Build Trust and the Rest Will Follow

by Mark Anthony Zappa

“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

–The Scout Law


My career as a Boy Scout was, frankly, unremarkable. But memorizing the Scout Law has been a great life compass. Looking at it now with fresh eyes (40 plus years later) I see a lot of wisdom packed into those 16 words – even wisdom I can apply to job hunting.


Check out the first attribute in the Scout Law – trustworthiness. We are all in search of a market for our talents, a place where we can add value. But what good are our skills and competencies if any employer (our potential customer) doesn’t know us or trust us?


We purchase goods and services from the people and providers we trust.  We’ve all had customer service encounters that have not met our expectations. When the “walk” fails to follow the “talk,” we feel trust is broken. Even I rant when I suspect insincerity or incompetence – it’s as if my time has been wasted!


So if building trust is so basic to doing business, why don’t we focus more effort on it?


In job hunting, it appears more productive to report that we “completed five job applications today” than to say we “continued to develop relationships with…” I suggest that the real way to find work is in relationship building and not in filling out applications.


Think of all the different job search activities: job clubs, interviews, social media networking, targeting our resumes, professional associations, expanding social contacts, informational inquiries, follow-up calls. ALL require trust-building!


In building a relationship with a potential employer, we establish trust by balancing two factors:

  1. How well the employer or other people in the organization know us
  2. How much we know about the employer and can respond to their needs


The more we know about that employer and their needs, the better we can respond to their needs. The stronger our relationship, the more trust is built.


Today’s work search is strategic and focused. Filling out a few random online job applications each day and hoping for the best is clearly not enough. We must build relationships with our potential customers.


Some say “It’s what you know.” Others say “It’ is who you know.” I say, “It’s who you know who knows what you know.” Or what you can do.


This is networking in a nutshell – something you can trust.


This article first appeared in Career Connections, a newsletter of the Minnesota WorkForce Center system.


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