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.
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.