Bad Math

Original image from Toronto Sports Media. Ownership and copyright belongs to the author of the media creator
Original image from Toronto Sports Media. Ownership and copyright belongs to the author of the media created

I’ll be frank: job searching is B.S. Not the fact that I need to get a job is B.S.: we live in a capitalistic society so we need money to buy things, ergo we need a job. It’s the process of looking for work that has become an exercise in B.S. The interview process that puts less focus on qualifications and more on how well you sell yourself like a product. The waiting game following the interview where you show interest and follow up while never being told the position was filled weeks ago. The stock rejection letters that contain phrases like “moving on in the process” or “keeping your application on file for future consideration” when the person telling you this has no intention of doing so. The people that tell you that there are plenty of jobs and you are not trying, even though I’m no longer someone with a fixed address, having lost my apartment and couch-surfing throughout southern Ontario from Toronto to Cambridge in search of a job.

Oh yes — THOSE people. Those experts who think the economy is actually doing pretty gosh darn good when in fact, according to the following report, things are so bad people are giving up looking for work in droves. I’ll expand on that report in my next blog post.

I usually ignore the previous B.S. mentioned: more accurately I’ve become desensitized to it. The pseudo-experts on the other hand need a reality check, especially those people who use statistics pulled from the air in their attempt to prove a point.

I came across one such person, named rjd2, on one of the comments section on Workopolis. She claimed to work at an employment assistance centre, or in her own words an employment office (EO). I have no idea why she would use that phrase, since these centres in fact do not get you a job. I suppose it’s one of those expressions like employment insurance, which in fact does nothing to insure you from loss of employment, but I digress.

The comments section was for an article about the worst career advice ever received. I commented that going to employment assistance agencies was the worst advice given and in my experience it’s the truth. For those of you who have been following this blog from the start, you do not need an explanation why I feel this way. If you are a newcomer, let’s save some time by saying I lost a lot of patience, time, and one USB storage fob working with these services.

In that article, rjd2 saw my remark and expressed surprise, stating her office has an over 80% success rate in (I assume) helping clients find employment. So, here we go: a person from one of my most favourite places to deal with (*boom* goes your sarcasm detector) claiming to have quite a success rate helping people find work, without any supporting documentation to back it up. Naturally I had to ask for the name and location of the office, and the report that contains the statistics to back up her claim.

I practically hear the scuffling sounds of a backpeddle when she says she is not comfortable revealing such information, since she posts often under an anonymous name and prefers to remain that way. She suggests I contact the government ministry responsible for the EO funding to get that information.

What a pile of nonsense. She wants to remain anonymous yet was pretty comfortable telling me she works at an EO and quotes a statistical figure that, if worth the percentage sign it sits in front of, has data behind it to validate her claim. On top of that, anyone who has dealt with a governmental department for anything knows the passage of time flows considerably more slowly than normal space/time reality On top of that, there’s no guarantee anyone would release such a report unless a request for information is filed.

I press on and question the validity of that statistic: only fair, no facts, no truth to the number she provided, particularly since she posted under an anonymous nick. She gets incensed and posts what must be the all-time whopper of fear-mongering to justify her reluctance to provide the information I asked for:

“Backpeddling? Hardly. You’re asking for specific reports as well as the name and location of my place of work! You, and anyone on here, could see that and show up here, for all I know.”

Un-Bee-Leave-Able. In her eyes, I’m some crazy psychopath seeking to do harm to her and her colleagues and her reluctance to share the information is because she suddenly feels very unsafe. That justification is practically laughable. If she works in an EO, it’s a public place where there are no security guards, no iron bars, no metal detectors, no sliding bulkheads (at least not the five EOs I’ve been to). If there was really some person with a crazy-on for employment offices, there’s nothing stopping that person from grabbing an arsenal of firearms and walking right on up to that EO to express their kind of complaint. Not that I am advocating any such behaviour of course. Violence is wrong, no matter the reason given.

If she was that concerned for her personal safety, why risk that concern by stating where she worked, and especially providing data that could lead to her location being investigated?

Here’s a more cutting and relevant question. She also states, as quoted, “I can tell you that the ministry (who is responsible for our funding) tracks our numbers closely. We HAVE to maintain a certain success rate in order to stay open”. All right then, if such is the case, why do we have so many people unemployed in Canada, and why are there so many employment centres still open and in operation if they are not doing their job?

Here’s what I feel happened. She probably made up the figure because she was provoked into responding from my negative comment about employment assistance centres. What she did not realize was someone was going to question that statistic. Then again, when dealing with employees who work in an industry that exists only because of the misfortune of others, expect a holier-than-thou attitude when their work is questioned.

It’s no wonder I don’t deal with employment assistance centres any more.

Thanks for reading!


Update May 2nd 2016: The exchange between rjd2 and I have long since been erased, in case you were wondering why there are no comments. Elizabeth Bromstein has a reputation for erasing comments that do not lend itself to her view that things are not as bad as they seem employment wise. You know, how a typical employment and career counselor thinks.


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