Friday, January 27, 2012

The "musical chairs" of the job market

Gosh, I haven't blogged here in a while.

Was busy suffering through the worst break-up and experience of my life (not even exaggerating, sadly) but anyhow, I have lots on my mind.

Namely, the economy and jobs.

I'm not sure why I'm so focused on people who don't have jobs.

Maybe it's because I worked for two companies in the 1990s, both Internet companies, that were bought and merged and in one way or another, ended in me losing my job. So, I have a special soft spot for anyone who gets laid off or is in the market for a job.

However, we're living in unusual times.

I was recently talking to a friend. He mentioned that his girlfriend would have no problem taking a retail job if she got laid off from her job (thankfully she's gainfully employed as a guidance counselor). My friend said he wouldn't do that. Well, not that he wouldn't do that but that he would be concerned about what people thought if he did that and that he wouldn't be so eager to go work at Ross. She commented that it might be fun and she might learn something.

"How refreshing," I thought to myself.

Because we live in that economy right now.

You're either a "have" or a "have not."

And we live in what I like to call the "music chairs" of the job market -- meaning, say there are 100 chairs representing 100 jobs in your company. Well, once the chair gets pulled out (i.e. you lose your job), that chair is gone. You can run around trying to get another chair but chances are, once you're out of a job, you're out of a job...and that job isn't coming back.

It's a great analogy the more I think about it because as companies grow their revenue, they are managing to do so with less people.

A friend of mine works at one of the biggest universities in California and said they have double the student body now compared to when he was in school (15+ years ago), yet they get by with LESS staff.

I'd say that's true of most companies today: their revenue is probably more, maybe double what it was before (maybe 5-10 times more, who knows) yet they have managed to drop all the "dead weight" i.e. fire or lay off any employees that aren't ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to their bottom line. So, give a few great workers a 5-10% raise, have them do the work of 2-4 people and voila, more corporate profits.

If you're one of those "lucky" a.k.a. "overworked" few, you may be doing well financially, but likely putting in insane hours and working from home and working weekends even for just a bit more pay.

But, what if you're one of the "not so lucky" ones?

Well, you're out of luck.

If your job is gone, through a layoff or being fired or your own voluntary decision to quit, it's likely not coming back anytime soon - if ever.

I wish I had a solution except to say, maybe you're gonna have to learn to love working retail.

What do you think?