Sunday, January 27, 2013

hiring season

It's time to start hiring seasonal employees for next fire season.  It has been a warm January here in northwest Montana, which makes thinking about fires and helicopters not quite so bizarre as it might be in the middle of a normal winter.

A new crop of applicants is on the hunt, and they are relentless.  My email inbox fills with queries, some sincere, some obviously cut-and-pasted and sent out like a cluster bomb to dozens of supervisors in cyberspace.  Strangely, some of the job seekers seem to believe that I have nothing else to do.  "Call me back," they demand on my voice mail, perhaps not realizing that I have had 20 calls just like theirs.  They call my cell phone at weird times, on weekends and at night (sorry, I'm not that dedicated).  They want to know what is in it for them: how much overtime will they get, how much training.  They complain about the computerized application process. 

These applicants will never know what it was like when almost nobody was hiring, when sometimes you got a job because you had a social security number starting with 0 instead of 7.  They won't wrestle with typewriters and Wite-Out to complete an application, having to start over time after time because the boxes on the form were just too small.  They won't have to call to ask if there is a job, using pay phones or calling cards, and never be able to talk to anyone besides a personnel specialist, who would never dream of calling them back.

I would be discouraged about some of the current applicants, if not for the fact that there are a few gems among them.  Ranch and farm kids usually make great employees.  Used to working hard and getting up early, they rarely cause problems and for some reason seem to smile a lot.  People who have had previous jobs like scooping ice cream or waiting tables tend to work out too.  For some reason I seem to have a knack for picking out the good ones, sometimes without even calling references.  "I'm a nice guy," one applicant said.  I hired him, and he was.

So if you grew up on a ranch, fill out your application.  I'll be looking for it.  And smiles are always a plus.

You can change America! Well...maybe.

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