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Commending the recommenders

HEB Blog
Over a glass of wine with friends recently, the conversation drifted to a renovation project one of them was undertaking. What started as her dream “grand design” had fast turned into a nightmare. As well as the expected stress and cash flow issues, her workmen were proving unreliable.

“So you wouldn’t recommend any of your tradesmen then?!” we asked. “Definitely not, why would I?” she responded.

We then took turns sharing stories of shoddy suppliers. Interestingly though, there was a reluctance to share details of those who bucked the trend, by delivering on time and to budget. The reason seemed to be a fear that those people would get inundated with work and would lack the time to fulfil the recommender’s own projects.

On Monday morning I reflected on the importance of recommendations in my own line of work; they are fundamental to New Street delivering a project successfully.
Head-hunt calls are typically made for two reasons:

1) to ascertain an individual’s interest in an opportunity on a personal level; and/or
2) to seek a recommendation from within that person’s network.

The latter is always the most difficult to come by! Individuals who are regularly head-hunted tend to be happy to share their network, recognising that they don’t match the criteria but are nevertheless keen to further advance someone else’ career.

However, many feel uncomfortable making a recommendation. Others ask what’s in it for them. I’ve even had a boss recommend an under-performing team member in an effort to rid themselves of a tough conversation! My personal favourite was a manager who offered up an up and coming member of their team who they felt posed a threat to them! Yes, really!

At New Street, we are keen to develop genuine relationships whereby people feel comfortable making a recommendation and are grateful to our sources who do this. We always handle this kind of information appropriately and in the strictest confidence, and build up mutual trust and goodwill along the way.

What experiences do you have of making a recommendation or indeed securing a new role having been recommended? What are your thoughts on the public recommendations (on LinkedIn, for example) versus private ones?

Helen Barkham – Head of Research

This article was also published on Pulse. If you’d like to comment, please do so here.

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