Some Moderately Ok News

On the unemployment front:

The number of Americans filing for their first week of unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in nearly six months, possibly signaling slight improvement in the job market.

There were 391,000 initial unemployment claims filed in the week ended Sept. 24, the Labor Department said Thursday, down 37,000 from the prior week’s revised 428,000.

The drop was much better than expected, as economists forecast initial claims to fall to 419,000, according to Briefing.com.

New claims for unemployment benefits have stuck around or above 400,000 since early April, a level economists often say is too high to signal the unemployment rate will come down anytime soon.

The recent drop to 391,000 maked the lowest level since the week of April 2, when 385,000 new claims came in.

At the very bottom of the CNN piece (so far down I almost didn’t read it because I thought it was an ad) was a brief mention that while unemployment is high, there are still three million unfulfilled jobs because employers can not find skilled employees. Those jobs include Advanced Manufacturing Engineer, truck drivers, nurses, professional cooks, aircraft mechanics, accountants, and, believe it or not, web developers.






108 replies
  1. 1
    Mnemosyne says:

    At the very bottom of the CNN piece (so far down I almost didn’t read it because I thought it was an ad) was a brief mention that while unemployment is high, there are still three million unfulfilled jobs because employers can not find skilled employees.

    Let me translate that for you, John: it’s not that they can’t find skilled employees, it’s that they’re not willing to pay the salaries they would need to in order to get those skilled employees.

    There’s a reason so many of those jobs end up being filled by people on H1-B visas, and it ain’t because Americans are stupid and unskilled. It’s because companies want to pay salaries far under market.

  2. 2
    greennotGreen says:

    there are still three million unfulfilled jobs because employers can not find skilled employees.

    They can’t find skilled employees, or they can’t find skilled employees at bargain-basement prices?

  3. 3
  4. 4

    As a web developer, I’ll admit that most of us are pretty unskilled.

  5. 5
    Redshift says:

    Based on some of the web developers I’ve worked with, I don’t see how being unskilled could possibly be a barrier to employment…

    (No offense to actual competent web developers, but seriously, the stories I could tell!)

  6. 6
    SFAW says:

    Let me translate that for you, John: it’s not that they can’t find skilled employees, it’s that they’re not willing to pay the salaries they would need to in order to get those skilled employees.

    It’s partly that, and partly another phenomenon which has unfortunately been growing for 10 or more years. Specifically: (potential) employer Company X comes up with a laundry list of skills and experience that they “need” in the new employee. These criteria may number anywhere from five to twenty-five. If the job seeker is missing one of the “needed skills”, the resume either gets tossed, or put on the “look at again if we can’t find anyone we want” pile. If the job seeker is missing two of the “needs”, the resume gets shredded, and the HR people send a couple of leg-breakers to the seeker’s home, and explain that he/she better not bother Company X again.

    OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little about the leg breakers. But the laundry-list-match thing has become near-omnipresent, especially in a number of tech fields. The idea of a little re-training of someone whose skills are “one-off” is rarely, if ever, considered, because “Hey, there are 200 applicants for every opening, so we can afford to be picky.”

    And if you’re an old fart like me, might as well forget about it, unless your best friend is the hiring manager – and even then …

    UPDATE: One thing I forgot to add: the items on the “laundry list” generally include true needs and stuff that’s “nice to have but not really critical”. But once it’s on the list, it often becomes a “critical need”

  7. 7
    Barry says:

    “At the very bottom of the CNN piece (so far down I almost didn’t read it because I thought it was an ad) was a brief mention that while unemployment is high, there are still three million unfulfilled jobs because employers can not find skilled employees. Those jobs include Advanced Manufacturing Engineer, truck drivers, nurses, professional cooks, aircraft mechanics, accountants, and, believe it or not, web developers.”

    Which is a pack of f*cking lies. A shortage of truck drivers? In a mini-depression?

  8. 8
    eemom says:

    maybe the government could invest some money in re-training some competent out of work folks in new skills that they could then use to fill those jobs….

    bwaaahaaaahaaaaahaaaa

  9. 9
    Teak 111 says:

    My company just hired me from contract to perm and has hired three other folks. OTOH, Sat, our renter will be officially three months behind (constr. and legal). So its hard to tell. If you have a degree, things are ok, if you don’t, like our renter, things are tough.

  10. 10
    BGinCHI says:

    It’s lack of demand.

    They can print a list of people they can’t find who are skilled enough all the livelong day.

    Until there is more demand driving the economy, it ain’t going anywhere fast.

    And if you’re wondering how we got here, just remember who loves them some Supply Side Econ.

  11. 11
    Winston Smith says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Let me translate that for you, John: it’s not that they can’t find skilled employees, it’s that they’re not willing to pay the salaries they would need to in order to get those skilled employees.

    I don’t know about other fields, but that’s not true of IT.

    I got sick of my previous employer’s bullshit earlier this year and it took me all of a week to find a job making 20% more. I did have to move from my small city to a larger city, but the job was there. (And it’s not that I was paid shit at my last position — I was the highest paid person in the office, including the two levels of management above me.)

    There’s a reason so many of those jobs end up being filled by people on H1-B visas, and it ain’t because Americans are stupid and unskilled.

    There’s another reason: the jobs aren’t in cities with the people. I’m in St. Louis and my employer is DESPERATE to find more people. I know a recruiter who is scraping to find developers for a contract at John Deere; so far the only developers she can find who will take a contract in Ames, Iowa are H1-Bs.

  12. 12
    Corner Stone says:

    @SFAW:

    These criteria may number anywhere from five to twenty-five. If the job seeker is missing one of the “needed skills”, the resume either gets tossed, or put on the “look at again if we can’t find anyone we want” pile.

    Company A just put out a want for an IT position. Essentially a floor support/Help Desk role paying mid-$40K or so.
    Six pages of requirements. I’m not kidding, six pages of bullet point “needs”.

  13. 13
    Corner Stone says:

    @BGinCHI:

    And if you’re wondering how we got here, just remember who loves them some Supply Side Econ.

    Hitler?

  14. 14
    Gilles de Rais says:

    Let me translate that for you, John: it’s not that they can’t find skilled employees, it’s that they’re not willing to pay the salaries they would need to in order to get those skilled employees.

    @Mnemosyne: Nailed in one. Impressive.

    The H1-B: proof of the old saying that when you trade with people living in mud huts, you will eventually end up living in a mud hut.

  15. 15
    SimplyOn says:

    Well within the margin of error:
    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.n.....-bad-news/

  16. 16
    catclub says:

    @Barry: “Which is a pack of f*cking lies. A shortage of truck drivers? In a mini-depression?”

    I think they want truck drivers who also have their own truck. Basically supersizing the ‘pizza delivery job, must have own car’ trick, that benefits from parents having bought the car.

  17. 17

    It’s been said, that voters have about one Friedman Unit of time before an election to absorb improving economic conditions. So that would put it at about April or May of next year, that Obama and dems have, to begin a steady monthly gain in jobs. I don’t think it has to be a massive gain, just steady, and reasonable growth in numbers. People don’t pay that much attention to stats, but they do pay attention to conditions in the personal world they inhabit.

    It is about the economy, except when it isn’t. Or, not the whole picture of what is political reality. A POTUS race, ultimately is between two PEOPLE and two philosophies, and that always has to be factored in. As does the power of imcumbency, and in this case, a public that at least is aware that Obama did not cause this job depression. He will be held accountable to fixing it, but not all the way, just headed in that direction, I think.

  18. 18
    Maude says:

    I went job looking this morning for part time, about 10 hours a week. At a pop up store for Halloween, I got a card, came home and it took almost an hour to fill out the job application. This is for temp retail. I have done this type of application before and it is tricky.
    The other place is the supermarket and I would like to work there. That will be online and then go there and interview when they have openings.
    I was thinking about people who aren’t used to this type of difficult way to get employment. It is indeed an eye opener.
    I am self employed and need to make more money. Rent and utilities are high.

  19. 19
    fasteddie9318 says:

    I wonder what’s going to happen to skilled employment when the generation that’s learned to write via text messages and twitting is really out there in the work force (maybe they are already and I’m just old). I imagine getting a lot of resumes that say things like “I R GUD @ MAKE WEB SIGHTS,” which I figure would cause some oldster manager types to circular file them.

  20. 20
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Let me translate that for you, John: it’s not that they can’t find skilled employees, it’s that they’re not willing to pay the salaries they would need to in order to get those skilled employees. There’s a reason so many of those jobs end up being filled by people on H1-B visas, and it ain’t because Americans are stupid and unskilled. It’s because companies want to pay salaries far under market.

    This. A thousand times this. Employers want to pay indentured servitude wages.

    The geography/demographic issue as mentioned in #11 is also a factor but not everybody has your mobility. Plenty of people can’t move because they’re underwater on their houses, or need both spouses to work and are afraid to toss away one or both jobs they have now.

    I can guaranddamntee you many more are scared off by STL’s reputation of high crime and shitty schools not understanding that the lily white burbs exist to accommodate those who have a fear of brown people. I live 2 hours west of STL and have a friend who’s husband has been unemployed for 2 years. Has a Chem E degree (he’s a putz) but won’t leave the STL area. Ain’t no jobs for him there and she won’t give up hers. Another friend, also in STL, was unemployed for 2.5 years until earlier this month. Has a 17 month contract job at Wells Fargo with no benefits. And he’s in IT. IT jobs in STL pay shit, always have in the 15 years I’ve been on the sidelines watching them. It takes serious desperation for someone to move a family, walk away from a mortgage to move to a place where they think the schools are shitty, gunfire erupts on the streets daily and the job they’re offered may or may not be around in 18 months.

  21. 21
    aimai says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Beat me to it. Didn’t we just crunch the numbers on the imaginary “truck driver job bonanza” and find out that there aren’t that many jobs and they are extremely undesirable (requiring you to be a subcontractor, to pay for most of your own costs, and to submit to a brutal regime with all the risks on you and none of the benefits?)

    aimai

  22. 22
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Mnemosyne: You have to pay the prevailing wage when you hire an H1-B. I think (though I am not 100% sure) that the H1-B quota for this year has been exhausted.
    Also how is blaming immigrants in this case H1-B holders different than the Tea-partiers blaming illegal immigrants for many of their woes.

  23. 23
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Company A just put out a want for an IT position. Essentially a floor support/Help Desk role paying mid-$40K or so. Six pages of requirements. I’m not kidding, six pages of bullet point “needs”.

    The kicker is that good IT people can learn different IT skills quickly. My experience with companies like this is that they’ve been burnt by the large number of shitty IT people out there, bubbas who back in 1987 were “good with a computer” but don’t critically think, can’t plan their way out of a paper bag but because they mastered the early rudimentary skills, got a “rep” as a computer whiz. They’re still around, still shitty and once you’ve been burnt by them, you tend to trend heavily the other way in “overly requiring” skills. Or the large number of mostly useless certifications as a stand in for experience or a front for “I really know what to do”.

  24. 24
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Winston Smith:

    I got sick of my previous employer’s bullshit earlier this year and it took me all of a week to find a job making 20% more. I did have to move from my small city to a larger city, but the job was there. (And it’s not that I was paid shit at my last position—I was the highest paid person in the office, including the two levels of management above me.)

    Reverse that for a minute, though — if you had moved from a large city to a smaller city, that would have probably meant a 20% pay cut, because salaries for bigger cities are larger.

    I live in Los Angeles and make close to $40K as an admin assistant. I guaran-damn-tee you that I wouldn’t make anything resembling that in St. Louis.

  25. 25
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @BGinCHI: Word! It seems that we have to relearn the lessons of the Great Depression, it is the aggregate demand, stupid and not the deficit.

  26. 26
    Paul in KY says:

    @Maude: Best of luck to you.

  27. 27
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Then why do major corporations constantly lobby for massive increases in the H1B quota? The difference is that in many of the cases we’re talking about here, we *do* have people clamoring for the jobs. This isn’t about foreign field hands taking totally unskilled jobs away from a diminishing unskilled labor pool. We’re talking about several generations of people, here, who’ve bought into the “education means a good/better paying job” only to see the job outsourced, be it literally or figuratively in the case of H1B workers.

    I have a friend who’s a high-level manager at Microsoft. He’s as liberal as they come…except for the H1B issue. They have plenty of applicants for jobs and yet they maintain, literally, a shadow campus across the border in Canada so they can pay people significantly less than they’d otherwise have to do in greater Seattle. They’d rather do that, or get H1B workers, than actually hire and pay prevailing wages for the Seattle area.

  28. 28
    cleek says:

    @catclub:

    Basically supersizing the ‘pizza delivery job, must have own car’ trick, that benefits from parents having bought the car.

    was eating dinner at a place next to a Domino’s yesterday. i got to watch the delivery guys come and go. one of them was driving a late-model BMW 5-series.

  29. 29
    Corner Stone says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    My experience with companies like this is that they’ve been burnt by the large number of shitty IT people out there

    They have some decent talent in-house but I think they’re just using this environment to ask for the moon and whittle down.
    I’m not involved in the hire but I did tell the person I’m friends with they were wasting their time. Anyone who’s any good (good attitude, teachable) would recognize the BS and skip them, so they’ll get either bullshit artists or people so desperate right now and then out the door for another job asap after hiring on.

  30. 30
    Mnemosyne says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Also how is blaming immigrants in this case H1-B holders different than the Tea-partiers blaming illegal immigrants for many of their woes.

    I don’t blame the H1-B holders. I blame the H1-B employers, who game the system by lowering the salary and then claiming that the lowered salary is the prevailing wage so they can import cheaper workers. It really isn’t that much different than Tyson recruiting illegal workers from Mexico and Central America.

    Am I accusing the employers of collusion? You bet your ass I am.

  31. 31
    jwest says:

    Don’t you just hate people who pay for their own costs and submit to a brutal regime while assuming all the risks?

    We should form a political party to demonize these people and tax them heavily, just in case some of them are successful.

  32. 32
    PurpleGirl says:

    Re H1-B employees: H1-B jobs have been a problem for many years. I remember back in the 1970s it was told that you shouldn’t send a resume to a certain anonymous Post Office boxes in Brooklyn — they were kept by employment agencies to collect resumes in order to get an idea of who was job hunting so that companies could tailor their lists of requirements to exclude American workers.

    Another of the requirements that makes me laugh are the ones listing the years of experience with specific software that is younger than the required experience.

    As to training programs: sometimes the unemployed worker is directed to a for-profit school who then tells you can only take out a loan — no scholarship for you because you already have a B.A.

    Don’t forget that companies are not looking for people who are unemployed. And they don’t want people who are older.

  33. 33
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    So, we shouldn’t complain about outsourcing then, because that’s also blaming brown people?

    Complaining about tech companies hiring foreign workers on the cheap (and don’t tell me that Indian and Chinese programmers are automagically of higher quality) isn’t the same thing as racist tirades.

  34. 34
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @jwest: Dude, seriously, we’ve all seen your soiled Depends. You don’t need to hold them up for us every single time you shit your pants.

  35. 35
    Cat Lady says:

    @cleek:

    That’s why they can advertise delivery in 30 minutes or less.

  36. 36
    Maude says:

    @Paul in KY:
    Why, thank you.
    I am fortunate that I don’t have to look for full time around here. There are no jobs. The rents are very high.
    The supermarket application will take 45 to 60 minutes to fill out. This is to ask, do you want paper or plastic.
    I will fill it out tomorrow when I’m not tired.

  37. 37
    catclub says:

    @Corner Stone: Slightly OT, but krugman was pointing out that the Europeans can still worry about 1923 hyperinflation, but not 1932 hard money depression:
    “And I see no sign at all that European policy elites are ready to rethink their hard-money-and-austerity dogma.

    Part of the problem may be that those policy elites have a selective historical memory. They love to talk about the German inflation of the early 1920s — a story that, as it happens, has no bearing on our current situation. Yet they almost never talk about a much more relevant example: the policies of Heinrich Bruening, Germany’s chancellor from 1930 to 1932, whose insistence on balancing budgets and preserving the gold standard made the Great Depression even worse in Germany than in the rest of Europe — setting the stage for you-know-what.”

  38. 38
    Redshift says:

    @SFAW:

    But the laundry-list-match thing has become near-omnipresent, especially in a number of tech fields. The idea of a little re-training of someone whose skills are “one-off” is rarely, if ever, considered, because “Hey, there are 200 applicants for every opening, so we can afford to be picky.”

    And there are now automated job-application systems to check for the “required” skills, so you can be rejected without a human every looking at a resume. Ms. Redshift applied for a full-time job at the museum where she has worked part-time for ten years, spent a couple of hours filling out the online application (city government HR system) and got an automated rejection email after hours the same day. There were boxes to check for requested skills and qualifications, in addition to a lot of other info, and nowhere did it say that you would be rejected without anyone looking at the rest of it if you hadn’t checked all of the boxes.

    To top it off, the city HR department had screwed up the application, and made things “required” that weren’t supposed to be, but the museum director didn’t want to re-do it because they’d have to restart the hiring process.

    Grrr…

  39. 39
    Origuy says:

    There are a couple of things going on here. One is that many employers would rather raid their competitors for hires than hire someone who’s been out of work for a while. The other is that some of those job listings are so specific because they are tailored to hire a specific H1-B, but the company must post the job for permanent residents or citizens. Unless the citizen has the identical qualifications, they can hire the H1-B. I might be wrong about the details, but I remember something like this happening some years ago.

  40. 40
    Cat says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    You have to pay the prevailing wage when you hire an H1-B.

    hahahahahaha…..

    I believe they make on average 30% less then US citizens and even green card holders.

  41. 41
    BGinCHI says:

    @Corner Stone: Getting warmer.

  42. 42
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Cat:

    Anecdotally, I think this is true. Here in Silicon Valley, I see a lot of South Asian IT workers shopping at Vallco in Cupertino-a depressing, lower class mall that has stores like Sears and JcPenny. They aren’t shopping at Valley Fair or Santana Row.

    *How can I tell they are IT workers? Like most people in Silicon Valley, they wear their workplace IDs outside of the job.

  43. 43
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: I don’t deny that there are companies that abuse the H1-B program but all I was saying was that the companies that hire H1-B workers have to prove to the USCIS that those workers are being hired at the prevailing wage, they cannot pay them less than they would pay US citizens or permanent residents.
    Also for all the lip service paid to legal immigrants, the path to becoming a permanent resident is a long and torturous one.

  44. 44
    Emma says:

    @jwest: Oh lord. Here, have some of my meds. Yours just aren’t working.

  45. 45

    @Maude:

    Good luck with the grocery store. Many of those jobs are actually pleasant and you would be providing a real service to your community.

  46. 46
    Dead Duck Fucking says:

    And a number of new lucky duckies (myself included) will be hitting the bricks tomorrow as agencies trim their rolls before the start of the new FY. Some of the trims are buyouts/early retirement, but many are not. The DC job market has been pretty good, but we’ll see how that holds up.

  47. 47
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Cat: If that’s the case then that is in violation of immigration laws. I don’t know, may be H1-B workers may not feel empowered enough to assert their rights? I have no idea.

  48. 48
    R-Jud says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    I wonder what’s going to happen to skilled employment when the generation that’s learned to write via text messages and twitting is really out there in the work force (maybe they are already and I’m just old). I imagine getting a lot of resumes that say things like “I R GUD @ MAKE WEB SIGHTS,” which I figure would cause some oldster manager types to circular file them.

    I worked in recruitment about five years ago. My division was temp CFOs and suchlike, but we shared an office with the gang who hired the temp secretaries.

    While none of the resumes would include text speak (just atrocious grammar and mis-spelled words, like those of my CFOs), a depressing amount of the follow-up communications would. Most candidates who did that were immediately stricken from the list.

    But the recruiters would write back to those under 20, saying something like, “Text speak is not acceptable when applying for any job, or for communication on the job. Please remember this when applying for your next position. Good luck.” For younger folks they were about to place, they also gave a speech about this.

    The amount of oversharing that went on in resumes, for both new school leavers and experienced people alike, was also ridiculous. One financial controller who applied for a position actually listed the dates of his two marriages. Another went on to describe, in a paragraph at the end of the resume, how Christ had changed his life. Other people had pictures of themselves with their pets.

    This was before everyone was on Facebook, too, so it was baffling.

  49. 49
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    You want to see the reality behind H1B?

    http://prospect.org/cs/article.....utsourcing

    So many money quotes from that piece here’s one:

    Rather than providing firms with workers who posses unique skills, the program is dominated by low wage workers with ordinary rank-and-file skills. And rather than preventing work from going overseas, the program is speeding it up.

    Also, the whole “they hafta pay them the prevailing wage myth”:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....id=topnews

    In a study released last week, the center found that “very few” H-1B workers could be called highly skilled. It also found that wages for such workers were on average $12,000 below their U.S.-born counterparts and that employers often said the “prevailing” wage in a variety of skilled fields — which the law says all H1-B visa holders must be paid — was significantly lower than it actually was.

    Slightly less pertinent but still discusses H1B:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/.....tive-H-1Bs

  50. 50
    Elie says:

    Its all the things cited above AND some real structural change in existing industries.

    I work in the data informatics area. Much of the help desk and other technical support are being off shored to India and elsewhere. Is it every job? No — but its enough to shake the infrastructure of available jobs. Automation is another factor, not just in my industry, but everywhere. Kevin Drum had an article on how what used to take x number of humans to supervise a machine, now has machines supervising other machines and the supervisory machine only requires one worker. So there is a ratcheting down on the humman needs to “get work done”.

    The global competition that brings lower prices also brings lower wages. And its not just global. I remember when everyone celebrated when Southwest airlines started, offering lower fares etc. Well, they used non union employees and led the drive to the bottom for all the other airlines, fracturing the power of their unions and destroying good salaries to boot. Add to that, what did the consumer end up with? Subpar service quality and scaled back satisfaction as the airlines continue to scale back to maximize revenue.

    The current wester economies are in for a real “adjustment” period. The United States will be hurting, but the Europeans who are used to pretty excellent wages and benefits are going to be even more unhappy than we are. We are being pushed strongly by Southeast Asians and South Americans who are eager to get into higher standards of living and will make sacrifices beyond which we cannot imagine. When my hubby and I traveled in Vietnam, we saw first hand how hard the people worked — two and three jobs, scrapping and driving.

    Americans are in a big period of adjustment and along with it we will have some real upheaval. It won’t just be here and we will be part of the global scene as well. That is why I think that the Republican candidates are terrible for what we will need and I think that Americans will see that more obviously as the campaign season gets deeper… (I hope)

  51. 51
    Roger Moore says:

    @Origuy:

    The other is that some of those job listings are so specific because they are tailored to hire a specific H1-B, but the company must post the job for permanent residents or citizens.

    This. It isn’t just a H1-B thing, either. Any time a company has a specific person they want to hire but some kind of legal or contractual requirement to advertize the opening and accept applications, they’ll use the same trick. It’s amazing how much you can whittle down the applicant pool with a few highly specific requirements.

  52. 52
    Zifnab says:

    @greennotGreen:

    They can’t find skilled employees, or they can’t find skilled employees at bargain-basement prices?

    As a guy that works in IT, I can tell you it’s actually as often the former as the latter. The signal-to-noise ratio when looking for new hires is pretty low. I helped my company interview for a software development position some years back and we saw maybe one qualified applicant for every five people we interviewed.

  53. 53
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I don’t know, may be H1-B workers may not feel empowered enough to assert their rights?

    Um easy. Pointy-haired mid-level manager goes to H1B worker who has previously made noises about pay and says “Here’s your ticket back to India/Pakistan/pickyourcountry.”

    Said worker decides that 18 hour workdays making 25+% less than the people one workgroup over doing the same work is far better than going back home to presumably high unemployment, abject poverty and quite possibly, poor sewage treatment facilities.

  54. 54
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @SFAW: That’s why most jobs are found their friends or temp agencies. Because it does an end run around the HR drone and gets to someone who can think.

  55. 55
    greennotGreen says:

    And there are now automated job-application systems to check for the “required” skills, so you can be rejected without a human every looking at a resume.

    HR is so bad at the university where I work that it’s really no different than an automated process. Admittedly, the job skills in biomedical research can be highly specialized, but the people in HR, having never actually worked in research themselves, don’t understand that if you can perform procedures A and B, and are competent with instruments C and D, you can already or easily learn procedures and instruments E-L.

    Of course, there’s the problem all new job seekers have everywhere: “Must have experience.”

  56. 56
    Corner Stone says:

    @R-Jud: Most people simply don’t know what to do with a resume. So they stick as much stream of consciousness in there as they can.
    And almost no one knows how to handle an interview.

  57. 57
    Maude says:

    @Linda Featheringill:
    Thank you. I know a number of people that work there and it would be a good place to work.
    We know about high cost of housing. I would like to make enough to move.

  58. 58
    Roger Moore says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I don’t know, may be H1-B workers may not feel empowered enough to assert their rights?

    Got it in one. The problem with most work visas is that they’re tied to employment. Lose your job and you’re back to the old country. That makes at will employees who are here on work visas doubly vulnerable to their employers’ whims. Think about how much abuse any worker on an at will contract is afraid of pissing off their employer and square it, and you get some idea about the position H1-B workers are in.

  59. 59
    YoohooCthulhu says:

    @Winston Smith:

    I don’t know about other fields, but that’s not true of IT.

    I got sick of my previous employer’s bullshit earlier this year and it took me all of a week to find a job making 20% more. I did have to move from my small city to a larger city, but the job was there. (And it’s not that I was paid shit at my last position—I was the highest paid person in the office, including the two levels of management above me.)

    FWIW, IT is the rare sector that is actually not in a recession; employment statistics are normal and the field is growing. Exactly why is unclear. My friends with pretty banal IT qualifications (entry data forensics, etc) have headhunters calling them all the time, and the engineers are all terrified of losing their jobs. It’s pretty weird.

  60. 60
    greennotGreen says:

    @Zifnab: My nephew is looking for a programming position right now, but he both lives in an area with high youth unemployment and he’s unable to move at this time due to a health condition. He’s smart as a whip, and a great guy, but he only has one summer’s worth of relevant work experience. Apparently, no one is willing or able to provide any on-the-job training in case the database programming he’s done isn’t *exactly* what they need. Or maybe they’re just not hiring in general.

  61. 61
    Winston Smith says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Reverse that for a minute, though—if you had moved from a large city to a smaller city, that would have probably meant a 20% pay cut, because salaries for bigger cities are larger.

    Why on earth would I move for a 20% pay cut? As it is — and this is admittedly my own personal experience — I moved from a large city to that small city. It was within the same company, so I kept my large-city wages (which is why I was so highly paid in the office). The COL difference amounted to a 10% raise, too. Now, if I’d done that move because I had to go home to my small city to take care of an aging parent, I probably would have had to quit my job and take one at local wage scales, but that’s not a new issue.

    I live in Los Angeles and make close to $40K as an admin assistant. I guaran-damn-tee you that I wouldn’t make anything resembling that in St. Louis.

    I really don’t know what that position pays here, but you’d only have to make $25K a year to have the same standard of living. A quick overview of Monster dot-com listings suggests that’s about average for the job title (obviously, job details and requirements affect the specific rate).

  62. 62
    Elie says:

    I was tremendously lucky but it took over six months to get hired after losing my job in March/April. I must have had ten interviews all over the company — not that unusual these days but if you are doing that with more than one company, as I was, it all starts to blurr.

  63. 63
    Dead Duck Fucking says:

    Corner Stone: I’ve found that if you ask three people (even HR proffesionals) how to format your resume, you’ll get five different answers.

    In my experience, though, your resume is less important then whether or not you bring kneepads.

  64. 64
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @greennotGreen:

    I can do without job postings or e-mails asking to set up a time for an interview that have spelling and grammatical mistakes in them. If you’re gonna ding candidates for bad spelling and grammar, you better not be making those mistakes yourself.

  65. 65
    Winston Smith says:

    @YoohooCthulhu:

    FWIW, IT is the rare sector that is actually not in a recession; employment statistics are normal and the field is growing. Exactly why is unclear. My friends with pretty banal IT qualifications (entry data forensics, etc) have headhunters calling them all the time, and the engineers are all terrified of losing their jobs. It’s pretty weird.

    I know. I’m doing pretty well in these times. I have a kind of “survivor’s guilt” about it sometimes. I plan to distribute some of that wealth to select campaign coffers in 2012, in the hope that some political movement can help everyone else out.

  66. 66
    Woodrow L. Goode, IV says:

    @SFAW: Super ultra-galactic mega-dittoes. The problem is that hiring managers generally don’t write the job descriptions and the people who work in HR know nothing about the work. So they toss in a word salad of requirements that they don’t understand.

    I had a friend who interviewed for an IT security position where they listed McaAfee as a must-have skill. McAfee is a crappy antivirus program that is only used by really inept professionals; smart oompanies use Sophos, Trend Micro, Eset, Panda, Symante, etc…

    Plus, knowing how to run any network AV program takes about 15 minutes to learn and maybe an hour to really get good at.

    Friend got dinged by the glorified secretary who functioned as gatekeeper because he knew everything but that one stupid program. The hiring manager never even saw the resume.

    Worse than that, a lot of companies now scan the resumes into a database and run text search. So if your resume doesn’t contain the exact text, it doesn’t get picked. Means you have to rewrite every resume for the opening.

    Plus, if you hire a candidate who doesn’t work out, it’s a black mark. But you don’t suffer if you constantly re-list the position, saying that you can’t find anyone qualified.

  67. 67
    WarMunchkin says:

    @fasteddie9318: Please don’t. Poorly written resumes as an extension of textmessaging and twitter? I’m sure there have been terrible resumes written since the start of the practice. I don’t think it is fair of you to broadbrush like that.

    @greennotGreen: I have exactly that problem trying to get a job in physics. Got one through temp agency recently, but it’s essentially janitorial work and chemical restocking. People don’t believe in transferable or general skills.

    @OP: I hear so much about skills-mismatch from CNN to Big Important People like Bill Clinton. I would be extremely interested in a study about how much of that is due to unwillingness to train or hire people that don’t hit 100% of all qualifications listed (ie, hit 15 out of 17 of required skills) versus an actual mismatch (not enough people with, say, accountant’s degrees).

    I was looking for jobs recently, and found a company that listed as its qualification knowledge of an internal scripting language, written right next to “Java” and “C++”. Few outsiders are going to know the company’s own homegrown language used for it’s own products, and any competent programmer should be able to pick it up fairly quickly.

    As for things like truck drivers and nurses: there could also be a regional component to jobs like that. For instance, North Dakota is having an energy boom, and I recently read an article about a need for truck drivers there, offering very high (6-figure) pay. But North Dakota is remote, and few people live there in the first place.

    And about things like accountants – the practice of unpaid internships seems to me to seriously damage prospects for entry-level jobs in those fields. If you’re a college graduate, you need internship experience (2+ years) now, period if you’re not recruited straight out of college (in my experience). You might have an accounting degree, but they won’t hire you due to lack of “qualification” for an entry-level, since traditionally entry level jobs can be done by an intern anyway. It’s what happened to me in engineering applications.

  68. 68
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @WarMunchkin:

    People who post a job position described as entry level, and demand experience, should be punched in the face.

  69. 69
    trollhattan says:

    I work in an engineering organization and the pile of rejection letters from the latest professional slot hiring round was enormous. I’m not convinced there’s an engineer shortage, in the least. Perhaps the “engineer with cool ipod playlist” list is a short one.

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Winston Smith:

    Why on earth would I move for a 20% pay cut?

    Because you can’t find a job in your area, which is the position that millions of people are in right now. But many of them are also stuck with houses they can’t unload, so they don’t have the option of moving.

    My point is more that many people don’t have the mobility you enjoy and your first post had a certain air of “well, I just up and moved with no problem, why doesn’t everyone?”

  71. 71

    @ PurpleGirl 32: I thought I was the only one – I saw this kind of crap right after the dot com bubble burst.

  72. 72
    PurpleGirl says:

    Re: nursing jobs: I know an RN and have followed the field a bit. First, there is a shortage of people, partially because of a shortage of nursing teachers and slots in nursing programs. They just aren’t training enough people. Second, when hospitals want to lower their costs, they let nurses go. The other thing hospitals do is to cut categories of care, so my friend who’s a pysche nurse with 30-odd years experience can’t find a job. (Yes, he has cross-trained for cardiac care; he won’t do med-surg since the stupid doctor hit him with a needle used on an HIV patient and he spent 6 months waiting to find out his health status.) Third, it is a high stress field. A lot of nurses burn out.

  73. 73
    Judas Escargot says:

    @Cat:

    I believe they make on average 30% less then US citizens and even green card holders.

    “Prevailing wage” == “The lowest possible wage prevails”

  74. 74
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Ben Cisco (mobile): It’s been going on for a long time. It’s even been done for jobs such as administrative assistants when the company wants to hire a particular person; they first have advertise the job to the general public and then prove they can’t find the person with the skills they want.

    From 30-odd years of work and job-hunting experience, I take anything a company says with a mountain of salt.

  75. 75
    harlana says:

    Looks like it’s time for another Balloon Jobs thread!

  76. 76
    Elie says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    On the good side, nursing has many related applications. I started out in nursing but segued over into public health policy and then data and analytics. The clinical experience is also extremely helpful in any health related industry, such as pharmaceutical sales, and health care products, so have your friend look around a bit.

    I left nursing in the early 90’s because of the hospital rat race, but there is a lot more available to nurses now. And may I also add that he can go back to school and get advanced practice certification in a number of areas from midwifery to practioners for pediatrics through mental health. Of course there is the investment to go back to school, but salaries in advanced practice nursing are pretty heatlhy so the return should be pretty good.

    Anyway, just some ideas.

  77. 77
    Calouste says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    In some cultures (not American culture obviously), people actually understand concepts like “saving” and “living within your means”. Also keep in mind that these people arrive in the US with pretty much nothing to their name, and also have to pay higher rates on everything from credit cards to insurance because they have no credit history . Some of them might have parents rich enough to help them out with a downpayment on a house, but in a country where the GDP per capita is about 2% of that of the US, most of them won’t. Even if they make the same as their citizen counterparts, their purchasing power is lower because life is more expensive for them.

  78. 78
    harlana says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    My point is more that many people don’t have the mobility you enjoy and your first post had a certain air of “well, I just up and moved with no problem, why doesn’t everyone?”

    this (person you are quoting) sounds like someone who doesn’t have family ties to be concerned about, lots of people have to take all that into consideration (including aging parents) when they move / i guess if you’re desperate enough, you’ll move anywhere and even take a financial hit for it, because you need a job for the long term, but what a sad way to end your days, separated from and forsaking the ones you love, b/c of the economy, b/c you have no choice. SAD. CRUEL. What have they done to us? That’s just survival. It’s not living.

  79. 79
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Elie: Thank you for the ideas. I’ll pass them on.

  80. 80
    D0n Camillo says:

    @Winston Smith:
    I hear you about the survivor’s guilt. I’m doing pretty well working in IT, but I know that there is an army of MBAs and assorted management types whose sole purpose in life is to take well paid professional jobs like mine and either automate them or change them so that they can be performed by a poorly paid drone. I’ve seen it happen to too many other professions to feel smug or secure working in IT.

  81. 81
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Calouste:
    Meh, not a big fan personally of making generalizations about other cultures, even if they are “good.”

    Though trends like outsourcing and relying on H1B workers are turning this country into a second/third world dump.

  82. 82
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Calouste: True. Also H1-Bs pay into SS and Medicare but won’t get the benefits unless and until they become permanent residents. Something that is easier said than done.

  83. 83
    Corner Stone says:

    @D0n Camillo:

    I know that there is an army of MBAs and assorted management types whose sole purpose in life is to take well paid professional jobs like mine and either automate them or change them so that they can be performed by a poorly paid drone. I’ve seen it happen to too many other professions to feel smug or secure working in IT.

    They’re coming for ya. Whether it’s the Phillipines, Eastern Europe or the old standby India, they want you gone.

  84. 84
    trollhattan says:

    O/T, evidently The Onion has conjured up a breaking hostage crisis in which congress has taken schoolchildren hostage, and the Capitol Hill police have been forced to announce it’s not true.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2.....g_a_c.html

    Fox is gonna be so jealous.

  85. 85
    harlana says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    I imagine getting a lot of resumes that say things like “I R GUD @ MAKE WEB SIGHTS,”

    yeeup, lol

  86. 86
    Corner Stone says:

    @Dead Duck Fucking:

    I’ve found that if you ask three people (even HR proffesionals) how to format your resume, you’ll get five different answers.

    Yeah, but those other two opinions are wrong.

  87. 87
    28 Percent says:

    On the web developer front, I can totally believe it (even more so for database administrators – if you want job security the only thing better than being a DBA is being a Nurse). The only hiccup in the job market for developers and administrators has been when a local business goes under, releasing a bunch of people on the market at once, and those gluts get absorbed within a matter of months. Throughout this crisis, I’ve gotten at least one call every other week asking if I’d be interested in an open position that pays comparable to what I’m making in my current job.

    The problem with it is, there are literally 0 entry level jobs available. What they call “entry level” in this field means that they require 6 months to 2 years experience. If you can find a way to get that starting experience, you’re golden. But nobody wants to be the one to hire the newbs, who are going to move on to something that pays better as soon as they learn enough to actually be worth paying at all. So the market for experienced developers stays tight.

  88. 88
    PGE says:

    Another of the requirements that makes me laugh are the ones listing the years of experience with specific software that is younger than the required experience.

    This is not an exaggeration. I’ve seen this too: “requires x years experience in y” when y has only existed for x-3 years. Whenever I see this I know the company is deliberately tailoring the requirements to get an H1-B. Frankly, I think I think there’s so much fraud in the H1-B program that it ought to just be shut down.

  89. 89
    28 Percent says:

    @Zifnab: This, plus what Winston was saying. The reality within the IT world is just so completely different than what the rest of the country experiences, and has experienced for the last decade. From what I’ve seen, IT is the Way Out for people who were raised middle class in the ’70s to stay with the same kind of lifestyle without having to go into debt to do it – my first job in IT I got the year my father retired, at a higher salary than he was making. We don’t experience layoffs the same way – I was laid off once on a Friday morning, by the time I hit the parking lot I’d made a few phone calls and gotten an interview lined up for Monday, I started my new job on Wednesday. In 2008, I was working on contract and decided 2 weeks before it ended that I didn’t want to extend it. It took me six weeks to find a new job at a 50% raise in pay.

    I live in an entirely different reality than the rest of America, a reality in which a pleasant, moderately challenging job that doesn’t require a great deal of schooling to learn to do (I majored in English ferchrissake) pays extremely well and there’s very little competition in the field. I don’t get how the invisible hand of the marketplace has created this weird “efficiency,” but it has.

  90. 90
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Calouste: In some cultures (not American culture obviously), people actually understand concepts like “saving” and “living within your means”.

    Oh please, the financial elites have alternated between scolding us that we spend too much and save too little or telling us we have to spend. I want them to make up their damn minds — if we save, then the consumer economy doesn’t exist and the economy falters. It’s been this way since the late 1940s and it hugely increased by the end of 1960s.

  91. 91
    joel hanes, sp4 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    You have to pay prevailing wage when you hire an H1-B

    That’s what the law says, all right.

    There’s also a law that says that one must not drive faster than 65 MPH on Hwy 101 in the Bay Area; and troopers to enforce it.

    In my experience, these laws are effective in equal measure.

  92. 92
    KBS says:

    I work for a small painting company in a small city in the Midwest. We have a hard time finding people who will show up consistently and stay sober during the day, let alone ones who can paint a straight line. In the office across from us, they can’t find a temporary worker who will make phone calls using a professional manner. Now granted, neither of these jobs pays a fortune. But it’s easy work in a low-stress environment with nice coworkers. And the unemployment rate around here is 9%.

    Just my experience; YMMV.

  93. 93
    harlana says:

    @PurpleGirl: Really. Remember how Bush wanted us to be an “ownership society” and all that jazz, everybody needs to (and is a loser not to) own their own home? And we all know how well that worked out.

  94. 94
    cckids says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    First, there is a shortage of people, partially because of a shortage of nursing teachers and slots in nursing programs. They just aren’t training enough people.

    I find this infuriating. There are many people who’d like to get retrained into nursing, but the shortage of slots + the increasing cost of the education is a real barrier. I spoke to an administrator of a nursing college here in NV this summer about why, in the face of such shortages, they don’t open up their program to more people, and he told me it is so “we have only the best”.

    I would never knock nurses or nursing, but people, it is not rocket technology. It is a set of learned skills, and more importantly, a desire to do the job well. Yes, it helps to be an intelligent person, but there are many, many people who could do it & can’t get into a program. Also, here, because the program is in such demand, they’ve raised the tuition. For nursing students only. It now costs something in the neighborhood of $90,000-$100,000 for a nursing degree. Yikes!

  95. 95
    Urza says:

    @PGE:

    This is not an exaggeration. I’ve seen this too: “requires x years experience in y” when y has only existed for x-3 years. Whenever I see this I know the company is deliberately tailoring the requirements to get an H1-B. Frankly, I think I think there’s so much fraud in the H1-B program that it ought to just be shut down.

    I remember as I was graduating college I saw jobs looking for people with 5 years java, when java had only been public maybe 4 years at most. I always thought they were just looking for the actual creators of java, didnt think about the H1-B.

  96. 96
    D0n Camillo says:

    @KBS:

    Now granted, neither of these jobs pays a fortune.

    There’s the rub. I bet if your small painting company could pay more, the shortage of sober, reliable straight line painters would magically disappear.

  97. 97
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @cckids:

    I spoke to an administrator of a nursing college here in NV this summer about why, in the face of such shortages, they don’t open up their program to more people, and he told me it is so “we have only the best”.

    Perhaps…its a desire to keep nursing salaries high?

  98. 98
    greennotGreen says:

    @D0n Camillo: There’s even more rub: when wealth is concentrated in the few, only the few can afford to pay for a quality paint job. And how many times do rich people need their houses painted? (Not counting those who redecorate often and can’t decide on exactly the right shade of off-white; they are the minority.) Whereas if wealth were more evenly distributed, more people would be able to pay for a solid paint job and painting companies could pay more to attract top-notch painters. Economic justice, baby – it’s the grease that keeps the economy in motion.

  99. 99
    Winston Smith says:

    @D0n Camillo:

    I hear you about the survivor’s guilt. I’m doing pretty well working in IT, but I know that there is an army of MBAs and assorted management types whose sole purpose in life is to take well paid professional jobs like mine and either automate them or change them so that they can be performed by a poorly paid drone. I’ve seen it happen to too many other professions to feel smug or secure working in IT.

    You know, you’ve really hit on something about the myth of “job creators.” Job are created under duress. The so-called “job creators” really spend their time trying to figure out who they can get rid of.

  100. 100
    gene108 says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    There’s a reason so many of those jobs end up being filled by people on H1-B visas, and it ain’t because Americans are stupid and unskilled. It’s because companies want to pay salaries far under market.

    With regards to IT (web developers), companies are not maintaining in-house computer departments, like they did in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

    When they need IT work done, they turn to consulting companies, whether it is IBM, Cognizant, Wipro or someone else. Cognizant and Wipro, being Indian based companies, have a workforce in India, so they bring Indians on H1-b’s to work on these projects.

    If people can’t come on visas to work, they will do the work in India.

    The bottom line is businesses are not going to maintain the level of in-house IT departments, they had in the past. When they need development done, they will hire another company to do it for them.

    If the company they hire has a workforce in another country and can’t bring that workforce here to do some of the work, they will take that work overseas, where the workers are, to be done.

    Also, too the people I know on H1-b’s are pushier on salaries than most Americans I know. I think the idea that H1-b’s are cheap immigrant labor is a misconception.

  101. 101
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @joel hanes, sp4: Do you know that the employee contract is among the documents USCIS requires before it grants the said visa. Prevailing wage is usually the average the professionals in a particular field make. Also there are fees that the employer has to pay to USCIS, an additional premium for premium processing and attorney fees. So an employee on an H1-B is not necessarily the cheapest, bargain basement employee a company can find.

  102. 102
    gene108 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Also H1-Bs pay into SS and Medicare but won’t get the benefits unless and until they become permanent residents. Something that is easier said than done.

    I think the biggest boost, at least, before they get their Green Cards, is state unemployment insurance funds.

    They aren’t eligible to collect it, but have to pay into it anyway.

    Talking to a friend on an H1-b and he pointed out, and I guess there’s no reason to disbelieve him, that if the U.S. would clear the backlog for employer based Green Cards filed from India (and China), you’d have several hundred thousand well paid folks looking to buy a house, get a better car and spend some coin, which they aren’t doing because there’s always some doubt about their immigration status.

  103. 103
    EconWatcher says:

    I was trained as a lawyer (I do something somewhat different know). But I wouldn’t recommend law to young people.

    The old partnership track has dried up, except for those with the kind of connections to generate high-paying business (and they could do just fine with their connections, without bothering with the law degree).

    If you can even land a job, it’s a nasty, dog-eat-dog profession, with very little security now. The pressure and stress are high. Lawyers are often paid by clients to figure out ways to make each other miserable. Alcoholism and divorce (at least from what I can see anecdotally) are going from very bad in the old days to worse now.

    It used to be a fairly reliable way to turn “liberal arts” skills into something employable, but no more. I’m encouraging my kids heavily towards math and science.

  104. 104
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @gene108: Anti-immigration folks are targeting illegal immigrants right now because that is the low hanging fruit. Their ultimate goal is to severely restrict immigration period. Judging from the comments on this thread, similar threads on DKOS etc, they will get lots of support from progressives too on this issue. Since the unpopular H1-B is the pipeline that feeds employment based immigration.

  105. 105
    Jager says:

    @cleek: Bet that kid’s old man loves the way his car smells in the morning, that and the cheese and grease on the leather seats!

  106. 106
    Roger Moore says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Perhaps…its a desire to keep nursing salaries school tuitions high?

    FTFY.

  107. 107
    gene108 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Anti-immigration folks are targeting illegal immigrants right now because that is the low hanging fruit. Their ultimate goal is to severely restrict immigration period. Judging from the comments on this thread, similar threads on DKOS etc, they will get lots of support from progressives too on this issue. Since the unpopular H1-B is the pipeline that feeds employment based immigration.

    Yeah, the real anti-immigration folks want to end all immigration, they just don’t have the balls to say it. Though they may make an exception for a limited number of Western Europeans, provided they learn English.

    I don’t think you’re going to end up with a right-wing nut / progressive cabal that stops immigration out right. Most liberal/progressive types still want illegal Latinos to have a pathway to permanent residence or at the least, some sort of legal work status in the U.S.

    From what I’ve seen, because companies are contracting their IT work to usually what amounts to the lowest bidder, you end up with an Indian company like Wipro handling a project. Wipro’s labor pool is in India. If they can’t bring their workers here to work at the client site, they will move the work off-shore.

    Stopping H1-b’s isn’t going to all of a sudden lead to a boom in Americans getting hired in IT. The dynamics of job market have changed. Companies aren’t looking to hire bunches of permanent people anymore in IT.

  108. 108
    YoohooCthulhu says:

    @EconWatcher:

    It used to be a fairly reliable way to turn “liberal arts” skills into something employable, but no more. I’m encouraging my kids heavily towards math and science.

    Those are slightly earlier along the same trajectory. Engineers (except maybe petroleum/chem E) already have no job security, ditto with biotech workers; you can get an advanced degree but then it takes longer to find a real position. Healthcare services seems reasonable.

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