Hats off, to all those brave job-seekers in Manhattan!

“Wow!” said the cabbie in Gotham, and “Oh wow!” sez I, sitting at my desk after watching this video of gutsy New Yorkers. But for the video caption, I’d have wondered, “Who are all these people waiting in line outside the Sheraton Hotel on 53rd St in sub-zero temperatures!”

In contrast to the expected turnout of about 2000 job applicants at the Job Fair on 24th February, over 5000  applicants showed up! Including a few men but mostly women, they all waited their turn patiently outside the hotel in a long winding queue, until they could meet one or more of the 40 prospective employers that participated in the event.  With resumes and their portfolios in hand, donning business suits, here they were braving not only the bleak weather, but perhaps steeling themselves against looming possibilities that they may well have to consider even entry level positions, if at all… Most were mid-career applicants with numerous years of solid work experience and talent and these are tough times even for recent graduates! I learned later, there was another job fair at the Radisson Martinique in Midtown Manhattan just days before this one… thousands showed up, but with little luck.

The stock market reflects the goings-on in the job market… today, the scenario was even more alarming than last week. Did all those seeking employment at the Job Fair last week meet with success?  At this point, hard to tell… many of them were requested to apply online! It has the ring of “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”? Perhaps it is the 21st century tactic adopted by foot-dragging clerks-posing-as-hiring managers from companies who must at least pretend they’re not going the penny-stock way.

Frankly, at this stage, I fail to understand why companies e.g. AFLAC or even Home Depot would hire more people at this stage; or for that matter Sovereign Bank!

In the past year, AFLAC stock value has dropped by over 78%, and last January the Chairman magnanimously  turned down his $2.8 million bonus for 2008, not to mention even some of his $26 million “golden parachute”. But it seems some folks who have attended AFLAC’s “training” sessions say they’re hiring in every state; apparently, their hiring practices reek of a pyramid scheme! Hey, this is hearsay (I do not know this for a fact since I have absolutely no affiliation to them one way or another.)

Again, less than a month prior to their participation in the aforementioned job fair, Home Depot announced 7000 layoffs, on grounds that dismal sales had hurt them. A month down the line they would set out to hire a new set of people, eh, is that how it works? I find it really hard to digest such information. Likewise, “1000 to be laid off”, indicated the announcement from Sovereign Bank (in their effort to lower costs)… just weeks before Christmas 2008; then they are displayed as prospective employers at a job fair the following February? What in the world is going on? Dangling carrots in front of hopeful (and sometimes desparate) job-seekers… without any qualms whatsoever!

I’m afraid to further research all of the companies who may have been actually present at the Job Fair… to confirm whether or not they recently laid off hundreds or thousands of employees. Only those who waited out in the cold that February morning can really tell their story. Those who are still awaiting responses to their applications, submitted in-person or online, may have another set of tales. Yes, and I’m also thinking of all those who were laid off by these companies and who may now learn that their past employers are hiring again! What has become of them… are they also waiting at other obscure job fairs, or knocking on the doors of some recently laid off employee posing as a hot recruiter?

It’s such a shame, these shams… boy, what a scam!

Sham, or Scam?

Sham, or Scam?

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