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A little touch of the personal…

When it comes to job hunting it can feel a bit like throwing things at a wall or screaming into the void. Most days it’s just you, your social media accounts, and the online equivalent of a recruitment agent.

Late last night I happened to decide it was time to clean out my junk filter. It fills up rather quickly these days; dozens of emails from Russian hooker bots wanting to get up close and personal, advertisements for discount Viagra, and the occasional email from long dead Nigerian Dictator relatives I never knew of. Nestled amongst the flotsam and jetsam of my online mailbox sat a tiny little email that caught my eye.

It caught my eye only because it said “Re: Application… ” on it. A few more details than that but you get my point. When I checked the email it advised me that I had successfully moved to the second stage of interviews for a job I had applied for. I had until close of business Friday, March 3 to submit my ‘online self-assessment.’

Now, while this is fantastic on the job hunting stakes and I finally seem to have broken the ice with at least 1 of the jobs I’ve applied for, I am still taken aback that the organisation sent me an email with a link. If I hadn’t decided late last night to clean out my junk mail folder to relieve my boredom I wouldn’t have even known I was in the second round of the interview process.

With all the talk these days of cutting penalty rates, low working engagement of young people, lack of available opportunities etc, it bothers me immensely that instead of picking up the phone and calling me to let me know, the agency decided the best way to go about this is to send out an email and hope for the best. I have to wonder; would I have been contacted next Monday to find out why I didn’t apply or would I have been dismissed as another ‘dole bludger’ who didn’t want to work.

Those sort of call centre jobs would make an excellent ‘first role,’ for a lot of the young people who are unemployed today. Give them a script and a phone and have them ring the candidates for the first contact interview. I used to have my coordinator ring shortlisted candidates to see if the candidate would move to the next stage of the interview process. It wasn’t me ‘shrugging off,’ work. It was me training my coordinator in skills that made her job easier. It also meant that I got a short list of candidates who matched the skill requirements.

But that aside it’s hard to take people like the Hon. Peter Dutton MP seriously when he stands on Sky News this morning complaining about 457 Visa holders “taking the jobs of young Australians,” by working in fast food organisations. Sure, there are a lot of student visa holders working in places like Hungry Jacks and McDonald’s, particularly in Sydney. The Pitt Street Hungry Jacks doesn’t have a single person working in there whose first language is English. At least, they didn’t 4 months ago when I worked next door to them.

Blaming the migrant workforce for stealing the employment opportunities of Australia’s youth is cheap-seat politics. The sort of “Whoops, One Nation is polling a little too well in my area I’ll show the haters I can be just as ignorant as Red, Senator 77 and the Invisible Senator we never hear from. Here, hold my latte, I’m going in.”

Instead of job search agencies actually doing something to hire young staff, or train them in skills they can take elsewhere, we have automated, keyword generated responses to people applying for jobs.

At my age opportunities are few and far between. Most of the jobs require no actual experience. I got an email the other day thanking me for my application but the company went with other candidates that better matched the client’s requirements. It was for a position of a conference producer. A role I have successfully undertaken for a decade. It’s honestly hard to imagine that the ‘client’ saw my experience and said “oh not enough, do you have any candidates with 20 years experience instead?’

This opportunity could easily have been missed. I mean, in all honesty, it may not amount to anything. I may never hear from this company again but I might. You have to be in it to win it and with that email going to a folder I usually only check on a Sunday night, I wouldn’t have been.

I miss the days when there was a personal touch. It was something I noticed with my younger staff members. Trying to get them to ring a client or a hotel or a speaker was a bit of a nightmare. Whenever I’d ask “have you spoken to this person,” they’d usually say “yes.” Further clarification, however, would show they person had been emailed. I know as business people we are busy but hell, pick up a phone.

The personal touch is an opportunity that the Job Search providers earning hundred’s of millions of dollars of taxpayer funding from the Government should be examining. Bringing in staff – young or members of the aging workforce – to do simple, scripted 1st contact interviews with job candidates would give people who can’t find a job much more confidence and self-worth. Yes, it’s busy work, but frankly, I’d rather these Job Search providers do what they can to train and provide employment opportunities for young people in their areas.

By hiring people to undertake first contact interviews with candidates the Job Search providers being paid millions could help to train and empower the younger generation who is at risk of being left behind as traditional work dries up and new augmented workforces are born.

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