To put it mildly, the job market for anyone over 40 blows. If you’ve been looking for a new gig over the last five years, you know what I am talking about. Forget finding the dream career - that dream has shriveled up and died.
Why do you think there are so many people medicated, meditating or seeking solace in Instagram posts on positivity, or just going at it the old fashioned way, hitting the bottle – hard?
People have put that dream career on the shelf and are looking for something that will keep the lights on and pay for health insurance. It’s that simple. And for those who have jobs, most people are slogging through it and holding onto them with a death grip even if it is soul sucking on a daily basis. If it’s really that bad, you might ask, “Why do people stay?” Simple, the electric company likes to get paid in cold hard cash, and the doctor’s office does not take a co-pay of good will and lollipops.
Sticking it out in a soul sucking job is sometimes better than looking for a job since it has turned into a mind boggling field of craziness that mirrors today’s dating process. Who would have thought that would ever happen?
Back in the day, the job search was pretty simple; you looked in the newspaper Want Ads or relied on a referral from friends. Then the Internet of Things blew up everything and the online job search was born, as well as the online search for a date or a lifelong mate. Who would have thought your future would involve clicking or swiping left or right for Mr. or Mrs. Right, or the perfect job? The clicking and swiping reduced or completely cut out the personalization of phone calls, civility, courtesies, meals and pleasantries of both searches. Instead, it’s been replaced by quick perfunctory texts or emails, and maybe, just maybe, meeting or interviewing. And now they can both end with the dreaded ghosting.
Ghosting: a word that didn’t exist until 2011
and has become the norm, not the exception,
in the both the dating and job market.
You don’t believe me? It happens at the highest levels.
Let me share with you my tale. I was referred for a position by a former colleague who was now a Vice President at the hiring company. Not a bad person to recommend you. The initial phone screen with the HR lady was scheduled for 2 pm on a Friday. She was 45 minutes late for the call. Ten or 15 minutes would have been totally acceptable, especially if she was doing back-to- back phone screenings. I sent an email and called in case something happened, and to tell her I was available and still looking forward to our phone interview. I was trying to be understanding and give her the benefit of the doubt, as my imagination raced – Did I screw up the time? No, I was staring at the original invite for a 2 pm phone call. Was there, God forbid a workplace lockdown? Or, hey it was Friday and happy hour kicked off early?
Finally, at 2:45 pm the HR lady called and very nonchalantly said, “Sorry my meeting ran a little late.” A little late? I don’t know about you, but a little late is 2:10, maybe 2:15. Not 2 f’ing 45! Wow – she was not impressing me. And the fact that she couldn’t shoot me a quick email or text (see kind of like dating with a, sorry I’m parking the car and running 5 minutes late as you sit at the bar waiting to meet on the first date) saying her meeting was running late and bump the call to 3 pm. She asked to reschedule for the following week, like I had a choice? Hardly.
While she redeemed herself with punctuality the following week, she totally shit the bed with HER lack of interviewing skills. Yes, her skills, not mine. Remember interviewing is a two way street. Candidates are checking you out and HR is the first impression of a company. When I mentioned a site expansion announced last month by her company in a local business publication, she responded, “I know, isn’t it SCARY?” I was perplexed and found her choice of words odd, and thought, no honey, you even having a job is scary and the fact that you are the gatekeeper AND first impression of this company is even scarier! And just to prove that she would never be nominated for MENSA, at the end of the call she told me, “You are so well spoken and articulate, it’s impressive.” I replied, “Thank you,” while thinking, Lady, this is for the Director of Public Relations – I better be able to string a few sentences together, you just spent an hour on the phone with me and your company might pay me over six figures to do it on a daily basis.
I advanced to the in-person interviews – three back-to-back interviews with two Vice Presidents and the retiring Director. After hours of preparation, I was armed with my portfolio filled with writing samples outlined to a tee in the job description, had done hours of research on every piece of news about the company and scoured their website (which needed a massive overhaul), and was ready to listen, ask questions, and win them over with my A game. After answering every question with a well-crafted, authentic response, engaging in witty but appropriate conversation, exhibiting my knowledge of the community they served and telling them how I had done work in my previous role at their company as a consultant, and demonstrating how I could help solve their most critical business problems over 3.5 hours, I left feeling tired but confident that I would advance to the next round.
The next day I sent personalized thank you emails to each interviewer, emphasizing something we talked about. In the dating world, it’s the equivalent of the postdate text that reads, “I had a great time last night. Have a blast at the Cavs game; loved hearing about your ski trip to Colorado. Hope to see you soon”. It translates to, “I heard you, I like you and I want to see you again.” It similar to a well-crafted follow up interview email.
The outcome from the well-crafted postdate text is either, “Yes, let’s have another date,” or “Thanks, but I don’t think we are a match,” or the ultimate jerk move – ghosting. The outcome from the interview follow-up email is the same but in workplace speak: “We’d like to invite you for another interview,” or a “Thank you, but we have decided to pursue better qualified candidates,” or the ultimate jerk move – ghosting. Companies are getting on the ghosting bandwagon for everything from applications to follow-up emails.
Whhhhhaaaatttt? you ask. No! A company wouldn’t ghost after they have brought you into THEIR business to meet them, would they? Oh yes they would! In the dating world that’s like the equivalent of being together for a while, and then STONE. COLD. SILENCE.
When it comes to job interviews, it’s a waiting game for sure. The experts tell you to stay on the company’s radar with an email that includes a greeting, a reminder that you are still interested, and a relevant article about something discussed in the interview or related to the industry. Check. Check. Check. Did that with both VP’s about a month after the thank you emails. SILENCE. The retiring director of course received a congratulations email on the day of his/her retirement and promptly replied, no doubt just as they were was bolting for the door.
Then I saw the company reposted the job. Oh no they didn’t!!! Oh yes they did, about four months after the original posting and six weeks following my interviews. I was shocked, but being the optimist thought maybe it was a glitch on the job posting board since we knew the HR department was not filled with the sharpest knives in the drawer. I called the genius HR lady, and to say she was a little caught off guard when I asked her, ever so sweetly, about the status of my application is putting it mildly. She stuttered and stammered through the conversation and said she would check with the VP whom the position reported directly to and get back with me right away.
False. She GHOSTED me! Hmm… I am sensing a pattern with this place. Both VP’s Ghost. The HR people Ghost. Ghosting exists, and it’s not just when you are looking for love, people!
At this point, I knew I didn’t want to work for this place. He responded almost immediately with a very perfunctory (and I hope with some embarrassment ), “We have decided to continue our search to see if we are able (sic) identify someone that more closely fits the qualifications, background and experiences we are looking for.” (Notice that sentence ended in a preposition.)
The moral of the story, don’t ghost, it’s a dick move in dating, jobs and life. Woman and man up. Has the online experience taken the personalization out of everything and made ghosting acceptable and the norm? Possibly. Will I respond by bad-mouthing the company? No, but I will say it was a suboptimal, less than impressive, unprofessional experience, and I would advise others to spend their job seeking energies elsewhere. In other words, swipe right friend.