I could have called you and I chose not to.” — Comedian Jerry Seinfeld on the growing use of texting and emails to deliver unpleasant news

There was always bad news, and even a glimmer of good news, with the traditional “Dear John” letter.

The bad news was obvious: Your relationship with a particular mademoiselle or madame was finis.

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The good news was at least she knew your name and she took the time to pen a note and let you know the final score, even if she did not want to tell you in person or over the phone.

You can’t say the same about a Dear applicant email sent robotically and clinically by a secretary on behalf of someone important with that special extra tender touch in which applicant (that would be you) is spelled in lower case.

It’s even more special if its sent the day before Thanksgiving.

Kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Almost DailyBrett has commented before about how digital technology (e.g., Web 2.0), despite its ubiquitous nature and 24/7/365 worldwide communication capabilities, has in many respects made it easier for organizations to deliver unwanted messages without any splash back.

As the global economic malaise stretches into its seventh year (when will this funk be over?) with stubborn high-single digit/low-double digit unemployment and underemployment percentages, more-and-more qualified (and overqualified) individuals are competing for what seems to be fewer-and-fewer positions.

Naturally, cool superstars with lofty market values (e.g., Google, Nike, Amazon, Apple, Facebook…) are overwhelmed by thousands of cover letters and resumes. Their respective Catberts (e.g., Human Resources Departments) cannot respond to every one of these applications.

The problem is solved by automatically generated acknowledgement emails, immediately lowering the hopes of the applicant, setting the expectation that only the best and the brightest will be contacted for interviews. Fair enough.

But what happens when the applicant hails from inside the organization? What happens when the applicant is actually encouraged to apply? What happens when an applicant has spent eight hours or longer running a gauntlet of interviews from the mail-room dude to the CEO, followed by the obligatory thank you notes, and knows that she or he is a finalist for the brass ring?

These questions are magnified in cases in which applicants literally expended hours preparing targeted cover letters, updating CVs, securing reference letters and developing online or hard copy portfolios of work.

All of the above are the price for competing and (hopefully) securing high five-figure or six-figure positions in today’s economy.

After all of this effort and more on the part of the job seeker, is a terse Dear applicant kiss-off email from the executive secretary, appropriate?

Wouldn’t you rather receive the equivalent of a Dear John (or substitute your own name), particularly from the hiring manager, instead?

Of course you would.

The next question that comes to mind is: What does the terse digital Dear applicant message say about the organization (e.g., corporations, agencies, non-profits, college or university departments) that treats job seekers this way?

Almost DailyBrett opines that no one naturally wants to hear bad news. This is human nature and to be expected. More importantly, people want to be treated in a straight forward manner. Most of all, they want in the words of the legendary Aretha Franklin to be R-E-S-P-E-C-T-ed.

The Dear applicant diss speaks volumes about the organization. It projects arrogance. It signals coldness. It conveys callousness. Come to think of it, does the job seeker really want to work for this organization? Is the hiring manager really a bosshole?

The Edelman Trust Barometer has repeatedly reported that people are more willing to do business with companies that treat their employees well. That conceivably also applies to those who seek employment with a given company.

“Never play with the feelings of others because you may win the game, but the risk is that you will surely lose the person for a lifetime.” – attributed to Shakespeare.

And what about that poor sap, Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena who competed to the best of her or his ability, only to receive a “Dear applicant” message?

That person most likely will neither forget nor forgive. That person could have been a future customer. That person could have been a major donor. That person could have a form of hegemony over the Dear applicant organization. The organization could have kept that person on a first-name basis. Instead the organization burned a bridge, and for what purpose?

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The Dear applicant epistle sent from an executive secretary, who could care less, is without any conceivable doubt bad public relations, poor reputation management and atrocious brand management all in one.

These walk-the-extra-mile applicants deserve personal recognition, respect and to be treated with dignity, not a careless boilerplate message.

What is the old saying: “What goes around comes around?”

Some very wise person said that once, maybe even one who received a Dear applicant kiss-off.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dear_John_letter

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Dear%20John%20Letter

http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Dear-John-Letter

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aretha_Franklin

http://www.edelman.com/insights/intellectual-property/trust-2013/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/losing-the-art-of-verbal-confrontation/

http://www.edelman.com/post/rebuilding-trust-through-employee-engagement/

http://www.billoreilly.com/video?chartID=610&vid=-686347981610326466

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