People stand in line to work for free

May 7, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
In this economy, any job fair generates an enormous turnout and one held in San Francisco Thursday night was no exception. However, this particular job fair was actually quite different.

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"There are more people than I expected. A lot more people looking for work than I expected," said Keith Duncan, from sales and marketing.

"We were expecting a nice intimate affair where job seekers and companies could match up," said Alan Shusterman, the Jobnob.com co-founder.

Their vision didn't match up with reality; little did they know people would stand in line for the chance to work for free.

"I didn't expect it, but I'm not surprised. I mean there are a lot of us looking for work," said John Spangler, a writer and editor.

The idea was to hold a job fair with a twist. The founders of start-up company JobNob.com hosted a happy hour with 50 startups that need employees, but can't afford them. The companies would meet job seekers willing to work a few hours a week for free. What they got was a true sign of the times.

"We have waaay too many job seekers per companies that are looking to hire people," said Aileen Desoto, a biotech job seeker.

Desoto got so frustrated trying to work the crowd she decided she'd have better luck finding a date than a job.

"There are a lot of eligible people around here, so I guess I need to go out and meet that objective tonight," said Desoto.

Organizers say one reason the ratio is so out of whack is because a lot of start-up companies didn't really believe this many people would be willing to work for free.

"And now we have the proof that 300 people came to this event willing to provide healthy start ups make their companies grow make them better," said Shusterman.

They now plan to do this once a month and hope more start-ups will come and take advantage of all this free labor.

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