I’m writing this post after tossing a couple of resumés in the recycling bin. These applicants were from our recent search for a new Research Associate. As I mentioned previously, this time around has been different, with the use of online recruiting tools including Handshake, Indeed, and LinkedIn. The usefulness of these resources is not too impressive, but we got many applicants of varying qualifications. Of the applicants who met our prescribed qualifications, the next step we have used for many years is to email them a list of about 20 initial questions. We implemented this procedure many years ago to save my time with initial, unproductive, telephone interviews and also to give the applicants time to think about their answers (something that seemed to be necessary because of the number of applicants who needed time to contemplate the answers). What has been striking to me this time is the number of people who did not bother to answer the questions or even respond to my email regarding the questions. (I’m pretty sure they got the email in that, if I didn’t get a response within 48 hours of my initial email, I sent a text or made a phone call – usually leaving a message – to ensure that they were looking for the email I sent.) Some of the questions have perhaps an obviously “socially desirable” answer, such as “Do you smoke?”. Perhaps some non responsive applicants “weeded themselves out” based on these or other questions. However, I know that this does not fully explain the non response in that others did answer the questions in a way that told us they were not someone appropriate for the job. Instead, I wonder if the questions were just too much trouble for some people. I wonder if these applicants are not accustomed to “working for it,” whatever “it” might be, in this case, the job for which they applied. Obviously, if they did not want to work for the job, their intent to work on the job is questionable and they did us a favor by not answering the questions. It is hard to imagine that so many people are just lazy, but I don’t know what else explains the non responsiveness. The courteous thing to do would be to say, “On further consideration, I don’t think this is a good job for me…” or at least something. Common courtesy would dictate a response of some sort.
In my opinion, and based on my experiences, many people lack the common courtesy to which David refers. It doesn’t matter to them whether they say “Thank you” after receiving a gift, whether they cut off another driver while changing lanes, or whether they reply to a prospective employer’s email. In fact, I am disappointed to say that it is often the exception to the rule to find people who share my definition of courtesy. That brings me to Charlie. My friend, Charlie Watkins, is someone I have known since first grade. Charlie and I have many things in common: We love today’s rock music (played loudly); we enjoy attending concerts; and we are considerate and thoughtful people. Recently, David and I did a favor for a group of friends and it was Charlie who sent a special thank you note, via the U.S. Mail, to acknowledge our efforts in arranging the group event. The other people involved are nice, kind, dear friends, but only Charlie did what I would have done, send a nice note. On the other hand, job applicants who believe it is too much trouble to answer a few written questions are, most likely, both too discourteous and too ignorant to inform David that they have decided not to apply for the job. Why bother being kind or courteous to someone one will never meet? It’s just too much trouble. I am always thankful for Charlie and people like him (and I have many wonderful friends!); similarly, I am thankful for the people whose actions and inactions convey they are “not my type.” I prefer to work with people like my dear Charlie than those who are his polar opposite. (Charlie, you just never know how your name will be brought up! David and I love you! Yes, we do!)