Casualty From Causality


An image from Colleen Clarke's "Why new grads don’t get hired for jobs: A true story" article and apparently the reason why so many young people are unemployed. The image and associated article are copyrights belonging to the author.
An image from Colleen Clarke’s “Why new grads don’t get hired for jobs: A true story” article and apparently the reason why so many young people are unemployed. The image and associated article are copyrights belonging to the author.

Since the beginning of human history, Man has always been curious about the world we live in, seeking to understand why things happen the way they do. For example, why is the sky blue? Why do two objects of differing mass, when dropped, reach the ground at the same time? Why do certain species of animals have longer lifespans or are more adaptable to change than others?

Part of making sense of things comes in the form of observation, where the following steps are followed in order to reach a theoretical conclusion:

  • Asking a question about a natural phenomenon
  • Making observations of the phenomenon
  • Hypothesizing an explanation for the phenomenon
  • Predicting a logical consequence of the hypothesis
  • Testing the hypothesis by an experiment, an observational study, or a field study
  • Creating a conclusion with data gathered in the experiment, or forming a revised/new hypothesis and repeating the process

Take particular note of the fourth point as it is the basis of this blog post.

Prediction comes in the form of noting how one event effects another.  This is referred to as causality, the theory that if one event (we’ll call it A) is noted to happen during the time of another event (we’ll call it B), then A and B are assumed joined in the following relationship:

  • A causes B
  • B cannot exist unless A occurs, which means B is correlated (or the result of) A

This line of thinking is sound, as many things on earth and in space operate in a cause and effect manner. For example, thunder happens after a flash of lightning, the last domino in a lineup will only fall if the very first one is tipped, and water only flows from your faucet after you turn the valve.

Having said this, the reasoning is not bulletproof.  An error in reasoning, also known as false cause fallacy, occurs when it is assumed Event B is caused by Event A when in fact it was Event C that was the cause, or perhaps Event B occurs all by itself. For example, every morning at 7:00 a.m.  I turn on the coffee machine to make some coffee, and my neighbour leaves his house shortly after. Does this mean my neighbour leaving the house is somehow tied into the turning on of the coffee machine? It may look that way, but in fact that’s wrong. My neighbour may have left his house because he has somewhere to go at that time,  his wife told him to go get something, or simply because it’s a form of exercise for him.

So why am I going on about cause and effect in a job search blog? I bring to you a post on Workopolis Canada that proposes, as quoted, “Why New Grads Don’t Get Hired For Jobs: A True Story”.

While I will let you read the entire article on your own time, the author (Colleen Clarke) brought forth a suggestion in her article that young people fresh out of post-secondary education are the architects of their misfortune, based on the actions of one man named Frank who did all the wrong things in his job search.

I’m no career coach, but when it comes to being unemployed, I’m practically an expert on the subject. I have seen first-hand the challenges our young people face in finding work, and it’s not because they are anything like Frank. Their problem, as I wrote in greater detail in a past blog post, is they are in the Catch-22 experience trap. Companies have cut back on hiring and demand experience on even entry-level jobs that can be learned while working. Young people cannot earn work experience if they are not hired, hence the Catch-22 trap.

Ms. Clarke’s assumption of young people based on the actions of one slovenly young man’s inept handling of his job search is not only illogical, it pays a disservice to the majority of  young people who are very prepared when going to an interview. They have their “game face on” when showing enthusiasm in finding a job with the impressive skills at their command.

Based on my reaction and the reaction of others who commented in the article, I think Ms. Clarke should put forth an apology if not a clarification on her intent regarding her article.

Thanks for reading!

David.

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