Wednesday, March 11, 2009


"I can't believe it, Yvonne. With all the people out of work, I can't find someone to sit in for my assistant who's going to be away for a couple of weeks." My friend runs a successful, public relations firm. I promised her I'd get back to her with a couple of names. Having freelanced for more than ten years, I know what it feels like when the phone rings and there's a job possibility on the other end. To do the same for someone else is a great feeling.

I called a couple of people, left messages on land lines and cellphones and even sent one a message via facebook. I spoke to one friend, and she explained she was interested but was already working on a project. I waited a half hour before I called Yvette to ask if she knew someone who could use a job for a couple of weeks. I waited because I wanted my friends to have first dibs on it.  She rattled off a couple of names and decided to call a recently unemployed friend.

"Be careful, you may make people angry when they call you back and someone else you've recommended gets the job," a friend warned. I told him I understood his point but it's sort of like the early bird gets the worm and explained that I had held off calling Yvette in the hopes of hearing back from one of my contacts.

Meanwhile, the woman Yvette called contacted me. She gave me her information, I forwarded to my friend and within an hour she got the gig! Nothing like helping lower the unemployment rate.

I didn't hear back from any of the people I called. I was a little surprised but who knows, maybe an emergency came up. Maybe they didn't get any of my messages or maybe they aren't hooked on facebook like moi.

I told my friend, the human warning signal, what had happened and added, "I guess everyone's all right and not in need of work, no one called me back." 
"You have to be more sensitive, maybe people don't want to give the impression that they need a job so desperately. Or maybe they thought the job was beneath them." 

I see his point. Once, early on in my freelance writer career, a friend called and said she'd pay me one hundred dollars a day to answer phones at her production company. I thanked her for thinking about me. Lying, I told her that I was already working on something. 

I immediately called Danielle, one of my most level headed friends. "Can you believe it? She thinks I'd answer her phones. I'm a writer," I ranted. "I bet she wouldn't have asked a white senior writer if she would answer her phones." I was all over the map on this one.

"I don't think it had anything to do with race, I think it's a gender thing. She probably wouldn't have asked a male friend to do that," Danielle pointed out. When I cooled down, I realized someone was trying to simply help me.  Thank God I had had the good sense to graciously express my thanks to her even though the last thing I was feeling was gracious.

I still have yet to hear back from the others I called. I wonder, in my thoughtfulness had I been thoughtless? Had I unwittingly insulted them? Did they assume that if I didn't hear back from them it meant that they weren't interested?  In the future, if another opportunity comes up, should I call them?


"I was a bit apprehensive when I contacted my friend, I was afraid she would think the job was beneath her. I had a backup person but when I spoke to my friend, she told me she was willing to do any kind of office work. I was glad she got it, she was very grateful. Who knows why Yvonne's friends didn't respond. Maybe she should ask them if they're interested in a job instead of making the assumption. However,  a thank you is in order because it's the right thing to do. It acknowledges a person's thoughtfulness and your appreciation. And who knows what a future call could bring?  Funny thing about manners, they will tell you what to do the next time.

Once, a relative tried giving me some career tips and suggested that I find work in a hotel making beds. I thanked her for the suggestion, I knew she was well-intentioned. But I made a note to myself to next time consult with a real career counselor. Interestingly, I did work for a while in a hotel answering phones. 

So, to Yvonne, I say, "Move on."  Don't make people wrong for the rest of their lives. The next time you hear about a job, no doubt there will be others to call. But don't be surprised if  the person you contact about work may just not be that into it.


One of the women called and thanked Yvonne again and again for thinking about her. She'd been ill and passed on the information to someone else.  There goes those manners again, they'll tell you who to call next time.

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