"Well structured advice that cuts to the chase"­  - Undergraduate on a NTJ seminar

A very British approach to protesting and recruiting

3rd June 2012

In this week of Jubilee celebrations, I'm witnessing an interesting set of conversations about whatever it means to be "British". For me, a definitive example of what it means to be British happened at the Leveson enquiry, when a British protestor burst into the room and shouted, " Excuse me, this man is a war criminal." What a marvellous phrase to start a revolutionary rallying cry: I can't imagine any other nationality, (except perhaps a Canadian?) launching a protest with an apology in advance for their behaviour. That is what makes me proud to be British in 2012.

Periodically we have national debates bemoaning how rude everyone has become and that we have no time to be polite. These complaints have been with us for millennia and still some core values about respecting one another, taking turns (gold medals for Brits at queueing), saying sorry, holding doors open and above all saying thank you, pass on down the generations to keep us anchored in our busy lives.  Also this week, I've had 2 interesting conversations with a jobseeker and an recruiter about politeness around job interviews.

I spoke to a jobseeker who had made a very strong, focused application to a public sector organisation which had sent a clear message to applicants that if you hadn't heard anything back by a specific deadline, then do not expect to be invited to intervew. The deadline passed this week with silence from the recruiting organisation. As an experienced career changer, my jobseeking friend is resigned to organisations ignoring all the rejected applicants, but he will still ask for feedback. As well as learning from this application, he would like an acknowledgement of the time, interest and care  he put into this organisation. 

A rather overwhelmed recruiter also talked about "manners" to me this week. She, being British and therefore instinctively polite, worries about the sheer numbers of applicants she has to reject and how she could possibly manage to give them all feedback. In her experience, only a tiny percentage of failed applicants ask for feedback and she always tries to respond to those requests to help them learn. However, neither she, nor her organisation could possibly find the time to feed back to everyone who applies, especially when they receive very high numbers of poor applications. She would like to be even more polite, but right now, recruiters simply don't have time to feedback to every rejected candidate.

 I always encourage everyone I work with to ask for feedback when the answer is "no". It is a hard message to hear when, like my jobseeking friend, you have  worked hard to match yourself into what the recruiter is looking for. You will be able to hear another viewpoint on your application. You may well not agree with everything. You may choose to use the information to change your next application significantly or just a little bit. Listening to a recruiter explain why you did not quite match up to their expectations will always be give you food for thought. Because the recruiter is British, they will want to offer you something to help your job search and because you are British, you will say ' Thank you for your time and feedback" at the end of the conversation. That's how recruitment works here; use that to your advantage the next time you do not get invited to interview and best of luck with your learning.

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