COMMENTARY | E-mails don’t go away. Even if you regret your harsh words, inappropriate tone, or atrocious errors, deleting the offending e-mail from your own sent folder is only half the battle…the recipient has the other copy! In seconds they can print it out, copy-and-paste it into other documents, or screenshot it and post it as a photo anywhere online. Oh, the horror!
A Cleveland, Ohio woman is receiving her just comeuppance after a rude, snarky rejection letter to a young job-seeker has gone viral, reports CNN. The woman, who runs a popular “job bank,” had recently received high praise for helping inform job-seekers of openings in the area and was known for her large e-mail listserves and thousands of LinkedIn connections. Then, apparently, she thought it was okay to berate a 26-year-old job-seeker who wanted to add her on LinkedIn.
The supposed do-gooder mocked the young woman and her entire generation of Millenials, claiming the job-seeker was naive, entitled, and “tacky.” She went on to crow about her “top-tier connections” and how young job-seekers shouldn’t assume the could “mine” them. Apparently, the high rejector took pleasure in informing the young woman that this was her “humility lesson for the year” and ended her screed with “don’t ever write me again.”
As a Millenial myself, who finished his Master’s degree in May 2009, at the lowest point of the Great Recession, I am enraged by the woman’s attitude toward young job seekers. We have had to hustle in a weak economy in a way she has never had to hustle. We have had to strive harder, work harder, be better, simply to get our foot in the door. I know what it’s like to desperately pursue every possible job. Apply for every opportunity. Chase every lead.
Most of the time I never got a response. Fortunately, I was never berated for some alleged faux pas. In defense of the young job-seeker, resume and application and listserve and social media faux pas happen, particularly when you must pursue every possible avenue. Was the job bank lady really so arrogant as to think the young woman had consciously selected her for her “top-tier” contacts? Maybe Ms. LinkedIn should be a little more savvy about the post-Recession job hunt.
On the other hand, I do sympathize with Ms. LinkedIn a bit. I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed with incomplete, garbled requests and paperwork that is only half done…I’m a high school teacher. I know what youthful entitlement looks like. I also know to keep my e-mails civil.
Many times have I opened my inbox to find some mother whining about her kid’s grade in my class. I have had angry mothers announce that they were coming up to the school to speak to me and my supervisor. I’ve had helicopter moms go behind my back to put pressure on my department head to make me change my policies to give their kids an academic edge. If anyone could compose a nasty rejection letter, it’s me. I would relish the opportunity to put some of my high school seniors, and their parents, in their place.
But I don’t. I grit my teeth and make sure all of my communication is polite and professional. Why? I don’t want to end up without a job. And, when push comes to shove, you want to be the arguer who appears more rational. If, after several e-mails, an enraged parent wants to go to the principal and play “he said she said,” I can prove that I was entirely civil and appropriate.
My polite e-mails cover my rear. Ms. LinkedIn should have followed the same idea. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.