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Marketing and Communications Talent

April 23, 2017

What we Have Here is a Failure to Communicate


I mindlessly answered the phone the other day and found myself momentarily wafting in dead air. All of a sudden a voice says: “Oh, I’m sorry. This is Emily. I didn’t expect you to pick up.” I started to say that it wasn’t a problem when I got cut off mid sentence by “Emily” informing me that because I had stayed at one of their resorts recently…and that was her final word when I ended the call.

Yes, I joined the long line of those duped by an automated voice named Emily. But I will give her – it – this much credit: At least she/it was configured to engage in a weird form of (semi) verbal communication. Even if it was 1-way automated communication before Emily set the hook and attempted to coax me to one of her real life colleagues.

No one in their right mind could deny that this type of 1:1 marketing is pretty snarky. But, oh, how I wish she/it were real. I’m longing for days past of carrying on a business call without provocation.

The loss of privacy in the work place, the alarm bells that may or may not ring when a recipient’s desk phone actually rings (gasp) and, worst of all, the woeful loss of verbal communication skills of those who never entered the business world with a phone cradled under their ear.

Look, I’m not trying to change the world. I can email, text, and social media with the best of them. But these tools are best served augmenting verbal communication, not replacing it. When I have to stop and consider my options before reaching out to someone, the genie has long since gotten out of the bottle.

A subset of the whole understand that it’s mutually beneficial to engage with people you trust when it concerns something as important as their professional future. The community you surround yourself with doesn’t necessarily include an executive recruiter but a case can certainly be made for it.

A recruiter worth his salt can be your eyes and ears while you continue to focus your energy on your current job. Such a person can also protect you from overexposure which anyone who is gainfully employed should always be concerned about. And if you’re really fortunate, he/she won’t try to sell you on job opportunities but will instead present them to you. Finally, in a perfect world this person will stand ready to serve as a confidante as you conduct your due diligence on a specific company’s open position.

But you have to bring something to the party as well. The “ante” is your willingness to engage and develop a productive 2-way relationship. It may lead somewhere, it may lead absolutely nowhere. Either way, if your gut tells you this recruiter is someone you trust, you owe it to yourself to find out which it is.

It’s an interesting dynamic for sure. Studies report that slightly over 50 percent of us are interested in finding greener corporate pastures at any given time. Yet you would be hard-pressed to find an executive recruiter who could look you in the eye and say that half of his voicemails garnered a return call (or email, text, etc.).

There is a golf cliché that 98 percent of all putts left short don’t drop into the cup (don’t ask me about the other two percent – it’s just a cliché after all). I suggest you visualize this as a real life metaphor for taking stock in your career.

If you’re open-minded to taking the next career step, you could do worse than establishing a relationship with a reputable industry expert. And if that expert happens to be an executive recruiter your chances for a successful outcome are certainly enhanced. But you have to be willing to engage – even if that person’s name really does happen to be Emily.