In the staffing world, you hear a lot about crossover skills – skills that are transferable from one job to another. Professionally, it is important to be able to apply those skills to responsibilities that may arise outside of your regular job duties. It allows you to add value and learn new things, while opening opportunities for the future, but I have found that it can also be fun to apply your skills to things completely outside your profession.
I’ve been in IT staffing for over fifteen years, primarily as a recruiter. In the past decade and a half, I’ve honed sourcing skills in a thousand Boolean searches, found creative ways to contact candidates and make introductions. It takes time to become comfortable contacting complete strangers and gaining their trust in the span of a short phone call. Over thousands of phone conversations, you find out what still resonates with most people – the things your grandparents probably taught you: Honesty. Humility. Confidence. Kindness.
As a recruiter, you have a very small window to communicate value to your audience. You must have something to offer them – an intriguing snapshot of their professional future.
During the pandemic, my aunt gave me my grandfather’s photo album from World War II. Being historically minded with a bent toward genealogy, I set about digitizing dozens of photos from his time in Tientsin, China with the First Marine Air Wing at the end of the war. As I scanned photo after photo of my grandfather and his Marine buddies, I wondered who these other guys were and where they ended up. But each photo I scanned was blank on the back, leaving little trace as to the identity of these men.
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I finally came to the last photo in the album. It was a small snapshot of fifteen guys in his unit. I recognized several of the faces from other photos I had already digitized. As I removed it from the album and placed it on the scanner, I was amazed to see written on the back in pencil the names, ranks, and home states of every Marine in the photograph. This was the key that allowed me to match names with faces and unlock their identities in the other photos in which they appeared.
So now it was time to merge my interest in history and genealogy with my crossover skills in online searches and finding contact information. From the names and states, I was able to find obituaries and subsequently locate children and grandchildren of several of the men in my grandfather’s WWII unit. Through the vast reach of the internet, I have now shared this photo (and others) with five families who had never seen them before. It is fun for me to offer a gift so unexpected, yet so unique and personal to complete strangers – something they will truly value.
My admittedly odd hobby of making a present of the past gave these families a fresh glimpse into the WWII experience of their fathers and grandfathers. I’m honored to use the skills I’ve acquired professionally at Odyssey Information Services to help families make a personal connection with our nation’s history. Regardless of your profession, there are unique ways to engage and give back based on your individual skills and interests. Once you find that it can become a very rewarding experience.
This snapshot of the Greatest Generation also reminds me that the men in this photo were the lucky ones. The war was over, and you can see the optimism on their faces. They would return home to raise families and build careers. They never took for granted those heroes who sacrificed their lives for that opportunity, and neither should we. We are free today because they paid the price.
It is those heroes we honor on Memorial Day.
(Kevin holds a History Degree from Baylor University and has worked at Odyssey Information Services since 2008. His grandfather, H.A. Killingsworth, is seated first row, second from right, with the Autumn sunlight on his face and shoulders.)