How Not to Burn Bridges in One Easy Lesson

by Brian Skory

They say that showing up is half the battle. I’m not sure who originally said that. A Google search will attribute the quote to everyone from Woody Allen to Stephen Hawking. But I would modify it somewhat. I would say that showing up with manners is half the battle. What do I mean by that? I’ll explain by talking about Stout Systems’ candidate flagging system, an important part of our 21-point screening process

When we speak with a new candidate, their profile has a green flag by default. This basically means that all went well and as expected. In other words, there are no concerns. But once in a while, a candidate will appear to be potentially problematic. They might have shown up late for an interview or even forgotten about it completely. We’ll wonder if that was a one-off or something that is going to be a habit with this person. But hey! We understand that life happens, so we merely assign a yellow flag to this person so that we can monitor and reevaluate as time goes on.

But then there’s the person who throws good manners out the window completely. Upon hearing that we didn’t consider them the right fit for a role, they unleash a tirade of the sort that would make a marine blush. In addition to having their email passed around the office for humorous perusal, these individuals are assigned a red flag. This basically alerts anyone who comes across their profile down the road that we are no longer working with that candidate.

So you see, in the instances above, it wasn’t enough to just show up. You must show up with manners. Imagine if our red-flagged candidate had politely engaged us in a conversation about his disagreement with our decision. He might have convinced us otherwise, or he may have simply come to agree with us. But wouldn’t he be glad he took that approach when two weeks later we opened up a job that was not only a perfect fit for him but was practically his dream role!

Imagine the person who leaves their job for something better and exits in a blaze of glory including no two-week’s notice and leaving his boss and coworkers in a difficult bind. And then imagine when a year later his former boss gets hired by his current company as the VP of Technology, and her first assignment is to clean house.

I’m sure you can imagine all sorts of other scenarios where a candidate throws good manners out the window only to have it come back to bite them in the butt.

So yes, showing up can be 50% of the battle, but do yourself a favor...in fact, do the right thing....do show up but with good manners.

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