Friday, January 6, 2012

Professional Press

I'm freaking out because I was supposed to email this contact back regarding a potential job/internship or something and I completely forgot. I'm in a very competitive field and all the work advice I read talks about being professional and diligent. Now I seem like a flake and I'm afraid word is going to get around to other potential employers.

I think the only rational response is to abandon your goals and join the circus. Clearly you don't have what it takes to be a doctor/lawyer/air traffic controller/business suit. 

One of the unfortunately overlooked consequences of the economic downturn is the seemingly endless supply of career advisors, many of whom I can only assume were laid off from their original jobs and probably not because they forgot to send an email. Not that some of the advice isn't valid, but when people are desperate for any advantage, they are more likely to fall prey to manipulation and pie crust rules (easy to make...)

Email your contact. Apologize for your delayed correspondence. If your contact rebuffs you, move on. No use in groveling.  You  didn't want to work there anyway. I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't do a better job of scheduling in the future, but even the most deidcated Covey-ites make mistakes. If an earnestly regretted mistake is fatal to this employer, then the job isn't worth the hassle. Frankly, if the contact uses your late inquiry as a reason to drop you, you didn't have much of a chance anyway.

I can tell by the nature of your question that this will probably be unsatisfactory to you because you wanted to know what you could say to get this person to like you and forgive you. The answer is nothing. If this person is going to be miffed that you made a mistake and find your apology insufficient, then there is nothing more you can do. And, really, there isn't much more you should do, except stop reading judgmental, reactionary career advice. Do better next time, but no need for penance. 

If you truly are in a competitive field, a lot of people aren't going to like you. If you aren't in a competitive field, that number will decrease slightly. Some of it will be your fault, but most of it won't be. Do your best to be professional and ethical...and that alone will infuriate some people. Not to alarm you, but there are people walking around right now that can't stand you. If there aren't, then I personally will hate you just to bring the world back in balance. No career requires unanimous support. Our professional reputation is the sum of all our interactions and all the impressions of our colleagues. People will always disagree on the merits of others.

Do you know what they call a person that nobody can say anything bad about? A corpse.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?

My quesadilla press. Who turns down a quesadilla or pocket sandwich? Nobody that expects to eat at my house.

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