Posts tagged ‘War on Work’

How Not to Get a Job: Go to College

A story in yesterday’s WaPo sheds some interesting light on which type of college grads suffer more from unemployment:

Recent college graduates with bachelor’s degrees in the arts, humanities and architecture experienced significantly higher rates of joblessness, according to a study being released Wednesday by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Among recent college graduates, those with the highest rates of unemployment had undergraduate degrees in architecture (13.9 percent), the arts (11.1 percent) and the humanities (9.4 percent), according to the study.

The recent college graduates with the lowest rates of unemployment had degrees in health (5.4 percent), education (5.4 percent), and agriculture and natural resources (7 percent.) Those with business and engineering degrees also fared relatively well.

One of the study authors makes the point:

“People keep telling kids to study what they love — but some loves are worth more than others,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, one of the study’s authors. “When people talk about college, there are all these high-minded ideas about it making people better citizens and participating fully in the life of their times. All that’s true, but go talk to the unemployed about that.”

The analysis, which was based on 2009 and 2010 data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, comes amid an increasing debate over the value of college education…

The Hard Times report from the source, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, describes their major findings:

  1. Choice of major substantially affects employment prospects and earnings.
  2. People who make technology are better off than people who use technology.
  3. In general, majors that are linked to occupations have better employment prospects than majors focused on general skills. But, some occupation specific majors, such as Architecture, were hurt by the recession and fared worse than general skills majors.
  4. For many, pursuing a graduate degree may be the best option until the economy recovers. But, not all graduate degrees outperform all BA’s on employment.

All good points to keep in mind.

Study author Carnevale points that studying what you love (a.k.a. Following your Passion) is no guarantee of success. Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs spoke at “The Entertainment Gathering 2008” and addressed that same problem.

Follow your passion? What could possibly be wrong with that?

Probably the worst advice I ever got. Follow your dreams and go broke.

That’s all I heard growing up. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I was told that if you follow your passion, it’s going to work out.

I can give you 30 examples right now.

Bob Combs, the pig farmer in Las Vegas who collects the uneaten scraps of food from the casinos and feeds them to his swine. Why? Because there’s so much protein in the stuff we don’t eat that they grow at twice the normal speed, and he is one rich pig farmer. And he’s good for the environment and he spends his days doing this incredible service. He smells like hell, but God bless him, he’s making a great living.

You ask him, ‘Did you follow your passion here?’ and he’d laugh at you. The guy’s worth… he just got offered 60 million for his farm and he turned it down. He didn’t follow his passion. He stepped back and watched where everyone was going and he went the other way.

And I hear that story over and over.

See Mike Rowe and the War on Work for the video. The Passion part starts at 12:00

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5 January 2012 at 12:21AM Leave a comment

“Cost of Livin'” is an interview

Ronnie Dunn (formerly of the country duo Brooks and Dunn) released his “Cost of Livin'” in June, and it has been getting some airplay again in Denver. The song is one side of an interview – the candidate, an out-of-work Army veteran, is applying for a job. Dunn has captured something that seems extra real and urgent given the state of our economy.  His video makes it even more real:

Everything to know about me
Is written on this page
The number you can reach me
My social and my age
Yes, I served in the Army
It’s where I learned to shoot
Eighteen months in the desert
Pourin’ sand out of my boots.
No, I’ve never been convicted of a crime
I could start this job at any time.

I got a strong back,
steel toes
I rarely call in sick
A good truck
What I don’t know, I catch on real quick
I work weekends if I have to
Nights and holidays
Give you 40 and then some
Whatever it takes.
Three dollars and change at the pump,
Cost of livin’s high and goin’ up.

I put Robert down as a reference
He’s known me all my life
We attend the same church
He introduced me to my wife
Gave my last job everything
Before it headed south
Took the shoes off of my children’s feet
The food out of their mouths
Yesterday my folks offered to help
But they’re barely getting by themselves

I’m sure a hundred others have applied
Rumor has it you’re only takin’ five

Mr. Dunn and his co-author Mr. Coleman have a good one here.

13 October 2011 at 12:33AM Leave a comment

WSJ: War on Interns

One of the house editorials from today’s (7 April) Wall Street Journal:

War on Interns

Making it illegal to work for free.

The labor market is still in recession, but for younger workers it feels more like a depression. In the last year, the unemployment rate among workers age 20 to 24 has risen to almost 16%, and among teenagers to 26%.

You might therefore expect a federal effort to encourage employers to give unskilled youngsters a chance. You would be wrong. The feds have instead decided to launch a campaign to crack down on unpaid internships that regulators claim violate minimum-wage laws.

“If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” the Labor Department’s Nancy J. Leppink tells the New York Times.

The Times also quotes Trudy Steinfeld, director of New York University’s Office of Career Services, regarding opportunities for unpaid internships. “A few famous banks have called and said, ‘We’d like to do this,’ said Ms. Steinfeld. “I said, ‘No way. You will not list on this campus.'” To be fair, she doesn’t want a Labor Department enforcer knocking on her door next week. But we wonder what NYU students trying to get their feet in the doors of financial firms think about Ms. Steinfeld rejecting opportunities on their behalf.

How all of this helps young people who are trying to develop marketable skills is a mystery. While the Department of Labor may insist the world owes these kids a living, the truth is that many young workers are willing to trade free labor for a chance to demonstrate their skills and build a resume for the next job. Especially in a bad labor market, the choice college students face may be to work without pay, or hang by the beach.

This isn’t exploiting young people. It’s letting young people exploit an opportunity.

7 April 2010 at 11:27PM Leave a comment

Mike Rowe on the War on Work

Since my employer is looking at a $54M budget shortfall, my civic co-workers and I enjoyed an unpaid furlough day today. While spending some time this morning shoveling out after yesterday’s blizzard, I had a chance to contemplate the nature of work. Once my driveway and that of my neighbors were clear, I came in to catch up on world news. Coincidentally, I found this 20 minute video of a talk that the Discovery Channel’s Mike Rowe gave back in December 2008. Rowe explains how castrating lambs during a Dirty Jobs filming brought discovery and enlightenment about work.

This video is worth watching.  The first 7 minutes are the castration part, and then Rowe quotes Aristotle on discovery (ἀναγνώρισις or anagnorisis) over the next three minutes. At 16 minutes, Rowe hits on his theme: How modern American society has declared War on Work. See the whole thing:

Rowe’s great insight is about the War on Work. He points out that this was not a planned campaign, but that it is a civil war, and a cold war. Rowe correctly identifies four fronts in this War:

1. Hollywood
2. Madison Avenue
3. Washington DC
4. Silicon Valley

Listening to him provoked a minor bit of anagnorisis for me. As a technical recruiter, I’ve been guilty of fighting against skilled labor on the Silicon Valley front. At one point, I believed that everyone should become computer literate because ever job could be done with a computer. What I didn’t appreciate is that Innovation without execution is meaningless. I didn’t appreciate the hard work it takes to build great technological devices until I worked in a manufacturing plant. Every genius with a gizmo need people who can assemble multiple copies of that gizmo. That where the skill is.

Hearing Rowe talk about Madison Avenue’s message about the War on Work was enlightening. Thinking about America’s current struggle with “work/life balance”, I realized that Rowe puts the blame in the right place: on the Advertising View that works against Work:

So many of the commercials that come out of there (Madison Avenue) in the way of a message. What’s really being said is, “Your life would better if you could work a little less; if you didn’t have to work so hard; if you get home earlier; if you could retire faster; if you could punch out sooner. It’s all there – over and over; again and again.”

“Life is better if you work less” – that’s the core message we hear about work/life balance.  Not that we have to be effective. Not that we have to get ‘er done.  Less work doesn’t make people happier – accomplishments make people happy. Working, being needed, and demonstrating mastery are what make people happy. And we wonder what happened to the American work ethic.

To help raise awareness of the forgotten benefits of labor, Rowe has a new project:

People often tell me that Dirty Jobs reminds them of a time when Work was not seen as a thing to avoid. When skilled tradesmen were seen as role models, and a paycheck was not the only benefit of a job well done. We need to recapture that sentiment. We need to celebrate, on a bigger scale, the role models right in front of us. Dirty Jobs has given me the opportunity to do that. With a little luck and the right support, mikeroweWORKS, will take it to the next level.

Good work, Mike! For what it’s worth, I’m adding you to my blogroll.

Hat tip to The Anchoress for the video find.

27 March 2009 at 10:08PM Leave a comment


My Core Ideas

1. "I can't tell you the best way to get a job - because there is no one best way. After 21 years of recruiting, I CAN share things I've seen candidates do to guarantee they DIDN'T get the job."

2. "Most companies don't realize how their recruiting process impacts their candidate pool, and their business. Attention to simple things will result in big improvements."

About the Author

Troy Bettinger, SPHR is a Denver Recruiter, Public Speaker, HR Metrics Analyst and Human Resources Leader who has been recruiting in corporate and municipal environments since 1991.

He specializes in the complete hiring process: defining, sourcing, recruiting, testing, interviewing, offering and orienting new hires. He's also well versed in strategic human resources, college recruiting, diversity recruiting, AAP, EEO, ATS integration, recruiting metrics, social media, recruiting leadership, training and employment branding.

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