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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?

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today?


  1. Terri Klass

    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!

    • Karin Hurt

      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. Basudeb Mukherjee

    Oh Karin ! Couldn’t resist sharing ! Please keep writing !

    • Karin Hurt

      Basudeb, Thanks so much. I will 😉

  3. LaRae Quy

    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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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict, and hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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