Is the ability to follow through the new 'nice-to-have' competency?

People are so busy learning the job skills that they can easily render in resumes with keywords that they have forsaken the one skill that is the most important.

Bit of a rant coming up. A friend of mine recently forwarded me a job description that included under key competencies the line, Builds Trust: You honor your word by doing what you say you are going to do.

This sentence glared out to me for several reasons. First of all, you can only imagine the history behind that one. No one puts that kind of thing in a formal job description unless they have been burned in a bad way before.

Second, the fact that the hiring manager had to explicitly state that is, to me, a sad indicator of what the working world is coming to.

Third, I am a firm believer that there is no person on this earth who would admit to, or even be aware of, an inability to do what they say they're going to do. And I also believe the inability to follow through is becoming a national disease. (I'm saying only national here, because I think other cultures aren't as eaten up with undependability as we are.)

If I had a nickel for every time in my career that I've had to wait for a promised piece of a project or work from someone who couldn't seem to get things done, I would be sporting a bad haircut and hosting Celebrity Apprentice.

I'm not sure if there is a common reason behind this. I don't know, for example, if the problem lies with people who can't judge their own capacity and over-promise on things they can't possibly deliver, or if people, increasingly, just don't care anymore that they're inconveniencing other people. Or is it just plain old-fashioned laziness? None of those reasons, by the way, exactly thrill me.

The ability to follow through should be a given. A hiring manager should not have to call that out specifically as he would with a familiarity with a scripting language. In fact, I would like to see the ability to do what you say you're going to do listed as one of the top three criteria for every job in the world.

By Toni Bowers

Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.