Monday, April 17, 2006

Crisis in New York- 60% of Black Men Unemployed

If you know any unemployed Black men, Please print out this blog and share it with them. It may just help them find a job. I’ll be updating this series every Monday and Thursday for the next couple of weeks.

Sixty percent of African-American men are unemployed in New York City. That’s a staggering statistic in a growing U.S. economy where the state unemployment rate is 4.6%, the national unemployment rate is at 4.5%, and the nation’s economy has enough jobs to outsource them to foreign countries. In a time when the overall American economy is booming, the economy in New York’s African-American community is collapsing. In that pool of unemployed men are people with decades of experience, college educations with multiple degrees, and skilled workers with detailed resumes proficient with every piece of computer software out there. So why can’t Black men in New York City find work?

Black leaders who try to address this issue are often are eager to answer the question citing the usual excuses: lack of education, poor schools, discrimination, and a changing job market due to the tragedy of 9/11. Some have even speculated that the growing Hispanic population in the city is costing African-American community jobs. However, race and formal education have nothing to do with this unemployment crisis. Black men in New York City and the country have never learned effective job searching skills that allowed them to stay competitive in the job market.

Culturally in America, job searching has always been a social skill children learned through interaction with parents and friends, not something taught in schools. Six in ten African-American men are still using outdated job seeking methods like want ads, filling out applications, and employment agencies to look for work because their parents used them in the past. What 100% of unemployed African-American men don’t know is that these job seeking methods were only successful 6.5 percent of the time ten years ago. In today’s highly competitive job market, they’re even less effective. Out of those six unemployed Black men using these methods, only one of them will probably find a job within two years if they try their hardest.

What can Black men do to improve their odds of finding work? They have to learn the skills and approaches that will help them find employment. They have to learn how to acquire information that can become a solid job lead. They have to learn how to take action on a job leads they get in a timely fashion. But before they learn these new skills they must learn why what they’re doing currently isn’t working.

Most black men I know swear up and down by the Sunday Times and the News, and plunk down $4.50 to buy a copy of both papers just for its help Wanted sections. What they don’t know is they’re wasting their money. Due to the way most newspapers are published, most want ads are already a week old the day they are printed. The ads listed in the Help wanted section in the Sunday newspaper are actually submitted by employers Tuesday, printed that Wednesday and delivered to retailers on Thursday. The Sunday main sections are usually delivered on Sunday morning and assembled together by retailers. By the time the customer buys the newspaper, the jobs listed in them are probably already filled. This is why only 0.5% (less than one half of one percent) of all job seekers find jobs through a newspaper.

Another traditional place African-Americans go looking for work are the employment agencies, Private and Public. State unemployment agencies are ineffective for a job search because they don’t update their databases regularly. Some of the job listings in those databases are up to a year or two years old! The information is just too old to act on.

Due to 9/11 most temporary agencies have shuttered their doors leaving black men without a place to look for work. The ones still in business have always been more interested in sales of services to large corporations, not developing a work record for their temps that helps them on a career track. The agent’s primary concern is making contract sales to the employer, not helping the temp find a full-time job with mobility. When an employee is hired, the agent actually loses money. This is why only 6% of all job seekers find employment find jobs through an agent.

Black men also often go door-to-door in their job searches looking for work, filling out random applications and submitting resumes to just about anyone. This approach may look productive, but in today’s changing job market it’s becoming a major time waster. In a city of over eight million people local businesses often get 100 to 200 applications a day. Most of these forms are simply are filed away, then tossed in the trash after 60 or 90 days; the usual timeframe for keeping an application on file. Some larger retailers like PathMark, Kmart, Whole Foods, and Best Buy are now using computerized systems for their application process. These databases are designed to automatically delete applications within 60 or 90 days automatically if no positions are open. Without a referral from an employee on the inside, getting a job this way is a crapshoot where the odds are against the job seeker.


African-Americans must change the way they approach searching for a job. Instead of seeing job searches as work, they must start seeing it as a life skill they will need to function as an independent adult. People will change jobs and companies on average 11 times in their lifetime. Transitioning from one job to another so many times will require all people to start approaching the job market from a different perspective.

As I stated earlier looking for work is a skill that has to be learned. If you know how to look for work, you’ll know where to get the leads to find a job. I believe once Black men are taught job seeking skills, the overall unemployment rate among African-Americans will decline permanently.

The Job Seeker with life skills is :

proactive, not passive.
The most important skill Black men must learn is how to be proactive during a job search. When you’re on a job or attending school is the best time to look for work. These two environments are full of support networks of individuals who can help find and share leads, like teachers, co-workers, and managers. Being around positive people and in positive environments create positive results. Each day you are around people who are working it will motivate you work harder towards achieving your goal of finding a job. Waiting until after graduation or after a job loss cuts you off from your support network and makes it even harder to find another job.

Knows time is of the essence.
The main reason Black men have such a hard time finding employment is because the methods they used do not allow them to act on information they get in a timely manner. Before Black men can go looking for work, they must understand that they don’t have a moment to lose when they get a job lead. As more time passes, more people in the community will learn about the same job. The more applicants there are competing for a job the less your chances of getting hired. The fewer applicants you have to compete with for a job the better your chances of getting hired.

The second thing Black men have to learn how to do is network. The more people who know you're looking for work, the more help you can get. 93.5% of people get jobs by a referral from a relative, friend, co-worker hairdresser, doctor, or boss. And networking isn’t some formal skill used at only at job fairs or seminars; it’s something done even in the most informal of situations. If you’re talking to people in school or at church or even at a party you’re networking. Let people know what you can do or what you want to do are and that you are looking for work in that field. You’ll be surprised how many job leads you pick up.

Learning who has hiring authority and getting to know them increases your chances of getting hired. By going out and finding their information on your own shows employers you’re taking the initiative and you’re really passionate about the field you want to work in. You’ll also have something to talk about when you write the cover letter and get the interview.

Thursday- how to look for job leads.


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