Month: April 2016

The Envelope’s Edge

taiwanese_real_mailed_envelop_one
Traditional job search methods, like the inside of an envelope, only go so far. Sometimes it becomes necessary to push the envelope boundaries, regardless of what others might think of you. Image from the library at Wikicommons.

My campaign to find full time work and return to financial self reliance and self sufficiency involves many initiatives and efforts. Even though they are meant to run seamlessly side-by-side, each take a unique approach that range from the traditional to the envelope pushing.

The traditional approaches include but are not limited to applying online for job openings, attending workshops and getting advice from employment assistance centres, networking with friends, co-workers and family;  going to job fairs and interviews, while doing any sort of part time and temp work I have a skill set for. These are expected of me as a job seeker, and usually would not raise an eyebrow.

The envelope pushing approaches are those that I have been forced to do when little fruit has been plucked from the traditional. This blog was the start of it, followed by my episodic series, “David Needs A Job” which ran for over 30 episodes on YouTube and was produced while I still had a roof over my head in Toronto and only had to worry about finding a job. I posted ads on Kijiji and Craigslist Canada (which reminds me, I need to renew them for May, June, and July) stating my attention to look for work. I went on Begslist to, yeah, beg for help. I couch surfed when I was not homeless which was too often in my book and now I have my GoFundMe initiative to help me keep off the streets and get back to work.

The latter approach has produced better results. I have done piecemeal blog work, outdoor work, flyer delivery, and moving jobs all because of this approach. Why this has worked better than my traditional methods is unclear but probably because no one has thought of trying what I did, so there’s little competition in this area of jobseeking.

This is where the reference pushing the envelope comes from…you push the limits of what the traditional methods defined in the hope of getting a result.

Pushing past the boundaries of what is traditional does not mean breaking the law or scamming or using people. It does mean shedding the mindset of “Oh, I would never do that to get a job.” Well, what do I mean by that? Well, that in my case means making my unemployment and homelessness public. “We don’t talk about you being out of work or homeless” said one person to me. Well, no, we in fact do need to talk about it. How else am I going to get help if people don’t know I’m in this much trouble? Same goes with asking for help and begging. I’m not a religious person but Matthew 7:7 sums it up beautifully:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Sounds good to me.

However, there’s a cost to this. Just because I changed my boundaries of what I am willing to do to get off the streets for good and back to full time employment does not mean other people’s boundaries will change in lockstep. Expect criticism, even harsh and hurtful comments such as the one recently received by someone I care about who said “David, you have really disappointed me” about my GoFundMe initiative.

Having said this, getting off the streets, finding a job, and escaping poverty is something no one can do for you. If your back is really up against the wall and you’re down to your last quarter or loaf, you have to do what you can. Don’t break the law, but definitely push that envelope limit.

Thanks for reading.

David.

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Feedback Noise

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Cartoon of people arguing over something. Obtained from the Wikicommons library

I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts and a few videos on YouTube and Google+ that we have a serious unemployment, poverty, and homelessness problem in the West. I’ve also mentioned that there are many reasons why they have not been resolved yet — lack of understanding of the problem, perception of the unemployed and impoverished as lazy leeches who do not want to work, and so on.

 

One reason I have not touched on came to light during an online debate with a few YouTube viewers about all Muslims being terrorists. I’ve always believed that people should be judged on their past actions, not because of a shared attribute such as skin color or faith. This means I don’t believe all blacks are criminals because the prison population percentage reflects this, or all Muslims are terrorists because most terrorist attacks are done by Muslims. My favourite boss was a black man and I had wonderful neighbours who followed Islam. These people were not favourites or wonderful because of their skin color or faith. They were just great people. Some YouTube users don’t share my beliefs and can be vicious and vulgar in their disagreement. When I see a debate headed in an ugly direction, I consider that debate done and stop at my end. They can go talk to themselves for all I care.

This sort of nasty one-upmanship, however, gets in the way of dealing with the problems I’ve mentioned above, because the argument itself becomes more important than the topic the argument was about. When things spiral out of control in this manner, it goes from, “I want to fix the problem” to “I want to get this guy and win the argument”.

While all this bickering is going on, those people in the unfortunate situation that everyone is arguing about sees nothing happen and wonder if anyone cares about them.

People do care, but we render ourselves both deaf and stupid when we lose control of our faculties.

Thanks for reading!

David.

“Buy” The Numbers

jobs-fair-boardAccording to Statistics Canada, the employment scene is on the mend with the creation of 41,000 jobs, with 35,000 being full time positions.

I guess it’s time for me to stop with the end of the Age Of Austerity and the jobless recovery rants?

Think again. Let’s examine the numbers in more detail.

25,000 of the jobs were in health care. Unionized jobs spurred by increased government spending. Not increased by improving consumer confidence which drives the economy.

Again, understand what the unemployment rate means. It means, I quote, “The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed as a percentage of the labour force (employed and unemployed).” The total employed in Canada is 18,044,000 as of March 2016 from Statistic Canada and the labour participation rate, again from Statistics Canada, is only 65.9%.

Taking into considering the above numbers and percentages, a creation of 41,000 new jobs for a country with a population of 36,048,521 is not a strong increase. It’s anemic.

It’s also important to note that the unemployment rate for 2016 is still stubbornly high when compared to the previous years between 2013 and 2015, as pointed out by someone commenting on the article reporting the employment news. Moreover, Canada hasn’t always had this high an unemployment rate. When I was growing up, the unemployment rate in Canada hovered around 5% in the 1970s, and it was socially unacceptable to be out of work back in those days because it was easier to find a job. Now we have economists saying, “Oh! 41,000 jobs were created with an unemployment rate falling to 7.1%! By these numbers, we’re doing great!”

THIS IS NOT GREAT. We have young people trying to find work while facing near-unattainable tuition costs. We have the homeless living on the streets in a country that has a reputation of being prosperous for all yet homes — an essential — are priced like a luxury item and require two incomes to afford a mortgage. We have people working many part time jobs, or in a single job that does not match their career path, yet both situations are classified as normal employment. We have offshoring of Canadian jobs in the name of keeping payroll costs down, which means employees are being regarded in the same light as an office consumable.

By these numbers? Don’t buy it. Percentages are made up representations of sample data. They could mean anything.

Thanks for reading.

David.