Croce’s ‘Carwash Blues’ is an anthem for American workers in 2021

The statistics about how many millions of Americans are so dissatisfied with their pre-pandemic jobs and a willingness to take a leap of faith to change that is, in a word, incredible .

Singer Jim Croce’s first line, about an individual who “Just got out from the county prison, doing ninety days for non-support,” kind of pales in comparison to the massive hunkering down and unemployment millions of Americans have dealt with since the world found out about COVID-19 in early 2020.

“All I can do is shake my head, you might not believe it’s true, but working at this end of Niagara Falls is an undiscovered Howard Hughes.”

-Jim Croce, ‘Workin’ at the Carwash Blues,’ 1973 ‘I Got a Name’ album

Although there will be many who don’t know who Jim Croce or Howard Hughes (VERY eccentric rich guy, legendary talents) were, an unprecedented number of them seem willing to take a leap of faith about rectifying a negative by leaving an unsatisfying situation just as offices and industries start to open up. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/14/1-in-4-workers-quit-their-job-this-year-according-to-new-report.html

While this smacks of the optimism this country has always had about something better to offer, its also an attitude that will be tested mightily. For Boomers who used retirement accounts to skin through mortgage, educational needs, and basic bills in 2008-2014’s Recession, that nest egg for their Golden Years has probably been reduced to a significant degree.

While everyone seems to know there are an incredible number of jobs (10.4MM) available, https://www.bls.gov/jlt/ there are two factors that continue to stifle a workforce that SHOULD be ready and willing to dig into the possibilities.

Many of those jobs are a brutal combination of work conditions and low pay that only the most desperate are willing to consider, $15 an hour burger flippers (much better than starving) and ditch diggers still ranking low.

Perhaps more importantly – and this won’t be the first time most will hear this lament – recruiting systems and HR/placement personnel don’t seem to have a grip on how lousy a disconnect exists between resumes from applicants and archaic and confusing selection operations. https://theundercoverrecruiter.com/fatal-recruitment-flaws/

“You need to apply everywhere”

That’s the simplistic advice just about every job searcher has heard from family members, and while online capability makes the necessary delivery of one’s paper portrait easy, the volume of those a candidate is up against for any remote position is staggering.

Dissing of Boomers for relative ‘kids’ with more recent tech skills – but no idea how to talk to senior management or interact with customers – is often, and justifiably, called a disgraceful use of available resources. Just sayin,’ its ageist.

There’s no doubt that companies turned to recruiters to offload the enormous burden of sifting possibilities in 2008, when the Great Recession meant a flood of apps came to HR departments. The belief that ELIMINATING a large quantity of people based on “The client told us what they want, if a resume lacks *any* criteria (ie. software, years of specific experience), into the crap pile for you!” was operational.

The current Black Hole still doesn’t recognize the need to TELL anyone they aren’t being considered, a courtesy that would reduce some anxiety for those who need to move on.

Even at this time, when businesses are screaming they’re strapped for ‘qualified’ people to fill jobs, the system is still using antiquated formats of start-stop dates, rigid position titles, and ‘Describe job function-responsbilities’ boxes that can’t possibly fulfill every word combination that bots and ‘crawlers’ judge as necessary. Dissing of Boomers for relative ‘kids’ with more recent tech skills – but no idea how to talk to senior management or interact with customers – is often, and justifiably called a disgraceful use of available resources to fix such a talent shortfall.

Anyone who has checked what LinkedIn means when their resume is judged to have only ‘four of ten skills that other candidates have’ will almost always be surprised at what they supposedly DON’T have. Those with significant expertise in more than one field will be screwed by a dependence on chronological demands of formatting. Recruiters never recognize many factors because the industry standard eight seconds of review ignores all but the most recent experience relative to current position demands.

Achievement vs. ‘just what you did’

Achievement vs. ‘just what you did’ looks like this, https://cdtalententerprises.com/2018/12/16/could-millions-narrow-current-skills-gap-in-job-market-with-better-recruiter-interviewing/ and the blog being nearly three years old hasn’t changed how difficult it is to determine or satisfy what companies want to know.

Can cover letters or personal appearance make a difference?

The recruiting world seems divided on the usefulness of cover letters. Many have no use for them, when dozens appear, and the FACTS of a resume are all that matter. Concurring with writer Alison Doyle’s rationale for cover letters offers strong reasons to do so most of the time, even if it takes extra time by candidates and might not be read. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/should-you-include-a-cover-letter-if-it-s-not-required-2060291

If your skill set is anything but easy to describe, work it into your letter. ‘Customer Service Administrator’ is weak, so for those who WANT to see you are willing to put that extra effort into what it means, it counts a lot.

For the Boomer Generation and many others, the limitations of COVID-19 and The Great Recession were/are a spike in their greatest assets – personality and communications. Sales types are used to hearing ‘No,’ but having zero recourse to the fact so many companies outsourced candidate selection a decade or more ago, and the obvious negatives of the pandemic emptying offices of *anyone* to talk with or impress, are figurative handcuffs.

No face-face meetings or hands to shake, no clues about favorite teams to glean from displays in the office, no assistant out front to provide a name that allows an application to be sent more accurately.

When many jobs changed to work from home (WFH) options versus being sited in say, Charlotte, NC, job candidates started going against a whole lot more people than ever before. Anyone whose had difficulty getting a computer to agree that their information is inputted correctly when it sends a message about it being wrong without what might need correcting, your frustration is shared millions of times daily. A single typo could be a difference maker.

Falling back on “It is what it is,” flies in the face of getting results that demand change. Those family members who might have jobs that provided necessary paychecks over the last 20-plus months, will no doubt try to convince those on the edge to “Take whatever you can, you don’t have to like it, just make money and keep looking.”

A 1971 TIME magazine cover picture of a gowned graduate pumping gas was dramatic, and every generation has its challenges. Yes, its difficult as a Boomer – or a $250k in debt graduate – to think of much less satisfying jobs and an economic situation where the future is as murky as this job (and political and health) situation has become.

Croce’s “Steadily depressing, low-down, mind messin’, workin’ at the car wash blues” is right on the reality of 2021 for many.

Just to put a somewhat rosier glow on the idea overall, getting a face to face interview with a major retail operation Thursday became a call with a job offer Saturday while I was umpiring a Little League game for extra cash.

It’s essentially a commission situation ($12.80/hr. base and benefits), and IMHO, I’m an above average 1-1 sales and service person. A training class starts next week, but nothing is stopping me from continuing my freelance/contract writing career, which has been a side gig most of my life.

I’m not entering Croce’s executive position, but in an ‘opportunity rich environment’ like Nordstrom’s, I’m aligned with their expectations of productivity. Results should become obvious in the very short term.

It’s not the $50,000 and benefits gig with a CBD manufacturer for a content creation situation in 2019, but cashing commission checks is an upside, where lifestyle doesn’t rely on Social Security checks.

That my second book, ‘With Platinum Fury Focus’ gets elevated on wattpad or turned into a movie is still a lightening bolt possibility too, right? https://www.wattpad.com/story/218725526-with-platinum-fury-focus

Good luck on your next moves America, we all kind of need it.

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