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Regular readers, and those who know me in real life, will know I’m somewhat of a “Champagne socialist”. Growing up in a working-class family in Thatcher’s Britain, this is hardly surprising. However, most of my opinions have been shaped in later life. To explain, I don’t believe that many of us are “self-made”. Although my family wasn’t rich, and in fact, sometimes poor, I wasn’t physically or sexually abused, there was no substance abuse in my immediate household, and we lived in a warm house which my family owned. All this makes me a person of privilege. Compare this to the many who grew up moving from the damp home of a distant relative to crappy motel, with a drug addicted mum, and a dad in prison. Is there any wonder why I might be a slightly better-adjusted working professional than these people? I cannot take sole credit for whatever I achieve in the same way someone can’t be solely blamed for what little they do. If my tax dollars can be used to break this cycle and give the next generation an upbringing comparable to my own, then I feel it’s money well spent. This is why I’m a socialist, and probably a dreamer, at heart.

I write this as a pre-emptive defence of this blog topic. This following statement is so centre-right that it could dampen even the frosty knickers of Judith Collins herself. The next statement is so Boomer that it’s probably what anti-abortionist Chris Luxon mutters in his sleep. Here goes…unemployed people wouldn’t find it so hard to get a job if they learnt some bloody telephone manners.

Let me explain. Our sister business JOYN is exceptional at helping businesses recruit at half the cost. Because it works across multiple sectors, we spend a fair amount of cash on SEO. To be clear, we do this to attract clients, and most definitely not candidates. JOYN doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately however, it most certainly does attract candidates. It attracts candidates who are trying to call a labour hire agency. It attracts candidates who are trying to contact Work & Income. It attracts candidates who work as blue collar temps at Countdown and are calling in sick. It attracts candidates who think that 5.36am on a Sunday morning is an appropriate time to start looking for a job. How do I know this? I know this because the JOYN switchboard number comes through to my mobile. The 5am calls go as followers:

“Hello Sean Walters”

“**fumbling scratching noises** uhh…is this ummm One Staff?”

“No sorry, I think you have the wrong number”

“errmmm….OK bye”


“….uhh what’s the number for One Staff?


“**caller hangs up**”

Or: any number of grunted, mumbled, unapologetic and rude replies. About one in ten of these callers apologises for calling the wrong number at the weekend. About nine out of ten I would never hire. Some stick around to create an existential crisis within me and argue that I am actually One Staff. Some, as was the case last Sunday, argue to the point that we both start swearing at each other. Sometimes, the socialist in me wins, and I forgive these people as being products of their surroundings. Sometimes, my inner Mike Hoskin berates them on the “cost of manners” and that it’s “no surprise” they can’t secure employment.

Reflecting on this, I realise that it isn’t a class issue. Surely the “have nots” are losing the art of conversing verbally, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. As always, the underclass are easy pickings. The truth is, talking on the phone has fallen well out of fashion for almost everyone born after 1995. Just look at the number of memes criticising that one mate who calls instead of messaging. I met with a younger person the other day who was incredulous that I’d rather make a call than type a text. And my pet peeve – those who have a voicemail asking me to send a text. I’ve already gone to the effort of calling you and now you want me to compose a f*cking haiku?! Although I firmly believe that the phone is the recruiters best weapon, I am clearly an old man swimming against the tide. As the next generation of recruiters, clients, and candidates move through the ranks, briefly written communications peppered with cartoon egg plants and peaches will be the norm. The ability to have a phone call minus grunts, audible background noises, and rudeness will be a thing of the past. The phone will be truly dead.

Unfortunately, this blog does not end here.

I am two, not one step behind the times. Recent developments have shown that writing is dead also. So far this week I spoken to people who have used ChatGPT to write job ads, to provide interview questions, to help answer these interview questions, to create a recruitment strategy, and to write a cover letter. Not only have we stopped verbally communicating, we’ve now outsourced our writing. Hell, this blog could be written by AI, the only giveaway being the lack of “I”. We seem to have leapt into the future as depicted in The Matrix. Pale skinned folk, laying in their pits clicking buttons to watch any tv show at any time whilst eating food delivered from anywhere by a faceless immigrant, automatically applying for a thousand jobs with a CV written by machines. Human interaction reduced to a barely-audible grunt when the last bastion of the past absolutely forces us to have a proper conversation. Romantic liaisons with a Japanese anime chatbot replacing a feel-up at Danny Doolans. None of us old buggers knowing if we’re dealing with a person or machine, with the youngsters wondering why we even care. Oh my word.

Can you tell I’ve had a tough week?

Anyway, that’s enough from me. I’ll go back to being an unashamed phone jockey and Marxist agitator. More jovial times next week.