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No — I Won’t Hire The CEO’s Nephew

Dear Liz,

I’ve been a follower of yours since 2015. Your columns give me confidence, and just recently I had an opportunity to use all the confidence I’ve got.

I’m the Manager of Digital Marketing in my company. My boss is the Director of Marketing. There are four people on my team. We have a fantastic group. I have no complaints at all but back in December, I was in a jam.

I had an opening on my team for a Multimedia person with digital marketing experience. These people are not easy to find. I interviewed six people and was ready to hire a guy named “Jason.” The team met him, my boss met him and I was ready to make an offer.

Then I got an email message from our CEO’s assistant. Her message said that the CEO’s nephew “Ken” was interested in the job opening in my department. It also said that the CEO wanted me to interview Ken before making an offer to anyone else.

I looked at Ken’s LinkedIn profile. He is a new college grad. Ken has a little work experience but none in multimedia or digital marketing. How could I possibly hire Ken over Jason? I would have to train him from the ground up.

I asked my boss “If I interview Ken and decide not to hire him, am I going to have problems with the CEO?” She didn’t know. Neither of us had ever run into this situation before.

I asked our HR Director what to do.

“First things first,” she said. “Let’s interview Ken, and take it from there.”

Ken came in for an interview and I had a nice talk with him. He’s a great guy, but not a good fit for my department at all. I asked him ”What interested you in this position?”

He said “I thought this job would be a great way to get a foot in the door.” I didn’t correct him to say that this job is not an entry-level job. Hiring Ken into the job would set me back at least six months. I was panicking.

Meanwhile Jason was still waiting for his job offer. I got a call from the CEO’s assistant. “Have you made a decision yet?” she asked me. “The CEO is very interested in helping Jason get his first job if we can.”

I don’t know what inspired me to do it, but I said “Can you please connect me with the CEO if he’s available?” He was. I had never called him on the phone before although we’ve said hello to each other in the hallway and at meetings.

I was honest with our CEO. I told him that Ken is a great guy, but not a fit for my department, or at least this job.

I said “I can create a job for Ken if you can approve the budget for it, because I have no room in my budget for an entry-level person right now. Or, I can have coffee or lunch with Ken and give him some career coaching. He doesn’t know what he wants to do. He wants to get his foot in the door somewhere, but right now he is pretty much directionless.”

My CEO was very grateful for that suggestion.

“I would be in your debt if you would meet with Ken again,” he said. His assistant set up that lunch. Ken and I had a couple of plates of ribs and talked about his career.

It turns out that Ken is interested in social work. I made an introduction for him to my wife’s cousin who is a social worker, and she gave him some great advice. Ken ended up getting a job at a not-for-profit agency that helps new immigrants get housing and jobs. He loves it!

Jason got the job in my department and he’s doing extremely well, just as we expected.

The best part is that my CEO is my homie now. He came by my desk to tell me how much his sister (Ken’s mom) appreciated the time that I took to coach Ken on his career direction, and the advice my wife’s cousin gave him. I even got a hand-written note from Ken’s mom, thanking me for helping him out.

You say it all the time, Liz, but it’s one thing to read about it and another one to experience it for yourself. When you speak your truth, good things happen!

Thanks for all your wisdom Liz –

yours,

Rashad

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Dear Liz,

I’ve been a follower of yours since 2015. Your columns give me confidence, and just recently I had an opportunity to use all the confidence I’ve got.

I’m the Manager of Digital Marketing in my company. My boss is the Director of Marketing. There are four people on my team. We have a fantastic group. I have no complaints at all but back in December, I was in a jam.

I had an opening on my team for a Multimedia person with digital marketing experience. These people are not easy to find. I interviewed six people and was ready to hire a guy named “Jason.” The team met him, my boss met him and I was ready to make an offer.

Then I got an email message from our CEO’s assistant. Her message said that the CEO’s nephew “Ken” was interested in the job opening in my department. It also said that the CEO wanted me to interview Ken before making an offer to anyone else.

I looked at Ken’s LinkedIn profile. He is a new college grad. Ken has a little work experience but none in multimedia or digital marketing. How could I possibly hire Ken over Jason? I would have to train him from the ground up.

I asked my boss “If I interview Ken and decide not to hire him, am I going to have problems with the CEO?” She didn’t know. Neither of us had ever run into this situation before.

I asked our HR Director what to do.

“First things first,” she said. “Let’s interview Ken, and take it from there.”

Ken came in for an interview and I had a nice talk with him. He’s a great guy, but not a good fit for my department at all. I asked him ”What interested you in this position?”

He said “I thought this job would be a great way to get a foot in the door.” I didn’t correct him to say that this job is not an entry-level job. Hiring Ken into the job would set me back at least six months. I was panicking.

Meanwhile Jason was still waiting for his job offer. I got a call from the CEO’s assistant. “Have you made a decision yet?” she asked me. “The CEO is very interested in helping Jason get his first job if we can.”

I don’t know what inspired me to do it, but I said “Can you please connect me with the CEO if he’s available?” He was. I had never called him on the phone before although we’ve said hello to each other in the hallway and at meetings.

I was honest with our CEO. I told him that Ken is a great guy, but not a fit for my department, or at least this job.

I said “I can create a job for Ken if you can approve the budget for it, because I have no room in my budget for an entry-level person right now. Or, I can have coffee or lunch with Ken and give him some career coaching. He doesn’t know what he wants to do. He wants to get his foot in the door somewhere, but right now he is pretty much directionless.”

My CEO was very grateful for that suggestion.

“I would be in your debt if you would meet with Ken again,” he said. His assistant set up that lunch. Ken and I had a couple of plates of ribs and talked about his career.

It turns out that Ken is interested in social work. I made an introduction for him to my wife’s cousin who is a social worker, and she gave him some great advice. Ken ended up getting a job at a not-for-profit agency that helps new immigrants get housing and jobs. He loves it!

Jason got the job in my department and he’s doing extremely well, just as we expected.

The best part is that my CEO is my homie now. He came by my desk to tell me how much his sister (Ken’s mom) appreciated the time that I took to coach Ken on his career direction, and the advice my wife’s cousin gave him. I even got a hand-written note from Ken’s mom, thanking me for helping him out.

You say it all the time, Liz, but it’s one thing to read about it and another one to experience it for yourself. When you speak your truth, good things happen!

Thanks for all your wisdom Liz –

yours,

Rashad

Shutterstock

Dear Rashad,

Our lives change in the blink of an eye based on our decisions.

You could have hired Ken and told Jason “Better luck next time!” and if you had, who would have benefited? No one!

Not Ken, who would have struggled in the job and wondered why he wasn’t pursuing his passion.

Not Jason, who would have felt ripped off (and for good reason).

The CEO would not have learned anything and neither would his sister, Ken’s mom. You saved the day!

Your story is the perfect example of a Dragon-Slaying Story — not the conventional type wherein you improved a business process or saved a big account, but a Dragon-Slaying Story nonetheless.

You found your voice and stepped into your power, and now your CEO holds you in high esteem. Mother Nature is the very best teacher! Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Hats off to you and best of luck to all,

Liz

Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.

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