Professional courtesy… an oxymoron?

When I arrived in Canada in 1975, my first priority was very clear. I needed an income… and fast! I pursued all the obvious channels, by introducing myself to employment agencies, and sending off many resumes.

The response to the resumes was my first disappointment with Canada! I would guess that I received responses to probably less than 10%. I questioned this, and was told that most companies will only respond to a resume if they are interested in you. That does, at a superficial level, appear to be very efficient but I also found it quite disappointing.

From my perspective, if I am prepared to take some time out of my life to send a company an overview of my perceived working potential, then I expect the company to spend a few minutes to send me an acknowledgement. All I expected was something that said “Thank you for your interest.” At last I then knew that it had been received.

The next step in the employment process was also discourteous.Β  After an interview, I was often advised that they would be considering all applicants over the next few weeks, but would only be contacting those who were short listed. This was another issue for me because there would be no precise date as to when the decision would be made.Β  I would therefore have no idea if I had been rejected, or overlooked in the process (people do make mistakes!) . i.e. The person delegated to contact the “short list” had overlooked me!

It seemed to me that businesses were taking a “holier than thou” approach! Their time was extremely important… but mine was of little consequence.

My perspective on interviews (learned in England) was that not only should courtesy be the norm, but that an interview is a “2-way street”. The business is interviewing me to assess by suitability for the position available, and I am interviewing them to see if I want to work for them. It is interesting how many individuals were quite lost for words when I started asking the questions. I cannot recall one interviewer that invited questions!

It would seem to me that the discourtesy often seen in day to day lives is really not surprising given the examples set by so-called professionals. I really do not understand why… but I am still disappointed when I hear some “transaction” going on, and there is no please or thank you. Why am I so surprised when people are clearly totally focused on their own perspective, and have givenΒ  no thought to another person’s perspective?

I could be negative and perceive a very sad future for our species as it becomes more self-centered and generally insensitive to others, but I prefer to believe that most of us do acknowledge the pleasure of receiving respect from others. We just have to make that leap in logic that suggests that we should perhaps be treating others in much the same way and, who knows, it might just catch on!

Professional courtesy? It would be so refreshing to experience businesses who actually care about their employees, and of course their customers. Professional courtesy… an oxymoron? It does not have to be does it!

Food for thought!


34 thoughts on “Professional courtesy… an oxymoron?

  1. I do all of the interviewing where I work and I don’t mind being asked questions. It is a two way street! I see all of the people I interview as a human being created by God. I know I have hired some people that others wouldn’t have given a chance at all becasue they may seem to some “a bit different.”

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    • Good for you for not prejudging based on how they present. I find it frustrating that most of us (if not all of us) would like to be treated with respect… and yet we fail to spin the scenario around and offer the same respect to others.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah!…..I see the magic words πŸ™‚
    Yes courtesy is a big thing and something often overlooked.

    I like your point about the professional thinking that their time is more valuable than ours.

    I worked for a Dr.who frequently started his day late, which meant we would
    run behind schedule, which meant our lunch breaks were either skipped or 10 minutes long.
    Oh my, the memories that come back!

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  3. I agree courtesy is very important, professionally and socially but it doesn’t seem to be as important any more. I have worked up close and personal with public all my life and always have put the customer first… I now notice this is no longer the case! I am often appalled by the rudeness and curtness I am met with! I also have instilled politeness in our family and hope I have been successful. I surprised about your post I always the Canadians were a polite people… I must be getting old!! πŸ€”πŸ€—πŸ’

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  4. I totally agree with you, Colin, but, unfortunately it isn’t the way here in North America. As the person in the church office over personnel, I respond to everyone, even if it is to just thank them for their resume. Jeff and I have found that in the Southern US, people just don’t call you back if the answer is no, even with vendors and contractors. Very frustrating until we got the hang of it and knew that no call meant no.

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    • Hi Amy. It is a little incongruous, as I think most of us expect a Christian church to demonstrate Christian values which in this context would extend to respect/courtesy… but yet so many of us do not reciprocate same in our daily lives.
      On a similar note re your last sentence, medical tests arranged by my doctor used to come with the understanding that “If you don’t hear from us, everything is fine.” As I explained to him, if either you or your staff loses a note to call me, or gets interrupted while getting my file, or misfiles the lab test report, or does not receive the lab test report etc. etc. etc…… then, from my perspective, everything may not be fine.” I can come up with no rationale that supports the understanding that no information being transmitted is an efficient communication. There are just to many variables.

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  5. This was what got me down more than anything else when I was made redundant in 2001.
    I would send off as many as ten applications every week, and would be lucky tor receive a single acknowledgement, let alone an interview. Reading Kate’s response, I can appreciate the volume of potential employees. It’s a catch twenty two situation, and in my case going through the Job Centre, their attitude did not help me when I was already feeling obsolete, surplus to the employement requirent, and OLD!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can well imagine how demoralizing that must have been. It’s like the proverbial “every man for himself” syndrome, or the “I’m alright Jack… shame about you” syndrome. I have no doubt that the saying “What goes around comes around” will come true in due course. πŸ™‚

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  6. While recognizing how frustrating this is, I can give you another perspective. I recruited for a company for several years. For every opening we got at least 200 resumes. Times that by the total number of vacancies (between 20 and 40 at a time) and you can see how overwhelming responding to each can be. When I initially started, I instituted a post card response as a means for the person to know it was received but even that became hard to do. A friend who was recruiting for a Fortune 500 company received over 5,000 resumes for each job (it was a coveted company to work for — great pay and benefits). They did nothing. What I did learn was that people who respond early were reviewed. Once they had about ten acceptable candidates they started boxing the rest without reviewing. Yes, they may have missed a better match but the process would have been too challenging especially since many people either outright lie or stretch the truth on their resume. With everything done on-line these days, I expect that there is an auto-response and the system kicks out the most qualified. Having been on the job searching side, it gets hard when you are offered one job but are hoping for another. If you receive an interview you deserve a communication of yea or nay. I had one friend interviewing for a high level position. They send her to New York City (home office) for the last part of the interview. She had already interviewed 3 times locally. They were down to 3 candidates, they never contacted her again. That is inhuman.

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    • Thank you Kate. It is always nice to hear from the “other side of the fence”! Given your history, you may be interested to know that when I left the UK in 1975, the HR folk (then called Personnel) were responsible for representing staff as necessary to management. Over here, it soon became obvious that HR were representing management as necessary to staff! I love retirement! πŸ™‚

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      • Truly good HR walks a fine line. You represent both sides especially at the table. Happy employees go a long way to making a company successful and HR is expected to take stands when necessary. The sad note is that it’s not a popular department for either side. Employees think you always favor the company and the execs think you are throwing monkey wrenches in their high faluting plans. As you say retirement is well deserved after we’ve worked all those years.

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