Did I do that?

I wrote this story after working in Orlando Florida back in 2004.

Did I do that?

One of the tasks that I have been charged with is recruiting for a large landscape maintenance job in central Florida. This has been a very interesting task. The job calls for 5 foremen landscaping employees and up to another 8 seasonal laborers. Initial I thought that recruiting for the foremen would be the most important activity.

Unfortunately I made many mistakes the first time thru on this task. I advertised for these employees in a large metropolitan newspaper which is rather expensive to subscribe to, and it turns out that because of this cost my target market does not read this paper. Therefore I received minimal candidates from this advertisement. I then decided to advertise in a more local paper which is less expensive; however I ran the ad the week before Christmas and again, received very few responses. I then changed my target and decided to try to advertise for the laborers in the hopes of getting some foremen responding and possibly some laborers who could be developed into something like foremen. I was overwhelmed with both the number of applicants and the high percentage of alcoholics, drug addicts and convicted felons. Lord help me – what have I gotten myself into.

I interviewed somewhere around 30 applicants.

I hired 1 that came up with a positive drug test and had to fire him.

I hired a middle aged lady who swore up and down that she could handle an edger and 2 days later I turned in my first Workers Compensation claim because of her.

I hired another who promised me he had no criminal record problem and this is where “Did I do that?” came from.

I counseled all of the applicants with the following phrases: “We are responsible for the landscaping of 1100 homes that belong to retirees who want to be sure that we not only do the job right, but do it safely and that they can trust us to leave their personal belongings alone. Do you understand this?” I generally waited to get a clear and positive response to this question.

I then went on to say. “It is important that all of the employees working on this job are able to constantly pass a drug test. Is this going to happen with you?” I again wait for a clear and positive response.

I end the counseling with. “It is also of the utmost (possibly too large of a word) importance that none of the employees we hire have any kind of a criminal record. This includes arrests, run in with the police or talking to a judge. Are we going to find anything on your background check regarding this?” I always asked – “Are you sure?” even if I got a clear and positive response to this query.

The most memorable applicant told me that I had nothing to fear in any of these areas.

I decided early on that I would give the good applicants the offer of employment and while they were going for their drug test I would have our regional recruiter run the Criminal Record Check, or background check.

This generally takes only a few minutes. I called our recruiter on my cell phone and gave her the information needed to run the check on this latest candidate. Within 15 minutes she called me back and asked if I had time to hear the entire report. She knew presenting this question to me would get me upset – she was correct. Even without hearing the report I was steaming mad that another candidate had outright lied to me.

This guy had a three page report with larceny, probation violations, battery, assault and battery and other related criminal activities on his report. Some were labeled as felonies, others as misdemeanors.

I called the guys cell phone and asked, “Have you gotten your drug test yet?”

He replied “No, I am almost there.”

I responded with “Don’t worry about it; we don’t need you to take the test.”

He asked, “Why, am I exempt (hey he does know some big words).”

I replied in a fairly angry voice “You outright lied to me. Your background check shows larceny, assault, assault and battery and multiple probation violations.”

He cried back. “I don’t remember any of that.”

I told him “Hey, the last assault and battery is listed as a felony that you were convicted of. You went to court on this less than a year ago.”

He responded with “I thought I was found innocent of that. I guess I misunderstood my lawyer on that one.”

I read another conviction to him, “It says here that you have two probation violations. How do you explain this?”

He said “Did I do that?”

This is when I lost it. I tried to politely explain to the guy that there were two types of people that I would not hire. The first is people with felony convictions. The second is people who cannot remember the crimes they commit. I said good bye very nicely and rudely hung up the phone.

If someone ever accuses me of being rude to a candidate I will have to reply, “Did I do that?”

Another story shared by Teddy Burriss. I hope you enjoyed it.