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Jobless column sparked interest from both sides

Sun., Feb. 20, 2011

My last column addressing how some unemployed individuals are abusing the unemployment system received feedback from varied viewpoints. That Sunday morning, I had six messages by 7:30 a.m. Comments posted at were all quite negative, further reinforcing my theory that the only people who comment on Internet news sites are “anti” mostly everything. But back to what I heard from those who took the time to connect with me:

There are a lot of people aggressively seeking a new job who have been unemployed for extended periods of time

Our jobs define us and when that part of our identity is taken away, it is a blow to our self-esteem. Many of the emails from those who would never consider turning down a job, and can’t wait for the day they get off unemployment. I know you are out there, and my comments of two weeks ago were not intended to put everyone in the “scamming the system” bucket. I do understand how sensitive you become when you have interviewed and applied for all sorts of positions with little success.

Many businesses have, indeed, experienced the same problem of people not showing up to interview or turning down a job because it pays close to what they are earning on unemployment.

Most memorable were the nasty messages from people questioning my grasp of reality, assuming I have never been unemployed, and continuing to think it is an elitist attitude that makes me write all this stuff attacking the underdog. However, nearly half the comments I received came from business people echoing my frustration over those who abuse the system. A handful of business types and Human Resource professionals felt so strongly they even picked up the phone and called.

Then, I heard from a few people who had family or friends who were simply going through the unemployment motions and really liked getting those checks and not working. Many thought our elected officials needed to read that column and fix the loopholes in the system.

I can’t guess how many people actually sent the column to those who represent us in Olympia, Boise and Washington, D.C., but I did hear from one senator’s aide that they did get the message from Spokesman-Review readers.

There are job seekers from industries or careers looking for a change and they feel overlooked.

Reality is some industries will never come back to the halcyon days and individuals from those industries might look overqualified for your position, but having someone with more skills than you require can be a very good thing for your company.

Why would we as business leaders not hire someone who brings more to the table? We’ve heard the rumor mill of excuses: “As soon as the economy improves they will be gone” or “They’ll get bored with this job” or “They might want to take over the department.”

How lame these comments are! So, you have a talented person for a year or two before they leave. You’re most likely better off. Don’t we, in one way, want staff to get somewhat bored and push for more responsibility or perhaps help to revamp our processes to stave off that boredom? Regarding those who might want to take over, what is it with businesses that won’t hire those they think can replace them? This is exactly what drives us all to be more effective and continue to grow.

As usual, there are always two sides to the story — sometimes many sides to the story. Thankfully, the majority of job seekers out there seem ready and willing to help us move our companies into success in 2011, and beyond.

Jan Quintrall is president and CEO of the local Better Business Bureau. She can be reached at

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