I was listening to the radio this morning and the topic was the expectations of new college graduates. In essence, their excessive expectations. The conversation started with a report, a complaint, from a recent graduate. He couldn’t find a job!

No, that’s not right. He had a number of interviews, he couldn’t get hired. There’s a difference.

The grad’s expectation, fed by his school, was that all the grad needed to do was to wave his degree in the face of interviewers and he’d magically get hired.  Surprise! Surprise! Real world intervenes.

I worked for a large telecommunications provider, first as a team leader, then a manager, later as a design engineer and project manager. I was as high as I could go in the company without being an executive. During that time, I interviewed prospective employees, hired some and had to fire some as well. One of the activities I liked was screening college students who recently graduated or would be graduating within months.  Most were bright, knowledgeable and eager to commence their post-school  real-world life.

Then there were the others.

A tactic my employer used was called the “carousel.” Prospective employees would arrive enmass. They were given a stanard benefit package and then sent, in sequence, to managers and engineers for interviews. That allowed each potential employee to be interviewed by a half-dozen managers and engineers. At the end of the day, we interviewers met and discussed the applicants, selecting those for the next round of follow-up interview.

Those meetings were instructive. Some of the applicants would be very surprised with their impression on potential employers.

Case in point: one applicant that I still remember. You could say he did everything to not get hired. We received his resume some days earlier to allow us to be prepared for the interview. From this applicants resume and transcript, I noticed that he attended a number of universities—six as I remember. He had been in school eight years starting at age 19. He had changed majors at least three times.

He arrived in my office wearing jeans, sneakers—no socks, a pullover shirt, and a wrinkled sportcoat. We reviewed his resume and I asked my usual questions to determine what he’d learned in school. “What projects did you complete? What extra-curricular activities were you involved in? What were your priorities in school?”

The job slots open were for entry-level engineers. Instead of answering my questions with engineering examples, he spoke of all his “social awareness” activities.

Apparently, he was anti-war. 9/11 had occurred only months previously. He was against retaliation—“violence never solved anything!” was his response as I remember. I controlled my usual response to such inanities by reminding him of Rome and the Carthaginians. Rome still exists. Carthage doesn’t.

I asked him what he brought to the table that would be an asset to the company. I received a lecture on fairness, the evils of capitalism and the “banker’s cabal.”

At the end of the day when we reviewed the applicants, this character was on the bottom of the pile. We ordered the applicants in order of preference, the best on top. When his name finally appeared, the lead reviewer asked for comments. Silence. No one spoke. Finally, one reviewer ventured, “he has a heightened awareness for politics.” Translation: troublemaker. He wasn’t hired.

Flash forward to the present day. I listen to comments from present day graduates. They are being taught to…fail. Reading comprehension is low. Universities are teaching at a high-school level. The educational curricula has been trimmed to a point of being useless. But applicants are still being told that jobs will miraculously appear by waving a degree before the interviewer.

Nothing could be further from the truth. What graduates should be taught is that the job market is for buyers, not for sellers. Applicants need to impress employers. The first opportunity to impress is the applicant’s initial image. Yes, first impressions are important.

When coming to an interview, be prepared. Get a haircut. Shave. Wear a suit, or at least a sportcoat and tie. Be neat. If you don’t have a suit, there are many thrift stores that have good, well care for suits at a low price. At least do your best with what you have. If you arrive with a scraggly beard, tattoos all over, you will not be hired. Your freedom to acquire tattoos and piercings doesn’t extend to your prospective employer. You can not force him to accept your lifestyle. 

Ladies, don’t come to an interview wearing a top that is open to your navel. Don’t wear shorts or skirts so high that you can’t sit without exposing yourself. The interest you elicit will not get you hired. Not fair? Well, it’s time you learned the world is not fair. Live with it.

Bring copies of your resume and school transcripts. You resume MUST be accurate, clearly written without typos and misspellings. Your history WILL be verified. There are companies out there whose business it is to verify resumes and transcripts. Most importantly, don’t lie on your resume. You will be found out.

If you have a police record, don’t bother applying to any position that requires you to handle or manage cash nor any position that requires a security clearance or a bond. That includes the military as well.

The last point for an applicant to remember is this: your expectations are worthless if you can’t fulfill the expectations of your employer. You must work to meet his expectations. If you don’t fulfill his expectations, he can easily find someone who will, who can fill your vacant slot.

If you have interviews but can’t get hired. Look in the mirror. That’s where you’ll find the problem.


RTW—three letters that strikes terror in the hearts of liberals, democrats and unions. 

There have been a number of initiatives in Missouri to pass RTW or Right To Work to spell out the acronym.  Steve Tilley, who just resigned from the Missouri House, effectively blocked a vote on RTW saying, “It’s a waste of legislative time.”

This coming legislative session may be the time to reintroduce RTW.  A number of ‘Pub pols, including Tilley, aren’t coming back to Jeff City. Some were term limited like Tilley, others decided not to run, and still others lost in the primary.  Regardless of the reason, the number of ‘Pub RTW backers in the Missouri legislature is growing.

The real question is what is RTW and why is it good for Missouri.  The basic reason is that RTW is good for the economy and helps increase job growth.  It’s all about money.

Basically, RTW is the concept of freedom of employment without constraints or restrictions—like a union.  Unions on the other hand are against RTW because it reduces their power and their income via union dues and supplemental payments extracted from employers.

Depending upon the state—states without right-to-Work, some employees may not be required to join the union but they are still required to pay dues to the union.  What a racket—for the unions.  In other states, where a union exists, it’s join the union or no job. Think of it as being drafted into an organization that steals your money and does little or nothing in return.

The unions claim that they prevent employers from employer abuses. The truth of the matter is that unions preserve the jobs of the lazy, the incompetent at the expense of those who are productive.  Eventually, the union work force is filled with those they’ve saved—the lazy, the incompetent and others who wouldn’t be able to retain a job without the union.  The law of the lowest denominator. And before you criticize me, I grew up in a union household (UMWA) and have been a union member in the past (Teamsters.) I’ve seen with my own eyes the abuses and in some cases the outright extortion of unions.

Right to Work was allowed by the Taft Hartley Act in 1947, over Truman’s veto, that reigned in the power of the National Labor Relations Board.  Prior to Taft-Hartley, unions could, and did, close employment to only union members. Taft-Hartley gave the states the option to outlaw such tactics and to date, 23 states have done so.

The Taft–Hartley Act

Prior to the passage of the Taft–Hartley Act by Congress over President Harry S. Truman‘s veto in 1947, unions and employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act could lawfully agree to a closed shop, in which employees at unionized workplaces must be members of the union as a condition of employment. Under the law in effect before the Taft-Hartley amendments, an employee who ceased being a member of the union for whatever reason, from failure to pay dues to expulsion from the union as an internal disciplinary punishment, could also be fired even if the employee did not violate any of the employer’s rules.

The Taft–Hartley Act outlawed the closed shop. The union shop rule, which required all new employees to join the union after a minimum period after their hire, is also illegal.[1] As such, it is illegal for any employer to force an employee to join a union.

A similar arrangement to the union shop is the agency shop, under which employees must pay the equivalent of union dues, but need not formally join such union.

Section 14(b) of the Taft–Hartley Act goes further and authorizes individual states (but not local governments, such as cities or counties) to outlaw the union shop and agency shop for employees working in their jurisdictions. Under the open shop rule, an employee cannot be compelled to join or pay the equivalent of dues to a union, nor can the employee be fired if he joins the union. In other words, the employee has the right to work, regardless of whether or not he is a member or financial contributor to such a union.

We’ve all seen the effects of the union shop—GM, Chrysler, heavy manufacturing, mining. All those industries are failing.  In the case of GM, now popularly known as Government Motors, it is being propped up only by grants from the FedGov. Obama forced the sale of Chrysler to Fiat. Only Ford refused government money and is climbing out of its financial crises—there’s a lesson there for those who would learn it.

There is more proof at the state level that outlawing the closed shop works to increase employment and strengthen the economy.  I wrote about it some months ago in a blog post titled, “‘Missouri Drops in “Business Friendly State’ Poll.”

While the poll in that post is about business friendly states, those same states are also the ones with the best employment rates and economies in the nation.  The top twenty states in that poll have Right-to-Work.  If you examine the poll, those states with the strongest union presence and no RTW are at the bottom of the list. They are also the same states with the worse economies, highest unemployment and highest state debt.

This is another lesson supporting Right-to-Work if our state Representatives and Senators heed it. In the last primary, I voted for those candidates who supported RTW. I want them to validate my faith in them.

Right-to-Work. It’s time for Missouri to emerge from the unions’ socialists paradise.

Business Ethics, or…

John Stossel has an interesting column this morning, Keeping Business Honest. The theme of his column is that “business” desire for profits is a good thing.

Instinctively, we look for people’s motives. We need to know whom we can trust and whom we can’t. We’re especially skeptical of business because we know business wants our money.

It took me too long to understand that business’s desire for profit is a good thing. To get our money, businesses — if they can’t look to the government for favors — need to give us what we want. Then they must make continuous improvements and do it better than the competition does.That competition is enough to protect consumers. But that’s not intuitive. It’s intuitive to assume that competition isn’t really consumer protection and that experts at the FDA, FTC, DEA, FCC, CPSC, OSHA and so on must protect us. These experts consult “responsible” businessmen for advice on creating rules to make sure businesses meets minimum “standards.” — Washington Examiner.

The down side is that regulations, created by local, state and federal agencies, intended to “level the playing field” stifle innovation. Under the camouflage of consumer protectionism, licensing and other business restrictions have a tendency to make innovation, business startups and competition difficult. The result is protectionism. the question is, what is being protected.  Stossel provides some examples.

Las Vegas regulators require anyone who wants to start a limousine business to prove his new business is needed and, worse, will not “adversely affect other carriers.” But every new business intends to beat its competitors. That’s the point. Competition is good for us. Las Vegas’ anticompetitive licensing rules mean limo customers pay more.

In Nashville, Tenn., regulators ruled it illegal for a limo to charge less than $45 a ride. One entrepreneur had won customers by charging half that, but the new regulations mean the established car service businesses no longer have to worry about him.

Perhaps Nashville’s and Vegas’ regulators really believe “this is an area where the free market doesn’t work,” as the manager of the Nevada Transportation Services Authority put it. But it’s fishy that charging big fees for licenses just happens to be a very effective shakedown operation. Vegas cab and limousine businesses give “substantial” donations to Vegas-area political candidates, according to the Las Vegas Sun. — Washington Examiner.

Stossel makes an interesting point in that last paragraph.  It has parallels locally.

Up until a month or so ago, my home town had a tax on businesses. It was a one time tax on new businesses who constructed a building for their business or expanded their existing place of business.  Supposedly the tax was to pay for increased use…at that location…of city resources such as street maintenance, water, sewer and power usage.  Basically, infrastructure costs. The tax was not levied if a business moved into an existing structure and did not alter the building beyond the usual interior make-over. No, it was targeted towards new or growing businesses.

The tax created a reluctance of new businesses to come to our city.  From the statement of a former councilman, who was not re-elected to the council after saying, “We don’t need more burger-flipping jobs here.” 

I was present when that statement was made. Shortly thereafter the council repealed the tax.

Was the purpose of the tax to discourage businesses, business startups without the capitalization of a large company, from doing business here? “We want good jobs!” was one reasoning. I would submit that to one without a job, ANY job is a good one, burger-flipping or not. Perhaps the exposure of one purpose of the tax was sufficient to overcome the reluctance of other members on the council who had previously supported the business tax.

That local tax was repealed just before our local city elections. Since then we’ve already seen fruit of the repeal.  Our local Micky-Ds has renovated their building.  Did it add new jobs? Probably not.  Would the tax have applied to the renovation if it had still existed? I don’t know.  But we have other evidence that the lack of the tax is bringing new jobs to town.  Next week we’ll have a ground-breaking on a new Steak ‘n Shake.  The tax would have applied to them because they are building a new presence on an empty lot.

Yep, a new business and a half-dozen or more new jobs. Minimum wage? Probably, but to someone without a job, minimum wage is attractive.  Remember the original purpose of minimum wage: a starting wage to gain experience to allow the worker to build skills useful for acquiring a better job.  It may be those skills are simply coming to work on-time, every-time, and putting in a full-shift.  You’d be amazed how many job-seekers lack those basic skills.

So let’s ask ourselves, what is the purpose of these regulations, these taxes? Are they for consumer protection? Are they to preserve city resources? Or, are they to protect favored cronies or simply to make doing business more difficult?

The economic recovery of our country…post Obama, will be difficult enough without our adding to those difficulties through the imposition of anti-business taxes and regulations. Remember, juvenile unemployment is above 50% in some areas. We need to be pro-business, especially to startups. That is where jobs are created. And burger-flipping frequently is an eye-opener to our young folks just starting or approaching adult life. They need jobs and experience, too.

Turning another chapter

It’s come time to turn the page, to start a new chapter in life.

I was notified this morning that my job was being eliminated in two weeks. I’ve been with the company long enough to get a sizable separation package. I was laid off three years ago and brought back after a four month “vacation.” That won’t happen this time. When the separation pay runs out, I’ll retire.

The last time I was laid off, I was 60. I had a lengthy list of skills—technical, financial, engineering and project management. In four months, I had one interview and that one was pro-forma for an internal promotion. They had to have some external interviews before promoting one of their own. I understand why they did. I’ve seen it before.

But, all-in-all, I’m now three years older and know that I won’t even get a look-over once a prospective employer determines my age. Regardless of EEOC and all, it happens. It’s a fact of business life. Nor, if I was even inclined, would I protest my termination. I understand business, economics and life. It was my time.

I don’t know what this will mean for my next chapter in life. I’ll continue this blog for one. It’s one thing that will keep me getting up in the morning. But, I’ll have to find something else for the remaining hours of the day.

You know the old saying. “It’s a recession when your neighbor is laid off. It’s a DEPRESSION when you’re laid off.”

It’s a depression, folks.

Cartoon of the Day: Chuck Asay

Obama said he’s saved 150,000 jobs. When pressed, the administration would not elaborate on that figure nor provide any information on how the 150,000 figure was calculated. So, 150,000 jobs “saved” and according to the Department of Labor, 6,000,000 jobs lost since Obama took office.

Yeah, 150,000 jobs saved. I will not pull the other finger.