Bleats

Job Hunting Would Be Less Painful If Employers Did This One Small Thing

It's genuinely so simple.

In order to feel more in control of my life while trying to navigate a move overseas, I started keeping a spreadsheet of all the jobs I applied to, including keeping track of how many applications I hear back from. Safe to say, it’s the most depressing spreadsheet I’ve ever created.

The job hunt was so depressing and demoralising that rejection emails actually improved my mood, because the company was at least acknowledging the effort I’d put in and letting me know that I could stop holding out hope because the position had been filled. I even sent responses to that effect, thanking them for letting me know, because the simple act of ‘letting me know’ has almost become obsolete.

A rejection email feels like basic decency – in exchange for the effort you put into applying for a job, the company then goes to the effort of sending out an email to everyone who wasn’t successful. It’s a reasonable trade-off.

But out of the 65 jobs I applied while in the UK in March and April, I only heard back from 26 of the companies I’d applied to. That means that 39 of them, or 60%, simply didn’t respond at all. (For the record, I was offered a grand total of seven interviews. Everyone who said that job hunting in London was incredibly competitive was understating it.)

These were all large and well-established companies, who presumably have a team dedicated to handling things like job applications and interviews. Am I meant to believe that no single person at these companies can find the time to arrange a mass send-out of generic rejection emails? It would take less than five minutes to write it and BCC everyone who applied.

Rejection emails seem like a potentially old-fashioned habit that’s gone the way of accurately RSVPing to events in a timely manner, or birthday cards.

And that’s a shame, because in this incredibly competitive era where everyone is clobbering together as many freelance jobs as possible until they have something that resembles a career, few things are more valuable than time.

Rejection emails acknowledge that. So if any companies are reading this, please feel free to send me as many rejection emails as you like. I eagerly await your response. Warm regards!

Competing With Your Mates Over Who Is The Most Overworked Is Unhealthy And Stupid

It's a game where everybody loses because they're all so exhausted.

If you’re an adult, and you have friends who are adults, you’ve probably endured at least one pissing contest where everyone sits around competing with each other about who’s working the hardest – who’s working the longest hours, who’s putting in the most overtime, who’s getting the least amount of sleep.

The conclusion you’re expected to draw from these circlejerks is that whoever has worked the longest hours and slept the least is the most successful person in your friend group.

This idea that working overtime and sacrificing the other areas of your life are indicative of success isn’t helped by the fact that CEOs regularly brag about their incredibly bizarre routines.

Tim Cook wakes up at 3.45am every night, Indra Nooyi gets 4-5 hours of sleep a night, an Apple exec claims to get headaches if she gets more than 6 hours of sleep a night, and even Donald Trump has been bragging about his 4-hours-a-night routine for decades.

But they’re CEOs – they have to do something to try and justify their ridiculous salaries. You and your friends are most likely not getting paid enough to be running on four hours’ sleep a night in order to feel accomplished.

I’ve found this to be especially true for freelancers. Sure, you get to set your own hours, but you also have to work twice as hard to get work, between pitching ideas and acquiring clients and chasing invoices and chasing invoices and chasing invoices and…

Where was I? Right.

Nobody is impressed by how little you’ve slept. Not getting enough sleep is simply not good for you, in the short or long-term. But we know this, and yet, bragging about being overworked continues. The insidious undertones behind this – that your value lies not in who you are as a person, but how you contribute to the economy, that contributing to the economy is more important than your health – are troubling, and have broader implications that go beyond simply annoying your friends.

If you build your identity around your job, and you suddenly lose your job, what happens to your sense of self? It sounds trite, but striking a good balance between work and life genuinely is important.

Get better at unplugging once the work day is over. Remove your work email from your phone, as well as the Slack app and anything else that keeps you tethered to the workplace, when Friday arvo rolls around. Stop trying to ‘catch up on’ sleep and get enough sleep each night so you don’t feel short-changed when you wake up.

(I’m talking to myself here as much as anyone else, btw.)

It makes sense that our jobs are a huge part of who we are, but they shouldn’t be everything, and they shouldn’t come at the expense of other equally important areas of our lives. And hey, if you try and improve your work-life balance, you might find that you have actual accomplishments to brag about instead of how few hours you slept last night. Score!

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