Communicating with our Thumbs

“Sweetie, pick up the phone.  Don’t just text.”  This was the worried plea from an aunt to her 19-year-old nephew.  She had just learned that the accused Boston Marathon bomber, then on the run, was, in fact, a good friend of her nephew.  The aunt, broadcaster Robin Young, interviewed Zolan Khanno-Youngs, live on WBUR, Friday April 19th during the tense search for the Tsarnaev brothers.  The whole listening audience heard the frustration of the older generation with the communication style of the young.


The texting habit has overtaken millions of job seekers, to the concern of many hiring authorities.  The younger generation “speaks” with their thumbs.


“I see your ad on Craigslist.  My name is Larry.  Tell me more.”


Texting has the potential to change the rules of recruiting.   Previously, the employer published just enough information to lure the candidates into revealing their whole history.  Many employers posted anonymously, giving just a post office box number or an androgynous email address.  Candidates did not know who would be screening their resume.  Most candidates never even heard back from the employer, rejected without so much as a thank you.


Now the jobseekers may be turning the tables.  Candidates can request information about jobs anonymously.   With unlisted cell phone numbers, and fanciful email addresses, like, job seekers can provide just enough information to lure the employers into revealing themselves.  Then, job seekers can monitor incoming messages and decide when and if they will bother to reply.


Of course, employers may simply ignore the anonymous job inquiries.  However, by not learning the language of the internet, employers my overlook a large and growing pool of candidates.


Regardless of how employers and candidates connect initially, there will always be a need to communicate one on one.  Perhaps Skype will be our next interview room.

It is all too easy to be impersonal on the internet.  Email, for example, is easy to overuse.  The written word lacks the warmth and tone of the human voice.  As Dan Pallotta wrote recently in a Harvard Business Review blog, “We use e-mail to avoid…feeling uncomfortable.”


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