The connection between a sense of entitlement and trouble finding a job

There are plenty of jobs out there (unless all these vacancies I see are bogus) - but one cannot expect to find the right job immediately or without slogging away and paying one’s dues

File photo
File photo

Every day I read posts by people wanting to find a job, accompanied by the all too frequent accusations that the jobs are being given to foreigners instead.

But that accusation does not hold water in the light of the fact that, also on a daily basis, my feed is replete with companies and businesses advertising their vacancies for all types of jobs imaginable, from executive and management positions to skilled and unskilled workers across the board. This can only mean that either there is a mismatch between supply and demand, or else those looking for a job are just being a little bit too choosy.

I am constantly asking employers: “Why don’t you hire Maltese people?” To which they inevitably reply: “They either do not apply, or when they do, their attitude is very arrogant.”

The latter statement is reinforced when I hear about the air of entitlement of some of those who show up for interviews, wanting to pick and choose their own working conditions. I find this to be a very strange approach to take - let’s face it, if you desperately need a job, you pretty much have to accept what is on offer (as long as it is falls within the parameters of legal employment law, of course). One also has to accept the realities of the working world: namely the less job experience and qualifications one has, the less likely you will able to dictate your own terms. It should be pretty obvious that a school leaver with no ‘O’ levels or skills has very limited job prospects compared to one with a few ‘O’ levels and skills. And so it continues the higher up the education ladder one goes... Sixth Form, a University degree, a post-graduate degree, all make you a more viable candidate.

There is also another factor to consider - with so many continuing on to further education, a first degree these days is not as “valuable” or as high an achievement as it was, say, 50 years ago.

But there are also other attributes, which usually emerge in an interview, that go beyond paper qualifications, namely job experience and, above all, one’s attitude. For example, hopping from one job to another every few months is not a very good indication that you are reliable and loyal to your place of work. After all, no employer wants to waste time and money training someone only for them to leave the first chance they get. During the interview itself it helps if you are dressed smartly, speak politely and generally show that you really want to work there. Even as I am writing this, I find it rather absurd that I am having to spell these things out because these were givens when we applied for jobs, but these days, one can take nothing for granted. From the anecdotes I hear, it seems that there is a huge chunk of general knowledge and just basic common sense which has skipped a few generations.

I am also starting to suspect that many do not get called for an interview because of a badly written CV, which is really inexcusable when you can find so many templates online or when you can get someone with experience to help you write it properly. I also wonder if some people actually know how to look for jobs in the right places, or whether they expect a job to fall magically into their lap (or expect their Mummy to find them one via her Facebook friends). My other suspicion is that we might have created a generation which simply does not want to work, but wants to prolong their dependence on the bank of Mum and Dad for as long as possible so that they will not have to shoulder responsibilities. With all these workplaces clamouring for staff, I find it odd that they cannot find what they are looking for.

This is not to say that all employers are blameless, as there are also a number of failings on their part. First of all, not even acknowledging a letter of application is inexcusable in my book and just downright rude. If someone has sat for an interview but has not been selected, again please inform the applicant. After all, if the way a prospective candidate presents themselves is indicative of the way they will behave at work, then the same can be said for the way management treats those applying for jobs. There are also instances of jobs being advertised which call for a whole litany of qualifications and job requirements, but then the paltry salary being offered would be laughable, if it were not so insulting.

So, there has to be some equilibrium on both sides - a good work ethic from those who need the job, and respect by the employer which should be reflected in the terms and conditions being offered.

Ultimately though, it is indisputable that while there seem to be plenty of openings available, in the current labour market Maltese people are now competing against other nationalities for jobs. The fact that there is more competition means the Maltese should be marketing themselves on two fronts: the advantages which knowing our two national languages gives them, especially when dealing with the public, and having the edge over other candidates simply because they have lived here all their lives.

The fact that these two factors do not make them the preferred job candidates seems to point to something else which is wrong with the job market. I am going to go out on a limb and hazard a guess at what the problem is: young Maltese job seekers are simply not hungry enough to find employment. Think of it this way: when you have the cushion of your parents’ home where you do not pay rent or pay for groceries, when your mobile and internet are paid for and your laundry is always freshly washed... what incentive do you really have to go out and get a job? Contrast that with a 20 or 30 something who comes here from Colombia or Italy who has to make sure they have enough to live on from month to month.

Indeed, it is no coincidence that those who leave Malta to strike out on their own mature much more quickly and tend to have a heightened sense of responsibility when compared to those who remain here. The contrast is also evident between those who keep living with their parents until they get married and those who live on their own while still single.

There is an actual term for this and it’s called “prolonged adolescence” which is pretty self-explanatory and not necessarily exclusive to Malta. I found several articles about how “25 is the new 18”, which deal with a parallel situation in the US. It is especially prevalent in affluent families which continue to financially support their children beyond the age they used to in the past.

We are lucky that we do not have swathes of graduates who leave University with a pile of student debts, but we do have a similar scenario in this age group who leave Tal-Qroqq with a lot of qualifications who have never worked and who have no guarantee of suitable employment. Having spent all those years studying it might be a bitter pill to swallow that one still has to start at the bottom of the career ladder, but without any real job experience, that really is the way it is.

Basically, there are plenty of jobs out there (unless all these vacancies I see are bogus) - but one cannot expect to find the right job immediately or without slogging away and paying one’s dues. There are never any guarantees in life that a job or a career will go smoothly and yes, life will throw curve balls at you, but in the end, that is what becoming an adult really means.