Monday, October 17, 2016

The Commoditization of Everything

God help you if you need a job in America. The days where you applied for an open job position and then learned if you were hired or not are long gone. In its place is a step by step journey through online form purgatory and an eventual descent into digital limbo. My theory, that deserves more research, is that every step in the employment process has been commoditized or turned into a money-making enterprise. I me an that in the old days you would go to a job location and speak to a HR associate who would give you an application. The HR associate worked for the company hiring and they were actually interested in filling the job opening. That is no longer the case because of the ridiculous regulations involved in Human Resources became a career in itself, a full-time job with complicated details that overwhelmed a normal HR department. The company got sick of keeping up with all the insurance/medical/workmans comp/drug screening/payroll that they outsourced that side of the business to HR management firms that manage employees for other companies. This has been a trend for at least 20 years and confirmed by the fact the biggest employers are temp agencies. Temp agencies actually have no jobs, they do nothing, except they manage the HR department. That's all they do. They pimp their brothel of employees (bums sleeping in their lobby) to real companies. Temp agencies manage employees and deal with payroll and hiring and firing and sick leave and insurance and all the tedious bullshit that a respectable company like Apple or Ford does manage on their own. But smaller engineering firms and construction companies can not handle the turnover of temp employees so they outsource that to temp agencies. I'm not sure what these people process since the application is online and I have become my own data entry tech, but let's assume they do some fact checking and calling my references. It's simple and caused by tumor-like growth in the HR regulation department. No one is to blame, but let me tell you what this causes.

Because each step in the hiring process has been outsourced and I am beginning to suspect that the outsourced companies that are responsible for the HR department are now actually sub-outsourcing further elements of their responsibilities, every step in the process now makes someone a little bit of money...but doesn't end up with a person being hired because that's totally separate from their objective. It's like the high-risk mortgage commodities market except in the form of job applications. I don't know much about the mortgage meltdown of 2008 but I know folks were making money off of flim-flam and that is what is happening with the temp agency market. Let me defend this theory in case someone out there with the ethics of Mickey Mouse wants to make some money....

If you have to fill out an application for a job, then someone must send you that application. Ok. Now, the person sending you that application actually has no job to offer. Right? No, they have been hired simply to process paperwork, regardless of a job at the end of it. The job you want is completely incidental. Irrelevant to their job. They need you to fill out paperwork in order to prove they have done something and maybe they get paid per completed application. Their job is to 'sell' jobs. What jobs? Well, let's assume that there are jobs in America, but the applicant has no clear path to the job itself. The job seeker must pass through the gate-keeper of the temp agency. But, the temp agency has outsourced the application processing to another firm that concentrates simply on getting completed applications. Does it not follow naturally that in order to fulfill their expectations, this third-removed company that concentrates on applications is under pressure to get those applications? Yes, there are jobs, but not enough to justify the number of employees this company has. 

So, a job actually exists for a concrete form tech (the guy who makes rectangles out of plywood that are filled with concrete for light posts.) and that job could be filled in a day, with the screening of ten applications. But ten applications is not enough. They need to screen 100 applications. How are they going to get 100 applications? How about promise 60 hours a week, that means 20 hours of time+1/2. How about a 'per-diem' of $50 a day? How about 5 months of regular work? That gets 50 applications. But they need 100. So, they say they need twenty men, not one. Wait, there is only one opening. So what? You the job seeker have no idea how many jobs are actually available. All you know is that you must fill out the applications, blah blah blah, drug screening (which keeps the techs who analyze urine employed). All of a sudden the company gets their 100 applications...and then learns the job has been filled by the real hiring company by a current employee. Well, the job seeker doesn't need to know that and the company invents another job for 20 more tradesmen...and they get 70 more applications. Awesome. 170 applications, for a job that was already filled 2 weeks ago. Everyone is justified, their jobs are secure. "Look how many applications I screened?" they smile proudly at the video chat morning sales meeting and everyone nods. The job is already gone but they don't care. 170 men are waiting to learn if they got hired and the only person who got paid are the processor of the applications and the person who analyzed the urine.

This is the modern world. High risk mortgages can be gambled on by the people who actually approved the high-risk mortgage. They know it will default so they bet that it will default. Then they realized if they approved more bad loans then they can increase their profit when they fail. So, an occupation that actually exists is now two or three companies removed from the job seeker by predatory 'paper processing firms' that manage HR responsibilities but actually outsource that responsibility to other firms and try to profit off of the process of getting a job. It's not illegal and it's not even unethical. It's American...the way to profit off of flim-flam and laugh all the way to the bank that stores money that doesn't exist. The Peso and Boliviano collapse because they can not match this insane 'paper growth'. Texas went $35+ billion in debt to build and maintain highways. That is how to appear rich; go into debt. I guess you could technically sell yourself as a professional job applicant and get paid a fee from the commission made by the processor to fill out endless applications but never take any job. 

Another wrinkle in this maze of insanity is when the temp agency actually does need 10 employees and they get 200 applications and choose 10...well, they have 'cried wolf' too many times and left too many job seekers hanging with no follow-up, so when they call the 10 applicants they get no answer. Or worse, the applicant tells them they will go to the job site, but there is no guarantee the applicant will actually go to the job site. What do they care if they burn a bridge with this shady flim flam temp agency when there are hundreds of agencies pimping out trade workers? So, the agency expects 10 to show up to the job site and zero show up to the job site. The real construction company is pissed, they were promised skilled laborers and no one showed up. So the temp agency calls another ten and it happens again and again and again. No one shows up to work because they all found different jobs with different agencies. Ok, so the temp agency has figured this out and when they need 10 employees they tell 30 job seekers that they are hired because they expect 20 to not even show up. And eventually they start to tell all 200 applicants that they are hired for 10 openings and they hope 190 flake out and don't go to work, which is not that unlikely. This is the insanity of temp agencies outsourcing their paper processing department. It becomes a race to see who can flim flam the most people into thinking there is a job, which poisons the expectations of everyone so when a real job does come along then no one goes to work. It's all from college graduates of Generation Gimmick who think they are pretty smart for making money from marketing corn chips and betting on mortgage defaults and game programming but when it comes time for an actual human to cut plywood to form a box to pour concrete into then the entire fraud is revealed in a way that Ayn Rand actually predicted 50 years ago. A=A, people. You want to make money from other people looking for work without actually getting anyone hired? We all suffer the consequences.

I really look forward to the day I can leave it behind.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.