Somebody Knows How To Hire Heroes!

I just do not feel like writing about resumes today. Or search engine logic, pre-screening tools, interview techniques or any of the other base components of our profession. Like the most of the rest of my fellow citizens, I am going through a couple of days of denial, disbelief, outrage, anger, sorrow, empathy, hate, compassion, sympathy, impotence, and an impatient desire to see justice done. However, at this moment my definition of justice is a dark and terrible place where vengeance rules and the rule of law lays victim. But this too will pass; I refuse to become what seeks to destroy me. In a few days the confused emotions will coalesce into a cohesive thought and the ability to find relevance in what I do and its importance in my life and the life of the society to which I belong. This is how we frail human beings deal with issues that defy our understanding of what is right and what is dreadfully wrong. From this wrong we will arise, and I pity those who did this terrible wrong. They obviously did not take who we really are into account in their planning. Why do I feel this way? As I replay the images of Tuesday, September 11, over and over in my mind, I find hope and a belief in our eventual ability to repair the physical, emotional, and societal damage in one piece of videotape that lasted only 20 seconds. As scores of survivors and bystanders streamed down the avenues, trying to flee the terror and destruction behind them, a steady stream of firefighters, EMTs, and police officials continued towards the catastrophe unfolding before them. Nobody would have dared say a word against them if they had turned and run with the crowd, or hung back and watched helplessly. It is only human to want to live. But they entered the buildings while others were fleeing. They assisted the injured, tried to control the crowds and did all they could to spare human life, even at the risk of their own. Estimates still rise up and down, but we know that somewhere between 250 and 300 of them gave their lives in the noble effort to save others. Then, as the falling debris forced so many back, the only fear and frustration you saw in their faces was due to the fact that they had to leave brothers and sisters behind along with their civilian charges and were being held back from trying again. They were angry because they were not being allowed to place their lives at risk to save others and to keep “the promise” with their brothers and sisters and those they promise to protect and serve. It is what they do. That’s all. That is what they will tell you. It is easy to be “heroic” in the blaring lights of day. But in the darkness of a building in its death throes, heroism comes hard. Then it hit me. In this me-first world we live in, where all too often we take more than our share because we feel entitled to it, where rudeness replaces courtesy, where pushing has become a form of assertiveness, somebody out there is still hiring heroes. Then the volunteers surged forward, so many that the Mayor and Governor had to make a plea on TV and radio that people hold back: there were too many volunteers. Somebody knows how to hire heroes. The Red Cross has reported that they would like donors to wait till Thursday or Friday as their clinics are already overwhelmed with people wanting to give blood. Somebody knows how to hire heroes. The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries have made the same request, too many of us coming forward with clothes, blankets and cash to try and help. They need time to absorb it all. Somebody knows how to hire heroes. Today recruiters at Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine recruiting stations reported lines of young men and women showing up to enlist. To do what? There were not sure, but they knew they just had to do something. Sitting around and watching just did not seem appropriate to them. Somebody knows how to hire heroes. So in this world of labor shortages and candidates with the wrong skills, it is nice to know we do not lack the heroes we need to survive as a nation and a people. Heroes give us an example to emulate. Even when we fail, we fail seeking a worthwhile goal and not merely the accumulation of another toy we do not really need. We are all the better for trying and from that effort we try again. Our heroes are not always presidents and generals or marble statues. Sometimes a hero is a person in line waiting for five hours to give blood, because it is all he or she can do. Our heroes are the EMTs covered in bruises and the debris of what was once a 110-story building weeping because he or she could not reach a victim in time. We will not learn their names; too many heroes were doing too many heroic things to keep track of them all. It probably would have embarrassed them to make a fuss anyway. I look back on my career and hope that I succeeded in hiring some heroes myself. Somehow that would make it all seem more worthwhile today. Today and in the weeks to come, we do not need job descriptions, we need heroes. Thank God we have them! Have a great day recruiting (heroes)!

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Ken Gaffey ( is currently an employee of CPS Personal Services ( and has been involved in the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration project since its inception. Prior to this National Security project Ken was an independent human resources and staffing consultant with an extensive career of diversified human resources and staffing experience in the high-tech, financial services, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical industries. His past clients include Hewlett Packard, First Data Corporation, Fidelity Investments, Fleet Bank, Rational Software, Ericsson, Astra Pharmaceutical, G&D Engineering, and other national and international industry leaders. In addition to contributing articles and book reviews to publications like ERE,, AIRS, HR Today, and the International Recruiters Newsletter, Ken is a speaker at national and international conferences, training seminars, and other staffing industry events. Ken is a Boston native and has lived in the greater Boston area most of his life. Ken attended the University of South Carolina and was an officer in the United States Marine Corps.


4 Comments on “Somebody Knows How To Hire Heroes!

  1. Great article! Listening to the radio on the way to work this morning, getting news of some survivors found among the rubble, I found myself thinking about the efforts being made to put America back on its feet, and about the resilience of the human spirit. Yes, we do have a lot of heroes, and in a society today where much of the news that inundates on a regular basis is negative and bad, we badly need to focus on how much good there is out there. For every bad thing that happens, there are hundreds if not thousands of good things that happen that we just don’t hear enough about. Thank you for reminding us of caring and compassion that so many human beings have.

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  2. I wish to extend my humble thanks and gratitude to the scores of responses I have received to this article. You have been kind and generous with your comments and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to say my piece.

    I would like to thank the editorial staff, especially Jim Dalton, for deciding to take a chance and put something non-business related “out there.” (I give Jim enough grief without paying him the compliment he deserves.)

    God Bless America

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