How To Find Contact Details, Part 1: Dispelling a Lie

Over the next few weeks I’ll be covering ways to find people’s contact details. There are a multitude of reasons why you might embark on such a task but for a sourcer (and likely a recruiter) — the three main reasons are:

1. To approach for a position
2. For referrals for a position
3. For general market intelligence – normally guised as one of the two above.

More realistically, it’s for a combination of the reasons above but for a savvy sourcer, it may include:

4. Connecting for potential future research projects.

Before we begin the series, I want to cover off the ethical side of things and a few other considerations.

 To Lie, Or Not To Lie

While I was growing up, I was always told that it is wrong to lie. As I got older, I realised that there were different types of lies – some of which were more socially acceptable, if not practically encouraged by society (white lies)!

When I speak with researchers and recruiters who utilise phone sourcing (especially pure phone sourcers) I notice that their perception of a lie is somewhat skewed to adjust with their sense of morality… Some draw the line at the use of rusing and others are open to, let’s say, having a more relaxed definition of their carefully chosen words.

Before I make any confessions, I believe I have a strong sense of morality (having spent a good portion of my undergraduate studying philosophy) and I certainly believe in conducting yourself in an ethical manner when in comes to business. But at the same time, I’ve always considered myself somewhat pragmatic…

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With that in mind, there are no real right or wrong answers in this morally grey area of what constitutes to lying or not. But even if there was a definitive answer to that, who cares so long as nobody gets hurt right? Maybe. The litmus test I use when I find myself in a sticky situation is this question:

“Would I be comfortable re-telling this story to my grandma?”

I’ve heard other variations of this question including: “Would I be comfortable if this story was made public?” or “Would I be able to sleep soundly with the knowledge of my actions today?”

Either way, the rule of thumb is that if you’re presenting anyone with an opportunity, you certainly should not lie. This includes anyone you have to speak to in order to reach your prospective candidate. Why? Well ask yourself, what if your prospective candidate hears (and it almost invariably does) how you lied to her executive assistant just to get her on the phone? Do you think that may negatively influence her perception of your client – and you? The potential risks in damaging your client’s brand, not to mention your personal brand, far outweigh the benefits of getting in touch with your prospective candidate no matter how good a fit they are.

Thankfully next week we’ll get into the details of how to find people’s contact details and explore different way to get in touch with them.

Share your thoughts on what constitutes right or wrong in the comments below.

Ken Hew is the Director of Quest Research, a Passive Talent sourcing firm based in Sydney, Australia. Having had a life-long love affair with computers since he was eight, an innate sense of curiosity, and a strong interest in people, he has always had a natural affinity towards research and sourcing. Still an active sourcing practitioner, he takes a systems approach to conducting search and emphasizes the need to harness both Internet research and phone-based sourcing. Ken blogs at www.sourcingninja.net.

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