nojobs3I was walking up to a popular, local sushi place with a visiting colleague last night and saw something I’ve never seen before in my nearly 25 years in the recruiting business. It was a sign. Not a hand-written sign scribbled quickly on a random piece of paper. Not a sign crafted from a child’s tool box of school supplies. Nope. This sign was actually professional – it looked just like the other signs indicating “EXIT,” “ENTRANCE,” and “NO SMOKING.” Except that it was BRIGHT RED.

The sign said “NO POSITIONS AVAILABLE.” Now, I live in Wilmington, DE and our official unemployment rate is 8.3% (it was 5% back in September 2008), putting us just over the national rate of 8.1%. So it’s certainly not surprising that people are looking for work.

Still, I have to wonder what circumstances would prompt a business owner to spend money on a sign that basically says “don’t even think about walking in here and asking for work?”

As a former career counselor, I know how difficult it can be for someone who is unemployed to get themselves out of bed and go out and pound the pavement each day. This background makes me doubt that, even with a high unemployment rate, there are really throngs of people out there trolling strip malls for work. Maybe several a day, would be my guess. So, how many times is the establishment’s business being interrupted? How many times would it take for someone to make a sign? Is it that much of an intrusion? Do we care so little about our fellow human beings that we can’t take the time to say, “I’m sorry, we’re not hiring.” Is the onslaught of job seekers so overwhelming that we can’t manage a “good luck” and a smile?

There is something fundamentally inhumane and debasing about that sign. I’m not sure I can patronize that restaurant anymore, and it’s one of my favorites. Or it was.

Don't bother asking...

Don't bother asking...