It’s amazing how little money prospective employers are willing to pay for an educated, skilled employee. When I scour the Help Wanted ads, I find it amusing how many list expected pay at a whopping $10 or $15 an hour for college-educated, highly skilled staff with umpteen-number-of-years experience. For this generous salary, you–the prospective employee–must also be the model employee who has no less than a four-year degree, “be proficient” in every skill and software program created in the last ten years (regardless if it actually applies to the job or not), know everything there is to know about social media (which somehow these days applies to every darn job out there) and be well-adjusted, efficient, punctual, and mature enough to represent the company in the best light possible.
I find it hard to understand how a company who seems to be legitimate can only see their way to offering you the same rate (or less) that a zit-popping, text-obsessed, sugar-addicted teenager gets for watching your three-year-old toddler. Should you actually pursue one of these jobs, you will soon find out that teenage babysitters are likely to get better benefits than you, including: a comfy, ergonomic couch on which to strike the perfect horizontal pose; a fully-stocked refrigerator to help regulate their sugar levels; access to your outdoor pool should they be lacking in Vitamin D or the perfect tan; and secret perks like bouncing with your child on the trampoline when you made them swear they wouldn’t.
No, for you, things will be much different than for the babysitter. Benefits at your potential employer, if there is any expectation of benefits at all, will be withheld until at least three months into your employment. For you–the highly skilled, college-educated employee–will not have proven yourself enough while jumping through sizeable hoops throughout the interview process to warrant immediate coverage. It is not enough that you have shown all your credentials, sweated through three levels of interviews, or submitted yourself to background screening, lie-detector tests, and peeing in a cup. Your 20+ years as a college-educated, working professional has not influenced your employer in any way whatsoever. Oh no, it has not.
You, my friend, have managed–after all your years of pursuing excellence–to land yourself right back in High School where both excellent students and zit-popping, ass-scratching neanderthals alike must prove themselves. But unlike years and decades ago, you cannot get your big toe wedged in the door between you and a prospective employer because there is no physical door–just a virtual abyss of online Job Listings in today’s international, online job mega-market. You can no longer expect commitment or loyalty on the part of the employer that hires you in our post-Enron world because somehow there are a zillion zit-poppers available to take your place and as many delusional employers who are willing to employ them. Your dream of having a fair chance at a legitimate career is alive and well only in the latest video game where dreams are shot down for points and employers are at the controls. It’s a LOSE-LOSE game for employers and employees, even though the employers think it’s their win and your loss.
Oh, Stephen Covey, where are you on this topic? We need a “7 Habits of Highly Effective Companies” and we need it NOW!! It might go something like this:
1. Hire professionals who have a track record of high performance, who have proven themselves in the real world.
2. Train them to do what you need.
3. Appreciate the fact that you have a person with a wealth of real-world and professional experience.
4. Compensate them amply and accordingly.
5. Respect and honor your employees, and they will respect and honor you.
6. Create an environment where intelligent interaction and suggestions are encouraged.
7. Recall how you were once given a chance when you needed it the most, then make a point of paying it forward.
[Rant over. Okay, I feel better now.]