Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones come daily. – Ivy Baker Priest
The purpose of RecruitingShingle is to help those in the job-search process. Being unemployed or in the wrong position can be stressful. I know firsthand. I’ve been unemployed a few times in my career. I thought I might be able to help people in that situation by leveraging my years of corporate recruiting experience. It’s not flashy but the right kind, helpful or supportive word, the right assistance to the right person at the right time can be profound.
For the past several months (it could even be a year or more) I have driven through a particular part of town where I live and have seen an elderly gentleman on the sidewalk holding a sign. He is not there every day or even every weekend. But when he is there he is always wearing slacks, a nice white dress shirt and white athletic socks on each hand. His sign reads “I need a job please.” Time and time again I have driven by, seen him and wondered what his story is. Several times I have been with my entire family and we ask ourselves the same questions about him.
This past Sunday, September 15 I was driving by and he was there in his usual spot. This time I decided it was time to stop wondering and find out. I was with my nine-year old daughter and I said, “I’m a recruiter. I help people find opportunities. Maybe I can help him too.” We found a spot in a nearby parking lot and walked up to him and started a conversation.
I introduced myself and my daughter and started to ask him questions. What’s your background? What type of position are you looking for? What is your educational background? Those types of things. It didn’t take long to determine he was a bit slow. Whether it was due to age or mental capacity I couldn’t determine.
I asked him if he had any computer skills and he lifted up a sock-covered hand and moved it up and down indicating the hunt and peck method. I asked him if he had any kind of resume and he said “No. I haven’t had a phone for a while now.” He said he liked administrative work and filing. I asked him if he were given an opportunity if he would be able to get to work. He said he could. At that I told him about the Southlake Focus Group; a networking group I have written about previously.
I went back to my car with my daughter and wrote down the details for the meeting. As I was writing, another vehicle pulled up and a gentleman got out and approached the job-seeker. I saw he gave him a business card and he turned and left. Before I got back out of my car I looked at my daughter and asked: “Do you think he could use this?” as I pulled out a $20 bill from my wallet. I rarely carry cash but happened to go to the ATM that morning. My daughter got a big grin on her face and agreed he could probably use it. So I told her, “then let’s bless him with it.”
We got out of the car and went back to him. I went through the notes I wrote and told him they meet every Thursday morning. As he took the sheet of paper from my one hand, I took the money in the other and slipped it in his shirt pocket.
As we drove away, my daughter was filled with questions: “I wonder if he has a family? I wonder if he’ll be ok? I wonder if he has enough food? I wonder why he wears socks on his hands?” She even had the thought to make him a new sign because the one he had was ripped and coming apart. I told her those were good questions and maybe one day we’ll find out but at the very least there are places he could go for help in getting food. I told her “he has a car and that he is able to wear nice clothes so maybe his situation is not so bad. But we stopped and offered help; we blessed him – together.
I’m quite certain that five-minute exchange with the job-seeking stranger had a huge impact on my daughter. That thought was confirmed a few days later; the following Thursday morning (the day of the networking meeting) before she left for school. She came up to me while I was sitting at my desk in my home office and wondered out loud: “I wonder if he is able to get to the meeting you told him about.” My response was straight forward and honest: “If for whatever reason he couldn’t make it today, maybe he’ll make it some other week.”
In the weeks and months to come, I’m going to make it a point to stop and chat as often as I can. I hope over time I will learn more about him and move him closer to a job. Our first exchange lasted only a few minutes but I know it will have a lasting impact on me, my daughter and him.
To be continued…