As I thought about topics related to work for this week’s blog, my dad kept coming to mind. Maybe it is because Father’s Day is Sunday, but with every thought, I could almost hear his voice and the bits of advice he has given me over the years. Each one is deserving of its own post, but I think the lesson that has applied most in my recruiting career has been this one: “Be bold!”
My first job was as a newspaper carrier at the Vincennes Sun Commercial. I was nine. Shannon, the girl who lived down the block, had tipped me off that she was going to be giving up our neighborhood route and would get me the job if I was interested. This was a prime job opportunity in our little town for a kid my age. My dad quickly agreed, having passed papers as his first job as well.
Thus I embarked on my first job. I learned a lot from that paper route. My dad showed me all the tips for being a great newspaper carrier; how to roll the papers tight, how to toss them so they landed right on the welcome mat and how to keep them dry by using plastic bags when it rained. He reminded me of the the responsibility to have the papers there on time no matter what the weather was like or how tired I thought I was. That lesson, too, has served me very well over the years.
The hardest part of being a newspaper carrier, though, was collecting money from the customers once per week. Some people have no shame when it comes to money. There were actually people who would avoid paying this nine year old kid her $1.15 per week for their newspaper delivery, a small fee, even in 1979.
While most customers gave me a dollar and a quarter and told me to keep the change, in the beginning there were a few that would hide when they saw me coming on Friday, pulling my bag of papers in my red wagon and carrying my little zippered bank bag.
This is actually pretty sad as I look back on it now. Some of the nicest homes on the block owed me for several weeks before I finally told my dad why I wasn't earning any money on my route. I will never forget the day he took my hand and marched me right up to each door of those that were avoiding payment. That was the day I learned to be bold.
My dad used his policeman’s knock, not a quick push of the doorbell like I did. On this particular occasion he even had his uniform on, which was very effective. When the customer appeared at the door, he said something like, “ Sir, are you aware that my daughter has already purchased this newspaper on your behalf and has been delivering it to your home in good faith that you will pay her weekly?” I remember hiding behind him avoiding eye contact with the offender at the time. Dad never raised his voice, but he was bold. He spoke calmly, with no fear, and it was extremely effective.
“If you want to be successful in a job, Amy, you must be bold,” my dad told me that day. “Unfortunately, many people in this world do not respect those who cannot or will not stand up for themselves.”
After that day, I found that each customer happily pulled out their wallets to pay me each Friday. Some would even leave an envelope pinned to the door with my name on it when they planned to be gone.
I have remembered this day at many times throughout my career, and applied it in many situations. I used it when I was a new manager and there were employees who were annoyed with reporting to someone younger than themselves. I was bold and never let it keep me from from asserting my authority. I used it when I had to let someone go because they simply were not doing the job they had been hired to do. I stated the facts, showed no fear, and boldly, it was done.
When I became a recruiter was when I appreciated his advice most. To be a good recruiter, you must be bold. Take cold calling for example. My first boss was a bit shocked when he asked about the person that I was having such a lengthy conversation with on one of my first calls. It was the CEO of a major hospital network that we were pursuing. Apparently a great deal of planning typically went in to accessing a client at this level and the general manager was almost always involved in those situations. "How did you get him on the phone? " my boss asked. " I asked to speak with him, " I said.
I’m not sure you’ll find many kids delivering newspapers at nine these days. Hopefully fathers are still finding ways to show their kids how to be bold. I think any recruiter will agree that being bold is critical to your success in the business. Each time I discuss my fees, I remember walking up to those doors on my paper route. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me to be bold, and happy father's day!
What lessons did you learn from your father that has made you a great recruiter? When did you first learn the importance of being bold in your career?
Amy McDonald works with several employment websites and is the President and CEO at REKRUTR. She has been working in the human resources and recruiting industry for over 20 years. Amy has worked with hundreds of recruitment professionals throughout her career, training best practices in sourcing candidates and refining the recruitment process. In her spare time, Amy participates as a thought leader in Recruiting for BIZCATALYST360°