Saturday, August 2, 2008

Like Deer Staring into the Headlights

While news reports still won't use the word depression to label the economic picture for America, we have the symptoms of a depression. 70% of American homeowners are at risk of foreclosure. GM lost $15 billion in sales because people stopped buying trucks and SUVs in the first two quarters of 2008. The airline industry is laying off employees and Starbucks will close 3,000 outlets. With optimism and a plan, we can swing this period to our advantage. It takes a good mind to be optimistic and formulate a plan. The question is how many of us have "good minds"....and if we don't have one, can we develop "good minds."

There was a job fair at the New York Hilton, July 31, that was an eye-opener into the psyche of some New Yorkers. It was billed TechExpo in certain circles but for the most part it was the Diversity Fair. Women and men of various ages, religions and ethnicities were there. The table under observation was Web Grrls International. Unlike the other exhibitors, Web Grrls is a membership organization for women involved in technology and the Internet for personal or professional reasons. Members can meet face-to-face or connect online. Due to the high volume of job-seekers to the table, the display card had the following handwritten message: "We Aren't An Employer And Have No Jobs." Obviously people didn't notice the sign because they came to the table and attempted to leave resumes on it. People were leaving resumes without a discussion.

Looking at the growing crowd, you saw job seekers in jeans, evening wear, heavy jewelry, tie-less, jacket-less and, unfortunately clue-less. Too many job seekers didn't know what they wanted to do. They couldn't explain what interest them. They were like deer staring into the headlights of a car. Hey, didn't anyone tell them how to dress for success, discover their passion or how to strike up a conversation? One recent journalism grad from Hofstra University didn't want to learn to blog because she'd be in competition with newspapers. Didn't Hofstra's journalism professors tell her about social media, RSS feeds, podcasting, blogging, Nexis Lexis, or search engines? Didn't this fresh-faced grad know that the New York Times' Web site is one of the most popular in the world?

Another Indo-Asian gent came to the Web Grrls table and wanted to know what it was all about. Once told it was a membership organization for women involved in technology and the Internet, however men may join, he wanted to know how the organization made money. Would you believe that a membership organization's revenue base would consist of event tickets and membership dues? This gent couldn't accept this; it had to be more complex.

In these economic times people have to study trends to uncover the jobs in demand, know what's their passion, and how to best present themselves. The number of people that didn't have a clue could have images of roadkill along a US interstate highway dance in a smarter person's head. Americans have too many online tools and resources to be clue-less and hope someone in human resources will find something for them to do. Human resource professionals have benefits, trainings, grievances and payroll to handle to make the time to tell someone what his passion is. Can you imagine what may have run through the minds of the recruiters at this Diversity Fair?

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