giving employees another chance

Jack, Jill and a Slippery Hill

Antoine was an accomplished millennial retail sales professional  considered “a bit rough around the edges.”

His no-BS approach created a natural bond with entrepreneurs and mom and pop companies, that left some managers scratching their heads. But, heck it worked.

Antoine was maxing out his compensation and winning the big recognition trips year after year, but he wanted more.

He went back to school at night and got his degree. He waited until he was selling more from the store than his counterparts in the business channel, and then applied for a job with the business sales manager.

Rejected. He applied again. Rejected.

His mentor, Jill, encouraged him to shave his scraggly goatee and begin wearing suits to work. He applied again. This time he didn’t even get an interview–just a call from HR saying he “wasn’t quite ready.”

So Jill called up the Jack, the hiring manager, and described an ideal candidate she’d like to refer to him. Jill described everything about Antoine without using his name. Jack salivated and asked for the resume ASAP, after all Jack didn’t want to risk losing a candidate like that.

Jill sent over Antoine’s resume.

Embarrased, Jack gave Antoine a chance in a junior role–a level down from the position to which Antoine had applied. Within six months he was promoted, and began teaching his new peers his secrets to success.

“Job fit” is more complex than it looks. Discrimination comes in many forms.

Do you have an Antoine who deserves a chance?

For whom could you be a Jill?

Posted in Authenticity & Transparency, Career & Learning and tagged , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of several books: Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates (Harper Collins Summer 2020), Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. Thank you for sharing another powerful case study with us, Karin!

    It is so tough when people pre-judge our abilities and make assumptions about our worth. I once had a direct report who wanted to move to another department but didn’t know the manager. I decided to make an introduction even though I didn’t want her to leave. And she did get the offer!

    Great post!

    • Terri, Thanks so much. I’m with you, sometimes helping a great employee move to another department feels like cutting off your right arm, but it’s so important to move folks around and help them to grow.

  2. So many times we are not even aware of our biases, Karin.

    As I read this wonderful article, we all know that Antoine was competent and capable. There is such a temptation to judge people, the reader included as we read this: “Why wasn’t Antoine offered a job?”

    And yet, from the other side, we cannot know what people are thinking about a candidate…perhaps it was a trigger word or image that brought up negative connotations for the HR person. Is it fair? No. Is it reality? Of course.

    One of the best things we can do is try to create more awareness of how our biases interfere with good decision making. While it’s easier to point the fingers at others, the first place to start is ourselves. We are not immune, unfortunately, because we all take “shortcuts” in our thinking that allow us to skim over information so we can get more done.

    By being consciously aware of how we “generalize” people, things, and events, we can all be a Jill who might end up being marginalized by the way our brain processes information….

    Great conversation, Karin!

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