After perusing the many niches of reality TV—well-to-do housewives in multiple major cities, the rugged Alaska lifestyle, and working the dirtiest jobs known to man—employment strategist Richard B. Alman wonders why we haven’t seen a show about a popular and compelling subject: long-term unemployment.
While unemployment has seen an impressive two-year decline and currently hovers near 6.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is no reliable data for the long-term unemployed—those who’ve been jobless for 27 weeks or more—and for the underemployed.
“Recent college grads, who are typically saddled with student debt, still struggle to find terra firma in the professional world, and there’s a large blind spot for older unemployed workers, who may have gone back to school or taken a lesser job for which they’re overqualified, or they’re still searching,” says Alman, principal of Recruiter Media, owner ofRecruiter Networks, the world’s largest owner/operator of career websites.
“Drama, struggle, learning moments and, yes, hope—that’s what you’d get with an un- and underemployment-themed reality TV show.”
Alman reviews how the first season might play out.
Week 1: Job-seekers are happy to have a gig.
Since reality show participants are paid, all are happy for this opportunity. Newly graduated college students are grateful to have a place to crash for several weeks with Wi-Fi and other free amenities, and love interests begin to develop. Older professionals, however, will have mortgages and families; for them, the show is a business trip. Underemployed job-seekers tell their stories of working long hours in unfulfilling positions.
Week 2: Putting the reality into “Reality TV.”
Un- and underemployment touches nearly everyone; we all know someone without enough work,” Alman says. While reality includes fortuitous wealth and fame for a few, it also includes tough times for many. The second week would feature job-seekers sticking to old methods of searching that have not worked in the past and continue to fail them.
Week 3: The reveal—participants find out it’s a competition.
While the cameras have sparked renewed vigor in their individual searches—a few participants may have even tried some wildly unconventional tactics—the group has had relatively little success. Producers reveal that it’s not just a reality show about job-seekers, it’s a competition. The group is separated into two teams. Participants from the winning team get legitimate interviews with Fortune 500 companies.
Week 4: Job-seekers gain important tips.
No matter how much experience, talent, youth or beauty they have, job-seekers still make mistakes with their strategies. While a well-written cover letter, an impressive education and a great resume certainly help—they’re not everything. Professionals give participants tips for staying relevant in today’s market, including the importance of doing volunteer work, preferably in roles that match their talents and training.
“I really cannot overemphasize this tip enough. Volunteering is probably the best way for the long-term unemployed to demonstrate their abilities, initiative and effectiveness in a marketplace that hasn’t given you enough of a chance,” Alman says. “It builds new skills, introduces you to a new network of potential employers, and adds recent experience to your resume.”
Final week: All are on their way to gainful employment.
After several weeks, most of the participants have made significant progress in landing career positions. While the winning team gains a great opportunity with a guaranteed, high-quality interview, there are no losers on this show. And, those who’ve made an excellent impression on the program are sure to gain additional opportunities.
Photo by Galymzhan Abdugalimov
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