Jul 20, 2007

"Sorry, You're Late!"

Since some of you loved R Karthik's previous post on Holmes, here's another one by him this week. Thanks for the mails and comments of concern about my health, and am much better now. This weekend I shall be holding on to my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and will pretty much be incommunicado ;-) See you next week !

Showing up late for an appointment can altogether ruin, what could otherwise have been turned into a profitable business deal!
One feels silly and helpless to watch that 'fruit of opportunity' slip off your hand and fall because you did something as unprofessional as that.
In the context of business meetings or interviews, traits such as punctuality of the candidate (in terms of showing up on time for the appointment), physical grooming etc are only hygiene. It does not give any unique edge but lack of such traits when exposed through such one-off incidents show the candidate in poor light; especially when the outcome of the meeting would make or break the inherent opportunity to further the deal.

I was based out of NCR that time around and a short advertisement floated in 'Times Ascent' by one of the leading international language trainers company caught my eye. They had called for applications to full-time language trainer positions for their corporate and individual clients. As my reaction often is, on seeing such ads, I got intrigued by the latent opportunity it presented to me. And I decided to make a counter-offer to the proposition. I wrote a nice letter (email) titled 'An Expression of Interest' to associate with them as a freelance trainer. In the mail I gave them reasons why they should consider the proposition and my candidature.

How being a HR professional, I had a vocation for training and helping others in the learning process, how my strengths in communication (language being the vehicle for exchange of thoughts) would lay the foundation for my success as a language coach and how I was willing to spend my leisure time over weekends towards this opportunity. Well, I usually get a kick out of doing such stuff; cold calls or letters applying for all sorts of freelance positions trying to do something interesting and benefit out of the learning from the experience. Despite the focused and professional approach, those sharp and powerful cover letters or applications I sent out- the doors of opportunity I knocked never opened. And I would just keep attempting for the heck of it, knowing fully well that there is not going to be even an acknowledgment.

But I was simply thrilled to get a reply for this email from the firm saying they wanted to assess me before having a face to face discussion. Bingo! To me that was success and I jumped at the chance. The 1st level of assessment was personal and they chose to have it done over email itself. A set of questions were asked about how and why I thought I was capable of taking up such an assignment, what strategies would I adopt to coach a group of complete beginners and so on. They were happy with my responses to their queries and called for a 2 nd level of language proficiency assessment followed by a discussion. The date and time was fixed and communicated to me.
The day finally arrived and I still can neither figure out why nor forgive myself for the manner in which I carried myself to that meeting. I started late from Noida; got dropped off midway by a friend and took a rickshaw from there onto the venue in Delhi only to reach there half hour late. By the time the language assessment test for the day had just begun. They were conducting it for one whole batch of applicants and I was told "Sorry, You're late!" I screwed up myself all the good results I had produced thus far with respect to that opportunity. Also all the respect and leverage I gained in their eyes thus far was sent down the drain. It would have been a great experience in my career getting into something like that. Last and not least I deprived myself off the opportunity to earn some extra bucks every month.
Smartness pays off; Lousiness pays off almost immediately!