Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The below details exactly how NOT to have a job fair:

Don't tell people on the phone to come at 1:00 PM, then not let them participate at 1:10.

Don't call it a job fair if it isn't really a job fair.

Don't humiliate them publicly for arriving at 1:10, when it wasn't specified that people arriving after 1:00 will not be allowed to participate.

Don't expect me to walk away with my tail between my legs if you do any of the above.

You would have thought it was an April Fool's joke, but this is how I was treated yesterday at a bookstore job fair. Now, before I get into this...my experience on April 1st doesn't reflect the company's policies as a whole. This happened at THIS store with THIS manager. While those of you who are familiar with this blog can guess which company, I'm withholding names because I'm still handling the total FUCKERY that happened below. Those of you who know me personally, feel free to send me an email.

Two weeks ago, I applied at the bookstore and called a couple days ago to follow up. I spoke to the Head Manager, not the Assistant Manager whom I met when I went in the first time, who told me that they were having a job fair on the 1st and that all previous applications would be filed. I did think that was very odd. Why would someone looking for employees decide to "file" aka trash previous applications, especially ones filled out only two weeks ago? The guy told me that "We're doing things differently now" and I would have to fill out a second application. Kind of weird and cumbersome, but okay, I was willing to play. I called again on the 1st and made sure that it was still going on. I was told that the last job fair started at 1 PM.

Now, for those of you who aren't familiar with job fairs, they are usually casual and not a set time thing. When one starts is just when they start seeing people. They can consist of people standing in line to meet with a hiring manager(s) with a lot of pamphlets about how great it is to work for the company. You are given an opportunity to submit your resume, fill out an app, sell yourself for a few minutes during your face time with hiring managers. Seminars or workshops, on the other hand, may have set times, but they are advertised as having them. This wasn't categorized as that, nor was the requirement of arriving exactly at 1 PM communicated to me on the phone by the manager. I was told they were having a job fair and seeing people in clumps at three times starting at three different times today.

When I walked inside the store, there were no signs to direct people where to go. In fact, there was no indication of where said job fair was taking place in the THREE story store. I had to go to information and wait for an available bookseller to tell me where it was.

I know what you're thinking. And yes, the red flags were already up, my fair readers. But I had yet to encounter the glaring red banner with "Abandon all hope Ye who enter" written on it around the corner. That would be when I walked to the event area and saw about eight job seekers sitting in chairs, quietly writing. In front of them, an ugly, turtle-like man stuffed into his size too small suit sat beside another man at a table. He had his hands clasped in front of him, looking at the applicants as if they were students in his high school Social Studies class. Remedial Social Studies class. When I walked toward a seat, the turtle spoke.

"Are you here for the job fair?" He said, looking smugly at me.

"Yes," I said.

"Well," he said even more smugly and pointedly, "it started at one o'clock." The man next to him said nothing.

I looked at him oddly, then said, because I couldn't think of anything else to say, "It's one, isn't it?"

He looked at his watch, and then down his nose at me and said, "It's 1:10."

I just looked at him. Confused.

"You can always drop off an application," he said. Keep in mind, he had previously told me they were only hiring through the job fairs, meaning that he had already decided not to consider me for employment at his store.

"I already did, two weeks ago and was told to come to the job fair." I said.

"We'll have others," he said.

At that, I left. Humiliated, sucker punched and fuming. It was clear that he was trying to make some sort of example of out me to the other job seekers. But, he unfairly changed the rules to turn what should have been a friendly meet and greet job fair to some sick kind of Litmus test. When I'd spoken to him previously, never did he say that people arriving after 1:00 would be turned away like errant children.

I went back to the information desk and asked the same bookseller to get me the names of the district and regional manager. Instead, he called another manager over to the desk. I have a feeling it wasn't the first time he'd had to deal with this that day. When she arrived, it was there that I went off. I told her that while I know she isn't responsible and not to take my anger as directed at her, that I'd never been treated so disrespectfully and hostilely in my life at a recruiting event to which I was invited. And, that it wasn't specified that people had to be there exactly at 1:00.

"Outrageous." I said. "OUTrageous." I then proceeded to say that the manager, Richard Mendoza, (I'll call him "Dick" for short, size pun intended) had sent an open invitation which he used to publicly humiliate me in order to prove some point. I stated that I have three years experience, rave reviews from both stores and that because of him, they just lost a chance to have a great employee. As she apologized, but skated carefully around criticizing him, I said that at this point in the game I'm still a customer and he is a representative of the company and this store. Meaning, I won't shop there and encourage the people I know not to as well.

The funny thing, was when I was complaining, another guy came up, tossed his empty application on the counter and said, "I don't want to work here. That guy was completely rude."

"Exactly," I said to both of them. "For all your caring about making plan (the sales amount that corporate wants them to reach each day), you just lost two customers. Right now we're customers, not employees. Not even interviewees at this point. I've been in meetings where plan wasn't reached by the equivalent of a couple of books."

I gave her one more "OUTrageous," then reiterated that my anger wasn't directed at her, but at the abysmal behavior by her boss. And, while that I know my boycott isn't going to make or break the store, each time they miss plan, my purchases, not to mention those of everyone else who the guy offended could have made the difference.

I then went home and called the corporate customer service line that deals with individual stores and recounted the story. The girl on the phone was horrified and apologized on behalf of the company. Again, I said I knew that she was just the person who answered the phone, and that any tone in my voice wasn't directed at her, it was just my frustration at the unfair, hostile and discriminatory treatment that this person applied in his hiring practices. She seemed to agree and will pass my complaint up the chain and someone will get back to me within 48 Hours. I did add the story of the other guy and said that I bet that scenario was repeated several times that day. Again, I have no idea if it will make any difference, but I'm going to make sure it goes in his file. I'm writing letters and also calling their employee hotline. You get the picture. I won't let this go quietly because it was completely unprofessional, uncalled for and not fair. I feel so sorry for the people who work for this idiot, who clearly has no grasp of effective communication, fair hiring practices, good public relations and leadership.

So wow...who knew that a simple attempt to get out of the house, earn an extra paycheck while doing something that I enjoy would end up like that? There are other stores closer to me, yes. But I'm feeling kind of burned right now.

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