I was at a party recently and managed to get cornered by “that guy.” You know the one…you are just nice enough too and now he won’t stop talking to you. So there I was cornered, trying to be polite but also scanning the room for an escape hatch. The conversation took an interesting turn when he found out I worked in HR.
Not sure about the rest of you but when I tell people I work in HR, I typically get asked every question under the sun about company policies, benefits, is something legal, etc; Maybe it’s just me but I have spent time at a gathering explaining FMLA…ugh
Anyway, “that guy”, lets call him Peter, asked me what I thought of hiring people who were unemployed. I responded that it was a non-factor if they could do the job, pass a background check, blah, blah, blah. Peter then explained to me why he wasn’t comfortable hiring someone unemployed… Yes, folks I got to meet the “I don’t want to hire the unemployed” guy. I’ve heard about these creatures but never met one.
His reasoning was fairly typical: if someone gets laid off it’s because they were a bad performer or lackluster. A company wouldn’t lay off a superstar.
As loyal readers, you know I was recently laid off. Listening to Peter I had quite a few responses I was contemplating, some polite, some not so polite. I choose the middle road and pointed out to him that in his profession (IT) it wasn’t uncommon for people to get laid off as IT (like HR) tends to get outsourced, downsized, offshored first. He did the smile and nod thing, then discovered he was hungry and wanted an appetizer…
What struck me was his complete lack of understanding of the frailty of his own situation. Where has this guy been living and working for the last four years? Trust me it wasn’t a superstar technology firm like Apple or Google. How does he not realize that more and more jobs in fields like HR, IT, and payroll are being outsourced?
This experience coincided with a conversation I had with a friend of mine who informed me they decided not to maintain their CPA. I was disappointed to hear that because I know how much work she put into getting and maintaining that. But I was also disappointed because it is a valuable designation. I know someone who maintained their CPA and was able to find valuable part time work doing taxes when they got laid off. Is this what she wanted to do for the rest of her career? No but at least it was good stream of income besides unemployment. My friend though doesn’t foresee a situation where she will ever need her CPA.
The moral of the story here? I’m really scared about the complacency I see in people. Both of the people I’ve mentioned are relatively young and nowhere near retirement. They are intelligent, well-informed and college educated but they are thinking “it won’t happen to me.”
I’m scared when I hear people talking about not hiring the unemployed when they could one day easily be on the other side. I’m scared that people are not maintaining critical skills in their field, much less obtaining new ones.
Maybe I’ve been scarred by personal and professional experience but I don’t think so. I think there are a lot of people who don’t realize the game has changed and changed dramatically.
Get off the couch, stop Facebooking and start thinking about what you are doing to learn new skills. STOP thinking it won’t happen to you…the world is changing at a pace we can’t begin to comprehend, how are you going to adapt if you refuse to see the changes already happening around you?
- Data Point #1: Unemployment Rate vs. Layoff Data (chinagorman.com)