When the company my son worked for closed its doors a couple years ago, he decided to go back to school to get his Master’s degree in marketing. We hoped the economy and job market would be better by the time he finished school. By last Christmas, he had graduated with honors and was full of enthusiasm. Yes, jobs were still hard to come by, but that didn’t dim his excitement as he began searching for his dream job with an advertising agency.
As I write this eight months later, he is still looking. Sometimes his smile is not quite as wide, but he continues to knock on doors and strives to stay as positive as possible. We know he’s not alone. It’s still terribly difficult for people to find work right now, no matter what their age or qualifications.
But here is what disturbs me, perhaps even as much as the frustratingly limited opportunities for job seekers right now: I am truly shocked and saddened by the callous attitudes of so many of the employers out there. Not only are people having a hard time finding work, but when they finally get a foot in the door, it’s not uncommon for them to put their hearts and souls into an interview – and then never hear another word.
I understand that companies have a large pool of qualified candidates, and it’s a “buyers’ market” so to speak. That does not mean it’s okay to treat job applicants without respect. That does not mean it’s okay to ignore their attempts to follow up with you, to make them feel they don’t even warrant the courtesy of a response. And it is not okay to undermine peoples’ feelings of self-worth, no matter how many applicants you wearily interviewed before deciding on someone else.
What I believe is that now, more than ever, we need to do whatever we can to uplift our job-seeking friends, family members and yes, the applicants who show up in your office, with words of encouragement and kindness. When someone is trying so hard and running into one obstacle after another, it costs nothing to give them a reason to keep going. It takes moments to respond to an email thanking someone for their time and interest and wishing them well with their next opportunity.
As a business owner, it’s also made me consider how I handle the calls and emails that regularly come into my own office. I’m not looking for new employees, but I do frequently get requests from companies that would like to do business with me. I used to delete all of these unsolicited emails without a thought, but my son’s experience has made me reconsider. Now I’m responding to the ones who have a legitimate reason to offer their services to me. I thank them for their interest and tell them I’ll keep them in mind, should a need arise. I know it’s not much, but at least it’s something. Maybe it encourages one person to keep trying for the connection that really will lead to a new piece of business.
You can’t hire every qualified applicant, or do business with everyone who contacts you. But in these tough times, it can make a world of difference to respond to peoples’ efforts with courtesy and your good wishes.