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National Editorials & Columns

The tale of the job fair rejects

Amid a sea of shattered dreams, I attended my first-ever job fair last week with my best friend, Dave, and wife, Christine. Like any classy job fair, the event was held on a basketball court at a nearby college, which I found funny.

It made me want to go outside, round up a few college kids and say, “The degrees you’re paying for here will be worthless by the time you graduate. Save yourself a lot of time, money and effort and go inside and talk to the guy from Lowe’s. You’ll be mixing paint at minimum wage in no time flat.”

Inside the arena the atmosphere seemed almost alien to me, like I had entered the Mos Eisley Cantina from “Star Wars.” The atmosphere reeked of mistaken optimism, false bravado, embellished resumes and the overwhelming aroma of Stetson.

Lots and lots of Stetson.

Christine and Dave were dressed to the nines and unlike me, they were actually there hoping to land a job. A flier for the job fair stated business attire was required, and actually made the point, “Please no sweat suits.”

I want to meet the guy or gal who wears sweat pants to a job fair and thinks it’s a good idea. Such a suicidal endeavor is the business world’s equivalent of Darwinism.

In preparation for the job fair I made a list of job fair tips that I recited to my captive audience to lift their spirits as we meandered from booth to booth, aimlessly searching for the last seven jobs in America.

If someone hands you a name tag, do not rip it up in front of them. When speaking to a prospective employer remember to look them square in the eyes and to call them by their correct name. It is not unreasonable to light up a cigarette in the middle of their pitch.

“And never forget that boldness is key,” I reminded them.

We all had problems with the human resource grunts that attended the event on their companies’ behalf. It seemed like many were less concerned with hiring a soul and more concerned about doling out shameless merchandise like pens, pads of papers and more beer koozies than I knew existed.

Really, beer koozies at a job fair? As if half of the crowd didn’t already feel like unemployed alcoholics.

Since none of us had been to a job fair before, our preconceived notion that they accepted resumes — which took more than a week to perfect — was incorrect. How hard is it to take a piece of paper from a stranger and toss it in the trash when they turn their back? There was a five-story mezzanine above the main floor that I briefly considered flinging myself off of out of frustration, but I digress.

Instead every employer directed us to visit his or her respective website to fill out an online application, which was a waste of time. I could have done that from home, I told many of them.

In my sweat pants, no less.

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