Your Integrity, Your Reputation and the Ability to Succeed in HR & Recruitment

People who know me know how important integrity is to me.   People close to me within my network definitely think I take too hard of a stance on others who have let me down through their actions and subsequent lack of integrity.  I am a very trusting person and want to always be able to take people at their word.  But once a person fails to live up to their word I have a very difficult time looking beyond that experience and continuing our professional or personal relationship.  It's different from someone simply letting you down on something they committed to you on - it goes beyond that.  I think it's the fact that you will never fully be able to trust that individual ever again in what they say or do.

I googled the word "integrity" and found the following definition -  "adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty."  I like this definition.  That to me should be the benchmark we need to adhere to and take full personal accountability for it.  It sounds simple enough and the best thing about integrity is that we as individuals have complete control over our own integrity.  We have nobody to blame but ourselves when we act without it.

Unfortunately there are a number of people who I have worked with in the past who have let me down with their dishonest actions.  I think back to my experiences as a senior recruitment and talent leader working with my teams across the world for one of the top global organizations - and I was fortunate to work with so many great people.  But I often recall the few instances that I came across people on these teams who acted with a lack of integrity in their roles.  As a believer in ongoing performance management and working closely with any team members to get them back on track when there was a performance issue, it was difficult if not impossible to help someone when it involved an issue of integrity.  I just don't think someone can change when they have acted without moral character or honesty.  It becomes more of a trend rather than a one-off "I made a mistake" action.  It's usually premeditated with the person knowing exactly what they are doing.

Can people change when it comes to a lack of integrity?  I find that when confronting someone on this issue, they simply continue to deceive and get deeper and deeper into their deceptions.  Mark Twain had a great quote on integrity - "If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything."

As a Recruitment and HR professional, integrity is core to what we do.  Our clients we support in our organizations look to us as experts in talent.  The candidates we deal with everyday look to us as an organizational ambassador for the company they want to be a part of.  Our colleagues depend on us to perform a job that is critical to the talent success of the company.

As a leader, integrity gives us credibility with the people we lead.  If our actions as a leader lack honesty than we lose the respect and trust of the people who we as leaders have to count on for our success.  You just can't recover as a leader when your team loses the trust of your character.  They will always be questioning your words and actions in their minds and looking for every reason not to trust you.

When we lose credibility with any of the people we work with, we lose our ability to be successful.  It's difficult to recover when someone you work with loses confidence in your integrity.  Your reputation is completely crushed as word of your actions will spread quickly across the organization.  With social media platforms bringing everyone closer together it's easy for the HR and Recruitment community to hear about your reputation and actions from the people you used to work with.  So more than ever you need to ensure  your reputation isn't tarnished and the best way to do this is to simply act with character and integrity in everything you do.  None of us are perfect and we do make mistakes.  But when it comes to your integrity, it's your personal and professional brand at stake.


"In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you." — Warren Buffet


Simon Parkin is recognized as a global thought leader in the acquisition and management of top talent and has successfully transformed the Talent function for organizations of all sizes. Simon works closely with clients to build, develop and innovate their Recruitment, Talent and HR functions. He is a former global leader of Recruitment and Talent for a Fortune 100 company. Simon is a featured speaker at a number of HR and Recruitment conferences across North America and an author of many acclaimed articles on innovative Recruitment, Talent and HR trends and best practices.  Simon's full profile can be found at

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Comment by Geoff on January 26, 2012 at 10:05am
Hi Simon
Excellent article. Some of us work in organisations that will profess to have core values but the real crux comes for the sales person when there is a choice of compromise your values or loose the income. For me it has never been a choice and I agree with you – integrity before all other competencies. Stay true to your values, show personal integrity, honesty and courage and you will win through.
Comment by Vaughn Welches on January 26, 2012 at 1:20pm


Totally agree!  If integrity is not there, what else is there?  My mother used that quote from Mrk Twain, she used to say, "If you always tell the truth you don't have to ever remember what you said"  And when a recruiter shows a lack of integrity he/she also shows a severe lack of conscience and competence, he/she should not be in a business with the opportunity to influence someone's career.

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on January 27, 2012 at 12:00am

Terrific article, Simon! Integrity is something that I seem to think about constantly. Yeah, really - I should get a hobby or something! 

From a personal perspective, I think that characteristic along with authenticity is my "secret sauce." Love me or hate me: what you see is what you get. No hidden agenda, no playing politics, no BS. EVER. But frankly, referring to Twain, I'm not smart enough to behave any other way. 

From a professional aspect, I too have been let down far too many times by people demonstrating anything but integrity. I've always entered relationships open minded, expecting the best, and generally willing to give people the benefit of the doubt if something doesn't quite go so swell from the get go.

However, not at all able to compromise on integrity or ethics. I don't like getting screwed and can't sit by knowing someone else is being screwed. Even if/when it would obviously benefit me to do so, I have been known to refuse to budge on an issue that I was being pressured to loosen up on or look the other way when some type of situation was inconvenient in the integrity department. 

Love the Buffet quote. Funny that integrity is one of my strongly held values. Intelligence is obviously highly subjective, but  I do what I can to pay attention to building that - always! One of the most common things I hear from other people when they first meet me or see me after not being around for a while is that I have so much "energy" or they love my "energy." 

On a lighter note... not that I actually pay much attention to astrology, but I have read some things related to my sign - Aquarius, that seems validates these values. That combined with assorted self-awareness tools accumulated over the years tends to show a distinct pattern for this insistence on integrity. 




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