Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hearing my own thoughts on public radio

One of my absolute favorite things to do is listen to NPR, usually "All Things Considered," as I cook dinner. There's something inexplicably wonderful about learning what's going on in the wider world as your own world contracts to contain just you and the clove of garlic you're pressing, the cheese you're slicing, or the pasta you've just spilled all over the stove.

This evening, as I was starting to bang pots and pans around (the apartment's short on storage, so most meals begin with a ruckus as I try to pull the correct cooking implement out of our cabinet), I was surprised to hear a story by Firoozeh Dumas about something that's been bothering me for a long time. She was talking about her teenage son's quest for employment and how he's been rejected from everywhere he's applied. Fine, she says, but why couldn't any of the employers be bothered to write him an email telling him they've hired someone else? 

I couldn't agree more. Possibly the single most dispiriting thing about this whole search process has been the silence from the vast majority of employers I've contacted. Usually, after submitting an application online, I feel lucky to get a system-generated email informing me that my application has been received but I probably won't hear from anyone at the organization due to the number applicants. What's more demoralizing is when I don't hear anything at all. No news is not good news. It means you can't ever quite get that job out of your head, while also making you feel that your life isn't worth the 30 seconds it takes for someone to send a form email thanking you for applying, informing you of the organization's decision to hire someone else, and wishing you luck in your future endeavors. 

I didn't even realize how much this silence bothered me until I got a signed letter from the ACLU of Northern California letting me know that they'd chosen another candidate but they wished me luck--precisely the kind of letter Firoozeh Dumas wished her son had received. 

So, to paraphrase one of my favorite Otis Redding songs, employers, I implore you to try a little tenderness, or at least a little common courtesy. We young girls do get weary.

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