You know that scene from The Miracle on 34th Street, where Santa promises a kid he’ll get a fire engine on Christmas morning? The kid’s excited, but his mom is anything but. She’s been all over the city looking for one to no avail, and she gives Santa a piece of her mind for promising one.

Santa: You don't think I would've said that unless I'm sure? You can get those fire engines at Schoenfeld's on Lexington. I keep track of the toy market pretty closely.
Mom: Macy's sending people to other stores? I don’t get it.
Santa: The only important thing is to make the children happy. Who sells the toy doesn’t make any difference. Don’t you feel that way?
Mom: Who, me? Oh, yeah, sure. Only I didn't know Macy's did.
Santa: As long as I'm here, they do.

Though Santa is initially reprimanded for this practice, the higher-ups eventually realize the benefits of this humanitarian approach and their competitors soon replicate it. I think about this business approach sometimes, and my attitude towards it has shifted from utopian crap to practical ingenuity. This model recognizes the value of competition, putting the customer first, and the possibility of “business Karma.”

If we change a few of the variables in The Miracle on 34th Street scenario, this can very easily translate to staffing. If the children represent the job-seekers, then their lists of toys are desired positions, the Santas are the recruiters, and Macy’s/Schoenfeld’s are competing staffing businesses. But does this sort of thing actually happen in staffing, or is everyone a bunch of Scrooges?

I took to a few LinkedIn groups to find out.

Pamela Goodwin, executive recruiter with CoWorx
Staffing Services
• Not only do I do this for candidates, I also do this for clients or even potential clients. If I can't help them, I try to give them someone who can! At some point down the road, it very well may circle back to me.

Carl Cox, division manager at Dynamic Staffing, Inc. • Totally agree, Pamela. Not only is it good for the sales cycle it is also good for the soul!

Stephanie Lynch, customer service rep with Labor Ready • If I have a candidate that comes in and I know they may be over-qualified, I always refer them to other temp agencies. The candidates always appreciate it because we’re not wasting their time. We do the same for customers as well and we get referrals back. It is definitely beneficial.

Mark Boeder, sourcing/recruiting expert with ITStaff • Pamela, Carl and Stephanie, I do the same. There is that whole "good karma" pay it forward thing, of course, but I also think it is good for the larger community of which you are a part. Whether that community is the area in which you live, the recruiter community, your candidate community, your client community, etc. Moreover, in these kinds of cases it costs you almost nothing (in time) to make those kinds of referrals and as a knowledgeable professional, it's just the right thing to do.

Tony Pintier, president of The White Paladin Group • I agree with everyone’s comments on here. We do the referrals when it makes senses as well. Somewhere down the line the favor is returned. We did this very thing a few years ago, referred a candidate to another firm and eventually the candidate took a perm hire position. He remembered us, after what had been a few years at that point and called us when he needed staffing help.

Cindy French, manager with MRI Network • Trevor, I have often forwarded or referred to other recruiters when I couldn't help. To me that's what you figure out first. If you can do something, you do it, and if you cannot, you tell them where to go or who to see – or, in some cases, how to market themselves because their's is not a job often paid for by a company.

What about you? Would you consider doing this sort of thing?

Tags: Business, MRI Network, Carl Cox, Cindy French, CoWorx Staffing Services, Dynamic Staffing Inc., ITStaff, Labor Ready, Macy's, Mark Boeder, Miracle on 34th Street, Pamela Goodwin, Santa, Stephanie Lynch, The White Paladin Group, Tony Pintier