Wednesday, February 13, 2008


(Blogger's note: This is an edited post of the original article published on February 12, 2008, in, a business and social networking site for professionals in the industry.)

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

The general requirements were at least 5 years experience in optics engineering, aerospace, defense, manufacturing, and a BS, or better yet, a Master’s or Ph.D.

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

How thrilling! As a seasoned recruiter I felt the familiar rush of adrenaline that comes when I know I’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.

Anyway, when I come across the perfect candidate, I make a fist in the air and jerk down with a forceful and victorious, “YES!” So I did. Yes…YES!

I quickly dialed the extension of the engineering director and asked if 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 "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.

If the Engineering Director had a soul, perhaps the light of compassion in his heart would have spotlighted this perfect return on investment scenario. Here was a former novice who had gotten ten years worth of experience under his belt, paid for by another company. Now this seasoned engineer was willing to come back and add his earned-value on the table. Hubris has a shortsighted view.

Memo to self: No matter the prevailing ethic, I will be unwavering in my conviction that everyone deserves to be treated as a decent human being with infinite potential for excellence.

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