell you to volunteer or do something else that doesn’t pay. But what if you need cash? You have bills. You have student loans. You might even have kids. You don’t have time to volunteer for a year and hope somebody will pick you up permanently and pay you. I’m not telling you to lie–I’m just saying you don’t have to be 100% honest.

What is people’s deal with being less than honest? Are you worried someone is going to find out? Do you think you’ll be banned from working ever again? Do you think you will be fired? News for ya–you already don’t have a job. If you get a job based on less than honesty, someone finds out and you get fired, hey–at least you were getting paid for a period of time…vs now, when you’re sitting there with nothing. Big deal if you get fired. Get the job first. If you’ve been unemployed for a long time, what do you really have to lose?

Honestly, there’s no real reason why anyone ever has to find out you were less than honest. Don’t get the position and start running your mouth or letting inconsistencies fly. And if you use people to help you be less than honest about the experience you have, get with them ahead of time and work out what you all will say. Seriously, work out all the details ahead of time.

You gotta do what you gotta do, right? Nowadays, you are magically expected to get work experience without being allowed to get work experience. I advise that if there is something you know you know how to do–perhaps you do it all the time but just don’t have formal work experience doing it–get with people who are willing to say you worked for them and serve as a reference, and slap this on your resume, maybe as freelance or contract work. I am so not kidding. If employers are going to be ridiculous with you, they’ve got it coming. Nobody’s got time for all these unrealistic roadblocks to getting hired, and listing your education, all your school activities, all your school honors and semesters on the Dean’s List aren’t getting you anywhere. If you have to manufacture work experience in order to get a job, do it.

Like I said, this should be a last resort. I had several people who were willing to be references for me as a contractor when I decided I wanted to get into IT because they knew I had the knowledge–some of them are people I’d help with tech issues on several occasions–but I ended up getting an entry-level IT job where they just basically hired anybody (they hired hundreds of “just anybody”s, and it showed every single day). So I never had to use any of my faux references…but, trust me, I damn-sure would have had it come to that. I have no shame, and neither should anyone else when it comes to getting a job and surviving.

I can’t emphasize enough, though, that if you’re going to make up work experience, it does need to be something you know a lot about or for which you have skills, just not in a formal sense. On one of the tech message boards I sometimes visit, I saw another user basically advise a newbie to IT who is applying for jobs to be dishonest (and, of course, others jumped in and disagreed). But he also pointed out that in IT, anyway, if you say you know your stuff and you don’t, you’ll probably get found out. I think this is true. I mean, I had an interview for an IT position once where I interviewed with four different people, and my interview with one of the owners basically was a verbal quiz about networks. I don’t come from an IT background and, at the time, had very little formal IT work experience…but I aced the verbal quiz, and so I was hired.

Employers don’t always test what you know in job interviews, but it does happen–and if it does happen when you’ve made up work experience in something in which you lack knowledge, you’re busted. So, the user who was advising the newbie to be less than honest is on the same page as I am–be dishonest if you know you have what it takes but just lack the experience to prove it.

Next Time: Pt. 3–Looking For Jobs In All the Wrong Places

Pt.1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

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Operation Find A Job Pt.1–Focusing Your Search

It’s funny that I just put up an “about” page about how this blog is for me, because I’m about to present an entire series of posts that actually is for you. I have changed jobs, what, 50 million times since keeping this blog. And when I re-found my most recent job opportunity, it occurred to me that I should probably put up a post letting people know how I do it. But I’m just now finding the words to make decent post on this topic.

I definitely used to be one of those people who struggled to find a job. I was in the “degree but no experience” category, and our society was shifting towards work experience being the end-all be-all with degrees carrying less and less meaning or allure. Now, some 10 years later, you finally see articles, videos and stories on the news about the education debt crisis and the damage student loans are doing to young people’s lives, young people who are either not working or are “underemployed,” etc. But this problem, as I suggested, started well before the media really got hold of it. So…for someone like me back then, there were no articles or real advice out there to help me.

And if you have been in the position of struggling to find work for months, especially if you have had to rely on the help of others financially during this time frame, you know that people are not at all sympathetic or understanding. They throw advice at you, most of which is not helpful but with the tone of, “Come on, it’s easy; you’re just not trying hard enough.” Or they try to “help” find a job and show you job listings that, for one reason or another, don’t fit your background or interests. They give you generic advice without the understanding that each field is different and your field has its own set of rules–I have found this is true for law, and I have found this is true for IT, for example.

Well, let me introduce you to my motto, which has served me well:

You gotta do what you gotta do.

If you start to think like this and act with this in mind, you will find a job. I am not promising you the job of your dreams. Clearly, I have worked fairly steadily since conquering my problem of finding a job but have hated every job (except my current one). But still, you need the money. Get a job first, get the necessary work experience and then deal with finding a job you can at least tolerate. Best case scenario is the job of your dreams, but that’s something most of us never find/get.

There are six big things I see with people who stay unemployed for a long time:

1) You’re Not Focusing. Yeah, you sit at your computer every day and shoot off at least 20 applications. Or you drive around, stopping at every business you see and asking if they’re hiring, filling out apps, etc.

Yeah–this is not focusing. You need to figure out, first of all, what you’re most qualified to do. Then, among the list of what you’re qualified to do, figure out what you’re willing to do. Then you need to apply for those jobs only. See, you’re not getting results by applying any and everywhere because the hiring manager either throws your app/resume in the trash altogether or, when he/she looks at it, they’re trying to figure out why you even bothered because they see no connection whatsoever between your background and the positions they have available. Why are you interested? Why are you qualified? Never fill out an app and, on the blank by “what position interests you?” write in “any.” There has to be a match between your background and a known position if you want a realistic shot at getting a job out of the deal.

Focusing your search helps you get better results. It also wastes less of your time and causes you less frustration. There might be days when you only apply for one position. But if it’s a position that fits you perfectly and all signs point to there being a pretty good likelihood you’ll get a callback for an interview based on the listed requirements, job duties and what you’ve done, then that is far more productive than scouring every job board online and applying for 30 seemingly random positions.

For people who have the issue I had of not having much work experience, my observation/experience is you’re little qualified for much more than customer service types of positions. That’s the way it is–doesn’t matter how much your degree cost, and it damn-near doesn’t matter what your degree is in (there are, of course, exceptions). You’re looking at a low-paying job where you’re going to have to deal with assholes all day, more than likely. Retail, hospitality, front desk, call center, tech support/help desk, food/restaurant types of garbage. This is what you should largely be applying for. Sad but true. Stick it out for a year, do the best job you can so you can get good job references or be the first in line for a better position where you work, focus on getting promoted or gaining skills that will allow you to move on to bigger and better things.

For me, I got down to the point where I would do just about anything except fast food and cleaning. Somehow, I got the idea to apply to hotels/hospitality, which I had not been doing before. It just seemed like an easy job, and much of the time it was. It wasn’t long before I got my first full-time, post-graduate job working in the hospitality industry. Within a year, I was being offered management positions at my hotel. And if that had been something I wanted to do, I would likely be making more money than I currently do and working in hospitality. But the experience still helped me get other, higher-paying jobs than what I started with.

Next Time: Pt. 2–Why Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

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Rethinking Workplace Dating

When you get older, it seems like you’re more limited in ways to meet the right person. For me, I feel I have basically two options–online dating and workplace dating. Between the two, I’d much rather meet someone at work. And one thing I will say for where I work, even if I don’t like my actual job, is there are tons of beautiful women there. I don’t actually recall the last time I’ve been anywhere that is full of beautiful, smart, successful black women. But my company is full of them!

Over the last few days, I’ve realized I really have a crush on the chick from my last post, whom I am calling Belinda here at LO. I’ve been thinking about her all weekend. I saw her Friday at work and got all nervous, especially since she looked so good. And while I was working, the co-worker who sits beside me got a call from her. He said her first and last name, and my head immediately shot around towards his direction. At first I sat there smiling to myself, and then I jumped up from my seat and ran over to him to listen to their call. Then after they got off the phone, I asked him all kinds of questions about why she was calling and how often he has spoken to her.

Gosh, I totally feel and sound like a high school kid.

But I have to forget about it, and her.

See, this weekend while I’ve been thinking about Belinda, I also realized that I can’t date her even if she wanted to date me. In fact, I probably can’t date anyone at my company. Or maybe not “can’t”…perhaps “shouldn’t” is the better word.


I work in the f*cking IT department, man. That means we interact with absolutely every other department at my company. There is nobody where I work whom I can absolutely say our work would never intersect. In fact, I looked through my company’s directory and realized I interact with people in Belinda’s department on a damn-near daily basis from a tech standpoint…people whom I know she knows–especially her manager.

Belinda’s a supervisor in another department. She’s not even just another f*cking employee–she’s a goddamn supervisor. She’s the equivalent of the dumbass for whom I work in IT. And although I don’t know my company’s rules on workplace dating and though I don’t really think it’d be wrong or detrimental to her for her to date me since I’m not one of her subordinates, I do see ways that my dating her could hurt me at work. Liiiiiiike…if things don’t work out…she has the power to go to my supervisor or his supervisor and complain about me, say, the way people complained to him about Lazy Tech…and then it’d be my word against hers when she’s the one in a position of power.

And because of the nature of my job, I can’t just avoid people. If things didn’t work out and she continued to contact tech support for various things–which, according to my co-worker, even though I’d written before that she hardly ever contacts tech support based on my own experience, he says he gets calls from her just about every other day–I can’t pass her phone call off to someone else or tell someone else to respond to her emails. I’d have to deal with her, and if I didn’t then, again, she could complain to my supervisor.

This last point also makes me think about what it’d be like if I dated just anyone at my company and it didn’t work out. I’d never be able to avoid whomever it is. And if the person is vindictive, she could go to my supervisor with all kinds of lies or just silly complaints. And then what would my defense be? “Yeah, I was fucking her after work, and now she’s all mad at me and trying to get me fired.” Right, like I’m going to tell my supervisor my business…or like I’d want to be in a position where I might have to or even where people actually know anyways without my telling them. In my last post, I mentioned how one of my co-workers came up to me and was telling me about how Belinda wanted to meet me. It was kind of uncomfortable…I had to keep a straight face and act like it was no big deal. But it did matter, because I’ve noticed her. And the fact that someone came up to me and mentioned it…it feels like the person is trying to get in the middle of something or start something. Basically, why did my co-worker even tell me that, you know?

Part of me thinks that, hey, she’s a supervisor…she should know better, so that must mean that she’s just being friendly and that’s it. Of course, supervisors don’t always know better, but still. I’m also not going to forget that she was kind of a bitch with me one time because I wouldn’t do something she wanted. I felt at the time that it said something about her, and I still think that could be the case.

In fact, I’m starting to wonder if she’s one of those high-maintenance women. There are different ways to be high maintenance, but some of them intersect most of the time. I’m not saying it’s always a bad thing; my mother is a type of high-maintenance woman. It’s a little annoying waiting two hours on her to get ready just so we can go to Walgreen’s, but that’s better than being the type of high maintenance woman who will dump ya because you can’t or won’t go into the poor house buying her schitt–my mother’s not that type, although she definitely likes to live a certain way and admitted that, at this point in her life, if she were dating she couldn’t date someone who didn’t make enough money for her to live the kind of life she has gotten used to. Still, I do think a fairly good percentage of high-maintenance women have certain personality flaws that I probably can’t hang with, to put it euphemistically.

I have noticed Belinda’s physical appearance more, which I don’t know if she has just stepped her game up or I just wasn’t paying attention before or what. Like my mother, she’s one of those women whom you can tell likes to look good and puts the time and effort in. She’s got a great body, great hair and her clothes look like they were tailor-made for her. She comes to work looking more like she’s going on a date or trying to attract someone. I’m not saying she looks inappropriate, but sometimes she just doesn’t look like anyone else who is just going to work looks. She certainly doesn’t look like any supervisor I’ve ever seen. Between that and the mini-tantrum she threw the one time I didn’t do something she wanted, I just have to wonder if she’s the classic “pretty bitch” (and again, my mother is high maintenance…love mom, but she is at least kind of difficult and demanding). If she is, she’s not someone I want to take chances with at work as far as things not working out if we date. Who knows how she’d react.

This is all theoretical at this point–highly theoretical–but still very important to realize. With the type of job that I do, it’s probably best if I just look but don’t touch while I’m at this particular company. It sucks, though, because it takes away what is probably the most likely way for me–and many other adults–to meet someone who is relationship material.

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Does Money Motivate You?

Lazy Tech (LT) still talks to people who work at our previous employer, so he is always mentioning things he hears from them or Facebook statuses that are related to how crazy things are there. Well, today he told me that everyone there got cash bonuses–which that employer never used to give out–and that the guy who now fills his old shift got a raise, as well.

I can’t remember if I mentioned this here, but I told LT about how they gave me a raise after three months and he got pissed. I told him this right when our current employer was trying to interview me for the job I have now. LT worked at our old employer for two years, never got a raise, and at best made what I started out making and at worst made less the whole time he worked there. I have a feeling, though, that they started me out higher than they normally do with new people because LT told me what his replacement used to make and what his raise was. So LT probably made less than I did, and so did his replacement. LT never deserved a raise because he was, after all, lazy. And he was not a good worker at our old employer at all. But I was told that I’d receive raises as long as I worked there.

We figure that our old employer is doing these things as a way to stop the bleeding, because they seem to have a lot of turnover. Two people left while I worked there, and I worked there for about 7 months. And then I left.

LT seems to be someone who is motivated by money, and his decision to leave our old employer seemed to be motivated in large part by feeling he should be making more money. He had issues with the job otherwise, but he probably would have dealt with them if he made more money there. As far as I can tell, he didn’t make anywhere near enough money to deal with the crap that we dealt with there. But we make a lot more at this new place, and he seems pretty happy. He talks about money almost daily, and he says things that suggest the money should trump any crap at this new place. For example, there was a day last week, and I don’t know if we were just talking about our old job or if something happened at this new place. LT asks me at least once or twice a week if I miss our old employer, and that always prompts me to say something I am not fond of about our new employer. So that might have been what happened on this particular day. And then our paychecks came, and he picked them up. He handed me mine and said, “This ought to make things better” or something along those lines.

It had zero effect on me.

I’m not going to say I don’t care about money. One of the things I came to dislike about living in Chicago when I was there last year was I didn’t have the money to buy things when I felt the urge to buy them. I have always been able to just buy things when the impulse strikes, and I’m not happy when I can’t do that. This, ironically, means I feel that I have more freedom when I live with my parents. For example, because I pocket the money I make except for what I pay in student loans, if I want to spend $1000 to go to another city and watch a football game, stay in a hotel, buy some stuff…the only thing that will get in the way is my work schedule. It’s not going to be money.

Still, money does not make me want to work, it doesn’t make me like my job and it doesn’t make things I dislike about my job better (as mentioned in my last post, I think it might make me tolerate–at least temporarily–some things I dislike a little better, but I’m not sure). Money is also not going to make me run out and get a second job just because I can make more money by working two jobs, and it’s not going to make me be okay with or want to work overtime or crazy hours. There are people in this world who are like this, though, and I don’t understand them. I’m not saying they’re wrong–I wish I were like them. I would probably like my life better if I were, because most people do have to spend the majority of their time at work and it appears that I’m one of them.

At the same time, people who are motivated by money seem to think everyone else is, as well. LT clearly operates with that assumption. And when I did a little research to try to get a better understanding of why some people are so into money, I saw comments from those people who basically call B.S. when people say they’re not motivated by money or money doesn’t bring happiness. So they don’t understand people who aren’t motivated by money.

So, I’m still trying to figure this out.

I told my parents that I’m not motivated by money, and they kind of…reacted negatively, for lack of a better way to describe it. But I don’t think they were motivated by money when they worked. I think my mother was motivated by having kids to take care of, which is at least slightly different than being motivated by money. In that case, money is a means to an end–it’s not the actual motivation. By the way, she’s a huge hypocrite in tons of ways, but the job thing is the most annoying one right now. She gets pissed and/or lectures me if I talk about not liking my job, but she talked about not liking her job for at least 20 years and seemingly took off work every other day. I promise, she was always at home in my teenage years and my 20s.

I think my father is one of those people who needs to be busy all the time, and he uses work for that. My mother also says he likes his job, which I can’t fathom just in general but also can’t fathom for him since he “teaches.” And I say “teaches” because…well, I “joke” with him, and the joke is that he gets paid to talk for two hours a day to a bunch of people who aren’t listening.

But there might be something else with my father. I don’t know about LT’s background growing up. But I listen to a lot of sports radio, and there’s this one guy who is my favorite. He is another one whom you can tell is really into money. I read something about him online a couple of months ago, though, that discussed how he grew up poor and, essentially, vowed that he would work as hard as he had to or do whatever to keep from being poor as an adult. The article discussed how he had a lot of irons in the fire at a young age and, basically, was just really ambitious and worked his way up. Now he’s an elitist snob. My father also grew up poor and did stuff like play football, basketball and still work a job while he was in high school. That led to a basketball scholarship to college, and he was the first person in his family to graduate from college.

I didn’t grow up poor. I also didn’t grow up being taught that working hard was some sort of value and that something is wrong with people who don’t work hard, or that people don’t have anything or don’t get anywhere in life because they don’t work hard. To me, working hard has very little to do with being successful or gaining wealth. Frankly, I think you’re best off if you know the right people, have the right personality (i.e. the right people like you and end up wanting to help you), have the right body parts (if you know what I mean), have the right look (on several levels)…at least have one of these things going for you. But I think talking about “hard work” is almost like code. In other words, what are people really teaching their kids when they teach them the value of hard work? Are they really teaching them to work hard for hard-work’s sake or to build character? I think teaching “hard work” or valuing hard work is another way of valuing having or getting money. Nobody is going to work hard for a lengthy period of time if money is not at the end of the rainbow.

I was not taught this, was not taught about valuing “hard work.” I just grew up with a lot of security and still have a lot of it. I don’t fear being poor because I can’t imagine that I’ll ever be poor. I’ve never really had motivation to make sure I’m not poor. The closest I’ve been is living in Chicago, not being able to buy what I want when I want it, and that was very short-lived. Even then, it was like, “Hey, I can go home to my parents who have money, get a job there, pay student loans and pocket the rest of the cash.” And that’s what I did and do. So, why would money motivate someone like me?

I’m also female, and I think that matters. Everyone I know of for whom money cures all–in the job sense, not necessarily the gold-digger sense–is male. They’re the ones who will work outrageous amounts of hours and not complain, will work two jobs to make more money despite not necessarily needing the money (if you’re working two jobs to support a family, that’s something totally different), who look at a paycheck in their hands and say, “Oh, this makes all the crap all better.” I think this is for a number of reasons. For one thing, guys have that “breadwinner” mentality, even when they’re single. They think they need to make a lot of money to attract women, but I believe guys also think they’re expected to make as much money as they can. Women don’t really have these issues. We tend to have more security in the world one way or the other, although a lot of women are now head of household and have to bring in the money. My oldest sister works all the time and only makes more money than I do because she works overtime all the time–I actually make a higher salary, and you wouldn’t catch me dead in the office past my regular shift. She works OT because she has three kids, bills, rent, car notes and a husband who refuses to work.

So, my last employer assumed that they could keep me by paying me more and giving me raises, and they still seem to operate with the mindset that giving employees more money should keep them. Obviously, that’s not true for everyone. So how could they have kept me? They couldn’t have.

In my opinion, the answer for employers who want to retain employees is to find out what motivates them before even hiring them. That should be a job interview question–“What motivates you? If it’s money, that’s perfectly fine for you to say. I just want to get a better sense of what keeps you happy in a position.” My previous employer could have not even wasted their time hiring me if they had asked this question if they received an honest answer from me, and they could have kept LT and probably even gotten better productivity from him. See, all LT wanted was money. What I hated about that job was “trial by fire” training as opposed to a step-by-step “this is how you do absolutely everything”-type deal and dealing with jackass clients.

My situation would be tricky for an employer because it’d require honesty and self-knowledge, and a lot of people will take a position just because they need a job even if not everything about the position sounds good to them. But employers still need to paint as complete a picture of the job as they can to prospective employees and then try to find out if the employee fits that, as well as what matters most to the employee in terms of job satisfaction instead of assuming it’s money or just having any job in a rough economy. Not getting a complete picture of the job is a biggie, as well as the fact that employers never consider motivation when hiring–both lead to unhappy employees and turnover. If the prospective’s motivation is something the employer can’t handle, then the employer knows not to hire that person. If I had said, “I don’t want to deal with difficult people”–and I did basically say that to my new employer during the interview and currently hardly deal with difficult people–then I could have been mercifully spared. I probably now under most circumstances would not take a job that, training-wise, doesn’t provide enough hand holding vs putting me in stressful situations right off the bat and making me look stupid, and that would be something that an employer would need to see if they could satisfy me on before hiring me.

My former co-worker who I hated, FTG…you can tell, for example, that money isn’t her motivation so much as having a secure job with flexibility. She knows she’s not going to lose her job, and she can take off work pretty much any time she wants. She leaves early whenever she needs to, and she has no problem making whatever arrangements she makes for her kid. Making a lot of money is not much good to her if she can’t get off work early enough to pick up her child or take off with no problem when her kid is sick.

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Dreaded Mondays Amplified

I think the majority of us love days off. And not even just the weekends, for those of us who work a more standard schedule and get weekends off. But real days off–days during the week when you’re not doing what you’d normally be doing if you were at work. You’re watching the good TV shows you miss during the day when you’re at work instead of trying desperately to find something good on TV like you have to do on the weekends.

The best to a lot of people is the extended weekend–three days, four days.

Oh, but there’s definitely a downside–after a three-day weekend, it’s even harder to accept that you have to return to work.

Now, the majority of us hate Mondays, right? Mondays have gone from sucking because we have to return to school after the weekend to sucking because we have to return to work after the weekend. But imagine you had Friday, Saturday and Sunday away from work. You kind of started to forget you even have a job. It was great, until sometime on Sunday when you had to face the truth.

This is true for me, anyway. I hate going to work on Monday even more when I’ve had a long weekend than I normally do. The funny thing is at my last job, which I hated far more than I hate my latest job, I used to think that just having a few days off would refresh me. Two days isn’t enough. I think four-day work weeks are more ideal for recharging. And I actually do think I returned to work feeling better after three days off. But I dreaded every single day. I woke up every morning thinking “I hate this job.”

But at my latest job, having three days off just makes me feel like quitting my job rather than go into work on Monday. This is especially true after having Friday off, because Friday felt like old times, i.e. back when I didn’t have a job. I can’t explain it. Well…maybe I can. See, at my last job, I hated where I worked but loved what I did there most of the time. At my current job, it’s not that bad of a place but I don’t really like what I do most of the time. I am not cut out to work with people, which is what I do most of the time now. I’m cut out to either sit at a computer and write or to sit at a computer and repair it all by myself (repair being what I did before). Still, I don’t wake up in the morning thinking that I hate my job now–I just wake up thinking “I don’t want to go to work.” This will especially be the case tomorrow morning after having Friday off.

I seem to cherish my free time and my weekends more with this job, too, than I did with last my job. The odd thing about that is I worked crazy hours sometimes at my last job and sometimes would get home so late that I hardly had free time. I guess because I liked what I did before and time went by faster at work (when I actually had work to do), I focused a little bit less on wanting time away from work until the final month or two at that job. Now I just feel like the time I have away from work is never good enough.

The one thing that hasn’t changed with changing jobs this last time is that I start dreading Mondays even on Saturdays. People talk about dreading Monday on Sunday night, and some say this is a sign you need to quit your job. What does it mean when you dread Monday on Saturday? Probably what I already know–I don’t need to just quit my job; I need to get rich and quit having to work any job. I’m trying to think of things to do so that I won’t have to go to bed and wake up with it being time to go to work, even though I’d be better served by just going to bed right now.

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Think College Is Worth It? Think Again!

Although there are a lot of people in the US who still seem to be living under a rock when it comes to realizing the increasing worthlessness of college degrees, still spitting out the standard beliefs about going to college, there’s a lot of focus on the “education crisis” in the US, i.e. the student loan crisis. The unemployment and underemployment rates among recent college graduates, the amount of debt, the number of graduates defaulting on student loans because they can’t afford to pay, the threat of interest rates going up on federal government student loans.

I’ve mentioned that I have so much debt from student loans that I, like a lot of fairly recent graduates, live at home with my parents. I’ve also mentioned that I attended Michigan (Ann Arbor), which has a reputation as a school with a lot of wealthy kids. I’ve had (in the context of sports) haters throw this in my face, and I’ve seen and heard people talk about Michigan peeps in this type of way just generally. There was recently an article over at annarbor.com that, perhaps indirectly, depicted Michigan in this way and got a lot of comments from people with that haterade “rich kids” flavor.

Michigan nearly costs like an Ivy League school does even for in-state students, which is probably some of the reason why people think everyone who attends Michigan is rich. It is, for all intents and purposes, a private school. The academics are up there with private schools, as is the prestige. The university receives very little of its money from the state of Michigan–less than 2%, last I heard. I started wondering why Michigan isn’t a private school, as I certainly believe it should be, and I guess I wasn’t the only one because I was present when someone actually asked one of the deans, I believe, why Michigan doesn’t just go private. The answer was basically that the state constitution would have to change, and this would likely not get that kind of support.

After reading this, my guess is that Michigan is not the only university in the state that hardly gets anything from the state. I can’t see any other reason for why people in Michigan would attend schools that are far less elite than Michigan is and leave with the amount of debt that they are. Frankly, Michigan isn’t even worth the debt with which many of the students in these two articles are leaving lesser undergraduate schools. Us Michigan peeps love our school in a way that I really have never seen with other schools, so Michigan can get plenty of money from alumni. These other schools in the state of Michigan, though, are likely having to charge way more than they’re worth to make up for what the state isn’t giving them without the same kind of alumni dollars, and the kids who attend these schools are coming out with a ridiculous amount of debt because of it.

Personally–and, sorry, the intent seriously is not to sound snooty or elitist–when I see Eastern Michigan and Wayne State resulting in $80,000-100,000 worth of debt, presumably just for undergraduate studies, I wonder why anyone in his or her right mind would do it.  I wouldn’t do it for Michigan undergraduate (though I did do it for Michigan graduate school, which is a different story), and I certainly wouldn’t do it for Eastern Michigan. Much to my relief, some of the people in that second article above actually say they wouldn’t do it again. The people who say they’d do it again, with all due respect, are clearly on crack.

Would Do It Again?

Um, in terms of college–forget graduate school–I definitely wouldn’t. I have tried, with much success, to forget how much debt I had upon graduating from college. I think somewhere around $40,000, and that’s because my parents borrowed some in their own name. To me, if you go to a private school–and I’m talking about an elite one–this should be your max. With public schools, I’d say you should leave with about half the amount of debt, maybe $25,000, unless it’s one of the public Ivies like a Michigan or a Cal-Berkeley, UCLA, UVA or UNC (in which case, $40,000 or so). Otherwise, going to college isn’t worth the hassle.

Why Do I Feel This Way?

Well, let’s just take me, for example.

College–The Pros

My college experience was kind of backwards. I enjoyed it academically, but that’s about it. Actually, I really loved it academically, especially once it became more about taking the courses I wanted to take. I loved going to class and discussing literature, and I loved hearing what people had to say in social science classes. I am very intellectually well-rounded because of college. I know something about almost everything.

And my degree has come in handy a couple of times. More accurately, my degree came in handy in getting my latest job, and the school I attended came in handy on my first full-time job after graduation. I was actually just talking to my mother about this. I found out that pretty much everyone I work with has some kind of formal education in information technology or computer science. I’m the only one who doesn’t. My mother said, “Wow. You must have really impressed somebody.” Thinking back on the job interview, I’d say so.

There are two owners, and one of them has an IT background. When I interviewed with him, he asked me several questions about networks to gauge my knowledge. I was able to answer all of those questions correctly, and he seemed impressed that I could–probably because my education has absolutely nothing to do with computers. He commented on this, but he framed it as a positive. He wondered at why there are so many people out there with liberal arts degrees who really just take to IT, and then he did something most employers should do sometimes but don’t–he looked at what I studied in college (psychology and English) and [correctly] saw how those studies could help in his business, i.e. the critical thinking, problem solving and speaking skills that someone with my background should have. He mentioned these skills and commented that I have the kind of voice that he is looking for while bringing up another interviewee who obviously knew his tech stuff but couldn’t speak that well. I would also think that, since there is a people-interaction element to my job, he saw how a psych background could help with that, too. More on this in a second.

With my first full-time job, my employer had, what I think of as, a very immigrant way of thinking (and he is an immigrant). He blatantly looked down on people whom he assumed were unintelligent and were working menial jobs for him because they weren’t trying to better themselves. When he realized that I’d graduated from a really good college whose name he respects, it changed our entire relationship. He treated everyone else like crap. With most employers, you can’t really tell them that your ambition is to leave them for something better at some point, but this guy loved hearing it and is more than willing to help me with just about anything at this point. Immigrants really seem to respect people who are willing to start on the bottom and work their way up without complaining and get their education, especially Asians and Africans. They don’t question it the way Americans do, because Americans feel entitled to skip the bottom in any way they can. More on this in a second.

College–The Cons (In Addition To Debt)

I don’t really think I can come up with too many ways in which college prepared me for work. At this point, the idea that you go to college in order to get a job or get a well-paying job is completely ludicrous, and not just because college no longer results in either of these things anymore. It’s because college has very little to do with work.

Point taken about my current employer making the connection between my studies and my potential as an employee in an unrelated field. I think it can be a valid connection. Unfortunately, most employers don’t. And they won’t bother trying to make the connection, which is why social science and humanities majors have a hell of a time finding work after graduation. When I really think about what a social science or humanities major does in college, I have to say that, for most people, it probably isn’t a valid connection…or at least not reliable enough to regularly base hiring decisions on it. You don’t know who partied their way through school and aced their English degree just because English is a very easy subject to them. You don’t know who was in classes or at universities where professors just give grades, engage in grade inflation or grade on the curve. In short, you don’t know if the person actually came away with the skills you’d think someone would gain by earning a degree in a particular discipline, and you don’t know who knows how to use those skills outside of the classroom. This is why employers emphasize work experience more than anything else now.

Although I’m touching specifically on social science and humanities, I would also say–despite what a lot of people believe–this goes for pretty much anything you can study in college. For example, last I heard, nursing was one of the “in demand” fields in terms of jobs after graduation. So, a few years ago, I took a look at some of the job listings for nursing positions. I also looked at ads for another “good” field, accounting. Both of these fields’ listings pointed to the logical principle of “necessary but not sufficient,” i.e. a degree is necessary but not enough for getting these jobs. The majority of the listings were not for recent graduates–they were for people with a year or more of experience in nursing or accounting. My brother-in-law went back to school to get an accounting degree, and, so far, it has been as worthless as my psychology degree has been because he lacks accounting work experience.

Beyond skills, there’s subject matter. I learned a lot in college, but how much of it is useful on the job? I’ve found that most of what I learned in college is only good for great conversations with people. Unless you are going into a specialized field, there is nothing you can learn in college that you will need in the work world. For most of us, everything we need to know is supposed to be learned before high school graduation. That’s why I don’t understand this:

If we make college unaffordable, we’re going to be a poorer state. Have a poorly educated state and you will have a poorer state.

Having a poorly-educated state is about people leaving high school poorly educated, which is definitely the case nationwide. I will readily admit that I learned many useful things in college in terms of the world and people. But you can learn these things by…well, living and looking around and thinking about what you hear and see. And a lot of people seem to view technology as the bad guy and as something that contributes to making our youth even more ignorant. As a tech geek, I can’t help but see the good in technology. Because of the internet, you can find out just about anything you want to know. It’s all about how you use it, and some academics understand that…which is why you see some of them using technology in the classroom. I could read the same great literature I read in college on my Kindle app and participate in book club meetings to get the discussions I had in college. As I’ve written before, young people are stupid nowadays because parents and schools are failing them. It starts way before college, and college does nothing to fix it.

The fact that I’m the only one in my current position who doesn’t have an academic IT background actually just furthers my thinking that I don’t need one. Of all the people who do anything technical at my place of employment, I think only one or two of them has any sort of degree anyway–the others just have some schooling. There are people who say you need some kind of degree in the IT field, and there are people who say you need an IT-related degree. But it seems this is true only for some employers, and it seems true if you want to make more money or to get a bit of an edge on someone for some positions. Is it worth $50,000+ of debt? Personally, it’s not–especially when you consider that $50,000 in student loans works out to losing more than just $50,000, even if you’re only talking about interest. If push comes to shove, I can always go back and get an IT degree…after I actually have some money of my own from working, not money I borrow. But at least it’s a decision I’m not making as some dumb kid who doesn’t know any better and while I’m too young to really know what I want to do with my life–another problem I have with college. Adults should attend college, not teenagers.

The point I made about Americans feeling entitled to skip the bottom–this hurts recent college graduates a lot, and it also goes back to the point I made about how it’s crazy to think college gets you a job. People think going to college will allow them or their kids to skip the bottom. Nowadays, not only does it not allow people to skip the bottom, but it can make it very hard to even get a job on the bottom just because of the mentality that college allows people to skip the bottom. In other words, going to college instantly makes people “overqualified” for a lot of jobs while they’re still not qualified for any other jobs.

If you go to an immigrant employer, they’re not going to talk this “overqualified” nonsense. They will love you. But American employers won’t because they haven’t figured out that they dismiss degrees and over-value them at the same time. They think, “We’re not going to hire this recent college graduate because he doesn’t have the experience, but someone else will definitely hire him.” They don’t get that every other white or black American is thinking exactly the same way he/she is, as if employers in the US don’t all, more or less, do things in similar ways. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten that “you’re not good enough for us because you only have a degree, but you’ll be good enough for someone else because you have a degree from a good school” bit. Until I got lucky with the immigrant employer, I never was good enough for “someone else.”

If I could choose again, I’d just skip all of this confusion and debt and go directly from high school to the bottom of the work world. I ended up having to start on the bottom anyway, six figures of debt later, so…[shrugs]. One of my sisters basically told me that she is not going to make her kids go to college because of what she has seen with me. In other words, if they don’t want to go, no big deal. I agree with this. Save your kids’ financial future. If they can’t get a scholarship, work their way through college (which most colleges are too expensive to do) or have you afford to foot the bill, there’s no sense in borrowing tons of money.

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