Posts Tagged Human resources

Heroes and Goats and Double Standards

Excuse my logic but don’t some double standards just want to make you open up your living room window and shout out like Howard Beale did in the 1976 Movie Network “I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore?”

Admittedly this blog will be somewhat anecdotal, but hopefully it will make its point that we need as a people to apply the same standards for conduct and behavior to everyone regardless of their position in society. Otherwise we will continue to have a dichotomous world that allow reckless celebrities to get a couple of hours jail time for something as serious as DUI while average people who have overdue library books get almost the same or more jail time for a much lesser offense.

Some double standards I have seen played out over and over again are as follows:

A rich person who pinches his pennies is called a “frugal genius” while a poor person who does the same thing is just called “cheap.”  I myself was on the losing end of this double standard several years back while working as a factory laborer.  There was this older man who was going to retire and the staff was chipping in to buy him a retirement gift.  I was experiencing extremely hard times.  Also, I had only been working at this job for about a month and didn’t know this retiree all that well.

So when they passed the hat around the suggested donation was $10 but I politely indicated I could only afford $5.  The next day, I was working in the office section of the factory and I hear this machinist telling everyone that I am a cheapskate. This machinist was making almost triple of what I was earning and he only put in $10 himself, so I ask “who was the real cheapskate?”   And guess what? My boss, who was half my age always went around telling people what a genius this machinist was.

Another double standard along the same lines is that one person who is real aggressive at work or school is called “pushy” while another person exhibiting the very same behavior is called “driven.”  Yes, time for another anecdote, but I am happy to report that at least in this story, I was not the victim.  It happened during a practice session of our high school soccer team.  We were scrimmaging, which means we had a game going between two teams of players, all from our varsity squad.  There was this guy who was a starting fullback when we played actual games. The coach loved this guy big time.  Well a forward is dribbling the ball toward this fullback (the coach’s pet player), fakes him out and gets around him.  The fullback turns, grabs the forward’s jersey by the neck area and yanks him down to the ground!

All of us standing on the sidelines yelled out that this was a foul and shouldn’t be allowed.  In the coach’s eyes, his star fullback could never be wrong.  The coach told us to silence our criticism. He labeled the fullback’s cheating as “good aggressive play.”

If some other player, say a second stringer had done the same move, I guarantee this coach would have had him doing 100 pushups or running laps after practice. 

Then, there’s this double standard, maybe you’ve heard it while applying for a job. It is used quite often on inexperienced job seekers who haven’t yet learned the fine art of having quick comebacks ready for difficult questions or statements. The human resources person interviewing you will exclaim “you’re too experienced for the job. If you’ve ever had this happen, you probably shook your head in disbelief and swore your senses were playing tricks on you. It’s standard HR behavior but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. You need a job. He has a job but he tells you you’re overqualified.  After many a disheartening job interview where I heard this line of bull I often would ask myself “how can you ever be too experienced?”  But, you see, your experience will mandate their paying you more and the job search jungle is filled with booby traps such as this.  They’d rather get someone who is maybe not experienced enough but pay him half of what they would have to pay you or me.

Incidentally as most of us know, this same perverse logic is applied over and over again to older workers.  The older worker has years of knowhow and a wealth of on the job experience.  Yet if the company can find some young naïve person who is willing to work for less at the same job, the older worker is shown the door.

As I mentioned, searching for jobs necessitates a jungle warfare attitude.  A relative of mine had graduated from a very expensive school paid for mostly with student loans.  When this relative interviewed for a job that was paying $11 an hour, the manager asked sarcastically “why would a person like you who went to such and such a school costing $45,000 a year” need a job that only pays $11 an hour.  My relative was skilled at interviews and had the comeback right away. “It was all paid for with loans” she said.  I love it when someone can make a human resources person squirm.

And how’s this for human resources savagery?  A neighbor I know had worked more than 12 years for a company.  You would think corporate headhunters would value such employee loyalty. My neighbor explained to me that many corporate interviewers will turn that loyalty against the job seeker and suggest that they are too complacent.  The interviewer will suggest that the job candidate is too passive and as such not their kind of worker.

Does slow and steady always win the race?

The last double standard I would ask you to consider involves college educations. 

Many years ago, recently married, I had been out of work for a good six months. I just couldn’t land a job. I tried every way I could but couldn’t find work.  So my wife asked me to apply for food stamps.   Simple enough procedure I thought.  After several weeks, I finally got a face to face with a social worker.  She goes into a tirade on me exclaiming “you’re a college graduate!  You should have a job!  I can’t offer you any help.”  “Excuse me?” I asked incredulously. She repeated her ridiculous assertions.  I replied that if she had a job to offer I would consider taking it. That kind of shut her up, but in the end I didn’t get any food stamps.

In the end I concluded that there are people who out of fear or envy will try to belittle you for having graduated college.  In the 30 plus years I have been out of college I have seen many instances of people using my college education as ammunition to dis me. It is as if they want to show that they didn’t even have to go to college to be smarter than the guy who did. It has happened to me so many times that I am now familiar with it. Now when I see one of these types of persons leading down the path toward their ambush, I shrug it off and hearken back to the words of Bob Dylan. “Well I would not feel so all alone. Everybody must get stoned.”

Copyright 2009; Greg S.  

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