Extend a hand

In a recent round of interviews, I experienced some things I had not thought about in a quite a while. First though, I should say that it has been several years since I had to go through this process and various things have changed. The job “ad” was different than ever and involved more online listings than previously. As a result, in my opinion, the job listing was less targeted than in the past. Because of this, I received many applications from people who were overqualified for the specific position. I guess it is pretty easy to click “apply” and take a chance. But, for me, it created an easy way to screen out many people. A few were overqualified and not qualified at the same time – they were not educated in a relevant field. Some were educated in the proper field, but were not going to be considered because of their over qualification and most failed to do much more than click “apply.” A few applicants sent cover emails/letters that made them stand out. One of these looked good and I told him I’d hold onto his information for possible future positions (stranger things have happened than that). I offered to speak with him and explain; he took me up on it. The conversation was a bit strange in that his verbal communications skills did not seem to match his level of education. I gave him a few pointers on a short phone call. I did not pay the encounter much more mind until I got a follow up thank you email from him explaining that he has Asperger’s Syndrome which impairs his communications abilities. He thanked me for speaking with him and related that his job hunt was difficult, to which I replied with more tips, now knowing the rest of the story. It seemed to me to be a small gesture to speak with him in the first place and it is easy to dismiss job candidates never knowing their story. I don’t know what other resources are out there for someone like him when seeking a high level job, but the experience made me realize that a little kindness, a little direction, may make the difference. I told him I was happy to help because helping others makes the world go around. Lending a hand may not take much, but may mean much more to someone than you realize.

I have always admired David’s willingness to help people.  That is one of the things we have in common!  David goes out of his way to help people who need help and often, those in need of help are strangers who don’t expect anyone to help them.  This recent example of a job applicant is illustrative in this regard.  Most people, when receiving a job application from someone they are never going to hire (for various reasons), would press “delete” on their computer and never give another thought to the applicant.  David is not most people.  He informed the applicant that he was overqualified for the position for which he applied, due to the fact that the position is an entry level position for someone with a college degree, and thus, not suitable for someone who is a few credits away from earning a Ph. D.  David then offered to speak with the applicant to explain things further and the person took David up on his offer.  By then, David had invested more time and effort in this person than most people would have, particularly in light of the fact we were not going to hire him.  Upon speaking to the person, David noted his unusual speech pattern and remarked to me that this man was going to have a difficult time finding a job that matches his qualifications because he doesn’t know how to “sell himself” to a potential employer.  It wasn’t until David received a nice thank you note from the man explaining that the reason for his difficulty in finding a job was that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, limiting his ability to communicate verbally.  David continued to provide advice to him, such as recommending a speech or voice coach (like our late friend, Dr. Roy Langer, used to provide).  I don’t know if this job applicant took David’s advice, but I am certain he will never forget David’s kindness in providing it.  

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