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Conflict of Interest

August 30th, 2006

When I started my job search in January I thought that there were a ton of resources at my disposal. And there were. The most obvious was the state department of workforce services (every state has them). Someone mentioned the career center from the university where I graduated (duh – I hadn’t thought of them at all – I didn’t think of them when I was in school, why would I think of them now?).

And, I live in Utah, where the LDS church obviously has a huge presence. I didn’t realize that they also had a huge professional employment program offering FREE workshops and resources to help job seekers get a job (it don’t matter what faith you are, you may find a local office at LDSJobs.com (click on Locations at the top right). And of course, recruiters would be a great resource for me in my job search.

When I started tapping into these resources I found that most of them had their own inherent problems. I’d like to share a perfect example of one of these problems, and point out that a job seeker needs to go into this with their eyes wide open!

I recently sent a request to the state of… well, let’s keep this confidential. It rhymes with Malimornia, and is apparently the WORST state to do business in (and they wonder why everyone there wants to incorporate in Nevada… duh!!). Anyway, I sent a message to them asking if they would link to JibberJobber, and let their workforce services counselors know about this great FREE resource. Here is part of their reply:

As a governmental agency, the Department has a responsibility to provide accurate and objective information to the public and must avoid the perception of endorsing commercial products or services. Members of the public have come to understand this role and may consider the presence of commercial advertisements as being an endorsement of one company over another, thus, creating an unfair advantage. It is for the above reasons that it is the policy of the Department to not include commercial advertisement within our marketing or informational products.

This really made me mad! Not because they wouldn’t link to JibberJobber (I usually expect that government places don’t, for the above lame reasoning)… but as a job seeker it is a huge disservice to me! Let me pick this apart:

the Department has a responsibility to provide accurate and objective information to the public – yes, this is exactly what I would think my tax dollars are supporting, and in my time of need this is what I expect from my fine elected representatives…

must avoid the perception of endorsing commercial products or services – sure, you want to avoid endorsements, so we can feel good that you aren’t getting a kickback or something… but doesn’t this possibly conflict with “providing accurate and objective information”… ? … as I read on…

Members of the public have come to understand this role – the role I understand you playing is helping me in any way get off of unemployment, which costs each state hundreds of millions of dollars each year! Don’t you want me off asap??

Members of the public … may consider the presence of commercial advertisements as being an endorsement of one company over another, thus, creating an unfair advantage – read, some businessman didn’t get one of these “endorsements” and lobbied for this incredible lame position.

Why can’t I expect the government to aggregate great resources for me, and pass those along? Oh wait, I know what is better – why doesn’t this fine state (I actually love it there, I lived there for 6 years and would move back in a heartbeat if starter homes didn’t cost $400,000) spend tons of money to design, develop and maintain their own JibberJobber – it could be great (well, it would be proprietary, not user-friendly and a money-sucking hole, but who cares about that – at least they are protecting their constituents from … the public!).

It is for the above reasons that it is the policy of the Department to not include commercial advertisement within our marketing or informational products – quoting from one of the funniest blog posts I read in the last few weeks, what I hear is “blah blah blah we’re stupid blah blah blah.” Did they just say they do marketing?? Sounds like someone is out to protect their own jobs and offerings – with a huge unfair advantage. They have essentially unlimited funds and unlimited scope, and are supposed to help people. But they can only help people within their own boundaries and won’t let anyone know about what is really out there.

I can guarantee you when you walk into one of these offices they’ll have you put your resume on their internal job board system and recommend that you put it on Monster. Isn’t that against this policy above?

So there you have it. They want to help you but won’t help you. As a job seeker no one cares more about your job search than you do (well, maybe your wife, kids or mother-in-law). Don’t go into any one resource and think that you have found the silver bullet. Recognize each resource for what is has to offer and find others to fill in the gaps. – they all have their strengths and they all have their weaknesses.

4 Comments »

4 responses to “Conflict of Interest”

  1. […] I hope I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings with this post. But I gotta get it off my chest. Following up from yesterday’s post about the conflict of interest of the state of “malimornia” (that is – we are here to help you but we won’t give you all the tools you need, and should have access to, because we might be helping other people while we help you (um, have you ever heard of “win-win”?)… […]

  2. One huge problem here is that the government has to spend their resources and time and money and energy making sure that, operationally, they don’t appear favoritist.

    They need to be public, accessible, open to everyone, and everything. Therefore, they need to be closed-minded, plain, blah, bland and basically powerless to innovate or do anything similar to creativity.

    This is hard, because I know great people in government trying to do great things in government.

    But when it comes to JOBS in government, especially when unemployment is involved, you might as well start pouring the concrete for your boots right now–you won’t get anywhere… fast.

    These social programs are important, even critical to our overall society.

    But that doesn’t mean they are the best, most-productive or creative means to any end whatsoever.

    August is my “government month” because, for some reason, all my credentials and vehicle registrations, etc, expire in August. Even this morning, I was in line with my fellow Americans, renewing my right to drive one of my cars.

    I meet good people in government work. They do hard things that keep this whole system we created running as well as it can. They have families and futures. I wish them the very best possible.

    But I know it’s hard, in government, to be innovative, creative, and truly open to meeting people at all levels without “dumbing down” (as you said) to the simplicity of the all-access-equals-no-access policies so common.

    *sigh* the invisible hand wins, once again.

  3. Niobe says:

    Trust me as a Federal Government worker……it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Yeah, I have a job. However, I DON’T make enough to live on my own without my husband’s income after more than 10 years of government service. I recently was confronted with the possibility of having to leave my husband but realized there was NO WAY I could do it on my current salary. Yes, I’ve tried applying for other positions but the system that has been in effect for many years holds you back and forces an exclusion of the lower pay grades from better opportunities. How does someone with a Master’s degree and more than 10 years of service in the same agency make $37,000 gross per year? Work for the government. Just like anywhere else, who you know is a HUGE part of how far you will go.

  4. […] In a different post I slammed the state of California (without naming them, but I said “It rhymes with Malimornia”). […]