I'd like to introduce you to Hilda, one of my talented mentees. I hired Hilda 6 years ago to be the site Human Resources Manager for our West Coast Distribution Center in California. So Hilda was there when we acquired the site, and she was part of the team that closed down the DC this month as part of ongoing consolidations caused by industry and economic changes.
I'd hire Hilda again in a heartbeat.
If you're looking for a talented HR Manager based about 15 miles south of LAX, you can find Hilda's profile here, on LinkedIn.
And if for some reason you are not on LinkedIn, send me an email and I'll forward you Hilda's contact information. Here's the unsolicited recommendation I posted on Hilda's LinkedIn profile:
"I personally recruited and hired Hilda in 2004 as the site Human Resources Manager for our West Coast distribution center and merchandising branch office, and I would not hesitate to hire Hilda again. She is a highly skilled HR professional with the ability to remain calm, empathetic and firm regardless of the situation or issue. Because of her skills and demeanor, she was very much respected by her colleagues and her internal customers during her 6-year tenure: critical for the success of any seasoned HR practitioner. Both the Vice President of Logistics and I considered Hilda to be a key member of the site leadership team, and in fact, we both considered her as potential bench for the site General Manager position: that's how strong a business partner she is.
Hilda's strong knowledge of California labor law and compliance was invaluable as we ramped up our operations in 2004, and her strong recruiting skills ensured that the DC was always properly staffed. Hilda is only on the market as a result of the closing of West Coast operation this past year (which she also helped facilitate), and that availability will greatly benefit the next organization lucky enough to hire Hilda into her next career position."
I'm proud to personally and professionally vouch for Hilda, and to do so in a proactive and public manner. There are a few motivating reasons, and the first and most important reason is to support Hilda in expeditiously securing her next job.
Secondly, to share as a best practice. I've used a variation of this method for another talented mentee before: Laurie. She came to me shortly after returning from maternity leave, and asked for my help: the combination of the childcare and the commute wasn't working out, and she needed an HR job closer to home. I was touched by her authenticity and yet was not surprised by it at all, knowing full well how talented she is. I helped her get her C.V. ready, and in an out-of-the-box move (an updated variation of the networking theme that my first manager Nan started with me), I sent it via an email singing her praises to all of the heads of HR (about 38 of them) within a 10-mile radius of Laurie's home. One of them responded immediately (and wisely), hiring Laurie within the week into a position that had not yet been advertised. We then negotiated a transition until Laurie and I could hire her replacement. Laurie was subsequently promoted to the AVP of HR for her new organization. Your basic win-win.
Aside from championing Hilda to her next position, I also want to encourage all of you, my fellow hiring-authorities and decision-makers, to use your discretionary power to champion the jewels of talent you know and/or mentor, and who have been arbitrarily and capriciously cast out onto the market of an economy that none of us ever imagined.
Proactively "pre-recommend" these available talent jewels by sending their information to other hiring-authorities and decision-makers. (And if this has been your practice especially during this last recession, please share your success stories here and elsewhere and spread the best practice so it can expand and grow!)
The economically impacted (the laid-off) do not need to become the next marginalized class. Those of us who have sat on both sides of the layoff table and who are currently in hiring-authority and decision-maker positions (there but for the grace of God go we!) absolutely have the power to shift that now-outdated paradigm: that if someone has been laid off, they must be inferior human capital. It is, more often than not, in these economic times, a false assessment, and I can personally prove it. Hilda is just one of a number of shining examples to that passe' paradigm's contrary.
Years ago, in diversity training, we learned that if we were in one of the real / perceived power groups (male, Caucasian etc.), that we had a choice: that we could each personally shift the paradigm by using our discretionary power, and be inclusive of folks in more marginalized groups, rather than exclude them by default, ignorance or fear. Today, no one is more potentially marginalized than the laid-off and the unemployed. Thankfully, we have a choice: we can see them for the jewels of talent they are, and we, the employed hiring-authorities and decision-makers, can use our discretionary power and stand up personally, professionally, and publicly for them, and ultimately, for each other.
Or as my 9 year-old son learned in Sunday school:
"He drew a circle that shut me out— Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in!"