Common courtesy is not so common

April 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

In an age where a message can be sent at the click of a button, where ease of communication has never been more effortless, I am repeatedly surprised at the corresponding decline of basic good manners where job-hunting is concerned.

I work part-time in a job I am very happy with.  The hours, however, are not sufficient to make up my financial wants (yes, wants, not needs), and so I have been scouring the online job pages in the hopes of finding something to fill in some of the rest of my time.  I regularly apply for positions that look interesting, for roles I believe I am suited to, and for posts that I am confident I could easily be trained for.

Now, I understand that the job market is saturated at this time, and I appreciate that the level of applicants is far higher now than pre-recession.  Furthermore, I am the first to acknowledge that, in spite of a varied work history and an innate ability to pick up new tasks quickly, I have official training in only a limited selection of skills and subjects.  That I do not meet the occupational needs of a particular employer does not bother me.

What I do object to is job advertisers not informing applicants of their decision.  It irks me that, in this electronic twenty-first century, many businesses do not have the common courtesy to send out a generic email to the applicants that were not successful.  Six words would suffice: “Apologies, your application has been unsuccessful.”

To be fair, roughly a third of the applications I have sent out do get a response.  Usually it is a blanket email, and it usually states that “due to a high level of applicants, we will not be taking your application for the position further.”  Upon occasion, the return email will even include “thank you for taking the time to apply.”  Did these good manners take up much of the advertisers time?  Unlikely.  Did these good manners provide a sense of closure for the recipients?  Definitely.  It is better to know for certain that you were unfortunate in that instance than to sit around expectantly, day in and day out, wondering if you should carry on holding out for a particular application.

I have received a few email replies immediately upon sending my application.  These usually state “thank you for applying for this position, should you be successful we will contact you for an interview by (date).”  These emails offer a win-win situation. The employer is able to minimise their time spent on the process, sending out a standard reply as each of the countless applications trickle into their inbox.  The employer has also shown good manners: you know they’ve received your information, and you know exactly how long to hold your breath and cross your fingers for.

Voltaire once said that “common sense is not so common.”  I’d like to rephrase that as “common courtesy is not so common.”  Considering that politeness does not cost a thing, there is no reason for it to be used selectively, and truth be told, I’d rather not work for you after all.

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