Not gonna lie, I had better days than the one I just endured. For the 1009th time since the spring of 2020. I was told by a company that they would not be moving forward with considering me for an executive opening. This, despite a more than encouraging first contact with a human resources representative who I was immediately directed to as a first step. I’ve had more first steps than any day care center has seen in their existence.
It’s the second one that continues to be the hurdle. And, honestly, for someone who prides himself in his proven ability to express not only what I know and believe but also effectively translate what others do, when it comes to human resources personnel, I’m speechless. Literally incapable of comprehending exactly what is the reason I continue not to be a fit.
That’s primarily because in this day and age, human resources personnel primarily exist remotely, and first interviews rarely occur in person. It’s that pandemic/work from home/quality of life contagion, I’m consistently reminded. The world’s evolved, and, you know, the pandemic’s still with us. Yeah, I know that company line all too well.
What I also know is that I get far too many emails, ostensibly sent from actual humans in positions of responsibility, that read something like this:
I appreciate your time last week to speak with me about the manager position we have available. This has been a somewhat tough call for us. However, after reviewing the applications we have received, we believe your level and breadth of experience isn’t the best fit…and as such, we will not be moving forward with you. I hope you understand and I’m glad we are in contact. I’d like to keep in touch.
That one actually came from a senior executive that my one-and-done zoom dalliance began with in mid-July. I’ve sent him a couple of e-mails in the ensuing months seeking any sort of update or lead. I’m still waiting for this person to reply nearly four months later.
I get it, people are busy. In this person’s case, I’m willing to concede an effort of some sort was made.
But when it comes to human resources personnel, people who specifically are tasked with a position involving the words “human” and “resource”, my patience has worn quite thin.
A typical LinkedIn reply to an application is clearly a form letter, one that casually mentions “this was reviewed by our team, and after careful consideration, we have determined that you are not a fit”. More often that not, that’s from a url that is a “no reply” and, of course, there’s no direct address or phone number to otherwise connect. Once the verdict is in, unlike, say, actual court proceedings, it’s FINAL. Without not only a chance to appeal, for I realize that would actually involve a human explaining something to another human, but even some advice as to what qualities they found to be a particular disconnect, so that I could address them constructively.
Clearly, the human resources departments of today are nothing like the ones I regularly worked with both to get my own opportunties as well as collaboratively vet applicants. As an executive who personally knew quite a number of my peers and regularly attended industry gatherings, I’d often be approached by people who were interested in working for me. In those cases, I referred them to HR “business partners” out of policy, and far more often than not my “business partners” conceded that the candidates that I brought them were more qualified for the opportunity than those that they had identified. I hired quite a bit of really good people who made significant contributions, often earning rapid promotions.
I can’t begin to tell you how many of those people are now also out of work. This week alone, I learned two other former colleagues were relieved of their duties. They received modest settlements, but they were unfortunate victims of relentless downsizing of salaries and perceived unnecessary seniority. The strikes, the audience splintering, the threat of a government shutdown, reorganizations, poorly received quarterly reports. Later this morning both Bob AIger and Yosemite Zas are scheduled to face the press on their respective conpanies’ quarterly earnings calls. There was sincere hope that the SAG-AFTRA strike would already be history by this time, but, alas, despite a flurry of optimistic leaks from both sides, no deal is yet done, and instead we awaken to Day 118 and the very, very real possibility that the kind of box office weekend we just endured–one where the release of DUNE has been pushed and left virtually nothing of consequence in theatres that already hadn’t been seen–and a TV “season” that is being defined by reality series and YELLOWSTONE repeats will become SOP in 2024.
And yet, amidst all of this dour news and trending, out of the ashes came a release alerting the industry of the elevation of a former colleague of mine to a newly created position, once now being given the ambiguous tech-nodding ambiguous title of “Head Of”, rather than classify them as at a president or EVP level per se. Many of the more observant ones out there will likely be fable to figure out who this is, but in this case their specific identity is immaterial to my issues. I’ll concede this person demonstrated some quality skill sets in the roles that required our interactions. But a telling paragraph deep into the release after the usual laudatory paragraphs stuck out.
This marks the third stint together for _____ and _____ . ______ previously worked for _____ at ________ and ________.
My simple questions to any of the human resources people that might have been involved: Did YOU drive that train?!?!
Or were you far more involved in the dismissing of dozens of other people who didn’t have a history with the new head of the company as this person did?
But heck, you’re probably not even the same people who I dealt with, so I can’t call any of you out specifically. The ones I dealt with were a lot more human and resourceful than the ones I’ve “heard” from lately.
Were I actually given a chance to have a conversation, here’s what I’d like to impress upon them:
Do you ever, for even a moment, consider how discouraging, hurtful and even destructive your draconian verdicts are? Do you ever, before you or your autobot hits “send”, consider what it’s like to be on the receiving end of your communication? Have YOU ever been rejected? Recently? Over 1000 times?
Would you even be capable of conceding that unless your boss specifically asks you to hire, accelerate a promotion or create a position for someone they’ve previously worked with, any real chance at breaking through the morass of rejection for someone with my demographic profile would even qualify for an interview?
If that’s not true, then, for God’s sake, TELL ME IT’S NOT!!!! Give me some sort of sign that it’s still possible!!!!!
I highly doubt you can fathom the degree of hopelessness, panic, despair and desperation I feel every single time a rejection letter is received. And it’s especially exacerbated when it’s patently obvious it came from an entity that was likely neither human nor resourceful.
I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on my worst enemy. Not even any of you.
And yet, I am continually finding blind alleys in reconnecting with anyone in a position to do what the three times boss did for the person who was lauded in press releases this week. Even some people who may actually be in a position to hire me for something–anything–continue to insist that they’re not aware of anything that’s a “fit”.
No matter how negotiable I offer I am. No matter how willing I am to relocate. No matter how flexible I am with my openness to working somewhere else besides my home. Unlike so many others who make those demands, and are in a position to seek out such “quality of life”. I know one such person well who is now refusing new job offerings because the potential commute is too demanding and the quoted hourly rate well beneath their expectations. This person now claims they’re “enjoying life” and takes frequent breaks to try on new gaming headgear. And I know damn well this person isn’t the only one who can earn a reasonable living with that kind of flexibility nowadays. An entire generation of work/life balance advocates has taken over corporate cultures. I suspect a lot of human resources executives fall into that category themselves.
So despite this lengthy essay that I fear far too many of you might not read to this conclusion, I’m REALLY at a loss for words.
But, honestly, I’m even sicker of feeling the necessity to even share it with you. Only when the tsunami of bills and missed opportunities, not to mention companies that I did work for that after nearly three months still can’t find a way to actually pay me, does that urgency consume me.
You want me to stop throwing fits? Get right in line with me. And, PLEASE, help me find SOMEONE, ANYWHERE, who sees me as a “fit”. When my profile says I’m OPEN TO WORK, I’m more open than even our Southern border.
As I often do when I do get this exacerbated, I let it out, and then resolve to try, try, try yet again and again and again. I applied to three more positions before I collapsed from exhaustion and an extended crying fit last night. For anyone interested, I’ll be happy to provide updates. If and when I’m contacted with them. But I’ll only share ones where I’m at least getting a first step, because yes, I do realize too much negativity isn’t attractive.
I have to continue to believe that I’m a fit for SOMETHING. Besides a pine box.
Until next time…