Something has really been bothering me lately and I just have to get it off of my chest. I’ve gotten a few calls and various emails and LinkedIn requests that have all followed a similar theme. An old contact or recruiter of mine has left some company and someone else is digging through their Rolodex and address books for potential clients like some kind of Bob Sugar. I don’t know what it is about recruiters that bothers me. They are people like myself after all, and they have mouths to feed like the rest of the world. I suppose at a deeper level, something bothers me about the fact that their job is to find and sell other people. It’s a little unsettling. I’d like to think that they wake up every morning and tell themselves, “Today will be a good day, I am going to help someone build a new life.” The sad truth is that this lost for most recruiters I have ever spoken to. They have formulas, quotas, and match-making strategies; breaking it down and telling me what they think is the best fit for me, like they know my dreams after a brief 20 questions. I have dealt with recruiters in the past and tend to stick with the few that give me the warm and fuzzies, but I still struggle with the image that is often portrayed for agents, recruiters, and other sellers of human flesh. It doesn’t help their image when I receive voice mails that are a clear attempt at poaching contacts from their recently departed co-worker.
I’ve sat in an office and watched as the occasional employee leaves; by choice or otherwise. Their seat, still warm as the surrounding cube mates circle about the now empty space and ask themselves questions like, “Is that a better desk than mine? Maybe I should swap”, or “I wonder if he left that red stapler behind” or “He was a little closer to the window, I should take that spot”. Maybe I just look at things a little too cynical, but there has to be a grace period; a length of time that shows a little respect for our recently departed co-workers. I personally don’t get involved in the cubicle scavenging until the space is needed for a new staff member. Still, a desk may stay empty for months before finding a new owner. I feel that it only makes sense to respect someones personal space; even if they are no longer with the company.
By extension, this concept of respect does also apply to that person while they are still employed at the company. Sometimes, being respectful is not about what you say or do, but what you don’t do. It’s the little things that I don’t do and wish others did not do as well. For example, I never look at another persons monitor for more than 2 seconds; just enough to know that they aren’t browsing seriously hardcore porn while on the job. As long as the work is getting done in a timely manner, there is nothing obviously pointing to a sexual harassment suit, and co-workers are happy with his/her performance, I am okay. I can’t stand it if someone leans over my shoulder like I’m some kind of bar in a night club and says, “what are you looking at?” as they practically burn a whole into my monitor. Again, respect is about not being a d-bag and letting individuals try to make the best of their workday. That includes respecting personal space as well as property.
All of this makes me wonder how long my office space will remain in tact on the day I leave my employer. In 5 months or 50 years, would it make a difference?