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How to succeed in business without really trying…

I know, I know: the economy is prospering, unemployment is way down, and employers will hire just about anybody these days simply to get a warm body behind a desk. Consequently, the amount of skills that one must have to get hired has pretty much been condensed down to 1&#41 can breathe without the aid of a respirator, 2&#41 can answer a telephone, and 3&#41 can perform simple office tasks like making copies and sending faxes with some light typing thrown in for good measure. (Note that in today's job market there is, I guess, no need to really know how to use software like Power Point or even Word and Excel for that matter.&#41

When I ventured out into the work force, the year was 1994, right around the time of widespread corporate downsizing. Everybody and their brother was getting laid off, so you needed to know an extra thing or two just to compete for what few positions were left. Back then you were supposed to research the companies you were interviewing with and dazzle the interviewer with facts about the company that she probably didn't even know. Your resume had to be perfectly one page, not too cluttered, not too much white space. (I agonized over all the "So You're Trying to Get Your First Real Job" books that I read which warned over and over that a great deal of the time, resumes were just thrown straight into the garbage can after the first glance because they were too this and not enough that or something or other, blah, blah, blah.&#41 In my zeal to get a job, any job, I used my spare time to study manuals on Microsft Word and actually had someone teach me everything that I didn't know about Excel. And took notes. (Back then, good computer skills were of the utmost importance in a job interview, and the only computer class that was offered to me in college was on Lotus 1-2-3 and dBase 3… did anyone ever actually end up using those?&#41 Before my most recent job interview, I practically memorized my old company's brochure in order to better explain the scope of the company and what role that I personally played within that scope, and in a fit of pure anality mixed with nervousness even brought it with me on the interview.

These days when you ask someone — someone who is a potential candidate for a job in the financial industry, mind you — when you ask someone how well they know a program like Excel (remember, the financial industry, where there are lots of numbers to be dealt with&#41 they will probably say something like, "Well, I was going to take a class on that, but then some other things happened in my life, so…"

No experience in the financial industry, no experience with spreadsheet-based software, but hired nonetheless. Maybe it's the life experience — another thing which I don't agree with. Just because a person, say, home-schools their children (shudder&#41 with perceived good results doesn't mean that s/he can function in a workplace. It means he or she is good at home-schooling (shudder&#41. It should add nothing to the decision to hire him or her. I mean, I got married at 19 and put myself through college, sometimes working two jobs at once and bascially living the hard-knock life, but I didn't bring that up in my interview because it has nothing to do with how well I can — and do — do my job.

So, all these people get hired with little to no skill sets, which means they have to be trained and often end up fucking up the first hundred things they try to do, and they get in at 8:35 and leave at 5:00 on the dot, and they bitch and moan about how shitty the office equipment is and how they should get paid more, and basically walk around with a spoiled-brat attitude about the whole job experience.

I personally think that they should be forced to study those marching ants in Excel. Just for fun.

Posted in Scowls.

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