By Brandi Makuski
The hardest aspect of owning any business is finding qualified help.
However, being qualified for a position is only one element we seek when trying to fill a position at the City-Times. The ability to write, spell and otherwise communicate effectively is one of many characteristics on an ever- expanding list of requirements many employers once took for granted.
Proper hygiene is a good example of one of those requirements: you’d be surprised how many would- be news reporters arrive to an interview un-showered, disheveled and- worse yet- wearing pajama pants. It’s a modern faux pas far too accepted in society today that suffers no real consequence because this same individual could wear the same pajama pants to a different interview and wind up managing a burger joint.
Apathy is another major concern of the news industry. It’s common for our interview sources to claim they don’t read local news, nor do they care. One woman I spoke with recently said she was “quite happy being uninformed” about local news.
Fully aware of this uphill battle, applicants frequently come to us looking for fame and fortune writing about anything but news vital to the electorate and woefully undereducated about the government and other systems in place in our community.
But they all know which contestant was last voted off American Idol. Some of them even spend their free time blogging about the show.
Last year MSNBC set out to determine how, if at all, this type of distractive mindset and shift in priorities was affecting the work force by tracking labor participation and productivity of American workers using statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
During the first four months of 2012, labor productivity- a measure of how much work is done per hour- plunged while labor costs spiked toward pre-recession highs. The unemployment rate dropped dramatically, but wage growth had stalled.
Companies appear to be hiring more less-skilled and less-motivated workers at low pay levels to get the same amount of work done. It meant less efficiency and a less- than- desired final product.
It’s still pushing inflation higher, and at the same time, many qualified workers seem to be turning up their noses at jobs they see as demeaning, or that don’t pay what they need, and they are deciding instead to leave the workforce.
The study seems to suggest while some workers are getting lazier, losing their skills or letting them fall out- of- date, and choosing not to take jobs they view as beneath them, it could also mean employers aren’t offering enough rewards to interest even the long-term unemployed.
Pajama- clad job applicants have begun to create an unbalanced playing field for job-seekers everywhere. Lazy workers lower the bar across the board. Ever stump a cashier by handing her a few pennies after she rang in that $20 bill you gave her? This kind of basic skills gap should sound off warning bells for teachers, parents and employers, because now people with these basic skills are in higher demand even if they are fewer and further between than ever before.
But employers are tired of looking. Desperate to fill positions and in dire need of a morale boost, employers today seem to take what they can get. I have friends in management positions around the city who will attest to the difficulty in finding good help. The qualified applicants are out there, but for reasons the DOL could never track they just aren’t applying for work where they are most needed.
What’s worse is a simple jobs search on Monster, Career Builder or any ‘Help Wanted’ section would yield a large number of jobs capable of putting food on the table.
Just don’t wear your pajamas to the interview.