Do you Educate… or Perpetuate?

7 Feb

This afternoon I received a slightly disheartening, mildly pathetic, and seriously troubling email through the contact form for my employer’s website. The message was simple:

I go to school full time and work part time. I need help paying off student loans and would like to intern and/or work for you.

The. End. No greeting, no sign off, no signature. Nadda.

Now, at first glance, my initial reaction was astonishment. Did this person honestly expect that my organization would be willing to hire them just because they needed us to? Lest we not forget, they clearly displayed no attempt to understand what we do, let alone look into whether or not we were even currently hiring.

I let the email linger in my inbox and went on with actual pressing matters.

Then I got home and started to think about where I came from. There was once a point in time when I didn’t know the value of a resume or the proper steps to take in order to land a good job. However, I was fortunate enough to have tools and a network at my disposal to educate me… but not everyone’s that lucky.

Partly inspired by PR pro Becky John’s recent post, Stop Whining and Start Teaching, I decided to take the extra five minutes to write a hopefully-helpful response. I politely thanked them for their interest and explained that we were not currently hiring at this time. From there, I decided to take it a step further and suggest that they circulate their resume on career search sites, or visit the local Capital Area Michigan Works for employment assistance.

There’s no guarantee that they will even read past my first sentence explaining our lack of ability to help them pay for their tuition, however, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Helpful? Possibly.
Necessary? Debateable.
Good? No doubt.

I may have just helped a college student find the correct steps to take in order to land a part time gig. Or, I may have just wasted my time. Bottom line is, those few minutes that I took to write that email certainly didn’t ruin my day.

Maybe it’s the recent grad in me, but I’d rather help educate a student on proper etiquette than perpetuate a bad habit (and stereotype of my generation).  I’m not saying that employers should pull out all stops to make a stranger’s life easier, but maybe they just don’t know any better, and in that instance, as professionals, we can help.

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