Entry #29 – April 4, 2016

It’s warm enough outside that Mark can start wearing shorts again, thankfully, which was important because he didn’t want to go to his new job in snow pants. The convenience store near me put up a help wanted section on the municipal employment website for a shelf stocker because they fired the one they had for making a few too many mistakes while hungover. Since there was an official employment request he had to pass a skill based test, which in this line of work just meant putting a few items in their correct areas. It’s standard procedure that has to be followed, nobody involved really took it seriously. At least now when I go to the store for toothpaste I won’t have to look in the soft drinks aisle.

The requirement for skill based testing for any job openly advertised is great for people like me. It allows us to show that we can do the job, or have potential to do the job given training, without taking into account our lack of social skills. Some jobs have easier tests than others. My mother, despite having a master’s degree in accounting, had to do series of exams on various real world accounting problems when she applied to different firms. This was in order to get experience so she could get a CPA license after she passed another series of exams. My father’s tests were a bit different, since working in Human Resources does require you to have social skills so interviews, both with you as the interviewee and interviewer, are required parts of the tests. Every business has to set up the system so that it holds up to legal scrutiny, because if the tests don’t apply to the job, for example by adding in unnecessary interviewing, they could get sued over it.

The problem with the system is that it only requires skill based testing for jobs that are openly advertised. People still get jobs through connections, either alumni groups or websites or friendships or family or some other method. Sometimes they bring in multiple people for interviews, so there’s still competition but one that someone like me couldn’t win. And a lot of businesses only recruit students from the private schools that are designed to drive away people like us. It’s still standard operating procedure in a lot of sectors like consulting, law, medicine, and government, although if you’re really good and lucky you can still get into one of them even if it’s at a low level. Most senior level management positions also hire this way, although that makes sense because they would need good social skills to manage large numbers of people. But the system still makes it a lot harder for us to get some of the top paying and highly prestigious jobs in the country, even if we are just as good if not better than people not like us in some of them. At least skill-based testing allows for more of us to get jobs, and having a good but not great job is much better than having no job at all.

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