How are you choosing to stand out?
The other day a friend of mine, asked me if I knew anyone at a company where his son was pursuing a summer internship. Those that know me, know that while I'm always eager to help, experience has thought me (the hard way) to only recommend people If I really believe they are a good fit for the position. To me, that's non-negotiable, if I can also help a friend in the process then even better. Once I saw the young men's resume I was very impressed. Top University, academic honors, a couple of languages and a great family behind him, so of course I put it forward.
A couple of months had gone by and out of the blue I get a call from my contact within the company, the one I had asked the favor to forward the resume to HR if possible. Long story short, the young man went through the entire interview process (4+ interviews), negotiated and accepted a job offer and was set to start in a few days, when he informed the company that he had changed his mind and was going to accept a different summer internship offer. All this had happened, and I hadn't heard a word of it from the friend I was helping. While I understand that there are many "reasons" how the interested party could justify doing something like this, the whole thing simply felt 'off" to me.
Coincidentally enough, during the same period, I had been interviewing Tower Technicians to start my company's field services in the US. I have never been stood up so much in my entire life. One candidate even stood me up two days in a row, without ever sending an apology note. These are people that said YES to an interview, confirmed day and time, and then didn't show up without even giving the courtesy of an apology. And supposedly there is a job shortage in our industry. I can only imagine how things would be if there wasn't!
People want to stand out by naming the companies they have worked for, the universities they have a degree from, what powerful person they are friends with or the awards and recognition they have received, but what is that good for, if at the end of the day, they fail at the most basic level. Being Human. Being Considerate. Being Empathetic. Being Altruistic. Being Authentic. It is so simple, and apparently so difficult at the same time. We really need to start looking within and asking ourselves why?.
I and my husband are very vigilant about teaching our kids about accountability and consequences to one's actions, and that learning to live with them is part of life's journey. We feel that these are crucial lessons to teach, lessons that will define who they will be as human beings. In my view, we don't remember all the candidates we have offered a job to, but we do remember the one that accepted and left you stranded two days before starting. Or the nanny that said she would arrive promptly at 8 am because you had a meeting, and never showed up. It is not only about what's written in our "resume", is about who you are as a person. Day in and day out. Are your actions consistent with who you say you are?
In the case of my friend, while one summer internship in one company might mean a better job offer in short term, nothing would have thought him a better lesson than to have to honor his commitment even after a better opportunity had shown up. Learning that our individual actions have repercussions and impact other's people's lives, like a domino effect, is a meaningful lesson. We will only awake as a society when we realize that we shouldn't evaluate an event only as it relates to ourselves but rather consider it instead as it relates to the collective. Ultimately it was the young man's decision to make, and that's the way he decided to stand out. One can only hope that the whole experience will help define the adult he will become.