When nothing is(n’t) good enough
After months of near total perfect silent Nothingness. After more than 200 job applications resulting in less than ten one line emails, I was broken. Absolutely and utterly broken. In a world, in a country, in a class, in a family that values your job as a measure of your success, I was a failure too.
I was failing my children, failing my responsibilities, a burden, a bludger. You get to a point where each application becomes an act of self-torture. You try applying for anything just to get an interview – and if you did not know humiliation before, you will know it when the local supermarket doesn’t even respond to your application for night stacking.
Then I thought I had found my salvation after a friend reminded me of the “Do Good Jobs” website. I am a good person, no that is a lie, I am a great person and I would love to work for the greater good as I have in the past, so this website seemed like a Godsend.
With a lightened heart, I applied for some amazing jobs, good jobs, great jobs. I hoped someone good would recognise my value. I hoped for a job offer, and felt sure an interview was a phone call away. But I was a realist too, I knew I would be getting a few thanks, but no thanks, in reply. This time, though, that did not faze me because I knew I would be treated well, these jobs were ‘good’ jobs, people-centric jobs, looking specifically for people like me.
Time slipped by, closing dates passed, and Nothing. The same old Nothing became my companion, replacing my friends: hope, and then slim hope with hopelessness. No missed calls, no emails, no letters, just me and Nothing. When you are down and Nothing is your daily measure of self, you get smaller and smaller quicker than you could ever believe.
In an effort to stop me disappearing, I pulled myself together and extended good grace and understanding to those who were yet to acknowledge my effort and existence. I reminded myself that these jobs were not-for-profits, non-governmental, charities, unfunded, over-worked and therefore needed, at very least, my understanding and a larger time frame before concluding the unthinkable. So I waited, and Nothing proved he was right in forcing hope to leave.
Now, I completely accept I applied for jobs where I may not have been the perfect candidate, but does that exempt good etiquette on behalf of the advertiser? No, it does not. And I realise no one employer was responsible for my mental fragility, but did that entitle them to add to the distress? Certainly not. Do I have a right to expect better candidate care and rejection from advertisers of ‘Good’ jobs? No, perhaps I don’t, but I have the right like every other candidate of every job ever (good or not so good), to be acknowledged whether I am one of five or five thousand. But make no mistake, acknowledging the efforts of all applicants is not just for the benefit of the unsuccessful.
In short, the upshot of my experience of this un-orchestrated but absolute dismissal of me? I stopped. I stopped applying, I stopped being brave. I stopped, but I did not forget. I stopped shopping at certain establishments, I stopped recommending particular companies, I stopped supporting selected causes or charities. I also never apply to those companies, charities, not-for-profits, non-governmentals again. So while I may not have been the ideal candidate in the first instance, I might well have been second time round, but that never happened.
Treating unsuccessful applicants is just as important (maybe more) as treating your employees well. Because you don’t know what happened to them yesterday, and you don’t know if you will need them tomorrow. Regardless of anything though, doing nothing isn’t good enough.