Jan 02 2014

Flawed System, Flawed Self: Job Searching and Unemployment Experiences

Because Congress refused to pass an extension to unemployment benefits, 1.3 million Americans were cut off from much needed assistance after Christmas. The callous action reflects an elite mentality that relegates ordinary people to the mysterious forces of the market, and blames them for not acquiring jobs that do not exist.

Now, a new book by MIT professor Ofer Sharone, examines new research into the culture of the unemployed. Embedding himself within job search support organizations, and using in-depth interviews of white collar and blue collar American workers, and white collar Israeli workers, Sharone demonstrates that there are two distinct approaches to job searching in the US. White collar American workers play what Sharone calls the “chemistry games,” to determine whether their personalities and values click with prospective employers. Job rejection is therefore seen as equivalent to personal rejection.

Meanwhile, blue collar American and white collar Israeli workers play what Sharone calls “specs games,” where they attempt to tailor their qualifications to job openings. Job rejections to those groups of workers therefore simply means a mismatch between qualifications and requirements.

GUEST: Ofer Sharone teaches at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, where he is an assistant professor of work and employment relations. His book is called Flawed System, Flawed Self: Job Searching and Unemployment Experiences

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