January 11, 2013
The job hunter sets out each morning, hoping that this is the morning where they’ll finally down the job that they’ve been tracking for months, the 10-point job with a set of benefits so majestic that it will be hard to resist the urge to duct tape them to the front of the car.
The base level of economic recovery is personal recovery — i.e. getting a job, or getting a better job. More money earned means more money spent and that money helps to set some of the gears of the economic system in motion. More products get bought, demand goes up for those products, and more jobs get created to meet those demands.
But of course, that is the thing: It can be excessively hard to find employment in this job market. I know of people who have spent months at a time working odd jobs, taking up positions of convenience in the businesses of friends or family and sustaining themselves partly through government assistance.
They aren’t doing it because they’re lazy — they’re doing it because they’re too educated, or because they’re not educated enough. They’re doing it because they have too much experience, or not enough experience.
The eternal puzzle is figuring out exactly what targets you need to hit for each specific potential employer. Everyone wants something else, it seems, and there are many who seem unable to find that someone who wants them.
But the problem goes the other way, too. It can sometimes be very difficult to judge someone’s aptitude based just on their resume or their application. Sometimes you hire someone who looks good on paper and has good references but they just don’t work out. Sometimes it’s easy to reject a worker based on their past jobs without knowing that they were doing everything that they could.
I’ve seen multiple positions fall off and come back up onto the various local job advertising venues. It’s clear that they try someone out for a while only for the whole situation to fall apart. It can’t be cost or morale or efficiency effective to keep handing out job test drives like that.
But, there’s an answer that seeks to standardize the vetting process, at least to a certain degree. There are people and jobs that would fit together like puzzle pieces, if only we could figure out a way to help them find each other.
Pettis County could become the latest county to become a “ACT Certified Work Ready Community.” The name is weird, as I would go so far as to suppose that every community is work ready, but I guess not all of them are Work Ready.
The main thrust of the designation is something called a “National Career Ready Certificate,” which would allow job hunters to take a series of tests that will seek a set of skills that add up to a designation that says employable. According to their website (act.org/products/workforce-act-national-career-readiness-certificate): “Individuals can earn the NCRC by taking three WorkKeys assessments:
“• Applied Mathematics
“• Locating Information
“• Reading for Information
“WorkKeys assessments measure ‘real world’ skills that employers believe are critical to job success. Test questions are based on situations in the everyday work world.”
So, solving word problems that could pop up in your typical working day doesn’t essentially translate into being able to solve those problems when they actually pop up but it could probably provide useful data. But I hope they don’t just regurgitate the same electronic application bunk that people have been dealing with for years.
Avoid junk like this: “I like to challenge myself each day” with a series of answers to indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the sentiment. That’s just an absurd trap to see if people will overthink themselves into triggering it. Do I answer “Strongly Agree” to all the things that seem positive, and “Strongly Disagree” for all the ones that seem bad? Do I do that, but concede one every once in a while so they don’t think I’m just going for the obvious answers?
The standard response might be to answer it truthfully, but so many people have been camping in the job forest for so long that their own personal evaluation might be a little too tough because they’ve faced so much rejection.
“In addition to the cognitive skills listed above, the NCRC Plus ranks individuals in the following soft skills categories:
“• Work Discipline: Productivity and dependability
“• Teamwork: Tolerance, communication, and attitude
“• Customer Service Orientation: Interpersonal skills and perseverance
“• Managerial Potential: Persuasion, enthusiasm, and problem solving”
This will be a helpful program for the people who have all the necessary job skills but lack a higher degree, or the people that have a degree that doesn’t essentially have a lot to do with the work they are forced to seek. Or the people who have moved jobs a lot due to very little fault of their own.
It shouldn’t be about the degrees you do or don’t have, or the jobs that you have or have not done — it should just be a question of whether you can perform the job at hand. And tests like these could be the right measuring stick to find those perfect-fit employees.
It’s got to be more efficient than just moving down the stack of applications and seeing if anyone sticks to the wall.