How Are You Today? The Lost Art of Politeness

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31

I feel that when you are born into this world and given life, your parents sign a social contract to say that they will raise you to be respectful of others and try and make the world a little better. Most, as the times have changed, have seemingly gotten inadequate training or simply forget to care. That my friends is a damn shame, it is. Let me share with you a story, you know I like to tell stories, that has nothing to do with recruiting or sourcing and what the world looks like when you stop and take ten seconds to care. Then I can explain how this affects everything as a sourcer or recruiter.

Let me preface this post before we start this journey that I always start my conversations with a simple phrase, “how are you today” or “how are you doing?” It’s sad that I have had people on the phone stop and then ask me the same thing. That ladies and gentlemen is what this story is about, being more of an individual and less about yourself.

I eat out a great deal, lunch, dinner, brunch; you name it. It’s not that I don’t like to cook I do but being a perpetual bachelor in this world, it is hard to cook for one. It’s all about portion control, but I digress, I found myself hungry wanting breakfast but it was 2 pm, and they’re very few places that will whip up eggs and bacon, even in Portland during the week. There was an IHOP (International House of Pancakes) close by so I decided what the hell I will pop on over and get some nourishment.

The place was oddly busy for a Tuesday afternoon; the young hostess took me to what I like to call a single guy seat. You know the space saver that is only two seats across from one another so that either a couple can be strangely intimate or a person cannot take up the space of a four top because they don’t need the room. I eyed the room, and the woman, a pleasant enough person, who was the waitress was hectic as she had multiple tables. I listened to the can waiter speak that you frequently receive from individuals in the industry, “how was your meal,” “here is the check,” “what can I get you,” etc. Seemingly every single customer just went on about what they wanted to dismiss her as though they were Lords and she was merely a subject. She was not AI; she is human.

After a few minutes, she came to my table and said: “Hello, what can I get you?” I smiled and paused, I asked, “how are you?” Then it happened, she stared at me as though I told her that a loved one had passed or that she had cancer. She said, softly, “I’m exhausted, but I’ll be off soon, so all good I reckon.” She tried smiling, but I could see the emotion welling inside, life was about to get real. The tears came, “I’m sorry, it’s been a real long day, and you are the first person even to take the time to ask me that.”

Five seconds, one question, stop, and think about that.

So, me being me, I stood up opened my arms and said, “I could use a hug, how about you?” She melted into my arms, and we held each other for a good 30 seconds. Two strangers from vastly different backgrounds and complicated lives took a moment to be part of humanity.

Now, think back to the day you just had or the day that you had yesterday. Can you even remember the interactions you had? With your managers, your candidates, hell, even your family or friends. Did you even think to take a moment and lift them up? I tell new recruiters the same thing repeatedly. We deal in HUMAN capital, these are real people just like you and me and just like you, they have feelings. First impressions are the most important. I know it’s cliché, but it’s true. Take a moment to remember what your job search was like and how you were treated. It should lead you to reflect, no matter how long you have been in the game. I know some of the biggest names in our industry and I will tell you this the reason why they are where they are was not out of maliciousness it was out of pure respect. If you are coming to SourceCon, and I sure hope you do, know that everyone there wants, nay, craves information and wants to learn and share.

I am going to cut this short just for Shannon Pritchett, and I will leave you with this:

We ALL come from the same place, women, men, black, brown, white, and all the mixes.

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We come from the womb. 

So, hug your mom if you can and if you can’t hug a friend. Starting today your world may have just gotten a whole lot better. See you in Austin!

#truestory #zellerout

Derek Zeller draws from over 20 years in the recruiting industry. The last 16 years he has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing in the cleared IT space under OFCCP compliance. Currently, he is the Director of Recruiting Solutions for Engage Talent. He has experience with both third-party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, and military and college recruiting strategies. Derek currently lives in the Portland area. Now, he is the Director of Recruiting Solutions and Channels with Engage.

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