I sometimes worry that I’m exaggerating how close we are to the end of civilization. Maybe I overreact to bad news and depressing social trends, I think, and America isn’t really on an express elevator straight to hell like my fevered imagination says it is.
And then sometimes I think the situation is a hundred thousand times worse than that.
I recently had occasion to eat lunch with a couple of friends who are in the human resources business. Without going into too much detail, they spend their days seeking high-tech professionals for placement in mid-level and senior positions. They interview a lot of people for good jobs. And according to them, the candidates for the jobs of tomorrow in America’s high-tech workforce can barely zip up their own pants.
They told me story after story of job applicants who didn’t know they were supposed to dress up for interviews, didn’t show up on time for interviews, and didn’t even stop texting with their friends during interviews.
Because the applicant pool is so shallow, some of these people make it through the interview and actually get the job. Then they are shocked to learn that their new employers expect them to show up for work every day, also on time, also dressed appropriately, and that they have to work and not text all day.
I realize that, considering the number of employable adults in the nation, my friends’ clients represent a fairly small sample size. But I get the distinct impression that even the most basic kinds of initiative and work ethic are being thoroughly scrubbed out of society. People who are looking for responsible grown-ups to do grown-up jobs are like nomads trying to scavenge for gasoline in a Mad Max movie. There’s not much out there, and there’s less all the time.
Mind you, this isn’t my cranky Uncle Larry complaining about these lazy kids nowadays. These are human resource professionals telling me that it’s not uncommon for American job seekers to have levels of professionalism that make it seem like they were abandoned by their parents and raised by packs of wild Xboxes. This does not bode well for our economic future, methinks.