writing etiquette in the job market

I’ve been thinking about the etiquettes of writing within the job market.

My son is job searching. He’s young and impressionable. The companies he applies to are supposed to be his role models.

Whatever happened to good old fashioned, polite responses like letters or even a reply to your e mail?

Much of my career work experience has been in the health profession, within Health Boards and private health providers. We either had an HR department or an administrative person to deal with the formal responses. They came in the form of acknowledgement of receipt of application letters, letters to advise of interview dates/time, regular telephone contact as required, letters of acceptance, contract etc. Yes, snail mail you say, a slow process and all before the digital age. Online applications should speed the process up. For the employer maybe, but not the applicant. Most online agencies do send a message of receipt of application. However, they often don’t send a letter advising that your application was unsuccessful. This part of the process transfers over to the businesses themselves, where sometimes there seems to be no understanding of etiquette or a feeling of responsibility.

My son has undertaken interviews where the companies haven’t always given him a prompt answer, or an answer at all.

Forgive me for my old fashioned attitude. I have been brought up back in the era where it was considered positive to front up, present yourself to a business with your CV, and even to request a tour when appropriate. This, we were told, demonstrates you are a keen candidate, and the company is likely to remember you if they see you in person. That was the good old days. I get that people are busy, that they receive many CVs and cannot store them, particularly when no job vacancies exist at the time. However, sometimes this approach does work. My son was successful in getting his first job in a local supermarket using this method. Perhaps the timing was right.

My son has been treated with disrespect at times. Once, after an interview, he rang to check their decision after he hadn’t heard by the day they said they’d contact him. The woman was curt and offhand. She reiterated that they would be getting back to him.

It was around the time the second Level 2 restrictions were imposed. A bugger of a time to be job hunting.

I get that recruitment is a laborious process at best, and many small businesses are stressed under changing Covid conditions.

He’s also experienced well meaning contacts who keep him hanging on, suggesting week after week that they have a job coming up and will let him know, yet never do. ‘Next week mate,’ they say.

We’ve suggested if our son is declined a position after the interview stage, that he ask politely if there were any reasons why he was not accepted, so that he can learn from the experience for next time. The answer has been, ‘Oh, there’s nothing wrong with your application, you interviewed well. The successful person just has experience.’

He’s a school leaver.

When liaising with prospective employers it’s common to text and e mail instead of telephone calls, but he’s found text responses can be rare.

I know we are in unprecedented times. But that’s no excuse. Its manners. Adults need to consider our own behaviours, especially when next commenting, or criticising the younger generation, as being self-centred, entitled, or having a poor work ethic. How can we expect them to show respect if the generation ahead does not show it to them?

Let’s take a minute, during these uncertain times, to consider the plight of our young people. Our actions have a profound impact on them and on future generations when they reach positions of responsibility.

I’m happy to say, since the time of writing this, my son has been successful in securing a position. This took perseverance, taking it on the chin in the school of hard knocks, with a bit of good timing, and ‘who you know’ thrown into the mix.

Sounds like life right?


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