Once there was a man who had three sons - the youngest being called, Jack, who was considered too weakly to do much. As the farm was poor the eldest went off to a hiring fair. There he met a man who offered him a hundred gold for a year's work, but with one small provision. Whoever complained first would have a strip of hide taken from his back, and would owe a hundred gold. Now the eldest son was good tempered, and could see no danger in the offer, and so....
After being over-worked, starved, and abused the first son, and then the second, came home badly wounded, and with no pay. Then Jack set off for the hiring fair.....
Of course, being Jack, he not only got the gold for himself and his brothers, but left the farmer and his wife wishing they had never met him.
Sprinkled throughout folklore are stories like this, and even more dire warnings from ghost stories. The hiring fair was practiced in many places in earlier times, and existed here in the United States. Young men and women knew that it was a necessary gamble that they put their lives into the hands of unknown employers. And that it also often meant going off to unfamiliar, distant, places; with little, to sometimes no, opportunity to communicate with family.
Now the current job market isn't quite so dangerous. Quite.
Yet there are pitfalls for the unwary. And scavengers. (I won't insult the animal kingdom by making comparisons).
What has started me on this was an experience I recently had. One that reminded me of why I loathed the online job sites, and searches, particularly because they offer the scavengers a plentiful hunting ground.
Last week I received a call from an insurance company recruiter, and as normal I was about to say, "Thanks, but no thanks. Insurance sales is simply not something I ever wished to pursue.”
(Here I should say that I have nothing against insurance companies, or insurance representatives. I know many fine individuals in the field, and know they have become successful via fairness and diligence. Nor do I believe that all insurance companies use similar recruiting strategies.)
However this particular recruiter reassured me that this wasn't about sales. Yes, they were hiring sales agents, but her manager had saved back a few resumes, mine included, to interview for training positions.
Now that was something I would be interested in. Granted I love what I am doing - being a storyteller, and also being a social media specialist, but if the right full-time (or part-time) job came along I know it would be wise to consider it. My own businesses, fortunately, are such that I can set my own hours.
So we set up a interview, and I was reminded to "bring my resume and dress professionally."
I assumed they have many who don't remember such necessities.
So last Friday I arrived at the office - and was met by a young woman in two, overlayed, tee shirts and cut off jeans. She introduced herself as the general manager.
To make a short story even shorter it turned out that it had been a bait and switch - all they were hiring for was sales. "And would have a group interview next week."
Yes, I was annoyed, but mainly at the breadth of this type of activity. The internet does provide opportunity for getting hired - as did the hiring fairs of old, but it also has as many traps.
And time wasters.
I consider myself lucky to have skills from which to build my own business, but before I made the decision to create White Fox Social Media I was amongst the dedicated job hunters (after having been downsized). During the many long hours of searching for a position I noted how the online job search engines perpetrated useless information. The one that still stands out in my mind is the "movie casting company" in Auburn, Ill.
Now Auburn is a lovely little town, but the movie capitol of the world its not. And out of curiosity I did a some research - it turned out that this was a scam that originated in Russia. Not a surprise, but what has been annoying, and morbidly fascinating, is watching this company's listing continually appearing on job listing updates. And even on the state job search.
I have no answers. Search engines cannot weigh the reliability of a listing, but there has got to be a better way.
All I know was that it was some, admittedly cold, comfort that the folktales proved that job hunting has always been a challenge. One that needed to be navigated with wariness.
And I admit that I hope that Jack, that trickster of old, comes along to shake things up a bit.
I am a Springfield, IL based storyteller with a fascination for how folklore travels, and for history.