I don’t think profit is a dirty word, I think it’s dirty when it is at the expense of others. The old capitalist rule of someone making a profit means someone is losing is not something I can get behind. I also think that certain things shouldn’t have a profit or free market associated with it at all. I don’t feel that’s true about our chosen business, that of recruiting. I am offering a service, based on both my expertise and my time put in. The value is an arbitrary number but I know what I offer is intangible, as well, so there you have it.
I pride myself on being honest with my clients and candidates, and providing the good, the bad and the ugly; I want to be a Trusted Advisor to all parties. I want to offer what are opportunities not just jobs. I want to offer my clients the best candidates and not just paper with skills listed.
One of my best clients has been with me for over 10 years. She started as my candidate. We were working together on a Quality Assurance spot at a mid-level FX house. They made her a great offer, good money and all the other accoutrements. The same day, not through me, she received another offer from an online banking firm. Alice and I went for dinner, and I read her other offer and compared it to mine. I looked her in the eyes, and said, “Alice, you cannot take my offer. You need to take the second one”. She looked at me, amazed. “Jeff, I came here ready to defend why I am not taking your offer. How can you not be pushing your role?” I replied that we both know it was the better offer and we both know why. That, in the words of Greg Savage, “Integrity is like virginity – when you lose it you can’t get it back.” At the end of the day, Alice has hired tons of people from me, more than I ever would have made if I “Hard” sold her on my offer.
Karma grinds very slow but it grinds very fine. Actions that may cost deals in the short term may end up being much more profitable than you can ever imagine. That isn’t why I told Alice not to take it. That isn’t why I let my manager scream, rant and rave at me about not “Hard” closing. I did it so I could go to sleep at night knowing I did the right thing. It doesn’t hurt that generating good actions like these tend to come back around!
Let’s look at it another way. Universal Health Care is a Human Right. The Affordable Care Act barely brings the United States to the standard of the rest of the Industrialized World, let alone to the changes we need to better our society. Yet, the idea has failed to take off in the United States. Many of the arguments against it revolve around cost, taxes and corporations afraid of higher costs. However, all the studies state that healthy workers would be happier workers. Healthier workers would take less sick days, meaning higher productivity. Healthier workers would earn more money, and then they would spend more money. So, now the companies are healthier too, as they make more money. How come Universal Health Care wasn’t sold to America on this, selfish capitalist basis?
There is so much for us to learn, as recruiters, from this failure:
- It isn’t what you say but how you say it. NEVER EVER LIE!!! However, always know your audience and make what you are selling to match the person.
- Sometimes, you have to spend (or lose) profits in the short term to achieve great successes. It’s an investment.
I have seen many unscrupulous things since I began Head Hunting. Sadly, until I matured personally and professionally, I did some of them. I have worked with Managers who encouraged these practices and I have been yelled at for not doing them. Doing the right thing, doing the honest thing, may not pay off immediately. It may never pay off, in fact. That isn’t why you practice good behaviors. You don’t just do it for your reputation either. While reputations last, and they go on forever in our digital age, it isn’t the be-all/end-all. Your ability to be happy with yourself, both personally and professionally, is the reason to be ethical in all your life’s actions.