Ok, so the title’s not great but it really succinctly conveys pressing and contemporary issues on the job-hunt front.
I have a question for every person out there in business land with an open position and a perceived shortage of applicant skill.* If I have done that job before, why would I want to do it again?
Seriously, that’s my question. If I’ve already been an Accounts Payable Officer at Company Awesome for three years (or insert exactly how many years is deemed to be appropriate by old-fashioned hirers here), the only reason I could think of to move into a Accounts Payable Officer job in Company Buzzkill is because I ended a workplace relationship, hated my boss or thought Company Buzzkill was a better company to work for.
So what happens is that now I have the exact same job in a different company, probably slightly more pay but always in the same bracket, and that same person that hired me because I had three years’ experience is usually the one I need to go through to move up. (Let’s call him Buzz Killington.)
But here’s another question, if I didn’t have what it took to be promoted when I was hired, what will it take to be promoted in Company Buzzkill? I’ll tell you, (because that question was hypothetical…) what you need is Buzz Killington’s approval. But how do you know that Buzz is even interested in promoting you? He could have said anything to get you to take the job at Company Buzzkill and he could be a complete fucking psychopath. I always hear how hirers have a tough time because they could be saddled with a good-fer-nothin’ employee who is lazy and drives a Honda Jazz but here’s something else to consider – your company is probably pretty shit as well and we don’t know that until we’ve signed a contract. Sure, we’ve got three months to really decide but I could work for Buzz for years before his over-inflated opinion tells him that I’m ready for promotion. I have no guarantee that Buzz gives a fuck about my career progression or that he’s even a GC for work for. I’m on my own out here.
That’s why I apply for jobs that challenge me, and that’s why I want to jump up and across every time I change jobs because I am my own boss and I trust myself for when I’m ready to be promoted. Sure, I don’t have three years’ experience as an Assistant Accountant, but I damn well know I want to learn, and I know I’ll work for it so instead of hiring weirdos who want to do the same job for the rest of their lives, hire me and give me a little foot up over the fence. Sure, I may leave in a few years’ time to move up and across again, but if you look at that training time as wasted then you’re a bit of a dick aren’t you? Everyone needs a foot up at some point during their career, and everyone needs someone to take a chance on them and speaking for employees everywhere, not all of our bosses are the mentoring, handshake-is-my-bond, promoting types.
I suspect that’s the truth behind the “skill shortage”and let’s circle back around to the unfortunate title of this piece if we may. I think the justification for the whining about a skill shortage is a ruse for hirers and companies that don’t want to train employees because they’re fearful that that time and energy will be ‘wasted’ if that employee moves on. I have all the skills I need to do 90% of the white collar jobs out there if I so choose to. But I do need your help, boss, and once I know it and I’ve mastered it – if you won’t promote me – then yes, I will leave. And that’s the market. So suck it up and stop bitching about a skill shortage when you’re just cheap and scared.
Or you could look at it this way: it’s like your customer leaving you to avail themselves of product elsewhere. It happens, but not as often if you offer a fair price, good service and are easy to work with. It’s the same for employees. If you offer a good wage, promote where you need (and recognise when a sweetener would do just as well) and be a good boss to work for your employee turnover will probably reduce and maybe you can remove that scaredy stick out of your ass.
Not everyone wants to climb – and that’s cool too. You need a good mix of both in a company but to me, I couldn’t think of anything worse than everything always being the same.
*I am of course referring to general white collar skills rather than specific skill sets like those that Liam Neeson seems to possess in many of his roles…