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Examine the expectations and inferences underlying selected job positions. Consider timely topics in career preparation and the struggle for fulfilling employment. Analyze what could be improved in either situation. If this blog reminds you too much of work, then peruse my namesake blog for lighter fare.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Staffing Talk: P*ss and Moan Fest for Sociopathic Staffers

I occasionally read Staffing Talk to be entertained. Between the wishful thinking of disgruntled HR recruiters in finding those elusive "perfect" candidates and the advertorials regurgitating talking points of staffing firm press releases, Staffing Talkers are humorists at heart.

Could they write for Cracked? Not necessarily -- they would need to find five or more observations -- and a factual twist for each that unites them into a thematic list of contradiction along a common factor, for a total of at least ten facts per article -- all within a 2,200-word limit. That is more difficult than it sounds!

08-09-2014 Edit: Some of the Staffing Talk articles have been more creative lately and have moved beyond regurgitating press releases, especially with the longer articles by Scott Morefield. I have been enjoying your work lately, Scott!

The general trend nonetheless remains for temps to be seen as expendable in the sense that, just like the under-employed college graduate (who might also be a blue-collar temp alongside fresh high school grads), you'll either find permanent work in a year or else "get what you deserve." America deserves better than over-education and being stuck in crappy jobs! Is the USA entitled? Damned straight we are -- because we expect to NOT fall back a socioeconomic class! Now, back to the original article:

But Staffing Talk is less educational than Cracked articles due to ST being a glorified soapbox high on opinion and low on facts. Staffing Talk is very much in the format of this very Absurd Job Vacancies blog -- but with less self-aware irony, due to their writers taking themselves way too seriously in light of their content.

When one considers the ridiculousness of ST's think-tank ideas and the relative lack of talent required to regurgitate press releases, it becomes clear how Staffing Talkers are yapping and yawing their way into ironic parodies of an entire industry. Today I critique two Staffing Talk articles in one fell swoop!

Here's my critique of the aforementioned HR-turned-PR article by Kinzy and Krew®. She and a ghost writer pretty much copied and pasted lines from an ODesk press release, but it's not exactly plagiarism because she cited her source and paraphrased for about half the article. In other words, Janssen pretty much did the equivalent of an eighth-grade short story article, kind of like a news-and-views report that only gives one side of the story: that of the staffers.

I maintain this blog to present a job seeker's view, the piercing perspective of a “staffee.” My voice is sometimes proactive -- proposing new rules of thumb such as whether college would be worth a red cent for the employment pursuer -- and at other times reactive, such as when taking sadistic staffers to task for poor policy.

Either way, my goal is to innovate competing narratives by which to challenge the traditional position of supremacy held by human resources personnel in the job seeker - job creator dialectic. Unions don't really help when you're trying to get the job or to create vacancies, so it's up to bloggers such as me to win the Mind War in the various public debates of staffing policy.

“So what's sociopathic about recycling press releases?” Almost nothing, except for the presentation of content as original. Like most marketing, ST articles are partially lies by omission; they do not add anything substantial to the press release content such as a poll of staffer's opinions or -- HR forbid -- the opinions of job seekers.

“Those job seekers are lucky we don't ship them to concentration camps for being unqualified wastes of our time!” Many who gladhand you think in such wicked terms about you!

In a test of whether Staffing Talk had any original information on the matter or was merely copy-raiding, I raised the question as to what percentage of Kelly Services workers were simultaneously considered for ODesk jobs. None dared volunteer a response!

Lest Staffing Talkers be accused as “Staffing Liars,” Janssen sat out that question. By contrast, I deduced an answer above and beyond anything ST personnel could have conjured. Behold my rationale:

Based on 1 million users at the end of 2011; an assumption of exponential talent pool population growth; and a population-blunting concentration of 90% of earnings in the top 25% (due to ODesk's 2013 revelation about 4 skills dominating those earnings):

I hereby estimate ODesk's active labor pool to be around 1.7 million. This is roughly three times the size of Kelly Services’ labor pool at a given time (between 340,000 -- as stated on the Kelly “About Us” web page -- and 360,000, as stated in recent press releases).

Because K. Svc. does not publicly disclose which percentages of its workforce belong to which industries or functional silos, it is a matter of segmenting the Kelly labor force by functional specialty proportionate to that of the broader temporary worker economy.

After applying that assumption, one finds IT workers are about a fifth of overall temp talent. One may subsequently presume that no more than a fifth of IT opportunities offered through staffing agencies in general are ODesk-compatible via telecommuting.

This produces the following math: (560,000 K. Svc. total * .2 IT classified) * .2 ODesk-eligible = 112,000 * .2 = 22,400, or about 4% of all Kelly Services' talent are also candidates for ODesk gigs.

I answered the question that none dare answer! A small but growing 4 percent of those seeking work through the multi-specialty staffing firm Kelly Services are automatically considered for remote work opportunities via ODesk.

If this relationship were to be viewed the other way, then the percentage of ODesk workers from the Kelly pool would be about a third of that 22,400 -- or 7,467 -- due to the aforementioned triplicate size of the ODesk roster vis-à-vis K Svc. But that last part is a fun bit of trivia because the referral relationship is Kelly-to-ODesk, neither vice-versa nor both.

The relationship cardinality in each staffing pool is one-to-many for jobs considered; one-to-one for jobs accepted; and many-to-none for those who find no employment.

Moving on from one-upping the less competent pundit to addressing the more gravely wrong-headed wonk, I now take to task one particular Staffing Talker who was evidently having a bad day when he cranked out a manifesto of how to screen out workers prone to injury -- acknowledging the illegality thereof in the preface.

My response was twofold: drawing attention to the very real fact that the tables could turn against him; and explaining short-sighted thinking such as his proposal is partially responsible for the national labor force participation rate remaining below 66.5 percent for more than a decade.

I won't repeat that godawful article, except to criticize a particularly insidious passage: “We’d love to peek into a crystal ball and find out about that previous back injury our workers’ compensation policy is getting ready to ‘buy’...”

I won't stereotype all HR professionals based on that one guy's cynicism. After all, Scotty Morefield and fellow pissants colleagues cannot be all that busy as recruiters if they have enough time to polish their brainfarts into almost-daily articles (as each writer contributes twice weekly, more or less).

But the latest paean to sending temporarily disabled workers into the land of permanent unemployment deserves a most definite rebuke, hereby revealed in cataclysmic fury:

So what if you, dear staffer, develop a disability during your working life? A car crash severs nerves; a tick bite gives you Lyme disease; you develop fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, or other chronic, predominantly genetically predispositioned disease. Who will hire you under these conditions if every staffer followed your policy of (paraphrased), “If prior injury, then not hired?”

And although mental-emotional disabilities are more difficult to acquire permanently, the right mix of socioeconomic factors -- such as your fair-weather friends abandoning you during a crisis -- could change your personality into something less employable. You never know!

I take personal issue with your policy because being both mindful of safety issues (your first proposed question) and willing to go above and beyond (your first proposed question) may, at times, be diametrically opposed. For example, my first placement through QualiTemps, Inc. was four days as a temp at Hankscraft. (A note to AJV readers: This was a substantial commute from my home near Portage.)

The first day was fine because I was assembling, testing, and taping up battery packs -- a duty which used a variety of hand movements to minimize cramps. But on the second and third days, there were no battery packs to assemble, so my new duty was to open incoming boxes, remove the tightly packed air pump components, and flip the unit.

This involved an immense amount of cumulative strain on the wrists such that I was sore at the start of the third day and positively unable rotate my wrists by the end of that work shift -- all because I was doing as instructed and keeping pace with the 1500-units-a-day production line!

I told my supervisor that my wrists were getting very cramped and sore; I also requested a different production job for that very reason. Hankscraft supervisor John (last name unknown to me) denied this completely reasonable request and said, “You’re welcome to walk off the job if you can’t do this job.”

In case you need it spelled out, I was bringing attention to a safety issue but was instructed keep doing what was endangering me. The alternative was to be marked as walking off the job.

I chose the “tough guy” route of going above and beyond -- via adrenaline rush that temporarily dulled sensation -- the point at which it perhaps would have been better to “walk off” mid-day and let Hankscraft hang.

Seeing how QualiTemps ended up paying workers’ compensation anyway, I instead could have filed an injury report right then and there to get workers’ compensation in exchange for less pain and suffering.

It remains for debate whether working through the pain to shift’s end to prevent short staffing was an ultimately pointless sacrifice out of some delusion of future inroads with Hankscraft or some non-reciprocal loyalty to fellow stranger temps whom I would never see again.

I toughed it out but was numb in my wrists at shift’s end. I then reported this repetitive stress injury to John and another supervisor and filed for workers’ compensation through QualiTemps. That staffing firm investigated, paid my initial and follow-up clinic visits, and put me on light duty at a thrift store for the two weeks it took me for my tendonosis (misdiagnosed by the local doctor as tendonitis) to heal.

Although stopping immediately to file a claim -- before the repetitive strain injury became more obviously distinct from mere soreness -- would have shortchanged the other workers, they weren't the most welcoming to start with. And seeing how I didn't receive any "get well" cards, as anyone could have easily given to the temp agency office to be forwarded to me, I must clarify: I didn't do this for you people! I persevered for myself!

I just wanted to keep working to prove myself, a living Canto de Persistence -- but my tendons weren't on the same song sheet. But if anyone harps on me about "work ethic," then I tell them my tale until their eyes glaze over.

I never received an assignment after that, neither from QualiTemps nor from the other staffing agencies with whom I had signed. The agency had paid my workers’ compensation and is therefore immune to liability; they handled it to my satisfaction, except for the lack of future placements.

Whatever badmouthing Hankscraft did about me cannot be punished -- for lack of documentation and because QualiTemps was my employer -- but Hankscraft deserves a mention for how they denied my request for a different production job for the reasons I clearly explained and documented.

The bottom line is that I’ve done hundreds of repetitions of wrist exercises to become a stronger, more durable worker -- but thanks to staffers following your oppressive policies such as “no second chance after a disability,” thereby harming the public’s ability to live independently, national labor force participation has not exceeded 66.5 percent in over a decade.

Imagine Scott Morefield, Gregg Dourgarian, Kinzy Janssen or some other Staffing Talker in the same position. Can any of them really say with authority they would not develop tendonosis?

I can hear critics say, “Get a college education!” I already did that -- and am competing, at the ripe age of 29 years, with 18- and 19-year-olds for basic jobs such as light production (apparently no longer an option due to being blacklisted) and food service. How would any Staffing Talker tolerate such a situation if s/he were to lose everything? Who would support such a plundered pundit?

Some HR people have no shame because they have theirs! It is important for them to enjoy while they can, for no one knows what will be demanded of him or her. The haughty shall be humbled in due time!

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