April 17, 2013
To: Hiring managers, HR professionals, et al.
From: Beth Kujawski
Re: You, me, and the state of the job market
We haven't met. Which is a shame. Because the first thing you should know about me is that I am an awesome
employee / contractor / freelancer.
I was raised to be humble. But for the purposes of this memo, I am setting humility aside. I shall resume my humble ways when I hit Publish on this post. Until then, though, I'm going to take this opportunity to be more blunt than I've ever been before. It's time.
I am the kind of person who cannot shirk. There are times when I think I'd like to shirk, but then my conscience pipes up (it sounds like me, but I'm pretty sure it's my mother) and tells me to do what I know is right. So I do.
When I was 18, I ran Jeff Zaslow's Chicago office at the Chicago Sun-Times
. Jeff lived in Detroit. His syndicate operated out of New York. But everything was moved through Chicago. Which didn't make sense, geographically, but that's the way it worked. Years later, Jeff — may he rest in peace — said that when he thought about present-day 18-year-olds, he marveled at the notion that I was running his office when I was just old enough to vote.
I have always been mature for my age.
In my 20s, I spent five years at the Chicago Tribune
, a career path that began with me as part-timer in Sports and ended with me as a full-timer in Features. When I left the paper, I was helping out on five sections, four more than the one I was paid to work on. I work very efficiently. And I get bored. So I took on more and more duties to fill my days. I thought I was being smart and proving how valuable I was to the company. It never dawned on me that I was sealing my fate, as no one was in any hurry to promote me as I was fulfilling many needs for them in my current, self-expanded role.
But even if I knew that then, I still would have taken on the extra work.
I won't bore you with a complete rundown of everything I've ever done in the world of work. But I will say this:
I am the person who does what it takes to get the job done. I will come in early. I will stay late. I will skip lunch or go later. I will help folks find solutions to their problems.
Just this morning, a client wrote to ask if I could cover for her at her office today. No, unfortunately, I can't. Not in person. But, I offered, I can work remotely if that will help. As I write this, I am waiting for a project.
I am a word person in every way: I write. I edit. I proofread. I am very good at what I do. I get along well with pretty much everyone. Heck, I even bake treats for my clients and take them into the office.
All things being equal, don't you want to hire the person who makes sensational brownies?
Just yesterday, I heard this statistic:
"By 2020, more than 40 percent of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be freelancers, contractors and temp workers, according to a study conducted by software company Intuit."
We aren't a niche, we independent folks. We're on our way to being nearly half of the labor market, and soon.
Some folks are freelance by design. Others are freelance by necessity.
But "freelance" seems to have a stigma attached to it in the hiring world.
Which baffles me.
If a freelancer is applying for a job with your company, are they automatically disregarded as a candidate? In a world in which four in 10 people will soon be freelancers, aren't you writing off a huge pool of candidates if you're only looking at people who are leaving one full-time job for another full-time job, given that fewer and fewer people will have full-time jobs?
More than ever, the work world is very fluid. Long, long gone are the days of working with one company and retiring with a bad-sheet-cake send-off and a gold watch. Long gone are the days of longevity in any company.
The financial crisis of 2008 was a seismic shift in the world of work. Companies are making record profits and see little need to rehire, as fewer workers are now simply doing more work.
For now. That doesn't strike me as a "solution" that's sustainable.
All of which is to say, I'm worth meeting. My résumé may not be crammed with the software-searchable buzzwords of the moment.
But I'm smart. I'm creative. I'm personable. And I bake.
And if I'm applying for a job with your organization, it's because I truly believe I'll be a good fit.
But you need to discover that for yourselves.
So let's talk.