Communications Insight For More Inspiring Leaders If in Doubt....

If in Doubt....

 15th Aug 2022


If in doubt... pick up the phone!

My first full-time job was in corporate headhunting, back in the Dot Com Boom years of 1999-2001.

One of my early responsibilities was obtaining formal references for candidates, once a job offer was on the table.

I assumed (based on my own limited experience of CV writing and university applications) this would involve arranging for the referee to fill out a form or write a letter.

To my surprise, I was tasked with interviewing them by phone!

"Talk to them and then write up the conversation for the client", my line manager briefed me.

Didn't take long for me to discover why.

Turns out with the spoken word, you gain a vastly more honest insight.

Tone of voice and pace can tell you more than a comma or full stop on a page.

Once you build rapport and get people talking, you just go way deeper than a couple of paragraphs ever could.

More widely, the way a candidate was "spoken about" by past/present colleagues proved HUGELY important in influencing their personal brand in the employment marketplace.

I was stunned.

But it's proved one of my most important career lessons.


Back to written references...

Later in my career, on several occasions I've seen people make the mistake of taking a pure written reference at face value.

All too often, the result is a poor outcome.

Because they didn't pick up the phone!


The Spoken Word simply functions differently from the Written.

'Differently', not necessarily always 'better'.

But harness the advantages of both... and you're in business as a communicator and a leader.

#cv #careers #communication #references #recruitment #leadership #career #speakingskills

The school is at the start of an ambitious and exciting journey. You have helped us set the standard for the remainder of the year and further ahead. I hope you will return to the school in the future and inspire subsequent cohorts of MPP students.


Professor Peter Kemp | Associate Director, The Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

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