Today was a most interesting day. I attended two job fairs. And after getting dressed for success, making sure that I had ample copies of my resume. I am not exactly sure why I did. At my first stop, there was a table set up in the main lobby of the building, before you actually entered into the job fair area itself. There was a sign up sheet, as well as a stack of newspaper type guides to the day's event on the table. The suits, who were manning the table, representing the "host" company, insisted that we sign in and take a paper. Then they proceeded to have all of us children gather round for a pep talk about networking and marketing ourselves. By the way, a quick perusal of the newspaper indicated that the pep talk was taken verbatim from the side column on page one of the newspaper. But the "Gipper" was so sincere in his attempt to coach us on to success that one didn't have the heart to be impolite. The "Gipper" was also concerned for our physical well-being, making it a point to direct us to the locations of the public restroom facilities, prior to entering the job fair. For a moment there, I was taken back in time to my mother inquiring if anyone needed to use the bathroom prior to embarking on a road trip. The message had that same parental interrogative quality, as if you are not capable of handling your bathroom needs without adult reminder.
In the name of networking, we were all encouraged to speak with every group represented. Even if we had no interest in their business, nor any experience in their industry, we were to meet and greet with enthusiasm. After all, we were cultivating "contacts", who might not have a job for us, but might know somebody who could use our unique skills. Now, if people I have known for years won't lift a finger to help, why should I expect a person, with whom I have a passing, five minute acquaintance, but do not necessarily even share a common career interest, be willing to refer me to "somebody that they know"? Come to think of it.....given the networking mania out there, wouldn't their contacts reflect their business expertise????? Well, I am willing to play by the rules, so I go about the room, meeting and greeting.
The booths representing ongoing education were a treat, the representatives presuming that you probably didn't even have a GED, and totally unprepared to speak to somebody who would be looking at graduate or post graduate work. They were poorly equipped with information for the student who was merely interested in taking specific courses to update specific skills. The main focus was to get you signed up, with the promise of financial aid, and job placement after graduation. The longer the program, the more courses required, the more tuition paid seemed to translate directly into the student's potential viability in the job market. The reps are banking on the fact that the people with whom they are speaking cannot conceive of the fact that, while there might be a crushing need for medical transcriptionists right now, in 2012, there might well be a glut of same five or six years from now when these people struggle through online education, incur massive student loan debt, and complete a certificate program around the reality of living, working, eating, sleeping, taking care of home and family. And while the thought of doing your degree in your living room while wearing pajama's and comfy slippers is a nifty image, the reality of online education is that it requires an even higher degree of personal commitment and self discipline than traditional classes where instructors and fellow-students, along with regular quizzes and tests, keep you honest and on track. For somebody who struggled to get through the GED program, how likely is it that their student skills are a match for online education? I truly don't think that these online education programs should have the right to advertise increased income due to participation in their programs. It seems like false advertising. I mean, if Sketchers could be sued because people didn't get slimmer thighs and a tinier caboose by wearing their fitness shoes alone, how can these jokers get away with the claims that they are spewing???? I have college education, and a right lot of good it does me right now. I feel like I should sue the Alma Mater for the wages I haven't received and the career prestige that I do not have. There are just way too many wild cards in the world of work lottery.
Next on the Job Fair Hit Parade, and probably the most heavily represented were the "commission only, outside sales" positions. When you inquired if there were ever any administrative or clerical openings with their company, they pleaded complete ignorance and wouldn't even give you an address or website to consult. Every single one of them promises you six figure incomes the first year. Every single one of them makes it sound like it is easier than shooting fish in the proverbial barrel with a Howitzer. I guess the six figure income is realistic if you aren't too particular about the use of decimal points, or don't use them at all. As we sit in the worst economy since the Great Depression.....(Not my descriptive, but oft quoted in the media), why is trying to sell people who have no jobs and no credit and no money anything at all a good idea? I certainly don't want to be inundated with a host of products and services that I cannot afford and don't really need. It is depressing as it is a continual reminder that you are unemployed with no discretionary income. Heck, I have been made to feel inferior for not being able to purchase the new 3D capable TV. Participating in online survey groups, promising to pay cash....(Well, you have to do something to fill time while waiting for the rejection e-mails), I have been screened out of most surveys due to lack of income, and lack of material goods. Yeah, I really want to hear about all this great, wonderful, useful stuff that I simply cannot afford.
The fastest 'shuffle to the next table' came from those companies, who indicated, as you had your hand out to greet them, that they were only interested in candidates who were bilingual. It was like holding a garlic necklace in front of a vampire to suggest that they wanted to make your acquaintance or look at your resume. (At least the reaction is appropriate to the Halloween season) In fact, in a couple of instances, they were already deflecting your greeting as you moved toward the table by pointing to a poster which stated "Bi-lingual candidates" mounted on the front of their booth. I think that I have just discovered a new discriminatory category, linguistically challenged. Fact of the matter is, I am bilingual, just not the particular variety they are looking for.....This is especially irritating as the State of Illinois actually defines English as the official language...It is actually law in Illinois.
Moving right along, trying to maintain a positive attitude, and failing miserably, I skimmed by the enlistment tables for the Army, Navy, and Marines. I am definitely not on their list of candidates, being considered beyond the expiration date.....What's up with the military recruiters anyway? I thought we were slashing our military budgets, decreasing our military forces and expenditures.....why do they want to recruit more people???? Tis a mystery, to be sure. According to the government, we are going to keep our noses out of the affairs of other nations.
The entire process took less than two hours and yielded absolutely nothing for my effort and time. I was most grateful that I hadn't spent a pile on gas and tolls to get there. I was also grateful that I had only a short trip home. I spent about five minutes reading through the paper that they insisted I take a copy of....as 75% of it was printed in Spanish, all that remained was about 5 minutes worth of reading. Even the advertisement and help wanted sections were printed in Spanish. I appreciate that we have a large Spanish population, but what was the point of insisting that I take materials that I cannot read? I mean, do the suits at a desk get a commission for delivery of a certain number of papers? And I will most probably take a skim past the job fair ads on Career Builder and Monster in future. About the only thing accomplished by visiting was to fulfill my required job contacts for the week to satisfy the unemployment criteria.
Filed under: The Job Search