Since the beginning of the year, my employer has deprecated hundreds of positions every month. This included my job the first week of August. Almost everyone’s first question, including mine, is what happens to a deprecated job?
In essence, it’s a term a company can use to say it’s rarely laid anyone off. These jobs are simply no longer needed, and the staff in those titles have two to three weeks to find new roles before becoming unemployed.
Unfortunately, this company also has a hiring freeze in most departments, meaning very few internal jobs are available. In fact, the only positions open are entry level, or require significant experience in things the company is moving to. In other words, functions current employees can’t do. Granted, most of us could perform these new skills if training and time to learn them were provided. Unfortunately, the training department was also deprecated this month.
Which starts the road to the scary precedent.
See, I’ve been working in knowledge Management (KM) for the last five years. This field is more common outside of United States, meaning much of the work is done remotely for companies located in Canada and Europe.
Imagine my surprise when one of the first companies contacted for such a position denied my application simply because I reside in the United States!
Why? Because recent changes in trade relations make it too expensive for non-US companies to hire staff based in here.
So what does this all mean?
It means that a company with tens of thousands of employees has quietly cut approximately 5% of its workforce in eight months, and appears to be on track to deprecate even more. It also means that some of us in specialized fields may have additional difficulties finding jobs because we can no longer work remotely over the Internet for companies outside of the United States.
Thankfully the KM field’s job functions overlap with several other job titles, such as business analyst, user experience, project management, instructional design, copy writing, and technical writing.
And now, we arrive at the scary precedent.
How many other companies are doing the same thing? If enough of them are, they can be picky when selecting new hires, which leads to practices such as requiring prior job titles that match what they’re looking for, instead of reading resumes to verify the applicants have successfully performed the desired functions.
More importantly, employers want these matching job titles to be current, as in, what the person is doing now. Not what they were doing last month. Or last year.
There’s an old saying in the recruiting and HR field … it’s easier to find a job when you have a job.
So what’s the precedent?
This happened to me in the housing crash that led to widespread joblessness in the early 2000s, during which I, along with millions of other Americans, was effectively out of work for most of a decade. A decade I still haven’t fully recovered from.
See, another common financial saying is that it takes two to three times as long to recover. If someone was unemployed for one year, they need two to three years to get back to where they were.
In other words, I was finally back on my feet and ready to re-climb that ladder. I’d gotten most of a decade’s work in, and was about 1/3 to 1/2 recovered. I was finally paid up, living comfortably, and able to start saving and investing again.
And then the ladder crumbled.
This is only the beginning of the cycle, and I’m already scared.