Three Ethical Tests

One of my earliest childhood memories comes from when I was about three years old. My parents took my brothers and me to visit the grave site of my grandmother, who I never met.

I recall being in the massive cemetery just outside of Cleveland, Ohio; the same final resting place of not only my father’s mother, but also both President Garfield and John D. Rockefeller. Nevertheless, at the ripe age of three, respecting and remembering the dead was just not on my mind at the time. What was on my mind was all of these fabulous headstones and the thought of climbing all over them; like most three-year-old boys, I was more chimpanzee and less human when it came to climbing.

Upon being unleashed, away I went, under the not-so-close supervision of two older brothers, both of whom were younger than 10 at the time. We had a heck of a time. That is until our parents sat us down and explained the whole thing about dead people being just two yards beneath our feet and that by climbing all over these headstones, we were showing disrespect to both the dead and the families who buried them there.

At some point, I remember putting together the notion in my head that if these tombs are their last remaining shrines on Earth, and dead people go to Heaven, and in Heaven we can also find God, and God has supreme command over right and wrong, then I’m probably not sitting too high on God’s list of good kids for that given day. Behold, the dawn of morality had risen over the mind of a young Todd Rogers!

As of late, I have been involved in and sit sideline to several discussions on ethics here on ERE. It’s been a topic of much consideration and I thought it might be a good idea to give this notion a front-row seat, if at least for only one day.

Without question, there are some people reading these words right now and are ready to declare, “Todd Rogers has no business writing an article on ethics, he’s admitted to posting bogus resumes on a job board just to see what’s going on in the market!”

But it’s things such as this that make me unquestionably qualified to write on just such a subject. Practices such as that fall in to that gray-area, and if you go through life staying either black or white on your ethical considerations, then you never get to flex the cognitive muscles which control such deliberations.

If you click on my bio, you’ll discover that while in college, I majored in philosophy. That pretty much means in terms of job qualifications, I’m trained at just about nothing, with a few exceptions. If it involves critically reading, delicately writing, publicly presenting, or sitting around and discussing while not getting paid, then I’m your number one draft pick.

Otherwise, I have to go to law school, get a PhD, or become a recruiter. I took five classes on ethics. Not only did I do the reading, write the papers, and get high marks, but I also found something that truly has meaning to me. I kept most of the books, and much to the dismay of my wife, I still read them and ask her tough and yet silly questions on matter of ethics.

Let’s be clear on this topic: most of the best-known ethicists in history (Socrates, Kant, Mills, Rawls) never made it on to the Forbes list. They mostly did ok in today’s dollars, but cash was not high on the list of priorities.

Walking the Line

So, what’s my prescription for walking the line while not straying off too far in either direction? Before I get in to that, let me say that ethics, like favorite foods, favorite colors, favorite anything, has a component of subjectivity. You’re never going to satisfy 100% of the people impacted by decisions on these matters, so don’t bother trying.

Look at any given topic of political debate for instance. Take the hottest scorcher of them all: abortion. Both sides agree on exactly one thing: the other side is wrong. Beyond that, you’re never going to reconcile the dichotomy.

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Sure, you’ll get some middle-of-the-road types. They travel by all sorts of labels, some right and some wrong: fence sitters, eclectics, those in suspense of judgment, moderates. Yet if you try to come up with a system that is all-encompassing and makes 100% of the people 100% happy 100% of the time, then you better move to Hollywood because it only happens in the movies.

Now, it’s pretty common that in articles like this one you’ll get something that reads: “18 ways to become a better recruiter,” or “The top-10 checklist of the hotshot million-dollar biller.” I believe the best way to list steps for success is to keep them at or below three. Anything beyond that and you’re forced to print it out and pin it up next to your PC along side all the other positive-thinking strategies for living well.

With three or fewer, you can usually read it, retain it, recall it, and apply it all without ever walking over to the printer. So, here are my three:

  1. Adopt a Principle. If you’re getting the feeling that you might be straying in to the fray of evil, ask yourself a few questions. Is there a principle that is underpinning what I am doing? If the answer is yes, which typically it is, then ask yourself whether you would will it upon anyone else in your situation, or whether you would feel comfortable enacting a law that everyone else would have to follow. (This is from Immanuel Kant. It’s called the categorical imperative). If the answer is yes, then you’re probably doing OK.
  2. Ideal Form. With any given activity, think of it in its ideal form. What I mean by that is imagine yourself executing any activity or decision. In doing so, try to critically evaluate your thought process and reasoning. Then, imagine that same activity or decision in comparison to its perfect form. A good tool is to ask whether you would brag about it at a high-school reunion, or would you hide it at a reunion? If you’re proud of it, chances are that the activity is closely matching the ideal, and thus, it’s probably on its way to being ethical. This is a very rough version of Plato. He was not too clear on his ethics. But it works for me. I think of the ideal of anything, and then I try to aspire to be like it, knowing in advance that I can never achieve it, but in doing so, I will at least come pretty close to it.
  3. Divine Command. When all else fails, use what is called divine command. It asks one simple question. Even if you’re an atheist, you can use it. Would God like or dislike what I am doing? It’s a personal matter, to be sure. Of all the ethical theories, this is the one that gets poked at the most. It has all sorts of problems, the list of which is too long to print here. I’m one of those holidays, funerals, and weddings type of church attendee. I prefer the Sunday political talk shows for perspective, I guess. But if I’m really plagued by an issue, when all else fails, I think about whether God would approve. Say what you want about it, but it seems to work for me and a lot of other people. Of course, this is not without its problems. We see evidence of this every night on the news.

Whenever I encounter an exchange and someone invokes the “that’s not ethical” objection, you can be sure I’m the first one to ask why that something isn’t ethical. All too often, when I do that, I’m quickly met with an accusation that by even asking suggests that I too am ethically corrupt.

I implore to the ERE readers that if someone plays the ethical card on you, it is your duty to ask that person why. To not do so will cause atrophy in your ethical reasoning capabilities. Typically, I have found that it is the person who tries to plant the ethical stake in the ground is most often the one who has not a clue what ethics are or how to properly apply them. People in this group most often simply say something such as, “It’s unethical simply because it is, and that is that.”

It’s the classic stone-wall tactic that essentially disengages that person from the dialogue. Too often you will hear something such as, “Well, I don’t know about this or that, but what I do know is that it is wrong.”

When I was three years old, my feeble mind didn’t have the capacity to know that climbing on people’s grave stones was not a good thing to do. After my folks explained it to me, I logically reasoned my way through an argument which for years, for nearly a decade, convinced me that I might be going south in the afterlife.

The key piece of that concluding statement is I logically reasoned my way. You should try that one too. And do yourself the favor of not trying to rely on people who would have you do otherwise. I’m 32 years older now and two things are for sure: I’m always asking myself challenging questions when confronted with difficult situations, and I don’t climb on headstones.

Todd Rogers is the sole partner with The Alva Bradley Company, LLC, a professional services firm in Fishers, Indiana. Prior to founding ABC, LLC, Todd worked in sales for He has a total of eight years experience in the recruiting industry, which by his own account feels more like 80 years. He also served five years in the U.S. Marines, and has a B.A. in philosophy from Kent State University in Ohio.


50 Comments on “Three Ethical Tests

  1. Recently I had occasion to speak in front of a group of twenty five or so recruiters and sourcers that were interested in the subject of telephone names sourcing. Early in my presentation I asked the group did they have ?issues? surrounding, (what is a touchy subject around here -here being ERE) ?rusing?. They looked at me, kind of half dumb-founded, like they had no issues and why in the world would I bring it up? I passed over it and did not bring it up again. It made me think that maybe I?ve become sensitized on the subject as a result of all the rhetoric I read in here. Just a thought. My jury?s still out on it (the thought).

    John Godfrey Saxe’s ( 1816-1887) version of the famous Indian legend,

    It was six men of Indostan,
    To learning much inclined,
    Who went to see the Elephant
    (Though all of them were blind),
    That each by observation
    Might satisfy his mind.

    The First approach’d the Elephant,
    And happening to fall
    Against his broad and sturdy side,
    At once began to bawl:
    ‘God bless me! but the Elephant
    Is very like a wall!’

    The Second, feeling of the tusk,
    Cried, -‘Ho! what have we here
    So very round and smooth and sharp?
    To me ’tis mighty clear,
    This wonder of an Elephant
    Is very like a spear!’

    The Third approach’d the animal,
    And happening to take
    The squirming trunk within his hands,
    Thus boldly up and spake:
    ‘I see,’ -quoth he- ‘the Elephant
    Is very like a snake!’

    The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
    And felt about the knee:
    ‘What most this wondrous beast is like
    Is mighty plain,’ -quoth he,-
    ”Tis clear enough the Elephant
    Is very like a tree!’

    The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
    Said- ‘E’en the blindest man
    Can tell what this resembles most;
    Deny the fact who can,
    This marvel of an Elephant
    Is very like a fan!’

    The Sixth no sooner had begun
    About the beast to grope,
    Then, seizing on the swinging tail
    That fell within his scope,
    ‘I see,’ -quoth he,- ‘the Elephant
    Is very like a rope!’

    And so these men of Indostan
    Disputed loud and long,
    Each in his own opinion
    Exceeding stiff and strong,
    Though each was partly in the right,
    And all were in the wrong!

    So, oft in theologic wars
    The disputants, I ween,
    Rail on in utter ignorance
    Of what each other mean;
    And prate about an Elephant
    Not one of them has seen!

    The above version of Saxe’s poem was published in 1878 in Linton’s ‘Poetry of America’ and can be found via Google Book Search.

  2. If any action has to be questioned as to whether it is ethical or not, then it probably isn’t ethical and should be reconsidered.

    What intrigued me more in this article was the following statement.

    ?Even if you’re an atheist, you can use it. Would God like or dislike what I am doing??

    Surely if an atheist asked if God would like or dislike what they are doing, they cannot be an atheist. An atheist would not be interested in whether a God would like something or not because to an atheist there are no Gods.

    More to the point, religious beliefs have been used extensively in previously ethical discussions in some way or another by way of justifying certain actions. i.e. I must be ethical because I am a devout Christian and therefore what I am doing must be okay.

    Ethics in business is about having a professional attitude at all times, nothing more, nothing less. There really is no grey area unless you are trying to justify an unethical practice.

  3. I think perhaps the atheist comment was a bit off too. It doesn’t make sense for an atheist to even contemplate what God would think. Atheists don’t consider God, because they don’t belief in God. Unfortunately I think that comment distracted the important message of your article: thinking in principles.

    I am not a big Kant fan myself. Ayn Rand never made the Forbes list either (to my knowledge) but she had some great advice for thinking in principles. And she made plenty of money ethically.

    The problem is when people don’t pick the right principles.

    Getting back to God, there was plenty of people back in the day that thought The Crusades was a good and ethically idea as well….

  4. I am not sure who said it so I won’t take credit for it. But let?s make it simple. If you have to ask yourself whether it is ethical or not then most likely it isn’t.

  5. A fourth consideration when determining if something is ethical is the Culture or the social norm of that country. While bribes are not considered ethical here, in some countries bribes are considered a normal business practice and the subject on whether or not it is eithical would give them a moment’s pause.

    In my opinion you have three categories of decision making.
    1. Ethical
    2. Moral
    3. Legal

    When those three collide, then you need to take into account the cultural differences.

  6. Tony – nice catch (I hope others notice this too); Todd – you had to ruin a fine article by asking an atheist to ask a divine question??

    For the sake of a discussion, let’s assume you were thinking of an agnostic. Ethical recruiting and ethical treatment of animals in research use the same line of reasoning…

    Is there a principle that is underpinning what I am doing? Heck yes – I’m trying to discover a way to cure an evil disease.

    Would I brag about it at a high-school reunion? Yes, I’m discovering a cure for cancer.

    Would God dislike what I am doing? I suppose I’ll have to wait until judgment day but I have yet to be struck down by lightening…

    Naturally, others take different positions. Fine, it’s a free country but in the end, as a recruiter, I’m providing a valuable service to a company and a great opportunity to a person.

    Recruiting is a solid part of the American Dream (add any other country here) – we identify and recruit fine people and these people do amazing things at a company. The fact is that companies will do anything to keep the evil-doers from speaking with their property (how pathetic); if you can?t provide a better opportunity for an employee and someone else can, what’s the alternative? ‘Yes Mr. Plantation Owner, I know you own me but I want to be a free man!’ ‘I’m sorry but I do own you and that’s the end of this discussion.’

    Recruiting is an integral part of Business Darwinism ? some companies just don?t make it. Awwwwww. Complaining about how we get to people ? ruse, ruse, ruse, ruse, ruse ? is a lame excuse used (a) by recruiters who get trumped by other recruiters or (b) by less effective recruiters. Can you think of other reasons why some recruiters hate rusing?

    The number of cases where a bad lemon is identified and convicted are very small. People will naturally complain when they believe they have been aggrieved but more often than not these cases just run out of legs. Stop quoting statistics from tracking organizations or legal cases either wholly out of context or having nothing to do with the spirit of recruiting ? giving people the freedom from jobs that are holding them back. A Code of Ethics like the ones from NAPS or AESC are not solutions. Neither are ones from SHRM ? I know quite a few heads of HR and their knowledge of recruiting (nothing personal here) is still old school. Their opinions change very quickly when shown the fruits of direct sourcing.

    Sure there are low lifes in our profession – as in all professions; stop blaming the entire profession for the works of a scant few. If only the naysayers would spent just a little of their energy discussing ways to retain people?

  7. How do you separate professional ?code of ethics? and your personal ?morals?? It is said that a code of ethics is a formal statement of an organizations values on certain ethical and social issues. Defined as an organizations belief on matters such as quality, employees or the environment. They are often not part of any more general theory of ethics but accepted as pragmatic necessities.

    What I took from the article is that there are ?Grey? areas. Nothing is black and white and without a set of guidelines to follow, we as recruiters do have to make judgment calls within boundaries. Everyday recruiters have to make a decision to say or do the correct thing. These issues are not, nor should they be issues of morals, but of standards the company employs to create an image or statement of how the organization will run their business. If you are about to do something that can compromise your moral belief, than you are or your company has a problem that far exceeds a ?code of ethics? quandary.

  8. Here is a wonderful Quote from the JOSEPHSON INSTITUTE OF ETHICS

    ?Most people have convictions about what is right and wrong based on religious beliefs, cultural roots, family background, personal experiences, laws, organizational values, professional norms and political habits. These are not the best values to make ethical decisions by ? not because they are unimportant, but because they are not universal.
    In contrast to consensus ethical values ? such basics as trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship ? personal and professional beliefs vary over time, among cultures and among members of the same society. They are a source of continuous historical disagreement, even wars. There is nothing wrong with having strong personal and professional moral convictions about right and wrong, but unfortunately, some people are ‘moral imperialists’ who seek to impose their personal moral judgments on others. The universal ethical value of respect for others dictates honoring the dignity and autonomy of each person and cautions against self-righteousness in areas of legitimate controversy?

    So here is a question for the group ? Is it like the chicken and the egg, which came first – ethics or laws.. To say that they are not related, well then please look at history cause this will date back all the way to Plato and Aristotle?s where it was discovered that one’s interpretation of the law will necessarily influence the interpretation of ethics, and vice versa, they form a package, and thus to understand the system of law one must understand the system of ethics.

    Political Philosophy is primarily constrained to the workings of governments and nations ? how they developed, why they developed, which systems are better than others, what the purpose of government should be, etc. All of this is closely related to Ethics, because so much is dependent upon what actions are right, the protection of the vulnerable within such a society, Protection of personal needs and privacy; but here, there is the added element of what actions can and should be constrained by outside human forces – and thus new laws are created due to lack of ethics.

    Think of it like the yard stick for politicians and the public to determine and cope with situations where the standard law fails to provide legal solutions to the public in protecting human rights and maintaining the welfare of the economy. Since there are No clear guidelines between law and ethics, and dealing with problems of each individuals personal interpretation of obligation and personal conscience, then we are left with the Law to create these guidelines for us.

    Thus the laws are created by determining that the concern is something by which a large portion of society has a shared consensus, and then an existence that the doing threatens the peace of the public. Then of course comes the punishment, what is fair or too harsh.

    Obedience to law is not absolute. When important ethical principles are jeopardized by legal issues, citizens are confronted with an ethical problem. An attempt to alter the law and, if need be, civil disobedience remains one of the corner stones of democratic process

    Thus the link between professional ethics and the law whether legal or moral is – The regulation of behavior and the protection of society

    Laws that came into effect due to the protection of human rights, that came about due to a moral stance – Civil Rights, Equal Pay, 6th Ammendment, 4th ammendment, clean air acts, energy conversation laws (protect our environment), price fixing.

    People and associations who helped create changes and Laws due to ethics and need to prtoect the masses – Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Womens Rights Movement (too many names) United Nations (has several division to concern and develop human, economic, social and cultural rights. ACLU, FTC, Better business bureau. Peoples Republic, Public Citizen are some great ones as well.

    I close, there are people like myself who believe that there should be a duty of care, confidentiality, social responsibility and compliance with the laws of this industry ; We strive to defend positive values, ethical and legal behavior and Social Responsibility to the Public and business world, and encouraging more positive business practices.

    It is perplexing that an individual will become chastised or disparaged and belittled because of expressing concerns with illegal or unethical behavior, actions that can cause harm (physical and emotional) to others (including intentional harm to competitors and companies), and not just the innocent by-stander (candidate or client) but also the fellow recruiter

  9. There are many who utilize very colorful and somewhat degrading comments because they feel threatened by the opposing views of others.

    Though we share differing points of views, there seems to be a some who forget that there are Many on this forum who do understand and are familiar with the Recruiting Code of Conduct and Standards. They Believe in them. They also acknowledge a ‘preferred’ socially acceptable recruiting behavior. And Yes Many of us would like to see more of this behavior enforced, or respected.

    There are some who challenge what we are saying, labeling us as Detractors, Naysayers, ethics queens and other colorful terms; they then propose that they know the answers, that they are of course the way to go..

    I ask though, does this argument not go both ways.. for those fingers wagging at us ?Naysayers?, is it not possible that there are several pointing back in your direction? Are You not doing the Same if not more in your Dictating your beliefs as well?

    There was a comment of the freedom of this wonderful country, then is it not possible that We should also have the freedom to demand or Even Speak and Support Ethics in our industry, especially since it affects Us as a whole, just as you have the right to discuss your views on ethics? just as You have the right to differ..

    Should it also be w/o judgment and allowing us the freedom to say we oppose this behavior because we believe in Standards? Is it possible that we can try to maintain an understanding that this is a Professional Forum, where people come for education, and where individuals do want to see more Professional Information that implement the standards of our industry. Why is it Wrong for us to want to strive for better?

    It is not uncommon for Any industry, especially a professional industry to be concerned by the directions that misinformation, poor advice, and uninformed point of views can affect the business, and those individuals to be concerned and strive for more Communal acceptable behavior.

    By the way, there was a comment made about misinformation.. Find this interesting from an individual who sees Ruse calling only as an ethical issue.. Actually that is more of a legal issue. As I mentioned in a previous post ? I spoke to the FTC personally on that one.

    Anyways I digress, I ask ? why is it okay for you to point your fingers, name call, and discuss what moral (choice of word of week) we are, when in fact are you not doing the same if not worse (as you guys tend to do the Name calling) just because you have an opposing view?

    Karen M

  10. Steve,
    in re-reading your post — There is something that I find strange – Are you saying that Recruiters are Not good unless they ruse call

    That the ONLY way to find candidates is by Ruse calling or Applying techniques that may not live up to the Professional Obligations and Standards of the industry

    Taking One of your comments – ‘Complaining about how we get to people ? ruse, ruse, ruse, ruse, ruse ? is a lame excuse used (a) by recruiters who get trumped by other recruiters or (b) by less effective recruiters. Can you think of other reasons why some recruiters hate rusing?’

    I find it really interesting that We recruiters who focus on More positive ways in gaining clients, candidates, and having a more Postive there are universal and consensus values in business are considered to Be lest Effective

    If there are indeed people who are having to defend this type of recruiting because of Lack of knowledge of how to Better Brand yourself and business Please – don’t hesitate to call, I can show you a more positive, and Very effective Way.

    Also, Steve, the legal knowledge — Let’s call it RISK MANAGEMENT — people don’t want to get into legal hotwater, even if they Do Know for 100 percent sure, that they will Win from the outcome.. Risk Management saves a lot of money from the onset.

  11. Sherry:
    Atheists are always thinking about God. They seem to be obsessed with the subject; haven?t you noticed?

    Ayn Rand’s objectivism would certainly accommodate rusing–which is, I think the nub of the ethics argument.
    And—the Crusades were an excellent idea–and a necessity.

    We have a simple rule here, which I’ve sort of adapted from the Stoics.
    ?Don’t tell a material lie to a client or candidate.?

    I look forward to the parsing of that statement.

    Bill Wager
    Hunter Green
    40 Exchange Place
    NY, NY 10005

  12. It’s interesting how there is so much talk concerning ethics, morales and such but not one example…

    I have one. Living in a small county in CA everyone knows everyone. It just so happened a major manufacturing facility was closing down and invited a select few companies to recruit at their facility. My company was included along with a significant temporary recruiting firm. A few days later I get a phone call from the temp recruiting firm stating, ‘Hi I’m such and such from blah company and while interviewing a candidate from (manuf. facility) I found out that you are looking for sales candidates. I have quite a few candidates I would like to send their resumes.’ Knowing the HR staff at the manuf. company very well I was trying to place their people in as many positions as I could, I was appalled at the way the recruiter told me how they found out the information. Am I just being prudish?

  13. ‘Sherry:
    Atheists are always thinking about God. They seem to be obsessed with the subject; haven?t you noticed?’

    Some are true. Just like some who are not gay are obessed with gays being able to marry
    But most atheists don’t ask themselves when faced with an ethical dilemna ‘What would God do in a situation like this?’
    I know literally dozens of ethical atheists. I wouldn’t speak for all atheist in general because to be none as just an atheist is silly, in my book. Atheism ISN’T an ethical or moral code. It is just a lack of a belief or a total belief in a deity. I have known plenty of dishonest people as well: some with faith, and some atheist.

    ‘Ayn Rand’s objectivism would certainly accommodate rusing–which is, I think the nub of the ethics argument.’

    Anyone that has ever made an actual indepth study of Objectivism you would find that isn’t correct at all. Honesty is very important.
    Again, I known plenty of Objectivists who are more honest than most people in general that I know. It is a shame that there is such a widespread misrepresentation of the philosophy.
    As far as calling into a company and NOT specifically saying who you are, that isn’t exactly rusing. Lying about who you are, sure that is. I am personally uncomfortable with rusing. I really don’t think it is in my best interest to operate that way. But I am only speaking for myself here.

    ‘And—the Crusades were an excellent idea–and a necessity.’
    That is your opinion, and I will respect that. But I ask, which Crusades are you referring to? Muslim? Christian? I view them both the same way, and therefore didn’t specify which I was referring to. I personally find it a repugnant that murder and outright oppression is used to spread faith, but hey, that’s my opinion.

    I only commented on the atheism part because I think it really distracted from the rest of the article, a good which I agreed with, and some I didn’t.

  14. I am sorry, but I am just going to ask. What is rusing????Please be polite in your answers as I use words that others sometimes don’t know as well.

  15. Jennifer:

    Can you elaborate? What exactly was it that offended you?
    You stated that you wanted to place as many of these people as you could. So does the other fellow and he’s obviously doing a better job– that would offend the living heck out of me too, I suppose.
    Though I would look at what I didn’t do rather than what the other fellow is doing.
    Asking your candidates who else they are talking to is a basic; that someone else remembered and you didn’t is not an ethical problem by even the tin-foil hat standard sometimes espoused here.

  16. I’d like to chime in on this whole ‘ETHICS’ debate.

    I first disagree ETHICS should even be a debatable subject … you either are ethical or not. It’s as simple as that.

    Before the Old Testament there was Hammurabi. Considered the leader of the world’s first successful Big City (or metropolis) … Hammurabi had to do something to prevent chaos and establish law and order in what was becoming the Las Vegas of its time: Babylon.

    He developed the Hammurabi Code … considered by many historians as the predecssor of the what was later refined into the ‘Ten Commandments’ and attributed to Moses.

    Like or not, law and religion are intertwined with one another. Accept it and deal with it.

    Ever wonder why State and Supreme Court Judges wear ROBES that are quite similar in design to those of ancient high priests???

    Because these ‘Codes’ (laws) had profound positive impact on the society … they became considered ‘Sacred’ and later woven into ‘religious’ books by the Old testament. Because excellent laws resulted in wondrous positive results … they took on religious and powerful ‘other worldly’ auras.

    All this stir about Ten Commandments not being something that should be displayed in a courthouse
    is nonsense. They were among the first laws and are historic to today’s legal system which is rooted in such, regardless of how you might believe they ‘originated’ whether it was lighting striking a tablet or Moses copying Hammurabi secretively esconced on a mountain top because of his own Bablyon situation brewing below.

    Hammurabi’s codes even included the first known ‘Building Codes’ (slay the builder of any house that collapses and kills another as but one example). Knowing you would be executed if your construction failed was a very strong impetus in ensuring quality construction don’t you think?

    Marriage was also established as between Man and woman (what a novel idea) and many laws that became part of the Roman Empire, United Kingdom, and today the United States … stem back to Hammurabi.

    As a side note some of these laws originating in what is now modern Iraq and Iran have since been turned on their head to include religious law which Hammurabi never intended. The position of women back then … was ‘free and dignified’. Even wages minimums were established. And free travel in and out of the city by horse, mule, camel, donkey was considered a ‘right’ (See Hammurabi’s code at Fordham University:

    Since people living in Babylon spoke many different languages and came from many different cultures and regions … Hammurabi created the codes to have one fundamental set of rules everyone, regardless of tribal custom or religion … had to abide by.

    It worked so well that 3,700 years later new societies remain hard pressed to improve upon it.

    I’m proud to say since being in the search business since 1987, I have never had one complaint filed with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (Bureau of Employment Services) which regulates my licensing.

    I have never had one complaint with the BBB either (not from a client or candidate … there was one complaint from a web design vendor we never paid because they botched the job up and we won that dispute).

    And I have never stepped foot in court once (something I’m leery about even mentioning as the this revelation alone can turn the odds against me!). I’m not perfect … but work hard at doing what is right and that pays its own dividends.

    In fact I even have a web page dedicated to my belief in ethics posted right up on on my web site.

    You can not re-invent what millenia has proven works well. There is only one code of ethics and conduct and its foundation is in the same ancient institutions that gave rise to Islam, Judaism, and Christianity combined.

    By the way in closing I’d like to add an interesting observation: Every single day I receive calls from ‘other recruiters’ attempting to a) recruit me (they sound so silly not having done their homework) or b)Provide split candidate referral business to us knowing of our backlog in job openings posted on various split board sites.

    When I ask a simple question such as ‘Are you properly licensed?’ every single one has replied ‘No’.

    ‘Did you know you must be licensed to recruit from your state?’ I might add. Again ‘No, I didn’t know I even needed a license’.

    ‘Then when you get your license come back to me and we’ll do business’ is a common reply as the rest of the conversation usually reveals the same lack of care to business conduct. If I can do things the ‘right way’ I expect business partners to do so as well.

    If you have no self respect in your own business ethics how am I supposed to want to work with you?

    Astonishingly every single call I receive weekly from a so called ‘professional recruiter’ falls apart when they reveal they are not even following the most basic legal requirements to market their services.

    While I’m far from perfect and have made my share of mistakes … I do try hard to avoid them.

  17. Elizabeth,
    The simple definition of rusing is lying to someone to get information out of them. For example, calling into a company, lying about your name, the purpose for your call, etc.

    Others her can give you more specific and detailed definitions on it.

  18. Why is religion even brought up when discussing Ethics? Ethics is not based upon Religious beliefs and Ideals..

    Wonder which God/s Leucippus, Epicurus, Democritus, Socrates, Plato or Aristoles (the fathers of ethics- amongst other things) would have considered when teaching their amazing theories — by the way, anyone familiar of the works of Democritus.. The father of Democracy.. Those two truly go hand in hand.

    Democracy – The principles of social equality and RESPECT for the individual within a community

    In business and yes even in some aspects of Personal life – there are universal and consensus values associated with what an individual would consider as Normative Behaviors; Things as simple as living up to contracts, respecting one’s word, mis representation, fairness, Respect, honesty, doing what one promises – Professional Obligations- these Values are indeed universal in business.

    How one implements these values also impacts the decisions of whether an individual or company decides to work with you. It is a brand. It is often called living up to a reputation. It is indeed Business Excellence – which in it’s own way really cannot be seperated from personal.. If I lie or cheat at home, then would it not be more than likely that I would be prone to do the same in business?

    Social Responsibility + Knowledge + Ability = Business Excellence + Profitibility (longterm, not short term) — This is and has been scientifically proven.

    Businesses who promote an Socially Acceptable value System in their process will perform Better, be more successful, and achieve more business. Longer and continually.
    It also helps with Your Risk Managment

  19. Frank:

    In defense of your many, many supplicants, I would point out that most states no longer require a business to register as an employment agency. New Jersey is fairly distinctive in it’s regulatory environment for small business.

    Thanks for the Hammurabi post, I love the guy, especially how he deals with crooked contractors.

    I would love to deconstruct morals, ethics and laws yet again but I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole discussion is really no more than a symptom of mass terminal call reluctance.

    BTW: thanks for the tip. I called Paul and got the info I required.

  20. Bill,
    good response — Re 26 states license the Staffing side of this industry, and 14 license the Direct hire

    But…. all the states do have laws that do surround the industry as to what they should or should not do — this comes from when all states required licensing.

    For example – fraudulent or misrepresenting job postings is indeed a misdemeanor in Ca, which is not a regulated state.. as is the guarantee timeframe.. In fact 23 states have a placement fee limit, and many of them were not the regulated states..

    Anyways, it is all interesting —


  21. ‘I would love to deconstruct morals, ethics and laws yet again but I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole discussion is really no more than a symptom of mass terminal call reluctance.’
    That is why I usually save ERE for after work, hahah.

  22. Seems that some were little heated by my comment regarding – Social Responsibility + Knowledge
    + Ability = Business Excellence + Profitibility (longterm, not short
    term) — This is and has been scientifically proven.’ based upon an email I received today

    I thought that I would paste the Link, and the information surrounding this comment – It really is worth the read –

    This was the finding of ‘meta-studies’ in 2005. A meta-study is distinguished by being a study of studies – it rolls up years of research by various theorists, using various lenses, studying different industries, different time periods, different definitions of social responsibility, and so on. This lends such studies an outsized authority

    One of the Studies won the Moskowitz Prize of the Social Investment Forum, awarded for outstanding research in social investing. conducted by Marc Orlitzky of the University of Sydney, Australia, and by Frank Schmidt and Sara Rynes from the University of Iowa. Their meta-analysis, ‘Corporate Social and Financial Performance,’ was a study of 52 studies over 30 years

    The second major meta-study was released, and commissioned by the UK Environment Agency. The analysis looked at 60 research studies over the last six years, finding that 51 of them (85 percent) showed a positive correlation between environmental management and financial performance. Again, we have rigorous proof that good environmental management delivers financial benefits.

    There is another article also worth the Read that also discusses the topic Ethical Behaviour Pays Off Financially!

    This discusses another research Study by the Institute of Business Ethics has shown for the first time that companies with a clear commitment to ethical conduct outperform those that do not

  23. I must agree with Bill that the post by Frank was good and that Hammurabi lesson was great. To me ,the discussion of ethics is a lot like a NASCAR race. It’s really noisy.You go around and around and somebody crashes and then when it’s over, you wait to see who is going to give the other guy the old half peace sign and jump through a windshield and try to beat the crud out of them. What gets me is that after going around and around,crashing and burning,fighting and the rest of it….for all that,you’re right back where you started. That’s what this discussion has been. A whole 500 miles of going around and around and winding up right back where it started. Ethics are subjective. If you have to ask whether something is ethically wrong, it’s probably wrong. Also, I think that Bill is correct o mundo regarding the call reluctance factor. We would all be better served to go onto something other than ethics, because all we will ever have is a NASCAR race with that subject. We could start a discussion about why anybody over the age of 40 or anybody 40 lbs. overweight should not be seen in public wearing leather pants or Speedos and we would get more out of it than this ongoing diatribe about ethics.(You’re not ethical,nyah nyah. Am so. Are not.Etc,etc,etc) As I have matured (gotten old) I have learned that the truth is that you can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd and in this case, I believe that the herd is tired of this discussion. Let’s get back to something informative and helpful and utilize the vast knowledge available to assist our fellow recruiters rather than continue to try to legislate morals and ethics. I believe I speak for more than one person when I plead for an end to this madness , this Groundhog Day of a discussion about ethics and rusing. It’s over and nobody wins,let’s move along.

  24. Frank.
    Thank you for your lengthy and thoughtful response. It got me thinking. When you started your contribution, you noted, ‘I first disagree ETHICS should even be a debatable subject … you either are ethical or not. It’s as simple as that’

    I’m not 100% certain as to what you meant. But, in thinking about this statement, something occured to me. Certainly people are going to disagree that some things are ethical, and other people are going to think that they are not. For example, with slavery in US history. There were opposing points of view, one of which held that forced and uncompensated labor amounts to unethical behavior. There was another side who believed exactly opposite, and they were able to maintain that belief (and economic mode) for several hundred years. Now, I happen to believe it’s unethical (slavery). But, if I were a slave owner, and I followed your principle, it would be ethical for me to own slaves, after all, you either are ethical or not. It’s as simple as that. Now, we had a war which answered the question, at least for the time being. But, for clarification, would you mind sharing what criteria you recommend using to determine if something is or is not ethical?

  25. Sorry for responding so quickly – I just received an email I wanted to share with the group – it was very enlightening –

    Common Values are indeed shared amongst Most Cultures and nations
    We can look towards the United Nations to better understand the Common Values and Ethics we share — Quoted from the UN ‘All nations and communities worldwide — with various cultural, religious and historical backgrounds — shared the concept of universality of human rights while maintaining their particularities and observing their specific cultural and religious values. Without respect for cultural and religious diversity, accompanied by a meaningful dialogue among civilizations, the result could very well be conflict, violence and war.’ found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights created in 1948

    Also the President of the Institute for Global Ethics, Rushworth M. Kidder identified a list of common human values shared by most cultures throughout the world in his book Shared Values for a Troubled World.

    These included
    We want to have proven accomplishments and general success. Appeals to a universal ‘ambition’ or ‘work’ are made.
    Goodwill, kindness, charity, honesty, truth, and friendship. Having a sense of ownership of one’s acts for others or on the behalf of others. This is often promoted in religious beliefs. We serve others to find self-actualization.
    The issue of respect for one’s people, elders and customs can be seen throughout cultures.
    Simply put, we want to feel good!
    This is the capability to be in command. We seek apperception and recognition from others. Power can take the form of social influence or even wealth as well as more destructive means.
    This we seek in the home with interpersonal relationships as well as with physical safety of ourselves and our loved ones. Security is also a governmental issue in domestic and international levels. We want to know that we can grow in a physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy way.
    We seek a freedom of choice! The empowerment to determine what direction we will choose to focus our lives upon.
    We want to be involved in creative, intellectual and physical challenge.
    Many cultures want to know that there is a solid past from which they can still hold unto in a sometimes chaotic world.
    Holistic outlook which promotes oneness with others. Justice and equality are often stressed. Peace, and trust are valued.

    Because we are all in one community now. Both within nations and across boundaries, intercultural contact and integration bring all of us into contact with diverse people and their customs every day. In order to live together, we rely on shared understandings of right and wrong

  26. The UN is antithetical to any code of ethical conduct. One need only look as far as the human rights abuses of its Security Council membership and the entire membership itself for that matter. The graft and corruption which flourished under the outgoing Secretary General has set records in that dubious category of distinction. Political governance on the world scene and ethics, in practice, are mutually exclusive. One does better to address ethics and codes of ethics from the personal standpoint relative to community-based standards of accountability. Who watches what I do, hears what I say I believe to be right, and measures the distance between the two?

  27. Todd –

    I’m not an expert on the history of slavery other than what I learned in school and picked up touring historical sites.

    Picking this topic is a bit of ridiculously dramatic over-reach having little to nothing to do with modern recruiting and taking this recruiting-centric forum way off topic.

    Coming from an ancestry of poor back country Italian peasants that could barely afford to put a chunk of bread on the table sufficient to be shared amoung a family of seven (as was the case with my grandparents) … the ownership of slavery … was not on anyone of my parents or great grandparents’ minds.

    To my mother who lived in Sicily during the Great Depression and then the World War II Allied Invasion, dodging Allied bombs and aerial attacks of her neighborhood was the problem to live through each day. Such weekly bombings which killed her childhood’s best girlfriend when she was around 14 years old right in front of her own eyes leaving nothing but remanants of her clothing … was enough of a day-to-day worry.

    I never knew there was such a thing as slavery until I was taught such in history lessons in middle school.

    I have a problem when people raise this weary and over-relied-upon subject as an excuse for every debate if it is something I’m supposed to feel badly about when my own mother was racing from one church to another just a few decades ago dodging bombs and watching her neighborhood get blown up.

    My parents life threatening issues were real and took place during OUR life time. That’s why she escaped to America.

    They had to first endure Sicily during the Great Depression when food was scarce; and then invasions first of Facist troops, then Allied invading forces from the other end.

    It was a miracle anyone made it off the island alive back then which history seems to have completely ignored.

    Now what were you mentioning?

    Oh yea .. slavery. I’ve heard of that too.

    From my tours of Williamsburg and other historical landmarks such as Jefferson’ls Monticello, and John Adam’s and Washington’s estate … I’ve learned many owners of slavery at the time found it to be ‘… an abomination …’ as several were quoted stating during their lives.

    Both Washington and Jefferson had such feelings.

    So at least a half century before the national division (war) … there were many leaders that knew this was wrong and immoral even though laws permitted it.

    There are many things today which laws permit … yet can be ‘immoral’ based on those with differing beliefs.

    Here in New Jersey recruiters are licensed and held under a microscope with what is the nation’s most stringent state-regulations.

    To me ethics is abiding by those regulations, as well as the additional federal layer, while intertwining both with my own morals and religious underpinnings.

    I can’t answer your slavery question but have my report card that I have run my business as ethically as is possible at this point in time.

    The best report card I have are the dozens of ‘Thank You’ cards, letters and testimonials I receive from grateful candidates all over the U.S. about their new position.

    That’s plenty sufficient for my humble life.

  28. Frank,
    excellent comment – I have a suggestion – Since a Grand Majority are familiar with Western Customs and the Standard Value system and Code of Conduct regarding Business Ethics

    And this is a Recruiting Forum, and yes there are Code of Conduct and Ethics that are literally been around for nearly a century.. or even more, and can be found on many of the National Recruiting Associations and they are similar also to those of SHRM and other H.R associations..

    Why not focus on those.. at least that would give us a more tangible focus, would it not.. ?

  29. To bring ethics to a personal level and ignore the ‘official’ stance of any company or country or organization is to say in essence that there is no standard. There is only what I can see and believe in my limited view. Situational ethics have no back bone beyond personal opinion.

  30. Bravo Todd for inspiring a lively & interesting discussion.

    Does anyone doubt there is a moral order to the universe?

    Whether one believes in god or not, humans are equipped with a moral compass or we wouldn’t be debating the issue of ethics, codes of conduct or socially acceptable behavior, or the moral relativism of slavery.

    Some things are clearly WRONG yet can be easily justified or even excused by circumstances, culture, religion, etc. For example, murder is clearly wrong but sometimes killing is justified as in war, self-defense, or if you support the death penalty. Who among us would send a father to the gas chamber for killing the pedophile that raped his ten-year-old daughter?

    Right or wrong, the ‘white lie’ of ‘rusing’ is justified by recruiters/sourcers who use this technique because they need to make a living – and because it works for them. And what about all those candidates ‘exaggerating’ on their resumes? One could say ‘nobody gets hurt’ by a small deceptions. Does that make it right? Is stealing a loaf of bread to feed your family as bad as the theivery of Ken Lay?

    I personally regard abortion as murder – clearly science has proven beyond a doubt life begins at conception. Yet it’s not for me to judge the personal circumstances of another woman who might consider abortion a justifiable choice (side note, I sincerely wish my tax dollars weren’t paying for it).

    I say ‘follow your moral compass’ – if it feels wrong, and you find yourself making up various excuses to justify what you’re doing, then it is clearly WRONG. Find a better way that does not conflict with your values, morals or business/religious principles – or you’ll find yourself on a slippery slope where it gets easier & easier to fool yourself – and you’ll end up like Ken Lay.

    The worst criminals are the hypocrites who publicly preach against practices they secretly relish in private. To thine own self be true.

  31. I don’t want to debate general ethics (I thought this was a recruiting forum), but did see something completely relevent in all this. Is it unethical to waste someones time on purpose? Isn’t this a form of stealing? Isn’t posting a fictional resume wasting someone’s time (ie. taking the time to read a resume and try to contact someone that doesn’t exist is a total waste of time)? Personally, I consider that somewhat fraudulent and the equivalent of stealing a bit of the recruiters time, but of course like just about everything in ethics that is a personal opinion. Please understand, I am not looking to ‘attack anyone’ (far from it because it is clear the person that does that clearly thinks about ethics and tries to be ethical), but am interested to see the logic in why it might be ethical to post a fictional resume.

  32. I have been a recruiter Since the early 70’s and it boggles my mind that we still are having such a long and convulted discussion of Ethics. I have worked as a Recruiter in the technical services industry, worked as a contract recruiter, as a Corprate recruiter and ran my own recruiting company for 5 years and managed a large staff of recruiters. I have worked for small and large corporations including family owned as well as large stockholder held corporations. On occasion I have been given assignments which were ethically challenging. On those occasions my response has been to question myself if I or my company would like to be subject to questionable tactics and the answer has always followed the golden rule. ‘DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE DONE TO YOU’

    It is not based on religion but simple pure self interest. This is a small world with instantaneous communication systems. If you violate the ‘golden rule’ it will come back to haunt you. The old ‘what goes around comes around’ Principle.

    If there are so many ethically challenged recruiters in the industry perhaps a view of their own long term self interest and in the end the interest of their employer will provide a guiding principle.
    Rather than the short term view of modern society of ‘Instant Gratification’.

    Let’s end this disussion and go back to the real function of a recruiter. Put people to WORK.

  33. Brian et al –

    There is not enough discussion about ethics, but as it pertains to our business; perhaps not the historical/philosphical diatribes. Here are a few:
    -Got a $205k check for a $20.5k fee – called & returned it in person, leaving at 5:30 AM for the 140 mile roundtrip to avoid traffic.
    –Sent a check for time & car expense if its our fault sending the candidate out to the wrong address or on the wrong day.
    —An AE here, introducing another AE’s candidate, who was much better than hers even though they were at the offer stage (yes, they did indeed hire the better one & she gave up some of her fee).

    We believe that, overall, we will end up booking more business.

    Maybe not as interesting, but, maybe a few others might add to this list. – Jon

  34. Get on a phone and start making some calls. Ethics? When I jump in my 500 and cash my checks, thats all I think about. Was I ethical in my success…..
    All of you who have spent so much time talking about ethics are just wasting your companies time and resources….thats unethical.

  35. Brian is correct, its interesting that Todd writes about ethics but when actualy pulled up about misrepresenting himself, his answer was to blow it off.

    Ethics is a personal issue and no amount of discussion on this board will make people believe that their ethics / morals are other than what they are.

    While I belive in debate and discussion, the ‘ethical debate’ comes down to your own personal standards… Todd seees nothing wrong with posting fake resumes and misrepresnting who he is blatantly where as I do.

    Which of us is right and which is wrong?… well, based on your own personal standards it could be either. ( although I personaly believe I’m right:))

    So, while I appreciate all the discussion, its gotten a little out of control.

    Just my own, personal opinion, not to say its right or wrong but its mine…


  36. The debate that ethics are personal is indeed shocking. Ethics are Truly not personal

    When someone behaves unethically the fallout is not personal, it doesn’t only affect you or your business.. there is always a third party who will be injured by the unethical behavior

    Yesterday I met an attorney at the airport; His company recently interviewed an attorney through a recruiter. The recruiter had suggested to the candidate that they omit a particular job that they had only been at for 3 mths from the resume.

    The Firm found out through the investigation about the ‘ommission’ – The firm later reported this Candidate to the bar association. There was a Professional Discord in omission that was considered dishonest, fraudulent or mis- representation. The company could have had a reliance on that false statement, hired the individual, and damages could later result from that non disclosure….

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.. just because someone does something unethical, doesn’t make it okay, does it?

    Anyways, I digress.. When Anyone lies, cheats, steals, there is another person who is being harmed; or another person who is relying on that information to be honest or accurate. We could also be taking something of value from that individual.. Even time is valuable.

    Unethical behavior isn’t just harming you on a personal level.. it puts a bad light on this whole industry.. On all of us.

    Lastly — It is NEVER been necessary to LIE or ruse to do this job. There is no justification to do it — Really *- been doing this job for well over a Decade and I have NEVER had to make a ruse call to gain names.

    I know that I am not special, or unique, there are many of us who have found that this job can easily be done w/o having to ‘bend’ rules to get something done..

    The offer still holds true.. if you want to know how to make calls w/o having to ruse call, give me a call, I am willing to share..

    karen Mattonen

  37. I tried to post this yesterday but for some reason it was not published. I shall try again.

    In the spirit of full disclosure, please search the discussions with key words: ‘Gun Slingers’ and you will get a full understanding of my motives.

    Thank you for joining the discussion. I appreciate your input! While me may be at loggerheads on some matters, therein lies the spirit of a healthy ethical debate.

    Have a good weekend, all.

    (Go Buckeyes! Go Colts!!!)

  38. Todd,
    as a noted Gun Slinger – I will like to respond to your comment and also this statement ‘if someone plays the ethical card on you, it is your duty to ask that person why’ — I ask WHY NOT?

    Todd, see, there is a lot of argument about personal ethics vs general ethics and business..

    Well you see Todd, we Gun Slingers get all frazzled about the Lack of ethics in this industry due to the Problems that Come from it.. and the people that it harms.

    If it was just a problem that affected the individuals who implemented questionable business tools, then it would be that personal, their business. Gosh, we wouldn’t have to worry about that.. more power to you

    BUT – as it stands, Bad ethics hurts more than YOU! it hurts everyone involved, including ME — MY industry, My reputation, and MY industry… and everyone involved in it..

    My biggest problem with it is the WHY? – why does ANYONE need to implement Recruiting Tools that would involve Lying? Not being Honest? Not being Upfront? That may be considered unethical, not just by Personal Standards, but based upon Conformed Western Business Values

    It doesn’t make recruiting any easier – it doesn’t make getting clients any better – There is NO need..

    When I hear people justify it, I wonder WHY? Why do you think it is Necessary to lie? Why do you think it is the Foundation for Recruiters? Why do you think that it is an acceptable or EVEN a necessary tool.. When in reality it Isn’t

    So, my question to you, is another why? why do I Not have the Right to defend ethics and the reputation of my industry w/o being Labeled?

    Why should I not have the Right to Say, Hey folks there is a BETTER way – and object to Tactics that can ultimately cause harm to another individual?

    Why is caring for Values and Citizenship such a Negative thing?

    Lastly, I am human, and I can guarantee that I am not perfect. I can promise that every day I will make every attempt to question myself and take a personal inventory to make sure that I don’t harm another person or company intentionally. My reputation is all I have, but mostly I like to sleep well at night.. and my conscience is my guide.

    But, even with all that, I am sure that there are many mistakes I will make.. but at least I will try to do my best every day.. and make ammends when necessary. It is all I can do!

    I do hope that these labels will stop eventually, as I said earlier there seems to be more finger wagging coming from the ‘naysayers’ of the Anti Ethics than from the individuals who are Pro..

    My personal opinion..

  39. Hi Karen.
    In my technique, being considerate of your position, I don’t know if lying is the best terms that captures it. Perhaps a better term might be tantalize. I’m not convinced that posting a bogus resume is lying.

    I know the ends don’t justify the means. What actually happens is this. Recruiter A sees resume, and recruiter A e-mails what he/she thinks is a good looking candidate (there is no phone number, only e-mail). E-mail arrives in my inbox, I make decisions and determinations based upon its arrival. Mean time, recruiter A has parsed said resume in to ATS, logged avtivity, and moved on. (2 minutes tops)
    I take the e-mail and determine if I should investigate and contact the hiring manager via cold-call or not. I also make a decision based up the e-mail and any others like it, about whether or not to pursure this business discipline more thoroughly.

    You: So, my question to you, is another why? why do I Not have the Right to defend ethics and the reputation of my industry w/o being Labeled?

    Me: You certainly have that right. I’m not sure why you posed this question to me, actually. Did I mention something in my e-mail that suggests that you do not have that right?

  40. Todd,
    I must say that I respect the way you responded to my post. After re reading it, I could understand why you may have thought it may have been directed to you, but it wasn?t, it had been a generic reply to the group as a whole, as the question you had posed had been.

    So thanks for the professional reply.

    Now, you stated that you did not know how a bogus resume is lying.. well if something isn?t the truth, or honest, what else would you call it? As a recruiter one is well aware of the value of time; our job is all about timing – Getting the Right candidate at the right time. If someone wastes that time, through misrepresentation, that is cheating me of something that is of value to me.. Not to mention the irritation I will feel. Granted, it may seem harmless to You.. but, to someone else it may not be.. and obviously there are many who have expressed their dismay at this tactic

    I do have a personal question to you about this Todd, this is directed to you ? WHY do you find it necessary to do this? Do you not know any other way to attract clients? Are you having difficulty in getting repeat business?

    I don?t understand the necessity to have to misrepresent oneself to gain business or even find candidates? and is it really justifiable, considering it is unnecessary?
    There are many of us with wide range of experience ? from 50+ years ? 6 mths, who are successful w/o ever having finding it necessary to perform any of the questionable tactics we sometimes see mentioned on these Public Forums. The one where our clients and Candidates go ? gee.. and they wonder why we think recruiters really Suck!

    To your final statement ? No I didn?t pose that question to you in particular re the right to defend ethics.. and my response is not to you in Particular either.. There is a problem here, when individuals are called gunslingers, ethics queens, Naysayers.. because they are proponents of ethics.. well, the negativity that comes from it, seems to be directed to try to squash what they are saying.

    This is indeed an important subject for our industry.. there are many who have expressed that they are not interested in it.. Great suggestion would be then don?t read it ? but for many of us, there are many who feel that something needs to be done before the government decides to do it for us.

    I also do agree that there must be a balance, thus the voices who are Not totally for Ethics, or believe that they are personal, must also be heard loud and clear. If we didn?t have the pros and cons, then like anything in life there would be absolutism ? and even I would not like that.. even if it may appear that way at times?

    Hopefully one day from these conversations will come strong suggestions and positive solutions. That is my hope..

  41. ?I’m not convinced that posting a bogus resume is lying.?

    Are you serious? Would you say?

    I?m not convinced that stealing from someone is theft.
    I?m not convinced that driving too fast is speeding.
    I?m not convinced that punching someone is violent.

    Maybe you can share with us your definition of the word bogus.

    Time to move on I think.

  42. ‘Why is religion even brought up when discussing Ethics? Ethics is not based upon Religious beliefs and Ideals.. ‘ Karen asked.

    A recent best selling author said that ‘economics describes the world we have. morality describes the world we wish we could have.’

    I am of the opinion that things pertaining to spiritual practice are the realm of religion. One can codify laws to ensure proper ethical treatment of people and our sitchamatations. But one is hard pressed to codify the ‘Spirit’ of the law or any other code for that matter.

    And here is where reductionists, throughout the ages, worked so hard to create equations that could predict performance based on inputs.

    It never has worked. It never will work. And that is because Human Beings are more than just our Noggins; and, I say, Hallelujah to that!

    The realm of the affective is a matter of feeling and intutiveness. And when I say ‘feeling’ I don’t mean to invoke the ‘WO WO’ singers of Barry Manilow fame. Nor do I wish to invoke the reams of Hallmark Cards that encapsulate our memorized emotions (This is how I am supposed to ‘feel’ when my dog dies kind of thing.)

    I am speaking of the realm of the human spirit which binds us together. The jelly that makes culture among human beasts possible in the first place. The wordless realm that underwrites religious practice.

    Sometimes religion is all people have to explain what overintellectualized ‘meta-studies’ don’t really explain, even if they do succeed in boring us so thoroughly that they make the issue go away into the realm of the courduroy jacket crowd.

    Religious practice can lead one into a ditch just as surely as over reliance on socialism has led to the Camps.

    The question regarding discussions of ethics becomes one of how has each one of us prepared ourselves to walk this Road in a way that serves those who rely upon us to teach and reach.

    How much of that do we do in our work? And if it is too little, how would we know?

    Hasta la Vista!

  43. In my opinion, saying that posting a bogus resume only takes 2 minutes of someones time (actually it probably takes a good bit longer if you really do the math) so therefore is not unethical is much like saying stealing gum is not theft because it is not worth much. Time DOES have value and therefore taking it with a ‘bogus’ resume would seem to be unethical in every spin I can think to put on it. I have had multiple people try this scam and I briefly considered doing it myself before I thought about what it really was – just another ‘game’ that some recruiters use. Previous posters are correct in that a good recruiter can succeed in this business without resorting to tricks, playing games, lying, etc. Just not necessary.

  44. Up until now, I have read most of the articles and comments and pretty much kept quiet. I have read so many comments on this topic that I finally have to break my silence and chime in.

    Simply put, anything that is somewhat shady, somewhat underhanded, somewhat lying or somewhat deceptive is wrong and unethical. Period.

    Hard working people who can grasp our business will be successful. Anyone who is successful in our business ( I am not talking about those who make lots of money when business is good and flounder and quit after the industry hits hard times. I am talking about those that have experienced the good and bad times over several years and have longevity) will tell you there is no ‘easy way’ to build their practice.

    Especially for third party recuiters, the worst way to start a relationship is with a lie. Any client worth dealing with and building a relationship with would mostlikely find this behavior unacceptable.

    Winning a client’s business is tough enough as it is. Professional, ethical folks in our business have to take additional time and energy not just to gauge our service against our ethical and professional competitors, but also against those that are unprofessional and sleazy.

    Sharing ideas and questioning practices on an ethical basis is a good thing. But to me, a bogus resume, or misrepresentation in any way is an ideal example of a practice not to do.

    Thanks for reading my comments. I hope most of my TPRs will agree.

    Larry Baglio

  45. Anthony –

    (Since its the Holidays already) Here, it’s against the law to ‘dumpster dive’ even if you are homeless and hungry. Are the lawmakers or police (if they elect to enforce it) unethical? Or if you give them or a certain kid of yours $5 if you know for sure it will go to booze or drugs unethical? Is being an enabler unethical?

    Resume writers can often be caught up in ‘white lies’ or ommissions, and I don’t mind digging a bit – disclosing any inpropriety (usually the hiring authority could care less, providing the skills are there, as long as its disclosed and not discovered later) -as often there is a ‘diamond in the rough’.

    Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to all (now that Wal-Mart has reincluded it in the ads).
    ‘Nothing but Good Things’. And do a random act of ethical kindness, considering all the possibilities (in resumes). -Jon

  46. Hi Jon,
    interesting post.. do you know why dumpster diving is illegal? well it is to protect the individuals from themselves.. see they can get sick, really sick, and from them being sick comes bacteria being spread to others.. and so on and on and on..

    Sometimes an act of kindness can also be something that can endanger another person.. Say you give someone money and they use it for drugs, and they get so wired from the stuff, that they lose it and kill someone else or die from overdose.. So, could you not say, that possibly your enabling now makes you an accessory to the crime.. (okay, that was said tongue in cheek, no comments needed)

    As I said before In this industry there is no need for lying, cheating or unethical business practices.. so it really baffles me as to why do some seem to think it is okay to sponsor it?

    Gee, there have been many articles or posts that support things that make me go WHY? why is this necessary

    IMHO that the the purchase of Fordyce Letter may be a very positive move to ERE and this community as it may bring some more interesting, acceptable, and practical recruiting tools to the table, and there will be less of this blind leading the blind ego stuff that we sometimes see here, where individuals don’t have a clue of what it really is like, because they havent or never have played in the field..

    It continues shocks me that we keep making this a personal thing… dudes.. this is about the millions of people we touch everyday.. their lives, and of course the welfare of the businesses we work with.

    We Can be instrumental in hurting individuals, AND companies.. it isn’t just about us.. It isn’t about that ONE placement! it is about the person who is being placed and the company we represent who depends on our knowledge and experience..

    Happy thanksgiving,,

  47. Karen –

    ‘Dumpster Diving’ was originally one of many laws to protect the rich and famous (a privacy issue), and it’s what some of us refer to as serching Monster for resumes (admittedly there are some good ones). Maybe there should be more laws for the poor and forgotten.

    And for lack of due diligence, there is Errors and Ommissions insurance, or ‘Chainsaw Al coverage’, also for those who don’t want to really work a search and toss ‘mud’ against the wall, particularly when pressured by search deadlines or promises that should have not been made. Especially rookies under pressure to produce JOs.

    Merry Christmas, -Jon

  48. Jon,
    loved it – comment re dumpster diving.. thanks that was great

    RE Erros and Omissions insurance, like most insurance, one should really read the fine print..

    Most of these Insurance Companies doesn’t cover stupidity, and of course some illegal behavior.. it only covers Negligent mistakes, not intentional ‘errors’ — they do look at your pattern of behavior

    ON top of that, cost of defense is often deducted deducted from your policy limits, and of course your judgment or settlement coverage.. so your defense will also be eating away from that as well.. Unless you pay more and request it to be different .. there is a premium of course for this.. and of course raises your deductible

    And of course, when you have been sued once, it becomes difficult to obtain new insurance, at a good cost.. just like with any insurance..

    It is really a good idea to recognize that this insurance like auto insurance, is there as an assett.. when driving, one would still want to consider wearing a safety belt, and be careful whilst driving, even though you have insurance.. well Errors and omissions should not be considered or counted on as a safety net..

  49. Wow… that was harsh.

    But I have to agree with the logic. Either you are leading someone to believe something that is false (in this case the bogus job) or you are not. There is no grey area.

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