Sacramento women may have a problem with job listings that tell people not to apply if they are unemployed. See the article, “What an outrage: longtime job seekers need not apply,” in the June 2011 issue of the AARP Bulletin.
The problem in Sacramento and on various job seekers websites is the notion that the unemployed are not invited to apply for jobs. Older job seekers may take more than a year to find employment. Just take a look at the most common job listing websites that list jobs in Sacramento. Some of the job listings on them say that applicants should be employed while looking for a job.
How would you like to apply for a job that says, “no unemployed will be considered”? Also see the article, Unemployed Need Not Apply? – Over 50 Websites. Although the issue shows up more with women, especially older women, in numerous cases here in Sacramento, the problem also applies to unemployed men not being asked to interview unless they already have a job.
The prejudice in Sacramento against women focuses not on the fact that you’re not employed but on the assumption that the reason you don’t have a job has little to do with your company going broke or being sold or downsized. The focus usually may be on what an employer perceives about the reason you’re unemployed in the employer’s eyes, not in your reality.
What happens is that employers generalize that if you were really that skilled, you’d be working. Yes, it’s bias. Most employers in Sacramento would delight in persuading a top of the pyramid performer to join their company. It’s the act of taking you away from a company where you’re considered to be at the top of your skill, where you’re making so much money for your ‘boss’ rather than for yourself, and enhancing the reputation of the company for which you’re working, not your own reputation that may count to the new employer.
You’re hired when you pose the least financial risk to your new employer. The new boss thinks that by taking you away from a company that your hard work is making the competitor richer, thereby you’ll be bringing information to the new employer about what techniques, strategies, and tactics you have been using to make the competing company rich. Maybe the money luck will rub off on the new employer by hiring you, a top performer.
Why women are not hired in Sacramento has to do with their skills being not up to speed or out of date or their contacts not considered valuable enough to the competing or other company. Even if you’re entering a new field where there is no competition with the other company, many employers think that something is wrong with your skills or you’d be grabbed up by someone while you still had a job with the other company.
Or not being employed may have nothing to do with your skills, but with your contacts. Some employers won’t hire you because they don’t value your contacts for their business. Maybe you don’t know people wealthy or important enough to make the hiring company richer or more in the public eye. This may apply to people in public relations where your contacts with the media are important to promote a new company widely to the intended audience of new customers.
The problem in Sacramento is that if you’re a self-employed consultant, sometimes you’re considered unemployed, unless you can present a track record of how much money you’ve earned for your clients and/or yourself. Many local employers won’t even interview the unemployed because it saves screening time of wading through thousands of resumes.
Who’s protected in Sacramento? You might be an older worker or someone with a disability or a minority or a woman. These classes of people are protected by law, but that doesn’t stop employers from hiring who they want and using the excuse that “you don’t fit into the group.”
The problem locally, here in Sacramento is that you won’t see a lot of language in print of saying things like “the unemployed need not apply.” That’s sounds too much like 19th century practices that showed photos of signs that said specific ethnic groups need not apply for work or housing in certain areas. Instead you’ll see the practices in action of employers hiring people who already are working for others as top performers.
Worse yet for women, employers may in some cases look upon self-employed independent contractors or consultants not as the experts they are in their niche, but instead of unemployed people whose skills aren’t honed or up to date or whose contacts are not important enough to be considered as top performers bringing lots of money and quality work into a new business. That’s unfortunate, because many self-employed consultants have decades of experience and specialize in areas where they are so much needed in Sacramento to serve as experts in their fields.
This phenomenon is nothing new and can’t be blamed entirely on the economic situation. In 1972, I began to look for work and couldn’t find any because of the deep recession in the economy that increased between 1972 and 1973. My kids were school age now, not toddlers anymore, and I wanted to find work, but couldn’t find anything, even with a college degree in English. (I completed the M.A. in English with an emphasis in professional and creative writing.)
The only type of temporary employment I found focused on the ‘temp’ services that hired day to day help doing clerical office. These agencies were willing to hire those who didn’t already have a job. The temporary services were businesses that hired pools of women to go out to various businesses in order to type and answer phones, but usually just to do word processing or clerical work, such as being a file clerk.
The temporary jobs paid low wages with no health insurance, no chance of a retirement pension, and little security. No one was hiring community college teachers at the time unless they had experience, but once in a while a one-day substitute spot opened. The only type of work I found that was willing to hire those who didn’t already have a job were temporary agencies that hired pools of women to type, playing low wages with no health insurance, no chance of a retirement pension, and little security. Before you could be sent out to do typing, you were given a form of an intelligence test and had to score at least a 22 on that test. If you scored a 21, you were sent away with a smile from the tester.
The various temporary agencies would send me out for 3 days at a time to fill in for someone on vacation or for a few weeks to substitute for other women out on maternity leave. The government jobs we applied for gave us typing tests. Basically, before computers, if you made two crossovers, that is two typo errors while trying to maintain a specific typing speed more than 65 words per minute, you were out. The test ended, and the interview was over. There was no chance of being hired permanently. The jobs I had been sent out on were medical terminology typing (in the days before computers) and typing for law offices, or title insurance companies. You had to keep up the speed.
I also worked part time as a teaching aide in kindergarten for a few weeks to substitute for someone out on maternity leave. The job consisteed of watching the kids play in the sandbox and making sure everyone had some coloring books and crayons during after school care programs for about 3 hours daily. The substitute teacher’s aide job was only a few hours daily and lasted only as long as you enrolled in six units of college credit. If you graduated, the job was over unless you continued taking at least 6 units or credits of accredited college work each semester. For students who didn’t have the math background to pass the C-Best national exam to be a substitute teacher and get a credential, you’d have to remain working as a substitute teacher’s aide, even with your master’s degree.
So the only alternative at that time seemed to be clerical work as jobs in publishing were not available. For any journalism jobs, competition was keen for those without full-time employee type experience. Independent contractors and freelancers usually were not hired for staff positions. Again, you’d need a job to find a job. And not only a job. You had to be pretty much a top performer and bringing in money for your company, or bringing in clients and customers. If not, you’re contacts with the media and vendors had to be top notch to even be considered for permanent work.
Belonging to high I.Q. groups like Mensa could get you employed, but after 90 days, if you didn’t bring in new clients or have important contacts or had the same skill levels as anyone else already there, the job told you that you didn’t fit into the group and had to go, unless you had the type of experience they wanted. By experience, often they meant bringing clients to the company or in some way finding a method that would make that company wealthier. Or perhaps your contacts were so important to the company, they needed you, even if your skills were equal to other workers there.
No one would offer to ‘train’ you to do the job, in most cases. You had to come into a company and get working. The work consisted of typing at a specific speed without typos. And just the women were given typing tests. They never told you what the male clients were given as a test. Perhaps the temp agencies sent them out to repair machines or do day labor, unless they were engineers or computer operators. If the job required keyboarding, then they were given data entry tests on keyboarding accuracy and speed. Those were the days when paper tape word processing machines were made. Before that, you were tested on IBM Selectric typewriters, unless you were a keypunch operator doing data entry.
The typing jobs were the longest in hours per day, for example typing title insurance policies. The last job I had in the temp arena was paying $1.65 per hour, and that was in 1974. I typed all day and also handled taking classified ads on the phone for a weekly newspaper. I had a choice of earning commission only or working for minimum wage. I took the $1.65 per hour so I could be confident that my rent would be paid monthly, which then was $138 per month.
Maybe times have changed, but having worked my entire career at temporary jobs with no health insurance, no pension and no perks or vacation, and never having had a vacation that lasted more than two days, I will say, that now that I’m over 70, I’m grateful that I made it in the sense that the temp jobs of the past allowed me to pay the rent and put the vegan food on the table during those years. These days it’s worse because the unemployed are excluded from hiring in so many instances where this only existed behind closed doors in the 1970s.
In fact, in the early 1970s when I had one temp job at an employment agency, women who applied for secretarial jobs who put their age as ’34’ or ’43’ were color coded on their files with a certain colored ‘dot’ to show they were ‘old’ and were not sent out for specific clerical or secretarial jobs (now called administrative assistants) because of what was then considered “old age” for women applying for office work. Who was sent out were attractive women color-coded as “front-office applicants” who were on the average age 23-25. And there were plenty of young women in that age range applying for work. Have times changed much? Funny as they say how the more attitudes change the more they remain the same.