"The odds are good, but the goods are odd."
This is a comment you hear about finding a man in Alaska, and I've decided that a similar corollary applies to job-hunting in a recession for a smart, experienced, talented person.
Either the network engineer or I have been job-hunting now, off and on, for a year. I have had maybe a dozen interviews--over the phone and in person--and the network engineer has had perhaps twice that. This isn't very different from the number of interviews we would have had during the boom years; what is different is the character of the jobs.
Speaking of my own experience, I have been offered decent jobs for indecent wages; horrifying jobs for laughable wages; weird jobs for questionable pay; and bad jobs for practically no pay. There have been a few notable exceptions, and I'm happy to have the work from these fabulous people, but what is it about this economy that makes businesses think they can lie to, abuse, bait and switch, indenture, and bore their employees?
Here's what I think it is: Businesses with few positive qualities (other than being still in business--and I'm not denying the allure of that) have usually been scraping the bottom of the barrel for talent. Or getting talent while it's young and naive. Or taking advantage of talent too heads down to realize it's being taken advantage of.
In this market, talented, savvy, usually fully-employed people are out of jobs. Bad businesses have never been able to get their mitts on these people before, but now they can. Are the businesses lying? Yes. Are they abusive? Yes. Do they offer one job, but actually employ their victims for another, much less desirable job? Absolutely.
But is this different than before? Not for the bad businesses. They were always like this--it's just that the good employees had somewhere else to be.