Through No Fault of His Own?

The following is text of an email that was recently in the press talking about the unemployment situation.

“The employment picture here in northern New Jersey has not been good since 9/11. I have been looking for a position since 12/02 as I was laid off from Lucent Technologies (Bell Labs). I loved my job! I tried to move to the D.C. area, but the doors did not open. If one cannot find work in this country after looking diligently for so long, then their credit rating goes bad if one is unable to pay their bills through no fault of their own. I am told that an employer checks your credit rating now and this is like debtor’s prison. Then, one could never find a job.”

This person’s experience is atypical of most workers but I thought it was a good illustration of a mindset that I see on an irregular basis, a mindset that disturbs me as a self-employed business person who happens to specialize in the employment business. This mindset is a victim mentality when it comes to employment and finding a job.

The person who wrote the statement above complains that he has not been able to find work in over three years! As a result, his financial situation has deteriorated and he now has another “reason” why he can’t find a job – a bad credit rating. Occasionally, I will see this situation or one very similar and the fact that the individual is unemployed has nothing to do with the employment market. It has everything to do with the mental state of being a “victim”. It is easier to be a victim that it is to take responsibility for his life and make hard choices. This victim mentality usually stems from fear – fear of failure in finding a job, fear of failing the family, or fear of failing as a worker.

In this person’s mind, he was a victim of 9/11; he was a victim of a lay off; and now he’s a victim of his financial situation. Being a victim is a lot easier than moving to wherever the jobs are in his field which can be scary. Being a victim is easier than taking a menial job to pay his creditors and maintain a basic financial footing. Being a victim is easier than taking advantage of the many opportunities for free training to go into a field that is more in demand. Being a victim is easier than getting out and getting involved in the community so his network would expand and more job opportunities would present themselves.

This person should conduct a nation-wide job search and be willing to move anywhere necessary to take a job that fits his skill level. If there is a job in Peoria, he should take it and move to Peoria. If he his not willing to do that (perhaps he has aging parents in the area for whom he needs to care), then he needs to find a job in a different industry or field that is available in his area. The manufacturing sector (a large industry in his area) is screaming for workers. To pay his debts, keep the lights on, food on the table, and the landlord at bay, he may need to find a J.O.B. rather than a career position. Work at the local technology store during the day and run pizzas at night–anything to keep money flowing.

A magical thing happens when someone has a job – any job; it becomes easier to find THE job! Something about being employed makes it easier to find a job. That’s one of the reasons I always say that if you know your getting laid off, starting look right away for a new job rather than waiting for the axe to fall. And if you get taken by surprise with a layoff, don’t just sit around saying “woe is me”. Get busy working while job searching, even if it is volunteer work. It gets you out in the community and keeps your mental mindset from turning into the victim mindset. Go back to school if necessary. There are all kinds of free opportunities for job training into different areas.

Where has the American spirit and work ethic gone? We have people in New Orleans crying because, for the first time in their lives, the government isn’t taking care of them. We have people who refuse to work in jobs they consider “below” them but then complain about the immigrants (illegal or legal) who work those jobs – jobs that are hard labor, pay little, and have no security. Ironically, these immigrants have the American work ethic and they only wish to be Americans.

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