Why Companies Still Aren’t Hiring (And What You Can Do About It)

Original Post:Why Companies Still Aren’t Hiring (And What You Can Do About It)

There are two words that most job seekers should fear more than any other, that permeate the current domestic (and to some degree, global) work climate, and can spell certain doom for almost anyone who is complacent in their current position.
Those words are “lean production.”
If you had an introduction to business class (or checked Wikipedia), you may remember lean production being defined thusly (on Wikipedia):
Lean production (or manufacturing) is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination.
But in this case, we’re using the term lean production in the context of human capital. And as companies are tightening their wallets, the chances of them using this practice increase. Here’s a fake-textbook example:
Herman and Martha both work for the Acme Company making Widgets. They both get paid a salary of $40,000 each, and have a monthly production of 100,000 widgets each. The Acme Company is in a tight financial spot, so they fire Herman and tell Martha to increase her production rate. Fearful of being fired, Martha starts making 150,000 widgets per month, without any change in pay or benefits.
When both Herman and Martha were working, the cost of a widget that they made to the company (versus their salaries) was 3 cents. With Herman gone and Martha’s increased production, a widget now “costs” 2 cents. Despite a loss of 50,000 widgets per month, the company still comes out ahead. And now that Martha is more cost-effective, an improving financial situation still gives Acme no reason to hire Herman, as production levels would return to where they were, making the company lose money.

Boy, that sounds like an exaggeration, huh? Well, not really. Companies across the country are laying off workers and having their remaining employees pick up the slack. New responsibilities are added without any financial compensation, and production remains virtually unchanged.
Even though the economy may be improving, there’s not enough incentive for them to hire new employees, especially when the costs are so low.
But doesn’t that drive up the value of employees to the companies, causing more problems when they get sick, demand extra pay, threaten to quit, or so on? You ask. In most cases, no. Because there’s the ace in the hole that has been created by the loss of jobs and the need for employment: freelance workers. And since freelancers are often paid at a different rate than full-time employees (usually without benefits), more money can be saved than by making a new full-time position.
So how can a job seeker combat against lean production and freelancers in the marketplace?
We’ve previously discussed some options for the unemployed that don’t involve directly combating the job market, but for those who insist on joining the corporate world, there are four solid options:
  1. Start freelancing. Some companies hire on a contract basis to determine whether or not to employ someone full-time. There’s no reason to not dive into the freelancing deep end, provided that you have some way of getting health benefits.

  2. Intern or volunteer. It’s much cheaper for a company to take someone on for little (or no) cost as an intern or office volunteer. Besides getting more knowledge about your future position, you may get offered a full-time job after your internship/volunteer period is over.

  3. Move laterally. If the company is hiring for a position in another department that you are qualified for, go for it. You can then begin taking the steps to make the move to the department where you want to be.

  4. Work for a competitor. Not every company is using lean production; many are hiring right now. Check out industry news and related job search sites to find other businesses that you could work for in the same capacity – you might even find something better!
Even though many businesses are not hiring, there are still options for job seekers to get where they want to go. With a little ingenuity and know-how, you’ll be on your way to the job you want in no time!