Aesop and SonI've been meaning to touch on this topic for a few months now - and I was just never able to find a gentle way to kick it off. I haven't been able to find a funny analogy or humorous quip to kick off an article that hits on such an important topic. And the more I thought about how I should start a talk about ethics in the workplace or within our industry the more I just kept coming back to the same simple statement:

"Don't. 'Effing. Lie."

Yeah... That one does it - even though it's a bit brash. Because after all, when it comes down to trust between two people this is really what it boils down to. Whether it's a co-worker looking to you for some feedback or your boss asking for the latest status on a requisition or even a job seeker asking if they're still being considered... Don't effing lie to them.

Lately, everywhere I turn I'm hearing about Stephen Covey and honesty in the workplace. He seems to have the market cornered on referencing integrity and honesty at work. And while I probably won't read the book unless it ends up being a gift, I'm sure it's as good as his other hits of which I've gladly purchased. But my point in bringing him up is that trust seems to be a hot buzzword here of late and let's face it - as Recruiters our reputation related to our integrity will make us or break us - especially if we're freelancing.

So let's hit on a few things that we're seeing or hearing about in certain circles - because I've got some ideas related to how I think we can all pitch in. After all, no matter how you spin the topic related to ethics in the workplace it all just boils down to one base element: Honesty.

  • Give Credit Where Credit is Due
    Those of us that have attended events or numerous working sessions over the years know that we've seen some of the same work recycled a few times here and there. I know that I saw Robert Scoble's Social Media Starfish in more externally presented presentations (free and paid!) that I could count last year - but I can only count the times he was given credit on a single hand. Is it a big deal? Maybe not to us - but perhaps it is to Robert. After all, each presenter just took his work and presented it as their own.
    I wonder if the people that used this particular image decided consciously that if they told the audience where it originated that they'd lose some credibility as the subject expert... Of course this isn't just about Roberts Starfish, right? Doing our due diligence to give credit where it's due - whether on project work, sourcing help or something as small as clip-art used in external presentations - goes a long way towards establishing validation or a sense of collaboration.
  • Don't Fluff Up Your Experience
    We hate it when job seekers do it to gain credibility with us as Recruiters. We end up having to work twice as hard in an interview when something just doesn't "feel" right - or worse, after we uncover the lack of experience much later in the game. The same can be said outside of the interview process and amongst our peers and colleagues - and yes, you know who you are.
    We're not Junior High anymore. Stretching out our dating experience or packing on BS related to how our goodnight kiss went is just silly at this point.
    Truth be told, I've 100% more respect for the newly made contact that came to me saying as much than the person that tried to insinuate about, or impress with, experience they didn't have. We're in the age of information and collaboration, folks. Finding out how full of crap someone is doesn't take nearly as long as it used to - and new ideas and trains of thought are the new "cool." If you understand nothing else then understand this: It's okay to say you don't know.
  • Be Accountable to References
    If you've got the nerve to complain about someone or something - let's call it out. It's 2010 and it's time to be very clear about what we mean when we say "everyone" or "you know who" or "they say" if we're referencing something important. Otherwise I'm of the opinion that you're full of crap. We've all done it - and the idea was to share some frustration and avoid embarassing someone, I'm sure. But I've got a different challenge for our industry this year: Call it out and let's tactfully discuss it.
    "sick of hearing Social Recruiting is the answer," or "Recruiters are saying that Job Boards are dying" or "...everyone thinks this is the solution," or " know who I mean when I say..." - Nope. In 2010 if you throw down with these generalities you're a coward. Let's keep it real and keep it civil - and be honest - and TALK details.
  • Call It Out
    I'm in if you are. Well... I'm in either way - but I'd encourage you to play also.
    If I see work I think was too big for one person or that I know was done by someone else - regardless of the audience I'm in - I'm asking.
    If I get the feeling someone is being vague about where they've worked or things they've done then I'll treat the peer just like I would an interviewee - I'll ask.
    If I hear generalities used to back up claims or reasoning - I'll look for clarity.

In my mind - our word is everything. Yes, there will be misunderstandings and verbal slips and even some things we may forget - and it's relatively obvious that it all really comes down to "intent" when we talk about the truth vs. an "effing lie."

After all, it's been my experience that collaboration and innovation only go 1/2 speed on 1/2 truths anyhow - so why wouldn't we pull out the stops and go full speed ahead?

Originally posted on

Views: 86

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 27, 2010 at 11:58pm
I'm in. Let's call a spade an effn shovel. :)
Comment by Ambrish Kochikar on January 28, 2010 at 9:50am
what a great post! thanks for sharing it. you were being too nice holding off and trying to find a way to break it to us kids gently. :) sometimes, counting till ten makes the truth come out just like people deserve to hear it.
Comment by Jessica Miller-Merrell on January 28, 2010 at 10:09am
Good stuff, Chris. We all want to be rock stars especially in the eyes of our peers and yet so few actually are. Honesty is the best policy.


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