Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Remembering A Friend

Yesterday was a busy day, but also a day for reflection.  I received word yesterday of the unrelated deaths of two individuals: a high school classmate, and a recruiter I met over 15 years ago.  Without diminishing the memory of my classmate, who many friends have been remembering online and in person in recent days, I feel the need to reflect on the passing of Rick, the recruiter, who passed away over a year ago.

I met Rick in the late 80's, when I was working as the HR manager and technical recruiter for the IT group of a large healthcare company.  At the time that I accepted the position, we had 114 open IT jobs, were lagging well behind the market with respect to pay, and had no applicant tracking system other than manually logging all resumes that came in.  (They came in by mail, and there were LOTS of them.)

I had done some recruiting previously for healthcare and support roles, but never for IT.  It was a baptism by fire. Thankfully, I worked with a number of very understanding and helpful managers who helped me get up to speed quickly.

Still, I was working 70 to 80 hours a week, and could hardly sleep at night because I was so stressed.

I don't remember how I met Rick, or how many positions he may have helped fill.  What I remember is that he was helpful.  He didn't demand that I call back, but generally he was one of the people I wanted to call back.

Rick worked for a very small staffing company that wasn't known for IT staffing, so any business he got was business he earned by going out and introducing himself to people.  But he wasn't pushy, and he wasn't the insincere, constantly smiling type of sales person that to this day make me uncomfortable.  There were a lot of larger companies with better name recognition and well-connected sales teams competing against him.  Even though it wasn't a level playing field, he was persistent and he was successful.

While I only knew him professionally, it was clear to me that the man he was when he was talking to me about recruiting was the same person that he was at home, or with friends, or in any other situation.  He was genuine, unassuming, and polite, but also bright, talented, and helpful.

I have commented to others that he became one of a handful of people who demonstrated to me the type of recruiter I wanted to be.

It has been at least a dozen years since I have spoken with Rick or exchanged emails.  He moved away from Louisville, started an unrelated business, and we got on with our lives and lost touch.  Still, he made enough of an impression on me all those years ago, that I'm writing about him now.

It really wasn't just that Rick was the type of recruiter I wanted to be.  He was.  I'd go so far as to say that Rick was one of many people in my life who have helped shape my thinking of the type of person I want to be.

I hope that at some point in my life, I can be that kind of person to someone else.  Someone who makes a positive impact that helps to shape them long after I'm gone.  I hope to that when I'm gone, that I will be remembered for far more important things than the positions I filled, the articles I wrote, or anything related to social media.

I hope too that anyone reading this will reflect on the example Rick set for me, and ask themselves whether they are setting that example for someone else.