by : Rich Lavinski, CPA


The good news – Most people’s memories are relatively short. I know mine is.

The bad news – The notes and comments made about you into applicant tracking systems, social media systems and both formal and informal networks last for decades. So will the memory of you not showing up for a job or interview you accepted, you not following up on a promised call back or leaving a job without notice. If you are a consultant or vendor, it could be even worse.

We all know there is a severe labor shortage. Workers have a big advantage over hiring managers right now. Demographically, this may last for a very long time, but…not forever!

I have had the good fortune of being in the consulting, staffing, and recruiting business since 1981. My friend and business partner, Tony Beshara, one of North America’s top and best-known recruiters, has been at this since 1973. We have been around long enough to see markets like this one come and go. Trust me when I say that this high demand employee market will eventually go away. And, when it does, those who carelessly tarnished their professional reputation by acting much like ill-behaved mercenaries, will regret their bad disrespectful behavior.

When jobs become scarce, those who accepted positions and didn’t show up, ghosted hiring managers, or otherwise failed to extend common professional courtesies, will have “do not interview’ or “do not hire” attached to their records. That will be regretful. Databases and reputations live on forever, and the word about your disrespectful behavior will too.

I happen to work in Dallas/Ft Worth, which is a huge metropolitan area. But it is also the biggest small town you will ever see. Reputations, relationships, and networks take on a life of their own here. Those that do good are almost always rewarded because everyone knows about it and the blessings of good will and special consideration for opportunities will follow. Do bad, and what will seem like the entire world will know about it and ostracize you when you need a job most. That’s just the way it is, only made worse by the technology of applicant tracking systems and social media networks.

I recently read an article about a recruiter and an employer in Chicago who had asked the police to do a wellness check on a candidate who had accepted a job and even completed all the new employee on-boarding paperwork, including payroll, insurance, and employment agreement documents. He was supposed to start on a Monday, but he did not show up. Both the employer and recruiter tried multiple times to reach him and could not connect. There was simply no reply to their multiple calls, emails, and texts, so they became worried about him. The police showed up at his home after he had gone totally silent for several days to see if he was ok. He was highly embarrassed and annoyed. He could not understand why he was expected to tell anyone he changed his mind about the job or return the phone calls of the employer to whom he committed. Professional and classy…right??? No. Not so much.

So… How do you protect your reputation and optimize your future? It is easy.

Be transparent and candid.

If you are continuing to consider multiple options or have reservations about committing, simply say so. Your truth and candor will be refreshing and will differentiate you as a straight shooter rather than a weak coward who is afraid to share their genuine thoughts.

Do your best to do what you say you will do. All of us have a “say/do ratio.”

If yours is low, you will struggle throughout your career (and probably throughout your personal life). Not all of us can keep every promise we make. However, if most of your promises are un-kept, you will spend your career running up hill with a large box of rocks on your back. You will struggle keeping up, let alone getting ahead. People with no credibility rarely advance.

Do what is best for your company and for other people on your team.

Doing so will differentiate you and allow you to advance beyond your skills. Mercenaries, focused primarily on their self-interest, will almost always advance in the short-term. But in the long-term, they will flounder. And, unlike every other personal setback, mercenaries rarely recover from their reputation. No one feels good about giving them the benefit of a second chance. And few potential advocates, if any, can find it in their nature to trust them.

In conclusion, there may be some who feel making false promises, dodging professional courtesy, not showing up or following up is not that big of a deal. I am sorry this message (or maybe better defined as my rant) is not compelling enough to change your mind.

For most others, who are professional, responsible, and honorable, I could not encourage you more. Going the extra mile to do the right thing ALWAYS pays off. If not in this lifetime, your positive payback will come in eternity. I promise. Things always come back around.

Don’t be the employee, candidate, consultant, or vendor who takes advantage of the current hot demand and blows off people, companies, recruiters and hiring managers. Doing so, comes at a potential career price most will find devastating.

Richard A. Lavinski, CPA