Janet R. Long
Founder, Integrity Search
Career Liaison to College of Arts & Sciences, Widener University
Blogs from Janet Long.
Do “no-shows” represent a routine annoyance for career centers, or are they teachable moments for students learning about the world of work in all its dimensions? I’m not thinking about the student with a legitimate last-minute conflict or emergency, or a one-time memory lapse. Rather I’m referring to the students with serial career appointment amnesia.
One school of thought holds that students are just learning time and life management skills, and that we can’t hold them too accountable for a relatively minor transgression liked a missed resume review.
Besides, what would holding “no-shows” accountable really look like in practice? Denying future services? Putting them to the back of the line when they have a critical deadline like a live interview? This would seem to run counter to the very mission of helping students get to that all-important first destination (and candidly, would not help department usability numbers either).
And yet…by not acknowledging chronic no-showism, practitioners do both their students and themselves a disservice. For students, we are providing a false sense of latitude about the greater world off campus. As a longtime recruiter, I can attest that in the absence of an extreme emergency, being MIA for a job interview is a non starter—and not likely to lead to a second chance.
For career practitioners, enabling no-shows with no consequences also sends the message that we undervalue our own time and services. I would propose that there are ways to help students unlearn poor habits without taking punitive measures that run counter to everyone’s objectives. For example, one might be to hold a (mandatory) workshop for all career center users on the consequences of no-showism in the working world. Bringing in an employer or two as a guest speaker would drive the point home that much harder.
Another might be scheduling a targeted educative workshop for the chronic no-show-ers (think The Breakfast Club without the really mean proctor) in order to retain access to account privileges such as job postings. Talking points might be framed in terms of:
—Empathy: Helping the student see the missed appointment from another’s point of view (say, a good friend who could have been seen in the time slot) or projecting how an employer might feel about being stood up.
—Self-recognition: Asking how the student would feel about being stood up by a faculty adviser, a career coach, or a friend.
—Relating to other on-campus expectations: Asking about the consequences of missing a class or a deadline without prior communication with the professor.
The point, of course, is not to shame the student, but rather to use no-showism as an opportunity to further what we teach about professional development.
NACE career practitioners, how does your office handle no-shows? NACE employers, what suggestions can you offer?