"we're hiring!"

Out for drinks the other night, I noticed a familiar face, though it was out of place.  The particular establishment where I’d parked myself at the bar has a sister location (with different concept) down the street, and occasionally at either place you’ll see a manager or a bartender from the other location swinging by to borrow a keg or bottle of spirits of some sort.  But this time it appeared that they had borrowed a server for the night.

I waved at her; she smiled and came over to say hello. “What are you doing here? You haven’t defected, have you?”, I joked.

She laughed. “No, they’re just short-handed here. Lots of people quit”.

Later I was talking to one of the managers who brought up the personnel shortage.  “People quit for Tet so that they can go home to their families. And now I have a hard time hiring anybody because when I call to schedule an interview, they tell me they’re still on vacation from Tet and they don’t want to work yet”, she explained.

I didn’t know what to say to this so I just blinked and kept my mouth shut.  My initial reaction was incredulous.  In the US when someone calls you - regardless of the industry or job - and you say you’re still on vacation and can’t be bothered to come in to interview, you’ll never hear from the hiring manager again.  But here things are different. Lots of kids in hospitality and the F & B industry have skills and can speak English moderately well. And loads of places are hiring. Off the top of my head, I can name seven Western-style bars and restaurants in Districts 1 and 2 that are actively looking for personnel (and there are more; these are just places that I frequent or where I know the owners).

But Tet ended two weeks ago.  I find this “I’m still on vacation” excuse to be flaky.  As someone who has hired and fired before, this lame reasoning comes across as laziness. But maybe that’s just me, and it’s yet something else I need to adjust in my cultural perceptions.


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