Job Fairs: Diary of a Job-seeker

Job fairs could somehow arouse the excitement of jobseekers but the bitter reality is that the jobs available are not what some expect to have – or the jobs demand more than what others can do.


Diary entry for April 18, 2009, 10:00 pm

Today’s no ordinary Saturday. Malls, heaven to those who seek refuge from a week full of work will be transformed into a heaven for those who seek refuge from being jobless and bums.

Today, Saturday is not a shopping day. Today, Saturday is job-hunting day.

Our mission: go through the process of finding a job.
Our destination: The Urban Jobfair!

We would be hypocrites if we deny that at one point in our stressful lives as students, we thought of giving up college and enter the very promising world of call centers, dubbed as the rainbow industry. We expect to land the job as a call center agent, earn money to be able to pay our own rent and buy every outfit we would see in every boutique’s window.

Then off to the fair. Upon entering the venue, our confidence was boosted upon seeing that almost all of the companies that participated in the job fair are call center companies. The thought of landing a job became brighter and brighter as we walked toward the booths. Talk about having a good command of the English language? Not bad for Journalism majors like us. Add the fact that they don’t require a bachelor degree. Call us lucky, but we think we are really fit for the job.

So, we embarked on this journey of finding the perfect job…

First destination: the call centers!

As far as we could remember, the very first rule of this life-saver industry is: Speak E! The catch is, if you can’t speak English, they don’t have the slot for you.

Four out of five call center companies are looking for people who could communicate in English well because according to them, they should be at par with global standards.

There were these considerate companies that give trainings and other activities for the applicants.

On the other hand, one call center company does not require a good command of the English language. VERY SURPRISING! According to them, they operate in local areas, meaning the customers are from a typical household setting in Metro Manila. The job: non-stop calls to credit card holders who “do not know” how to pay their dues!

The good thing is: the pay is good
The bad thing is: irate customers and health risks

Turn left. Odd one out.

As we continue our journey through the “Urban Job Fair”, we were surprised upon seeing some job offers which made us really curious on what awaits job seekers. Of course, we were expecting quality jobs from every booth. Our very first impression was that the jobs available are office jobs because of the booth designs and the looks of the people in the booths.

Applicants were dressed nicely and in a strict formal attire which made us somewhat intimidated as we were wearing semi-formal and smart casual clothing.

After going to different call center booths, we decided to try our luck with entirely different companies.

One company was giving free water to applicants or even passers-by and it caught our attention. We passed our resumé and waited for the on-the-spot interview. Moments later, a woman, maybe in her forties, called our attention and asked us to register. We listened to her as she explained to us the business and we realized, astonished, that the decent-looking applicants in the booth, who wearing their best corporate attires, would be selling water dispensers from house to house upon being hired.

College graduates might find this funny but to “Juan” who didn’t even get the chance to go to college, unemployed, and is actually a victim of poverty; this job could be the answer to his growling stomach.

The good news: Applicants are an inch away from hiring
The bad news: Sell one water container and then sell another. Be ready to welcome yourself to the world of networking.

A few meters away, we saw another booth which caught our attention. There was no line, no applicants and no commotion. The very first thing that entered our minds was the question of whether this booth really hires applicants or is just there to promote the company.

Then, we found out that the company is not conducting the entire process then and there. Resumés are just passed and applicants will receive a call on the system they would go through.

Here, we have good news to the undergraduates: No need for a college diploma! All you have to do is sell books and settle deals with school principals.

The good news: anyone can be hired for as long as you know how to convince customers
The bad news: Speak English well. And ready those comfy shoes, you’re in for a long day of walking.

With all the hype about call center companies, it is surprising to find these two unusual companies participating in the job fair. But as they say, never underestimate. Who knows, networking and selling books might be your key to being wealthy.

Back to reality

The whole day was not enough to visit every booth. It was already four in the afternoon and applicants are still flowing into the venue. We were informed earlier that the cut-off would be at five so we decided to do the rounds of each booth and find out what’s in store.

We found one long line in one of the booths hiring people in the hotel and restaurant industry.

Merly Mendigo, a 36-year-old laid-off employee from Rizal, said, “Nakipagsapalaran ako dito kasi wala nang trabaho. Ang asawa ko sa construction lang. Sa tingin ko naman mas okay ako sa mga graduate kasi may experience naman ako” (I cast my lot here because I have no more work. My husband is only a construction worker. I think I have an advantage over graduates because I have experience.)

According to Merly, she has tried her luck with call centers but wasn’t confident she would land a job there. “Nag-training ako dati ng call center pero nagtrabaho parin ako sa pabrika” (I took call center training before but nonetheless worked in a factory), she added.

Later, we realized that the government cannot really accommodate the jobless. There are few quality jobs, and the demand for people is low.

Job fairs like this one could somehow arouse the excitement of jobseekers but the bitter reality is that the jobs available are not what some expect to have – or the jobs demand more than what others can do.

The day turns into night. And as the light becomes darkness, realizations were made. The government is way too weak to absorb the jobless, and is trying to hide the mediocrity of its governance. Only one solution is left to do: earn a bachelor’s degree and you’ll have an advantage over other applicants.

This Saturday proved to be one of the most inspiring, saddening, and fruitful Saturdays in our entire life.

Good night diary, thanks for listening to my story. (

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2 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. I completely disagree that a college diploma is required to get a good job. Good work ethic is all you need as well as basic skills. I did not graduate college and I have only been working in my company for more than a year but I have already been promoted to management position. Filipinos just complain too much of their jobs.

    A diploma is just a piece of paper. It is not a measure of competence. Poor but competent people who cannot afford to study college become more marginalized as they are immediately disqualified from job offers that they can handle because of the absence of a diploma.

    And no offense, but the writing is poor in the sense that it came up with an unsupported conclusion.

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