Start with a BANG! and Finish with CLASS!


A few things happened last week that prompted this blog post.

I had hired a new employee 2 weeks ago, an experienced recruiter for our HK office, happy days I thought. To protect his identity, let’s call him, Mr Spineless. Letter of offer signed, start date agreed, I had organized his email to be created and his business cards to be printed, all set to rock ‘n roll. I exchanged whatsapp messages with Mr Spineless a week before to confirm his start on the following Monday.

Monday morning 9am. No Mr Spineless. Maybe he was caught in the Monday rush hour traffic? 915am no Spineless. So I called his mobile. He sounded like I had just woken him up from his slumber with my call. Here’s is literally how the call went:

Me: Hi Spineless, is everything ok? You are suppose to start with us at 9am today.
Spineless: Ermmm….ermm…Steven, I sent you an email yesterday (Sunday)
Me: I hadn’t had time to look thru all my emails yet, let me see, oh yes, you did send me an email at midnight Sunday night. Give me a second to read it …(his email was brief it said “I have decided not to come onboard tomorrow, I have accepted another job offer”)

I almost never lose my cool under pressure but at that point, I went ballistic!

Me: Spineless, are you kidding me?!!? (my entire office heard me, I think our neighbors might have heard me too). You sent me an email the night before your start date to say you not coming on board? You didn’t have the professional courtesy to give me a call to tell me?
Spineless: I called you at 1130pm last night (Sunday) but your phone wasn’t on….
Me: That makes you a liar! I was awake at 1130pm last night and the phone was on right next to me, it never rung and there were no missed calls.

Needless to say the conversation ended very abruptly after that. Mr Spineless had better legally change his name because if anyone ask me about him, his name is mud as far as I am concerned. The recruitment industry is a small circle, sooner or later he will surface somewhere.

Moral of the story: Always start your new job with a bang! Make the right positive impression from day one. Be on time, present your best, be prepared to put your best foot forward. Even if the unexpected happens and you cannot start on the day that was agreed, be a professional and call to apologize.

As a recruiter it is part of our quality check process to call our candidates on their start date to make sure they get off to a rocking start!

Now, let’s talk about finishing with class.

I recognize that in today’s corporate career, it is as rare to see someone spending their entire career with 1 employer. In Singapore, the acceptable norm is 2 to 4 years before you switch jobs/employers. So, there will come a time when you will leave for greener pastures.

If your current employer had been good to you over the years, invested in training you, paid you monthly, looked after your welfare, good times, good memories, here’s a tip – never burn bridges. One day, it will catch up with you if you are a bridge bombing terrorist. Thank the people that were in any way responsible for your success, gave you a chance, nurtured, mentored you. It’s called gratitude. A worthwhile value to cultivate…..when it’s time to leave, do it with class and gratitude. It just showcases your character.

When some of our Japan staff recently left us for family reasons or to pursue other opportunities, they did so with class. Tied up all their loose ends. Didn’t inconvenience anyone in the process, didn’t leave any ticking time bombs behind, no skeletons in the cupboard. Thanked everyone that contributed to their career. Clean break. Left a lot of warm fuzzy feelings as they departed. CLASS!


Saying that, I do recognize that in extreme cases where you have been “wronged” by your employer then you may chose to drop a stink bomb and leave collateral damage. But beware, the stink will be stuck with you for a while. I was reading about Michael Woodford and the recent debacle at Olympus that caused his sacking from his CEO post and the follow on chain of events that created the biggest corporate scandal in Japan where his whistle blowing actions caused the entire Board of Directors of Olympus to step down.

So there you have it! The alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. Start with a bang! Go out with the sweet aroma of class!

Images courtesy of Google Images

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