Deal or No Deal?

There are many forms of communication, especially when you look at it from an employment realm. there is verbal and non verbal and it extends from employee to employer and back again. One form of communication that is not considered often however, is that of hiring and wages.

First, as I try always to do, I want to disclose that I am not writing this from an objective frame of mind. I am actively seeking employment right now and am sharing my perspective on what I’m seeing, so if your looking for a dispassionate treatise on working wage in America, perhaps you have wandered into the wrong blog..if so welcome and buckle up, here we go!

First and foremost, there is the habit of employers, once an application/resume has been submitted to say “Thank you for expressing an interest in the following position(s)…” (actual response). This is fine and well, it is the potential employer letting me know that they have successfully received my application and there is nothing further that I need to do to ensure its delivery and review. But then it ends there.  Full stop. No exchange. The end.

If you are extremely lucky and have applied at a business that is more communicative than most, you’ll get a confirmation or rejection once they have reviewed all candidates. But often times you get nothing. Your resume and potential future with company “x” has gone to wherever lost socks, ink pens, and that really awesome copy of your Pink Floyd album went. Call it an alternate dimension, or pocket universe, the end result is the same. You become that teenager pining away next to the phone hoping that person you like will call and validate your unrequited love.

In the rare event that you do receive a response, in todays economy most likely in the negative, they take the most unconventional tone. Some of my favorites, received just recently are “At this time, the search committee has decided to move forward with other candidates who more closely match the needs of our organization” or “Thank you for sending me your cover letter and application… Unfortunately you are overqualified for the position.”

It is this later response that I want to address for a moment. Being told that one is overqualified to work for a company is the harshest type of compliment. To my ear it basically says “we can’t afford you”. Now this too makes  sense if I had had the chance to make a salary demand and then refused  to budge from it. But as I was never given the chance, all it tells me is “were worried that your going to raise the bar around here and give the other employees hope for better conditions and wages and we can’t have that…”.

I was more than a little curious about this phenomena so I did a little digging. According to Miriam Salpeter at Aoljobs, the following are common reasons to stay away from “overqualified” applicants.

1. They worry the candidate will be “too expensive.”
2. Employers assume (probably correctly) that the overqualified applicant will leave at the first chance to land a better opportunity.
3. Hiring managers may be concerned an overqualified candidate would become easily disgruntled and unhappy in the job.

Ignoring the first “reason” which I have addressed, doesn’t it seem odd that employers are concerned that an employee will leave for a better opportunity at the fist chance? Wouldn’t anyone? And as for being easily disgruntled and unhappy, I would argue that crappy work is crappy work. There comes a point where we need a job regardless of what it is. For example, my degree is in communications. Would I love to be crafting a message for a firm like Edelman or Weinstein? (wink wink)Sure I would, who wouldn’t? But at this point in time, id happily shake a Little Caesars sign at a local intersection for an honest wage. After all, one can’t pay their electric bill on hope and aspirations.

Finally the other method of communication in the workplace which is often overlooked, is that of wages. Now I have to be honest here as well, I know my position on wages is not typical of most people. For example, I know that servers work for a startlingly small hourly wage and rely on tips. However, a tip by definition is called a gratuity. According to Websters dictionary a gratuity is defined as “something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service.”. Note the words “voluntarily” and “beyond obligation”. This means that if you show up at our table eventually and lethargically muddle your way through the meal and expect a 20% tip, your going to have a rough night. For those of you out there who have chosen the service industry for one reason or another, I applaud you. It is a difficult often thankless job. I know this because I have done it myself, and would never choose to do it again. That said, you chose this job.  And you chose to tie your take home wage to your level of professionalism and enthusiasm. Don’t get mad at me when you find one lacking due to the other.

However, over in the hourly wage world (we’ll ignore those salary people in this blog post, alas, its an ivory tower for most of us) there is another issue I have all together. Let me be clear, I will work for minimum wage. I say that to say this. I find the very concept of a minimum wage offensive as an employee. This concept say to your employees in effect “I would pay you less if only the law would let me. Thats how little I think of you and your efforts in this job”. To all employers out there, I know times are hard all the way around, but consider this, if you don’t want employees who do the bare minimum, don’t pay them the bare minimum.

This is not a cry to raise the minimum wage, but rather one to make it irrelevant. Anyways, thats my two cents on the matter.

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The “Post” Post-Secondary Oddity…

First, for those of you who follow this blog, let me offer my apologies for not updating this in some time. I have recently, and at long last graduated with my BA in Communications from Marylhurst University, and during these summer months before beginning graduate school at that self same institution, I am doing what countless other graduates spend their summers doing……looking for a job. Well…maybe “looking for a job” isn’t quite accurate. Ive had jobs, quite a few in fact, what im looking for is a CAREER.

In a perfect world, one would search high and low for the ideal job, apply, and then in a timely manner be told whether they were on a short list for said job. At that point they would either interview or continue their search. Alas…much like communism, the pet rock, or reality TV…this is only true on paper. The real struggle in todays world to attain meaningful employment, or indeed employment of any kind is a sisyphean task. The difficulty lies not in employment, so much as anything resembling meaningful employment. No, I’m not too good to pump gas, bag groceries, or mow lawns (which in the grownup world is simply called landscaping for the sake of personal pride).

Where my difficulty derives is that after a long uphill struggle to complete my degree; which including the money, time sacrificed with friends and family, the lack of social existence, and the sometimes skull splitting nature of the subjects, its hard not to feel a little…dare i say it…..entitled to meaningful work within my field. Now I’m the first to say that:

1) No one owes me a job

2) I’m not entitled to anything but the freedom to pursue the career I want

3) Admittedly this is a “first world” problem

But i digress….

What I find baffling are the sheer volume of pyramid schemes, brand ambassador positions, and direct marketing openings out there. I recently had an interview with a “public relations firm” in the Portland, Oregon area who billed themselves as a firm who “combines strategic promotional genius with professional campaign implementation”. “HAZAA!” I thought, I have arrived. I am being courted by a firm right out of college!

These dreams were quickly dashed when I arrived for my interview a full 45 minutes early, wanting to make a good impression. The office door was adorned with the company logo in bright colors…..on a piece of printer paper scotch taped to the door. “No worries” I thought, “Maybe they’re a startup or this is a satellite office or something”. Upon walking in, clad in my navy blue suit and “lucky” tie, I almost dropped my portfolio. The room was populated by about a dozen other people, many of them barely out of their teens. While I won’t go into the variety of hair colors and styles present (it is Portland after all, allowances must be made) the amount of cut off clothes and slack expressions were a quick warning sign for me.

The administrative aid (I use the term charitably) was busy watching a pirated copy of some movie or other and couldn’t be bothered to do more than point me at a chair. Shortly thereafter I was called into an office that was so spartan it would put most police interrogation rooms to shame. All it was missing was the one way mirror. In its place was a cheap gas station map of the US with push pins haphazardly placed around the country. My interviewer, an early twenty something with hair that had that just right look of suave and just rolled out of bed, proudly announced that they now had offices in all of the cities identified by the boldly colored pins.

At this point every professional “spidey sense” I had was going berserk, but as a man with bills to pay I forced myself to pay attention through his pitch with all of the focus I could manage. At the tail end of the “how wonderful it is to be a full time employee” for them speech, he soberly informed me that all of their employees “start at the ground level as brand ambassadors and work their way up.”

At this point, barely restraining the urge to slide off my chair in disappointment, I asked what products they were working with. “Cabinetry” he proudly proclaimed, as though this product was the next longer lasting lightbulb or cure to some here to fore unknown disease. I thanked him for his time, and headed out the door and down the hall quietly murmuring to myself about the injustice of it all. Passing a teenager in the parking lot, who’s mother had just dropped him off, he asked me if I knew where the marketing office was. I pointed him in the right direction and wished him more happiness with the experience than I had.

The moral to this story? Im honestly not sure that there is one, except to say this. If your job hunting, first set a line in the sand. Tell yourself “I will do this, but not that. This is what I’m prepared to accept” And do your best to stick to it.

Im fully prepared to admit that I may be approaching this from a biased viewpoint, but as with all of my posts, I welcome advice, experiences and wisdom from you all. Happy Job Hunting!

 

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The Law of the Jungle, and what we can learn from it…

“NOW this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

Wash daily from nose tip to tail tip; drink deeply, but never too deep; And remember the night is for hunting and forget not the day is for sleep.

The jackal may follow the tiger, but, cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the wolf is a hunter—go forth and get food of thy own.

Keep peace with the lords of the jungle, the tiger, the panther, the bear;
And trouble not Hath I the Silent, and mock not the boar in his lair.

When pack meets with pack in the jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken; it may be fair words shall prevail.

When ye fight with a wolf of the pack ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel and the pack is diminished by war.

—Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)

Admittedly this was a favorite bedtime story of mine growing up, but as an adult I loo on it differently. It is a narrative for interaction with others, for what is any group organization or business but a pack of wolves. The difference in the packs is in their ethics and respect for other packs.
When we examine this through the R3 lens, this pretty clearly falls into the domain of the second R, respect. The way that this is laid out is in non-negotiable language. For example “the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die”. This speaks to the “rules of the game”, or the manner of doing business with others.
In today’s world, many forget or outright where never taught these rules, Take for example a business such as Wal Mart, who topically does great things and is a philanthropic giant. But if you look beyond it, this business does what Kipling would term as “drinking too deep”. Because it enjoys the profits of the local economy too deeply, in almost every occasion the local businesses are washed away.
However when we look at a different context, we see examples from the passage, which states, “go forth and get food of thy own”. This speaks to the inevitable journey that all humans undergo where they stop being dependent of their parents for support (which is accomplished with varying success sometimes!) and begin to support themselves.
This missive also speaks to things such as respect for all, as in the passage of the boar in its lair, as well as allowing negotiation to prevail in disputes as well as making sure that if you must have a confrontation with someone, it is wise to do so “alone and afar”, which is a wonderful comment on handling ones differences quietly and privately, lest ego become a factor and either party become intractable.
In closing, while Rudyard Kipling wrote a great many passages that we can all learn from, it is my belief that from an R3 perspective, there is none greater than the law of the jungle. The passage that I have included above is only an excerpt from the greater whole (as so many thins are), and I invite you to seek the full passages, which are located in Kipling’s second Jungle Book available at your local book store or online.

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Inter arma enim…

Inter arma enim silent leges

“In times of war, the law falls silent.”

Cicero

Honor among meme’s…

media monopoly

This simple photo recently crossed my Facebook feed. At first blush it wasn’t hard to believe, and it instantly created a visceral disgust for media companies. I assume this was its intended purpose. But then, in the spirit of respecting not only the message, but my own independence of thought, I decided to do some research on this and get “the straight facts” as best I could.

The first thing I did was an internet search for anything I could find on this meme (see my earlier post on mimetics) and found an article by Ashley Lutz here on BusinessInsider.com which states that meme’s like this are “missing some key transactions. GE does not own NBC (or Comcast or any media) anymore. So that 6th company is now Comcast. And Time Warner doesn’t own AOL, so Huffington Post isn’t affiliated with them.”

Far from going any deeper on this meme, or its corresponding article, I wanted to discuss the inaccuracy in a lot of social media that we often take for granted as soon as we see it. I assume (dangerous I know) that most people saw the initial meme and grunted an expletive about “big brother” and moved on, the impression of it stuck in a small corner of their heads.

Im no apologist for corporate media, and personally choose to get most of my information from multiple independent sources, but this is troubling. Much like much of the mainstream news these days, it seems that its become simply slamming ones opponent and promoting ones own ideas, rather than sitting down and finding middle ground on anything.

This meme was at best factually incorrect, and at worst an exaggerated lie seeking to validate someones point. My argument is that perhaps its time to spend less time yelling at our neighbors to think the way we do, and more time listening to other points of view, lest we learn something new.

Vino Veritas

I’ve always heard the Latin phrase In vino veritas meaning “In wine (there is) truth. Being a bit of an aficionado of the pub, I have seen my share of inebriated people. This forces me to wonder, as a communications student, are drunken people acting and communicating a message that is not them? Or are they simply at a stage where their boundaries are so low that they say what they are actually thinking anyway?

Any who have been reading this blog, know that one of the cores of my message is the second R, respect. Respect means that sometimes you don’t like the message or you don’t agree with it, but you listen to it anyway and honor the fact that the other party too the time to think of it, encode it, and transmit it in the first place.

The true power in this theory arises in the fact that the Roman historian Tacitus once described how the Germanic tribes would often drink heavily wile holding tribal councils. This was done under the belief that a person was physically incapable of lying while intoxicated.

So here we have two cultures as well as Chinese, Russian, Persian, and even the Babylonian Talmud who hold that a persons truest means of communication is through the lens of alcohol. So the question stands, is the message transmitted while inebriated the purest of messages? Is it often traumatic for that very purpose?

Evolution vs. Creationism

 

 

This post is only related to the actuality of this argument as it relates to something I find wonderful. when I watched this initially i was struck more by the fact that this was a respectful if passionate debate. To me this is the core of what R3 (Receive, Respect, Respond) is to me. 

While these two men, who are experts and highly educated in their own rights will likely never agree, what they did agree on was coming together to sure their relative viewpoints. Throughout this video, by using the debate model, they display their views and listen respectfully to the views of their opponents, before responding.

Regardless of where you stand on this issue, I ask that you watch this with an eye towards how they’re speaking, rather than what they’re saying.