Professional courtesy… an oxymoron?

When I arrived in Canada in 1975, my first priority was very clear. I needed an income… and fast! I pursued all the obvious channels, by introducing myself to employment agencies, and sending off many resumes.


The response to the resumes was my first disappointment with Canada! I would guess that I received responses to probably less than 10%. I questioned this, and was told that most companies will only respond to a resume if they are interested in you. That does, at a superficial level, appear to be very efficient but I also found it quite disappointing.


From my perspective, if I am prepared to take some time out of my life to send a company an overview of my perceived working potential, then I expect the company to spend a few minutes to send me an acknowledgement. All I expected was something that said “Thank you for your interest.” At last I then knew that it had been received.


The next step in the employment process was also discourteous.  After an interview, I was often advised that they would be considering all applicants over the next few weeks, but would only be contacting those who were short listed. This was another issue for me because there would be no precise date as to when the decision would be made.  I would therefore have no idea if I had been rejected, or overlooked in the process (people do make mistakes!) . i.e. The person delegated to contact the “short list” had overlooked me!


It seemed to me that businesses were taking a “holier than thou” approach! Their time was extremely important… but mine was of little consequence.


My perspective on interviews (learned in England) was that not only should courtesy be the norm, but that an interview is a “2-way street”. The business is interviewing me to assess by suitability for the position available, and I am interviewing them to see if I want to work for them. It is interesting how many individuals were quite lost for words when I started asking the questions. I cannot recall one interviewer that invited questions!


It would seem to me that the discourtesy often seen in day to day lives is really not surprising given the examples set by so-called professionals. I really do not understand why… but I am still disappointed when I hear some “transaction” going on, and there is no please or thank you. Why am I so surprised when people are clearly totally focused on their own perspective, and have given  no thought to another person’s perspective?


I could be negative and perceive a very sad future for our species as it becomes more self-centered and generally insensitive to others, but I prefer to believe that most of us do acknowledge the pleasure of receiving respect from others. We just have to make that leap in logic that suggests that we should perhaps be treating others in much the same way and, who knows, it might just catch on!


Professional courtesy? It would be so refreshing to experience businesses who actually care about their employees, and of course their customers. Professional courtesy… an oxymoron? It does not have to be does it!


Just thinking!


Colin Chappell Added Jun 20, 2017 - 1:38pm
Thx Autumn for giving some publicity to this Post. There is a "Just Thinking" Category in my Blog which presents various observations about us as a species! It also focuses on stories about my beloved Ray - almost 80lbs of rescued German Shepherd/Rottweiler with an attitude! Regards. Colin.
John Minehan Added Jun 20, 2017 - 3:47pm
Hopefully a positive one!
Colin Chappell Added Jun 20, 2017 - 4:30pm
Hi John. Hmmmmm.... if you have, or have had, to live with teenagers, that would give you a good idea. The main issues were (he is much improved now) his aggressive posturing and his deep bark!  Four years of patience and loads of TLC can work miracles. I have even written a book about him with the profits going to the Humane Society that rescued him - "Who Said I was up for Adoption?" :)
Dino Manalis Added Jun 20, 2017 - 5:13pm
It's the same in the U.S.
Colin Chappell Added Jun 20, 2017 - 5:19pm
HiDino. That is sad... but I guess perceived business efficiencies left no room for basic courtesy!
Jeff Jackson Added Jun 20, 2017 - 5:50pm
Yes, HR rarely responds to any submissions anymore. Given the technology that we have today, it would seem easy to acknowledge receiving a resume. I have several hundred companies that are considering hiring me, or so it seems, because they never sent a rejection letter. But then, they never acknowledged that they received the resume, cover letter, writing samples, test scores, copies of my transcripts, drug test results, psychographic test results, psychometric test results, psychological profile, reference letters, testimonials, and invitations to check out my postings on the internet. I'm wondering why I'm doing all this work for what seems like nothing.
Colin Chappell Added Jun 20, 2017 - 6:54pm
At least it tells you something about the culture of the companies that could be offering you positions!
George N Romey Added Jun 20, 2017 - 7:39pm
Technology has caused the deterioration in human interactions and communication.  I see it everyday.  People no longer want to get in a room and hash out ideas, findings and data. They want emails, spreadsheets and PowerPoints which they ignore 80% of the time.
Nowhere is the destruction of the human spirit more prevalent than job searching.  You are treated as an interloper trying to get in on the action, not someone that might bring significant value to the firm.  Sad indeed.
Colin Chappell Added Jun 20, 2017 - 7:45pm
Love your opening sentence George, and I totally agree with you.
Jeff Jackson Added Jun 20, 2017 - 9:36pm
Colin- very much so, and none to the better. George- great quote- you should be a philosopher.
George N Romey Added Jun 21, 2017 - 3:33pm
Jeff I've learned the brutal way that companies do not want thinkers.  They want compliant nods. 
George N Romey Added Jun 21, 2017 - 3:34pm
Colin very sad but true.  I've been told if it can't be put in an Excel spreadsheet don't tell me about it.
Christian Peschken Added Jun 21, 2017 - 4:13pm
Because none of us were in the room with you and the interviewer, we cannot assess if the interviewer was discourteous or uninterested in your questions. However, based on your analysis of the application process, I get the feeling you're the one who's in the wrong. Companies are receiving thousands of resumes, they know there is no kind way to say no and the path of least resistance is to say nothing. Besides it was no great effort for you to zap a resume to an employer.
Colin Chappell Added Jun 21, 2017 - 5:34pm
Hi Christian - I think that there is a much broader perspective in discussion here.  Agreed that some companies (not all) get thousands of resumes and agreed that saying no will never be happily received however, whatever happened to respect and courtesy. Whatever happened to a simple "Many thanks for your sending us your resume. You will be contacted if any further information is required." (or something similar). I would then know that my resume had arrived there. The effort involved "to zap a resume to an employer" would be about the same as it is for the employer to "zap an acknowledgement of the resume to the applicant".   In fact, given the software platforms that large companies are working on, it would probably take proportionately less effort for the company.
Peter Corey Added Jun 21, 2017 - 11:23pm
>Technology has caused the deterioration in human interactions and communication.
But aren't you using technology — the Internet — to communicate with all of us on WB? Are you claiming that it has caused a deterioration in your communications and interactions?
Colin Chappell Added Jun 22, 2017 - 8:47am
Hi Peter. Based on your opening quote, I would assume that your comment was directed to George Romey however, I would like to offer some thoughts.
While I think it rather irresponsible to lay blame on "Technology" (it cannot defend itself), I do believe our use of the technology has eroded our communication effectiveness. A message transmitted from me to you in a face to face situation relies on the spoken word, voice inflections, tone and body language in order to be conveyed accurately. "Technology" is quite effective with words (allowing for an inability to correct obvious misunderstandings due to regional use variations); it is very limited on how tone is conveyed (UPPERCASE and emoticons can only do so much); inflections are non-existent (unless to absorb by tone - see previous note); and body language is also non-existent. Compounding the problem further is a seemingly "false bravado" where people will text a message that they would not present in a face to face situation. i.e. "Technology" presents a sense (false in my opinion) of security if one thinks that one can "hide" behind the technololgy.
In summary, while I do not think that "Technology has done anything but enhance our opportunities for increased communication, our use  of it has negatively impacted so many situations.
Utpal Patel Added Jun 23, 2017 - 7:01am
It’s like you said regarding the interview process, you’re interviewing the company as much as the company is interviewing you.  So if a company doesn’t send out an automatic response indicating they received your resume, you’re free to not pursue that company.  I think you’d agree that would be petty reason not to consider working for a company, which makes me wonder why notification of receipt of a resume is such a big deal.  Whether a company sends one out or not, it’s an impersonal process until the interview.  I’d argue it’s an impersonal process until after the first interview. The first interview is usually with some human resources person who doesn’t want to embarrass himself by sending a crappy candidate to be interviewed.   
Colin Chappell Added Jun 23, 2017 - 8:52am
Notification of receipt of a resume simply assures the applicant that they have in fact received it. Mail ins can be lost. Emails can get deleted. Front line staff can overlook. Everybody is allowed to make mistakes and, if we accept the rationale that none of us are perfect, then it becomes simple courtesy to acknowledge receipt of a resume.
Bill Kamps Added Jun 23, 2017 - 11:26am
Colin, what you describe is typical, but has been going on for a long. Technology has perhaps made this slightly worse, but when I sent out resumes decades ago the process was they same as you describe, and today it isnt much different.
I think there are a number of reasons on the company side for the lack of response.  A couple of them are: wanting to keep all their options open and the litigious society we have today.  A company saying anything can be misconstrued in any  number of ways by the crazy people in the public  today.
However, regarding job searches in general.  Sending out resumes, and talking to HR is my idea of a pointless exercise.  I have never gotten a job that way, and hardly any of my associates have gotten jobs that way. I have gotten all my jobs by networking with people in my business, and usually have only seen HR on my first day of work.
Colin Chappell Added Jun 23, 2017 - 11:32am
Hi Bill - I have to agree with you. I just get a little disappointed when I hear people trying to justify courtesy. It should not have to be justified, but rather just simply be a positive aspect of human nature. :)
Bill Kamps Added Jun 23, 2017 - 11:41am
True enough.  The hiring process is a poor place to observe courtesy, I will give you that.  I think courtesy is alive and well when people deal with each other during the course of doing business.  There have always been rude people, and still are, but for the most part the people I deal with are pretty decent. 
I realize you have been around a while.  But these days I see similar frustrations from young people sending out resumes and dealing with HR, then complaining about the process.  Companies hate to advertise for jobs, they prefer to fill them from their network.  Therefore the requesting of resumes is kind of a last resort, or an obligation to make the job opening public, before hiring who they were going to hire in the first place.   In either case, they need to sift through hundreds if not thousands of resumes, and to expect that to be done in a fair manner is really expecting a lot.  People who want to find work, and stay working over their  career need to build a network of people who know what they can do.
Colin Chappell Added Jun 23, 2017 - 11:57am
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Bill. I am, thankfully, retired and loving every minute of it! :)
John G Added Jun 29, 2017 - 9:37pm
>A message transmitted from me to you in a face to face situation relies on the spoken word, voice inflections, tone and body language in order to be conveyed accurately. "Technology" is quite effective with words (allowing for an inability to correct obvious misunderstandings due to regional use variations); it is very limited on how tone is conveyed (UPPERCASE and emoticons can only do so much); inflections are non-existent (unless to absorb by tone - see previous note); and body language is also non-existent.
So much for books and magazines as means of communication!
Colin Chappell Added Jun 29, 2017 - 10:55pm
Hi John. Yes... books and magazines are quite adequate for simply sharing information. For more in depth communication, we do have an educational system with human presentations and interactions. We also have courses, programs, seminars etc. etc. where, again, there are generally face to face interactions.