Statistics tell us that unemployment is still high – around 18 applicants per job, I read recently. I would love to know what these figures are based on but suspect it is the number of CVs that are sent out for a single position.One of the disadvantages for us employers about the tightening up on benefits over the last few years is that job seekers have to be seen to be active in attempting to get a job. I follow and support the principle of this but like many of these systems, it totally fails to achieve what it sets out to do. Once the applicants have sent off their CVs, the job centres no longer follow through what happens afterwards. And the job “seekers” are more than wise to this. Depressingly, when we are recruiting, our first step on any even remotely possible CVs is to send an email back to the applicant with some further questions. Some very different statistics emerge from this. Approximately one in ten reply at all. Of those who respond, you also get the odd one who claims they did not realise where the job was and are no longer interested. One can only assume that the nine who fail to respond have absolutely no intention of getting a job at all but have simply ticked their weekly quota to obtain more benefits. To put this in perspective, this is in a small parliamentary constituency with a current unemployment benefit rate of 2.5 per cent – not as high as many places in the country. On the other side of the coin, in our particular town, we hear constant cries about the problems with youth unemployment. Three out of the six jobs we were advertising required little or no experience. I heard of two different people who had seen the jobs but thought that one end of the (small) town to the other was too far to be bothered to walk. It is difficult when faced with this not to join the soap box of anti-benefit claimants. There is clearly a nucleus that does, indeed, not want to work. I also have a problem with interviewees who stare out the window throughout an interview, interrupting occasionally to announce that they know everything about the job already. I blanch at stories readily told about how other interviewees are taking ex-employees to court over grievances various. Just occasionally, an applicant walks through the door, sometimes, though not always, a genuine victim of the tough economic times, who shows old fashioned qualities of genuine enthusiasm, willingness to work, and a keenness to learn. They are an absolute beacon in the depression that appears to be recruiting – whatever the statistics say. Jan Cavelle is founder of the Jan Cavelle Furniture Company.
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