Annals of Unemployment

The Oregon Employment Department offers this service called iMatchSkills. It’s supposed match a database of your job skills to job openings. Sounds great in theory, but in reality I have found it disappointing. It keeps matching me with commissioned sales jobs. I have never done commissioned sales work. (I have done retail work, but that is different.) When you look at the job description on the web page, you’re given a choice between an “interested” button and a “not interested” button. This is accompanied by an ominous warning that you can lose your unemployment benefits if the OED doesn’t feel that you’re making a serious effort to find a job. I always take this as meaning I should click on the “interested” button. As a result, I have had to waste time applying for jobs I knew I wasn’t going to get.

Case in point, I applied for a job with a cruise line. The job title was “Vacation Planner”, but it was basically a commissioned sales job. After filling out the online application, I received an e-mail saying that I was required to come to one of the company’s open houses. Their office building is located in an office park out in the middle of nowhere, so I had to drive out there, using up gasoline. There were about twenty other people there for the open house. In the company’s lobby, they had huge models of two of the company’s cruise ships. I thought that was kind of neat. After a while a woman came out and told us to follow her. We went past this huge display showing the history of the company and the different cruise ships they have. Since you can’t see this from lobby, I’m not sure whose benefit this is for. Maybe it’s supposed to inspire the employees. We then walked into this enormous room with a high ceiling. There were rows of work stations with vacation planners working at them. These people don’t even get their own cubicles, they sit side by side with one another. The woman led us all the way to the back, where there was a small meeting room.

A man and a woman came out and introduced themselves. They were from the human resources department in Miami. The man spoke briefly about the job and what was involved. Then the woman got up and told us about the benefits. After one year, you get to go on a free cruise, along with one guest. Discounts are available for yourself and for your relatives. There is medical and dental insurance, a 401K plan and a pension plan. You can buy stocks in the company at discounted prices. She told us that there is a recreation area on the second floor, as well as a cafe that serves gourmet food.

After that we were divided up into groups of about five or six people each. The group I was in was led to a small conference room, where we sat around a table. While we were there, a middle-aged woman and a much younger man started talking. It turned out they had both worked at a call center for a rent-a-car company. I was interested in this because I had applied for a job at this very call center. After a lengthy phone interview I was turned down. The woman said that this company often overbooked (which is often the case with these rental companies). As a result, they were always getting calls from angry people. Hearing this made me feel glad I didn’t get the job at that place.

The man from Miami came in. He told us this was a preliminary interview; those who did well would be asked to stay for more in-depth interviews. He told us he would ask us questions, and we would each answer the same question in turn. Most of his questions had to do with our work experiences. I could see that these questions had no relevance to any of my experience. When it came my turn to answer, I told him about some things that happened to me at my retail job, and I tried – unsuccessfully – to try to make it sound that they were relevant to his question. I noticed that there were two guys among us who had over twenty years of sales experience.

The man then got up and left the room. After several minutes he came back and asked the two guys with twenty plus years of experience to come with him. (Why did this not surprise me?) A woman then informed the rest of us that we could leave. She thanked us for our time. She led us out the way we cam in. It was a strange feeling walking past those same people we had passed on the way in. I wondered if they saw us as the reject line.

A couple of things about this experience puzzle me. Why did the woman from the human resources department go into such detail about their benefits, when they knew they were only going to hire a few of us?
And why didn’t they just look at our applications and pick out the guys who had twenty plus years of sales experience? What was the point of making the rest of us waste our time like that?

I hate being unemployed.

One Response to “Annals of Unemployment”

  1. Paul Says:

    I know what you mean. I’ve been out for about 17 months now. I’ve had about half a dozen interviews in all the resumes and endless applications I’ve sent out.

    At the interviews I’ve been to, they ask you all these questions, it’s as if you were applying for the position of president! One question that always comes up is ‘How do you deal with stress?’
    Well, I feel like saying ‘What does your company do to prevent stress?’

    Unemployment does suck. I went to a job fair for New Seasons grocery store last week. I arrived about forty minutes early and there were already 70 people waiting. By the time it opened there were a few hundred.
    When you get older, the odds also stack up against you, despite what the law says.

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