As Rewarding a Placement as I Ever Made
Last month I was invited to speak at the Texas Association of Personnel Consultants‘ annual conference in Houston. 400 headhunters at the conference. I was a little nervous about this speech; in my Toastmasters training years ago they told me that whenever you give a speech you will always have some butterflies, but through practice, you teach the butterflies to fly in a formation. However, you don’t practice in front of 400 people at Toastmasters!
Anyway, I did great! In fact, in the spirit of shameless self-promotion I will tell you that I got a very enthusiastic standing ovation that seemed to go on forever. Judging by the audience’s response, the most well received portion of my speech was the true story of Vic Torres. Vic came to see me when I worked as an executive recruiter at General Employment in 1987. Vic had worked as a writer for a newspaper in a foreign country and wrote candidly about the country’s corrupt Dictator. One day there was a knock at Vic’s door. When he opened the door armed guards informed him that the Dictator didn’t like his column and wanted him to either stop writing altogether, or find something nice to write about the Dictator. In Vic’s opinion and in the opinion of most of the country there was nothing nice to write about this Dictator. Vic continued writing his column the way he saw things.
A few weeks later the guards were back and said they just wanted to inform Vic that his friend, the other rebel writer, was a stubborn learner as well. They had killed his friend.
Vic and his family fled the country and arrived in the United States in 1982. He didn’t know what he wanted to do, but he knew he could not write. He was too scared and besides, the bad memories of his friend were too much. So he took a job in accounts payable and worked his way up to AP Supervisor and then left the company 4-1/2 years later.
So Vic came to see me looking for a new job and told me the above story in our interview! While I don’t recommend this level of candor if you are job seeking, for whatever reason it worked. I was struck by Vic’s candor and honesty, I guess. Besides, he was one of the nicest men you could ever meet. I decided to market him to a few of our client companies. Over the next few weeks I arranged 5 interviews for him but he kept getting ruled out for the same reason: “Not aggressive enough.”
Vic was one of those guys who was just “too nice.” He was very soft spoken. I told him after every interview that he just HAD to speak up and be more aggressive. Finally I told him. “This is it. This is your last interview. We’ve been through this too many times. If you are ruled out for not being aggressive enough Vic I cannot work with you anymore.” Now I wasn’t going to turn my back on the poor guy but I was desperate.
I sent Vic to see Barry Segulyev @ Marine Terminals Corporation. Two hours later Vic returned to my office and I mean he’s just walkin’ on air. He said he was very aggressive, spoke up this time, hit it off great with Barry and he was pretty sure he had the job. I said, “Great Vic, have a seat in the lobby and I’ll give Barry a call.”
“Well Joe,” Barry said, “we really like Vic…but… well… I’m just not sure, (I just know Barry is gonna say Vic’s not aggressive enough.) I’m not sure Joe,…well…I think Vic might be…a little…TOO aggressive for our group.” Can you believe it!!!!!
I had some history working with Barry and I begged him to see Vic again. I told him the story, and I mean the Whole Story. I told Barry I would send Vic over again and tell him to just be himself this time. Barry agreed.
Well, I waited as long as I could for what seemed like hours. Finally I called Barry who said he was still meeting with Vic. I joked with him, “If you keep him any longer over there you know you have to put him on the payroll!” Barry replied, “Well now that you mention it Joe, he put me on the speaker phone and said, you were right, and Vic has agreed to join us as our AP Supervisor.”
That was as rewarding a placement as I ever made.
Years later I got this letter from my friend Barry. I thought you might enjoy it. I know I did. Quite the character, Barry sent me one of the funniest Thank You letters I have ever received…
Good Morning Joe,
I just wanted to take a minute and thank you again for the video on job interviewing.
I met with the owner of a company called Electronics Specialties over the weekend to discuss a position with his company as Controller/CFO. Normally I would not even consider a position like this because I’ve been an Accounting Manager so long that I’ve begun to think of myself as only an Accounting Manager. Your speech gave me the confidence in myself and I thought why not strut like a peacock and go for it. After all, what do I have to lose? I began the interview with a good handshake and thumb lock. Things seemed to go well after that. It turns out that he has had CPA’s and MBA’s working for him in the past but didn’t like the results. He is looking for an older gentleman who wants to stay with him until retirement. I told him that I have never been accused of being a gentleman before but I did qualify for the older part and it would be good if I could find one company that I could stay with until retirement.
I think the interview went well as it lasted three and one-half hours. We spent most of the time talking about our background and life experiences and a rather thorough tour of his facility. After the interview he told me that he would hire a private investigator to do a background check on me and if all turns out well he would like me to meet the other managers of the company and their CPA’s before we discussed employment and salary.
Thanks for the morale booster that your tape provided. When I know something more I will be sure to let you know.
P.S. This guy also owns a micro brewery in Tahoe and gave me a six-pack to take home, too. Which is the first time I ever came away from an interview with beer.
Thanks Vic and Barry hope you’re both well. Thanks to all of you for reading.
Warm Summer Regards,
Joe Pelayo, C.P.C.
Joseph Michaels International
Global Recruiting Solutions
One of the top 75 Recruiters in the United States ~ Recruiter Life Magazine