Friday, April 13, 2012

Is your English teacher too tough? try employers!

Arrogant, or absolutely dead on? This link gets you to a fairly length email from a prospective employer, who found it easy to reject a large percentage of the 900 people who applied, based on — well, simple stuff like failure to follow the directions.

The tone of the headline, and the NSFW (not safe for work—don’t open this if your work environment is sensitive) caption on the picture where the link led made me think I was in for a juicy treat. That is, I expected to see something nasty from an employer who was spilling his guts, perhaps partially justified. But you know the thrill—the person on the other side of the desk acting badly, and proving that we’re all human.

Instead—it all seemed perfectly rational and calm in tone. “Here are the things you should do, and avoid doing, if you really want the job you just applied for.” The comments (you may need to click on “show all”) seem to be about 90% in support of what this employer has written in his blanket rejection letter. Most of the commenters point out that they rarely get any feedback, so this is indeed valuable information.

And I got to thinking — isn’t this exactly what I’ve been writing on assignment papers I get as an English teacher all along? Follow the directions. Don’t puff up your ideas. Don’t use crazy typefaces. Don’t turn in your freewriting as a final draft.

Sometimes students take offense after I’ve worked hard to supply constructive criticism (including what is good about their work). They look only at the grade and get mad, don’t read my comments, and get increasingly angry when their grades don’t improve after a first paper. They get defensive and tell me that I have failed to “respect” them. They write mean (yes, mean) things on end-of-semester evaluations.

But I think this link may give you a sobering reality check... your English professor was nice, compared to what a prospective employer may be thinking. And most employers won’t give you the time of day if they don’t want to invite you for an interview, in part because it’s too time-consuming to respond individually to the many who didn’t make the cut, and in part because we live in a litigious society where you might turn around and sue them. You probably wouldn’t win a lawsuit, but you could certainly be a nuisance (yes, there are horror stories about that, too).

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