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Little Things
Photo: Georgios M. W.
In 2002, I was out of a job. My employer closed shop in September 2001, and immediately after 9/11 no one else was hiring. By the time businesses were again hiring, I had been unemployed six months.

In technology industries six months is forever. The longer I was out of work, less likely it was that I would get hired. I was rapidly becoming unemployable.

Then an acquaintance I casually knew 20 years earlier found out I needed a job. I'll call him Bill. Bill was a manager in a major organization. While his organization did not need someone with my skills, many of his suppliers did. He got my resume and pushed it to his suppliers, even twisting an arm or two to get me interviews.

I soon found a job with a company that urgently needed my skills. I ended up working for a man I had worked for fifteen years previously. He had been sorry to lose me then, and delighted to get me back. I would not have known about the opening without Bill’s help.

I Owe You

Afterwards I called Bill to thank him. I did not know why he had gone to all the effort he had for someone he barely knew. I was grateful. “I could not have gotten the job without your help,” I told him.  “I owe you."

“You do not owe me,” he said. “At best we are even. If I can ever help you again, I will.”

He reminded me of something I had done 20 years earlier. He was a year or two out of college then. The company for which we were working was reducing its professional staff by three-quarters. Many co-workers, including Bill, were facing layoff. The economy was bad at that time. Losing your job right then – especially for those a year or so out of college – meant that you would leave that industry forever.

I was going to be one of the few junior people kept. Since I was not looking for a job, I had time to help those that were. I could write well. I helped many of the junior people in my group – including Bill – prepare their resumes. I did not spend much time with each person, only a few hours.

Bill got a great job with the organization he is now with. After he was hired, he was told that they hired him because of his resume. At my urging he added a few lines I said would impress that employer. It did – and set him on the path to becoming a senior manager.

We think we have to do something really big to change someone else’s life. Instead it is often the small things that make the biggest changes – things so small you may not even notice them at the time. Those you affect remember, even when you do not.

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Written by Mark N Lardas, copyright 2006, Mark N. Lardas, all rights reserved.  Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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