Dear Hiring Manager:
By ROBERT WESTFALL
Special to The Star
I wanted to thank you for the rejection email I got the other day in response to the incredibly long and relentless online application I filled out nine weeks ago.
Please tell the person in the IT department who created this automated email that he has very nice writing skills and really made it sound as if it came from you. Refresh my memory. Wasnt the job I applied for paying about $10 an hour?
And it required a bachelors degree and five years experience? Or was it the job listing that kept the name of the company confidential, the salary a secret and said no phone calls, which would have been a neat trick because I wouldnt know who to call? Yes, I think that was you.
Over nine weeks Ive had dozens of identical rejection emails, and so I apologize that this note is just arriving. But you know how it is when you try to take time to personally respond to everyone who took time to do the same.... Oh, yeah I forgot. I apologize. That was uncalled for.
I know its not entirely your fault that the job-hunting process has devolved into a pride-swallowing, time-sucking, self-image defeating test of will and inner-strength. You just do what youre told and work within the constraints put on you by your employer, although it would be nice if you could make things better.
But youre a slave to the technology everyone thought would make things easier and provide more access between job seekers and employers. Of course, ironically, it has created this avalanche of resumes and applications that no human resources department can realistically handle, and has minimized, at every chance, all actual human interaction.
I just love having to tweak my resume for each job I apply for so that it has a chance of making it through the algorithms and keyword scanners you use. Even if it takes forever and doesnt seem to help anyway. And while Im at it, what is the deal with the hours-long SAT test you made me take before I could hit the submit button on the application?
Couldnt I go through that after youve decided my resume met the initial qualifications? Again this takes so much time for me, and doing it only to never hear back really does put me in a bad state.
So, tell me, what was wrong with my resume? Overeducated? Undereducated?
Old skills? No skills? Why couldnt somebody just tell me where Im falling short. Im willing to do what it takes to give myself a better shot but I need to know these things!
Sorry. Im unloading on you again.
But its just so frustrating. All I can think of is that I am a failure.
And yet I dont even know how it happened. I got an education, worked hard, and then one day was told my skills were no longer of value.
Do I go back to school again? How do I provide for my family now? Am I destined to live a life of mediocrity and quiet desperation?
OK. I realize youre busy, so Ill stop ranting. I doubt your algorithm looks for this phrase, but just in case, please file this email under: American worker losing traction.
Job applicant #48734
Robert Westfall of Kansas City is the founder and chief strategist of Instinct, an innovation firm. To reach him, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Midwest Voices, c/o Editorial Page, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108.