Lessons From A Child’s Toy

Inspiration comes from many places.

I’d like you to imagine a standard workday.  A day like every other day.  A day when the sound of the alarm clock is akin to nails being dragged across a chalkboard.  Not just any chalkboard either…the world’s longest chalkboard.  A day after a night when you decided that sure, you’d go ahead and catch up on a little Tivo viewing…and then got sucked into just one more episode…which turned out to be the last episode before the season finale, which of course meant that you then had to sit through the season finale, too.  A day when waking up is absolutely, positively the very last thing that you want to be doing…but you’ve got that damnable meeting at 8:30 this morning, and so you’d better get your butt rolling.

So, as your joints pop and your back reminds you that perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the way you contort yourself on the couch (and, yet again, to flip the mattress like you keep saying you’d do for the last two months), you stagger downstairs towards the only thing your brain can focus on at the moment: the coffee pot.  It’s definitely a coffee morning.  Forget that resolution to cut down your caffeine intake…if you don’t have a cup of liquid energy before you walk out the door, odds are good that someone’s going to die when they fail to understand that a Michigan left/u-turn lane is just that – one lane and not two…yeah, maybe better make that two cups.

Down the stairs.

You think you have the childproof gate opened…but you don’t…and so you slam your toe into the tension-held board across the bottom, barely keeping the stream of profanity held back so that you don’t wake anyone up.

You take the first step through, and as you’re focused solely on the throbbing toe that surely needs amputation, it happens.

You step, full weight, on a block from a child’s toy.  We’ve all been there…or at least all of us with kids or nieces/nephews that stay with us occasionally have…the lego brick to the arch.  The sharpened pencil jammed into your heel, possibly involving splinters.  Matchbox cars are bad, because it’s almost inevitable that it’s rightside up, which means the wheels will almost inevitably make your foot slide out from underneath you.  However, the worst of the worst are the blocks from this sucker right here:

All of those angles.

Hard, solid wood.

No give, no flex.

So, as you’re making a mental note that from this point forward the only toys that will enter your house will be made of Nerf, you’re at least awake and alert now.

Coffee grinds.  Water.  It’s started.  Might as well make sure it doesn’t happen again…and while you’re at it, you make a mental note of the person that bought the toy so that you can be sure their kids get a drumset for their next birthday.

As you’ve probably guessed…welcome to my morning.

As I marched into the playroom, grabbed the base and started putting the blocks away, the simple mental exercise became a reminder of a conversation that I’ve been having more and more recently – the “Hey, can you help me find a gig as [insert job here]?” conversation.

With some, it’s easy – they’re people that I’ve known and worked with for years.  I know who they are, what they’re capable of (and what they’re not), where their strengths and weaknesses are, and where they’re most likely to be a good fit.  With others…particularly lately with the onslaught of resumes that we’ve received in advance of the Pink Slip Party…it’s very difficult.  I don’t know them beyond what shows up in my inbox.  Let me tell you, I have a much better level of respect for recruiters at this point.  Do you believe that someone that has a resume that lists a ton of retail and waitressing experience can be a better project manager than the person with the PMP after their name who’s also in your inbox?  Do you look at the resume of a person who’s been a java developer for the last three year and make the leap of faith that they can fit an architect position?

How do you do this:

…when you’re not even really sure what the shape is of the block that you’re holding in your hand?

To the recruiters out there, I can tell you from the conversations that I’ve been having that you need to take the time to get to know those blocks.  I know most of you will, because I’ve talked with you in the past and I know that you look at people the same way I do…but for the randoms that stumble across this blog, or for the new faces that will show up this week…I urge you – please, take the time.  There are some some very easily identifiable blocks that will fit naturally into a client’s open position…and there are some that might need a little sanding, or perhaps a paint job…but that doesn’t make them any less capable, or less likely to be a natural fit if you can find the right slot.

To the job seekers out there…embrace the block that you are.  Don’t pretend to be a triangle when you’re really a square – we all know the job market’s tough right now, but if you’re a square, and you try and make someone force you into a triangular hole…that’s going to be painful.  For everyone involved.  You’re a square…be the best damned square that you possibly can, and someone out there will find the right slot for you to fit into.

But if you’re bound and determined to be fit in that triangular hole…then understand that change is necessary.  You’re going to have to explain why you look like a square on paper, but you’re really a triangle.  You might even have to whip out some power tools and sandpaper…but if fitting into that slot is what’s really important to you, then it’ll be worth it.

So, I guess that’s the point of yet another rambling blog post – for the job seekers, be yourself, and embrace who and what you are…and find the opening that’s waiting for you.  For the recruiters, don’t dismiss a square…or what appears to be a square…just because you only have a triangular opening sitting in front of you.