Saturday, January 22, 2011

Am I Being Anal?

Now that all of the dogs (Glacier, Roscoe, Aria, Balloo and visiting PAALS dog Grace), have been fed, watered, out a few times, had training sessions and the coffee is ready, I have found time to sit down and write today's post.
As I have mentioned in a previous post, I wrote my licensing exam for massage therapy and I am happy to say passed it; despite my difficulties accessing materials. That means looking for a job. I have found positions on various search engines and have sent emails to inquire about more information. There were a few that never responded and a few more that did, but there is one place in particular that I want to address. It seems as though many of the places I communicated with had a bad case of unprofessionalism, but this specific facility, which I will not name, was the worst by far.
The massage program I took was a total of 1800 hours and spanned 18 months of intensive book and practical learning. The year was broken up into four semesters and for three out of the four we took a class called "Professional Development," or PD for short. This course was designed to teach us the laws with regards to clients, a place of business and us as therapists. It also stressed the importance of professionalism. We were given several scenarios almost every day and were asked to decide what course of action the therapists should pursue that would benefit the client and the profession as a whole. I've always been a stickler for professional behavior and I think taking this course made me a bit more hyper vigilant about it. That said, I don't think being professional in a occupation where we ask our clients to take most of their clothes off and lie under a sheet and trust us to have their best interest at heart in the name of therapy , is such a bad thing. I realise I can't hold a lay person to the same standard of ethics and professionalism as a business owner or a professional of some sort. I don't think my expectations are too lofty, but I will let you be the judge of that.
I will call the facility of my concern H for privacy and also just to make things less confusing. I had been in contact with this facility way back in October when I thought I would be writing my exam. Due to some unforeseen circumstances-like my application and supporting documents being lost by the licensing board-I was not able to write the exam and therefore was not able to attend my interview. I phoned H as soon as I knew what was happening and H was kind enough to say that I could contact them again when the exam logistics had been worked out. During that first interaction, something bothered me. I couldn't quite tell what it was, but I decided to withhold judgment since it had only been a few emails and one phone call. The call had been awkward though and the emails were short and impersonal.
Three months later, I was able to write the exam and emailed H again at the email address I had used before. H's owner wrote me back informing me that this was his/her personal email address, but since he/she had promised me an interview he/she would be happy to do it on/or as soon as Monday?I wrote back and expressed my interest, but asked if we could do it on Wednesday as I had a prior commitment-Mr. K and I are looking for a new place to live, but that is for another post. I never heard back from H and so thought that maybe he/she had changed his/her mind. Late Tuesday evening I received an email saying, and i quote,
"Are you still coming tomorrow? What time? What location is best?
Insert Name Here"
There were hardly sentences formed and H's owner did not address me at all. Previous emails had been presented this way; almost as if H's owner was using a text message to communicate with me. Now in this day and age, that is highly possible, but if I am emailing a potential employer, even if it is from my phone, there are full sentences and punctuation. I also ensure I address the person I am speaking to. And why had H's owner replied so close to the actual day? I had replied on Sunday and the facility is open on Sunday and Monday: I checked their hours of operation.
I understand that in a day and age of social media, text messages and such things, grammar and sentence structure have gone out the window, but if you are an owner of a business, you are not excused from these basic building blocks of communication. I am not going to claim I am the queen of grammar, punctuation or perfect typing. You have seen my blog, there are errors, but when I contact anyone in a professional capacity, I am incredibly careful to ensure that I use the written English language properly. I'm also making an effort to clean up my blog posts because I realise how much more enjoyable things are to read when it is error free.
Proper grammar, spelling and punctuation was something our PD instructor stressed. She always said, "You have to stand out. If you send an employer a resume or cover letter with errors, they probably won't even look at it twice. I wouldn't."
She also made it clear that written communication between you and a potential employer or business partner was crucial. So, when sending out emails to potential employers I am looking for that in their responses. Do I really want to work with someone who can't communicate properly? How will that impact our working relationship?
The thing that confirmed it for me was his response to the email I sent politely declining the interview. Besides the poor communication skills, I still had a nagging feeling that this was not the place for me. I remembered the one phone conversation that we had back in October. Parts of it started floating back into my mind. H's owner had been odd. I had said "How are you?" once "hellos" were exchanged and the owner had said "good" and then there had been this long awkward pause. He/she didn't speak again until I said, "I'm Jessica so and so," and he/she said very abruptly "yeah, I know." I remember thinking, "ok, good. So, why aren't you talking?" He/she had gone on to ask me to come in for an interview within the hour. Everything was so awkward and strained about the call.
I had also heard through the grapevine, after I had turned the second offer to interview down, that there were clients walking out because he had yelled at an employee in the waiting room of the clinic. If that is true, that is extremely unprofessional. I'm pretty sure I don't want to be working in an environment like that.
Anyway, the confirming email went something like this. I had written him/her saying that I was not coming to the interview because I felt that I was not suited for that particular facility. I said that in order for a business to be successful all employees and employers must be completely committed to the business and I did not feel I could give H that kind of commitment. I thanked him/her for the opportunity to be interviewed and wished him/herluck. H's owner response went something like this,
"Sooooooooooo confused. H has 30 employees with 1 or 1/2 types of massage they do.
Good luck.
Insert name here."
First of all, "sooooooo" is not a word. We are not friends on Facebook. Secondly, it would be nice if he/she had said, "Hi Jessica," or "Hello Jessica." Not addressing me makes me feel unimportant and I'm just another body to add to your fleet. Thirdly, instead of writing "soooo confused" he/she could have said something like "I am sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can clear up for you? Do you have questions that need to be answered?" I mean, maybe not exactly worded that way, but something that lets me know that my concerns are his/hers.
I'm not sure I was able to convey my concern with the potential employer's lack of communication clearly. Professionalism is important to me and if I am going to be working for a company, not only am I representing them, but they are representing me as well. It's kind of the way you are usually judged by the people you associate with. It's the same concept. Unfortunately in society, people determine who we are very quickly and usually by who or what we are associated with. If I were to be employed by a company that lacks communication skills and therefore professionalism, I could be viewed the same way. As I mentioned above, massage therapy is based very strongly on trust and one way to build trust is to be professional and caring/genuine of course. If you were an employer would you consider a resume that was poorly formatted? I can understand with familiarity the tone of writing within emails would change, but would you want to hire someone whose emails sounded like they were on Facebook or twitter? Do the same rules apply to employers communicating to potential employees?


L^2 said...

I totally agree with you on this. I don't think it's too much to ask that employers act professional with potential employees. I mean, I could understand communicating in this familiar way with a long-time employee, but it definitely doesn't make a good impression for the business when people are applying for a job.

Jess and Glacier said...

You summed up what I was trying to say perfectly. They weren't kidding when they said, "first impressions are everything." ...Whoever "they" are. lol