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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