Karma And IT Staffing

By: John Hutchins, Quantix Vice President, Client Services

I read an article recently posted by the BBC online about a man who was extremely rude to another passenger on a London subway train. It was very crowded, as usual, and the passenger accidentally got in his way, so he pushed him aside and then cussed him out. Later that same day, the rude dude had a job interview. Can you guess who the interviewer happened to be? It was the same passenger rude dude had shoved and cussed out earlier that day. Of course, rude dude didn’t get the job.

It’s rare to see karma in such clear and direct terms. It reminded me of situation I was involved in many years ago. I was a brand new sales person starting in the IT staffing industry and desperate for business. I was thrilled when I landed a small client with desktop support needs. The hiring manager was condescending and flippant, but I was just happy to find some business. I ended up placing two desktop support technicians, both of whom quit after only a short time on the job. It turns out that the hiring manager was quite abusive in his management style. The condescending and flippant attitude I picked up on was far worse for those who reported to him. Interestingly, he fired me as a vendor, interpreting the retention issue as my problem, rather than an issue with his management style – and he did it in a very disrespectful way that included yelling as well as cussing at me over the telephone. As a new sales person, I was wide-eyed and shell shocked!

Image Credit: Jason Wheeler

Image Credit: Jason Wheeler

Less than six months later, I landed a large Fortune 100 client in the banking industry. In addition to the multiple COBOL and DB2 positions they asked me to help fill, they asked me to help out on a Director of IT position. We posted the position on the job boards and guess who applied – the same manager who was so rude to my consultants and to me. I couldn’t believe that he actually applied. He should have recognized my company’s name on the posting. He should have put two and two together, but for some reason he didn’t. Maybe he had a short memory or maybe he didn’t care or maybe he didn’t even realize that his behavior was abhorrent. I decided to call him just to see what would happen – would he make the connection, would he apologize?

During our conversation, it was clear that he knew who I was. It turned out that he had been terminated, probably because of his management style, and was unemployed. He thanked me for calling, listened patiently to my description of the job, answered my questions about his background and asked some good questions of his own. It was so strange – as though the nastiness from a few months ago never happened. He seemed like a completely different person. He was a great fit for the job from a technical and experience perspective, but I couldn’t get past how horrible he had been. I didn’t submit him to my client and didn’t tell him the truth. Instead I made up some excuse about the client never responding or having already identified their favorite candidates – I don’t really remember. I never connected with him again and have no idea whatever happened to him.

The BBC story is unique, not because it is a perfect example of Karma, but because of the clear connection between cause and effect. Rude dude knows that he was a jerk and ended up losing a job opportunity because of it. My story is a bit different in that my rude dude probably never connected the dots. It’s my firm belief that karma happens all of the time; we just don’t usually see it. What I take away from this story is that no matter how bad a day I’m having or how frustrated I am with a situation or person, I need to control my behavior, remaining kind and respectful at all times. If I act like a jerk, it will come back to bite me. BBC’s rude dude has received a very clear life lesson – I hope he and all of us actually learn from it.

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