Giver or Taker ??

Have you ever been unemployed?  I have.  It’s happened a few times in my life.  I’m not talking about transitioning from one job to a new one.  I’m talking about not working in your profession.  It’s hard.

The reality of the financial implications hit first and you’re kind of taken over by fear.  You think that EVERYONE would want to hire you immediately, and that you’re sure to land your next job quickly.  That rarely happens. These items aren’t “new” and there are countless blogs and pieces of advice for jobseekers.

However, I think there’s a HUGE opportunity for HR to make a difference and turn the tide for people who are in transition.  Likewise, there’s a HUGE opportunity for jobseekers to take a different approach in their search as well.  It takes a different mindset for both sides of the unemployment quandary.

I grew up in Ada, Ohio (otherwise known as the center of the universe). It’s a rural village in Northwestern Ohio that can be compared to growing up in Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show.  People are very down to earth and full of sage advice.  My Dad has lived in and around Ada his entire life.  He pulled me aside one day and said, “Steve, there are two types of people in this world – givers and takers.  You need to decide which one you’ll be.”

Givers and TakersI know my Dad didn’t come up with this saying. However, he and my Mom have been the model of givers in all areas of their lives.  I’ve tried to live this in my life as well.  It’s where HR needs to be too in my opinion.

I think HR folks should make themselves available for people in transition.  I have been working with people who are between jobs for years.  Here’s a big difference – I haven’t hired any of those people, and I haven’t charged them a dime for my time and efforts.  Sometimes, I meet for coffee, take a phone call, review a resume or make a call to someone as part of my network.  At the HR Roundtable I facilitate, people in transition are welcome to come, share their resume and network with HR pros to show others that they have always been talented pros themselves.  I truly get geeked when a person sends me an e-mail to tell me they’ve landed !!

You see, I believe great companies who hire great people will be companies that differentiate themselves from the pack.  Why wouldn’t I help other companies get better?  To me it’s the benchmark for great HR !!

Here’s what I’d like to challenge HR and jobseekers to do . . .

  • Intentionally network with each other even if the person in HR isn’t hiring.  HR folks know others in HR.  So, even if the company isn’t hiring, a person may open a door to someone who is !!
  • Don’t ignore the long-term unemployed HR.  Talented people are everywhere around us.  Look at people for what they bring to your company, not how long they’ve been between jobs.
  • Remember to help others first.  Too often jobseekers get their next job and forget the network who helped them land.  Don’t be a taker !!  Be forewarned on this.  Folks I know who have only used others to get a job are usually looking for another job in 18 months.  Avoid this behavior and keep networking.
  • HR folks – connect with other HR folks.  We still have miles to go before we truly become the “community” people write about.  Link In with each other.  Follow each other on Twitter.  Meet each other in person.  We can help others by being more connected ourselves.

Finally, understand that my Dad’s saying is true whether you read this and act or not.  So choose who you want to be.  I know this – by giving to others, my life is richer every day and I wish the same for you !!


6 thoughts on “Giver or Taker ??”

  1. Great one, Steve! Granted, I am still an HR rookie and, unfortunately, also among the long-term unemployed. That said, I agree emphatically with your call to “give” both prior to needing help and even as you partake of much needed help.

    Unless they are highly social individuals by nature, swamped “employed” HR people may not set connecting to others or networking as high priorities until they become disenchanted or disgruntled. They enter the arena with the intention of “taking.” However, the word must be spread: Effective networks are like savings in that they must be built during times of plenty to draw upon them in times of need.
    @zda817 on Twitter

  2. Very nicely said indeed! I frequently engage with the opportunity to help others in their job searches by applying my knowledge and HR best practice to a personal situation. It is something I can give free of charge and when it is most needed and find that just the simple act of listening and providing feedback on their circumstance is a huge encouragement to someone pursuing a particular opening or… their own career dreams. I am completely on-board with your proposed give and take approach and thank you for the encouragement to keep on giving!


    1. I’ve always believed that a person is good at his job when he manages to solve issues with ease, even when the situation doesn’t match to what he’s learned and/or he doesn’t get any benefit from it. Sometimes just hearing “it’s going to be OK, I can help” from an informed person makes that job hunting much easier, because it keeps one fighting. It’s like that saying went – “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.

  3. Brownie, I wrote a post not too long ago stating the need for quid pro quo in our profession, mainly b/c of the abundance of “freebies” HR-types can provide for people seeking help. I’d like to add there is an exception to that rule, and that is for the case you state – for people in transition, i.e. jobless, you can make an enormous impact by listening, advising, and CHALLENGING.

    It’s not easy to find that next job…sometimes having an ear to listen combined with a foot to butt is the difference.

  4. Another great one, Steve!

    I was reminded of a book I saw featured on Oprah once years ago. I think it may have been called The Secret or The Secret to Life…can’t recall. What made me remember it was the message of getting back what you give. I thought of this when reading of the person who “takes” and is looking for a job again in 18-months.

    Our actions define us and I hope I’ll forever be in the “give” category and never be considered by a jury of my peers as a “taker”. (A TALKER…yeah, I’m fine with that one. I love to talk and tell a story!)

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