Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Just Add Skills

Just Add Skills

I was reminded of an ex-colleague the other day – someone for the purposes of this blog I shall refer to as Doctor No.  This was someone whose arrival at the company for which I was working at the time was heralded in almost messianic proportions.  Not only had he been working in London (and we were based in a sleepy Stockport suburb), he was in his mid-20s and already had a PhD on his CV.

So Doctor No arrived and was immediately entrusted with looking after some important clients and conducting some important group discussions.  Internally, some of us had our doubts about the Doctor almost immediately.  Openly flirting with respondents had not been a part of any training manuals we’d read on qualitative research.

Time passed and concerns over Doctor No grew as clients began to murmur about potential misgivings over his behaviour and perhaps more importantly, his intellectual capabilities.

My bosses at the time were reluctant to hear these negative views being expressed openly about the Doctor, by staff or by clients alike.  This may have had something to do with the fact that they had originally appointed Doctor No, agreeing to a high salary (well he had worked in that London) as well as a large percentage of the first year of the same to the agency from whence he came.

Concerns and complaints continued to surround Doctor No, however, and eventually he was summoned for a final showdown.  My then boss confronted the Doctor with the ever-growing list of misdemeanours to which he had few answers to offer.  And as the tension rose she finally made the suggestion which had been on everyone else’s lips ever since he’d arrived.

            “You know what” she cried, “I don’t think you’ve even got a PhD”

The Doctor remained brazen as ever as he looked my boss in the eye.

            “I said I’d started one, I didn’t say I actually had one” was his eventual retort.

Well, as you might guess, Doctor No’s stay was cut rather short at that point.  The agency was informed that their bill would not be paid and an agreement was made with the Doctor that if he walked quickly enough, he might be able to begin a new career elsewhere, preferably in a different industry.

The Doctor came to my mind as I reflected on what he might be doing now.

If he has a company website I’m thinking he might be the sort who’s pretty decent at making sure it remains pretty high on Google searches.  I can hear him now – ‘let’s say we work in every part of the UK and all over the world, and let’s make sure we take those key words to the max’.  Yes, he did like the odd cliché.

And if he’s on LinkedIn I’m reckoning that he’s bought himself a few thousand contacts on the internet and his profile appears on hundreds of other influential people’s profiles day in and day out.

And I wonder what his actual profile now contains.  Is he still claiming to be a doctor?  Is he still saying he’s a qualitative researcher?  Is he now saying that his career in the north went swimmingly well?

Truth is these days we all have more opportunity than ever to big ourselves up.  And these days there are plenty of companies out there ready to encourage us  and to help us do the same. 

So where do we draw the line?  And who will be the final arbiter?

The Doctor was exposed…eventually.  But what of all those other people currently designing their websites, filling in their LinkedIn profile pages?

To tell it as it is, as we say at Park Lane Research, or to ‘just add skills’? You decide. 

Oh, and if you endorse me for my skills, I’ll endorse you for yours.  Cheers.