I imagine many people who are logging on today to get their weekly dose of Wednesday wisdom will be aghast at finding me here in Claudia’s place. Well, aghast-away -- it’s me!

Claudia and I share frequent phone calls and the occasional confidence or two. Sometimes we talk about the requests for help she receives for her Wednesday column. Claudia asks me what I think and invariably publishes something altogether different.

One question on which we took opposing views was this one [in full]:

“I have a problem. I have been struggling as an independent recruiter for two years. But being a good recruiter doesn’t automatically mean you’re a good business person and I have made some very bad mistakes. I am up to my eyeballs in debt and have not paid three contract researchers who are (or were) personal friends of mine from years back. They know I got paid for the work. I owe them a lot of money.

My phone has been disconnected twice this year. I cannot renew my Monster account or pay for postings. My website is down. I haven’t paid my mortgage in six months. I am about to be evicted from my home/office. I am a physical and emotional wreck. My "friends" are aware of all of this too.

My personal problems have found their way onto the Internet. I learned of this from a candidate. I Googled my name and to my horror saw that two of my creditors have taken it upon themselves to publicly discredit me.

I can’t imagine anyone who researches me online would now want to do business with me EVER, or even give me a job now that I’ll have to go out and find one. I am now getting really sick.

How do I save my reputation and pull myself out of this now public mess?”

Recruiter in the Crapper


As Claudia is off today, you get to answer Recruiter in the Crapper. Tell her what you think she should do. No doubt, at some point Claudia will tell you what she said to me, and I’ll tell you what I said to her. But let’s hear what you say first. That way you can’t sides!

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In Color In Color Lyrics sung by Jamey Johnson
YouTube music version of the song

Funny you bring this up here today Ami. I was driving home this morning, listening to the radio, when a song came on that I had never heard before. The story it told reached out and touched me and reminded me once again of the power in the Universe. I'd been thinking about writing something to address the theme of the song and had been mulling it over since last week. The song achingly said what I'd been hoping to say without appearing reactionary. I'd just posted a version of what I'm saying here over on the MagicMethod network when I read your Crapper story.

I love country music. You'd think, growing up along the banks of the Ohio River here in Ohio that I would've had more exposure to it. It was around - I just never paid it any mind until I developed an appreciation for it when I was in my forties. It was the truthfulness tied to the pain and suffering of life that first caught my attention and has held me transfixed ever since. The story I heard this morning is no different and demonstrates the sometimes piquant experience of Life.

Basically this is a song about a man reliving/retelling his story about some black and white pictures he comes across. He asks his grandfather about them and his grandfather tells the stories behind the pictures with the refrain between tales of:
“If it looks like we were scared to death
Like a couple of kids just trying to save each other
You should've seen it in color.”

The meaning behind the words is that a picture may speak a thousand words but the real-life events surrounding the picture tell far more. I have long since held the view that a thousand words may speak a picture but the truth is usually much more shaded; in other words, "you can’t see what those shades of gray keep covered." There are always three sides to a story – your side, their side, and the truth! Try to see things in color.

I would say to this solitary suffering soul that things get better -use this mess you're in to learn from - reach out for professional help and make amends where you can. You're not alone - many peoople have encountered setbacks in their lives - served lemons only to make lemonade out of! Tell those people you owe money to that you're sorry and make arrangements to pay them over time - do what you have to do to restore your credit and more than anything, forgive those people who took your problems public. This will pass -believe me - it will pass. Believe it or not, you'll be pleasantly surprised to learn how little money it can take to get by. In five or ten or fourteen years you will be in a different space and you will look back upon these difficulties with chagrin - yes - but also with a tempered understanding that, it seems, it takes some years, hard work and suffering to accumulate.
You are living in color.

Barbara Ling recently wrote a piece on how to avoid online reputation manglement here. I think you might enjoy it.
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Maureen, what a fantastic response, widget and all. Thanks for pointing to Barbara's post too, also a gem.
Well, I would be a wreck too, but first things first. Fix your money problems & you can eliminate the public mess.

Look, you need to get help on how to manage your finances no matter if you work for someone else or if you stay in business for yourself or you will be in this same situation forever. It means you will have some uncomfortable decisions to make for quite a while. Don't be shy. Ask for help, get consumer credit counseling, and quit pretending you are making money you aren't.

Let's be honest, our clients rarely take the time to research us. If they do, it is usually a quick reference search on LinkedIn not Google. If you are getting some hires which it sounds like you are, then I would plug away. Not paying researchers is a much bigger problem. They are critical to your success & I would beg them to set up a payment plan. Apologize, make good, do whatever it takes.

Also, if you do good work, people will overlook a multitude of personal sins. Keep your ethical hat on when talking with clients and work hard to be up front with candidates (but don't tell them your life story). It really isn't about you.I know we all think it is, but it is mostly our egos talking.
Thanks Julia. Your advice is sound.
RITC, you need some tough love. Whether in business for yourself or for someone else it is reasonable to expect that you should manage your time and expenses with care. Recruiting is a sales job. But we all know there is more to the business of recruiting than that.

There is plenty of free info available on the web about how to get yourself out of certain holes. But don't spend too much time researching. You need to act now to get things turned around. The longer you wait and worry, the harder it will be to move in a positive direction.

Start here http://www.businesstown.com/finance/problem.asp . You also need to ask for help. This anonymous post is okay for a start. But swallow your pride and get some real advice from the people who care about you on managing your business and personal finances. It's not the end of the world. It's a chance for you to come clean with everyone and ask for forgiveness and assistance. But don't expect anyone to fix your problems for you. It's ultimately up to you.

Regarding the creditors who have sullied your name on the net, don't worry about that for now. When you pay your bills you can reasonably ask for retraction. But until then you need to take what work you can get and forget about the other stuff. And work you should. You need to work your butt off every day to get some income flowing. Spend no more that an hour each morning or afternoon dealing with creditors, etc.

You can spend some time after you get caught up rebuilding your personal brand online to help get you to the next level. But right now focus on making some money and getting caught up one day at a time. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and act now. Keep your chin up and focus on self discipline. You'll get there.

And pay those researchers when you can. Definitely let them know that you are working on it and that you will make it right. Then get on the phone and make some deals. I don't need to wish you good luck because you can do this without luck. Stop reading blogs and get to work. Let's go.
Craig, thanks for adding your voice and common sense to the thread. I would echo your counsel -- all of it.

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