Since the economic turn down in Southern California I found the hours I had at my part time job shrinking. In June of 2009 we had a staff meeting. Rather than fire anyone we all agreed to cut some hours. From that day to the present I began diligently job hunting. Some rather strange things happened to me. One of the first things I noticed is that print ads for help wanted have disappeared in many newspapers. They rely on the internet search engines. Kind of a tough spot for older Americans, un-computer savvy. But there it is then, it's just a fact.
I signed up with my first interest job search engine, fully expecting for the offers to roll in. I received an email right away, it sounded awesome. A company looking for someone to run a few errands, type things, file, I could have a company car to drive - if only I would give them my personal information and allow them to run a credit check. I'm a little hesitant to give out all my personal information to an absolute stranger, especially since the job was very vaguely referenced. Who was the employer?
I sent a reply email asking for an address of the employer, a phone number. As I did not care to give out my personal info and have a credit check run if the job was located in an undesirable part of town. Rather than an address I received an answer from the supposed "office manager" intimating that if I really wanted this job I would co-operate, as it was a company car I would be driving. "I think it's a phishing scam" I told my friend. "I think it's a new way to steal identities. why now, it sounds like a great job, they probably got my name right off my public resume. Do you realize how easy it would be for someone to steal your identity if they have your address, phone number, and you hand over further info such as your social security number and credit card numbers?" The thought chilled me. These people, these cons, don't even feel bad for ripping off hungry, tired, frightened people, people like me who were losing their jobs.
I ignored the email. But the day I got another one, from another "company." The name of supposed office manager may vary but the request for personal information is always the same. The lure of the job being so simple, a company car and other enticements are always mentions. The address of the actual employer is never mentioned. If you send a reply with any kind of specific questions they ignore you and quickly move on.

After a few days a second scam became apparent. My email inbox became filled up with people trying to sell me franchise opportunities like Amway, Avon, Insurance offices, you name it. What the heck? I need a job and these people are trying to get me to open up a whole new business? I guess you can't blame them for trying, they need to make money too. But it feels creepy awful to know the only way they are getting my email address is off of my posts of resume, my job requests. I can hardly block my email, it might screen out a real job opportunity. There's no doubt that once you are poor and looking, you are going to get more flack than anyone. In this economy the poor are natural targets. I sometimes get an email that boasts 10 job opportunities are available in my zip code, only to see that ALL TEN are the chance to open my own Avon business.

Even if I did want to open my own Avon business, it seems like the chance of supporting your family on that business alone, is slim. Of course the Avon people will encourage you to try any way. More than one stream of income is better than just one. I wouldn't mind so much if I had search engined a franchise opportunity. What felt so awful is them finding me via my resume posting.

Another strange thing that happened is an AOL article stating that most people don't get jobs anyway via internet resume places. Most job placements are still done the same way for the last 100 years, based on who you know. Yikes, plenty of people I knew have also lost their jobs. Most of the people I know who still have jobs are self employed. IF I knew anyone who could help me, I would not have relied on that's for sure.

Another strange thing that happened to me was the strange allure of signing up for multiple job search engines. The websites will lead you to believe it increases your chances of finding work. One engine was even willing to place me on 10 sites for a mere hundred dollars. Once again a good way to separate poor people, who are least able to withstand it, from their money. I HAD to pass on the multiple engine offer simply because I didn't have one hundred dollars. But on my own, manually, I continued to post my resume with each website that advertised jobs. Consequently the same offer with the same company comes to me via six different providers. Your chances DON'T actually increase, because the number of jobs has shrunk, dramatically. What happens is you get the same job offer from every company the employer has posted with.

There are tough times to be job hunting. Let's be careful out there!