Slugging It Out In a Soft Job Market

Two years ago, I left my 9.50 an hour mailroom job in search of a better life.

Instead, life got worse!

Most likely, I would have lost my job to downsizing either last year or this year, but the last two years have been stressful because I was pegged into one line of work, which is being phased out in Ohio.

Sadly, this is Ohio, and no one will let me change.

I worked in the mailroom of a major bank here in Cleveland, which I obtained through one of the major temporary employment services. My problem was that I did such a great job (or was it a matter of “corporate security” following 9/11?) that I was never given the opportunity to try another line of work within the bank. I did have one interview that never panned out, but I wound up staying in the same line of work and transferred to another building.

After leaving the bank, I worked for a month as an in-home sales rep, which broke me financially because it was commission-based and the travel cost was excessive. In that one month, the bankhired interns, so a friend from church recommended I try the state’s one-stop career center.

They were of little help, although they offered me some free computer training that didn’t do me any good.

When I took their career workshop to determine which line of work to pursue, one of the first things I was told was that mailroom positions are being phased out. Boy, were they right. In six months, I only had three interviews, all for mailroom positions. Not only was I in a dying line of work, but I was “pegged” (no one, not even the temp firms, would call me for anything except mailroom work). My problem was that I wanted to pursue something more fulfilling and satisfying (you’re reading it) drivingschoolintoronto.

Since leaving the in-home sales position, my parents (now 81 and 85 and in bad health) moved into a retirement center and are moving back into the house, my car was repossessed and I can’t find work anywhere in Cleveland. There are so many people looking for work here that employers and employment agencies give you the third degree for the lowest-paying jobs. Last year, for example, I had to take an intelligence test for a minimum wage job operating a heat sealer!

Ohio’s one-stop career center, The Employment Connection, offers a lot of help: resume and letter writing, computer training, registering on job boards, networking and interviewing are covered, as well as free postage for resume mailings and free copying, fax and local phone service.

All of that is needed because, according to counselors at the EC, you need to send 100 resumes in order to obtain one or two interviews!

Unfortunately, I’ve met a lot of people in the same predicament that I am facing.

Problems I’ve found in Cleveland come down to the following:

Everyone requires a consumer credit check: temp firms, banks and other financial companies, retailers, fast food restaurants and even manufacturers run a credit check. I recently applied for a position at Chrysler’s Twinsburg manufacturing plant, but they required a consumer background check. I even had to approve a consumer background check for a pizza delivery position! The major hospitals require them as well. temp-mail

More than half of the positions listed in The Plain Dealer are listed by employment agencies. In fact, almost 40 percent of the “best employers” listed by The PD are temp firms.

There are so many job applicants in Cleveland that all of the employers require you to apply on line. As a result, everyone can share your background and turn you down for whatever reason. Any criminal background can get you disqualified.

Another problem is that women staff all of the employment agencies. As a result, there is a tendency toward sexual discrimination in that men are assigned labor and warehouse positions despite whatever background or skills they possess. The comfy office jobs all go to the women.

Interviewing is another issue. If you manage to get an interview with a company, the first one will be by telephone, and it will most likely be by a female younger than myself. The EC provides a list of 100 questions and the proper responses for these interviews, but the interviewers sometimes don’t play by the rules. One young man I met at the EC was interviewed by phone for an IT position. The female interviewer asked him about his sex life and when the young man didn’t respond properly, the interview ended the session. Her supervisor backed her on the decision!

That raises the question of sexual harassment. There are so many things that can constitute sexual harassment that it’s almost impossible to avoid without separating the men and the women, but that’s sexual discrimination. Men should be especially careful because simply looking at someone a certain way or even paying a compliment can be considered harassment.


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