Recently, I was talking to a friend about networking. He had been out of work and looking for a job for some time and not having much luck finding a new job. In an attempt to make money, he applied for odd jobs and tried to find a temporary or part-time position. One thing he had in his favor was a strong social network, built both online and in person. Many of his friends wanted to help and gave him job leads and recommended him to people they knew.
It wasn't long before someone took a chance on him and offered him work for the day. It wasn't a full-time job, but it was a shot. Unfortunately, he was so nervous about the opportunity that he couldn't sleep the night before. He tossed and turned all night and when he finally went to sleep, he slept right through his alarm clock, causing him to miss out on the job.
Another person I spoke with was given the opportunity to work an event at a restaurant. One of her friends went out on a limb to get her the job. It wasn't glamorous, but it was a good chance to meet new people and show how hard of a worker she was. Unfortunately, during the event, she made a huge mistake and was fired on the spot.
In both cases, the people were embarrassed about what had happened and took complete blame for what went wrong. Still, both of them were upset about the fact that they had let down the people who had vouched for them. They had used their social network to find a job only to mess up and lose it. They feared that it would be less likely for someone to take a chance on them, seeing how they had ruined their shot.
It started me thinking and I wondered what the obligation here is. When someone gives me a shot, I try very hard not to let them down, which in turn means not letting myself down. But what happens when you mess up? Should you apologize to the person you stood up for you?
I think that the answer is yes, you do owe them an apology. If nothing else, you should talk with them and explain what happened. Remember to always take responsibility for the mistakes, even if you want to blame others. Do whatever you can to make things right with them.
You may not feel that you owe them anything, but if they were to get upset and tell others that you made them look bad, the damage to your professional reputation could end up being much more severe.
What do you think? How would you have handled it if you had made the mistake? Please share your thoughts in the comments.