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It is better
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John Sumser

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(March 05, 2003) -
-  A stroke of luck allowed us to talk with a number of job hunters in the past week. We heard story after story of rudeness and humiliation. Missed appointments, no follow-through, no acknowledgement, email boxes full of marketing scams, misleading job descriptions, outright lies and deception are the brutal realities faced by today's job hunter.

We understand that there is an imbalance in the way that companies perceive time and the way that job hunters do. From the company's perspective, everything is busy, busy, busy. Five minute allocations of time are a big deal for today's overworked recruiter. Huge unfiltered piles of resumes eat time and money. Job hunters seem so, well, desperate. Well intentioned mentors often tell recruiters that they need to harden their hearts. "You can't help everyone."

It's different from the job hunter's view. Hours stretch on interminably when you are out of work. This opportunity requires days of preparation and that opportunity requires still more research. Meanwhile, talking about being out of work is taboo and support is hard to come by (particularly after the first six months). Financial pressures mount and soon it becomes scary to consider answering the phone.

A five minute interaction may have taken hours of preparation. A hint of hope is enough to illuminate an evening. The job hunter's ego is often fragile.

Most folks look for work these days out of anything but choice. Although the last several years of layoffs may make cynicism a national sport, most folks are really quite surprised when the axe falls. Stripped, instantaneously of all of the identity that comes from organizational membership, they tend to grasp at straws. The rudeness that we routinely issue in our industry is magnified beyond the comprehension of someone still swaddled in organizational security. 

The things we know about jobs and options are really not common knowledge.

Of course, not all job hunters are frail in the extreme. But, it's a tough time and our institutional rudeness makes things worse. The simple fact is that no one is very good at looking for work even though everyone needs work. When we encounter job hunters, we meet people who are not playing from a position of strength. We get away with the rudeness for that reason alone.

For some, a stream of humiliation is an object lesson in humility. For others, it's an invitation to develop real skills in passive-aggressive behavior. For a few, it's a liberation. 

For most, it's the first introduction to our companies. The rudeness is remembered, talked about and the basic source of employment brand erosion. The sad thing is that we have the tools to ease some of the pain we're causing and don't bother to use them.

- John Sumser  

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
Mill Valley, CA 94941

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