Friday, August 24, 2012

The recruitment speech I would love to give


A few weeks ago we had what is now a new record for shortest time with MTB. A new guy who seemed to have it all together emailed the morning after his first day to say he wouldn't be coming in that morning. He cited "mental health reasons" which I won't go into. Not "I'm hurting." Not "I'm sick." Just: "I can't handle it."

"But," he said, "I can make it in by noon if that helps."

So, he's gone. We needed to find more guys.

We invited 11 new candidates in for an unprecedented group interview and screening. 11 guys were invited, four showed up. Of those, only one had a valid driver's license. For a driving job.

We invited three more guys to a similar interview situation yesterday. One showed up. He may make the cut.

After the new guy with the "mental health reasons" bailed on his second day of work, a rant began forming in my mind. This is the gist of it, although somewhat edited to get a PG rating. Think of it in the vein of Alec Baldwin's phenomenal performance in Glengary Glen Ross. This is the speech I would love to give in the first round of interviews -- the group interview phase. 

I realize it may come off as arrogant, condescending, short-tempered, etc. Maybe it is. I'll work to improve my attitude, read more books by leadership gurus, and maybe realign my chakras at an ashram somewhere. Until then, new recruits are likely to get some variation of this orientation speech:


The Recruitment Speech I'd Love to Give 



Cartoon credit: the late master Gary Larson.

Here's what I want from you: hard work, honesty, integrity, reliability, punctuality and sincerity. If you don't know what any of these things mean, you are now dismissed. 

For those of you who remain, if you think those words are just placeholders for "I really need a job," you are also dismissed. Do not leave your resumes by the door.

Give me these things and you can make a living doing this. I will give you the opportunity to rise, to "get in at the ground level," as they say. No, this will never be the next Apple or Microsoft, but look at it this way: In five years we've more than doubled gross revenue every year. RIGHT NOW, we have to turn away more than 30 customers every summer weekend. Sometimes far more than that. That's potentially tens of thousands of dollars we can't earn -- right now, today -- because we simply don't have the men to do the jobs.

I see you shifting in your seats. You're eager. You're beginning to see the opportunity here. Maybe you're thinking that this, finally, is what you've been waiting for lo these many years.

Stop right there. I built this thing from a few hundred bucks and a whole lot of desperation and terror. I also  "waited" for opportunity to present itself. It never did because after I put in my obligatory hours in my day job, I went home and sat on the couch. Okay, I also drank a lot of beer. And I cursed the universe for not giving me a chance to shine.

The universe responded by giving me a lot of responsibility, and suddenly, no income. I ground it out day after day after day. There's no system. There's no miracle. There's no magic pill.

It's. All. Hard. Work.

I've paid my dues. I continue to pay my dues by making the tough decisions daily, tearing my kids off of me every morning as they cry for Daddy to stay home, and watching my wife put on a brave face as she prays for the strength to get through another 18-hour day with three kids by herself. So here's the deal: I'm not about to let some lazy, amoral, no integrity, no character son-of-a-bitch jeopardize what I've built. I've sweat, bled (numerous times), cried, gotten beat down by rising costs and regulations. It's beginning to pay off. Until this moment, it's been a learning curve. Going forward, we have a very real, very do-able chance at glory.

In other words, don't waste my time. If I schedule you for a 9:00 AM interview, 9:00:01 is late. This is a job ruled by the clock. This is your first test. It's pass/fail.

I don't trust you yet. Don't take it personally -- It's not because of you, but because of too many guys who came before you: the whiners, the big talkers, the guys who present themselves well in the interview, only to go AWOL on day one, leaving me with no one to do the jobs the customers entrusted us to do. A few have tried to steal from me and therefore would, in all likelihood, steal from our customers too. The one thing they all have in common? They're "fast learners," "hard workers," "take direction well," and "want to use their considerable skills in a dynamic work environment."

I've learned that it's all talk until you successfully pull a ten-hour shift in 100+ degree weather for two straight weeks. So, no offense, but you have to walk the walk before I believe your talk.

Do not bitch at me about hours if you do nothing to generate them. When I started this thing, I put ads on Craigslist and flyers in coffee shops. I used every minute of my downtime to generate leads. I taught myself basic web design. I learned about email marketing and database development. In the beginning, I started with one job. A while later I got three in a week. Then four, then eight, and so on. Eventually the business generated enough referrals based on goodwill to sustain itself without Craigslist and flyers.

So don't come around here complaining that you're not being handed a nice, easy, profitable schedule. If you want to work more, step up.

You want a comfortable, 40-hour work week you can schedule your life around? Great, so do I. But it's not going to happen in this industry. Besides, we just ground through some of the toughest, hottest weeks in MTB's history, and the veterans who came close to 40 hours almost died. You can't handle 40 hours yet.

This is not easy work, so don't expect to put in your time and get a paycheck. This industry requires people to push beyond physical discomfort. There's no time to put it off until you "feel like it." The job gets done, right now, today, or there are real consequences. MTB takes it farther -- the bare minimum is excellence. You push yourself to the limit and do it with a smile. No exceptions.

I better know everything about you before I hire you. Do NOT tell me 30 minutes before your first job that you have to get to an AA meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:00.

Steal from me or my customers? We won’t go to the police. I will hurt you.

Lie to me? You can’t. One way or another, I'm going to find the truth.

Break something—you pay for it.


Want a raise? Earn it. I don’t believe in giving raises just because someone needs the money. When I don't have to worry if you'll show up, or if you'll even bother to call in if you even THINK you're going to be late or sick or something, and when the guys beg to have you on their crew, and the customers mention you by name, we'll talk. Until then, you're on probation.

If your smoking, drinking or lifestyle keep you from performing as well or better than your team, time to hit the road.


In the beginning, I'll give you my word, but you have to earn my respect and friendship.

I don't care what you've done or who you've worked for. This is Day One of the rest of your life. Lose the attitude.

Like I said -- it's not personal. This comes from experience; experience gained through the naive application of such values as trust and optimism. When you go by a man's word alone, you risk getting burned. I have. Many, many times.

So, for those of you still here, here's what you can expect from me:

If you at least give it your best shot, I will work with you. If you're here on time, ready to rock & roll, I'll notice, and I'll give you more opportunity than you can handle. If you turn those opportunities into successes, I'll do whatever I have to to keep you here and interested.

If you have an unquestionable record of integrity, honesty and rightly directed ambition, I'll back you in almost any circumstance or situation.

If you're an honest, hard-working man of integrity, I'll help you through whatever crises in life come your way. Cars blow up, babies get sick, break-ups rip your guts out. I've helped guys out before, and I'll always do it for those who I KNOW aren't taking advantage of me. As a fallen man and recovering slacker, I know the value of surrounding yourself with people who excel in the virtues you aspire to.

If you're all those things I'm looking for, you will eventually outgrow this job. If I can't find a way to use your (by now obvious) leadership skills, I'll do whatever I can to help you succeed in your next career.

If this sounds good, welcome aboard. If not, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.


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