I’ve decided to quit protecting these half-ass companies and start naming names.

The amount of rejection the average jobseeker deals with on a daily basis is enough to crush even the mightiest of souls. Now imagine this colossal wall of rejection crashing down upon someone’s head for days, weeks, and even months. It takes prospective employees on a roller coaster ride of emotions that usually ends in a violent crash just before the darkness of deep despair sets in. I got one such rejection letter today (10/07/2022), and I allowed it to affect me so much that I almost called out the company and its owner by name right here in this blog. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and I’m now in a better place to tell you about my experience with Donna T’s House of Interior Design. (Not the owner’s or the company’s real names.)

October 7, 2022 Started Out Like Any Normal Friday

I received a handful of emails from Indeed.com, informing me of job openings that I might find interesting. Also awaiting me in my inbox was this message from Donna T of Donna T’s House of Interior Design fame. This is her message that popped in my ZipRecruiter inbox:

“I’m Donna, and I’ve been using ZipRecruiter to find candidates for my Executive Assistant Position at Donna T’s House of Interior Design in Northville, MI. I’m interested in candidates with your qualifications and would love to invite you to apply. If you’re interested in learning more about the position, click “I’m Interested” to move forward and submit an application.”

Even Though It’s Not My Normal Line of Work…

I read the job description anyway. I was pleased to find out that, as a result of my decades of office work, I did possess a FEW of the skills Donna is looking for to fill the role. Since this was ZipRecruiter, applying for the job was as easy as clicking one button. Which I did. Two hours later, Donna hit me back with this:

“Dear John Ribner, Thank you for your interest in the Executive Assistant position at Donna T’s! We have received an overwhelming number of applications, and it will take us a bit of time to review them. If we would like to talk further with you, we will be in touch soon. We understand how frustrating it is to apply for a job and hear nothing, so we’ll also let you know (gently) if it looks like you’re not a good fit for our needs. Again, thank you for your interest. Warm regards, Donna.”

Well, That’s Promising!

Or so I thought anyway. I went about my normal day of applying for other job openings until this popped in my inbox roughly 30 minutes later.

“Dear John Ribner, Thanks so much for considering the Executive Assistant position at Donna T’s House of Design. After careful consideration, we regret to inform you that your experience does not match our current needs. We will keep your application on file and contact you should our needs change in the future.”

Since Donna Was So Gentle with Me…

I decided to repay her in kind. Here was my response, which I most definitely sent her way.

“I thank you for your politeness and punctuality throughout this process. You did a wonderful job of conveying a friendly, conversational tone in your prompt replies. Your business acumen, however, knows no beginning. Pro Tip: Shotgunning job openings out to the thousands of job seekers who are active on ZipRecruiter is not the optimal way to find the qualified candidate you’re seeking.

“Moving forward, try a more targeted search for positions you must fill. I’m sure ZipRecruiter has some tools that can help with this. (Granted, you’ll probably have to pay for them but that’s the cost of doing business, isn’t it?) You’ll save yourself the time of sifting through resumes of folks whose qualifications go from good to bad in a matter of a few hours. People like me, for example. (Insert smiley emoji)

“I hope my observations and feedback were accepted in the helpful manner in which they were intended. Even though we won’t be working together, I still wish the best for your endeavor.”

I pushed the “send” button on my snarky reply and considered the matter finished but…

To My Surprise, Donna Responded

And to be completely honest, her response was measured and went a LONG way to explain how this unfortunate situation occurred. Based on Donna’s explanation, I must concur with her ZipRecruiter might NOT be the best platform to help businesses find applicants whose qualifications are the best match. I also hold no ill will toward her, despite my somewhat inflammatory lead-in to this piece. (Her response provided me with a much-needed attitude adjustment.) But enough of my rambling. Here’s what Donna had to say:

“Thank you for your note. I appreciate the feedback (even though it stung a bit, as you likely intended). This is the first time I am using ZipRecruiter, and their user interface is not exactly intuitive.

“Just so you know, I set up my job posting last Saturday, and that’s when I sent the invitations to potential applicants. I am not sure why you got yours today given that I sent it six days ago. I am not eligible to send any additional invitations yet, but I will keep your feedback in mind when I can send the next round.

“Since you’re a job-seeker, you wouldn’t have a way to know that it’s not possible for the potential employer to see much about the applicant when they send those invitations. I could only see a very short summary of your qualifications and an estimate by ZipRecruiter’s AI of whether you’d be a good fit. When I saw your resume today, I could see that, although you’re obviously a highly-skilled writer, your skill set is far from what we’re looking for in an executive assistant. I am truly sorry that I sent the invitation to you given that we’re so far apart.

“In fact, I invited several others to apply at the same time, and a few did. But many haven’t responded to further messages, so I am left wondering if some people who come onto the platform aren’t really serious about finding a job.

“Also, just so you know, we are not desperate to fill the position. I anticipate that it will take many weeks to find the right person. I don’t believe that employees are interchangeable like widgets and I am looking first for a good fit. I probably won’t have an EA until after the first of the year, and in the meantime, I’ll be doing my own job and the EA’s. Even once I hire someone, I know it will take months to get him or her up to speed.

“Anyway, thanks for your note. I hope you find a position that suits you soon. I wish you the best of luck with that, and with your future endeavors.”

And I Hope She Finds the Ideal Executive Assistant

I truly mean that. Look, not all bosses are evil baddies bent on crushing and trampling the suffering worker. Some of them – particularly small business owners – are normal folks just trying to survive in the insanity that is this post-COVID marketplace.

Best of luck, Donna. May both of us find the perfect match!

Want to Help an Unemployed Writer Struggling With Rejection Letters?

Check out my memoir, “Wasted Youth: The Narcissism Recovery of a Punk Rock Kid from Flint.” I thought music was my escape but I was having problems wherever I went. I blamed everyone but myself. When that didn’t work, I lashed out at the people I cared about. Then one day, I got punched in the face by the ugly truth about myself. It knocked me out of my shortcomings and into self-discovery. It’s from this place that I share my cautionary tale. I hope it helps anyone suffering the scars of childhood trauma.