Almost seven years ago, I needed a new receptionist. I interviewed half a dozen candidates, with many different skills and abilities from right out of school to years of work experience. The person I hired was a recent college graduate.
Yes, there were candidates with more experience. Why did I chose the way I did? When she sat across from me, doing her best to convince me to give her a chance, she didn’t tell me she would be the perfect receptionist. What she told me, with her eyes sparkling, back straight, and with great pride, was that she had drive and determination and would not remain a receptionist.
It would have been easier on me in the long run to choose someone who was seemingly content to be a receptionist long-term. However, I don’t believe that does the company (or the person) any favors. We were pretty small at the time, with about 25 employees. I knew we would double in size pretty quickly and we would need people in the wings to step forward and assume different tasks.
I can’t say it was smooth sailing, because it wasn’t. Our personalities are very different and we did clash often. Fairly or not, her coworkers initially thought of her as an airhead party girl. She was impatient, chomping at the bit to do more, make more, to simply move forward.
She went back to school while working for us full-time. She earned a Master’s Degree. Along the way, she mellowed a bit. She moved into a data-entry role. She paid attention to what was happening in the office, and studied the interactions of her coworkers. When an opportunity in our merchant relations area came available, she was ready.
Today, she is a Sales Executive. She is rocking her new role. She’s making a direct impact on our bottom line, and she’s having fun doing it. I haven’t been her boss in years, and thankfully we don’t clash the way we used to. I took a chance on the young lady with stars in her eyes when I hired her. I was looking to the future, and I’m so glad I did.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: April Kunzelman, PHR, is a Human Resources executive with a wide range of experience in many aspects of personnel management. Currently, she serves as the Director of HR for fatwallet.com, an online resource community for savvy shoppers. April launched the non-profit organization Chemo Cargo, aimed at assisting first-time chemotherapy patients. Connect with April on Twitter as @akunzel and @chemocargo.
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