Did Eric call? My partner yelled the question through our manmade intercom system.
“No, he didn’t…why?” I screamed back.
“Because Rod is on Line Six claiming he didn’t show for his interview today.”
“WHAT!” I shouted, this time at full volume.
The other side of unemployment – the part rarely recorded, understood or even known to the outside world – often makes an appearance in my everyday life. Eric was a recent college graduate who ventured off to the “Big Apple” with a few bucks in his back pocket and a dream to keep his head up. When the dollars ran out, he brought his dream back to the security and comfort of his parents’ home in upstate New York. Like most millennials, he had no idea how to begin his career and figured a bigger city meant more opportunities. When things didn’t go as planned, he found himself answering a job ad on Monster for an IT professional from his parent’s basement.
If he identified the right person, my client was open to training and coaching an entry-level candidate. And I liked Eric. He wasn’t afraid to relocate, fall on his face, pick himself back up and move on. He was simply trying to make his way in the world and follow his dream, and I admire that courage, especially since I often see it lacking among most beaten-down working professionals today. So I invited him into my office and counseled him on career failures and strategies that work in an effort to boost his confidence. He walked out my doors feeling empowered and ready for what came next, or so I thought.
After convincing my client to give this junior-level job seeker a chance, Eric passed his first interview with flying colors and proved my instincts right. He was thrilled to be competing alongside a second candidate with more experience and better prospects. In fact, the employer was considering creating an entirely new position for Eric. For a young kid who truly needed a break and someone that I stuck my neck out for, it was all very exciting. But it all came crashing down when my worst nightmare came true, and he failed to show up for the next round. My naive client called us, thinking he must either be gravely injured or dead on the side of the road, but I knew better. Something had happened to him between the first and second interviews. Another job offer, a new opportunity, an epiphany that caused him to abandon his dream for a new one, or maybe it was simply a panic attack that kept him from leaving his bed that morning. Whatever it was, Eric didn’t show us the common courtesy of a phone call and an explanation.
Shortly after, a friend of mine who works as a career counselor for an Ivy League school contacted me. Apparently, the “no call, no show” behavior has posed a huge problem with many candidates she has worked with. In fact, they enacted a new policy that states, if a student fails to attend an interview without explanation, he or she is terminated from any future job consideration from the university. So it begs the question, why do people practice such terrible job search etiquette?
Although I don’t have the answer, I do know this: It’s never good practice to leave an employer questioning and an employment agency quaking in their boots with anger, concern, and disappointment. It’s a matter of respect, one employers take very seriously and for good reason. If you’re second-guessing a job opportunity, tell someone and make a strategy for breaking the news to the right people as soon as possible. Don’t make the same mistake Eric did.
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