Recruiting Lessons, Hiring The Person I Said I Would Never Hire

Paul was his name and I had zero intentions of hiring him from the moment I saw him and his car.  As a brand new manager who had just landed his first leadership position I disqualified Paul without asking a single question. I was immediately convinced he would be a poor hire. He was soft spoken and unsure of himself. But it was his ragtag suit and beat up faded Honda civic that had me questioning his abilities to be successful. Besides I needed someone who could make an immediate impact on my team so I moved on quickly when he left our interview.

As a 27 year old manager I had an idea of what I believed success looked like and I was positive it wasn’t Paul.

A few days later Paul called my office and left me a message following up on our interview. His message was short, polite but excited. Excited for the opportunity to be on my team. In my immaturity I didn’t return Paul’s call as I wasn’t sure how to respond to his excitement with my news.

About a week later the receptionist buzzed my office. She responded there was a gentleman upfront to see me. As I walked into the lobby my heart sank as it was Paul. I recognized the same grey sports jacket he had worn to his first interview. You couldn’t mistaken it as it had a slight tear on the sleeve.

The only thing racing through my mind were the words I would deliver advising him he wasn’t a fit for the position. As we walked to my office I could feel my step quicken and my heart speed up.   Once in my office Paul pulled out 3 sheets of paper on which he had typed the names of people and companies he believed would be a good fit for our services. As I reviewed the list I was convinced Paul was a great fit as each of the companies listed were perfect targets.

I would make a job offer to Paul that day due to his persistence and willingness to go above and beyond. But also because he thought outside what any other candidate had.

Paul ended up being my superstar hire. He was the top sales person on my team and made top producer trips each year we worked together.

I have reviewed many hires both good and bad over the years and most come back to Paul. What I haven’t told you about Paul is that he had been raised by a single mother most of his life. He had eked his way through college without any financial assistance while working as many as 2 jobs AND supporting his mom.

As I got to know Paul what I found is that he had a huge WHY. It was to provide for his aging mother who was living in a dilapidated house without any financial support.

Paul’s WHY drove him to be everything that he was.

Sadly I lost track of Paul when I relocated to another market but I still have a fond place for him in my heart. Perhaps it’s because he taught me an important life lesson. Figure out your WHY and most everything follows.

As a manager I was able to have more wins than losses simply from finding out the size of my potential hires WHY.

Lots of life lessons to be learned from Paul but this story surfaced this morning as today I have several opportunities where perhaps I am in a similar position as Paul was 20 years ago. I have been told no more than once but I am back in front of the same opportunities with more information just as Paul was with me. My WHY is BIG so BIG in fact that even if these opportunities don’t pan out I won’t stop, I will keep going. Les Brown says it best, “it aint over till I win!”

Carpe Diem my friends!


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