If you’ve been keeping up with my Instagram story in the last few weeks, you’ll know that I sometimes
rant about politely discuss my job search struggles. Well, my last dozen applications have been a series of unfortunate events and I started to think if I’m going through these hurdles, some of you guys must be too. It’s hard enough to be a millennial in this world, but I know firsthand that those of you who are looking for jobs right now are NOT having a walk in the park.
We’re in an oversaturated job market. It means that candidates who want a chance at a payroll need to either have a special connection (through parents, let’s be honest here) with the employer or they need to have done something extraordinary. Competency just doesn’t cut it anymore. For example, I once heard a recruiter for a legal job at a firm here in Ottawa say “We’re looking for something that will set you apart from other candidates. If you’ve been in the Olympics or climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, mention that in your cover letter.”
Seems crazy to ask, but they can get away with it. There will be someone who climbed a mountain who’s going to apply for the job and he’s going to get it instead of you. The job market is just that saturated. Since so many of us willing and able to do most jobs, it kind of means employers can get away with being crappy throughout the hiring process. I know this firsthand: unanswered applications, unread cover letters, interviews that lasted less than 30 seconds, promises to be in touch, unanswered follow-up emails… In the past, these lil’ things used to really get to me. It’s hard not to let it. If you get the same crappy treatment from enough employers, it’ll start to feel like you’re the problem. You start to think that it’s a reflection of who you are as person, how competent you are (and maybe how useful your tuition money was). Some businesses are just corporate money-making machines but it doesn’t change the fact that behind every business decision and every unanswered email is at least one, little, human person rejecting you.
But it doesn’t just stop at the hiring process. Since our market is so oversaturated, once you get hired, a lot of employers still aren’t that respectful. We’ve all had a job we hate, whether it was due to the actual work, people we worked with or a bad work environment. When your jobs sucks, everything around you sucks a little more too. The dread of going into work permeates everything and it can feel impossible to just enjoy yourself. Friday isn’t fun because it’s the day before Saturday, which is the day before Sunday, which is the day before Monday… if you know what I mean.
I’ve written before on how to deal with rejection while job searching, but I wanted to discuss some of my experiences with employers in the hopes that it makes you feel better about your own job problems. Oh, and if you happen to be an employer (or you plan on being one), please take notes! Remember, happy employees who feel respected will always be the most efficient and won’t mind going the extra
1. Communicate while recruiting
Some employers have no concept of honest communication when it comes to recruiting prospective candidates; it’s so simple and would reduce the stress, guesswork and general frustration/ hyperventilating that comes with looking for a job. Like when you’re fully qualified for a job, you apply, you never hear back but three and a half weeks later, the job posting is still up and your application is sitting in someone’s inbox. It’s like, “are ya interested in hiring someone or nah?”
Sometimes it’s worse. Sometimes, you have a full-blown interview with an employer who says they’ll be “in touch”. They’re not.
I recently followed up a few weeks after an interview. The receptionist called me back and scheduled me for something the following Tuesday…. from 10 am to 4 pm. She couldn’t tell me what is was for, so she agreed to inform herself and phone me back. I had to call this business back 3 times over the following several days and not a single person could tell me why I had to see the boss for 6 hours. I finally told them I was no longer interested.
It’s not just the routine, systematic rejection from employers. It’s wasted time. A LOT of wasted time. It can take me hours to write a cover letter. FROM A TEMPLATE. If I’m passionate about a job, I’m putting my heart and soul into that cover letter. That’s where the lack of acknowledgment really hurts.
2. Assigning proper work to employees
When we see a job posting, we usually only apply after reading the job duties and making sure we’re cool with doing all that stuff. Can someone tell why is it then, that so often after an employer has hired us that we end up doing something completely different? It’s a huge let down.
Not only are we barely even considered for jobs, but when we see one we actually like and we ACTUALLY GET IT, we are SO excited! Only to get there and find out the employer doesn’t trust us with any of the disclosed job duties, so we end up doing super menial work like writing up other people’s stuff and fetching coffee – it’s not cool. It’s a lack of transparency and honest communication on the employer’s part.
Even if you’re brand new to a company and the employer’s excuse is that you have to “learn the ropes”, it’s still not cool. Remind me why I spent my entire life’s worth and then some in tuition payments? Oh yeah, sorry, it definitely wasn’t to learn “the ropes” or anything. Hmmm must have been FOR SOMETHING ELSE THEN.
If an employer’s gotta supervise your work, an employer’s gotta supervise your work. Fine, it’s understandable. But chasing the job duties on you is just misrepresenting the job to potential applicants.
3. Flexibility for employees
You guys. It’s 2017. We have email, we have Skype, we have Google Hangout, FaceTime, Snapchat, Instagram, DM, iMessage, texting and even old school three-way calling. We’ve all got internet at home (and coffee shops, malls, restaurants, and airports), and we all have a laptop and a smartphone.
In other words, the traditional 9 to 5 is obsolete. Why are we still making people work these super specific hours when most of our communication at work is digital?
If you’re in an office job, I mean unless it’s like a super collaborative Google type thing, you do not need to be on location during your shifts. Most jobs can be done remotely nowadays. I worked in a law office for a year and most of my coworkers communicated with me by email, even if I was sitting 5 feet away from them. WHY do employers care so much about whether we’re actually in the office at 10 am on a Tuesday in an uncomfortable suit, or whether we’re doing work in our pyjamas in front of a roaring fireplace at the cottage, roasting a marshmallow or two?
After an hour or two of screen time, I seriously need a break. And not, like, a five second bathroom break. I need air and trees. I need to remind my eyeballs about the third dimension. A 15 minute coffee run ain’t gonna cut it.
Look, is there anything you would do for fun for like 8 to 10 hours a day? Take, Saturday for example. Would you shop for… 8 HOURS? Would you bake an apple pie… for 8 HOURS? Would you watch TV for 8 HOURS? Okay maybe you’d watch TV for 8 hours, but you WOULD take breaks. And you’re probably just watching TV because you’re so brain is so fried from your 9 to 5 and the unnaturally sedentary career, that you have no energy or willingness to move or think.
Taking a break at the office can be impractical and also uncomfortable, especially if your boss is breathing down your neck. If employees had more flexibility to work from home and/or on their own time, people could schedule a more balanced day. They would have time to drop off and pick up their kids from school, do some grocery shopping and cook, get a workout in… Night owls could work all night and sleep all day!
Honestly, it’s unhealthy for someone to sit at their desk for 4 hours in the morning, go for a half hour seated lunch and then sit at a desk for another 4 hours in the afternoon.
If some meetings have to be scheduled in person, that’s totally fine! But expecting a human to spend a minimum of 40 hrs/week glued to a desk inside an office is just unreasonable.
4. No Power Trippin’
Whether it’s the business owner, the CEO or even just a mid-level manager, a lot of senior people I’ve have come across in work environments take their jobs into full power trip mode. I’m talking anything from slightly disrespectful remarks to flat out rude and demeaning behaviour, toward both clients and other employees. I personally refer to this species of office worker as “the bully”. These are the people who love to be in control and to micromanage in an attempt to make themselves feel good. Sometimes it’s actually the managers who were were treated badly by their superiors when they were at the bottom of the ladder – so today, they feel entitled to pay it forward to our generation. It’s the age old I-suffered-so-you-will-too mentality (if want to read more on this, see my post about hierarchy in the workplace).
Acting polite but somewhat timid will not get you anywhere with “the bully”. Ironically, it’s been my experience that putting your foot down and confidently demanding what you need from the person will garner you the best and most respectful outcome. Think of “the bully” as grey haired 12 year old: they’re just acting this way out of deep-rooted insecurities. It makes “the bully” feel better about their his/her life to control and put others down. These are also the type of people to get upset when things don’t go their way. Obviously, these people just really need to chill, look themselves in the mirror and make serious changes to their lives.
The best boss I’ve ever had afforded everyone an incredible amount of respect. She was incredibly nice, generous and treated everyone as a colleague, an equal. She asked us what our favourite things to do around the workplace were. In the end, she was so nice, she did not have to order us to do anything, we just offered to do things for her because we wanted to.