This “wise up” message is sent to a young woman who applied for a job as an office administrator, hoping to work for yours truly to handle professional communications, keep our invoices and payables current, and to keep my office open and functioning smoothly when I travel.
This particular candidate had recently graduated from college, but her emailed resume lacked the requisite experience. Rather than turn her down with no explanation – which lacks respect for her efforts to apply – I wanted to explain the situation. So I emailed her promptly after reviewing a two-line cover letter and student resume:
“Hello, [name]. Thanks for applying for a position in our company. I’m writing to let you know that I am, in fact, looking for an applicant with applicable job experience, as stated clearly in the position posting. Therefore, your application likely won’t go the distance, but I’ll nonetheless forward your resume to my partner for review and get back to you next week.”
To which she responded by email: “Well, how is anyone supposed to get any experience if no one gives them a chance? I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in business administration. I’ve got computer and customer service experience. I don’t know what else you people need. All I want is a chance. It can’t be that hard.”
To which I responded: “[Name], you may have classroom experience, but your cited experience is working in a retail store selling clothing. There are entry-level office positions that pay entry-level wages to learn appropriate office software and to get some office administrative experience. Employment firms like The QTI Group are a great resource for trying out those jobs or to add to your resume. As I posted, my position pays a higher salary level, and this position requires proven office experience in a similar office setting to assure me that the candidate can work independently and handle a busy office with professional demeanor.
Even so, I was willing to keep your application “open” for my partner’s review, but your comments ‘you people’ and ‘it can’t be that hard’ underscore that this isn’t going to be a match, so we can conclude the application process at this time. However, I do hope you soon find that first professional job, and I wish you well in your job search.”
Within an hour, I received this clever reply in my Inbox (in all caps): I HAVE A COLLEGE DEGREE AND THOSE STUPID TEMP FIRMS NEVER GET ME ANYTHING. F*** YOU, B****. (She didn’t use asterisks in her version).
Well, okay then, here’s what I now want you to know, dear applicant. First of all, I have your resume in hand. I know your present employer and one of your two listed references. In fact, I know them well. However, I have professional ethics as well as situational ethics and so I won’t share our little “miscommunication” with them. Instead, I’ll say this to you directly and clearly:
Young Miss, the world isn’t all about you and it doesn’t revolve around what you want. Those classes that you napped through in kindergarten where you should have learned manners and how to show rudimentary respect for people, well, you actually will need to know those skills to get through life with a career intact. Certainly my new hire will demonstrate that she or he understands respect for self and others. Those were important lessons for every playground you’ll ever step onto.
You’ll also need to learn that this “business” playground is smaller than you think. It looks big to you now, from the sidelines while you’re waiting to be drafted to play, but it isn’t. So you want to consider that there is an invisible network all around you, comprised of connections you know nothing of. Be thoughtful what you say and to whom.
Lastly, know this – a World Series ego is indulged (though never actually appreciated) only after winning a World Series; you’re still in the minor leagues nursing a bruised ego because you aren’t getting to bat this inning for this team. And when you didn’t get what you wanted, you acted like a spoiled brat, not a college educated young woman ready for a position of responsibility.
We’ve all started where you are starting; how fast you get a position will, in fact, depend largely on you and your softer skill set. That chip on your shoulder is weighing you down, not our reluctance to “give you a chance” for the most appropriate position on the field.
Actually, I have more empathy for the job applicant than you might think, and I know how easy it can be to strike out in a fit of righteous pique. Once, when I was a young mother driving my very small son to parochial school, an old man drove out of a McDonald’s lot right in front of my car. He didn’t even glance my direction – just pulled out into the street, nearly colliding with my car. He didn’t realize I was on the road until I honked at him long and loud. To underscore my fury with his incompetence, I punctuated the honk with a high and resolute bird salute!
That got his attention, and he immediately pulled over to let me pass, and I thought “Good! Serves you right!” as I swerved angrily around his parked car.
The man quickly pulled back onto the street and followed me… all the way to my son’s school… where the elderly priest stepped out of his car and walked to his office… where I was supposed to meet him at 8:00 a.m. to discuss my son’s bad behavior in class the day before.
The lesson I learned that day – about the town being a much smaller community than I thought, and my actions (in retrospect) being much ruder than I had intended – well, Young Miss has to learn those same lessons the hard way too, apparently. And so I do feel a tiny bit sorry for her… though not sorry enough to ever, ever hire her.
What do you think? Does this young applicant need a wake up call. Feel free to leave your comments below.