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Consider the job candidate

October 26th, 2016

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my time stranded in Gotera, El Salvador, emphasizing the importance of persistence. And as I continue to near the end of my time as a college student and approach that formidable world of “real adults,” I am noticing just how important it is to be persistent, whether you are soliciting a ride home from an unfamiliar Salvadoran village, applying for a job or scholarship that has caught your eye, etc.

This week, I will stick to the same theme—that of persistence—but in a different light, and with a different anecdote.

It has to do with my roommate, Brayton. Brayton is an old friend of mine that, this year, moved out to Cleveland to finish school and pursue a career as a real estate agent—and I have a world of respect for him. Unlike the rest of my friends and me, he has decided not to study at a traditional, four-year college (something remarkably outside of my comfort range). School has just never been his strong suit. Rather, he has opted to take some general business courses at community colleges in the Cleveland area and search for an entry-level job at a real estate firm. Brayton, though perhaps not studious, is no stranger to persistence and hard work—I have no doubt he will do well in real estate.

Before he can do that, though, there are some hoops to jump through—a realtor has to help him through the exam and the licensure, he has to get a car and he has to finish up his last business class. In the meantime, Brayton is looking to put a couple of years of fine dining experience to use and get a part-time job at an upscale-ish restaurant near our Shaker Square apartment.

Luckily for him, there is such a place right in the square itself—it is called Fire, and it’s got a nice menu, a friendly staff, a pleasant ambiance and an opening in their roster for a waiter. For Brayton, who spent the past year working at one of Colorado Springs’ ritziest restaurants, it seemed like a perfect fit, like a great way to pay for his classes and establish a foothold in a new community.

So Brayton, being well-versed in the almost banal practice of showing relentless (yet humble) persistence in applying for a job, showed up, resume in hand. He talked to the bartender and to some of the other waiters who emphatically told him that he should come back later in the week, so that he could meet the hiring manager. He did so, and the two met—and, from the sound of it, it went rather well. The manager told Brayton that he would call and follow-up, letting him know whether or not he has the job.

That was nearly three weeks ago. And Brayton, adhering to the platitudinous “keep trying,” has called the restaurant’s hiring manager nearly a dozen times—never an answer. He has gotten dressed up and walked in during their business hours over five times, only to be told that “the hiring manager isn’t here—but he says he promises that he will call you tomorrow!”

But the man never calls, and while it has naturally been a frustrating affair for Brayton, who at this point just wants a definitive “yes” or “no.” But other than Brayton’s frustration, what I find most perturbing is the utter lack of professionalism on the part of the business, and from it, I think there is a lesson to be learned that I will remember throughout my adult life.

Right now, all of us at John Carroll are condemned to fighting for entry-level positions and internships—it is just what comes with this part of life, a right of passage for the working adult. Persistence, of which Brayton has been an exemplar, is a requisite quality for career ascension. As we eventually do climb into the upper echelons of our fields and are in charge of hiring the next generation of persistent jobseekers, I would encourage you to remember how daunting it was for you get started back in your day. When you are in a hiring position, be prompt and transparent with what you are looking for in a job candidate. If somebody isn’t right for a position, show that you have rudimentary background in business etiquette and let him or her know quickly and professionally, so that they may look elsewhere. Always act with class and remember what it was like to be the persistent jobseeker.