Leading Edge: Tell the truth or everyone loses

by Ross Reimer
Ross Reimer, Leading Edge
Ross Reimer has
over 30 years of experience in transportation/supply chain. For the last 15 years he has been President of Reimer Associates, a recruitment firm within supply chain.

Deception always has a cost, and this certainly applies to the hiring and selection of new employees.

As a recruiter I’m involved with hundreds of people throughout the year who are actively seeking employment. I also work with a large number of clients who are looking to fill important roles within their companies.

It’s my job not only to find outstanding people who are well suited to the specific roles we are sourcing, but also to ensure the truth is told throughout the process so the outcome can be a win-win.

Unfortunately there are lots of jobseekers who aren’t determined to be completely honest and transparent. I’m not referring to the basics like outright lying on a résumé. I’m talking about people who don’t have a strong sense of what their real skill sets are, what their work ethic looks like and the kind of culture they would thrive in.

My advice for potential employees is the old axiom “Know thyself.” As an example, I recently met with a sales representative who responded to our advertisement for a “hunter” for one of our transportation clients.

We clearly described the role as one that involved a substantial amount of cold calling and business development that would be done through research and lots of knocking on doors. To be sure, it’s a tough assignment and not for the faint of heart.

Well, while this individual had a good track record in a sales role, the vast majority of her work had been in a “farming” sales function working with her employer’s already active clients. This is an essential part of the sales process but a far cry from what it takes to be a “hunter” day in and day out.

When I pressed her on this she wasn’t willing to see the distinction and suggested she’d be just fine and would enjoy the role. Either she couldn’t perceive the difference, or just didn’t want to see the truth, and I could predict nothing but disaster if we moved her forward.

Knowing thyself requires a willingness to look inside and listen to feedback. Feedback can come from friends who are willing to be honest, coworkers and perhaps most importantly, mentors who are farther along in their careers and willing to tell the truth.

The good news is: If we are willing to pursue the truth about our skill sets and strengths, along with our weaknesses, we really can find places where our efforts are maximized and our job satisfaction is outstanding.

Of course there’s another side to telling the truth when it comes to the hiring process. Occasionally I will meet with a potential client who isn’t willing to be forthright about the job responsibilities or the culture of their company.

A case in point: I recently met with a small business owner looking to hire a general manager to essentially replace him in the business. The job requirements that he laid out were clear and concise, but I suspected he was unwilling to be totally honest about the work ethic he was looking for.
Given that he put in nearly 80 hours a week, I pushed him on the kind of expectation he would have for his new general manager. He insisted that a normal work week would be just fine. I pressed on with more questions and he finally admitted he would be totally dissatisfied with someone who regularly went home at 6 o’clock.

It took a while, but we got to the truth and it allowed me to look for a person who was ready and willing to accept these responsibilities and the actual position he was offering.

Most satisfying to me is that I’m regularly involved with recruitment processes that are focused on the “whole truth” from the beginning. Very often, I deal with employees who present their backgrounds accurately and—just as importantly—understand their long-term goals as well as their limitations and areas where they need to improve.

Imagine a prospective employee like this meeting with an employer who lays out the job requirements accurately and thoughtfully describes the company’s culture and overall expectations. This combination leads to great success for everyone involved.

It takes more work on everyone’s part, and can definitely involve hearing some things that may be hard to accept at first, but some short-term pain absolutely leads to long-term gain.