Is The Problem High Unemployment Or Highly Unemployable People?

find manufacturing jobsAre you one of those who speaks up on AOL Jobs? A recent piece I wrote called "10 Tricks To Landing A Job After The Great Recession" garnered heated commentary from readers. Some of you loved me (and what I had to say). Some of you hated me (and what I had to say). Some of you were just P.O.'d at the job situation in general.

I understand why people are mad. With our country seemingly becoming more polarized every day, I understand people's frustration and anger. No one can seem to figure out whose responsibility it is to get us out of this economic mess. Some think it's government's problem to fix. Others blame business for moving jobs out of the U.S. -- though I've talked to many business leaders who would prefer to keep jobs here, but can't justify the high cost of doing business in the U.S. to their shareholders.

What I'm not hearing is what WE, ordinary working people, need to do to make a change for ourselves -- and if you've read anything else I've written, you know that I believe personal responsibility is the ONLY answer. There are a lot of frustrated, sometimes hateful comments out there on the message boards. But amid this, something amazing happened. I started receiving private emails from hiring managers, mostly from manufacturing companies, asking me to help them find people to hire. One email in particular stood out.

Your article I read on AOL Jobs was the best I have read recently on the job market and spot on. There are jobs out there and people are not looking for them. The company I work for has numerous openings in facilities in the West and Southwest, and we cannot fill them.

I have openings for assistant plant managers, parts managers, assembly associates, forklift drivers, welders and yard labor. We use employment agencies, online job postings, networking, and anything we can think of to find decent recruits, but what comes in to interview [for the positions] is the bottom of the barrel: no skills, no work ethic, won't work second or third shift, won't work overtime or weekends, need time off, etc.

I would do anything if I did not have a job, but we are seeing a complete lack of work ethic. At least 1/3 of our hires do not make it past their first three days because they say the work is too hard, they didn't realize they would have to do things beyond just driving a forklift. They come in late, don't call in, their car broke down, they overslept....

How in this high unemployed economy can we find good workers? You need to write an article on how to find good recruits next. I do not believe we have high unemployment, I believe we have highly unemployable workers.

I received quite a few letters of this sort. So I decided to dig deeper, looking to better understand the problem. I interviewed hiring managers in manufacturing and searched company and job websites. I searched for manufacturing jobs and found tons of listings, including many thousands of manufacturing job openings in California, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico on A search of the word "lathe" on came up with 1,141 jobs in California alone. I did my homework so that I could share with you what hiring managers are looking for. Here's what they had to say:

For everyone:

  • There are jobs out there. If you don't look for a job every day, you aren't going to get a job. There are lots of jobs out there. Find them.
  • If you don't know how to use the Internet to help you find websites that can help you find work, then go to your local employment office and get help.
  • Take advantage of free skills training classes to make yourself more employable. (Hint: Visit Career OneStop, the U.S. Labor Department's program, to learn how).
  • People hire people that they like. Be likable.

For entry level and skilled labor positions:

  • Come prepared to show off your skills. Learn what you can about the tools of the trade BEFORE you go for the interview.
  • If you have no skills, show that you're eager, willing to work hard and willing to learn.
  • Show up on time. There is no excuse for coming in late on a regular basis.
  • Not showing up to work, not calling in, having excuse-upon-excuse for your lateness/absence/lack of focus, and not being prepared, are the top reasons that most workers don't make it past the first week.
  • Be decent, attentive and respectful.
  • Be able to explain what you want to get out of the job. Why are you there? (Hint: Money and benefits are not the best answers.)

For manager and director positions:

  • Have a resume. Make sure it is grammatically correct and has no typos. If you need help, go to your local employment agency to have someone proofread it.
  • Your resume should not be a laundry list of the tasks and responsibilities you've had. You need to explain, on paper and in person, what it all means. You need to convey how your efforts contributed to the product, team or company.
  • Be prepared to tell stories explaining how you've tackled difficult challenges in your last job.
  • Develop your interpersonal skills. As a manager, you need to learn how to motivate your workers, listen to their needs and drive them toward peak performance. Your interviewer is going to want to see these skills on display.

Take some time to get ready and get set. If you work hard enough, and prepare hard enough, chances are you'll get hired.

If you're looking to get a leg up in your job search, enter "Susanne Goldstein's Get Americans Back to Work Contest" for a chance to win three months of free career consulting. If you're willing to do the hard work that I know it takes to get a job, I can almost guarantee that we, together, will find you a job. To learn more visit

Next: Degree Not Required: 15 Jobs You Can Land Without Going To College

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Deb Swaitkewich

Most people looking for work are doing the things this article says to do and they still can't get hired. As to some of the other comments here, the vast majority of people looking for work know how to read, they are not dumb, they don't drink the excess or take drugs.The vast majority show up for interviews on time and they do have a work ethic.

November 10 2015 at 1:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My problem: i have multiple disabilities --- arthitis and spinal stenosis throughout my spine (can't walk and almost unable to work on computer), have PTSD, and other disabilities. I am VERY good at my job and i'd love to be able to work, but the few jobs that i am able to do, i am competing with able bodied people. Add to that that i am just myself and am not the social butterfly that "fit" requires employees to be, i have been unemployed since 2007. Quite honestly, i think a lot of the problem is simply "supply and demand" and the fact that employers are looking for the "perfect" employee, not someone who is diligent, honest, hard-working, etc. I am an old-school employee ---- do the best job that i can and do whatever job i need to to keep a roof over my head ... but, going from what i have been seeing and experiencing, employers are looking for the people that we knew of in high school as the "popular" people, not the regular people that make up the rest of us. It seems to me at this point that employment is not about a person being able to do a job, but whether or not they are able to win the popularity/beauty contest ---- and all i have to offer is the ability to do my job VERY well, to be honest, and to do the best by people that i can. Jobs are easy to find for the pretty and the popular, not the rest of us.

May 12 2012 at 5:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i work in a factory large plant that builds products we use everyday in our car truck or suv. i been there25 yrs if i were the employer i would have to screen the people i hired more deeply. out of highschool new highers are realy dumber than a brick i wonder how they graduated.where did they go to school.i been through this with my own children does the school system teach you anything or is it a daycare for growing highers younger than 35 its like you have to break them down and reeducate them.some of them we cant do anything at all with them they just dont comprihend we we have to carry them because they have made it 60 days into the they become a hinderence to the good ones which slows purduction down and we earn less because we work on insintive.i do fill sorry for them we keep maybe 1 out 30 new highers are actually acceptable and realy work

October 07 2011 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Highly unemployable people? Drinking,drugging,no drivers liscence,Bi-polar,hunting,fishing, thousands of dollars behind on child support,chain smoking, magistrate fine owing probation reporting single mother raised tattoed nose ringed disrepsectful lazy cell phone ringing 60 times a day - do I need to go on? Add stupid know it all cigarette butt tossing lottery ticket buying perscription pill abusing workman comp nightmare toothless grinning theiving people. I am sorry I ever started my own business! Workmans comp,unemployment,department of labor,wage and hour all hate you and wil not help you with your employees from Hell.

October 06 2011 at 6:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cyndy Trivella

We are certainly living in interesting times Susanne!

Your advice is sage. What I am seeing and suggest is that companies need to also do a few things on their end to make the candidate experience a more favorable one.

1) Please revise your job descriptions so they are understandable. So many companies write job postings that are convoluted and full of jargon that is germane to their company and not very easily understood.
2) Please define your employment value proposition. If you do not have a clearly defined EVP, this smacks of a disjointed and poorly organized company. Here is what happens when the EVP is not evident: a) companies will attract the wrong people; b) companies will not attract the right people because they do not understand why they should consider that organization; c) companies with a poorly defined EVP cannot retain the right people for very long and subsequently turnover is a major retention issue; d) morale is low due to high turnover; e) candidate referrals from existing employees is practically non-existent; f) the company (probably) lacks an adequate on-boarding program. There are others items I can list here, but I think I've made my point.

In reference, to the email you received, I would venture to guess that some of the issues I listed above are indicative of what is happening at this manufacturing organization, though of course this is speculation on my part.

I have read quite a few articles over the past 12 months that cite many instances where companies cannot find qualified job candidates to fill certain jobs (many in IT.) I have also read that many positions have simply been eliminated, so individuals who were once gainfully employed doing XY and Z can no longer find XY and Z work. IMHO, I believe that this is just one of the factors, along with a dozen others, contributing to the staggering unemployment rate in this country.

I am in total agreement with you when you say that people can neither fall back on excuses in their job search nor once on the job. You make some excellent points and offer great suggestions for helping job seekers get focused and better prepared to search, interview and execute on the job when in it.

There are no easy answers here and the work situation is going to require all hands on deck. This is everyone's problem and we all need to step up. If you are employed, volunteer to help an unemployed person in his/her job search. There are so many things that can be done to assist, you just need commit to it. If you're a job seeker, you also need to volunteer and get involved. There are many organizations that rely on volunteers and this is a great way for you to interact and network with people. Keep in mind, networking should play a major role in your job search initiative and in the meantime, you are gaining gratification from knowing your help to others is meaningful and may be an enabling tool in your job search repertoire.

October 06 2011 at 1:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Focus and don't get too excited when you see that job listing that screams your name. I recently received an email for a job listing for a position in a field I haven't worked in for some time. Something said to me check it out. After reading the description, it was perfect: An industry I enjoy, a job I can do, small culture driven company looking for someone to learn and grow with them. Re-entryville for me!

I was positively excited. When i opened it to apply, the fields were filled in with a previous cover letter for a differfent type position and a dated resume. Not to worry, I'd change it. Somehow, someway, I hit submit. In a flash, it wass gone ionto the ethernet. I doubt I'll get the interview, but it sure was a good cover letter.

Moral of the story: Keep your sense of humor, stay focused, and be prepared. You never know when opportunity will knock. As usual, great article, Susanne.

October 05 2011 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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