Monday, March 31, 2008

You could almost smell the desperation coming from them

This past Saturday I was invited, by the Director of Human Resources for our district, to attend a job fair that is held in our town. It is actually a job fair for the entire county that I work in, held in the very middle school my husband teaches in.

The last time I was at this job fair was when I myself attended, and landed an interview with the principal that would eventually end up hiring me. My memories of that event are hazy at best, colored by my nervousness and the desperate need to procure a job.

Well, attending it now, as a veteran teacher pursuing her administrative degree, was a whole different experience. First of all, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people (mostly women) that were there. For the five and a half hours that I was there, the middle school gym was, quite literally, packed. Secondly, they all looked the same. Black suits, pantyhose, heels, hair combed, make up on, resume or briefcase in hand. I did see one woman in jeans and one man in a track suit. They were turned away rather quickly from almost every table they went to. If you can't take the time to look a little nice, then why should a district take the time to interview you? Finally, they all seemed so....well, desperate. Trying so hard to make themselves stand out, to say just the right thing that would get them past the first hurdle (a screening interview) and upstairs to the second (an interview with a principal, or headmaster, or director of curriculum). Which, of course, would lead them to another, larger, hurdle: an interview with a specific principal of a building for a specific teaching spot. It was an uphill battle for many of the people seeking jobs, and hence, their desperation.

The district I work in has no trouble attracting candidates. Especially for elementary education. In fact, we were clearly instructed to turn away any candidate at the elementary level who did not possess teaching experience (most of them didn't, other than their student teaching of course), unless they stood out as "stellar". Rather than permitting them an interview, we took their resumes, shook their hands and threw their papers in a box. A rather large box. I couldn't help but wonder how in the world I managed to get a job. I also decided that it was such a large responsibility to control the fate of these people. To know that their chances of making it upstairs were practically nonexistent. And then making it past the interview upstairs was also virtually impossible. I wanted to tell all of those people standing in line to choose another district because they weren't going to go past those gym doors in ours. But how do you crush the hope of someone so desperate?


nancypearlwannabe said...

Phew. I do not envy those looking for a job in this economy. Hell, I was excited to get tenure just so I could make sure I'd have a place to live next year!

Anonymous said...

Wow. What an elitist attitude. I don't feel sorry for those fact, I feel glad for them that they won't have to work in a district like yours. What I find amazing is that teachers/principals/educators are always complaining about a dearth of good teachers, but you guys so willingly turn away people who are just getting started and want these jobs badly. Just confirms what I've observed over the years...the education establishment doesn't want to let anyone else in. Why bother to have the "recruiting" event at all?