Job Hunting Harper Needs Reboot on People Skills

Oliver-Burkeman-column-fo-007While some voters still worry that the Conservatives might win the election, Stephen Harper is already firing up his job hunt. Yes, our soon-to-be ex-prime minister is just one of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who will hit the unemployment lines in October.

Knowing his day of reckoning is coming,  he’s decided he must  get moving on manufacturing a new and even more prestigious career. Turning to the Internet, he searches under careers and finds dozens of options, most of which promise career joy. Since he’s always been a joy doubter, he ignores those. Then he lights on what looks like a no-nonsense site: Career Counselling for Economists and Statisticians (CCES). He calls the 1-800 number.

He waits though the endless directory options, another new experience for him. Finally, he presses zero and a human comes on the line, with a cheerful hello.

Harper says: “I’m an economist looking for work. What could you do for me?“

“That sounds very promising,” the cheerful voice replies. “When did you last work as an economist?”

“I’ve never worked as an economist.”

“Well, I don’t want to get too deeply into this on the phone because we like people to come in for an appointment, but can you tell me what your last job was?”

“Actually, I’m still working in my job as the prime minister of Canada.”

“Oh, yes. And you’re giving up that job? You know it’s really not a good time to give up a job.”

“I don’t want to stop working, but it’s out of my hands. Come October 19th, they are going to get rid of me.”

“Who are they, sir?”

“The voters, of course.”

“Ah, yes, the voters. That sounds pretty discouraging. Not to mention stressful. I’m just wondering, is there anything you can try to change their mind?”

“I’ve been trying everything really hard for the last two months, but they just ignore me.”

“Now, I’m wondering when’s the last time you touched up your relationship skills? Just tell me what do you think are your top relationship skills? What really works for you when you need to convince people that your ideas have value?”

“I never thought about that. I tell people what to do and they do it or else.”

“Nothing else comes to mind, sir?”

“Well, if I have to, I retaliate and punish. I also use mockery, gagging and smearing to good effect. I actually get my best results when I start with blaming and end with isolation. And, as everyone knows, a spot of patronage or hush money is often just the thing.”

“Right. Ahem, well, I’m not sure that we’re the agency you’re looking for, sir. We tend to urge a softer approach around motivating employees. You seem to be the disciplinarian that works best on their own or in the select environments where such skills are in high demand, a prison, for example?

“Have you thought about checking to see if Corrections Canada is hiring?”

“But they don’t hire economists.”

“Well, what we find is you never know until you try.”

“Hey, don’t you hang up on me. I have more skills.

“I’m one of the few people in this godforsaken country that can turn ordinary people into attack dogs. And, believe me, everyone sees me as the recognized expert at using ignorance and fear to divide people. Remember the Niqab!”

“I’ve got an idea, sir. Give me your number and I promise I’ll get back to you when the market rebounds. And, bone up on the economist skills, ok?”

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