Dear HR Manager,
With my hair coloured to cover my greys, my responses rehearsed, earrings matched to my outfit, I nervously waited for a video call that never happened and wondered why would anyone do that. Schedule a call and then not show up for it? Not even reply to texts and emails? I got stood up, not by date, but by you, dear HR manager of a hipster production house, because let’s face it, you were just too snooty to care.
So what if I deserved a little more respect and at least a text saying the call is cancelled? Being courteous is so 2019. Who are we anyway? Just “resources” after all. And you? You are the ones who get paid to judge people on their two-page curriculum vitae for a living. That is literally your job. You don’t need me, I need you. So I better do as you say, no questions asked.
By the way, this is not even my first time being shunned by your kind. I’m born for rejections. I was once randomly dumped after six rounds of interviews, which included writing an elaborate test, over a generic text message. Even by modern dating standards that was cruel. We all know how arduous the “It’s not you, it’s me” talk can be, and while I’m labelled unprofessional for replying to your text a couple of hours later, it’s your birthright to get away with not telling me why I am suddenly not qualified enough for a job you interviewed me over two months. Your game, your rules.
You are the ones who get paid to judge people on their two-page curriculum vitae for a living.
I get it that it’s important that you know why I went on a three-month holiday five years ago, or why I trained as a dancer then became a CA, or why I took time off to study. The gaps in my CV may as well be the potholes on a road that can derail my career and I better fill them with the best stories I can. It all has to make perfect sense. No way can I tell you that I needed the three-month break from toxic work culture or need some time off for the sake of my mental health. Or you Sherlocks of the corporate world will read me and assume my competency levels from the way I tie my hair.
I may despise the local aunties in my neighbourhood for being nosy, but you HR managers make them look good. Like in a rishta meeting, my expressions, the words I speak, the emojis in my texts, even the political opinion I endorse, are all very important. I need to be able to smile just wide enough to not make me look like I’m socially awkward and make sure I delete every tweet against the establishment, as you will check my records from ten years ago.
I believed that being a well-rounded human with a mixed bag of life experiences and strong opinions, would make me a good candidate. But I should have known better that in the employment world, “experience” is doing the exact same job year after year. Like who would expect a screenwriter to come up with marketing ideas, right? That’s not the sort of flexibility I would want to burden any hiring managers with, even though they hold conferences about “fresh ideas” and “innovation”. I guess the fault is mine for not getting through the dull, two-page-long job description full of vague demands.
But I should have known better that in the employment world, “experience” is doing the exact same job year after year.
I understand you are under tremendous pressure these days. Many jobless souls affected by 2020’s lockdown are reaching out to you. The few vacancies that are in the market are too precious and you hiring managers are flooded with applications. So it is absolutely justified that you expect me to work for half my previous salary, make me negotiate for every rupee, and then go AWOL. My rising anxiety level is my problem.
I’m not alone. I know many who give three to four interviews every week, each with their own set of rounds, and after the painful process, all they expect is an email that at least gives them some closure. But like me, they are often met with silences. We obsessively check emails, and dial up people who do not pick up. We are all too aware of this good old cold shoulder of course. But maybe, for a change, a more empathetic approach would be nice. Just drop a mail that says, “Hey we did not choose to go with you this time because we thought your qualifications did not match, but we will connect with you in the future. Hang in there!” Maybe, it is about time to put the “human” in Human Resource management.