You Don’t Have to Hire People to Help People
On May 16, 2018, Project S.A.V.E. will present the 2018 Gary Cluff Award for Recruiting Excellence. Project S.A.V.E. is an open forum of corporate recruiters and employment representatives who meet periodically to discuss professional concerns, share recruiting needs, and exchange resumes of job seekers they wish to assist. The mission of Project S.A.V.E. is to support recruiters at all levels in developing their skills and educating their employers on current issues and trends in talent acquisition. The Gary Cluff Award is designed to carry on his long tradition of giving back to the recruiting community and to the larger community. This award recognizes those at all levels of recruiting who have made a significant contribution both in their work and in their support for the field and the community.
Years ago, I was honored to receive this award. At the time, I gave a speech to the attendees that encompassed some reflections on my career in talent acquisition. The following is an excerpt of my final remarks, which I hope you find insightful and useful.
“I would like to take this opportunity to leave with you some thoughts that have served me well in my career. Some of these may seem obvious to you, but it is certainly obvious that they are not obvious to everyone.
First, I would like to say that in life you learn how to do things AND how NOT to do things. Wisdom lies in being able to tell the difference. Unfortunately, I have met many people who can’t seem to be able to tell the difference and continue with the same old patterns. Just like I have learned from my own father how to be and how not to be, I have also learned from my bosses how to be and how NOT to be. I would like to caution you on not becoming too enamored of the latest fads in management, business, and leadership. I’ve seen too many people glean the wrong lessons. For example, some people read Steve Jobs’ biography and all of a sudden they think they have to be greedy, self-centered, tyrannical, un-empathetic, unpredictable, and mercurial. It is a false choice … and frankly, most businesses are not in the business of ‘changing the world.’ I’d tell them, ‘Dude, you are not running Apple. You are running an accounting firm!’
Treat everybody the same. You just never know if that 22-year-old kid will be a CEO in 10 years and … a CEO with a long memory at that. Better yet, why don’t you all view everyone through the prism of your own children? How would you like your own children treated? I don’t know about you, but I want mine treated with a high level of professionalism, responsiveness, dignity, respect, and some empathy.
At the end of the day, let’s face it. It is the right thing to do.
Take the time to be responsive. I respond to every email, phone call, and inquiry I receive. People tend not to believe me. But I believe wholeheartedly that people make time for what’s important to them. If you spend five minutes less on Facebook you may find the time to get back to people, give them a good experience, and develop a relationship that may be personally and/or professionally enriching. You just never know.
I believe that recruiting is a noble endeavor. … We serve as ambassadors. … We are the first line of contact. … We are in a position to help people. How many occupations provide such opportunity? I do not profess to know the meaning of life, but I believe that helping others comes pretty close.
As I’ve been saying for the past 20 years … you don’t have to hire or place people to help people.”