Hope for Society's Disconnected!

Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2011 07:10 pm
I am disconnected from society, and when you have poor networking skills, as I have, finding a job anywhere but the grocery store can be a challenge. Confused

Fortunately, there's hope... Very Happy

The hope lies in a new type of business venture called a "distributed employment agency."

A non-a2k friend recently told me about an idea she had for this new type of agency.

Now, the problem I've always had with employment agencies is that they are too impersonal. They don't know the individual's strengths and weaknesses the way a neighbour would. They have folks fill out check-lists of ready skills and don't recognise what people's innate aptitudes are -- in areas where the job seekers would excel with just a little training. Meanwhile, the problem I've always had going it alone stems from what a poor networker I am. I don't know the job market the way an employment agency would. Finally, the problem my better-networked neighbours have with connecting me to work is that they lack any real financial incentive to do so. There is no way my friends and neighbours can guarantee themselves a substantial cut of my salary the way an employment agency could, so why should they stick their necks out for me in this dog-eat-dog world?

Here's a solution, then, to the threefold inadequacy of our current job-hunting system:

My friend calls this model the "distributed employment agency"
(because the agency's job of finding work for people gets distributed among many well-connected free-lance socialites around the world).

The Model:

The main players involved are:

(i) the unemployed person (call him "John"), who is seeking work;
(ii) his well-connected neighbour (call her "Jane"), who knows where all the open jobs are;
(iii) the agency, with the resources to handle the legal and formal side of what temp agencies usually do (call it "Central Office");
(iv) the company where John would be a good fit (call it "McDisney").

Here is how it all works:

*Central Office draws up standard contracts and "employment kits" which systematise the process of connecting people with jobs.
(An employment kit is like a "legal will kit", except the person using it functions like an employment agency, instead of like a lawyer writing a will.)
*Jane hears about "Central Office" from an advert, realises she has numerous useful and wealthy connections, and applies for a kit.
*Later, Jane meets John, and hires him to tutor her son in Math.
*Based on the fact that John is able to teach her son Math at 5 times normal speed, she realises John may have some creative talent.
*She uses the Central Office employment kit and connects him with work at ... McDisney.
*For as long as John is employed at McDisney, Jane takes a fixed percentage of whatever he makes above the poverty line.
*She gives part of her share of John's income to Central Office to compensate them for letting her use their employment kit.

Flexibility within the standard contract:

*John and Jane could decide together how large her percentage should be. (In John's place ... I'd agree to give her 50%.)
*The revenue sharing agreement could be indefinite or could expire at some point, depending on John's and Jane's preference.

[She'd stop earning money off him if he got a job somewhere else, OR if their agreement expired.]

Who benefits?

*John and McDisney benefit from working together.
*Jane benefits materially from connecting the two.
*Central Office makes money off the contracts, the kits, and the technical side of things.
*Society benefits, because the most capable people are able to find appropriate jobs.

Ways in which this fixes the current mess:

*Instead of relying on a bureaucratic corporation to know my talents and place me, I can rely on friends and neighbours, who know me better, and who in some cases may already work for the company where they would want me to work.
*I no longer have to network on my own, which is something I struggle with.
*My neighbours can reap material benefits from finding work for me, so that I will no longer have to rely on people's altruistic goodwill to get jobs.

(Even if I have to give up half my future earnings to some girl who will find me a job; even then, 50% of $80k per year is better than 100% of $10k.)
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Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 11:50 am
No doubt this thread pushed the envelope -- in what direction I'm not quite sure...

I thought I might as well answer a couple questions that someone reading the original post might have:

Q1 -- Why do you specifically imagine women in the role of "Jane" mentioned above? Couldn't a guy connect others with work just as well?

A1 -- Perhaps. I just happen to know a few well-connected women (in my own life, off-line) who might be inclined to hook me up with sweet gigs if they stood to gain financially. I'm thinking mainly of the type that are ordinarily very giving and generous, but who, because they have kids in high school, nearing college-age, could have a new-found desire for extra income.

Q2 -- Would Jane's stake in John's income be a transferable asset?

A2 -- No, that would be horrific. The goal of this arrangement, from John's point of view, would be to interest someone other than himself in his prospects. Suppose John had many of the hard skills necessary for success, but lacked many of the soft skills that essentially determine whether you live or die in business. Jane could coach him on those people skills. And she would have an incentive to do so. For example, let's assume they'd agreed to split his income-above-poverty-level, from the job she got him, 50-50. If he were making $30k per year at an entry-level job (so ... $20k above the poverty line), then she'd be making $10k off him. If a position at the same company that offered a salary of $70k became available (so ... $60k above poverty level), she'd be looking at $30k. The jump of $20k in her own income if John got the promotion and raise would compel her to give good advice.

So ideally, the contract should not be seen as a claim on future revenue that Jane could "sell." That would be a recipe for an adversarial relationship between the two main parties involved. Transferability would be disastrous.

Q3 -- Why doesn't John grow up, learn to sell himself to employers, and stop whining that women should fight his battles?

A3 -- Because his skills aren't in sales, so he can't "sell" himself. And, more importantly, because under this scheme she'd be looking at $30k and shouldn't question it. Also, the same coaching that could net Jane a ton of money could also help John develop those skills that he should have learned back in Kindergarten had he been paying attention, but didn't, because he wasn't.

Q4 -- Is this thread really just an excuse to whine?

A4 -- No, it's a legit proposal for change. All I can hope is that one of the 40 odd people who've seen it has actually taken it seriously. (I do hope somebody acts on it soon, too, and sets up "Central Office", because my parents are getting less and less hospitable, and the grocery store hasn't been returning my calls. Rolling Eyes My tutoring business grows apace, but only at a slowish pace...)
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