I’ve given plenty of unpaid help to people looking to improve their professional communications over the years, mostly to my students looking for feedback on their resumes, but also to friends and colleagues who wanted to improve their resumes, cover letters, academic manuscripts, and other important written communications. I’ve received such help myself as well from many people over the years, and I’ve always been grateful for it. All I’ve expected for my help is a simple “thank-you,” either oral or written, and most of the time, I have received such thanks.
That is why I get so irked when people don’t express any gratitude, and the more help I’ve given without any thanks, the more irritated I become. Earlier this year, I spent over an hour helping an MBA student in his job search over coffee, and then introduced the person to several people in my various networks so that the person could request informational interviews and advice about his job search. I did this as a favor to a good friend, as I had never taught the MBA student and indeed he attended a university with which I wasn’t affiliated. I never once received any thanks from the student, and recently learned that the person had received a permanent job offer. I’m glad he got the offer, but I would have also appreciated learning this from the person himself rather than from someone else (who also had provided help to the student and who also had never been thanked as it turns out).
Then today, I learned that someone had viewed my profile on LinkedIn. Curious person that I am, I checked out this person’s profile to guess as to why they might have wanted to learn more about me. In reading the person’s profile, I noticed a grammatical mistake. She had written “works good under immense pressure” when she should have written “works well under immense pressure.” (Obviously, she doesn’t write well under pressure, even though she has a bachelor’s degree in “mass communication/media studies,” but I digress.) I thought she’d want to know this, and so I sent her and InMail message on LinkedIn letting her about the mistake.
Several hours later, I was back on LinkedIn, and received a notice saying another person had checked out my profile, and so I went to see who it was. It turns out it was the same person. Again, being curious, I decided to see if she had fixed her profile. Well, indeed she had, but she never bothered to thank me for letting her know about her mistake.
I’m certainly not going to let these two people keep me from helping others in the future. Their lack of gratitude, however, means that I’ll probably first consider consider whether a person is the type to “pay it forward” to others in the future before I take the time to provide help, solicited or unsolicited.