"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
- Sir Winston Churchill
Courage - You must believe that what you’re doing in locating the truly passive candidate is the right thing to do.
Let me tell you a story. A few months ago, I made the acquaintance of a 52 year old woman at church. She had been out of work - she was a VP of some type of Operations (it’s faded for me at this point) of a large insurance company. After nineteen years of faithful service, she was let go sometime around the beginning of 2003. Her salary was approximately $135,000 the day they let her go. When I’d met her she’d been out of work nearly eighteen months and had spent the previous twelve months diligently looking for work, after enjoying the first six months of her forced hiatus at home with her 13 year old son, whom she had never been an at-home mom for. (She had some issues around the mom thing, too, but we’re going to stay on point on the Unemployed subject.) To her credit, she had gone back to school and was working on a Masters degree in Organizational Development. We came to know each other a little last summer, bouncing ideas around about her finding employment, chatting in email occasionally and once in a while her stopping by to pick tomatoes in my garden.
One day, she noticed that I always seemed to be busy and, coincidentally, she remarked how peaceful and happy I seemed in my work. She asked me what I did. I tried to explain it best I could, and she asked me if I ever needed any help? “Hmmm.…”, I thought. I was getting busy. To make a long story short, she said she’d like to “give it a try”.
I said, “Okay, Lois, come over tomorrow, I have a job where I need to locate Purchasing Managers and their Purchasers reporting, and you can help me with it.”
“Sure!”, she said, “I’ll be there at 9”. I said, “Can you be here at 7 because that’s when I need to do some phone banks and I’d like to show you how it’s done.” “I’ll try”, she said. I didn’t believe her.
Sure enough 7 came and went, 8 came and went, close to 9 a.m. she pulls up. “Oh! I had to do this and I had to do that and I’m sorry I’m late, but here I am.” Fine, Lois, I thought to myself, the phone banks are done, maybe we’ll do that another time. Down she sits. The job is open on my screen and ready to start. I pick up the telephone – she’s sitting quietly next to me. I can feel her stiffen as I say to the first receptionist, Michelle, “Hello, Michelle, can you please transfer me to the purchasing department?”
“Sure”, Michelle says, “Would you like Product Purchasing or Corporate Purchasing?”
“Product Purchasing, please, Michelle.”
Off we go via silent transfer.
“Purchasing, Violet speaking.”
“Hi Violet, this is Maureen – I’m assembling a mailing list – can you please tell me who's in charge of your purchasing group?”
“Well, let’s see, I guess Mike’s in charge – he’s the Director of Purchasing – you can send it to him.”
“What’s Mike’s last name? Jones? Okay, can you tell me, how many does he have reporting so I am sure to send enough?”
“Well, let me see – where’s my list? Looks like 1, 2…” – count gets soft, I hear it running to 9, “Looks like 9. Send 9.”
“Oh, that’s easy – not too many! I have to send all of them. Who are they, Violet?” I hold my breath.
And Violet reads off the entire list. The whole time I am typing furiously into my keyboard – silent keyboards are great! – and when she finishes, I fine tune a couple of the names I wasn’t sure of the spelling on, and I say,
“Thank you, Violet, I will get it right out! Good bye!”
I hang up the phone. I look at her, and her eyes are bugging out of her head staring at the screen. I guess she’s counting the 9 names x the $10/per name she would be earning, what is that? $90 in about two minutes? Tops?
“Wow!” she says, shaking her head, “that’s amazing!”
“No, Lois, that’s experience. It’s not amazing - it’s just a practical approach that works. It’s simple, it’s direct, and it’s very rewarding. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into each call, and not every call is fruitful.”
“I guess!” she exclaims, “Let’s do another one! Let’s do that one – I know that one!”
Similar drill, similar results at Company #2.
I hang up the phone. Lois sits back and crosses her arms on her chest, a puzzled look on her face. “It looks so easy – but I don’t know…it just seems, it just seems…” she stammers.
“Dishonest?” I ask her.
“Well, uhhh…well, don’t get me wrong Maureen, I’m not judging you! I know you’re not doing anything wrong, really, but uhhh…yeah, I guess, I just don’t know I’d be comfortable doing this.”
I turn in my chair and I look at her.
“Lois, look, don’t you wish, when you were still employed at EvilEmpireInsurance, that there had been someone like me nosing around in your organization looking for someone with your skill sets and/or your operations title, and don’t you wish someone had called you before EvilEmpireInsurance had unceremoniously put you out on the stoop like a cat at night and told you, “Good-bye - was nice knowin’ you – get lost!” Don’t you wish someone had located you inside that organization, and called you offering another, perhaps more rewarding opportunity than what you had? Wouldn’t that have been nice and wouldn’t that have put a whole new light on the situation you’re in today?” Wouldn’t that have given you a CHOICE in the affair?”
She looked at me and her eyes got wide. She sat up in her chair and she said, “Well, I never thought of that! Yes, of course I wish that – I see what you mean - yes, yes! I think I can do this – Yes! I can do this!”
“Okay Lois, you dial.”
“Uhhh… I think I’ll be okay, I think I get what to do,” Lois says. “Let me take this home and work on it, I’d feel much more comfortable in my own environment on my own phone and computer doing this. Can you email this job to me and I’ll take it over?”
I feel a little uncomfortable, but I acquiesce. “Sure Lois, here it is – I’m emailing it now – it’ll be there when you get home. Just one thing, call me around 1 and let me know how you’re doing.”
As she leaves, the ever perceptive Bob, my husband says, “She’s not going to do it.” I glared at him, I felt hostility rising. “Why do you say that?” I snap. “I can just tell, she won’t want to do this,” he says. I tell him to shut up.
1 p.m. comes – no Lois. 2 comes – no Lois. At 3 p.m. I call.
“Hi Lois, how’s it going?”
“Uhhh, well, uhhh” she stammers, “I haven’t accomplished much…uhhhh…really, Maureen, I have to tell you, I just don’t think this is for me.” Again, quickly she blurts, “I’m not judging you! Don’t get me wrong, you do a great job and I understand the part about helping people, but, I just can’t do this. I’m sorry - I know you think I’m a wimp.”
“I understand Lois, it’s no big deal. I don’t think that – I know this isn’t for everyone - I appreciate you wanting to try it though.”
<sigh> All that being said, the worst part, for me, was having to listen to Bob. That being admitted, the point I’m trying to make here is that if you don’t believe that names sourcing has a positive impact - don’t do it! Be brave and listen to your heart.
I believe in the example I gave Lois, I believe that if her name had been name gathered by someone like myself before she’d been fired she might have another job today. She might be better off as a result of the efforts of someone like myself. I sold small businesses for many years; I’ve seen grown men cry when they couldn’t support their families because corporations who they’d given a lifetime of work to unceremoniously let them go in acts of economy. Men in their fifties who could not find another job buying small businesses to support their families; taking their small pensions, their life’s savings or the equities in their homes, to purchase a job. I’ve seen fear, shame and despair in their faces and in their wives’ faces. I will never forget it.
And every time I gather a (emailed) listing of names for someone to call and offer a new (maybe better) opportunity to, it levels the playing field a little, in my eyes. It helps that guy sitting at his desk, who may be on a company’s future cut list. It may have helped Lois, if she could’ve seen the forest through the trees.
Next, in section 3, we’re going to jump right in and find out how to find all those people inside a company – how to do telephone directory sourcing. We have a lot to learn! Remember, sourcing is an art form that requires a lot of practice! If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!