The value of commitment and sticking to what you say you’re going to do was originally published on Intern From Home.
We recently discussed the need for following up with the person who introduced you to someone else, including how exactly you can do this. We also talked about how to be a great communicator. We provided questions you can consider as you build your communication system. To wrap up this week’s posts, today we want to talk about commitment: why it’s important and how you can show your commitment to a company.
In short, commitment revolves around taking responsibility and doing what you say you’re going to do. You might be wondering: how can I put that into action in the recruiting process? Today’s post dives into exactly this.
Showing up to whatever you signed up for
Your school may provide you with the opportunity to attend an info session or networking event with a company (or multiple companies). If you sign up for this event (whether it is a formal or informal registration), you should attend. If you cannot attend, you should be notifying the event organizers in advance. You may be wondering: a lot of other people also signed up so it won’t matter if I don’t go. This isn’t true! It does matter if you doesn’t go, and this can be in a variety of different ways:
- If attendance is collected at the event and you don’t show up, your “no-show” could be indicated on your application/file to the company hosting/presenting at the event… which could mean it will be harder for you to get an internship or job there, both now and in the future.
- Your school could decide to revoke your ability to attend future recruiting events or even access career-related resources. In other words, you may no longer be able to apply to jobs through Handshake or other platforms run by your school in the future since your school can no longer trust your commitment.
- Your resume and/or application may be passed on to the presenting company in advance of the event. Especially if it is a small event, they may review these resumes/applications and be excited to meet you. In fact, they may even have specific questions for you/want to discuss a work opportunity with you. But if you don’t show up, then you won’t have the opportunity to discuss this. And even worse, they may not even want to talk with you in the future since you didn’t show up at an event that you said you would.
- Even if the company or your school doesn’t implement restrictions on you, you are still letting your school down. Why? Well, let’s say 10 people register for an event with a company visiting campus. What if 8 of the 10 people take the same “it doesn’t matter if I don’t show up” mindset that you do? Well, then there will be a room with the presenters and 2 students… yet the presenter was told there would be 10 students. It makes your school look extremely unprofessional and disincentivizes the company from wanting to recruit students from your school in the future. This hurts not only you, but future students who come to your school.
Never, ever bailing / no-showing on a meeting
- If you have a 1-1 meeting (whether it is in-person or remotely via a Zoom or traditional phone call), it is absolutely inexcusable to not show up for the meeting. Unless you communicate in advance that you can no longer make the set meeting time, you should assume that bailing on a meeting will completely ruin the relationship. Seriously.
- You might be wondering: is it really this harsh? The answer is oftentimes yes, and the reason is that you are completely wasting ½ hour or a full hour of someone’s time. They have the time held on their calendar and they are waiting for you… yet, you didn’t even show up.
- If you can no longer make a pre-set meeting (for a valid reason, such as being sick), then it is okay to reschedule the meeting. However, you should do this professionally and with advanced notice.
Providing appropriate advanced notice if you have to change times for a meeting
- We’re human. Things happen. You might get sick. Or a crisis might arise. Or you might be required to attend something at the last minute. This happens, and other people understand.
- The most important thing is that as soon as you know you can not make the pre-set time, you should send a message to the other person (or their executive assistant, if applicable) to ask them to reschedule the time. The other person’s time is valuable, and the sooner you tell them you can’t make it, the sooner they can fill that time with a different meeting.
- When asking to reschedule, you should provide a few time slots with as much availability as possible in order to make rescheduling easy for the other person.
- You do not need to provide a long explanation for why you can no longer make the original time. You should express your apologies and ask to reschedule.
- Here’s a sample message you can send when you need to reschedule:
I’m very sorry, however something has come up and I can no longer make the time that we set. Would it be okay with you if we reschedule? How would any of the following times work for you:
Thank you in advance for your understanding, and I look forward to speaking soon.
Showing up early and the great signals it sends about your commitment and work ethic
- It is unacceptable to be late to a meeting, whether that meeting is online or in-person. While it is okay to be on time, you should always be striving to be at least five minutes early.
- Why is this so important: any time you meet with someone, you’re giving them an indication of how you might be if you were working for them/at their company. If you’re the type of person who shows up five minutes early, it gives that other person an indication that you’re also the type of person who will show up to work early in the future and will get your tasks done ahead of time. This is the type of person that people want to hire.
Showing your respect for the other person and never being late
- When you show up late to a meeting or phone call, it doesn’t just reflect poorly on you and your commitment: it also sends a clear signal to the other person that you feel “my time is more important than your time.” This is not the signal you want to send to someone else, especially if that person is someone who might be able to give you an internship/job now or in the future.
- At some companies, if you show up late (even a single minute late), they will not even allow you to have the meeting. It has been told that at some companies, if you show up late to an interview (regardless of your excuse), they will escort you back to the front door and inform you that you are no longer under consideration for the role.
- If you do show up late and the other person will still meet with you, it is usually best to avoid excuses as to why you are late. For example, let’s say you were driving to a meeting and you hit traffic. Talking about the bad traffic signals that you don’t know how to prepare accordingly in case things don’t go perfectly according to plan.
- Another reason you want to avoid excuses is that no one wants to work with someone who makes excuses when things don’t go right. Rather, they want to work with someone who takes ownership for their actions.
- If you are going to be a minute or two late to a meeting (whether in-person or virtual), such as because your prior meeting is running over, you should try to send the person a message and tell them that you are very sorry but you will likely be a couple of minutes late. While it should be your goal to not be late at all, if you have to be late, it is best to send this note in advance than no note at all.
Being a prompt communicator before and after a call/meeting
- Earlier this week, we talked about the need for prompt communication in the professional world. We encourage you to take another look at that post as a reminder of how to develop a personal plan for how to communicate effectively, which is a vital skill for getting an internship or job.
- In prior posts, we have talked about how to best follow up after a call to thank the other person and keep the conversation going (including our post earlier this week about how to follow up with people who make an introduction for you).
Doing your preparation: treating every meeting like it was with someone really important
- Even if you are meeting with someone who is less-important than other people you’ve spoken with, you should still treat this meeting with a deep level of seriousness.
- The best way to signal to the other person that you are taking the meeting seriously is to do your homework and preparation in advance. You should be doing research on the person’s background and their company before the call/meeting– we’ve previously published a guide on how you can do this. You should be coming to the call with questions prepared for the other person… and we’ve also written a guide with sample questions you can ask!
Are you feeling motivated to become more committed? We hope this guide is helpful in doing so. Remember that you will make mistakes and that’s okay. What matters is that you’re trying and improving, and we hope that this post will be helpful to you in building your commitment. It will be very helpful to you in not just recruiting and the professional world, but all aspects of life. If that isn’t motivation, what is?
Did you enjoy this guide? You’re in for a treat: this is just one of dozens of guides created for students about how to handle the recruiting (aka: getting an internship/job) process. To see all of the other guides, subscribe to Intern From Home’s newsletter (it’s completely free!) where we talk about all things from using LinkedIn to preparing for an interview to making the most of your role.