Left hang­ing in the e-void

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - LAURA FURSTER

I have been as­tounded by the num­ber of po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers who just didn’t get back to me. As an older mil­len­nial, I span two mind­sets: that of a tech-savvy young pro­fes­sional, and that of an ap­pre­ci­a­tor of cor­rectly spelled words, full sen­tences, and face time — not the app, the real kind — with the peo­ple who mat­ter in both my per­sonal and pro­fes­sional realms. I also ap­pre­ci­ate good man­ners. Re­cently, I had the un­for­tu­nate ex­pe­ri­ence of look­ing for ad­di­tional work out­side of my in­de­pen­dent and free­lance en­deav­ours. I wanted the ex­tra cash flow, but I didn’t re­ally want to be on any­one’s staff, which I sup­pose made it quite con­ve­nient when mul­ti­ple prospec­tive em­ploy­ers dropped con­tact mid-con­sid­er­a­tion. I sent re­quested work sam­ples to three lo­ca­tions, and par­tic­i­pated in a video in­ter­view with one of them. All three silently re­ceded into the back­ground af­ter, I must as­sume, de­cid­ing that they were no longer in­ter­ested in hir­ing me.

I’m not in­ter­ested in them, ei­ther. Their poor man­ners and dis­re­spect to­ward me and my time take them clear out of the run­ning of com­pa­nies I would con­sider work­ing for.

This clus­ter of events is only the most re­cent in my ex­pe­ri­ences with failed com­mu­ni­ca­tion fol­low-through, but that it hap­pened three times within a week is a pretty solid case in point, if you ask me.

What each em­ployer had in com­mon was that not one of them shook my hand, sat in a room with me, and spoke to me on a hu­man level. I will not con­demn tech­nol­ogy’s role in the hir­ing process. De­spite be­ing prob­lem­atic in var­i­ous ways, I un­der­stand that it’s a prod­uct of con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety. In some cases, be­cause of a com­pany’s struc­ture, it’s just not vi­able to have in-per­son in­ter­views, for ex­am­ple if a sin­gle hu­man re­sources depart­ment hires for mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions across the coun­try.

It is not tech­nol­ogy’s fault — it’s our abuse of tech­nol­ogy that is to blame. Al­low­ing the de­hu­man­iz­ing ef­fects of re­mote com­mu­ni­ca­tion to lead to in­con­sid­er­ate, un­pro­fes­sional be­hav­iour is en­tirely in the con­trol of those who ne­glect to fol­low up with very real peo­ple who are strug­gling to be no­ticed from be­hind their com­puter screens.

A po­lite, “Thank you, but we have de­cided to pur­sue other can­di­dates” is re­spect­ful. Leav­ing peo­ple hang­ing in the e-void, won­der­ing when they will re­ceive feed­back, if at all, is un­ac­cept­able con­duct.

Lean job mar­kets pro­duce des­per­ate job hunters, which in turn pro­duce em­ploy­ers with su­pe­ri­or­ity com­plexes. With so many can­di­dates to choose from, com­pa­nies in many in­dus­tries have the up­per hand, and im­per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tions make it easy for them to be care­less to­ward the plights of the un­em­ployed.

Cer­tain niche in­dus­tries are op­er­at­ing on dif­fer­ent tra­jec­to­ries. Want to pi­lot an air­craft for an air­line? Now is a great time to drop many thou­sands of dol­lars on your ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing, and li­cences. Want to seat peo­ple at a restau­rant? You had bet­ter know a staff mem­ber with in­flu­ence.

The is­sue of com­mu­ni­ca­tion trails gone cold is only com­pounded by the frus­tra­tion of try­ing to get a job be­low one’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions, due to highly com­pet­i­tive job mar­kets. Left hang­ing by a com­pany I didn’t even want to work for? In­sult, meet in­jury.

The bot­tom line? Stop be­ing rude, be­cause it’s bad for com­mu­nity morale.

I’m not say­ing that em­ploy­ers should re­spond to ev­ery in­quiry, but once the com­mu­ni­ca­tion cir­cuit has been closed, at least com­plete the stan­dard ex­change of sen­ti­ments, even if that sen­ti­ment is, “thanks, but no thanks.”

Laura Furster is a fine artist, lit­er­ary writer, and jour­nal­ist liv­ing in down­town Hamilton. She can be found on Face­book/Twit­ter/In­sta­gram, and at www.laura-furster.com. Con­tact: laura.furster@out­look.com.

Lean job mar­kets pro­duce des­per­ate job hunters, which in turn pro­duce em­ploy­ers with su­pe­ri­or­ity com­plexes.

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