“We just can’t get applicants with the skills and attitudes we need.” The constant refrain from employers bemoans a lack of skills, and applicants who turn up in pyjamas and expect to be allowed to drink neat vodka all day, along with an inability to hold a basic conversation. There are, so British industry says, no suitable, skilled, British applicants for UK jobs. At all. Anywhere.
And Peter Pan is real, and lives two doors down from me.
Employers: the reason you’re not finding suitably skilled applicants with a good attitude and decent work ethic is because you don’t get back to us when we email you. We write, in perfectly grammatical Queen’s English, explaining our relevant experience, with examples of things we’ve actually done, and projects we’ve been involved in. We give you the names of real, physical companies we’ve worked for, and who were pleased to have us there (or said they were, at any rate).
We submit our CV, or the carefully-completed online application form, well within the deadline, having checked, double-checked and triple-checked that our email address and mobile phone number are accurate, and that we haven’t inadvertently given you the address of the Facebook and Twitter accounts that we let our mates see – you get the same profile Mummy and Daddy do, where we talk about our volunteering work, the educational programmes we’ve watched on the BBC, and the online courses we’re undertaking to “improve ourselves” and “further our education, knowledge, and experience”.
We make sure that relevant documents are attached to the email, which we’re not sending from our ‘workisforwankers@dossmail’ address, or, if you’ve asked us to be all old-fashioned and post things to you, we make sure everything’s included, the address is right, and that the lady at the Post Office checks the envelope to ensure we pay for the right amount of postage. Then we drop it in the slot, or hit Send, and wait.
And wait. And wait.
Until, three weeks or so after the closing date, we eventually get a terse “Thank you for your application. Unfortunately, due to the high standard of applicants, you have been unsuccessful. We wish you luck in your job search.” It’s not even addressed to us, and you’re not even skilled enough with computers to fake that you’re not sending it as a bulk mail job.
And then, a week after we stopped less than an inch short of slashing our wrists in response to your rejection, you’re in the paper, or on This Morning, whining about how hard life is for you, and how no one’s good enough to work for you.
Boo-bloody-hoo. That’s not what you told all those folk currently having their benefits stopped because they didn’t even get to interview with you, so must’ve screwed up somehow. You’ll carry on raking in your hundreds of pounds an hour salary, while the rest of us struggle to buy groceries, pay bills and get by on the same amount you’d spend on a “quiet evening out”.
There are skilled, sensible job applicants out there, who know that they’re expected to turn up on time, do as they’re told, and be professional. Who can write and speak good English. Who know that you don’t wear a tie to an interview for a kennel hand, or a gimp suit to an interview for a job in a solicitors’ office. But we’re not psychic – if you want to interview us, you have to respond to our application. Preferably with your location, and a date and time.
But it’s cheaper for you to ignore any applications you get, and go on TV whining about your life. After all, it’s free advertising, isn’t it, especially if you can get the telly crew to do a few seconds of footage in your offices or your factory. Not an avenue that’s typically open to jobseekers, the free publicity of an appearance on the six o’clock news. The truth is out there, along with the job applicants you claim don’t exist. And the truth is, British industry, that you don’t want a workforce – you want a soundbite.