An Advocate for Change

Several years ago I found myself at the local Michworks office completing the paperwork to receive unemployment benefits. I handed my resume over to the gentleman working at the front desk and after scanning it he reiterated that I had just been laid off from a recruiting role. Um, duh, that’s why I’m here. He reached into his desk drawer, pulled out a piece of paper, handed it to me and asked for my help. What I held in my hands was his resume. He was asking me to help him find a new job and I am the one standing in the unemployment line!

While the economy was slightly different back then, I still found it offensive that he was currently employed and asking me, an obviously unemployed person, for help in getting him another job. The bigger picture, however, was the overall lack of respect and commitment to his job and the people he was supposed to be helping. John (obviously not his real name) was an employee of the state, working in this Michworks office. Out of curiosity, I asked him why he was looking for a new job. He said he heard recruiting was easy and you can pick and choose who you work with. Unlike the unemployment office, where you HAVE to go in order to collect unemployment. Yup, most people are pretty grumpy, which doesn’t make for a good day for him. But you have good benefits? Yup, that’s why he hadn’t made the move yet.

So, here sits an employee, a representative of our state, if you will, who really doesn’t like his job, nor does he like the people he is supposed to be helping, and takes up company time to try to network himself into a new position. All the while, he is being paid to help those in front of him find new positions. Some people who have probably never put together a resume, never collected unemployment and don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from. Literally.

What really bothered me about this whole interaction was the lack of, well, effort. There was absolutely no energy in that office. No positive vibe, no upbeat attitude, no ‘team spirit’. Just the silence of people who are counting the minutes until they can leave. Not the most positive experience I’ve had, but as usual, I feel compelled to speak my mind and maybe, just maybe, help make it a better experience for the next guy.

In order to do that, I would like to propose some changes to our Michworks system. In theory I think the system is a great thing for employers as well as those looking for work. The ‘free’ aspect is a huge draw for employers and as a central point for all job seekers, it’s a phenomenal tool. It’s very user friendly and covers everything I need as a job seeker. Before I lay out my proposed changes, however, I do want to put the caveat out that not every employee in the Michworks offices are as I described John. There are some who love their jobs and are good at what they do. I’m afraid those are few and far between, however. So on with my changes.

As an Advocate for Michworks Reform, I would suggest:
1. All employees of the Michworks offices must apply for the positions and have the experience (either in recruiting or HR) required to best serve the job seekers (the Civil Service exams would not count).
2. Incentives (not necessarily monetary) should be placed on the amount of top notch resumes entered into the system with the employees’ initials on them. Incomplete or substandard resumes are subtracted from the total numbers.
3. Personal, one on one time with each job seeker discussing whatever they want to focus on. Whether it’s interviewing techniques, dress code, how to cold call for job openings, etc, the Michworks employee should be knowledgeable and ready with guidance. These meetings should be scheduled at the request of the job seeker and the availability of the employee. Not a mandated meeting with little or no benefit to either party.
4. As a Government Operated program there should be incentive (not necessarily monetary) to help the job seekers get back to work. The more people working in our state, the higher the tax base, the more money available for our state budget, etc. Instead of just processing people through the system, the Michworks employees should be held accountable for the people they see every day.
5. The overall culture/attitude of the Michworks offices need to be addressed. Yes, it is a rough time for people, we all get that. But what’s wrong with a smile and some compassion the job seekers? These positions should be coveted positions within the state system. The chance to really make a difference in someone’s life? These positions should be for people who are passionate about our great state and really want to do their part.

These are just a few to get started. A positive environment combined with the right amount of compassion and guidance can really make someone’s day. The more people start to feel good about themselves, the better they will do in their job search. Ultimately, the more people that are back to work and off unemployment, the more disposable income will be in our community and the more our local economy will benefit.

As a state, shouldn’t we hold each and every one of us accountable for doing our part? Shouldn’t we all do the right thing and do our part to move things forward? If we have provided the tools to be the best we can be, then we have done the right thing. Shame on us for doing anything less.

1 thought on “An Advocate for Change”

  1. And wouldn't you think that there are plenty of unemployed, highly talented HR professionals that would be ideal for these roles? Michigan could kick this system up a notch by employing such individuals into these positions, benefiting the unemployed HR professionals in the system and those that desperately need their expertise.

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