FINDLAY, OH—In what some economists believe to be a sign that the U.S. could be headed for a recession, a job opening last month at the Findlay-area Bob Evans prompted a deluge of more than 3 million job applications from out-of-work Americans, restaurant manager Tom Fields confirmed Tuesday.
Within three days of placing a "Help Wanted" sign at the Bob Evans front entrance, Fields reportedly received more than 800,000 resumés for the part-time hostess job. The newly available position offers no health benefits, minimum-wage pay, and a dress code that mandates both the standard red-and-white Bob Evans kerchief and "a smile," as well as a 15 percent discount on all meals eaten during one's shift.
"Word of a job opening in this country sure does travel fast," the visibly exhausted Fields said. "I'm just dreading having to make those 3,199,999 rejection phone calls."
Over the next two weeks, another 2 million applications poured into the chain eatery from college graduates, former teachers, engineers, factory workers, computer programmers, 60,000 Americans formerly employed in the private sector, construction workers, Ph.D. candidates, and nearly 1.3 million Americans who have previous food service experience—including 230 former executive chefs.
Fields, who decided to forgo calling the group's 6 million personal and professional references before making this particular hire, called the selection of potential hostesses "very strong."
Although competition among the applicants has been fierce, many say they are simply glad to once again have the chance to apply for a job.
"I would kill for this opportunity," said former Ford plant supervisor Chris Thaney, who has been unemployed since 2006 and previously earned $75,000 a year. "I really think this is the lucky break my family and I have been waiting for."
Thaney, who waited for 15 hours for an interview in a line extending out the door, around the block, and into neighboring Toledo, said he was so excited by the possibility of securing the 25-hour-a-week position that he uprooted his family from Georgia and moved them to Findlay.
After the interview, Fields told the 43-year-old father of three that he would keep his resumé on file and "would let [him] know."
"The final decision will be tough," Fields said. "We're looking for someone who is a team player, has good people skills, and won't buckle under the pressure. This place can get pretty nuts during breakfast, and we're always slammed after church on Sundays."
Fields said that he has already gone through one round of interviews, and plans to tackle the rest of the 2 million resumés piled up on his desk by the end of next month. He hopes to have the field narrowed to 400,000 by the end of August.
Leading economists said they were not surprised by the turnout. More than 4 million Americans reportedly applied for a job at a Fort Wayne, IN American Eagle Outfitters in December, and all 7.7 million of the nation's unemployed expressed interest in a part-time, holiday-only position at the Westmoreland Mall Sunglass Hut last November.
A number of experts also predicted that, once the position at Bob Evans is filled, there will not be another job opening in America for at least six months.
"I completely botched the interview," said former AT&T; mainframe programmer Richard Morrow, who studied the Bob Evans menu extensively for the interview, but was flustered when Fields only seemed interested in Morrow's experience studying abroad in college. "I wanted it too bad and it showed."
Thus far Fields has remained tight-lipped about any leading candidates for the job. Sources amongst the waitstaff, however, were "almost certain" that the position would be filled as early as next Wednesday by Fields'16-year-old niece, Samantha.