Last summer, my oldest daughter worked in a daycare. Forty hours a week, sometimes split shifts, and a lot of times… the poop work. Literally.
She had a great time with the kiddos (except for that poop part!), learned a lot about holding down a real job, split shifts, commuting, taxes, office politics. And she learned how to say “No thank you.” What an awesome life skill to acquire! The daycare team actually used it on the kids all day long: “No thank you, Johnny; I don’t want a grape,” “No thank you, Jennie; I do not want to hold that worm,” “Jack, there is no biting… no… no biting… no thank you!”
By the end of the summer, I could tell this was really ingrained upon my daughter. I loved it, and it became comical. Sometimes “No thank you” would take on the tone of my mother’s “Bless their heart.” We all started saying it in my house, sometimes sweetly, sometimes with a tone of sarcasm.
I think we need to train candidates on the concept of “No thank you.” Being pleasant and just saying “No thank you; this job is not for me,” or “Thank you, but no thank you; I’m not looking for a job now,” is fan-freaking-tastic. Your ability to be decent scores you big points in my eyes. It’s so interesting to me that the people who are really skilled in saying “No thank you” properly are typically in the C-suite, or at least director level and definitely not in IT. And it’s so easy to say no thank you: Just draft an auto-reply, click on it, and send. You don’t even need to personalize it, unless you think you might be looking for a job in a few months… or year.
The nastiness? The f-bomb? That’s icky. My admin team does not care for that. I don’t really care, because I take it as a) Whoo… dodged a bullet, this person is an ass and b) they got back to me, that’s a win! Will I consider you for future jobs? Probably not—you have not made a good impression.
You’re making an impression all the time. From the profile you post, to your speedy replies, and what you write. Especially what you write. So even if that most recent recruiting letter irritated you, even if you don’t like the person, sit on it for 24 hours and then drop a “No thank you.” It keeps you in the position of favor, and wouldn’t you want the last impression to be: “That’s a decent person; I’ll let them know when I have more cool jobs” rather than, “Wow, what an ass… I’m sending them to the cornfield.”
Your call, your career.
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.