Ethics


Man! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. A lot has happened in the last 2 months. First, we bought a little company called Iconixx, and added them to the BSG Alliance platform. Second, I became an aunt again. Third, we launched an internal communications vehicle (known as The Buzz), which is published Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Fourth, I got elected to the Board of Directors of my homeowner’s association. I also continue to manage the four kids and cute husband. So, without coming right out and using those as excuses… Aw, heck. I’m using them as excuses.

Onward and upward, then!

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article in The Buzz based upon an email sent by one of my colleagues. He was explaining that a potential customer used Google to research him before a meeting, and how what the customer found provided instant credibility.

I followed up to his comments with this:

In today’s connected world, people use Google. When there are candidates to interview – we Google them. When there are prospects to approach – we Google them. When there are potential business partners to meet – we Google them. And the results of those searches often help us develop initial impressions about the people with whom we’ll be interacting. Good or bad, those impressions are lasting.

Smart companies – NGE companies – encourage their team members to build on-line identities. On-line identities are helpful for team members in a personal sense, since they can increase visibility in the ever-tightening labor market, and make someone more desirable to potential employers. They’re also helpful to companies, though. The more “Buzz” a company can build through the on-line identities of their team members, the stronger the company brand. On-line identities are a 1-2 punch – the personal credibility of the team member is coupled with the brand credibility of the company, thereby making the customer experience that much better.

At BSG Alliance, we encourage our team members to build on-line identities. Collaboration, especially on-line collaboration, is absolutely essential to our NGEness. In fact, in our Policies and Procedures document, we’ve dedicated a whole section to our external electronic communication. Here’s a key point:

We expect BSG Alliance employees to be active, vigorous and opinionated in their engagement with the public. This may mean asserting and defending strong points of view, taking provocative positions that are not the norm, and overall participating in the challenge we have of educating the industry about the changes to business that we are leading.

If you’re interested in how you can build your on-line identity and help build the BSG Alliance brand, start by determining where you’re starting. Career Distinction has a tool for determining your Google Quotient (GQ), which is a great place to start. If you’re curious, my GQ is 6.5 out of 10. I have some identity building to do…

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Interestingly enough, I ruffled some feathers over at Recruiting.com with my post about the lack of leaders in Generation Y. John Sumser’s post didn’t make a whole lot of sense, so I posted a reply. Replies on Recruiting.com are moderated, apparently. And, surprise! My reply has not been posted – 24 hours after it was submitted.

Normally, I would give the benefit of the doubt – maybe they’re really backed up, and haven’t gotten to their moderation dashboard. But, that’s not it, since there are several other comments that have been posted since I submitted mine. So, I have to wonder…

Was my reply not posted because it made sense? I’ll let you be the judge… Here’s my reply to Sumser’s argument:

Collaboration is essential to the success of organizations in the 21st Century. I’m not questioning that. It’s exciting to see the unique and innovative solutions that vibrant communities can achieve. But, at the end of the day, everyone on the team needs to know where they’re headed, and it takes a leader to point the team in the right direction. A team without direction doesn’t make a whole lot of progress.

If you read my entire post, you will realize that my point is that we are not actively encouraging the development of leadership qualities in our young people. Even natural leaders must be nurtured in order to achieve their full potential. We’re simply not doing that effectively.

John, you’re saying that new types of leaders are required. I am saying that we’re not building and encouraging leaders like we used to. These aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. We still need leaders, even if they lead in a different way.

Regardless of how your enterprise is organized or how flexible its workforce may be, someone still needs to provide leadership at various levels.

Have a great weekend!
-Katie

About two months ago, we had two people not bother to show up for interviews at our New York office. I had set up the interviews, the interviewers had made an effort to be available, and I had confirmed with the candidates two days earlier that the interviews were still scheduled. And yet, they didn’t bother to show up, nor did the bother to call and let us know that they would not be there.

After the no-shows, I called both candidates. I got voicemail for both. I left messages. Two days went by, and I didn’t hear anything. I emailed both candidates. I got no response. About a week later, I emailed again, just to follow up and close my process. One candidate responded that he was really sorry he hadn’t made it, and would call me that day to explain. You guessed it… he never called. Oh, one other important point: both candidates had submitted their resumes to us. These were not passive candidates, they were actively seeking out new opportunities, and sought out BSG Alliance.

When I called my boss to see if that was something to be expected, she was pretty surprised. She’s been in recruiting for a long time, and she hadn’t really encountered that behavior. But, she’d never been a recruiter in New York, so she thought that maybe the very tight labor market allows people to get away with such poor behavior. It’s hard to find good people in New York, and I guess that some of these candidates figure that they can get away with whatever they want because employers are desperate for good talent. Well, I can tell you this: BSG Alliance is always looking for talented developers, but we’re not “desperate” by any means. We look for people who will help us build a team, not people who think so highly of themselves that they can’t show common courtesy to others.

So, you’re asking why I am bringing this up so long after it happened. Well, it’s because I had a similar situation last week. A candidate found a BSG Alliance job posting, and submitted his resume. I scheduled a phone interview with the candidate for the following day. I blocked off an hour on my calendar, which gives me enough time to really get an idea of what makes the candidate tick. I made the phone call to the number provided, and… I got voicemail. Now, I have to admit that this isn’t unusual – sometimes my candidates are in a meeting from which they can’t extricate themselves, for example. What was unusual is that I left a message, and never got a return call. I called back about 15 minutes later, and still got voicemail. I left another message, and followed up with an email asking to reschedule. All were ignored. This candidate now finds himself on my “NBM List” (Not BSG Material – a holdover from my days as a sorority girl).

I also had a candidate recently who was unavailable during the time we had scheduled to call. Actually, he had been “unavailable” twice before, but had rescheduled both missed calls, so this was my last shot with him. The number he gave me for this particular call was his home number, and one of his family members answered, none too thrilled to hear from me. I waited for a 1/2 hour for the candidate to return my call, and when he didn’t, I sent an email letting him know that we were no longer interested. About 5 minutes later (when I was preparing for another call) the candidate called my cell phone. Since I knew that I didn’t have time to devote to an interview, I let it go to voicemail. The candidate proceeded to call me back at 3 minute intervals for the next 45 minutes, leaving 5 voicemails. I finally spoke to the candidate, and explained that after the amount of time I spent scheduling and rescheduling, only to have him miss a third appointment, I didn’t think he was a good fit for the organization. I almost felt sorry for him, because he didn’t seem to understand that his behavior was a pretty big red flag for me.

I guess this all brings me back to the concept of bridges – more specifically, the burning of such. I like to keep communications open with all candidates, whether or not they’re a good fit for BSG Alliance today. And I hope that people see the value in keeping contact with recruiters who might be able to help them in the future. When someone doesn’t show up for an interview, or is unavailable for a scheduled phone call, and they don’t offer a valid explanation, they find their way onto my NBM List, and they burn my bridge.

At BSG Alliance, we pride ourselves on respecting the time and talents of every candidate we encounter. Common courtesy says that the candidates should also respect our time and efforts. If a candidate can’t show that respect during a job search, then I fully expect that they will be unable to show respect to their co-workers on the job. They are not the kind of people I want on my team.

So, long post short: If you don’t show up for an interview, or aren’t available for a scheduled call, you’re going to make it onto the Recruiter’s list of people that they won’t consider for employment – EVER. Not a good place to be.

Have a great rest of the week. Make sure to check out my cool jobs on the BSG Alliance website.

-Katie

Well, I finally have a minute between calls and emails and lions and tigers and bears! Oh my! Now, I can sit down and write a little review of the Recruiting Roadshow Unconference. Overall, let’s just say that it was not a waste of time (scared you, didn’t I, Paul?). In fact, I gathered so much good information, I think my little newbie head might just burst.

The morning started with donuts. Lots and lot of donuts. Pink donuts. Chocolate donuts. And some danishes. I heard that they were good, but I was a good girl and ate none of them. I had to save my calories for cookies after lunch.

Then, John Sumser spoke about the Generation Gap in hiring. John is a Baby Boomer, and spent time explaining the tightening job market, and how it affects your recruiting processes. John’s main point was this: there is one worker for every job, and you have to know how to attract and retain employees who may have a different work ethic than you do. Which, from what I gathered, was no work ethic. John pointed out that a Generation Y employee will do what he is asked, but will not sit in the office if he’s not tasked with something at that moment. Paraphrasing John: “I’ll do what you ask, but if you don’t give me something to do, I’m going to the mall.” Then he pantomimed sending a text message to all his friends telling them to meet him at the Food Court. Here’s my concern with that mentality: if I haven’t given you something to do, why aren’t you proactively seeking out new challenges? The Recruiting Animal had an interesting post on this subject this week. Hippies. heh-heh. He said hippies.

Anyway, John was an interesting speaker. As I have heard said, he can be somewhat, um, what’stheword?, abrasive, and can rub some people the wrong way. He tried to do that with me, by claiming that educated women don’t have a lot of children, and adding something to the effect of “he doesn’t blame them.” After the conference, when I was hanging around being a groupie, I called him on it by engineering an introduction that began with “she has 4 kids.” He’s a good sport, though, and we had a laugh.

Some important points from John: Transparency. Collaboration. Flexibility. Employment Branding. Sounds like BSG to me!

And so we move on… Next up was Steven Rothberg of CollegeRecruiter.com. Steven started his presentation with a lead in from the Wall Street Journal about the perceived entitlement mentality among the Generation Y workforce. Steven hypothesized that the Generation Y fascination with themselves (a.k.a. self-absorption) is exasperated by social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. Thus began his very informative discussion of the whats, whys, and hows of using social networking to build a workforce.

Important points from Steven’s presentation: be careful what you look for on MySpace and Facebook, since how you use the information you find could put you in a big old pot of boiling water. Utilize MySpace and Facebook to build an employment brand. Social networking can be beneficial to your recruiting efforts, especially when used correctly.

Steven also briefly mentioned Second Life, but only to say, and I quote “It’s really cool, it’s useless, and it’s really cool.”

The next presentation was a round table of sorts about blogging. I am a bad woman because I didn’t get everyone’s name, but I assume mnheadhunter.com will have that up soon. This was enlightening, especially since Paul took the time to introduce a wonderful new blogger by the name of Katie Tierney. Perhaps you’ve heard of her? I hear she’s absolutely amazing and terribly humble. But, I digress…

The panel provided various points of view for why people should blog, and how to go about getting started. The consensus was that blogging is important to building an employment brand, and that people interested in blogging need to read the blogs first, and then find their voice.

I know that Josh Kahn (who graciously convinced Best Buy to allow us to use their facilities) was on the panel, as were three other great people whose names I just flat out don’t know.

Last, but certainly not least, Nicole St. Martin and Doug Berg of jobs2web.com provided a great presentation on search engine optimization and employment branding. This was a great look at how you can make simple changes to your career communications that will engage candidates for the long-term, rather than for short-term, need-it-now searches.

Main points to take from Nicole and Doug: candidate communities are essential to effective long-term recruiting and staffing. Communication should be bi-directional, media rich, interactive, relational, and easily accessible via RSS and XML feeds.

Overall, this was a great unconference (what does that MEAN??). I had the opportunity to meet lots of new people, saw an old MOMS Club friend, and had some great conversations about recruiting and life in general.

I want to thank Paul, Steven, Josh, and John for putting together a program that didn’t suck. In fact, it was great, and I was lucky to have been able to attend.

Have a great weekend!

-Katie

Update – 7:21 PM – Paul posted a nice little entry that named all the folks in the blogging roundtable (well, they weren’t at a table, and it was more of a straight line, but you get the point). You can check it out here.

There has been a lot of chatter recently on the various Recruiting-related blog sites about the ethical challenges of finding “passive candidates.” Passive candidates are those candidates who are not out actively seeking new opportunities, but who are willing to look at opportunities that might come their way. Many companies dole out lots of cash for the services of telephone names sourcers, who provide lists of potential passive candidates and their contact information. Other companies train their entire recruiting teams to use aggressive tactics to find and secure high-caliber passive candidates. Most of the time, the identification of passive candidates is conducted in an ethical manner – using Google searches, references, and the like. Sometimes, though, the searches are less than ethical, and involve cheating, lying, and, plain and simple, stealing.

A recent post on the ere.net website led to a, um, lively discussion of the ethics of recruiting. Recruiters from all over disagreed on where the line is, and what it means to step over the line. This discussion focused more on the ethics of actual candidate identification, but that’s really just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Once candidates are identified, good recruiters know how to provide appropriate, truthful information at the correct times. Good recruiters know how to keep confidential items quiet, and know how to professionally work through recruiting issues such as salary negotiations and counter-offers. Good recruiters treat candidates with respect and dignity.

Bad recruiters, those I consider to be ethically-challenged, churn and burn through candidate after candidate, sometimes ruining lives, and oftentimes wounding careers. These are the folks who lie about positions, use misleading job posts, and resort to stealing information in order to secure candidates. The bad recruiters will tell a candidate that the salary is more than what the recruiter knows the client is willing to pay. The bad recruiters will interview people only because they want referrals, not because they think that the candidate is a good job fit. The bad recruiters give us all a really bad name.

I guess I’m lucky – BSG has a culture of openness and trust. As a recruiter, I am expected, probably more than other people in the company, to live up to an exceptional standard of ethical behavior. If I do something that embarrasses me or my employer, then we both suffer. I won’t do that. I will not lie, cheat, or steal to get a candidate on board. I will act with professionalism and a deep respect for the people with whom I deal on a daily basis. That is expected of me, and it’s expected of all my colleagues at BSG. I have the support structure to continue to act in an ethical manner.

If you’re interested in some more thoughts on ethics in recruiting, check out this ere.net link. Other good posts are here, here, and here.

Have a good week!

-Katie