This past Monday was the last session of a small business marketing class I was taking. It was somewhat satisfying. As the six classes progressed, there were some interesting dynamics that evolved. We described our business offering. I disclosed a menu of my services which includes consultation and training.
At various junctures, we faced ethical challenges on how to research a matter or gain information. One night we needed to get information about the competition’s pricing. We brainstormed about how to get the information. Someone said call in and pretend you want the services and thereby gain the information. Someone piggybacked on that idea and said identify yourself by another name. I nearly stood on a chair waving my arms about me saying, “No! No! Absolutely not!” Somehow, I think they understood that I definitely did not agree with those strategies. And I was allowed to elaborate on my objections.
Whenever you contact people for any reason, one of your primary goals is to build a relationship. They may not be the person who has what you want at this moment. But that person knows other people, they have knowledge that can be shared if they choose to do so. And there is the future to consider. If they can be won to your cause or develop an interest in it (however fleeting), it is entirely possible that they will remember you and your need when they come upon what you were seeking. They’ll get in touch and deliver.
But if we abuse people as mere expedient pawns to be tricked into giving up information that they ordinarily would not disclose, or if they are made to feel foolish in dealing with you, the chances of their wanting anything further to do with you is scant. Be honest. Tell them, “Hi [person on the phone], I’m [real name] and I’m hoping you can help me with a project I’m working on. I need some information and am wondering if you can suggest where I can find it. I was told you or someone in your firm may know this.”
In that one-minute spiel, you’ve established your identity, gained the other person’s name and contact information, stated your case and established a basis for an honest exchange. The class members clamored but got it and we moved on to the next learning nuggets.
A few weeks later, someone spoke of sending a photograph along with a resume for an open position. I nearly leapt out of my chair. [By this time, they were starting to get used to my hystrionics, so adamant am I about honesty and relationship building. That and I’m exaggerating about the leaping part.] “You don’t accept a photograph of a potential candidate. The EEOC would have a field day with that because of potentially prejudicial issues!” [Did I say I got a little animated?] About that time, a classmate was saying something about cutting the photo off of the resume and then passing it along to the distribution list. Aha! The class members were starting to get the concept of ethics.
The Trouble With Recruiting
One of the things that candidates complain of most is that recruiters are so dishonest with them about the hiring process, the availability of openings, whether they’re a viable candidate or not, lack of follow-up (even if it’s the so-called “bad news” letter). Sometimes there’s no word for months or even a year and then out of the blue there’s this missive that says something about “while there were many qualified individuals and your credentials are outstanding, . . .” The candidate is thinking, Oh, yeah, now I remember.
Worse is the recruiter who speed acquaintances, a bit like a used car salesman on a fast day. They’re trying to get to so many that they have absolutely no idea who they talked with, much less anything about the person. Give that recruiter an attitude (I’m so much better than you) and you’ve got candidates wanting to lock the door when the recruiter/sourcer is gone. But to build a relationship, one on which people can build confidence and feel they can rely on what’s said, that is the ideal.
In looking at the landscape in recent months, it seems recruiters are driven by the need to earn a lot of bucks in as short a period of time as possible. If a candidate can’t “pay off” in a couple of weeks, they’re burnt toast, i.e., useless. Candidates can tell. It shows like a coffee stain on a white dress.
There are a few who talk about building a pipeline. Some do that by placing a call to a qualified candidate about every two to four weeks. The purpose of the phone call is just to say “hello, how are you” or to pass along a news article. Not too much substance other than that but at least they’re staying in touch. But it’s obvious that the overriding reason for the contact is to turn the body into some bucks and their firm is not a meat market.
Crystals or Gold Coins
Which brings me to the last night of the marketing class. There were some concepts that came up during our discussion of the learning points. On this night, the instructor filled in the gap. “We, of course, know that we are open and honest about our representations so that we are building trust . . .” she began, and continued with the concepts of ethical marketing and representations. She also drove home the point that we don’t belittle the person we’re dealing with or make them uncomfortable but treat them with the respect that’s due a person providing us with a service. Who was teaching this class and what was it that was being taught?
It happened to be one class member’s birthday and she is Asian. One of the class members specializes in Feng Shui. That class member brought gifts for everyone. There were two choices, green or pink. The green voile sachet held three gold coins. In the chinese tradition (especially for New Year or the Tet) it is good appropriate to give a gift of three gold coins which symbolizes wealth and prosperity for the recipient. The other choice was the pink voile sachet with two pink crystals. The crystals symbolize development of good relationships and harmony.
Except for the birthday celebrant (who received one of each token), each person was allowed to choose which sachet she wanted. We all need enough money to carry us through our lives in comfort and without having to struggle to survive. But relationships are also extremely important. Which choice? Which choice? I worked through my reasoning and made my choice. The program administrator talked about her choice. We were both satisfied with what we selected and perhaps that is the most important thing here. You need to be satisfied with the choices you make and willing to live with them and their consequences.
The maker of the gifts was surprised at the predominant choice the participants made and expressed that she had expected things to go in just the opposite direction. If it were you in your life as a candidate or as a recruiter, which token would you have chosen? Would you take money and prosperity? Or would you take harmony and good relationships?
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