I read myriad job postings from AEC firms seeking candidates in accounting and bookkeeping and I am incredulous.
The hours are PT (usually tethered to the bromidic “room for growth” and “family environment”) and the pay, depending on market, is $15.00 on the low side and right around $25.00 on the high side.
Room for growth and a family environment don’t keep the lights on, pay for essentials and allow you to live above the poverty line.
Away from the emotion, let’s get to the numbers.
To do the math, let’s split the difference on compensation range.
PT Hours: 20
Benefits: Are rarely comped so I’ll not take into account this bona fide benefit but one that also reduces take home pay.
Total: 400 dollars a week with an annual salary at $18,800.00. Poverty line for a single individual in the US is $12,760.00. 99.99 percent of workers are not individuals going it alone. It is dynamic. Familial obligations. Debt. Living expenses. Other jobs. You didn’t do them a favor. They are taking on water and that is a terrible state.
So companies post a job on Craigslist or Indeed and fire off a number of desired skills.
I pulled the skills, credential and responsibilities listed below from an ad I recently viewed.
High level of proficiency in Quickbooks (3-5 years of experience minimum)
Accounting Degree Preferred (Italics added because this requirement always gets me! That is a 5 year degree. Yes, 5.)
5 years of experience in the construction industry
In school for 5 and they need 5 in construction. So say they followed the curriculum with no interruption and entered the AEC field right after school they are now 28 years old. And yet….they are applying for a PT job?
Manage all accounting operations inclusive of A/P, A/R, and Payroll
• Daily Management of all accounts and job files to ensure all activities posting.
• Track of Sales Tax Exempt Projects.
• Month End process to ensure timely close of month end.
• Certified Payroll Reporting
• Perform general administrative tasks.
• Collecting timesheet data and payroll information.
• Entering data into payroll and administrative databases and software programs.
• Calculating wages, benefits, tax deductions, commissions, etc.
• Preparing and processing paychecks and cash deposits.
• Maintaining accurate records of payroll documentation and transactions.
• Preparing and distributing income statements.
• Responding to payroll-related inquiries and resolving concerns.
THE PAY FOR THIS TREMENDOUSLY TALENTED INDIVIDUAL: NO MORE THAN 15.00/HOUR
“Dream On” as Aerosmith would say.
I am not sure if this disturbing trend in wanting a cake, retaining it, not paying for it and then complaining about the quality is a consequence of a surfeit of applicants or a true departure in compensation ethics and values.
What you can expect from this approach
- Your new hire will test how restrictive your internet policy is. Because at that pay and with those few hours, they are going to be searching for their next job opportunity. So, you better block any and all job boards.
- High turnover. They can job search after they punch out at noon. Once they get that FT position, they are out of there for greener pastures. You likely provided training. Lost all that time and money expended. Business continuity? Gone. You now have to start the search all over again and I see it all the time…..companies post THE SAME JOB POSTING. What is that quote about insanity is doing the same thing over and over….
- Dings to your reputation. Indeed, GlassDoor and other job boards are levelling the playing field. Employees who felt they weren’t treated right take to those boards and treat them as cathartic outlets. You will see your rating go down and those ex-employees won’t pull punches. So what was already a tall order to obtain top talent just became a herculean task.
Why be Sisyphus?
There is no nobility in making all this effort to obtain talent when it is invariably going to fail. Sure, there are instances where the situation is right. Where the individual truly needs just that amount of time.
It is rare. Quality only hurts once!
Enter the Gig Economy
An employee with a car can sign up for, say, InstaCart. It is a grocery delivery gig app that allows a user to make money shopping for other people’s groceries. You work when you want, you can pick your own batches and you are not tied down to a desk during the day. These folks can go out, get some coin and return to searching for a worthwhile position that pays a livable wage and does bear hallmarks of a career position. Throw in Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and a host of others and suddenly your familial, room for growth (low paying position) looks even worse.
What this isn’t
A sententious indictment. It isn’t political. It isn’t based in theory.
While anecdotal and I am no statistician, I have seen well over a hundred of these far-fetched job postings.
What it is:
I was a business owner. I work for a firm that has built itself into a four location, industry leader because of the way it treats its people. We are an employee owned company, the average tenure of employment is over 8 years and compensation aligns with the value the employee delivers.
So what is it? Perhaps a call to a sincere examination of what puts your business in the best place to succeed.
If you are committed to this type of approach to employment, it won’t work.
You will pay more for us in nominal terms but in real terms you are getting a huge discount because we eliminated the cost and pain of hiring only to see your hire depart in a short period of time.
There is no purple squirrel. No one can hit every enumerated skill. You can train them. They can certainly learn. But if they aren’t paid accordingly, they are going to take those skills and apply them for a company that pays commensurate to their ability.
Tough but true.