I recently and inductively discovered that my editor, who I assumed was perusing my book proposal for the last couple months, is now at another publishing house. That would explain why she has not returned my emails for a very long time. Another publisher I used to partner with would tell me things will be posted "this week", which would always mean "this month, maybe". At APA a couple weeks ago I followed up with a professional organization to which I submitted an application. I was supposed to get a response in 4-8 weeks, and when I followed up it has been over three months since I heard anything. It turns out my application was misplaced, but has been found, forwarded, and now I will only have to wait 4-8 weeks for a response.
Let me say, for the record, that if any of these professionals ever returned my messages, I would probably work with them again, and I do believe they are sincere in their apologies (when they have replied). The professional world is complicated, and you cannot expect everyone to treat you like you are their top priority. But these recent experiences have given me something to talk about in therapy. I work with a lot of people in transition. Some people want to get in to college, others into internships, still others jobs. Sincerity and follow through go a really long way when you are starting out.
Sincerity and follow through (or, the absence of flakiness) represent a soft-skill. You may not know how to properly stock a store shelf, but you do know how to be at work on time. You know how to be polite, treat people with respect, do a task until it's complete, ask for help or support when you need to (and not when you do not), and the like. These are the skills the vast majority of empoyers are looking for. Most empoyers actually want to teach you how to stock the shelf, or mow the lawn, or study the material. These are examples of hard-skills, and are often learned primarily on the job.
The reason I will still work with the above people demonstrating the dearth of soft-skills is because they already have the credentials and experience to get the benefit of the doubt that they know what they are doing. If you are looking to move up in the world, it usually means you are aiming for something where you cannot rely totally on your reputation and past work. This is where you need to bowl them over with your mastery of soft skills.