When I decided to leave my last job at the end of April, I knew that wherever I went next, I would be a writer again. As much as I detested some of the occupational hazards that came with writing for a magazine, I missed being in publishing. So I did some Jobstreeting and came across a very appealing position in a very appealing magazine, and I immediately applied for it.
Some weeks later, I was recommended for the very same position by a friend who had direct connections with said magazine. I sent my résumé to this contact, and waited for a response. To cut to the chase, I emailed the same contact again a month later to inquire about the status of my application, and this is where you realize that if I had to “cut to the chase” a month later, I obviously never got any form of a reply from them. Not a peep.
The story of how I only discovered a week ago that the position I’d been eyeing had been snapped up by someone else will be saved for another post. But in the immediate aftermath of this discovery, I found it difficult to get past the most glaring point at issue: the appalling lack of common courtesy that was evident in the radio silence that I had received from the publication.
Then, nearly a month ago, a good friend came to me asking if I would be able to help pitch for sponsors for a friend of hers who wanted to do a book signing event in Kuala Lumpur. After telling her to have her friend email me with details of this book signing as well as everything this sponsorship would entail, I received the most taciturn of emails from a man I had never met who essentially wanted me to convince people to throw money at him, that read nothing more than:
[My publicist] and I can send you info about my book as I would love to bring [insert book title here] to Malaysia for a book signing and speech in conjunction with [potential sponsor]. Let’s brainstorm.
I am currently in [an Italian island that nobody cares about].
Several things leap to mind in the face of both incidents:
Bad manners. There isn’t a pin to choose between a badly-worded, ill-mannered introduction email and a total lack of initiative to respond to an email. Potential employers, take note: It is completely unacceptable to not respond to a job application, even if it’s to tell the applicants that they didn’t get the job, because it’s far worse to spend an x-amount of time waiting for a response than it is to get a rejection email. We’re adults, we’re aware that there always will be jobs we’re not qualified enough for, so be an adult too and tell us so that we can stop wasting our time.
Inflated egos. I’ve stressed time and again that people constantly overestimate their self-worth, and this was made clear to me in the Email With No Manners. Just because you’re from a country whose current moral compass is questionable at best and have a TV show in a genre specifically designed to kill brain cells, it does not mean there aren’t still people falling over themselves to be associated with you. Therefore, if you want to email someone you’ve never met asking to be sponsored by people who haven’t the faintest idea who you are, it might not be a bad idea to begin your email with even a simple “Hi”.
Dying practices. In the 16th century, messengers delivering notes and letters would wait by their horses while the recipient wrote a reply, because everyone knew that if it was an urgent matter, the messengers would have to ride back with a reply as soon as they could. But today, in an age where it’s become so easy to limit or completely cut off communication with someone just by tapping a screen, it’s no surprise that common courtesy and common decency have become as uncommon as common sense. People no longer feel obligated to toe the etiquette line because they have that digital wall — as well as a wall of “I’m busy” excuses — to cower behind and make up for their tardiness.