Five times in ten minutes. Five times in ten minutes.
I currently manage a San Francisco Public Utilities Commission recruitment for a rather specialized position, a 2481 Water Quality Technician (if curious, you can see it here). It’s an entry-level position, a steppingstone type of job that can launch a long and satisfying career, so we receive a very large number of applications. At about 3:15 this afternoon, I received the first of five calls in ten minutes from interested 2481 applicants.
I like the phone calls. Unlike the private sector, The City & County of San Francisco structures hiring so that phone calls from applicants can neither help nor hurt their chances, but perhaps only 2% of all applicants do anything extra to get a job. Sooner or later, the extra effort should pay off.
The trouble is that all five phone calls began the same way. Either the caller or I said the same thing:
“Um, hello? Hello? Can you hear me?”
To be continued with any or all of the following:
“You’re breaking up.”
“I moved to a new room; now can you hear me?”
Et cetera, et cetera. Lots of things you’ve heard or said before.
OK, this needs to stop.
America’s infrastructure is in sad shape in many ways; you can’t cross some bridges anymore without wondering if your hybrid will be the straw that breaks the span’s spine. But the infrastructure problem I encounter most often consists of poor cell phone reception.
Poor cell phone reception?! In San Francisco?? The home of Twitter among others??
That’s just nuts, but the truth is that cell phone falls short of adequate in this country.
Embarrassingly, I know almost nothing about who’s responsible for cell phone towers and networks in the United States of America–providers? government? someone else?–but the current situation is untenable, and the problems become even greater if you are looking for a new job. Whether to save money, or because of disuse, millions of people have discarded their landlines and live solely off the cell. When they look for a new job, they need to know that they can reach prospective employers and communicate with them. No one knows this better than me, because I’m a guy whose job consists of hiring people. I can’t do my job if people can’t get through.
People shouldn’t have their cell phone calls disconnected simply because they drove into a tunnel or stepped into an elevator. Maybe the time has come for cell phone coverage to become a priority, responsibility and task for the feds. They’ve done a decent job in the past; the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (and yes, that is the formal name of America’s interstate highway system) has proven its worth. A change must come. The current “system” hurts job-hunters; therefore, it must also hurt our economy as a whole.
I apologize for the rant; I know my posts lean toward a lighter sort of tone, and this one is atypical. But I said “You’re breaking up” to five consecutive job seekers today and I reached my limit.
Vonn Scott Bair