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Calling Out- A Step-by-Step Guide for New Pros

EACE Blog contribution by Kelly Scott, Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University


Everyone’s gone through this, and if they tell you they haven’t, they’re lying. You open your eyes and are like “ugh, I just can’t do this today.” 99% of the time, you suck it up, shower and eventually begin to feel more prepared to tackle the quickly approaching work day. But there is that 1% of the time that you decide it’s time to use a sick day- or you just actually wake up feeling ill (which is far worse).

More commonly known as the “mental health day”; recent research has actually supported using a couple days a year from your sick bank to maintain your sanity. But, if you’re anything like me, I feel super-duper guilty calling out- even when I’m dying from the bubonic plague, or this crazy flu strain that’s making the rounds. Whatever your issue is, below is how to actually call out appropriately- and more importantly what NOT to do.

  1. DON’T: Call out 3 hours after you were supposed to be there. This does not look good my friend. It looks like you overslept and were just like: “Forget it, I’m calling out.” Never a good idea. If are going to be late, you should just call your manager, apologize and let him/her know what time you will be in the office.
  2. DO: Follow office procedures. After settling in, find out from colleagues and eventually your supervisor what the common procedure is for calling out if you should be sick. This will vary by company and even department in some cases. It can be a slightly awkward thing to bring up, but it is better to know when the time eventually comes when you have to call out.
  3. DO: Help out if you can. If you have appointments or meetings, offer to help reschedule. It will be easier on your colleagues and your supervisor. You’ll also be able to reschedule on your own terms if you manage the appointments as opposed to having the admin do it for you.
  4. DO: Provide an update of where you are in regards to projects (if necessary).
  5. DON’T: Feel obliged to tell everyone what you’re suffering from. They care (kind of), but they don’t need to know every detail. Keep your ailments to yourself, in many cases too many details makes you sound like you’re making it up, even if you’re not.

Regardless of whether you’re feverish and fluish or taking a mental health day- calling out properly will save you a lot of anguish later and is a reflection on your professionalism. Everyone gets sick, just don’t make a huge thing about it.



Kelly Scott

Kelly Scott

Kelly is Assistant Director at Northeastern University Career Development and “blog master” for the Northeastern University Career Development blog, The Works. A self-proclaimed social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she likes experimenting with new technology to help clients define their personal online brand and enjoys reading and writing about workplace culture. Kelly graduated from Northeastern University with a BA in communication studies and a MS in college student development and counseling. Contact her via Twitter @kellydscott4 or LinkedIn

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