When Passion Fits the Bill

That’s the thing about full circle — sometimes it wraps you in a warm hug in spite of itself. Even a fiery one.

Earlier this week on #TChat Radio, and then during the Twitter #TChat, we talked about what to do with getting the long-term unemployed employed. According to a recent Businessweek article, “The long-term unemployed make up 38 percent of all workers without jobs, double the average share and just a few notches down from the 2010-11 peak of 45 percent.”

Devastating and perplexing. Our dialogue about the subject became a little strained when we discussed who are the job creators and how the unemployed of any duration can and should package and market themselves to prospective employers. Seeing any job seeker for who they are and what they could be still doesn’t mean they’ll be considered. In fact, from the same article above:

“[Researchers] sent out fictitious résumés to employers in 50 metro areas to see how they reacted to long spells of unemployment. [They] found that an ‘applicant’ out of work more than six months had little to no chance of being called back. The résumés of those out of work for less than six months drew more interest when they showed the applicants had relevant industry experience. At more than six months of no work, having industry experience didn’t help at all.”

Most economists agree that the primary job creators are the start-ups and small businesses, but they’re just as perplexed as to why this long-term unemployment is so pervasive. I’m with the Keynesians who say more government investment is needed, especially since the U.S. infrastructure is woefully in need of dramatic repairs and upgrades. This could be the jump start that the long-term unemployed need to return to relevancy, while at the same time make it easier for small businesses to thrive and grow (and hire).

But then our #TChat conversation took a fluffy turn. Or at least that’s what I’d call it. Why aren’t leaders looking at the unemployed as people primed and ready? Why aren’t they giving those with passion a chance? Chances are the reasons, however unfair, still come back to the volatile economy, hesitancy to add headcount, and that if you aren’t applying your skills to an immediate body of work in a business of any kind, even freelance work or volunteering, you’re relevancy fades quickly. That doesn’t make it right, it just reiterates the status quo.

“Passion doesn’t pay the bills,” I said. “Unicorns and rainbows don’t invest in business to create jobs and help place the unemployed.” I was quickly reprimanded on that point, but still stand by it, even when I held it up in front of me and the class.

Segue to a being on a local career panel with other professionals this week speaking to high school students about career futures, whatever those may hold. We shared our backgrounds, wisdom and realities of what the world of work may have in store for them, and how to plan for it all and take ownership of it all, through boom and bust. This was another career panel I participated in put on by an amazing local organization called Your Future Is Our Business. YFIOB is a community-based 501(C) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to fostering business/education partnerships that benefit students. Their mission is to support young people in Santa Cruz County with making informed educational and career decisions.

“Let me time travel back to you, starting here,” I told the class.

I held up my first real-life published work — my business/tech career management book titled Tech Job Hunt Handbook — and told them the story of my passion: writing. Through every incarnation, it always been about the writing. I told them no matter what they do or where they go professionally in life, if there’s an activity they long like writing, or art, or music, or sports, or whatever, to never let it die, to always keep it fueled with ferocity and fun.

There were some smiles. A couple of kids scoffed. But they all heard me, and I heard me, and then felt my arms reach round and pull tight.

Screw the bills, I thought. As long as it fits the bill…although most economists would disagree (and yet, they’re not hiring me).

Image Credit: Flickr