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27 June 2010 / Liz Johns

Rejected by Silence – When the Kakapo Booms

At the risk of making this post a sounding board for my grievances, I’m going to share the latest bug-bear in my life. It’s all to do with getting no reply when you apply for a job. I’m old enough *cough cough* to remember and have experience of the ‘rejection letter’. The letter that you knew was a rejection before you even opened it because it was so thin. Even though they were unpleasant to receive, especially when they came in threes or fours, at least you knew that someone had afforded the time, energy and resources to write and send it. And you knew where you stood. Now, when most job applications are made by e-mail, I’ve discovered that the rejection letter is a thing of the past. Why is that?

Does today’s world move so fast that people don’t have the time to draft a simple ‘Thank you for your application, but unfortunately . . .’? Is courtesy no longer a part of our common human decency?

When I send a job application, it sometimes feels like I’m posting my words into the emptiness of space, not knowing whether anyone has received them or read them. It puts me in mind of the kakapo, that fat, green Kiwi parrot that was almost considered extinct in the 1970s. At that time, search expeditions were made with the hope of finding the last remaining birds and eighteen kakapo were found in Fiordland. But all were male. They were observed daily, walking many kilometres up to their ‘bowls’ (dips created on high ground) and booming. A call to any available females in the area. Of course they got no reply. So after a few hours booming they would trek back down to their homes not knowing whether there were females out there who just weren’t replying, or the sad truth that there were no females at all. But they would try again the next night, and the next. Forever rejected by silence.

I guess I have to follow those kakapos’ example and keeping on booming my applications and not let the silent return get me down.

By the way, if you want to know the rest of the kakapo story . . . After it was thought that there were only eighteen male kakapo left in existence, an expedition to Stewart Island in 1977 found a colony of 200 birds. But this population was under threat by feral cats and their numbers rapidly decreased and the total number dropped to about 50. With intensive management by the Kakapo Recovery Programme, there are now around 125 kakapo living (and protected) on two offshore islands, Codfish Island and Anchor Island.

May their booms always be answered.



Leave a Comment
  1. Derek Allinson / Jun 28 2010 5:01 am

    Hi Liz

    I like your style of writing and will now be an avid follower of your blog. They say, as a pensioner (a very young one) you need something to keep your mind active so I thought I might build a solitary bee house, and find out a little more about Nature by reading about thr Kakapo programme and the rest of your blog.



  2. Thomas Stazyk / Jul 2 2010 8:02 pm

    Best of luck with your job search! And thanks for sharing the kakapo story–keep on booming.


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