I grew up during the civil strife era. My parents, one a direct immigrant the other one generation removed from Ellis Island, reared me to think openly, to treat people as I wanted to be treated, and to believe in the impossible. I remember the days JFK, RFK and MLK were assassinated by people who didn?t believe in the impossible.
Monday we remember Dr. King.
My favorite of all Dr. King?s speeches was the one he delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta February 4, 1968. It was entitled The Drum Major Instinct. I was only 8 at the time but my father – who had escaped the Nazi occupation of France, was befriended by his black classmates at DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City, and enlisted as an original member of the Tenth Mountain Division to fight in Europe during WW II – sat me down at passionately educated me about the Civil Rights movement.
Towards the end of the speech came the following:
?I?d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.?
?I?d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.?
?I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.?
?I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.?
?And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked.?
?I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison.?
?I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.?
?Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won?t have any money to leave behind. I won?t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that?s all I want to say.?
What does this have to do with recruiting? Perhaps nothing, perhaps everything. A few hundred Executive Orders and laws later, the employment landscape and the impact and role of recruiters looks nothing like it did forty or so years ago. The way I see it, recruiters are responsible for helping others find a road to purpose and self-worth. Recruiters are on the front line of relationship building, responsible for selling a company?s message to someone who is seeking a message and working with hiring managers to understand the needs of progress.
Truly savvy recruiters are in some ways catalysts for change because in their positions they confront dynamic talent pools as they are impacted by social, economic, political and technological issues. Today, remember that Martin Luther King Day is not about the end of a three-day-blowout-sales-weekend-extravaganza but the celebration of the continuing change in the employment landscape. The road ahead is in many ways still uncharted and requires real leadership from our profession.
Are you ready?