Correct A Past Mistake Or Start Over!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about failure to show up for a job and losing the chance to work for this agency again:

I moved to the Louisville area in 1992. I had been looking for work and I wasn’t familiar with the area. I had gone to Robert Half and Accountemps who had sent me on an assignment. In trying to find the job. I got lost and didn’t show up for work. I had called Accountemps to let them know that I got lost. They were a bit mean to me and told me that I couldn’t use their services again. Unfortunately, I had forgotten the incident and gone back to them and they had taken personal information from me and told me that they would help.

One day I was applying for jobs and decided to do a follow up and found that Accountemps and Robert Half didn’t want to deal with me anymore because they had hired me one time and I didn’t show up for work. I then remembered the incident where I had gotten lost on my way to work because I wasn’t familiar with the area and explained it to the person I was talking to. She told me that I couldn’t rectify the situation or do anything about it.

Robert Half and Accountemps holds the majority of accounting jobs advertised and I feel that because of this mistake which wasn’t any fault of my own has cost me dearly. It took me some time to learn how to get around Louisville and since then have known Louisville, Kentucky really well. I was really depressed when I had come home and told my family about my misfortune. I would like to rectify the situation and I don’t feel like I am a dead beat. I do have the skills to do the work and I need the experience. Where can I turn for help? Thank you.

Signed, Cut In Half

Dear Cut In Half:

This certainly could be a frustrating situation! I hope I can share some thoughts that will be helpful.

1. You have two options for your approach to this: Try to win over Robert Half and Accountemps or try to find employment in other ways. It may be that Robert Half has many of the job listings, but there surely must be others. You were able to find employment without going through them before, so that may need to be your focus now.

2. The negative event happened in 1992. It was regrettable, but as you describe it, not a horrendous event. I can understand the concern of Accountemps, but you certainly are not the first person they have had who couldn’t find an address in an unfamiliar city. I’m sure, looking back on it, you can see ways that situation could have been handled differently on the day you were supposed to work. But, it happened 13 years ago and you have apparently had successful employment since then. The key to your future with Robert Half is to let them see what you have done since that unfortunate situation. If you filled out a form this last time, where you had to state whether or not you ever had used Accountemps before, and you failed to mention the 1992 incident, that would create a problem that would be difficult to overcome. It would make it appear that you were being dishonest with them. If that is the case, you likely will have to accept that you won’t be able to use that resource again. If no such statement was made by you, you have opportunities to repair the damage from several years ago.

3. Consider the situation from the perspective of Accountemps and their efforts to maintain their reputation as THE resource for dependable employees. Make a list for yourself of what they are looking for in an employee candidate in the area of knowledge and skills, character traits, attitudes and attributes. Then, determine how well you fulfill their needs and let them know about it.

*Get letters of reference from employers since 1992

*Get copies of evaluations.

*Use your updated resume and develop a package that shows you have proven your dependability since then. Write a cover letter that starts by mentioning your recent efforts to use their services and the result. Then, state your awareness of the problem you created 13 years ago by not helping them fulfill their obligation to a company using their services. Give your mitigation about not knowing the area. Keep that first part brief. Then, move on to what you have done since then and give a brief overview, perhaps one or two paragraphs, of your professional activities. Next, give them the proof that you would represent them well now. That proof will be a short list that states the knowledge, skills, attitudes and attributes you possess that fulfills their needs. Cover it all: Your job skills, your ability to work well in a group where adapting is necessary, your trustworthiness and so forth. Close with a paragraph that says you would like to speak with someone to let them see that the events of 1992 are an unfortunate history but that you have overcome it in your work and would like to have your future be with Accountemps. Send copies of it to each level of the chain of authority in the office you are using. You will not be any worse off than you are now, if they do not like that approach. You need to get a hearing with someone who does more than look at a computer file and make an arbitrary decision.

4. If there are no other circumstances, other than what you have mentioned in your message, it does seem that it is rather harsh to eliminate you from consideration forever. They may have an unalterable policy about the situation. I doubt that they do, so perhaps a well-reasoned letter with ample documentation, will help.

5. As I mentioned, if you cannot use this company, even after trying to show them your value to them, you may have to find other employment resources. It’s worth a try to see if you can repair the problem. I hope these thoughts at least point you in the right direction. If you have what employers need and want, someone will recognize that, no matter what happened a decade and half ago!Best wishes, Think positive. Act in your own behalf. Think WEGO. Act in the behalf of future employers.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.