Skip to main content

For hire

As I've written about previously, I keep one toe in the job market waters. It's not that the idea of going to work every day isn't appealing--it's that I need a specific job to go to that is appealing. It's a luxury of being the at-home parent who doesn't have to work. We have a breadwinner who gives us an option that, sadly, many families can't afford. Even many of the Stay At Home Dads I know have side gigs or part-time work for various reasons. Some are financial. Some are psychological. Too many families need both parents' income, however, and while we sometimes have to scrape by a little more than we would if I was in the workforce, the benefits of being around to raise the children outweigh this to us.

It really makes me a great test case. When you see the employment numbers about people dropping out of the job search, wages being stagnant, or job growth, my situation is probably not what the analysts have in mind. But, nevertheless, it's instructive about what's going on in the American economy. Once you take away the "working because employee has no other choice" element, the job market looks a lot more depressing than it would seem at first glance. I browse through maybe 3-4 opportunities per week where I give it more than 30 seconds of reading. Usually I reject a job posting for a combination of factors though. Bad hours. Bad pay. Bad job description.

Case in point...yesterday I finally got around to the gritty details of a job that popped up in my inbox via an organization who has postings exclusively for Chicago area workers currently unemployed. Companies in the listings range from banks and stores to airlines and restaurants who have all made a promise to hire those who are not working. This particular company is in a nearby suburb and in healthcare. Basically, they work with doctors who are making referrals to get patients enrolled in drug and specialist programs. Not a horrible duty. The pay wasn't great--pretty much what I was making at the museum before kids and that's not much considering childcare would now be deducted from my earnings. I gave them a chance though and started searching online for what the company culture was like, reading some employee reviews, and seeing what my work environment would be. Which is where I said, "never mind." Almost every review I read was negative about potential to move up, get raises, customer contact was kept timed, management was cliquish, etc.. Combined with the low pay, it was a big no.

But it left a bad taste in my mouth for another reason. I have supervisory experience, advanced communication and computer skills, a college degree, graduate-level experience, get along well with co-workers. In short, a lot of companies should want me working for them. A lot of companies are never going to find me though. How do you explain to American employers that they're offering low pay for low skilled positions that nobody really wants to work? I wanted to take this particular company by the hand and explain to them that their lowball salary joined forces with horrible corporate reviews online and left me not wanting to even bother communicating with them. How to explain to American businesses that to get the workers they want/need they're going to have to be a little more intelligent in what they bring to the table. Families need flexible scheduling arrangements and pay that allows them to afford childcare. People want to work in interesting environments where they feel their work is unique, valuable, and appreciated.

I'm actually willing to give up quite a bit for the right position. I'll work weekends, odd hours, travel, even move. But to get quality employees, that's going to require employers to offer more than the, frankly, awful jobs which our economy is currently generating. You may have to do a little training. You may have to hire some unconventional people. You may need to think about what you need to do to generate a desire from someone like me to re-enter the workforce when I don't have to. So it's not that the economy isn't generating jobs. It's just not generating the kind of jobs that make me want to go to work instead of watching my kids play on the playground.

Have an open position you think I'd be interested in? Let's talk about why we're a good match. I'm for hire.