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Caustic Soda
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Stupid, Inc.
It never ceases to amaze me how blatantly stupid some people are yet are in positions that one would assume to have required some intelligence to get there. Sadly, I have discovered that even business owners can trump the average Joe when it comes to displays of idiocy and if you are currently in the job-search market, this little story may explain why seeking employment seems so futile.
I know a fellow – let’s call him George - who is a local public figure and is regularly in the media for various volunteer activities that he is involved in, in a positive way. He is relatively well-known and respected by his peers, and is reputed for being intelligent, gregarious and, to quote his colleague, “a class act”. This gentleman is also currently looking for employment and his resume details his community involvement activities as well as his unique qualifications; one would assume that if his name was not immediately recognized that the description of his public profile would alert a potential employer as to who he is.
One of George’s applications resulted in an email response from a potential employer asking a couple of experience-type questions which he assumed to be simple clarification of things that were already stated on his resume. Two days later, George discovered that the position that he was vying for had been reposted on the same job board as the original one but the new listing stated that there were now several positions available at the company; so it was assumed that he was no longer in contention for the job – so be it. Needless to say, George was a bit surprised to receive yet another email from the employer with more questions about his identity and background. Annoyed at the redundancy of the query, he answered them politely and succinctly despite his personal desire to retort with “buddy, did you READ my resume?”
I have always joked with George about his skill and saintly patience in dealing with stupid people and it is normally I who is venting off at him about some half-wit who simply did not possess a baseline of neurological function that would pass as intelligence, but this time the situation was reversed. The series of questions between the two emails appeared ridiculous to me as well, and George was hesitant about responding to the second email because it was evident that whoever this employer was, he had obviously not read George’s resume at all. As much as the job description intrigued George, he had serious reservations about working for someone who was, for sake of argument, blatantly stupid. Really, what employer does not read resumes when considering hiring a candidate?
But bless George for being able to put his judgement aside and answer the “stupid question” with a short and simple, albeit unnecessary, answer. In the same email, George submitted his own inquiry as a change-of-subject tactic, knowing that once the employer received the response, the guy was going to feel like an idiot for asking, if for no other reason than IT WAS ON HIS RESUME . George simply asked “I noticed that you have reposted your advertisement on such-and-such job board yesterday, and I am curious which of those positions am I being considered for?”
The email response was not something that either George or I expected or predicted because, well, we were both under the assumption that even though this guy was an idiot, it was obvious that English was his first language and he appeared to be fluent in it. I am being polite when I say that it was a “response” because rhetorically, it should be referred to as a “retort” and a scathing one at that. The employer did not try and hide his anger or contempt of George, right from his opening remark of “what is the subject of this email?”. One can only hazard a guess that this guy was shocked to learn who George was, and somehow he inexplicably felt the need to slander George in a discriminatory way.
The part that baffles me is George makes no pretenses about who he is: he included the information about his public profile and volunteer community activities on his resume. If he submits his resume to a potential employer who has personal issues with that, or has strong feelings about George, one would think that the employer would simply delete the application and resume, not initiate an on-going email conversation about experience and qualifications, oblivious to George’s identity because he DIDN’T BOTHER TO READ HIS RESUME. This guy’s ugly literal blasting of George was uncalled for; George did not omit to tell him, the guy committed an “epic fail” by not performing due diligence on his applicants. Personally, I hope he feels as stupid as he is angry, because he certainly is both.
Having said that, though, George’s story does confirm something that I have suspected for quite some time; employers do NOT read resumes nor do they effectively perform due diligence in their hiring practices. This explains two things: one, employers’ constant lament about “not being able to find qualified candidates” when, in reality, it is a can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees situation and two, why us intelligent folk, as rare as we are becoming, are forced to work alongside (and under) stupid people.
So a little advice to employers: try READING the resumes you receive when you post a job’s availability. It is the first basic step in screening potential candidates. If you are not getting the kind of applicants you are looking for, then might I suggest that you try READING what you posted as a job description? Believe you me, the vast majority of your applicants have combed through your job description and have carefully crafted their cover letters and resumes to match what you have advertised. In some respects, George is relieved that he is not obliged to pursue this job opportunity further because his original intuition that the employer was an idiot was confirmed before the conversation went any further – not all of us are so lucky. There’s always room on the payroll for another employee at Stupid, Inc.

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Borders Be Damned
The Internet has opened up employment opportunities that did not exist even ten years ago but those possibilities have come with a heavy, hidden price tag. Sitting in the comfort of my home office, I am able to gain access to countless, virtually limitless, job postings both in my own community and abroad. This is in sharp contrast to the “old fashioned” method of job-searching that utilized the local newspapers and “Job Boards” (remember those? Or am I giving away my age?). Careers built on networking principles are at a whole different level in this day and age, given the plethora of social media available to the “average Joe”; one does not even have to truly “know” anyone anymore to be considered well-connected. The development and utter reliance on the Internet as a platform for conducting business has, for sake of argument, removed all restrictions that humans had previously self-imposed and now our human society must play within whatever limits the Internet places on us. The reality is: there are no limits. Borders be damned!
So what, exactly, is this hefty price that we are unknowingly footing the bill for? We live without limits imposed on our employment, our education, our social involvement; we have all participated in this evolution of our society and, in turn, society assumes this to be the norm and thus, expects it of us. Secretly, it has slowly undermined our social cohesion, inflicts unaccountable damage to our environment and exhausts our individual existences in ways we chose to ignore. Collectively, we no longer support our immediate communities and our communities reciprocate by not supporting us (but this is the chicken-vs-the-egg-debate).
The new evil to which I refer is none other than the commute. I can visualize the eye-rolling amongst you; your scoffing comments are audible, I swear. Conversely, there will be many who will simply concur that commuting is the downfall of society based on their personal detestation of the practice. In short, if you are a commuter, you are disproportionately contributing to our ever increasing tax burden. This last sentiment is sure to inspire some less-than-positive responses.
It can safely be assumed that the vast majority of people prefer to keep their commutes to a minimum, with each of us determining what is an acceptable amount of time to spend en-route to their place of employment. Considering the relatively chaotic level of organization of our roadway infrastructure here in Abbotsford combined with the patchwork network of public transit, one can spend an hour traveling to their place of employment without ever leaving town. If you want to debate whether our roadways lack organization, I will ask you this: what would be the most direct route to travel by car from the airport to the nearest hotel? Ah, point made.
But I digress. Commuting takes a miserable toll on the individual. Typically, people are now at work for nine hours per day and if there is an hour’s commute required, say from Abbotsford to Surrey, now the work day has been extended to eleven hours. Those two hours are not only uncompensated, but actually have direct costs associated with the commuting vehicle; this is not an earth-shattering fact but more often than not, the actual amount of dollars involved is always more than what one budgets for prior to committing to commuting. With the ever increasing costs of living, the commuting vehicle inevitably consumes more and more of a worker’s income over time – even if the car never breaks down, the cost of feeding it increases at a faster rate than the income that pays for it. Guaranteed. And the longer that you commute, the more obvious this becomes to your wallet.
But beyond the individual’s personal investment in commuting, what are the broader socio-economic costs to our community? It is so extensive, that it is difficult to know where to begin. The obvious is that the more commuters there are, the more infrastructure is required to support their commuting habits. Twenty years ago when I was living in Vancouver, trekking out to Abbotsford was a planned day-trip, I mean, it was Abbotsford…as in, waaaay out in Abbotsford. Now, Abbotsford is deemed to be commutable to Vancouver and as such the highways between have had to be upgraded regularly to accommodate the exponential increase in vehicular traffic that relies on their maintenance for a paycheque.
If commuting was not the norm, I wonder how much upgrading to the highways and bridges would have been required and thus, reducing the demand on our collective wallets. There are beautiful, high-volume west-bound on-ramps at Mt. Lehman, Clearbrook, McCallum and Sumas…did anyone not find it peculiar that east-bound off-ramps did not require upgrading? Could it be that the demand was disproportionate due to a substantial increase in ONLY west-bound traffic LEAVING Abbotsford? (Other than the Mt. Lehman interchange to accommodate the airport traffic) Did anyone see this as symbolic of Abbotsford’s economy? If you are wanting further symbolism, what of the impending tolls to be implemented on the new Port Mann? Coupled with the existing tolls on the Golden Ears crossing, it almost smacks of the government attempting to install electric dog fencing to stem the tide of commuters.
More vehicle related costs: sky-rocketing insurance rates. There’s a direct correlation between a collective increase in the number of hours spent in vehicles on the roadways and the number of collisions that occur. The costs of motor vehicle accidents go beyond the immediate compensation for the individuals involved in the collisions; road and infrastructure repair, emergency responders (police, ambulance, tow trucks), long term health care & recovery support, lost productivity just to name a few. For the individuals involved in the accident, their families also sustain losses, even if it is a spouse having to take time off of work or restructuring one’s personal life in the short term.
Commuting is a basic form of micro-tourism, where disposable income leaks unnoticed from our community. As an Abbotsford resident working in, say, Surrey, I am not likely spending my “lunch money” in Abbotsford. If I am not brown-bagging my lunch, then chances are that my colleagues and I are supporting a variety of Surrey businesses by ordering our lunches at work. This disregarded practice, if multiplied by the number of people who do it, is potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per year slowly trickling out of Abbotsford. Further to this, if I should do any shopping during my lunch break then that money is also lost from my home community. This micro-tourism effect is similar to having a slow leak in a faucet where you never actually see it drip and cannot actually prove it exists until you leave the plug in the sink overnight.
Delving into the more obscure costs related to commuting, these issues are the ones that we collectively ignore as a community. For the commuters who have younger children, there is the additional financial burden of extended childcare, with some daycares charging a premium for those parents who are late picking up their children. The financial penalties range from $1.00 / minute for overtime babysitting with maximum time limits resulting in the children being relinquished to the custody of the Ministry of Children & Families. The socio-economic cost of having children apprehended by an after-hours emergency social worker and held in Ministry custody due to an inadvertent commuting delay hits all of our wallets; what this price-tag is in actual dollars is largely a mystery to the taxpaying public – I doubt that the Ministry would even know.
Then there is all of the after-school social programming that communities have in place to try and mitigate the forced absenteeism of working parents. These social initiatives run the gamut from drop-in centres to policing to staffing of various 1-800 helplines. Our taxes quietly increase as the demand for these programs escalates among youth - and not because THEY want them, but because our communities require this to minimize the damage the youth do with so much unstructured time on their hands. The policing costs do not end with the Abbotsford Police Department having to employ one or two additional officers; there are all of the support services and, often times, court resources that continue to accumulate as well as whatever financial consequences that are the result of the unsupervised youths’ behaviours. Theft, vandalism, assault…the victims of these crimes suffer direct costs as well as the increases in taxes and often have no way of recouping the losses.
Long-term effects on our youth are only just being realized. We use words to describe this next generation such as “lazy, disrespectful, unmotivated, irresponsible, lacking personal initiative and self-discipline” etc. etc. They are self-centred, have no attention span and lack any true appreciation of how much work their parents do just to provide the basic necessities for their existence – all they know is that their parents are non-existent and unavailable. Our public school system has trumped up the kids’ self-esteem and given them a false sense of self-worth, problems which become hugely evident when any form of disciplinary measures are taken against youth. Think I am wrong? Ask a cop.
This is where we engage in the chicken-and-the-egg debate. Being gainfully employed is a basic necessity and for most families this means that both parents are working in order to pay the bills; conversely, single-parent families are becoming increasingly common which are detrimental to “average household income” statistics across Canada. This results in the proliferation of what used to be known as the “working poor” and increasing the demand for social programs to combat the steady drop in household incomes, and thus an increase in taxes. As various levels of government take bigger portions of paycheques, people are forced to work additional hours in order to maintain a minimum level of after-tax income. Further, though, as the cost of living out-paces employment incomes people are forced to either spend more time working or simply going without – or both.
How did this all start? The most likely culprits are the “big banks” and their mortgage-lending criteria. Some working stiff applied for a mortgage, couldn’t afford to purchase a home close to where they were already working and for the sake of the dream of home-ownership, decided to buy a house “further out”. Thus, the commute was born. For those who have not gone through the mortgage qualification process, the lenders require that potential heating costs be factored in to your purchasing budget, but not commuting costs – which indisputably will exceed a house’s heat bill. Although I have not tested this theory, I doubt that the mortgage financers even question large discrepancies in postal codes – larger commutes becoming more the rule than the exception these days.
So what likely started as “I cannot live where I work” has evolved into “I cannot work where I live”. If an Abbotsford resident is unsuccessful in landing a job in town, then economics force them to look to neighbouring communities and beyond. I can cite such examples of people I know who live in Abbotsford and work in Hope, Coquitlam, North Vancouver and Richmond, never mind the “usual” commuters to Langley, Surrey, Mission and Chilliwack. The hours they log behind the wheel are phenomenal with their disposable incomes dwindling from the outset as the costs associated with their commuting clock over as if in sync with their vehicles’ odometers.
Conversely, though, Abbotsford businesses appear to hire employees from other municipalities with little priority being made to recruit local residents. The last place I worked, I was the ONLY employee whose phone number was not a long distance call from the office. Other than minimum wage workers, informal surveys on my part disturbingly showed that most of the people employed at Abbotsford businesses were, in fact, NOT Abbotsford residents. Therefore, it can be assumed that if the City of Abbotsford were to invest in efforts to expand business development, there is little reassurance that those employment opportunities would even be available to Abbotsford residents. Millions of business dollars are being exported out of Abbotsford to neighbouring communities every two weeks in the form of paycheques, while simultaneously increasing our individual tax burdens in order to support those who are similarly forced out of their own socio-economic communities to commute here.
Businesses have the right to employ whomever they chose as well as seeking the most qualified people to fill their positions; no one would begrudge a business owner for having such standards. I doubt that simply educating people about the larger social ramifications of commuting would have any influence on hiring decisions – similarly businesses are advised about the social benefits of recycling, for example, but until something hits them in the pocketbook, then reduce-reuse-recycle programs in the workplace are rarely implemented. Unless an initiative shows immediate cost-effectiveness or is mandated by law, businesses are most likely to do whatever is most convenient at that time. Lastly, I cannot imagine any government-initiated tactics that would encourage businesses to hire local residents over non-locals short of bribery or strong-arming, neither of which are effective in the long-run.
Perhaps this is a situation where we can simply finger point and shame the offenders in the same way that society has done to cigarette smokers. It is still legal to smoke, but it is government-sanctioned ostracizing that has created an entire reclusive population of “closet smokers” who have been shunned by society. Maybe creating a “locally operated” program where businesses who do employ a minimum percentage of Abbotsford residents can be recognized and therefore, Abbotsford residents can chose to shop there over a business that employs primarily out-of-towners. Conceivably it is a lot to ask of Abbotsford business owners to factor in residency in their hiring criteria, but given the consequences of dismissing this issue, how long before the social implosion occurs and the economic collapse echoes across all geographic and generational borders?
But, ah, borders be damned, eh?

Locally Owned and Operated (not)
People are not limited to being employed within their own community, nor are local businesses required to hire from within their tax-paying jurisdiction. In fact, many companies will make a point of filling their payroll with employees from a variety of postal codes in order to bring diversity to their organization. As ridiculous as this sounds, our local university, for example, gives preference to candidates who are graduates from other post-secondary institutions in the hiring process for that exact reason. So for all the pomp-and-circumstance that city council made during the recent election process about attracting and supporting businesses in to the municipality in order to increase local employment opportunities, unless city hall is able to require that businesses hire from our local candidate pool, businesses will do little for our local economics other than contribute to the city’s tax base in exchange for consuming our local resources.
Think I’m wrong? Let’s suppose that Fictitious Company sets up a new Western Distribution Centre on the edge of town. City council has allowed some expedited rezoning applications through to facilitate this development as Fictitious Co. is international and is reputed for repeatedly winning Awesome Employer awards on a regular basis. Our little city will be so blessed to have them chose us!
Fictitious Co. sends in its own team of architects and engineers because they are responsible for designing and building the Western Distribution Centre to look exactly like the Eastern Distribution Centre and the Northern Distribution Centre and the…well, you get the idea. The Senior Architect has had a long term working relationship with Handy Joe General Contracting from Back East and trusts him to fulfil the construction requirements on the WDC no different than he did on the EDC and the NDC and…you get the idea; consequently, Handy Joe is flown in to spearhead the ground-breaking.
A quarter of a million dollars spent on wages thus far by Fictitious Co. and has any local talent yet been hired? If you answered no you would be wrong – the cab was hired to drive the employees from the airport to the hotel. The cab driver collected $10.00 in fare, of which he gets to keep 40% so when combined with the generous $5.00 tip from his passengers, he is able to provide his family with a jug of milk, a loaf of bread and…maybe a half dozen bananas.
Ah, but what of the other economic spin-offs, like the hotels and the restaurants? Fictitious Co., being an international business, has an established partnership with the hospitality chain Worldwide Comfortable Hotels that, coincidentally, has locations in virtually all major centres that Fictitious Co. has distribution centres or principal offices. Worldwide Comfortable Hotels is notorious for employing locals and compensates them competitively; the chamber staff earns slightly better than their minimum-wage counterparts at other local hotels and the wait staff working at the in-house restaurants are privileged to serve the higher-tipping clientele.
Unfortunately for both the cabbie and the hotel staff, Fictitious Co. provides corporate credit cards for these types of expenditures, so their respective gratuity incomes are subject to a 5% penalty by Major Credit Card and, because those tips are processed through their payroll departments, the remaining 95% are subject to payroll deductions as mandated by the Canada Revenue Agency. The cabbie’s $5.00 tip quickly whittled away to $3.26 (give or take, people – I’m sure there is a senior bookkeeper out there right now with a calculator trying to see if I am wrong) but still, that is money for groceries that the family may not have had otherwise, right? Besides, if the cabbie is lucky, a couple more tips like that and a jar of peanut butter will be sure to grace the shopping cart.
Are these out-of-town, six-figure income high-rollers out and about in our community playing tourist and buying souvenirs for their loved ones back home? Likely not. This is really no different than commuting for you or I and I certainly do not commemorate my commuting experience with memorabilia. Unless there is something rather temptingly unique at the Overpriced Outlet Store in the Airport compounded by a personal motivating factor (ie: spouse’s missed birthday due to the business trip), then any gifts for family are more conveniently purchased on home turf where they do not need to be packed for flight.
Handy Joe makes arrangements for core members of his construction crew from Back East to join him and set up for the duration of the contract. Mr. Joe contacts his buddy at Federal Real Estate Agency in Quebec to provide him with information about who he needs to talk to here about rental accommodations for his crew. Several phone calls later, a couple of local property owners have one-year leases on their investment properties, including generous advanced payment on the rents and what will ultimately end up being non-refundable damage deposits. Mr. Joe scouts out some locals for general labour and hires a company from within the same telephone area code to come in and prepare the site. Coincidentally, two of the $12/hr labourers and one of the equipment operators actually live in the same town as his new project - Handy Joe likes to make good use of the local talent.
Since Handy Joe has a corporate account with National Building Supply Company, naturally he is disappointed to discover that there isn’t an immediately available outlet but is relieved to find one in the neighbouring municipality that would be able to supply him with all of the tools and materials he and his crew will require to complete the project. It’s just so much easier to simply order the Fictitious Co.’s specific line of finishing products than to have to go to the trouble of having certain things customized by a local shop – like particular paint colours, for example. Joe has worked with Senior Architect long enough to know that all of Fictitious Co.’s Distribution Centres have to present exactly the same, according to the established policies of head office Back East.
As construction progresses, Fictitious Co.’s Project Manager from Back East manages every detail of the project and decides to invest in a Project Assistant. A reputable Big City Recruiting Agency with offices in several Provincial Capital Cities is contacted and a posting is advertised throughout the area that the agency serves. Of the numerous applicants for the position, the chosen candidate living in the Big City catchment area is hired and begins the daily forty-five minute commute to and from the location of the WDC.
Meanwhile, Back East Executives begin the daunting task of assembling the necessary team of employees to staff the new WDC, scheduled to open in a few short months. Internal job postings are distributed by the Human Resources Department through the existing payroll of employees, soliciting applications for the new West Coast location. Relocation bonuses are offered and not surprisingly, HR is inundated with interested parties. As selection of staff for the WDC progresses, positions become available at the EDC and the NDC and…you get the idea, so additional hiring in those areas occurs simultaneously.
A Well-Known National Moving and Cartage Co. (with its head office in close proximity to Fictitious Co.) is contracted to pack, haul and resituate the Management Team relocating from Back East. Again, the Federal Real Estate Agency provides listing information on the local housing market and the transactions for everyone’s new accommodations are settled before the first boxes are even packed. Dozens of families are transported across the country, children are enrolled in available private schools in the area and spouses resign themselves to re-establishing their career paths in a foreign job market.
Throughout this construction process, the nearby Popular Coffee Chain experiences an increase in business and hires a couple more part-time employees to cover the morning rush but with fluency in English not being a requirement for those positions, the drive thru line ups do not move any faster in the mornings. As a result, the surge in morning customer demand subsides as the regulars find alternative locations and the Popular Coffee Chain reduces the number of shifts at that location. The new WDC’s convenient location with Easy Highway Access is appreciated by the majority of commuting workers who can readily come and go from work to home without having to navigate their way through the community, and otherwise contribute to the local traffic congestion.
Nearing completion, Fictitious Co. ships out a team of professionals that will ensure that the entire building is outfitted and ready for operation. The Lead Designer orders furniture and finishings from the same Old Time Merchant that supplies all of their other locations in order to maintain the consistency between all of the Fictitious Co.’s locations. All materials are drop-shipped to the Main Terminal in the Big City and Big City Cartage is contracted to deliver the shipments to the WDC. A Reputable Landscaping Company, recommended by the manager of the National Building Supply Company and also based in the neighbouring municipality, is contracted to install the landscaping as per the specifications set out by Fictitious Co.’s head office policies.
A Hiring Fair is organized and advertisements are posted with the Big City Recruiting Agency stipulating that a vehicle is required for the available positions due to a lack of accessibility by transit, but emphasizes that the new WDC is handily situated with easy highway access both east and westbound. Starting wages are listed at a dollar an hour more than other employers with a benefit package for full time employees available after a probationary three month period. Fictitious Co. could only guarantee about twenty hours per week per employee for the first few months until the WDC became fully established in the supply chain with most of the warehouse positions to be on an on-call basis. Nonetheless, the Big City Recruiting Agency is flooded with applications for the available positions and opts to raise the minimum qualifications in order to eliminate the majority of candidates. Some of the select few chose to commit to a regime of commuting from neighbouring communities despite the initial low rates of monthly remuneration – only one future employee is able to ride their bike to and from work.
The day of the official grand opening of Fictitious Co.’s new Western Distribution Centre sees many VIPs in attendance, including the Mayor of the Community who in his welcoming speech to the new business, proudly expounds on the wonderful employment opportunities that Fictitious Co. has provided to the Community. The local Media publishes articles in the Community Newspaper about the multi-million dollar construction project that provided hundreds of jobs and the continued operation of the WDC that would see long-term employment opportunities with a company that utilizes a “promote from within” philosophy. The photos in the newspapers show smiling faces and the headlines proclaim “Locally Owned and Operated”.

New Way of Job Searching for 2012
For the past few months in 2011 I have been actively job searching with virtually no success. I would like to claim that there is not much out there to pick and choose from but, in reality, there appears to be plenty of jobs posted on various internet websites.
Job postings seem to have the common theme regarding the preferred method of application is via email and often times the hiring company does not post their name, let alone any alternative contact information. Job seekers are expected to blindly submit their pertinent details into the Neverland of cyberspace with nothing more than a wing-and-a-prayer to go on in return.
Call me paranoid, but experience has taught me that unless I can confirm the authenticity of a company or business, I will not send anything by email to the advertised address other than an inquiry to the effect of “who are you and are you hiring?” (not in those exact words, tho).
Once I can confirm the legitimacy of a business, my usual process involves a printed copy of the job posting (oh, the horrors in a “paperless society”!) which does double duty as the recordkeeping for tracking my pursuit of that particular employment opportunity; in short, I handily have documentation of what communication I have had with that company and when. My email account is extensively organized in a similar OCD-type manner – these habits are as ingrained as, say, breathing, for me.
Oddly enough, I rarely have heard anything in response from the dozens of positions I have applied for, and all I can say is “God Bless Auto-Reply” for at least having the decency to reply to my emails. Some IT techo-wizard’s mother imbued some manners into the whiz-kid who, in turn, designed email programs to have the polite capability of generating an automated response. God knows that a staffed corporate email inbox does not necessarily adhere to what used to be an old-fashioned societal norm.
I employ a follow-up ritual with respects to virtually every job application I submit via cyberspace using an antiquated device called the telephone to discover, more often than not, the recipient (bit of a misnomer, here) has not, in fact, received my email. One plausible explanation is this: because there was an attachment (as in, my resume, as requested in the job posting), the email was re-routed to a spam-box for quarantine. In my opinion, this is not an effective method for recruiting and certainly not a carte-blanc explanation for the general lack of response from all potential employers, including recruiting agencies.
Thus said, I have discovered that I am conducting my job application process completely wrong and in the New Year I intend to amend my ways. In 2012, my alternative method will utilize the new millennium communication technique of TELEKENISIS. I will peruse the job postings on the internet job boards as I usually do and if I should find a position that I am interested in applying for, then I will simply send my resume with an impeccably crafted cover letter telekinetically to the employer. I realize that I will likely have to experiment with various zen-like meditations until I find one that works for me, but I strongly believe that this will be a far more stress-free approach to job searching and, at the very least, require a lot less wasted time and effort that inevitably gets routed into someone’s junk mailbox anyway.
Of course I will still continue to maintain my OCD-type record keeping of all those job positions I applied for but I will have much more available time to make those follow up telephone calls a week after I submit my application (in juxtaposition to the stipulations in the advertisements, as it were); the phone call, ironically enough, being the one avenue of contact that has successfully managed to land me the all-important interview.
I have not yet quite figured out what my answer will be should I asked by a potential employer how I had applied for the posted position because as cutting edge as some businesses are, I think telekinetics are still beyond most corporate communications infrastructure. It may require some cognitive formatting in the HR departments or micro-chipping in management; I am not quite sure how it needs to be integrated (trepanning?) or what kind of prohibitive costs are involved. Conversely, though, businesses could use their existing technology more effectively and either hit the reply button in their email or, god-forbid, pick up the telephone and call me back – it’s not as if I’m asking you to build a campfire in the company parking lot and hunker down with an old blanket to send me smoke signals! That would be your communications manager’s job…oh wait! Therein lies the problem! THAT’S one of the company vacancies you have posted! Perhaps trepanning IS an option…

If you own or manage a recruiting agency, you might want to take note of this particular issue of Caustic Soda. Think of me as your “Mystery Shopper” of the job seeking world.
I have had the pleasure of fruitlessly contacting numerous local employment agencies both by phone and via email over the past month and am sorely disappointed at how the industry operates now as compared to how it did just a few years back. I am not sure why the industry has de-evolved the way it has – perhaps to be more accurately reflective of our general society becoming more idiotic is the only logical explanation I have.
If an agency does not have a functioning website, they do not exist in the job market; it’s really that simple of an equation. Job seekers can peruse the employment opportunities available through the agency and potential employers are able to evaluate if a particular agency is suitable to represent their human resource searching requirements. Thus said, one agency I contacted admitted to not keeping their website current because they post their recruiting advertisements on multiple external websites. The recruiter gave me a job description for one of their listings and insisted that it was posted on such-and-such website but despite a thorough search of the named site, it was not to be found. I did manage to locate it on Craigslist…I am sure that the employer who contracted this company would be impressed to know this.
There are dozens of job search boards that are locatable by a monkey capable of operating Google. Most jobs that are posted by agencies are clearly linked and searchers are directed to click on the link to the recruiter’s website in order to find out more information of the available job and / or to apply for it. Registering on these recruiter websites is time and labour intensive to do it in its entirety, and applying for a specific posting to the provided email address is, in all reality, a boil-water-tear-sheets exercise. Follow up phone calls initiated by me, commencing about a week after sending the email, always results in the same response from the recruiter: “I never received your email”. Some of the agencies have auto-responders attached to these email addresses, but despite this technological acknowledgement, job applications and contact requests apparently disappear into the cyber-abyss. I would strongly suggest to the managers of these employment agencies to look into the dysfunction of your technology, especially in light of the fact that your industry is dependent on effective communication. Another agency I contacted does not believe in posting their available positions on their website at all, but if you call them regarding job opportunities, they want to know which one you are interested in.
Speaking of communication, I thought it was imperative that recruiters be effective communicators in order to be successful at their jobs. The simple process of returning phone messages seems to elude these people, but having said that I have noticed this is a general trend in modern society. I had a boss who used to flip out if he overheard me leaving a phone message or voicemail for someone I was trying to contact because – and he is right – NO ONE RETURNS THOSE MESSAGES. He was also one of the worst culprits, having the opinion that “if it’s important, they’ll call back. And if they do, tell them I’m not here.”
The average I.Q. of a recruiter seems to have slipped down the Bell Curve since the last time I explored the industry. If you are a job seeker, do not count on the posted job description to actually exist as it is written – more often than not, when I have called the recruiter to inquire about the position (and why I haven’t heard back from the agency), the truth about what the position really is seems to be vastly different from what was actually advertised. Everything from what qualifications the employer is looking for, minimum levels of education required for the position to what level of remuneration is being offered have been falsified in these job postings. For the job seeker this is incredibly frustrating as it often results in a complete waste of time, time that could be better invested in, say, cleaning the toilet (I have enough of my own sh*t to deal with and I’d rather not deal with someone else’s!).
If you are an employer who has contracted an employment agency to recruit your labour talent, I extend my sympathy that this industry is providing such a disservice to you. I can only assume how frustrated you are with being told that your representative has “received a flood of applications from unqualified candidates”, likely due to the fact that the advertised position does not accurately reflect the position you are looking to fill.
The other big communication crime these recruiters seem to commit is they have absolutely no interest in who their available candidates are or what they are capable of doing. Nor do they care. “Send me your resume” is supposed to be the start of the relationship between recruiter and candidate, not the end of it. That would be like trying to sell a car to someone and only be able to produce a photograph of the vehicle with no addition information – and it is all that “additional information” that the employers PAY the agencies to gather on their behalf in order to successfully qualify applicants for their company.
Inter-office communication between recruiters does not exist either, so best be warned, job seekers, if you contact an agency about more than one job position, chances are there is more than one recruiter involved and the first one will not automatically forward you to the second one. No, what will happen is your expressed interest in the second position will dissipate as if talking to a wall, and only if you call back at another time and speak with someone else will you discover that “I never received your application” again comes into play. For employers who are looking to hire multiple employees for more than one department in their company, the potential complications become exponential.
Considering the chaotic pace that our current economy is dysfunctionally operating at, recruiting agencies are an increasingly necessary industry to bridge the gap between the understaffed companies who are under-the-gun to hire and the overworked candidate pool seeking alternative employment. It is appalling to experience an entire industry incapable of fulfilling the mandate for which they exist and it makes me question how such agencies continue to operate as businesses. Knowing that job postings are frequently an embellishment of available positions, coupled with the inability of potential candidates to effectively self-market their talents, it is no wonder that employers cannot find the right employee and the majority of people are dissatisfied with their current job. One would think that employment agencies would be able to professionally address both sides of this issue but, unfortunately, they seem to be a contributing factor to the problem. Perhaps the managers of these wondrous agencies need to review their own hiring policies before professing to help other companies with theirs. Stupid is as stupid does.

“God must love stupid people…he made so many of them.”
Please don’t blame me for the quote, as much as I would happily like to take the credit for it.
It’s as offensive as it is true. In fact, the average intelligence seems to be, well, sliding below average. For some inexplicable reason a typical I.Q. seems to now be sporting a decimal point in it.
Go ahead and scoff; perhaps my allusion that our society is evolving into a Clan of Idiocy riles you so far as to ridicule me and question my faculties. In return, I dare you to prove me wrong when you know that there is truth in what I’m saying because you, too, see it every day.
It’s the car in front of you suddenly accelerating and making a left hand turn from the right hand lane - not a stellar example of human intelligence, in my opinion.
Or the cashier at the store who, after several attempts, cannot count your change out to you and in frustration simply dumps the bills and coins into your hand; again, not a candidate for a merit-based scholarship.
My personal favourite are the inattentive pedestrians who seem to have the belief that they sport an invisible force-field that will protect them from being struck by a vehicle. The extra-special version of these people are the ones who are pushing strollers and dangle them off the curb at intersections, oblivious to the fact that the infant occupant of said stroller is actually in the path of oncoming traffic. Smart ones, they are, S-M-R-T, smart!
I am sure that everyone reading this has also seen the no-hands bicyclist texting while peddling, “earbuds” in the ears and tuned out from the traffic frantically trying to avoid colliding with the two-wheeled piece of bumper-bait. It would not take a full sized truck to knock the decimal out of that rider’s I.Q.
The all-time winner of the “Cruising at the Speed of Stupid Award” was the medical office assistant who, after expressing her condolences for the loss of my relative, offered to reschedule the appointment for the recently deceased. Hard to believe that there would be academic credentials associated with that one.
Sadly, idiocy is quickly becoming the norm. Not long ago, witnessing such dangerous levels of stupidity happened but it was rare and I simply went home thankful for not having participated in Darwinism Theory Applied.
Nowadays, I swear I cannot leave the house without wondering if I will be plucking a moronic member of human society from the front grill of my truck. The average housecat demonstrates more intelligence when attempting to cross the street. Stupidity sure makes for easy pickin’s.
All of this begs the question: “what happened?” Have advances in medical science somehow circumvented nature’s ability to thin the herd and we are now experiencing a reverse evolution of sorts? Since when were the intellectually deficient able to multiply so proficiently under some fictional Queenbury Rules of Procreation? Can we blame this on the fast-food industry and sue McDonald’s?
Darwin, I do believe there is a hole in your theory - perhaps the Creationists can offer a plausible explanation.
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