Not Giving Up (To be continued…)

I have a 60-ish student in class, who believes that he is not being hired because of his age.  He snarls about younger people getting all the work, and refers to them as “punks”.  This student has 3 degrees (B.S. in Structural Mechanics, M.S. in Engineering and a J.D. in Law), and has been out of work for over 1 year.  He has zero computer skills (has problems using a mouse, does not know his way around the computer), and states that he despises the computer.  He also complains of feet problems and wants to learn at home.

I am 53 years old, and am self-taught.  I learned how to use the computer in the 1980’s, and have been working with computers ever since.  Unlike my student however, I continue to learn how to master applications as well as formatting techniques, and web page design.  I have a B.S. in Computer Science and an M.A. in Education.

I can remember when we used the keyboard to get around the computer, making use of command line functions.  My first computer was a Kaypro 2X, I paid over $6,000 for it when it was new.  I would be lucky to get $150 for it today.  Hiring criteria in the 80s and 90s was measured in keystrokes per hour (kph).  WToday, the criteria generally ranges from Word to Excel, PowerPoint to Access (depending on the position).  The mouse has changed the face of computing, making today’s applications more user-friendly.  Yet, I still find people from many walks of life who have not, and (in some cases) refuse to learn how to use these applications.  There are many reasons one can offer why they may not want to learn how to use today’s mainstream application powerhouses, but to not learn how to use today’s office applications can seriously limit one’s ability to find gainful employment.

More to come…

Times are hard on many of us right now.  Resumes have to be written in order to sell ourselves to prospective employers.  We are in an age where diligence is key if we are going to find work.  We have to be flexible, willing to learn new skill sets, ready to take on any challenges.  The days of complaining are over, we cannot afford to allow ourselves to become complacent, otherwise our peers will pass us by.  The competition for jobs is fierce, there is always room for growth.  I know too many people who are very good at what they do — to a point where they have become arrogant about their skills.  But, no one is immune to being laid off.  The unions have priced the U.S. worker out of work.  We have become too expensive for the employer, and we take offense when we are offered pay lower than what we were earning before.  Lower wages being offered in other countries have enticed U.S. business to take their need for employees elsewhere.

A person who is unwilling to learn new skill sets has a high probability of not being hired…regardless of their education, status or position.  In the past 2 years, I have been training out-of-work managers, project managers, vice presidents, even former business owners.  All of these individuals had someone else to do the work for them, and now they have to learn fundamental computer skill sets if they are going to survive the recession.  Even those who were once cock sure of their success have been falling by the wayside.  I see these people every day, and hurt for them.

So, what can be done about raising one’s skill sets?  Don’t complain.  We can’t blame the young, or blame the old, or blame the experienced.  Blame ourselves for not being willing to send out a tailored resume and cover letter for every single job.  Blame ourselves for not finding public assistance to receive training to gain the skill sets that you need.  Blame ourselves for not sacrificing the time to learn, despite any responsibilities you may have.  There is no choice.  We must learn new skill sets or count yourself among those who have been out of work for years.  I have been in that category, and picked myself up out of the muck.  I earned my degree, and continue to learn every day.  I work on my resume, work hard for my students, work hard for my school and work hard for my livelihood. Doors don’t slam open.  ~John M. Shanahan, The Most Brilliant Thoughts of All  Time (In Two Lines or Less)

climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.

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