Monday, July 25, 2011

Not Calling People Back Is Bullshit (Are You Listening, Corporate America?)

I’ve spent my fair share of time shilling myself to potential jobs and internships. Over the past year or so, starting with my internship search at American University and continuing throughout this spring and summer, I’ve probably submitted close to a hundred résumés, cover letters and writing samples.

Very few of them resulted in a job offer. That’s fine. I get that it’s a competitive environment, particularly journalism-centered jobs, and that I’m not right for every place, and that there are tons of qualified candidates out there. That’s not my problem. My problem is when I send an email or a printed packet to a lot of workplaces, I might as well be sending them into the Great White Ether. They just vanish, unnoticed and unremarkable, never to be heard from again. Even follow-ups or personal visits can’t induce a response.


This is the single biggest thing that ticks me off about the job application process. I get that workplaces are busy, and I also get that when I’m applying to the office of a U.S. Senator (for example), I’m one of hundreds of gazillions of people who are applying. But someone has to be looking through all those résumés, right? Somebody’s paging through the digital archives and looking at all those emails from all the young and (slightly) desperate potential coworkers out there. So is it really asking too much for them to send a quick reply message?

Whether it’s an acceptance or a rejection or a copy-pasted statement of “Thank you for emailing the office of Senator Kohl”, ANY response is a good one. It lets me know that even though maybe nothing came of my efforts, at least I was noticed by the Powers That Be… and enough of those notices might result in a job, eventually. No reply email and it’s like I asked for an internship from the Moon. It’s discouraging, it’s depressing and it’s just plain inconsiderate.

Tell you something. When I’m the head of some major business endeavor or journalistic enterprise or what have you, my ground rule will be this: Everyone gets a call back. If they’re nice and polite and they provide contact information, everyone who sends their info to my company will get some kind of a response. It might be “I’m sorry, we’re not hiring right now,” it might be “I’m incredibly busy right now, but try me again next week and I’ll see what I can do” (and we’ll keep that promise; that’s another thing that drives me up a wall, broken promises) or it might just be “You’re probably better off looking elsewhere”. But no matter what, everyone gets his or her info looked at and everyone gets a response. That’s called being goddamn considerate.

(P.S. It’s easier to tolerate when it comes from, like I mentioned, an incredibly busy Senate office or something. But the local Kohl’s? Or some mom-and-pop endeavor that probably has a maximum of 25 applicants over the course of one summer? Come on, guys. You really have no excuse.)

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