Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health executive recruiter and Veterinary recruiter Stacy Pursell of The VET Recruiter provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health and Veterinary industries. The VET Recruiter’s focus is to solve talent-centric problems for the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. In fact, The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary companies hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.
Today, we will be talking about your personal integrity and your Animal Health or Veterinary career. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.
Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I am glad to be here with you.
Julea: Stacy, we have touched upon personal integrity before on the podcast, but we haven’t devoted an entire episode to it, have we?
Stacy: No, I do not believe we have Julea. But today, I wanted to do so because I feel very strongly about the fact that professionals must maintain their integrity. A person’s integrity is important, both personally and professionally. It is one of the few things that another person cannot take from you without your permission. In fact, the only way you can lose your integrity is if you give it up or allow it to happen.
Julea: That is a great point. Stacy, the title of one of our podcasts from a few weeks ago was “A Limit to the Leverage.” Does today’s episode have anything to do with that one or are they related in any way?
Stacy: Yes, they are related. In that podcast episode, we referred to the BBD or the “Bigger, Better Deal” and how being fixated on that at all costs can be damaging to a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career. And today, I would like to discuss a specific instance that happened recently that illustrates what I am talking about.
Julea: Would that be a case study you are going to share with us today, Stacy?
Stacy: Yes, that is right.
Julea: Well, I must admit that I enjoy your case studies and the stories that you tell on the podcast. They are enlightening and they show insight into what is actually happening in the employment marketplace and the job market these days.
Stacy: Thank you, Julea. It is interesting, some of the things happening in the job market on an almost daily basis. And I agree, these stories and case studies do serve to provide some perspective on what is happening.
Julea: What happened in this particular case study?
Stacy: What happens quite frequently is that a professional will reach out to me or someone else in our office because they are interested in exploring other employment opportunities or want to see what the job market has to offer. That occurred recently when a candidate in the Animal Health industry contacted me because she was unhappy with her current job and wondered if we could help her find a new opportunity. I told her that we could, and it did not take long to set up an interview for her with one of our clients. She was very excited about the opportunity, so much so that she called me just about every day of the interview process to tell me how much she wanted the job.
Julea: Wow, it sounds like she was very motivated!
Stacy: Yes, it does. And the good news—at least, it seemed like good news at the time—was that our client made an offer of employment to the candidate. Not only that, but it was also a good offer with a starting salary that was larger than the salary she was making at the time with her current employer.
Julea: I will go out on a limb here, but if past podcast episodes and stories are any indication, I am going to guess that the candidate did not just accept the offer and live happily ever after.
Stacy: Your guess would be correct! Whenever I present a story on our podcast, things probably did not go as expected, and that is the case with this story. But before we go forward, I have to backtrack for just a second. A few months before contacting our office, this candidate received an offer from another employer, and she turned that offer down. This is important because the starting salary that went with that offer was slightly higher than the starting salary that my client was offering. Since that was the case, the candidate asked if my client would be willing to match the starting salary from that previous offer.
Julea: You mean . . . from the offer that she turned down?
Stacy: Yes, she countered the offer that my client made by asking if the client would match an offer that she turned down just a few months before.
Julea: That does not make much sense.
Stacy: I would agree, but I contacted my client and told them that the candidate had requested they meet this past offer. The candidate had agreed if my client would match this offer, she would accept my client’s offer. My client wanted to hire the candidate, so company officials researched ways in which they could come up with the extra money to match that offer. After a few days, they let me know they had done so. They were able to match her previous offer.
Julea: So, what happened next?
Stacy: Well, I contacted the candidate to deliver the good news, that my client had matched the offer. When she heard that, she was thankful and she accepted the offer. Everything seemed to be set and the candidate was scheduled to start work with her new employer—my client—on a specific day.
Julea: Again, let me guess: she did not start work on that specific day.
Stacy: You are correct. The candidate called me the day before she was supposed to start work to let me know that she wouldn’t be there. In fact, she called me less than 24 hours before she was supposed to start work with my client in a leadership position with their company. And the reason she gave for not starting was that she had accepted a position with another organization.
Julea: Did you even know that she was interviewing with other employers?
Stacy: I had no idea. I only knew about the previous offer that she had turned down, which she told me about. In fact, she led me to believe she wasn’t interviewing elsewhere.
Julea: So, what happened next Stacy?
Stacy: The candidate informed me that another employer offered her a position a few days before her scheduled start date with my client. She claimed that she told this employer she had already accepted another position, but that the employer was insistent, and their offer was more than she could say “No” to.
Julea: So she knew a few days before her scheduled start date that she would not be starting employment with your client, but she waited until the day before to let you know?
Stacy: Yes, that is correct. And she did not let me know she was interviewing with other employers. As you can imagine, I had some questions for this candidate.
Julea: I bet you did have some questions, Stacy.
Stacy: I asked why she had not informed me that she was interviewing with other employers. And I also asked why she was accepting this offer after she had accepted my client’s offer and given her word of honor that she would be starting with my client the next day in a leadership role.
Julea: What did she say?
Stacy: Not much. She tried to place the blame on the employer that apparently made her an offer that she could not refuse. It was a short conversation. She quickly apologized and then hung up the phone.
Julea: Wow. How did your client react?
Stacy: They were disappointed, of course. They were also of the opinion that the candidate had given her word of honor when she accepted the offer and signed an offer letter. And of course, she had not told them that she was still interviewing with other employers, either.
Julea: I imagine they would not have been angry if they learned that she was still interviewing, is that correct?
Stacy: You are absolutely correct. If the candidate had informed me and also my client that she was still interviewing and needed more time before she was able to make her final decision, my client would not have been upset. In fact, they would not have rushed her or given her a deadline or told her that she had to make a decision immediately. Instead, they would have given her the time she needed to make a decision that was the best one for her.
Julea: That sounds like it would have been a good situation for her. But she took steps to avoid that situation. So that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, either.
Stacy: No, it doesn’t. If that had been the situation, she would have been in a position to do what was in her best interests and maintain her integrity at the same time. But that’s not what happened. Instead, she still acted in what she believed was her best interests, but she sacrificed her integrity in the process.
What made the situation worse is that the candidate had accepted a leadership role with my client, which means she was going to lead a team of people in her new role.
Julea: Which means her not showing up for her first day of work was made even worse.
Stacy: Right. It was not just the senior leadership of the organization that was expecting her to show up for her first day, but so were the members of her new team.
Julea: I imagine your client was especially not happy since that was the case.
Stacy: You are right, they were not happy and were quite disappointed. In fact, the hiring officials and just about everyone else at my client concluded that this candidate was not a person of high integrity and that she acted in an unprofessional way. Not only that, but she also acted in an unprofessional way when she did not have to! As we just discussed, my client would have given the candidate more time if she told them she was still interviewing with other organizations.
This is a classic case of “burning bridges.” Of course, this candidate “burned bridges” with my client and with me. After all, how can I work with her again after the way in which she conducted herself? There would be no trust there, so that would not work. But it is potentially worse than that.
Julea: What do you mean?
Stacy: People talk and that includes hiring managers. People who work at my client could talk with their colleagues at other organizations. Word could get around about this candidate’s behavior and her personal brand could be tainted at other employers in the marketplace, as well.
Julea: I had not thought of that, but this was a big personal branding mistake, too, wasn’t it?
Stacy: Yes, it was. Remember, your personal brand is basically the experience that other people have when they are dealing with you. It is the experience that they remember and that they base their thoughts and feelings about you on. This was obviously not a good experience for anyone involved, outside of the candidate. So, while she did what she believed was in her own best interests, she did so at the expense of both her personal integrity and her personal brand.
No amount of money is worth your personal integrity and the same argument could be made about damaging your personal brand.
Julea: I agree, especially when you did not have to sacrifice your integrity in the first place!
Stacy: Yes. This story and this case study is an example of how a lack of foresight and focusing on short-term gratification can cause damage to a person’s reputation. And that is just in the short term. There could be damage to a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career in the long run, as well.
Julea: Stacy, before we finish today’s episode, I have one more question for you. There may be people in our listening audience who are thinking there’s nothing wrong with what this person did or that there’s only a small chance their behavior will come back to “bite” them in the future. What would you say to them?
Stacy: During my 25 years as a recruiter, I’ve seen situations like this play out countless times, more times than I can remember. And yes, there is a chance that a person can do something like this and get away with it. In other words, it doesn’t have a negative impact on their Animal Health or Veterinary career in the long run—at least, not any impact that they can see.
However, I believe a person’s integrity is defined by more than just what they can get away with in a particular situation. They should value their personal integrity more than that. If you decide that you will act with integrity when you believe it suits you and also NOT act with integrity when you believe it suits you, then that is not personal integrity. That is a lack of integrity. When you have integrity, you practice it all the time, not just during those times when you think it will benefit you or not keep you from the things you want.
I understand that not everyone subscribes to this definition and not everyone views integrity in this way. I know I might come across as a little “old school” but I have seen a lot during my career, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that those people who act with integrity 100% of the time are the people who have the best chance of furthering their Animal Health or Veterinary career, and more importantly, doing so with a clear conscience and in a way that other people will admire.
Julea: Stacy, thank you for all of this great information. If a member of the listening audience wanted to reach out to you, what would be the best way to do that?
Stacy: There are a number of ways that someone can reach out to me. They can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they can also visit The VET Recruiter at www.thevetrecruiter.com. Once on the site, they can register their profile and also upload their resume. And I would also recommend that people connect with me on LinkedIn and also follow The VET Recruiter on LinkedIn and the other social media channels.
We also have a lot of other valuable content on the The VET Recruiter website for professionals. We have information about Animal Health and Veterinary career planning and other resources, including what to expect when working with a recruiter, what to keep in mind when relocating, the difference between job boards and recruiters, and more. I encourage those who visit our website to also sign up for our newsletter. We put our hottest jobs in the newsletter every time we send it out, along with our latest articles and blog posts about career and hiring trends in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.
Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for talking today about personal integrity and a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career. Once again, we invite everyone listening to visit www.thevetrecruiter.com. Stacy Pursell is a key opinion leader in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession and has many valuable resources on The VET Recruiter website that you can take advantage of today. And Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us.
Stacy: It has been my pleasure, Julea, and I look forward to our next episode of the “Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider”!