Looking for a Career? Get Off the Job Line
by Ricky Cohen ◊ Jun 15, 2012
The rate of improvement in the unemployment picture is such that it will take decades for the unemployed to benefit…
Assuming the market creates 100-200,000 jobs per month, it will take approximately 10 years to absorb the current numbers of unemployed and underemployed. As the number of job seekers increases with the graduation of men and women from high schools and colleges, millions of additional people will be cast into a job market that is, at best, under-performing and unstable. Day-to-day challenges will become exacerbated for job seekers as the potential number of applicants grows exponentially relative to the small number of jobs being created. Millions more men and women will be chasing the few jobs that the longer living baby boomers and boomlets are attempting to hold on to!
So what do we do?
We must continue to enable and incentivize private sector companies and non-profits to increase hiring with creative policies and initiatives, and we must do the same in the public sector. But, to take a serious stab at providing income for current and future career seekers, we must put our greatest efforts into something that is a much truer reflection of the reality of the job market: Ignore it.
The answer for job seekers is obvious: Get off the job line.
The concept of a job is relatively new. For most of the time that human beings have populated the planet, there was no such thing as a job. Ancient societies were made up exclusively of what we would presently refer to as entrepreneurs. The world economy was agrarian – with most men working for themselves in efforts that were related to farming or managing livestock. Farmers and shepherds made up the overwhelming majority of those in the ancient workforce. The only men who worked for someone else were those who were enslaved to that person. There was no perspective of job seekers and job opportunities. If you needed to eat or to provide food for others, you would come up with a way to get something of your own started. The advent of an individual or an entity that hires or employs someone else is a relatively new phenomenon begun with the industrial revolution, as companies were created that provided the opportunity for numbers of men, and ultimately women, to lend their services to another.
Let’s reclaim a bit of the age old perspective with which human society was built. Let’s change the paradigm from looking for a job to starting something on your own. Let’s put a significant emphasis on entrepreneur training rather than job training. And, let’s provide the skills to start independent efforts rather than the skills for resume writing and interviewing.
In ancient Greece, Mesopotamia, or the Far East, there were no unemployment benefits to provide food and shelter for those who were beginning anew in the marketplace – you ate what you picked, harvested, or trapped. Today, most who are out of work are fortunate to receive unemployment benefits for the several months needed to get an entrepreneurial effort off the ground. Rather than spending days on the unemployment line, networking, or going from one job fair to another, let’s guide our young and older job seekers to spend those days fleshing out their visions for their own creative entrepreneurial efforts.
The overwhelming majority of the income generated by human beings throughout history was a result of the efforts of that individual who worked the field on his own – with family members and friends who helped him from time to time. Today, the backbone of modern day America remains small businesses. The greatest number of new startups in our county’s history took place in the last four years with over two million men and women beginning their own “companies” from scratch. Most of those efforts remain single person entities.
Let’s commit our time and energies to trying to double the average number of new entrepreneurs from approximately 500,000 to 1,000,000 annually. Let’s take our young adults, neighbors, and friends, whose confidence is further diminished week after week with unsuccessful job interviews, or the lack thereof, and help them by giving them the tools to reveal their innate talents and direct those talents to efforts that are fulfilling and, ultimately, financially rewarding. Let’s reclaim in ourselves and in the magnificent men and women who populate this great country, the spirit of the individual and his/her capacity to achieve independently. Doing so will not only go a long way to solving our employment crises, but more importantly, it will change our career paradigm to one that again encourages and rewards the efforts of the individual.
Initiative and risk taking, two of the most cherished human values, the enablers of much of the memorable successes on our planet, will be reclaimed, families and marriages will be rebuilt, and a permanent sense of self-empowerment will become re-ingrained in our society.
This is a time for action, not for words.
The experiences of those who preceded us can guide us as we build our futures.
Ricky Cohen, the former CEO of Conway Stores (1981-2000), provided the first job for thousands of immigrants and gave a multitude of entry level employees the training/mentoring to grow into management positions within the company. Under his leadership as CEO, The Conway Organization was transformed into an industry leader and in just seven years, increased its annual sales fortyfold, from $4,000,000 to $175,000,000. Cohen’s greatest returns come from the “people building business.” To insure long-term profitability, Cohen trains his employees to think and act as entrepreneurs.
With a new effort that began in 2005, Cohen broadened his focus into the real estate world and launched Conway Capital. In just three years, he was co-managing a portfolio of over $300mm of real estate in the New York metropolitan area.