By Art Gallagher
When I was readying to leave the house this morning, my wife asked if I was working on a story. “No, I’m looking for a job,” I replied. Her head snapped up in surprise. In all the years she’s known me I’ve never said those words. I’ve always been the owner, or early in our relationship, an unmanageable top producing salesman.
The truth is I wasn’t sure what I was doing when I headed into the job fair at Brookdale Community College this morning. I met a NJ.com reporter who got the ax yesterday, effective in September, in the overflowing parking lot outside of Collins Arena. “Working a story or looking for a job?” I asked him. “A little of both,” he replied before getting called away to cover a fatal car accident in Howell.
I was doing a little of both too. I’m having more fun building this business, MMM, than I had in building any of the others I’ve built or help build, but the revenue is not coming fast enough. If the big media companies are contracting, there’s no harm in taking a look at what is out there, especially if I can make a story out of it and meet potential advertisers.
“Ha, you’re here looking for advertisers,” a recruiter from Town Square Media said to me when I introduced myself and asked her what an Integrated Sales Person was. She got me, but if Town Square wants to buy MMM, give me a radio show, blog and a fat check, I’ll listen. An Integrated Sales Person sells ad for websites, radio shows and other mediums, I found out. I’m now looking for one of those. The recruiter either wasn’t aggressive or quickly sized me up as not a good fit. Probably both.
The Asbury Park Press’s recruiter was telling visitors to their booth that they weren’t hiring until they finish their across the street move in Neptune. Why were they there? Gannett would have to write a really big check and give me more authority than any corporate nudnik would consider in order to get me to fix that mess.
I did see two opportunities where I think I could be a valuable contributor quickly, but there is no way I would leave a resume in the piles the recruiters were collecting. I haven’t had a resume in 25 years. Even if I had one, I wouldn’t put it in those piles. I don’t believe anyone ever got a job worth having by first passing the optical scanner.
So the looking for a job part of my “little of both” venture was a success, if I choose to follow up on the opportunities I saw.
The depressing story of the day is in the hundreds of middle-aged men and women who appeared to be corporate refugees looking for work at a job fair dominated by employers looking to hire low wage laborers, heath care aides, bus drivers, retail sales stockers, cashiers, food service “technicians” and “buffet attendants.” Fifteen years ago Lucent refugees were demanding $70K plus to consider working as an admin in my little leasing company. Now the same types are competing to move asses on buses or wipe asses in nursing homes for less than a lot less.
There were small business owners looking for part time work at banks and credit unions.
Then there were the financial services and insurance companies, commission only, that burn you out selling to your family and friends before they promote you to recruit new family and friends to sell to their family and friends. There was no line to talk to the recruiter at the financial services company that had a poster boasting that the average income of their class of 2012 was over $400K.
One recruiter from a paperless mortgage company impressed me as probably being a former car guy by the way he tried to get me to submit to the premise of his questioning. He was smart and passed me off to someone else when I wouldn’t play. This was a work from home commissioned sales job selling mortgages to your friends and family.
There are low paying government jobs available. The recruiters from Monmouth County printed out this page and were handing it out.
There are lots of law enforcement jobs apparently. DEA, TSA, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police. The idea of being a Federal Air Marshal sounds glamorous. But like many, if not most, of the people I observed at the job fair today, I am over the maximum age of 37.
“You seem really happy,” I said to a middle aged women taking notes while standing just away from the crowd of job seekers and recruiters, “you must have a job.” “Don’t say that,” she said and went into a rehearsed speech she had obviously given before. It was a good speech. She then introduced herself as a Job Developer from Union County scouting out this job fair for tips on how run their own. “I knew you had a job,” I said with a smile before moving on. “Hang in there, keep that great smile,” she said.
The state of the job market for middle aged Monmouth County residents is not the most depressing phenomena I witnessed at Brookdale today. That was pretty bad, but oddly, makes me feel better about what I’m doing.
The worst thing I saw at Brookdale today was in the men’s room. Educational aids in the bathroom! I’ve heard that a lot of education at community colleges is remedial, but if we really need to teach our high school graduates these lessons we should be up in arms about more than Common Core and Abbott Districts.
I bet I could start a profitable business selling remedial education posters.