By now I'm sure you've heard the news of super-star NBA center, DeAndre Jordan, punking the Dallas Mavericks by verbally agreeing to go to sign with the team only to re-sign with the LA Clippers a few days later. This incident will probably permanently damage DeAndre's reputation and his character will be in question for the rest of his career. The real world is pretty harsh.
So what does this have to do with your young career? You will probably never have NBA teams fighting to reel you into a multi-million-dollar contract with the world watching (and tweeting), but let me tell you a story of a similar situation you could find yourself in.
A hiring manager we work with recently told us that they hired a promising candidate (we will call this candidate "DeAndre" here). Half-way through the first day on the job, this new hire packed up and rushed out in a flurry. Things like this don't happen unless something tragic like a family emergency comes up. But that day-long emergency soon turned into several days, which turned into over a week with no word or sign from the absent employee.
After digging and prodding, it turns out this young "professional" actually learned that he landed a more promising job with another company while on his very first-day-on-the-job morning. Without warning, "DeAndre" deserted his hours-old desk for the new gig.
The worst part of the story? "DeAndre" has a real name. A name that we know. A name that the deserted employer knows. And now it's a name that several other recruiters and employers know as well. Word travels fast. Hiring managers are friends with...other hiring managers. It's a community that helps each other. What I'm sure seemed like "the perfect plan" or an "innocent" situation at the time is now a story that will follow this person everywhere they go and will jeopardize their future opportunities in a very real way. Their reputation took a massive hit that has the potential to be fatal.
Go about your career understanding that how you interact with any employer will affect your reputation with every employer. Show up for interviews, communicate well, be kind and responsive. Even if you have bad news, the awkward truth is much less painful than battling a negative reputation your entire career.