Can’t You Spell For God’s Sakes?

These days, I get mighty annoyed when I get application emails from fresh graduates of  local universities. They could be applying to intern at our company or they could be applying for a job, part-time or full-time.

As I sift through their applications, a number of things strike me – and in most cases, annoy me a lot.

Maybe because I write.

Maybe because I can’t stand people who don’t pay attention to details.

Maybe because I dislike carelessness.

Of course I know that most applicants these days will copy and paste their friends’ resumes, changing only what’s necessary. No one types their own original resume any more. It’s so 1990s, you know. (Ya, but lest I sound like an old fudge past its expiry date, in the 1990s at least we made*some* effort. These days, effort is so damn rare!).

Today someone sent us their email with an attachment called “Proposole”. Is that a new kind of shoe in town? Not a Jimmy Choo I hope?

These days, half the people who apply can’t even string a sentence of 10 words without getting at least 2 or 3 words misspelt.

Someone even mentioned “dateline” when it should be “deadline”.

I cringe. I cringe because this is the result of an education system going to the boondocks and never returning in a million years.

I cringe because if this is the state of the future of our country, I shall be glad to have passed on when it is 2085. (“Mou ngan thaaei” – in Cantonese it means “no eye see”.)

I cringe because these kids do not know that they are not in competition with each other; no way. They are in competition with the other global kids.

In no time, these kids will be overtaken by cheaper, better and more language-savvy kids from other Asian countries. (Have you seen how quickly the foreign workers catch on to our languages when they work here for a year or so? They lack opportunities – they don’t lack brains. When their countries start moving upwards, these kids will be up to their necks in night soil, I tell you.)

At my age (I am 38), a lot of my friends are senior managers and a lot of them too run their own businesses. When we meet up, the biggest tirade we have is this: “Whatever happened to the generation after ours because they don’t turn up when they’re supposed to, they can’t be bothered to be accountable and blinkingly lie through their teeth?”

When my friend Jin came up for a short visit two months ago, we had this conversation during our nasi briyani dinner. She was lamenting that she couldn’t find good candidates for her company. One girl who agreed to come to work on a specific date did not turn up at all. Jin then called her but to no avail. Finally the girl sent an SMS that she was ill and could not come to work. The day after, the girl still hadn’t turned up. This time, she SMSed again, saying her grandmother passed away. And a few more excuses after that.

In my case, it is frustrating both with interns and with work candidates.

Just the other day, I gave a boy a benefit of the doubt. He hadn’t replied my email in 4 weeks after we’d interviewed him. He needed a part-time job and I needed someone to help out. He was going on and on how he was a quick learner and came from a poor family so he really hoped we’d give him this chance. He had seen how my assistant writer was doing and he thought he could easily do her work.

After 4 weeks of not getting a reply, he suddenly replies saying he was helping his family move home and he had no Internet access. That was why he couldn’t get back to me.

In today’s day and age, free Wifi is everywhere so I was quite curious that he could not even get 5 minutes to pop into a McDonalds to check and reply his email. If you needed a part-time job bad enough, wouldn’t you make it a priority to at least check your email?

Anyway, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I do give people chances but 2 chances are all they get. I told him to come on a specific date so we could try him out for a week. I may be kind but I am not stupid. Most people who proclaim they can write/design/etc usually are hot air vessels…. they can’t design and they can’t write for nuts.

I was even thinking of SMSing him to remind him – just in case he’d “forgotten”. Nic told me to wait and see. I heard that Jobstreet has this feature that sends a reminder to one’s phone to remind one of interviews and such. My husband being what he is thinks that it’s all hogwash. If a job is what you’re after, can’t you even remember the date so you can turn up for an interview? If it is not that important to you, no amount of reminders will get you to the place of interview.

So on the day that this boy was supposed to arrive, he didn’t. Not a call, not an SMS, not an email even. No accountability at all.

We have a category for folks like this. They’re blacklisted.

Another time, a girl with no writing credentials nor writing samples came to ask for a job. She had worked in a tax planning firm and found it boring. She believed she had writing chops.

We decided to try her out for a week. Frankly I told her that she had nothing to show us – not even a blog post. So we were taking a huge risk in taking her in for a week. After a week, we’d decide if she could continue. It was a Friday when we agreed that she would come in the following Monday for a week’s testing.

She said OK.

I thought, hey, not bad. Can rise to the challenge.

On Saturday, she SMSes – saying her dad said it was better for her to take a more “confirmed” job at another company since we were just going to test her out anyway. She said she would follow her father’s advice.

On Monday evening, she emails. She says she had gone to her “confirmed” job but after 8 hours, she decided it was boring and could she come to our company the next day to try out her writing job?

Hell no!

You see, the horror stories of hiring people are aplenty. Just ask those who are in businesses. I could write a tome on these experiences.

Interns are no better.

Interns these days think an internship is a given. It’s part and parcel of their college curriculum. Everyone gets internship so it’s not like it’s a big deal right? You can’t get fired during your internship, can you?

Well, think again. I don’t know about other companies but we take our interns seriously and we expect them to take themselves seriously. We do fire our interns because I’m not going to let deadweights annoy the rest of us who are seriously working. And we did fire interns.

Part of the problem with today’s interns and fresh graduates is that they’re too pampered – at the mere hint of toil, their parents will rush to their defence and say “Oh poor baby. You had a bad time huh? Well, we won’t stand for it, will we? You can quit. It’s OK, Papa and Mama will be able to take care of you while you find another job. You don’t need all that flack. How dare they make you do this.”

Ah. I could say a four-letter word to this.

That is why their kids will be audacious and stupid. They will demand things they don’t have rights to in the first place. They want the good stuff but they’re not prepared to lift a finger to do a day’s work (not that they have much to offer really in terms of social skills, not to mention real skills).

Colleges and universities these days don’t give a damn either. They’re there to do business. They don’t care if the placement is going to be beneficial to their college kids. All they care is, just take my college kids and make sure they intern for 3 months and we can officially stamp a nice fat credit so they can graduate and get out of our hair.

Since interns who come to our company really get a whole lot of alternative experiences and learn stuff no one’s ever taught them, sometimes I think, they should pay us for teaching them life skills!

That is why we’ve been very careful in accepting interns. We’ve gone through our fair share of horrible interns and interns who were too cocky for their own good.

But enough griping. Griping won’t solve anything except save me from going to the doctor’s. (Frustrated Employers Anonymous could be a great club to start!)

Everyone tells me that it’s Gen Y. They’re not like us Gen X folks.

What do you think? Do you have any Gen X-Gen Y horror stories to share?
Or am I just getting (GASP) old and cranky?

But I have spoken to a lot of people and the responses are often the same. Today’s youth are totally different. In fact, looking at my younger cousins and my own nephew and niece makes me wonder – will they annoy their future employers too?

I am still trying to figure this out and whether seriously there would be anyone worthy to hire in the next 2 years!

0 replies
    • Maya
      Maya says:

      Hi Vern – I know. You are one of the exceptions. I wish I could meet more responsible young people like you. Unfortunately Petronas got there first haha. They should be really glad they hired someone who is not only hard working but has both IQ and EQ.

      Reply
  1. doc
    doc says:

    perhaps i should be glad i don’t need to do the hiring but i get medical students from private universities coming to the hospital for attachment. most are in their 2nd/3rd years. many are starry-eyed & most come ill-prepared. they would have forgotten their basic knowledge supposedly acquired in the 1st 2 years, & therefore will not derive maximum benefit from these clinical postings.

    to me, this is the direct result of the rapid establishment of private medical schools, currently 25 & counting. each will need at least a hundred students each year to show some profit, some having 2 intakes a year, so the entry qualification have to be lowered to get the numbers. moreover, there is also a lack of qualified lecturers to go around the numerous medical schools.

    we see a different side of the same coin that is the failed education system – you get the general workers, we get the medical students.

    as Yoda might have said : bleak, the future, i see.

    Reply
    • Maya
      Maya says:

      Hi Doc: Ah, we share the same grouse although yours isn’t so much about hiring them but taking them in for “re-training”. I suppose in your case it could be worse. Our lives are in the hands of doctors these days. So they’re also churning them out like a doctor mill huh? That’s the reality of commerce. But taking this further, why can’t commerce come with quality? Train them yes, two intakes a year, fine but make sure they qualify properly as doctors because human lives are in their hands. In our case, the worst case scenario is that they foul up, delete a client’s file or update something incorrectly into a website. These mistakes can be rectified fast, usually in less than an hour. But human lives – that is no joke. That’s a really sad tale of wanting to be a doctor too fast, too soon without the heart and soul of a true healer.

      Reply
  2. Poh Lin
    Poh Lin says:

    It’s a very common topic amongst us ‘oldies’ when we get together. What you described is absolutely true especially about parents who come running at the slightest sigh by their children.

    The one incident that I remember most is the one who went out for lunch on the first day of work and never came back. We were worried and thought something might have happened. Tried calling but handphone was switched off. Finally we received an email the next day saying the job is not suitable and decide not to stay on. Sheesh…..

    Reply
    • Maya
      Maya says:

      Hi Poh Lin: Haha, oldies. I like that. Makes me feel like I’m a wise old nut. Their sense of courtesy and responsibility is such that they don’t worry if others are worried for them! Like the assistant writer I was emailing – I really felt like calling him up and giving him a good scolding. But then, why should I? I am not his mom or his aunt. I would however do so if this was my nephew or niece. And even if you do manage to scold or berate them, it goes in and out of their heads in seconds. You know that saying, “Melentur aur biarlah dari rebungnya?” Damn that is true. These days, I think, let me start with the young ones. These can be helped. The older ones, I give up!

      Reply
  3. Yaacob
    Yaacob says:

    Hei don’t worry too much, take it easy if you can, this is not abnormal. It happens daily in small or big organization. For one you look at their qualification, all are qualified, but probing further you know they can’t even organize themselves. I have seen by the hundreds, never want to be grumpy anymore, take it lying down. This country is too bless, life is so easy, new generations not taking it seriously.

    Reply
    • Maya
      Maya says:

      Yaacob: Ah, you have learned to be wise! ;-) Yes I should take it easy. At least one day it will dawn on them why they can’t find jobs or why their jobs are taken over by Myanmarese, Cambodians, Nepalese, Filipinos etc.

      Reply
  4. ben
    ben says:

    Enjoyed reading your musings, Maya. Of course many may see your post as a way for you to let off steam or getting your frustration out of your system but beyond that I see a concerned individual who is worried for our future generation. We definitely need more people like you to help correct and improve such situations.
    If you have time, do drop by my blog ya.

    Reply
    • Maya
      Maya says:

      Hi Ben: The way I see it, we should all be worried. I was back home for a few days to see my parents and of course had time to play with my nephew and niece. They are 9 and 5 respectively. The one thing which worried me was their lament “Oh I am bored” whenever we went outdoors. Indoors, they sit and play on the iPad and Tablet for hours, until the batteries give out and they can’t do anything else. Even when the devices are plugged for charging, they would still be playing with them! I try to reason with them that “No you are not bored” – I even engaged them in some card games. My nephew went off in search of his iPad after 20 minutes saying he didn’t want to play any more (I think he said, “So boring”. I felt like smacking him). The younger sibling – my niece – was still engaged in the card game (at least!). I can see that today’s devices create short attention spans, impatient kids and lots of “boredom” when they are not doing their gaming sessions. Really parents should limit devices and not use them as babysitting devices!

      Reply

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