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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Personalities in the Garden, Part Two.

Fifty candidates had e-mailed their resumes to apply for the two positions of gardening assistants. The only criteria I had requested were strength and the ability to withstand the heat of the sun. Since I have no experience in human resources, reviewing 50 applications was overwhelming. I needed guidelines for sifting through the candidates' resumes.

The first guide was to remove those candidates that would clearly be a bad fit. There were many applications from engineering students and that group was the first to be rejected. In my experience, I had learned that this group is empirical and precise. They would probably not be happy working with me. When I garden, I sometimes communicate verbally in vague language and I change my mind a lot. As well, garden design can be an imprecise activity as the esthetic component of this skill is influenced to some degree by whim and spontaneous inspiration. I anticipated that these characteristics might frustrate engineering students and since I had so many other candidates to choose from, I could afford to remove these from consideration. While my decision might appear to some to have been callous or narrow minded, I believe that my over-riding desire to create a pleasant working environment required that I take into some consideration the comfort level of prospective employees.

The list of candidates had now shrunk considerably. The next cut included all applicants without any background in sports, physical fitness, hard work or outdoor experience. That is when the list of applicants shrunk to 10. Now was the time to began reading the resumes carefully, to try to determine who these students might be and how they might fit in to my garden design business.

It was at this point in the selection process that I noticed that gender had not played a role in the selection process. My criteria had kept 5 female and 5 male students in the running. It appeared that several of the female students participated in competitive sports and one candidate had worked on a fishing boat the previous summer. Given that I had both genders from which to make my selection, I decided that it would be interesting to have one male and one female worker. The female worker was going to be the girl with the fishing boat experience. I had seen news clips and documentaries of that industry and I understand how physically challenging the work could be. This one candidate had earned my respect the moment I read her resume. I did hire her and she turned out to be an exemplary employee.

The successful male candidate had experience in landscaping. That is what got him this job but he turned out to be a big disappointment. He was a music major and composed jazz pieces in his head as he worked. His enthusiasm and concentration was lacking and consequently his productivity was poor. There would be no music students in the final selection in seasons to come.

At the outset of the season, I had commented to the female candidate that I was surprised that she had been hired to work on a fishing boat. I was under the impression that males had more muscle strength and that fact should have placed her at a disadvantage in the workplace. She replied that while women are not as strong as men, they have more stamina. During the gardening season, she proved that point every day.

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Reader Comments (1)

Allan, This was very interesting. I think you should be cautious, though, about over-generalizing on the basis of one bad experience. Just because one music major was unfocused and unenthusiastic doesn't mean they all would be. Music often requires both discipline and a strong aesthetic sense. I think if a potential client refused to give you a job because they'd once had a bad experience with someone named Allan, you'd feel that you had been treated unfairly.

July 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJean

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