Earlier this year I was contacted by Hays, the recruitment company. They run seminars for their clients and having read about me, they asked if I could come to their London offices and talk to a group of HR professionals about how social media might, and might not, help to improve communication. We agreed I would waive my usual charge for speaking, and in return Hays would send some promo material to their guests before and after the event, and they would reimburse my out of pocket expenses. I’m a little reluctant to work like this, but as I believe in a basic principle of value trumps price, I decided to give it a go. The date was agreed and booked.
Next I went to meet the guy from Hays to talk a little more about the session and to check out the layout and feel of the place, it really helps to have an idea of the physical environment you’re working with. We sat in the room talking and the Hays guy came across really edgy. ‘Are you OK?’ I asked, ‘You seem very nervous’. ‘Well you see….’ replied Hays guy, ‘it’s just that…well we’re not sure how this session is going to go and whether we should be doing it?’ He paused, before blurting ‘We don’t want you to talk about social recruiting because it’s not something we do.’ ‘I wasn’t planning to focus specifically on recruitment’ I replied, ‘it’s not my area of expertise and anyway, it wasn’t in your initial brief to me.’ Hays guy sat back, visibly relieved at having had his confessional moment.
‘You will need to have a plan, some ideas around fielding questions etc’ I said to Hays guy. He tensed again, ‘what do you mean, a plan?’ ‘Well just because recruitment is not an area I will be covering, doesn’t mean your customers aren’t going to have questions about it, does it?’ The conversation continued and we parted company having agreed I would finish my prep, I would also send over a few images to frame the discussion, plus an updated two page guide about What Goes Around for Hays to circulate to their guests. Hays guy would manage any social recruitment curve balls, and I agreed I would support him where I could. I pulled everything together and sent it across as agreed.
A few days before the event I checked in with the recruiter. I confess I was a little surprised that Hays had not been back in touch with me, and what followed was an awkward backtrack on behalf of Hays guy. ‘Errr, umm, yeah….oh, Hi Doug, funny I was just about to call you, yeah been meaning to give you a buzz. Thing is you see, we’d like to postpone the event, just for a few weeks so we can gain more publicity for us and you, OK? I’m on the case and I’ll be in touch again very soon.’ And that, dear reader, was the last I heard from Hays guy.
Plans change – I know that. And I also know it’s basic good manners to be proactive when plans change, perhaps a dash of honesty wouldn’t go amiss either. Hays’ website says ‘It’s All About People, Worldwide’. Certainly didn’t feel like it to me, I sincerely hope they treat their customers and candidates better than this. I guess the main reason for sharing my tale is so that the next time you get an ‘offer’ like this – perhaps you’ll find a way to approach it more usefully than I did?
You might be thinking, ‘shit happens Doug, get over it’, and I am over it – just about ;). Subsequently Carole suggested to me that the next time someone proposes a similar arrangement, I should include the option for a cancellation/postponement charge. Interesting thought, and I’m also aware that with all of the varied paid assignments I’ve been engaged with, this fizzling out experience has never happened, weird huh?