Let’s Make “Common Courtesy” More Common!

Please.  Thank you.  You’re welcome.  Weren’t we all schooled in these basic building-blocks of politeness at some point during our formative years?  Don’t we, ourselves, tend to get offended when rude, thoughtless, or inconsiderate behavior is exhibited by those around us?

Unfortunately, there’s an epidemic of impolite behavior going around, as reported by a fairly large segment of folks within the Career Horizons community.  At least a dozen complaints have crossed my desk in the past few weeks from hiring managers, recruiters, job seekers, and general business contacts who have been ticked off about how they’ve been treated by various individuals they’ve encountered during their networking efforts.  Amazingly, in a time when everybody should be seeking to be on their absolute best behavior, particularly job hunters, certain basic tenets of common courtesy seem to be falling by the wayside.

For example, here’s a note I received two days ago from a former client (I’ll keep her name anonymous) who has been heroic in her efforts to help people network within her current organization, but apparently is not seeing much considerate feedback or follow-up, in return:

“Matt:  Please continue stressing the importance of keeping the connection in the loop when using him/her to get information and/or a contact through LinkedIn.  I don’t know how often I have provided information, phone numbers, and even the personal contact to XYZ Company’s former CFO, but I do know how often I was shot at least a short update: only once.  No further remarks except that these people burned their bridges with me, and probably others as well when they exhibited the same thoughtless behavior toward them.”

On a related note, I met on Tuesday with a team of recruiters from a local HR consulting firm and asked them what advice they’d give to job hunters to improve their odds during the hiring process.  I was expecting them to perhaps share some resume tips or pass along some sophisticated interviewing strategies, but almost in unison, they said that basic politeness was the one area in which most job hunters need to improve — and said, specifically, that they’ve had quite a few folks “no show” for interviews or arrive to meetings 10-15 minutes late.  Hard to believe, I know.  But not a single recruiter around the table seemed to disagree with this observation, interestingly enough.

Want an even more common “rudeness scenario” than the above two examples?  Every day, I hear stories about people getting contacted by somebody who asks them for a favor, such as an informational interview or a coffee meeting, and then either completely fails to show up — or seems to expect the other person to completely rearrange their calendar or drive an unreasonable distance to meet with them.  Let’s be clear on this, folks.  When you ask somebody for a favor, you need to be one making concessions and bending over backwards to make the meeting convenient for the other party.  Don’t reschedule on them.  Don’t show up late.  And don’t let them buy their own cup of coffee, if you can help it.

In closing, this is all pretty basic stuff, at least if you were raised right, and while I suspect that MOST of you reading this blog aren’t the biggest offenders out there, we all need to be vigilant of our own behavior — since the above observations are hardly isolated incidents or being manufactured out of thin air.  When in doubt, bend over backwards to make sure you’re treating those around you with the dignity and respect they deserve.  And when you occasionally blow it and miss a meeting, as we all do at times, over-apologize to the brink of absurdity to make sure no hard feelings are left behind.  Your reputation rides on it!

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3 Responses to “Let’s Make “Common Courtesy” More Common!”

  1. Matt — Thanks for your comment and I completely agree that this is a two-way issue and that many recruiters/employers are exhibiting equally “bad behavior” out there these days. Since I already took these parties to task in an earlier blog post, available here, I thought it was time to point to the many impolite actions that job seekers are engaging in these days — not just with employers, but with fellow job seekers and networking contacts! Reports of this not-so-courteous behavior are becoming increasingly common, and can severely damage one’s reputation, so I’m hoping a lot of folks look in the mirror and make 100% sure they’re not crossing the line with people in this regard…

  2. Matt, as a current job-hunt candidate, this is a great topic. And it should also be noted that it is a two-way street. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had hiring managers or recruiters simply not respond to calls or emails post interview. I even had one company never follow up after I had been there for a day of meetings with their executive team. Never closed the loop–I had to call them back and ask if there were any next steps.

    Unfortunately, in the current economic times all kinds of folks are stressed and stretched and they are letting common communication lapse.

  3. Thanks for this blog Matt. I’d like to insert that not only is this common courtesy we’re talking about, it also sounds like an opportunity to have a leg up on the competition. If the norm seems to be this impolite behavior right now, then those of you who do this networking and informational interviewing right will stand out in a positive way, while they stand out in a negative way.

    It’s really very simple to stay in touch. It can seem overwhelming, if you’re meeting a lot of people. So, here’s a tip. Before you even go on the meeting, enter that persons email address into your email program and into a group of contacts that you need to follow up with regularly. Then, set yourself a reminder to email that group on a regular basis, with a quick update and thank you.

    Of course, that should not repleace the follow up email to that individual, thanking them for taking the time with you, for any referrals they gave you, introductions they made while you were in there office, etc. And, really, it doesn’t hurt to send them a hand written card, or small token of appreciation later…especially if that meeting ultimately led you to the job!

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