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What If You Still Cannot Find Work?

 

“Economy, in Sweet Spot, Adds 313,000 Jobs. It May Get Sweeter.” — Washington Post

So, here I am, in month five of not working. Failed to land a client on my first pass at consulting. While my wife found a job after 15 years of not working, After 25 years of working, in the greatest recovery in that 25 years, I cannot get anyone even to interview me. I have taken advice. I have networked. I have submitted lord only knows how many resumes. I have changed my cover letter for jobs. I have met with a dozen people in “informational interviews.” Either I don’t hear back, I am told “someone else is better qualified” for jobs I could do in my sleep, or I get “You have a strong resume, and you are going to find something.”

Now, I am not using this thread to complain, for am I actually in better spirits than ever, all things considered. For one thing, I am almost walking normally. No, this thread is more about the general idea of those left behind. In a world gearing up for the millennial crowd, folks like me are left out. Oh, in theory, my age is a protected class, but age discrimination in the workplace is alive and well. Overqualified just means “you are going to cost too much.”

What I think conservatives need to acknowledge is that we have a culture where working is needed to survive. We value work, and rightly so. However, the fact I cannot find a job to hire me, even stuff I am very overqualified for, shows that “get a job” is not much of an answer. Sure, we can say that no employer owes anyone a job. But, what do we say to someone who plays by the rules, did nothing wrong to lose his job, and cannot find someplace to take his 25 years of experience? I have heard already all the advice on how to obtain a job. It has not worked. LinkedIn has a group full of people in my age range, and they all have similar tales to tell. So, I am not owed a job, and I have to earn it. Great. I did that and the outcome was losing a job I had earned, and thus far, no one will offer me another chance. Not even a chance at an interview.

What I expect to see in this thread, is lots of advice on that boils down to “well you must be doing it wrong.” Classic conservative response, which is to blame the person with no job. Believe me, I am doing everything I have been told to try, networking, and I am working hard, daily to launch by business, TalkForward. I do think that is my long term right path. I just have to try to support my family in the meantime (another conservative “should”).

I’d like to avoid the advice giving, and concentrate on what our message should be. Right now, we tell people they must work hard to get ahead, that they have no right to a job, and that if they work hard, they will get a job and succeed. OK, gang, I am a model of a hard worker, I am not lazy, I give my all to every task I am assigned. I worked from the bottom of an organization to the top. And it was taken away for nothing I did wrong. I am doing everything conservatives have told me to do, and I am not getting the American Dream. What do you tell someone like me, other than “Life is not fair?”

I feel if we cannot message better than this, then the Republican will always be the second party. I fear if we cannot find a message to address people like me, the left will always win in the long run, because it has a message to address it.

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There are 235 comments.

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  1. Member

    Bryan G. Stephens: What I think conservatives need to acknowledge is that we have a culture where working is needed to survive. We value work, and rightly so. However, the fact I cannot find a job to hire me, even stuff I am very overqualified for, shows that “get a job” is not much of an answer.

    Job hunting royally sucks. It’s a problem I’ve given some thought to, on a societal basis, but I’ve got no good solutions.

    • #1
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:33 am
    • 9 likes
  2. Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Post author

    Hank Rhody, Doctor of Rock (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens: What I think conservatives need to acknowledge is that we have a culture where working is needed to survive. We value work, and rightly so. However, the fact I cannot find a job to hire me, even stuff I am very overqualified for, shows that “get a job” is not much of an answer.

    Job hunting royally sucks. It’s a problem I’ve given some thought to, on a societal basis, but I’ve got no good solutions.

    Making it harder to fire people as they do in the EU is clearly not the answer. It is like driving up house prices: great for the people already in, but crappy for those on the outside.

    • #2
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:34 am
    • 20 likes
  3. Member

    Bryan G. Stephens: Overqualified just means “you are going to cost too much”.

    I hate this. Why not just ask if I would accept a salary lower than what I may be accustomed to? Or am I willing to work at a lesser job?

    I could say “yes”. Does it have to do with turn-over rate? If you do miraculously find a job after you take this one, they have to find a new person?

    Annoying.

    • #3
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:37 am
    • 7 likes
  4. Member

    I have been at my current job for over 20 years. And there is seldom a week go by that I don’t wonder what I will do if I get downsized or ‘early retired’. ( The company has had layoffs on at least 3 occasions in my time here, and it will again, I’m sure).

    While I am good at what I do, it has become very specific to this job at this company with this product. I really don’t know if I have much value outside that context… And I know I won’t be worth what I’m paid here at some new company and product.

    I’m about 6 to 10 years from retirement, and at this point I’m just holding on for dear life. If (or when? ) the time comes, I suspect I will have to just accept that my career is over, and take a job in retail or restaurant (I worked 20 years in restaurants before I started this career) at a fraction of my current pay. And I wonder if even that will be available to me…

    I hope you find work, and that it is what you are qualified for, but my instinct tells me that for me, at my age and current circumstance, I will have to settle for whatever is available so I can carry as much income as possible until I finally can retire. ( I have been saving for that day, so I’m reasonably secure in that aspect.)

    • #4
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:42 am
    • 16 likes
  5. Member

    All roads led to Keynesianism. Social problems. Cultural problems. Bad behavior. Regressive economy. You are stupid if you don’t capitalize on the graft, rent seeking, dependency systems, and what is effectively corruption. Then the overstated GDP stays at 2% for a decade —> all kinds of forgone personal and financial capital gets destroyed. Etc. No one cares.

    • #5
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:43 am
    • 2 likes
  6. Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Post author

    Stina (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens: Overqualified just means “you are going to cost too much”.

    I hate this. Why not just ask if I would accept a salary lower than what I may be accustomed to? Or am I willing to work at a lesser job?

    I could say “yes”. Does it have to do with turn-over rate? If you do miraculously find a job after you take this one, they have to find a new person?

    Annoying.

    They are afraid the moment you find more, you will leave. Instead of thinking “Man we will get a great deal for some period of time”.

    • #6
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:44 am
    • 15 likes
  7. Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Post author

    PHenry (View Comment):
    I hope you find work, and that it is what you are qualified for, but my instinct tells me that for me, at my age and current circumstance, I will have to settle for whatever is available so I can carry as much income as possible until I finally can retire. ( I have been saving for that day, so I’m reasonably secure in that aspect.)

    That is where I am. Consulting is my way to go. Just wish I had built it up when I had income. Or decided it was the way to go faster. Ah, Hindsight

    • #7
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:47 am
    • 12 likes
  8. Member

    #3 Stina

    From a potential employer perspective, hearing from someone they just declined as “overqualified” that the applicant would be willing to work for less can oftentimes reinforce their (the employer’s) misguided belief that they were correct to decline the applicant.

    Why so? The employer, on hearing this quasi-reverse-auction counter-offer, figures that the applicant, once on the job thanks to the concession on pay, will soon enough become discontent and disaffected precisely because of the lower comp level, and bolt (or at least, bolt sooner than the “payback/breakeven-crossover date” that the employer estimates a new hire needs to reach to theoretically justify the cost of being hired and onboarded).

    I realize that this reaction (or policy) is at its core far from facts-and-logic-based, but it gets bandied about just enough to be useful to the cynical and fearful — notwithstanding how cruel it can be for the deserving.

    Note well that I write this as a job-seeker in Tokyo who resigned from his previous employer (also here in Tokyo) in midsummer 2017, turned 50 in December, and has yet to land an offer (let alone an attractive one) lo these many months along — and I’m single (divorced/no kids) in a job-market where it’s legal to be asked my marital/family status, so one would think I’d be viewed as not quite as expensive as the next bilingual/bicultural experienced gaijin professional. But no dice: 50 is 50!…

    • #8
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:59 am
    • 14 likes
  9. Member

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    That is where I am. Consulting is my way to go. Just wish I had built it up when I had income. Or decided it was the way to go faster. Ah, Hindsight

    That is great advice for anyone who has a job – build up a second income stream. Do it even if it means you have to work weekends and evenings. The problem is most people don’t see the necessity to do so until their first long stretch of unemployment, and then it is too late.

    The first 22 years of my career I went from job to job with nary a bump. Even when I got laid-off I found a new, better job immediately. Until I didn’t. Then I spent nine months jobless.

    When I finally found another job, I developed secondary income streams and built up skills which would be in demand regardless. It took ten years though (before I finally got laid off again), but I found something almost immediately even though many of my colleagues spent months or years unemployed. The problem is this is hard to pull off once unemployed.

    • #9
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:01 am
    • 19 likes
  10. Member

    I am hyper aware of the fact that there are no stops on the way down.

    • #10
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:14 am
    • 7 likes
  11. Member

    Danny Alexander (View Comment):
    I realize that this reaction (or policy) is at its core far from facts-and-logic-based, but it gets bandied about just enough to be useful to the cynical and fearful — notwithstanding how cruel it can be for the deserving.

    It’s a ridiculous irony and something that shouldn’t be so widely accepted. Of course, the employer does have something to worry about, because it’s easier to find a better job while employed than to find a decent job when unemployed. In other words, competing employers will poach you but you are untouchable if you are unemployed.

    • #11
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:18 am
    • 12 likes
  12. Member

    Stina (View Comment):
    In other words, competing employers will poach you but you are untouchable if you are unemployed.

    I always wondered how that conclusion is reached. Throughout my career, I have watched as existing, proven employees are denied advancement while unknown new employees are hired for the position. Then the new employee, at higher pay and position, is trained for 6 months to a year by the old, reliable, unappreciated expert already on staff.

    The grass is greener, and all that. It is nonsense to me…

    • #12
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:23 am
    • 19 likes
  13. Member

    Danny Alexander (View Comment):
    or at least, bolt sooner than the “payback/breakeven-crossover date” that the employer estimates a new hire needs to reach to theoretically justify the cost of being hired and onboarded

    I’m going to need a definition for ‘onboarded’. And not a bullcrap one like they gave me for synergy.

    Realistically though, the breakeven date is one of the major issues with job hunting. Supposing no government regulation at all, no legal worries or monetary costs to firing a dork who doesn’t work out, the company is still paying a large up-front cost training a new guy in.

    And it is training. One of the side-effects of the division of labor is that the specialization in trades leads to a less generally useful worker. A master craftsman can make chairs slowly (I’m talking in Adam Smith 1700’s terms here). A workshop of specialized laborers can turn them out by the dozen. Now let’s throw those workers onto the job market. The master craftsman can switch over to decorative lawn ornaments or something like that with barely a hiccup. The guy who lathed the chair legs is going to be a lot slower becoming a productive, I don’t know, cooper.

    Flash forward to the modern economy. Every job is specialized. If you aren’t reaping the benefits of the division of labor you aren’t competitive. That means that every time a company hires someone they’re going to have to pay up front for a potentially extensive training period and only reap the rewards down the road. If they’re hiring a codger like PHenry (uh, no offense), then they’re doing the calculation. “Hire him at 61. Spend two years training him. Let’s say he retires early. We’re screwed!”.

    The natural political impulse is to compel those evil corporations to provide more for their workers, protections against unemployment, etc. That only exacerbates the problem; you raise the costs of hiring people and the employers will get more chary about whom they deign to employ. Take away the government interference and things get better, but that won’t solve the underlying problem either.

    • #13
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:26 am
    • 11 likes
  14. Member

    My dad reinvented his career three times over the course of his work life. He started out in the 1950s at twenty-two years old working for a company called Apeco that is no longer in business. It manufactured office copying machines based on technology brought to the United States from Germany after World War II. He worked for his dad in the Boston area. His dad was one of the two people in the United States in on the ground floor of this new business and industry.

    Then my dad changed companies to work for another office business machine company called Transcopy working out of Philadelphia for a few years. He came back to Boston with Transcopy. My parents were divorced at that point–my mother refused to move anymore, and who could blame her with three little kids! Things were tense. :)

    At that point, my dad moved to Rochester, New York, on his own, which was home to Eastman Kodak. I assume my dad was still selling business machines given that Rochester industries were in that field. General Electric had an office and a research-and-development lab there as well. Dad may have been involved in a small company that was selling some type of the spinoff technology being developed in Rochester. [He may have been working for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) at that point.]

    My dad fell in love with a wonderful woman, and they married, and he moved to New York City where he worked for a business-to-business computer company, a small one. His wife was the executive director first for the Japan Society and then for the American Management Association. They both loved living in Manhattan–they had an apartment overlooking the 58th Street Boat Basin and were right down the street from the world-famous delicatessen Zabar’s. And Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. (Dad’s second wife is Catholic.) They lived in or near New York for about ten years.

    While he was in New York, Dad became fascinated with computers, and he started up a business selling them and helping businesses incorporate the new mainframe computers into their workflow. My dad had a warm personality, and he was just what these companies needed to help their employees adjust to these newfangled machines. He was very successful in this work.

    [continued in the following comment]

    • #14
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:27 am
    • 2 likes
  15. Member

    [continued from the previous comment]

    Unfortunately Dad’s second wife was a lot like his first–she had come from a very wealthy family, and my dad just never made the millions that his first and second wives needed to be happy. Dad did well financially but not well enough. I love all of these people, but the problems were baked into the original wedding cakes. :)

    So my dad was divorced a second time. At fifty years old, he took his computer business to California to start up yet again. By this time in the early eighties, mainframes were going out of style and networked minicomputers were all the rage in the business world.

    Then my dad discovered microcomputers, and he was very excited about them and the fourth-generation software development that was sweeping the computer industry. So he switched his business to selling both. He helped businesses merge with the new technology and network their microcomputers within their companies. He worked with his clients until he was eighty-two years old. He told me recently one of his long-time clients had called him to rework his business’s computers. The client had had an estimate that was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dad figured out a way to do it for $30,000. He saved his client’s business.

    Never lose heart.

    • #15
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:27 am
    • 13 likes
  16. Member

    Bryan G. Stephens: LinkedIn has a group full of people in my age range, and they all have similar tales to tell.

    My wife is in the same spot as you and all these other good people are. There is no quick and dirty answer, at least I can’t think of one. As you say, “Making it harder to fire people as they do in the EU is clearly not the answer.”

    As an employer I can also see the other side. The fundamental problem is that our culture is stuck in a model of aging and employment wherein retirement happens at about 65 and that people are done with work, after which they spend their few remaining years whittling on the front porch. Hence, by the time they’re in their 50s, it’s not quite the end of career but they can see it from there.

    This model was appropriate when life expectancy was about 70 and lifelong employment at one firm was common. Times have changed. People live longer and remain in good physical and mental health later in life than before. One of my colleagues just turned 74 and is productive as all heck. I’m no spring chicken either.

    Bryan, this will not help you and provides only cold comfort but the long-term solution to this problem is a realignment of social expectations and values that is already underway. We are in a transitional period. It’s important to avoid jumping to quick solutions like the Europeans do because they ultimately will cause far more pain than they avoid.

    • #16
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:33 am
    • 15 likes
  17. Member

    If we had an intelligent financial and monetary system, the economy would adapt better to the aging demographics, robots, and globalized Labor markets. There would be more opportunity for everyone. Of course this would retard government power and make life for the Ruling Class slightly more complicated, and we can’t have that.

    • #17
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:39 am
    • 6 likes
  18. Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Post author

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens: LinkedIn has a group full of people in my age range, and they all have similar tales to tell.

    My wife is in the same spot as you and all these other good people are. There is no quick and dirty answer, at least I can’t think of one. As you say, “Making it harder to fire people as they do in the EU is clearly not the answer.”

    As an employer I can also see the other side. The fundamental problem is that our culture is stuck in a model of aging and employment wherein retirement happens at about 65 and that people are done with work, after which they spend their few remaining years whittling on the front porch. Hence, by the time they’re in their 50s, it’s not quite the end of career but they can see it from there.

    This model was appropriate when life expectancy was about 70 and lifelong employment at one firm was common. Times have changed. People live longer and remain in good physical and mental health later in life than before. One of my colleagues just turned 74 and is productive as all heck. I’m no spring chicken either.

    Bryan, this will not help you and provides only cold comfort but the long-term solution to this problem is a realignment of social expectations and values that is already underway. We are in a transitional period. It’s important to avoid jumping to quick solutions like the Europeans do because they ultimately will cause far more pain than they avoid.

    It is cold comfort, and not much of an answer. We will end up like the EU if we don’t have better answers. I am in a protected class and not being protected. Even worse, I am otherwise in the great unproteced class of being a white male. Don’t think for a moment, every time I fill out the EEOC information I know that I am checking “Don’t hire him” boxes because I don’t add to “diversity”. I could chose not to fill them out because they are not “required” but we all know that means I won’t get a look at all.

    • #18
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:40 am
    • 6 likes
  19. Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Post author

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    All roads led to Keynesianism. Social problems. Cultural problems. Bad behavior. Regressive economy. You are stupid if you don’t capitalize on the graft, rent seeking, dependency systems, and what is effectively corruption. Then the overstated GDP stays at 2% for a decade —> all kinds of forgone personal and financial capital gets destroyed. Etc. No one cares.

    Things are looking up, but it ain’t helping me or those like me.

    • #19
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:40 am
    • 4 likes
  20. Member

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    All roads led to Keynesianism. Social problems. Cultural problems. Bad behavior. Regressive economy. You are stupid if you don’t capitalize on the graft, rent seeking, dependency systems, and what is effectively corruption. Then the overstated GDP stays at 2% for a decade —> all kinds of forgone personal and financial capital gets destroyed. Etc. No one cares.

    Things are looking up, but it ain’t helping me or those like me.

    We literally need deflationary growth like we had before the Fed. We can’t do that now, but we can come close.

    The damn GOP isn’t capitalizing enough on Trump’s victory.

    • #20
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:47 am
    • 5 likes
  21. Coolidge

    I think I’ll be unemployed at the end of this week or next.

    I plan to call “Skip the Dishes” and work deliveries for them. It’ll be a dramatic pay cut. But from 2016, 2017 had a 20% pay cut, (in hours) and earlier this year I got cut another 5%. (I went from working 4×12 hour shifts per week, to 4×10.5 hour shifts – then last month they cut our paid lunches breaks.) so in reality I wont miss the ever shrinking pay. Other than being – you know a pay cheque.

    I plan to do the ‘skip the dishes’ thing for about a year, I started a CCNA course (on skillshare.com) and hope that adding a couple of certifications will help find work.

    • #21
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:48 am
    • 13 likes
  22. Coolidge

    Bryan G. Stephens: I’d like to avoid the advice giving, and concentrate on what our message should be. Right now, we tell people they must work hard to get ahead, that they have no right to a job, and that if they work hard, they will get a job and succeed. OK, gang, I am a model of a hard worker, I am not lazy, I give my all to every task I am assigned. I worked from the bottom of an organization to the top. And it was taken away for nothing I did wrong. I am doing everything conservatives have told me to do, and I am not getting the American Dream. What do you tell someone like me, other than “Life is not fair?”

    I wish I had a good answer for this. The challenge for conservatives is that our message doesn’t usually call for someone to “Do something!” Progressives have the easy message – the government can fix it. Unfortunately this is one of many issues that would be made worse by government involvement and regulation, as Hank has pointed out. But that can’t be our message, or at least not the whole message. Just saying “That won’t work” isn’t helpful. People want solutions. We need to be able to say that our policies will improve the opportunities for finding jobs and create the conditions that allow new businesses to thrive, businesses that would benefit from hiring experienced employees. In the long run it will help, but that’s cold comfort for people who can’t find work NOW. Like I said, I wish I had a better answer.

    • #22
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:58 am
    • 7 likes
  23. Thatcher

    Bryan, I agree wholeheartedly that the “self-made/pull yourself up/no one owes you” strand of Conservatism (whatever that is) was more applicable in a time when lateral mobility was as available as upward/downward. I hate the idea of “universal basic income” (whoever’s defining it) but in situations like you describe, some short-term way to fill a gap would be a Godsend. Are there ‘faith-based’ non-governmental programs that are out there (similar to some of the medical-care cooperatives formed in recent years) that offer some sort of stop-gap? Just thinking in pixels, here…Prayers ongoing!

    • #23
    • March 13, 2018 at 9:01 am
    • 8 likes
  24. Member

    Nick H (View Comment):
    Just saying “That won’t work” isn’t helpful. People want solutions.

    When I have one I’ll let you know.

    • #24
    • March 13, 2018 at 9:05 am
    • 6 likes
  25. Member

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):
    I hate the idea of “universal basic income”

    Why is this even a serious topic right now? How many GOP can cogently answer that question?

    The GOP could have improved the health insurance system. They didn’t. Have they done anything with enough economic punch? I doubt it, when you net it all out.

    • #25
    • March 13, 2018 at 9:06 am
    • 1 like
  26. Member

    Bryan, my husband changed jobs or was out of work, my neighbors, and other family members as well. You may have to do something totally different for awhile out of your field. However, it seems a background in behavioral therapy these days has many windows that maybe you have overlooked – hospitals, non-profit, etc. Your personal goal if self-employment sounds good, but may have to be part of a bigger plan for now. Don’t feel discouraged – I don’t know anyone who was able to find a job in 5 months – it is selective these days. Think about doing something totally different that you may have always wanted to try.

    • #26
    • March 13, 2018 at 9:11 am
    • 5 likes
  27. Member

    You cite the frustration of the standard conservative responses and say they are unsatisfying. I think if you believe that than maybe you should reconsider your political philosophy. If you think that these are not the right solutions or policies for society at large because they do not seem to help you personally, then you should ask yourself if you want a political structure that caters to your specific needs or to general ones in the populace?

    If you ask what a political movement can do for your employment opportunity I think invariably you will get an answer along the lines of what progressives propose. Because it is the fundamental assumption of progressives that the answer to your problems is a political one. You seem to implicitly accept this assumption by your very question. Perhaps you should accept the possibility that you really don’t like or approve of conservative policies. That they only really work for people lucky enough not to fall on hard times, and that what you really want is a set of progressive government policies that provide certainty and peace of mind.

    • #27
    • March 13, 2018 at 9:19 am
    • 3 likes
  28. Thatcher

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):
    I hate the idea of “universal basic income”

    Why is this even a serious topic right now? How many GOP can cogently answer that question?

    The GOP could have improved the health insurance system. They didn’t. Have they done anything with enough economic punch? I doubt it, when you net it all out.

    Having been part of the “benefits system” for much of my adult life, until recently, I don’t want the Feds/state handing folks money – then telling them they “can’t” *make* any anywhere else (or the ‘benefits’ will go away). That’s why I vehemently detest this idea. If it were meant to “support” what you were making/you until you were making (again), fine…In practice, it promotes dependency or destitution.

    • #28
    • March 13, 2018 at 9:21 am
    • 8 likes
  29. Member

    (1) it’s difficult to give any advice because I don’t know what you actually do (other than work in business), or what your skill set is, and (2) telling you what I would do is of little use to you. I’m an attorney; I worked for 20 years as an assistant county prosecutor; I’ve worked for the last 20 years for the state appellate court. Because I’m an attorney, if I lost my cushy, hard-to-get fired-from government job, I could always go into business for myself. That’s why I think that people who have some skill that is needed and which can be used either within an organization or individually are in the most enviable position (think attorney – or plumber!). You are right about age discrimination. It happens constantly in hiring decisions, but is almost impossible to prove, provided the employer doesn’t say something stupid like, “Well, we’re actually looking for someone younger.” You’ve ticked off all the wrong boxes on the diversity hiring form: (1) white, (2) male, (3) older, (4) higher pay bracket because of experience. Hopefully, your consulting business will work out. Many businesses love to pay outside consultants to assist because they can write off the consultant as a business expense and don’t have to pay for health care or pension benefits. Hang in there – all of Ricochet is pulling for you!

    • #29
    • March 13, 2018 at 9:24 am
    • 10 likes
  30. Member

    Hank Rhody, Doctor of Rock (View Comment):

    Danny Alexander (View Comment):
    or at least, bolt sooner than the “payback/breakeven-crossover date” that the employer estimates a new hire needs to reach to theoretically justify the cost of being hired and onboarded

    I’m going to need a definition for ‘onboarded’. And not a bullcrap one like they gave me for synergy.

    Realistically though, the breakeven date is one of the major issues with job hunting. Supposing no government regulation at all, no legal worries or monetary costs to firing a dork who doesn’t work out, the company is still paying a large up-front cost training a new guy in.

    And it is training. One of the side-effects of the division of labor is that the specialization in trades leads to a less generally useful worker. A master craftsman can make chairs slowly (I’m talking in Adam Smith 1700’s terms here). A workshop of specialized laborers can turn them out by the dozen. Now let’s throw those workers onto the job market. The master craftsman can switch over to decorative lawn ornaments or something like that with barely a hiccup. The guy who lathed the chair legs is going to be a lot slower becoming a productive, I don’t know, cooper.

    Flash forward to the modern economy. Every job is specialized. If you aren’t reaping the benefits of the division of labor you aren’t competitive. That means that every time a company hires someone they’re going to have to pay up front for a potentially extensive training period and only reap the rewards down the road. If they’re hiring a codger like PHenry (uh, no offense), then they’re doing the calculation. “Hire him at 61. Spend two years training him. Let’s say he retires early. We’re screwed!”.

    The natural political impulse is to compel those evil corporations to provide more for their workers, protections against unemployment, etc. That only exacerbates the problem; you raise the costs of hiring people and the employers will get more chary about whom they deign to employ. Take away the government interference and things get better, but that won’t solve the underlying problem either.

    This is a byproduct of specialization theory that is embedded in free trade. The argument is that specialization increases output and GDP astronomically. It does. It most certainly works for that. But it also creates a volatile boom and bust market as product is created faster than it is consumed, businesses close up, workers are fired and are too specialized to work elsewhere without extensive re-training.

    So is specialization and a volatile high GDP better or is a more diverse and a stable, somewhat lower gdp better?

    • #30
    • March 13, 2018 at 9:24 am
    • 4 likes
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