We’re inundated with bad news and even worse forecasts. Consider this uplifting assessment of the commercial real estate industry, posted recently on the Internet by Paul Craig Roberts, assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration:
For a picture of the US real estate crisis, imagine New Orleans wrecked by Hurricane Katrina, and before the waters even begin to recede, a second Katrina hits. The 1,120,000 lost US retail jobs in 2008 are a signal that the second stage of the real estate bust is about to hit the economy. This time it will be commercial real estate-shopping malls, strip malls, warehouses, and office buildings. As businesses close and rents decline, the ability to service the mortgages on the over-built commercial real estate disappears.
We’ve known for more than half a century that expectations shape our future. If that’s a given–if what we believe can come true because we consciously and subconsciously act in ways that cause the event to happen–then maybe it’s time to stop expecting the worst.
Maybe it’s time for a little less technology and a little more humanity, a little less introspection and a little more conversation. Maybe it’s time to remember that virtual is not reality–and that recovery begins the day we collectively make it the priority.
Don’t get me wrong. Technology has its place and an important one at that. But it fails when we use it to feed our fears and anonymity, or focus on its capabilities without regard to its limitations. It fails when we forget that it’s just a means to an end, not an end in itself. And it fails when we make it more important than the people who use it, as this unemployed woman explains in a moving post:
“I don’t know which I hate more: this economy or the people it’s empowered to treat job seekers like circus animals…In the past few months, I’ve submitted dozens of resumes, custom cover letters and samples of my work. Most potential employers are so overwhelmed with applicants they don’t even bother to respond. That’s discouraging. But what are even worse are the companies that capitalize on the desperation of the unemployed. Because they have so many applications, they feel empowered to subject applicants to one test after another. In other words, looking for a job has devolved to jumping through hoops.”
Technology makes it easy to apply for a job. It just doesn’t make it any easier to get one. The applicant pool to fill job openings is “deeper and richer,” employers concede, thanks to online applications that make submitting a resume as easy as sending email.
“A year ago, you’d post a job and get almost no resumes,” said Barry Shamis, president of Selecting Winners, a consulting firm in Port Angeles, WA. “Now you’re inundated with applicants.”
To weed out candidates, some companies scan resumes by computer. Special software searches applicants’ resumes in the database for keywords, phrases, or qualifications chosen by the employer. The software then creates a summary of your resume and ranks it among other qualified candidates for the position.
Others send all qualified candidates follow-up email asking for more information. But the questions range far beyond experience and education, this job seeker explains:
One company asked how I would spend the money if I hit the jackpot in the lottery. How should someone answer that: honestly, as in I’d pay off my debts and invest it so I wouldn’t have to subject myself to indignities like this questionnaire, or unrealistically altruistic, as I might if I were a candidate for Miss America?
Another company asked me to explain what I wanted to be when I was a child. What does that have to do with qualifications for a job?
Yes, technology makes it easy to ask questions. But it doesn’t help us ask the right ones-and isn’t the source of all our answers.