In this sluggish job market, a job seeker may feel like he or she needs Indiana Jones to find meaningful work.
Looking for the right job in this time period can seem like an adventurous, archaeological search for a precious gem that may or may not exist. Furthermore, when one is unemployed, the big rolling boulder of monthly expenses can really cause alarm.
Where abandoned factories and closed plazas dot the landscape of middle America, a job search might as well be an archaeological venture. Given issues of outsourcing and lost manufacturing jobs, there is little sign that things will improve on the jobs front in the immediate future. What further complicates the matter is generational competition. To put things into perspective, the people who saw “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in theatres as teenagers are now competing for the same low-wage jobs as people who saw “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” in theatres as teenagers.
There are a lot of problems in the US labour market, and many of them revolve around the question of market efficiency. It is often said that finding the right job is not about what you know, but who you know. In this respect, the issue of training people with meaningful skills for the jobs of tomorrow is tied to the agency dilemma. If John Smith is in the business of building widgets and hires & trains people to build widgets, then John Smith’s product and labour lose value.
If John Smith trains multiple competitors in the widget sector, then he will be at a loss. John Smith may rather train or hire a friend, relative, or child, who may work with a greater sense of loyalty than a desperate stranger off the street. This sense of nepotism can greatly affect troubled markets, and these mechanics can spell doom for job seekers. Where one can understand how a plumber may rather train his child rather than a stranger in the plumbing, it is important to realise that this nepotism comes at the cost of productivity and product quality. Nepotism may work great benefits for many job seekers, but on a nationwide scale where there is no hiring occurring nepotism has the potential to become inefficient for the economy. When a good amount of individuals are out of work, a good amount of quality goods and services are not being offered to consumers. And a good amount of people are not contributing to nationwide productivity.
It is often said that looking for a job should be a full-time job. If one is looking for a job, one may print off a couple hundred resumes, get a haircut, put on a suit, and begin knocking on doors. But with tight budgets, the job seeker’s efforts may appear to be in vain. Even worse, some job seekers may eventually run out of resources necessary to carry through with a job search. Where a job seeker may have skills or may be willing to learn new skills, potential employer John Smith’s interests may differ.
For the struggling job seeker, driving around and knocking on doors may feel like knocking on a brick wall after a while. And in the meantime, all that gasoline, all that paper, all that time, and all that latent productivity is put to waste. That is not a good thing. However, if markets responded to better match skilled persons with businesses searching for skills, then this stressful-yet-adventurous process could be shortened and productivity can increase.
The Internet has helped in the job search process, but even so, many company and job websites meagerly force job seekers to set up tedious accounts in order to apply, which take a considerable amount of time to complete. The time that could be used for productive work is going towards counter-productive bureaucratic processes. An Internet job search can make a job seeker feel like he or she is throwing his or her resume into the stratosphere. It becomes easy to get lost in the sea of potential employers.
In short, the great American job search in the information age amounts to a considerable waste of time, energy, and resources — especially in a dire economy. It is enough to leave one hoping that the market will respond accordingly. If employers and skilled workers could be matched accordingly with businesses setting aside blurry hiring needs, red tape, and frills in an honest job market, then productivity could increase that much sooner thereby quickening recovery.
Ultimately, the problem with the job search in America comes down to a crossroads between technological growth, culture, and economics. When individuals can go to get training for a productive occupation and are not able to secure meaningful employment, it becomes easy for citizens to lose faith in the economy. When people can put on a suit day after day and submit hundreds of thousands of resumes to no avail, people begin to give up. These factors do not make for a robust recovery.
If American society can do a better job of training people for actual jobs and matching skilled workers with companies in need of skills, then recovery will come sooner than we would expect. But when all is said and done, the matter is going to come down to actually working towards and pursuing the prized gem — not waiting for the prized gem to fall out of the sky. The key is productivity. The issue of unemployment is not as complex as it seems and if the proper actions are taken, unemployment will subside. In the end, looking for the right job should not be like searching for the Holy Grail.
Perhaps in a couple years they can come out with a sequel having to do with the specter of rising monetary inflation: “Indiana Jones and the Currency of Doom.” Eh, I’m still waiting for “The Entrepreneur Strikes Back” to come out.
— Marco Rabinowitz
NOW WATCH: Ideas videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.