Radically Inept
Friday, August 06, 2004
  Up Date on Job Status, and maybe some advice you can use

Just heard that the July Jobs Report was below expectations.

wow. what a surprise.

I could have told you that. If you really want to know where jobs are, just follow your Sunday want-ads. I've been following them, whether employed or not, since the late eighties. You do this for ten years, and you get a real sense of the economy, and where it's going. Just count the columns of ads by sector, and you can quit paying attention to high paid experts who don't know their ass from a hole in the ground. Management jobs in the AJC have been running two or less columns per week for the past couple of years, compared with 5,6 and even 7 full columns in the late nineties. Car sales jobs are way up. Also an indicator that things are bad. They don't hire for car sales when the economy is up, because the salesmen are making sales. When the economy goes down, new car sales people are hired to sell new cars to their friends and family members, and once they've finished that list, they can't make sales and quit. Social worker jobs go up (and are) when the economy sucks.

Also, if you actually read the ads, instead of just counting columns, you'll see the ads ask for higher qualifications, offer less in starting pay, and make more demands on prospects than when the economy is improving and the labor market tightens. Also, the number of 'scam' jobs goes up when the job market is down, because the assholes know more people are desperate. Well, anyway, you'll know where the job market is, and you can spot trends, about as early as the 'experts' when you get used to this method. At least, I'll argue that my prognoses based on this methodology is as valid and accurate as anyone else's.

Oh, an idea just occurred to me. If you are currently unemployed, and your finances are getting desperate, go apply to a car dealer. Look through the ads, find the one that guarantees three months of training or whatever, and during the interview, perhaps suggest that you are there to learn the business because you want to make sure your a family member (grandparents are great for this, because dealers know older retirees tend to have money and credit) isn't going to get cheated when they buy their next car. Or something to that affect. It could get you three months guaranteed income, some excellent sales training that you can always use, and hopefully keep creditors at bay for a little while longer. And, Hell, who knows, you might even sell a car or two.

On the admin basis, as I've posted earlier, real life has intruded on blogging this week, but at least something positive has come of it. I will be attending paid training next week for a company that trains/teaches high school students how to improve their SAT scores. I was a little dubious about it at first, especially since I found the opportunity in the want ads (I've had plenty of bad experiences based on want ads before), but I attended their orientation, interview and testing process on Wednesday evening, and came away believing that if nothing else, the company is on the up and up.

First of all, they offer a money back guarantee to the customer. 'If your test scores do not improve, you get your money back.' But also, if your scores to not improve by x amount, you get a prorated refund. I like a company that financially backs its product. The other thing I liked, was that they had screened the job applicants by resume prior to inviting prospective teachers/tutors, so that my fellow candidates were some very brilliant and experienced people. That's also a good sign. Than there was the remuneration they offered us. The ad had stated $25-35/hr, and in the past, that has often meant you might get to start at $25/hr, but we get to abuse you for a couple of years before you can get to $35/hr. In this case it was not true. Class room instruction pays $25/hr, and tutoring pays $35/hr. It turns out that the company feels that classroom teaching, because they have a highly developed lesson plan and teaching aides requires less work than tutoring, which has to be customized to the student, in both what is taught, but also requires the tutor to independently schedule times, and often travel. I was impressed with their reasoning.

Also, I liked the fact that they did not want you to come on board trying to teach five or six classes your first time out. Their position is, new teachers will make mistakes with the material the first time out. It's normal. They want new teacher/tutors to become competent with their process before they give newbies the opportunity to teach multiple classes. They don't want to have to give refunds to forty-five students, because the newbie makes the same mistakes in three classes.

And, lastly, I liked the fact that they did not ask prospective teachers to buy training materials or some other usual scam give away, in fact, I will be attending paid training next weekend (including lunch).

The other Interview I went to on Wednesday morning was also positive, but very different. It would be working for a major government contractor. But, they did not actually have any open positions, rather they had proposals out with slots for bodies that they would have to fill if they got the contract. Or someone would have to leave an existing position (not so likely in the current employment market). The guy I met with I already knew pretty well, since I had worked for/with him in the past at the Army Environmental Policy Institute. This could also be really fun, and interesting work, and the pay would be better. It could also pay better, and be less than intellectually stimulating work, depending on the specifics of the contract requirements, the project and the agency involved. It could also be in Iraq, Afghanistan,etc. Or anywhere in the continental US, Europe, basically, the job could be anywhere, any duration, and based on my experience and education, it could be in one of a variety of areas.

Oh, the teaching position has one other thing going for it. It works out that you are basically self-employed, can choose the days you work, how many students you're will to tutor. I've learned that I really like controlling my own time, and being 1099'd maybe a tax hassle, but if you know how to play that game, it can work out in your favor.

Well, enough about my search. I was also busy helping the Wife with her application for a promotion/better position in the agency she works with. And this is a good reminder of why government work is often such a chore to pursue. It's the damn paperwork they require. I mean, one of the questions on the form asks the applicant to provide a description of current duties, but your not allowed to use the Duty Description of the job you have??? This just seems like complete make work. The job has a Duty Description, but you must re-invent it. Why? What is the purpose? Your competence in the position is reflected in their version of a performance review, so if your reviews are good, you've already proven your competence and understanding. Is it to prove that she can say what they said in her own words? Again, why? She's not applying to write Job Descriptions, nor for a job to manage people in other positions, so what the hell is the purpose. We spent several hours trying to come up with an original, grammatically correct way, to say what was already said...By them!

God Damn government make work. Actually, that may not really be fair. A more accurate statement might be that the Human Resources department of any large organization tends to become more worthless and inept as the organization and grows. And as with any organization, the prime activity is to justify your budget at the expense of operational efficiency and employees. Now that I think about it, I saw the same thing at Terminix and UPS. Maybe Dilbert has it right, and The Wife has always referred to the Human Resources department XXXXXX Now she says she doesn't, but I thought her term was something like Useless Resources.

Done with this subject for now... 
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