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May 4, 2012
On the Other Side of The Black Hole
My friend is a woman “of a certain age.” She has her doctorate in biology and has worked as a medical researcher for many years, looking for cures for diseases that no one wants to get. When the funding dried up two years ago there were no jobs in her specialty to be found, so to her credit she dusted herself off and got a teaching certificate and some paid training. For the past year, she has been applying for jobs, sending out multiple resumes every month. She hasn’t received any responses.

“The Black Hole,” she tells me. “It’s where my resumes go when I send them out.” Because it’s not bad enough that she doesn’t get job offers, or even an interview, her resumes get no replies at all.

She isn’t alone.

My daughter applies for several positions every week, mostly responding to ads on job boards. She often wonders if her email account is broken because she never hears back. Okay, I lied. Once she heard back and actually got an interview. She thought it went fairly well, and the person who conducted the interview said that she would contact my daughter within a week. Two and a half weeks later my daughter called to “check in” and had to leave a phone message. It has been two weeks since the message was left and she has received neither a return call nor an email. Another Black Hole.

People advertise for jobs, expect to get resumes and cover letters, and never acknowledge their receipt? People interview and then cannot muster up the consideration to tell the prospective employee that they are out of the running? This is the “New Normal”?

If you’ve been paying attention, you already know that I have been around for a while. And what I’ve learned in my many decades living on this planet is that there’s really only ONE normal — CHANGE. What has changed tremendously in this economy is the old relationship between the job seeker and employee finder. Any semblance of politeness, consideration, or etiquette is gone. It’s every man for himself, and employers can act any way they please because their pool of potential workers is bottomless. At least for now.

Will it be that way forever? Not on your life! I have recently been reading articles about the “War for Talent,” and even if that isn’t true at this moment, there’s a law that comes into play in every market economy: The Law of Supply and Demand. Someday — no, not tomorrow, next week, or even next year, but someday — the shoe will be on the other foot, the tables will be turned, and then it will be as difficult to find employees as it is to find employers now. I’m afraid you will be reading columns here on Talent Zoo written by business owners and HR folks bemoaning the fact that a large percentage of the people they wish to interview don’t even show up! I suspect employers will not be happy when that happens.

I applied for a job expecting the usual black-hole response. To my surprise I received an email in return stating that although they receive thousands of applicants, every resume is read and considered. There was no promise of further contact, but that’s okay. At least I know that my email account is working. The company used an autoresponder to automatically send out replies to every resume received. The last time I checked, this service costs a whopping $20 a month.
Now, was that so hard?

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Rhonda Wenner is a Very Old Advertising Person who has been there, done that, and seen quite a bit.
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