In one of my recent contract recruiting gigs, I got a resume from a candidate I'll call “Mr. L”, an optical engineer who seemed perfect for the search I was conducting at the time.

The general parameters were at least 5 years experience in optics engineering, aerospace, defense, manufacturing, and a BS, or better yet, a Master’s or Ph.D. Typical. You’ve all seen these generic job descriptions.

“Mr. L’s” resume fit the profile to a tee, with longer than 5 years of experience working for recognizable names in the required industry AND what put him over the top for me was that 10 years ago, he had worked as a novice engineer for the very same company for which I was recruiting.

How exciting! As thoroughbred recruiters we’ve all felt the rush of adrenalin when we think we’ve found that needle in the haystack candidate. I had my own search firm once, a long time ago, and every time my business partner Nancy Hitchcock and I made a placement we danced around the office and pretended to bow to Mecca. We even kidded each other that making a placement was better than sex. Well, depending on who you're having sex with, I guess.

Settle down!

Anyway, when you come across the perfect candidate, you make a fist in the air and jerk down with a forceful and victorious, “YES!” Right? Well, that’s how I felt, and that’s what I did. YES!

So I quickly dialed the extension of the engineering director and asked if Mr. L was eligible for re-hire. His immediate response was, “Loser!”

Now, folks, c’mon. C'mon.

Have we become so heartless and lacking in humanity and compassion that we can so readily dismiss someone as a loser? Have you heard yourself call someone a loser lately? If you have, hmmmmm… You need to take a look deep inside your soul.

However pathetic Mr. L was ten years ago, ten years is a long time for someone to learn from mistakes, evolve, change, mature, develop, improve, transform and become a more productive corporate citizen.

I didn’t argue the matter. I knew it would be pointless to inject compassion in an environment that did not foster such a sentiment. After all, the corporate bottom line is about numbers – return on investment, sales projections, quarterly profits, cost per hire.

As recruiters, it’s up to us, even if it’s only within ourselves, to hang on to the conviction that everyone deserves to be treated and viewed as a decent human being with infinite potential for excellence.

Views: 87

Comment by x on February 12, 2008 at 7:01am
would it not depend on what kind of sin he might have committed at the company? some sins may be unforgivable (ie fraud?)
Comment by Donald L. "Skip" Conover on February 13, 2008 at 3:30pm
The Buddhist part of me says that compassion is the right thing; BUT some people don't click well or have bad blood between them. My suggestion is that "you can't fight city hall," so the next time you run into such a situation, whether it be candidate or client or both, you simply say, "Next!" You'll do wonders for your blood pressure! Best regards, Skip
View Donald L. (
Comment by Heather Gardner on February 13, 2008 at 3:41pm
It's always been my approach to offer everyone good customer service above all else.
Comment by Maya Walker on February 13, 2008 at 4:02pm
I appreciate all your comments. There are indeed some things that can be considered mortal sins in the corporate world (a convicted stalker of a female or male co-worker, for example) but it's my hope that people would try to refrain from hateful speech. I think there's a big difference between calling someone "Stupid" and saying that "someone is acting stupid." It's the behavior that's stupid, but the essence of someone is never stupid. Easy for me to say... I'm taking a break from the corporate world and so I'm insulated from inhumane pressures right now :-)) Wheeeee!!!
Comment by Donald L. "Skip" Conover on February 13, 2008 at 4:11pm
You're very wise!

And, I agree with Mike, to the extent that it's not self-serving. Best regards, Skip
Comment by Maya Walker on February 13, 2008 at 4:13pm
I love Mike.
Comment by Sally Raade on February 13, 2008 at 4:29pm
Hi Maya,

I agree with Mike! Since we don't really know what happened it's best not to judge before understanding the nature of the director's sentiments. Perhaps the director didn't have breakfast that day and was grumpy.

I've been around enough to know that not everyone can fit in every company's cookie cutter cultural environment.
Have a great day!


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