December 22, 2009

Rejection: A Case Study

As you can imagine, rejection is part and parcel of the job seeking process. Most companies send emails: "We regret to inform you, yada, yada, yada"; however, some places send old fashioned letters. They arrive in my mailbox with the logo of whatever library I applied to. They're normally thin seeing as it doesn't take a lot of paper to say "you just aren't what we're looking for". I open them, read them, shrug, and move on.

Within the last two days, I have received two of these (Merry Christmas to me!), and although I try not to take any rejection personally when it comes to the job hunt - it's a bad economy, no one has any money to hire me, etc - one of these rejection letters stung me like a bad break-up. It was a very standard letter: They received an enormous amount of interest (this is nothing new) and that they had to choose a pool of applicants for testing and interviews whom they believed were best suited to the position. I don't know why this bothered me so much. I have a feeling it had much more to do with the timing of the letter rather than the letter itself. I've just been getting too much rejection lately. I really need to toughen up. I should have opened the letter, read it, shrugged, and moved on.

On the other hand, I received a letter today that didn't upset me at all. In fact, I felt better about myself after reading it. First it thanked me for my application. Then it detailed why they chose someone else (no biggie), but then the letter also said, and I quote:

"Your own skills and experience in libraries are impressive."

I was agog. They also regretted that they couldn't meet me in person for an interview. Then they said they would keep my profile on file in the case that a vacancy should occur. I was rejected, yet I still felt good about myself. What's more, for the first time in months I felt like I hadn't made a huge mistake by choosing librarianship as a career path. I doubt that I will ever hear from the library again, but wow, someone in the profession thinks my library skills are "impressive". Finally!

I know that rejection is just as difficult for employers as it is for potential candidates. It's even more difficult when the candidate already has a relationship with the potential employer. I've been there, but it was handled really well. My potential employer focused on my strong points when breaking the news. They let me know that I gave a great interview and that ultimately my people skills will earn me a library position. They also let me know that the perfect candidate received the position, but I was also a very good candidate. In the end, I think letting me down was harder for them than it was for me. I totally understood why I didn't get hired. I probably would have gone with the other candidate too if the shoe was on the other foot, but it was nice that they took the time to let me know that I was a decent candidate too. Although it is not the responsibility of potential employers to make job seekers feel better about themselves, it does help maintain momentum for someone who has probably been getting a lot of rejection during their job search.

So, what have I learned. Although I already knew that rejection is part of the process, I know that if I'm ever in the position to hire someone I can write a rejection letter that will make a candidate feel proud instead of defeated.

December 12, 2009

What is Privacy Anyway?

In this brave new world where everyone lives online, the idea of privacy has changed drastically. Facebook is one of the principle social networking sites online today. As such, it plays a large role in the brave new world. Recently, Facebook made some changes affecting their "privacy" settings. For the most part, the changes affect the end user positively. Facebook allows more control over Publicly Available Information (PAI). The user gains more specific control over who sees which pieces of their PAI (Yes. I punned on the blog). The other new control is the Hyper Control. This control makes it so that the user can control which friends can view certain information. This includes status updates, notes, and photos. I think this will increase passive-aggressive Facebook behaviour and will result in more people talking behind your Facebook (Oh, another one!). Ultimately, the changes Facebook has made regarding your privacy will make it harder for you to see what others post about you. For example, if you don't want certain friends to see photos of you doing bong hits in Tijuana, you can control that. If your friends don't want you to see photos of you doing bong hits in Tijuana, they can control that. Yikes!

Although I would agree that privacy, irregardless of whose privacy it is, has increased overall on Facebook, the question begs to be asked: If you don't want to share the information with some people on Facebook and not others, what the heck are you doing putting the information online in the first place? Furthermore, why are there pictures that you don't want people to see? Maybe you shouldn't have let your friend take a picture of you doing bong hits in Tijuana. It's like the ubiquitous celebrity sex tape. If you don't want the world to see it, why would you digitize the event (Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Carrie Prejean, etc)? Furthermore, if you digitize it, is it really necessary to put it on Facebook? "Privacy" is so compromised by Facebook, other networking sites, and the Internet that I wonder if it even exists in the brave new world.

Consider this blog. I am sharing information in a public format. I assume that the only people that will read it are people I already know, but it can be searched for in Google. I would never for a moment consider this a private blog; therefore, I do not write anything here that I wouldn't share with a stranger. Think about it: a stranger. When we were children, we were told to never talk to strangers, but on the Internet, we do it every day. It's kind of weird.

I would wager to guess that there exists at least one photo of every person on the Internet. I would wager an even larger bet that most photos out there were taken and posted without the person in the image knowing about it. Really, unless you're tagged in the photo, you have no idea that it's been put up by someone else. I remember when the Internet was a newer concept and most people were leery of any personal information such as first and last names, phone numbers, and addresses. Now, most people click and upload mobile photos without so much as a hesitant thought. We're also willing to enter credit information when making online purchases and social security numbers when filling out job applications. It's just a fact of life that a lot of our personal information resides on the Internet. The Internet is a public entity and a lot of people have access to it: Does privacy even exist?

If anything has come out of these new "privacy" settings, I have learned one thing: If I don't want it on the Internet, I probably shouldn't do it in a place where anyone with a camera can see me. Because cameras are everywhere and in every phone the public sphere has increased while the private one is disappearing. How paranoid do I sound?

December 4, 2009


If you've been reading this blog, you already know that Twilight makes me weep for the future. I know now that my feelings are justified.