Wednesday, March 27, 2013

GEORGE LEON NEWBERRY, JR. – FAMILY & CLAN KEITH MAN

When I was asked to offer a “memorial” for the Keith & Kin as tribute to George it brought me back to the mid 1970’s and also the realization that my relationship with George revolved almost entirely around the Clan Keith Society.  I really didn’t get to know other personal aspects of The Man though gained some special insights given our Keith Clan Society collaborations. While we did share some time while he was in Atlanta, he was also down in Lizella, Georgia and up in Nashville before eventually going back home to Bibb County in central Georgia.   

We will surely try and provide some well-documented insights by including some of George’s personal reminiscences (that’s what he called his regular e-mails) which he had been formally sharing with this writer since around the start of the new Millennium. I certainly appreciated and was honoured by his Friendship and mentoring ways. We do remind all interested members of the Keith & Kin, Second Quarter 2002 article, “The Beginning of the Society: An Interview with George Newberry” where George offered some of the details of the Society’s formative years. This piece will mirror and expand on that interview.  Our reminiscence will be more of a travelogue, a walk through time, though it does laud the Man that made Our Society happen. By the way, I never met George’s Brother John who is credited as a co-founder of the Clan. I never saw him at a Keith function, Scottish Festival or any Highland Games and that spans a thirty-two year period up until his passing in 2006.

When I heard of George’s passing this last January 8th, I went to the computer and expected to see a flood of eulogies expanding on his life and extolling the virtues of this very special man. I saw little and from my perch out here in Texas was absolutely confounded - wondering how this could happen? There were some on-line tributes (God bless those folks) and a short mention on the Stone Mountain and Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Facebook pages but little more.  We earnestly hope that both these august games will be planning tributes other than Flowers of the Forest in July and October on the occasion of their annual celebrations.  Perhaps this piece and other “reminiscences” generated by Clan Keith members can fill in the gaps and recognize George as a major player/contributor in the American Scottish Community and raise up his life as an example of one well lived.

In that same exasperated breath I realized that George was happy to ultimately work as the grand strategist and certainly was not really concerned about any ultimate “credit” for dreaming up and starting The Society.  He demonstrated humility by offering that what he did was, “the easy part.”  Given our humble beginnings at the end of the day George was happy with the result.  While that wasn’t part of his plan (more later) to remain as active for as long as he did, George was willing to stay involved so long as people sought his counsel.  We’re glad he did…  So how did I meet George?

I was born in Texas though of New England parentage and was ultimately trundled back to Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  Some of my earliest childhood memories were (we know Alice Hattenbrun would approve) my mandated attendance at Mayflower Society, SAR, DAR, the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and other mostly New England organization meetings Mother dragged me to. None of them (save the NEHGS) didn’t directly relate to our Scottish lines, either the Armstrong on Dad’s side or my matrilineal Keiths.  One would think it safe to say with a degree in Anthropology and History coupled with all those pre-pubescent and juvenile genealogical jaunts that I probably had my fill. 

That wasn’t the case and when I wandered onto the Stone Mountain Highland Games (SMHG) field in 1977 and again met George Newberry - that was all the motivation I needed.  I had already telephoned Mother in Providence, Rhode Island on a SMHG pay phone (can you believe they ever existed?) and verified my Keith lines through the Reverend James Keith of Old Bridgewater, Massachusetts.  Armed with my new/old pedigree I went back to the Keith Clan Tent and engaged George Newberry in some good conversation with membership in the Keith Clan Society the result. 

The Point Here: That was the priceless gift that George gave me and untold others by opening doors and setting us off on our Quest for Family. When recruiting it was always a two-way street that found George evaluating a candidate’s worthiness for The Clan. We didn’t initially require candidates to submit their genealogy and confirm their Keith pedigree though many were aware of those details.  We always tried to discuss especially some of the more well-known Keith lines and verify important Family connections.  We were lucky in mostly attracting those with a legitimate reason and motivation to join The Society. While George downplayed his initial efforts, they were never a casual endeavor for George. George as the unintended guardian of The Name was always happy to find those with purpose and direction.

And note (please no one take offense – I didn’t) George was looking especially for those interested folks with the last name of Keith or sept names especially including Austin, Marshall, Falconer, Harvey, Dixon, Urrie, etc. and in all their myriad spellings. We long discussed that however you spell or say Newberry or Buxton, it still wasn’t Keith.  Once we were a formal group George did offer a growth strategy for The Society.  George understood the importance of attracting direct lineal descendants of the name without diminishing anybody else’s contributions. He always hoped to discover those with that, “fire in the belly” passion for The Family knowing that whatever their surname, their leadership would come to the fore for the benefit of all. It has.

If you’re interested, George was first a Marshall.  His fraternal great-grandmother was Mary Elizabeth “Mollie” Marshall (1840–1910) and the source of much of his Keith pride. Mollie’s grandfather John Marshall (1758-1838) moved from North Carolina probably in the late 1700’s to early 1800’s to Georgia and we suspect shortly before that his Family occupied the auld sod. George also embraced strong Dickson and Keith ancestors.    

Once The Society was formed and ongoing, George appreciated the public relations and marketing aspect of a selective membership process that also considered where the organization was going to be twenty years, fifty years or more down the road. George as a visionary who understood succession planning vigorously approved our Youth Organization commenting, “We must look toward the future and cultivate a group that will continue our work. We must be constantly on the lookout for those who are of the caliber that we need. We need to begin to cultivate a new generation who will be able to take their place and represent The Clan Keith as it should be represented.”  We discussed the potential for the sons, daughters, nieces and nephews of current members capable of assuming future responsibilities in their maturity.  George was not looking for numbers, rather members who could, “interact with the leaders of other Clan Societies and present a positive image of our society.”

George once remarked that, “The Society was a child of my creation”, certainly an understatement where he literally nailed the truth.  He came up with the idea, nurtured it and put in place the mechanism and the people that would make it work.  He personally paid for our incorporation, name registration and countless other fees and never sought recognition for his work or those deeds.  Indeed, when the idea of a Founders Trophy was first broached George made sure that Society officers understood that he didn’t want the recognition or his name on The Trophy, rather recommending other early pioneers that followed.  Ultimately, it was agreed that nobody’s names would be reflected.  As we mentioned earlier, George never sought in any form or fashion, glory or recognition and actually intended to make his contributions, fade into the sunset and then let others take up the gauntlet.

Let’s pause for a second and make a point that was critical to the evolution of the Clan and demonstrated George’s dedication, persistence and, yes, great intellect.  Please remember that we didn’t have ready and easy access to information back in the 1960’s and 1970’s except via books, research papers, academia and the source documents themselves.  What were then considered “sophisticated” PC’s were not available until the mid-1980’s and they really weren’t “connected”.  Commercial Internet service providers began to emerge in the late 1980s with the creation of the World Wide Web in 1989 and then all the data we see now had to be made accessible. That really didn’t happen until around 1995.  Point: All the research George engaged was manual with researchers and genealogists literally perusing documents character by character. It was a laborious and time consuming process that was especially cumbersome if the data reposed in a geographically distant land like Scotland. You had to know your history, all the obvious and especially the subtle connections and then have the resources to physically pursue that information.  You couldn’t just Google your subject or access a family tree via ancestry.com like we do today.  That effort alone distinguishes George and his contributions to our Family.  

George was a passionate and inveterate reader, scholar and possessed a strong sense of Family no doubt stimulated by his associations with his own Newberry Clan in Lizella.  George grew up with a great sense of Family and when he discovered his Keith roots, he ran right at them. He read the Clans, Septs and Regiments of the Highlands of Scotland by Frank Adam and Sir Thomas Innes of Learney who was Lord Lyon from 1945 to 1969. This work was long considered the Bible of the history of The Highlands and defined some of the traditional Clan relationships including that of the Keiths and Clan Chattan.  Therein lies the key to our formation.  

With George’s interest thusly piqued, he went to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games (GMHG) in 1969 and joined the Clan Chattan Confederation as a life member in Scotland.  George became close Friends with Hughston McBain of McBain of Marshall Field and Company fame who was the 21st Chief of Clan MacBean/McBain of the Clan Chattan Confederation.  It was Hughston who for years sponsored the Clan tent at GMHG that encompassed all of the Clan Chattan to include the McBains, Mackintoshs, MacPhersons, MacGillivrays, Farquharsons and Davidsons among others that at that time also included the Keiths.  Hughston had taken many of these same Clans under his wing and certainly was a key in their formation in the United States.  It was always assumed that the Keiths as the original Catti were part of Chattan though some historians now debate this issue. As George pointed out there was no doubt in the person of George Keith, 10th Earl Marischal who declared himself to Duncan McPherson as, “being of the same origin” when joining the army of the Earl of Mar who led the unsuccessful 1715 Jacobite rising.

It is a surety that the Keiths, The Clan of The Cat, and certain of the Chattan Clans especially including the MacPhersons and Mackintoshes were very close and even connected by blood.  Certainly Hughston McBain thought so especially as his wife was a Keith, hence George’s close involvement with Chattan for many years.  When Hughston passed in 1978 it was George who took the initiative and sponsored the Chattan tent at the GMHG providing the hospitality for all the Chattan Clans.  I remember George noting that J. T. McPherson probably signed up more members for the Keiths than he did!

George became close Friends with many members of the Clan Mackintosh to include Chief W. E. “Dode” McIntosh (1893-1991) President Emeritus of Clan Mackintosh (USA) and the last principal High Chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Indian Nation (1961-1971) who along with son Chinnubbie and daughter Willie Lee were frequent guests at Clan Keith tents around the country.  The late Chief Dode played a key role in the early years of our society by coming to our tent and entertaining our membership and guests. There is no doubt that hundreds of photos were taken of children with Dode wearing his plains headdress, ribbon shirt and Mackintosh or Muscogee tartan kilt. Son Chinnubbie, a retired Muscogee Judge, was made an honorary member of Our Society. Indeed, when Chief Dode passed in 1991 one of his two war bonnets was bequeathed to this writer and will ultimately repose in the Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City for all to appreciate.  Given their respect and sense of community with George, these Magnificent McIntosh created a lot of interest and focus on the Keiths. George and many other Keiths including this writer were paid the ultimate compliment by earning honorary membership in Chief Dode’s aristocratic Wind Clan. 

So even while we shared space with Clan Chattan and their associated Clans at Grandfather we evolved as an entity simply known as “The Keiths” as early as 1970, then as a separate society as early as 1972 though for several years thereafter still as a loose amalgamation of interested kin.  George continued to create interest in the Keiths and later with the very able assistance of Linton Keith, James Keith Falconer, Hughston McBain and yours truly, George started building the organization designating those that we trusted in local, state and regional offices.

George by that time was engaged in all levels of the Scottish American community.  He was a Co-Founder the St. Andrew’s Society of Atlanta, Director of the Atlanta Burns Club, Founder of the Stone Mountain Highland Games (1973), indeed, Treasurer and the financial guy (also his vocation) until the early 1980’s when he was retired to Emeritus status. We can also note that the Keiths had a SMHG Clan tent at their inaugural in 1973 setting up with the Chattan in 1974 when Hughston McBain came to town and then every year thereafter as the Clan Keith Society. George made that happen while being a well-known and respected patron and benefactor of many Georgia organizations.

George was always proud of the fact that members of The Clan Keith Society had substantially supported the SMHG even paying for their incorporation and the filings of their 501c-3 and instituting the funding of the Bobby Jones Scholars Exchange Program between Emory University and St. Andrews University in Scotland – the raison d'être for the SMHG. George noted that the Bobby Jones Estate contributed the lion's share for the exchange program even agreeing to cover any games losses for a period. The first SMHG Guest of Honor was none other than the late Lachlan Ronald Duncan Mackintosh, OBE, 30th Chief of Mackintosh who only accepted the invitation because of entreaties by many Keith and Clan Chattan members (especially George) and said as much when he acknowledged the invite.  George was a guest of The Mackintosh at Moy Hall and later described Lachlan Mackintosh as, “one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known.” Now that was quite a compliment coming from one who was the consummate gentleman. We should note that George mostly used the plural we when describing our efforts but truth be known, it was mostly because of George’s efforts and sphere of influence.

By the mid 1970’s we also had a Keith Clan tent at Grandfather which found George running to and from the Chattan tent.  By 1979 we were all running back and forth as we were all inevitably and totally involved in The Community, off and on the field. That Community included representation at many Scottish festivals, highland games and organizations across the country and even into Canada. Seems even more appropriate to note that the GMHG who provided the venue for our founding honored George as a Distinguished Guest in 2002.

Having mentioned Jim Falconer as one of our early members let it be known with George’s blessings that Jim Falconer’s widow Anna Mae was the first woman to march in the Stone Mountain Highland Games Parade of Tartans.  Anna Mae marched at the front of a rather large Keith contingent smiling and strutting proudly while other participants and spectators wildly and loudly applauded.  Everybody understood the significance of that bold act and from that point women, heretofore forbidden to participate, marched in the SMHG parade.  That was a special moment and George made that happen.

As a good example of George’s management abilities he broke this writer in, gradually first as Georgia Commissioner then Director of the Southeastern Region from 1979 to 1981 while serving as Editor of the Keith & Kin from 1980 to 1984 (those were interesting manual cut and paste days of a bygone era). George pressed Thomas M. Keith into service as the first Editor of the Keith & Kin taking full advantage of his many years in the newspaper business. Then for me it was on to President and then Director. And so it went as with the many others that George counseled and mentored. George was always there when we needed him.

While George early on never contemplated the formation of a clan society with the formal organization we have now, he thought to establish a relationship with Scotland and those few Keiths in the United States. There were no other Keith Societies in North America or Scotland and the Council of Scottish Clan Societies and Associations (COSCA) wasn’t founded until 1976.  We need note that COSCA founder Dr. Herb MacNeal (who was a founder of the Clan McNeil Association) and wife Ethel became good friends with George and this writer.  We and other Keiths became active in COSCA Including Alexander “Sandy” Marshall who served as COSCA’s second President.
  
George came up with the idea for the Bond of Manrent really on a whim and as he has reflected “improvised” as he went along. He understood the historical significance of the bond and was really saying to Scotland,“Here we are.” He actually (and correctly) sent the petition to Ethel Sydney Keith-Falconer, 11th Countess of Kintore, not realizing that she had passed on that September of 1974 at age 100. However, soon thereafter George received a favorable response from the 12th Earl of Kintore, Sir James Ian Keith who assumed the title of 12th Earl of Kintore on his Mother’s passing.
 
George was always quick to point out (and I will heartily second) that Sir James Ian Keith, 12th Earl of Kintore was, absolutely, the key in the continuing emergence of The Society.  Kintore, likewise, reflected to this writer his high regard and respect for George Newberry.  Lord Kintore was an unflappable, erudite and tireless advocate for The Name of Keith and took his responsibilities seriously.  Upon his visit as the Honoured Guest at SMHG in 1980 he formally granted The Society complete autonomy though in practice and theory he had allowed us to operate on that basis from the very beginning.  Bond or not, he would have supported our efforts.  Few people knew then or now that while the Kintore’s 1980 SMHG trip would surely have been subsidized, the 12th Earl personally funded his trip to and from Atlanta in 1980, politely declining our assistance.

We note that both Lord Kintore and Countess Delia had a great (no incredible) sense of humor which they wonderfully demonstrated in their everyday lives and he especially so on the occasion of his WSB Radio interviews while in Atlanta in 1980 and then again in 1982 on the occasion of the International Gathering. George commented that the 12th Earl was probably the most popular and most appreciated Guest of Honor ever at the SMHG. George wondered how many of our current members have seen the now famous Scotch whisky ad that featured Lord Kintore in his so familiar district check kilt jacket along with another chief whose name neither us could recall. Or how about the radio interview where Kintore recalled the secret to success and how to become an Earl? Kintore like George had real spirit. 

While we all got along well it soon became apparent that a liaison was needed in order to further represent Kintore’s interests in the Clan Keith Society and that’s how the Lieutenant to the Chief idea was born.  George had first heard about the position which was mentioned in a book authored by the Lord Lyon, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney though was quick to ultimately give the Clan Hay credit for implementation of the idea.  George always pointed out and constantly reinforced that the Lt. to the Chief position, “was never intended to have any say so over the Clan Society… that the position was simply ceremonial with the management of the Society left to The Society’s elected officers.”  In 1977 Kintore commissioned George Newberry as his Lieutenant to the Chief.  Tom Keith eventually took over as Lt. to the Chief from George until he later relinquished the post in 1987 to the present Lt. to the Chief, Darrell Keith.

In 1978 the 12th Earl signed the now famous "Covenant of Friendship for All Time" with Clan Gunn cementing an already strong relationship among old adversaries.  While George was one of the main facilitators of the Treaty between the Keiths and Gunns, he had some fun throughout the whole process expressing some regret with its signing in 1978 commenting, “I do not see it as a milestone in the advent of our Society.  I enjoyed the feud.”  George, of course, made that comment somewhat tongue in cheek and was testament to his mischievous side.  Note that George was the first Keith to be made an honorary life member of Clan Gunn and like this writer was Friends with Donald Williamson and others of their ilk to include the then and now Gunn Chief, Commander Iain Alexander Gunn of Banniskirk and wife Bunty (her real name is Aline, like my grandmother).  Sandy Marshall and Ned Buxton were ultimately also privileged as the only other Keiths to receive honorary life memberships in the Clan Gunn and like George were privileged to march in many a Parade of Tartans with the Gunns given the absence of any Keiths.  In the early years that was de rigueur. Several of us to include piper Mike Wilson can wear both the Keith & Austin and Gunn tartans. Likewise, Bob Swanson and other eminent members of Clan Gunn have received their Keith pedigrees.

An aside: Because of the doors opened by George our relationships with the Gunns flourished. We take special note that Peter Blum, a Gunn and master tinsmith in the Moravian tradition at Old Salem in North Carolina fashioned the wall sconces for the renovation of the Keith Parsonage in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Their installation was under the watchful eye of Evelyn Keith Nourse of the Old Bridgewater Historical Society and the Clan Keith Society.

So while the Keiths had clan tents from 1972 on we had but a few folks to man them as would be the case for just about all of our early years.  While we didn’t embarrass ourselves and evolved our displays, we were nowhere near engaging the award winning outstanding presentations and great hospitality of today’s Clan Keith Conveners all across the country, witness the awards we have from Glasgow, Loch Norman, Silver Springs, Dixon and many, many more Scottish Festivals and Highland Games.  Given the evolution of our own capacity to provide hospitality to others, George wanted us to acknowledge forever and a day the contributions of Hughston McBain of McBain and the Clan Chattan for their initial and continued support and hospitality.
 
We Keiths have come a long way thanks to George Newberry.  We’ve always been winners even in those early days that required folks like George and the early founders to be at several places at the same time – first involved at the tent then running to an event or function, then back, then off again.  George always wanted to acknowledge and thank those significant others that “accompanied” those happy and dedicated few, but ended up doing much of the job representing the Clan Keith Society.  We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

George first made things happen on the local level providing what was for some the start of their journey while for others, a destination.  With his approach everything meshed by design and, yes, serendipity into a much bigger plan – the creation and perpetuation of the Clan Keith Society US.  At least half of that work has now been done and not without a great deal of intrigue and visceral politics that, thankfully, are part of our distant past.  It appeared that we had to pass through those portals to become the healthy and respected group we are today. The other 50% of that task including the perpetuation and refinement of The Society remains and that work in progress is up to us.

Would we have a Clan Keith Society were it not for George Newberry?  Probably, but not in the same form and dynamic substance and with a much later start that would find us still catching up.  We are in a position of great strength in Our Society today because George saw the potential in all of us in that time and space and understood how to accomplish those goals. As the generous, mentoring, consummately intuitive, Family Driven (Aye, Southern) Gentleman of great intellect and persuasion, he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.  George shared his vision and empowered us.  He figured out how to put together what is now one of the most important cultural components in our Community – the Clan Keith Society – sealing our place in the pantheon of Scottish Clans.  Every time we meet and greet each other, step onto that Scottish field or attend a cultural event we perpetuate his legacy and memory and are the better for having done so.

We miss you and thank you George.  God bless and well done.

Aye,

Ned Buxton
Clan Keith Society

Sunday, March 24, 2013

AN OBSERVATION AND SOME ADVICE FOR NBC’s THE TONIGHT SHOW BRASS

I vividly remember the first The Tonight Show debuting in 1954 on NBC though it happened about when I was making my exodus from Texas to Rhode Island.  Not that late night television was a big deal for an eleven year old – it wasn’t - especially in a homestead with an early lights-out policy. TV was the big deal! Occasionally I was allowed to watch the show though rarely in Rhode Island.  While we had TV in Dallas, the big stand up radio by the fireplace in The Cottage in Pawtucket was our only entertainment option for some time.  Well, OK, we had Uncle Dick’s drums and the old Victrola…

The evolving drama and legacy of The Tonight Show didn’t escape me and most notably that an important tradition was now in place for late night TV.  Given the previous success and idiosyncratic behaviors of icons and trailblazers Steve Allen and the always imaginative and unpredictable Ernie Kovacs (my favorite & a real artist), late night TV’s The Tonight Show established a standard that is now conceded as, “the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting.” So, I have been a follower ever since though it seems that the owners of the show can never seem to get it right for long (at least they don’t think so). Maybe its entertainment’s version of a retail reset though seemingly without a planogram.  

The recently speculated, much anticipated changes in The Tonight Show reflecting a switch from Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon signals once and for all time the death of the old Texas philosophy "dance with the one what brung you” and the inferred right, aye privilege, of folks like Johnny Carson to “pick their successor.”  We are 21st century now and nothing is sacred – nor ever will be in entertainment.  Seems that in business whatever the industry it’s all about real or perceived metrics, the almighty dollar and what seems to be ugly, short term perspectives.  Fallon and Kimmel need not feel comfortable for too long… live by the sword, die by the sword.

As if the Leno-O’Brien-Leno Transitions weren’t ugly and contentious enough, it would appear that NBC Brass never learned their lesson and have once again opted to vomit all over themselves and the viewing public. Seems they tore a page out of the Congressional playbook anxious to emulate the ongoing negative behaviors in Washington DC.  Instead of addressing the issues straight forward, “unidentified network executives” conveniently and anonymously leak little tidbits of their deliberations and the ultimate decision to replace the still very successful and popular Leno with Fallon.  So, instead of collaborating with Leno and negotiating a friendly and harmonious separation, they foment controversy and confrontation and provide fodder for fitting and well-deserved Leno metaphorical one-liners comparing NBC Executives to the “snakes from Ireland” or that “knife in the back.” They deserve all they get (and then some) though we suspect they’re probably reveling in all the attention.

Ironically, this move appears to have been precipitated by the success of Jimmy Kimmel and his late night ascension at ABC.  His show is funny, edgy and he brings fresh perspectives on just about everything.  His success prompted this latest rush by NBC to not only capitalize on the emerging youth market but fear of losing that demographic to Kimmel and a lack of confidence in Leno to continue to do just that.  Enter Fallon already in the wings with his equally fresh and upbeat presentations. With the new found emphasis on social media and “Followers”- both on Twitter and Facebook, NBC despite their current, convincing late night ratings lead (#1 in the all-important 18-49 demographic and total viewers) finds comfort in Fallon’s millions of Tweet Followers vs. Leno’s less impressive numbers.  Perhaps Leno’s demographics represent viewers who don’t think it important who follows who or what on Twitter or Facebook?  I don’t feel inclined to follow either on those social media sites yet I consider myself a Follower.  Do we now have to publicly declare our allegiances in social media to make something relevant?
   
So, how do I really feel about this?

It’s a given that with his Scottish Mother (Catherine Muir) and northeastern roots, I would really like Jay Leno.  I generally start my late night TV with his show though I am prone to surf between all late night offerings before I fall asleep. While he is still great, Jay’s monologues of late seem a little stiff, staged and scripted with less spontaneity until he hits his desk where his true gift of ad lib humor excels. Having said that he is huge in Vegas-style stand-up where he is the reigning comedy king.  No, he’s not going to starve… and will have plenty of cash to add to his already impressive car and motorcycle collection.  Despite all the hullabaloo and rhetoric surrounding the Conan transition/untransition, Jay is a good guy who deserves respect from all quarters. So, we ask NBC: What to do if they sever ties with Leno who then takes his viewers to another network?  Oops!

Johnny Carson designate David Letterman (no, I don’t think that’s him running) seems to be getting longer and longer in the tooth and more dry, sarcastic and eccentric every day.  While he remains bright as hell and somewhat edgy, much of what he does has a visual component now and that’s OK though sometimes he appears more controlling, self-centered and look-at-me rather than sharing with the WE of his demographic (that includes me).  Thank God he has cohort band leader Paul Shaffer who is a great foil and incredible musician, the best of late night TV.  Yea, I like David too though his dwindling numbers might result in his departure at the end of his current contract in 2014. We hope not.

And all this probably leaves room for their successors including Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson and whoever emerges as the next great kid on the block. Most were all heavily influenced by Leno, Letterman and their mentor – Johnny Carson who was in turn influenced by Jack Parr, Steve Allen, Jack Benny, George Burns, George Gobel and Ernie Kovacs, among others. Fallon appears to have been heavily influenced by his old Saturday Night Live (SNL) buddies and “Weird Al” Yankovic. OK, makes sense

Fallon has garnered some keen tributes already and especially so by the highly regarded Lorne Michaels, Executive Producer of NBC’s SNL and Fallon’s own Late Night. Michaels commented recently on Fallon taking over for Leno, “I'm not allowed to say it—yet. But I think there's inevitability to it. He's the closest to Carson that I've seen of this generation.”

I like both Kimmel and Fallon and after late night forays into the worlds of Leno and Letterman, sometimes settle in on Kimmel if I don’t go back to Leno.  Kimmel is genuinely funny and his show and format are familiar and comfortable to The Tonight Show devotees.  There is one aspect of his show, however, that makes me uncomfortable at times.  That would be Kimmel’s interaction with his sidekick and former parking lot security guard at their Hollywood Blvd studios, Guillermo Díaz Rodriguez. I find Kimmel’s banter with Guillermo sometime tinged with a racial/cultural innuendo that I just don’t like.  With his paycheck soaring we suspect that Guillermo will smile and do whatever they tell him maybe even try to take back his Guinness underwear record.

Now we may not be in that all-important 18-49 demographic though can assure those new decision makers at Comcast/NBC that they better not continue to underestimate Jay Leno or any of us 60-somethings.  There are some style and class points yet to be earned and there is still time for all the players to take the high road. So, get it right! Yes, completely and unequivocally the digital age is now all here and the epicenter of 21st century media is at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

And as for our graphic above?  We just like it and know it’s good advice for everybody, including NBC executives.  We feel the need to relax, keep calm and listen to the pipes – maybe a little Liam O'Flynn and Out to the Other Side   That’s where we are now.

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

CAPTAIN KEN MEDERNACH – 1939 to 2013 – THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS - RIP

My good Friend Ken Medernach got along just fine with Poseidon and Neptune.  As President of the Atlantic Ocean (since 1966), Life Member of the Society of Atlantis, a proud Admiral in the Georgia Navy, former member of the Chattahoochee River Keepers and a lifetime of dedication to water safety not to mention his birth and rearing in Savannah, Georgia - it appears obvious that he was OK with water.  Water in all its myriad forms was the essence of this man.

His many years of dedicated service with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a Safety & Health Officer and Project Specialist on disaster relief assignments across the country usually meant a Water vs. Man scenario where Water once again won. Ken with his spirited benevolent nature, incredible interactive skills and experience as a Director Safety Programs & Disaster Services for the Savannah & Georgia Coastal Empire Chapter of the American Red Cross was a natural for that position.  We joked with his always sincere greeting, “I’m from the Government and here to help you” though he always made believers of all his clients from Montana to New York to Florida and Louisiana among other venues.  Wherever there was a compelling need Ken was always at the ready.  We wondered about his capacity to continue his travels literally living most of his last few years in hotel/motel rooms and out of his suitcase and in venues where some natural disaster had left its mark. But, that’s how he chose to embrace life – helping people in need.

He took those opportunities and that ever elusive free time to occasionally hone his fly fishing skills in Montana and North Dakota streams and rivers (Big Horn River in MT & Missouri River in ND) making those assignments a little more bearable. The trout and walleye population appreciated his spirit of the chase and his mostly charitable catch and release demeanor.  Probably one of the more “Green” among us he understood and practiced what he preached.   He always tried to immerse himself in the local flora and fauna and was soon an integral part of that community. It was certainly hard not to like and respect Ken, perhaps even impossible, even though you may have disagreed with him. We could really use him in Washington, DC…  

To say that Ken was an “original” is true but, a rather polite and huge understatement. Superlatives just don’t suffice.  When they coined the phrase “to the beat of a different drummer,” they were talking about Ken. He was always politely edgy with a capacity to remind you that there was always that other side of the story, different perspectives and, indeed, many ways approach and solve problems. Convention was just the platform, the starting point, with the sky the limit. He was a proud and determined (what some might call) Liberal though that doesn’t do justice to his humanitarian perspectives that reminded us that we all have a responsibility, aye duty, to help those less fortunate. Again, he practiced what he preached. Ken would give the shirt off his back…

President Medernach was an avid history buff keenly interested in the native peoples that occupied the coastal southeast including the now extinct Timucua culture, the Muscogee (Creeks), the Yamacraw and, of course, the Guale-Yamasee who under Chief Altamaha took up residence near the mouth of what we know now as the Altamaha River in the 17th century. Ken recounts some of the sites he had visited in his autobiographical first book, On the High Seas, immediately getting my attention. He allowed me to proof his works sending them dutifully on for my review for syntax and mostly spell checking.  Ken was a terrible, no horrendous, speller and I always wondered why no elementary spell and grammar check? After all, it was just a keystroke… It didn’t hit me until much later that his was primarily a verbal or oral history exercise where in a stream of consciousness Ken put his words down and then depended on others to massage and edit. We pretty much stuck with his spoken format (even leaving in some of his misspellings) all the while trying to preserve his narrative point of view and style.  We would have loved to accompany him to Jonesborough, Tennessee the home of the International Storytelling Center and the leading event of its type in the United States, the National Storytelling Festival. We would have just sat back and watched as he charmed the lot, a master amongst other teachers.

Ken had no equal when it came to storytelling and his intent was not only to entertain but educate.  He shared his life experiences and glimpses into the cultures, mostly those of the Southern United States, by building very real characters and plots and ultimately allowing us to better understand who and why we are.  If Medernach were a Yamasee he would have been an influential shaman…   

Ken ended up writing three books, his autobiographical trilogy On the High Seas, The Nautical Companion a Glossary of Terms & Knowledge and Dragons and Chinaberries which he offered via his Thunderbolt Productions.  Though Ken had several Blogs he sadly was not a regular contributor and we suspect that a function of his demanding FEMA duties but probably more a testament of greater comfort with his verbal style.  By the time he got back to his hotel he grabbed a cigar and favorite beverage and settled in for the evening.

Like many indigenous peoples Ken used his storytelling and words to convey meaning and values.  He loved great ceremony and so was a great keeper of ritual making him perfect for the Episcopalian Church with all our bells and smells. Ken was a Verger at St. Luke’s in Atlanta, Member of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church, Past Chair of the Atlanta Chapter and associate member of the Guild of Vergers Church of England. He was committed and remembered well and sent on his way by four of our best at St. Luke’s on February 28th.

His love and appreciation of ritual extended well beyond Church and into his love of history.  As a distinguished Officer and Gentleman of the re-raised 78th Fraser’s Highlanders, 2nd Battalion of Foot, Fort New Inverness Garrison Ken helped us grow and nurture that standard by remembering and affirming the contributions of our ancestors.  He was a member of Clan McNeil (Norse origins) and Clan McNaughton and celebrated those associations. Ken as Roderick the Resolute was an early active member of the Norse-Scottish Kingdome of Räknar who annually celebrates their always sideways perspectives on just about everything. Ken worked closely with this writer and Bob Swanson aka Hägar the Horrible in bringing to life the now iconic Hägar pin. Historians will note that the original Roderick the Resolute, a Barra MacNeil, was killed at the Heights of Abraham at Quebec in 1759 (French and Indian War) whilst serving as a Lieutenant in the 78th Fraser's Highlanders. Aye, goes around - comes around and, yes, they won!

When Chief Dode McIintosh the last principal High Chief of the Muscogee and Honorary Lt. Colonel of the 78th Fraser Highlanders was the Honored Guest at the Savannah Highland Games years ago, Ken choreographed Chief Dode’s visit to Savannah’s historic Colonial Park Cemetery where he paid tribute to ancestor and American Revolutionary War hero Major-General Lachlan McIntosh and others of their Ilk.  It was a stirring moment where Chief Dode placed a wreath of thistles on Lachlan’s headstone all accompanied by Fort New Inverness Fraser Highlanders Pipe Major Dan Titus who led a contingent of their Old Honourable Guard. It did not escape Ken’s always astute notice that this writer and Lachlan McIntosh both shared membership in the Society of the Cincinnati though our induction was some 200 years apart!

In the Scottish Community we remember the Auld Sod many times a year and especially so on Burns Night celebrations where we raise high our glasses and celebrate the “Immortal Memory” of the National Bard of Scotland.  Among the many “delicacies” we consume is the noble Haggis. Yes, it’s all done with great pomp and ceremony with the Haggis generally on a four-handled wooden trencher and/or large silver salver with adequate escort and protection (swords, sgian dubhs and dirks) in a grand processional all piped into the great hall and then before the first fork touches a plate we can expect to hear Robert Burn’s Address to a Haggis hopefully recited by someone of note with great and passionate presentation skills. Point of telling you all this? I’ve listened to The Address probably hundreds of times from the United States to Scotland to Canada and back again as interpreted by Scottish Chiefs, entertainers of note and everybody in-between.  None were better in their presentation than Ken Medernach not even John Rule of Ontario, Canadaand he is good. None were worthy to touch the hem of Ken’s kilt though we certainly salute their contributions and furtherance of the culture. Ken’s performance skills and interpretation of Burns from gesture, passion, inflection and timbre were impeccable and without equal.  Ken understood the words and sentiment.  Burns would have been proud…

Ken was a craftsman and worked in wood and metal especially with the help of good Friend, Georgia blacksmith and master iron monger Ivan Bailey. Years ago Ken fashioned me a gift - a long iron thistle nail intended as a, “pin wad help to mend a mill in time o’ need” for the Burns Address to a Haggis Ceremony.  Many years ago someone broke into my house between Canton and Alpharetta, Georgia and stole that coveted and cherished pin along with some CDs and an empty safe?  The thieves left two muskets and other weaponry neatly lined up on my bed – kids, probably scared them.  Now, more than ever I miss that pin

When my Mother, Betty Buxton, moved from Providence, Rhode Island to Atlanta she and Ken became hard and fast Friends and even closer Allies.  Mother was especially keen with Ken and fellow Fraser Highlander and Scot John Dall.  She could make Friends with anybody but she did have her favorites and Ken was probably at the top of that list which included yours truly. They swapped stories with Ken always willing to share his time to make that New Englander feel welcome.  Ken was always a preferred and well-appreciated guest in any Buxton household. With apologies to the MacRaes of Eileen Donan, “Whilst there is a Buxton inside, there will never be a Medernach outside.” 

Ken presented so many aspects it would be nigh unto impossible to completely capture the essence of this equal opportunity man.  We can say Ken was Father, Grandfather, Husband, Friend, Humanitarian, Clansman, Writer, Storyteller, Verger, Historian, Sailor, Explorer, Entrepreneur, Craftsman, Soldier and much more.  No doubt these and many other skills and expertise are noted on LinkedIn…   

Ken liked metaphor and imagery occasionally quoting poetry like Lewis Carroll’s famous line from Through the Looking-Glass that starts, “The time has come, the Walrus said to talk of many things…” Ken even had a blog entitled, Of Cabbages and Kings.   Indeed, for Ken life was an Adventure and he was Somebody crossing many brooks and streams and all the while listening to Thoreau’s distant drum.  

We might surmise that Thoreau also nailed Ken when he opined in his February 19, 1841 Journal, “A truly good book… teaches me better than to read it… I must soon lay it down and commence living on its hint.” Ken was action oriented immersing himself in everything he did - no 50% percenter here. Ken’s childhood adventures were only the start – a primer. He lived life to its fullest and left nothing on the field. We shall miss him though suspect he is now enjoying his ultimate reward perhaps enjoying an El Titan de Bronze cigar along with Ron, certainly in Valhalla, while watching Vikings on the History Channel. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to see him at some future time, though hopefully later than sooner.

“The time has come, the Walrus said to talk of many things: Of shoes and ships and sealing wax. Of cabbages and kings.  And why the sea is boiling hot. And whether pigs have wings.”

To Meg, Erin, Craig and Davis Renee. Well done, Ken. You didn’t pass this mortal plane alone… We will raise our glasses and say your name often

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, March 9, 2013

USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA TO SCREEN JOB CANDIDATES?

Back in the good old days before social media some mistaken and ill-informed job applicants thought it cool to include their photo on their resume. They believed it would give them a leg up – an advantage in a highly competitive job market. Unfortunately for them, many HR managers and Recruiters shied away from those applicants even to the point of eliminating them as candidates, throwing the resume and photo away without even looking at it, fearing the threat of a discrimination complaint – didn’t see it, never entertained the application, never a factor. 

We never wanted to know the national origin or race of an applicant basing our (apparently naïve) decision strictly on their bona fide qualifications - work experience, skill sets and our ultimate estimation of whether candidates could perform to expectation in our work environment. Obviously when candidates evolved to the face-to-face interview stage all that became moot, but by then the die had already been cast.  Employers shouldn’t care about your race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, height and weight, etc. though an overall acceptable appearance in a work environment (dress codes) is apropos.  Most folks out there don’t want to work for and with companies that illegally discriminate.  If you don’t care, then read no further.

Fast forward to the 21st century and the age of social media. From the widespread availability of the Internet in the mid-1990’s to the present is a millisecond in time.  But in that short interim the employment landscape has completely changed.  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, e-mail and the myriad other social media apps and programs that allow us to communicate with each other globally and at light speed have become a two-edged sword. On the negative side, many companies and schools are now accessing social media sites to gather information on their employees and students for a variety of reasons – mostly with negative implications. Lest we think this a tsunami “all of a sudden” phenomenon, some hiring managers have been doing this for years thinking they have unlimited access and a right to the information pot at the end of the rainbow. It seems some potential employers now want to know not only your race, gender and religion but also the organizations you belong to, if you party hearty, the people with whom you associate, your political persuasion and other non-job-related information.  

Of course we need to ask how much of the data we see on the Internet is real?  Probably some, maybe most, but what about those who would forward lies, faux news, pranking, vendetta and just plain trash talk?  We know of situations where Facebook accounts have been created by parties other than the subject of the site.  Generally information gleaned from these sites is not dependable, can be taken out of context and certainly not relevant to any job search or school application.

Even though the potential for abuse is absolutely huge, we see would-be employers going over on the Internet and even on Facebook and Twitter in order to gather data about candidates despite the fact there is no way to know if what's posted is even true. Sadly, candidates are generally not given the opportunity to dispute negative information with prospective employers making decisions based on what might be slanderous and/or false and irrelevant information. There are rumblings that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) the new overseers/enforcers of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) are looking at this potential for abuse with an eye towards expanding their scope and authority.

Under the purview of the FCRA potential employers may engage Consumer Reporting Agencies to inquire about information relevant to job related criteria. Potential employers mostly unfettered and currently outside the jurisdiction of the FCRA, however, are now engaging in over-the-shoulder surfing, asking for Facebook passwords or “forced friending” as a condition of consideration for employment and in doing so are playing a dangerous game that could expose their companies to tremendous liability, not to mention the loss of goodwill and respect in the business community. These firms give themselves up for what they are - companies using social media as a free pass to invade their candidate’s, employee’s or student’s privacy. We are not surprised that many candidates asked to reveal their social media passwords and other private information have dismissed those employers from consideration. Other Facebookers anticipating prying eyes have created “clean” sanitized Facebook sites (even with Friends) all designed – even customized – for a specific employer.  Sure, you can have my passwords - Ah, justice…

We feel this intrusion into the privacy of job applicants just plain wrong, unethical and when this issue goes to court will be found a violation of privacy and an illegal employment practice. That appears inevitable as six states--California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey prohibit requesting or requiring an employee, student or applicant to disclose a user name or password for a personal social media account. In California, Illinois, Maryland, and Michigan laws apply to employers. California, Delaware, Michigan and New Jersey have laws that apply to academic institutions. In all, fourteen states introduced legislation in 2012 that would restrict employers from requesting access to social networking usernames and passwords of applicants, students or employees. The list of states that have either passed or proposed similar legislation is growing even including arch conservative Texas.  Nice…

There is also a movement afoot to update federal regulations including the Stored Communications Act (SCA) and the now antiquated (1986) Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) while state legislators (as reflected above) are working to pass legislation that will make access to private social network and other electronic records illegal. The National Relations Labor Board (NLRB) and the NCAA have even weighed in on the use of information contained on social media by employers and schools.

So why are companies harvesting the data contained in social media for employment purposes? First of all, because it’s there, readily available and for the most part – free.  So how do companies use this information?  Recent surveys reflect that a significant percentage of companies that engage this practice admit that they are looking for dirt to eliminate or screen applicants out, not reinforce their candidacy.  Others say they use social media as a networking tool to advertise and forward available positions and video job descriptions to their potential candidate pool.  The former is suspect and will probably be held illegal while the latter is a reasonable and even credible way to attract formidable candidates.

Facebook has even waded into the controversy issuing a statement declaring their objections to the practice not only on ethical grounds, but on legal grounds as well. Facebook warns that this practice, "undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user's friends" and "potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability."

Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer expanded on that potential liability stating that these companies may reap the whirlwind as, “For example, if an employer sees on Facebook that someone is a member of a protected group (e.g. over a certain age, etc.) that employer may open themselves up to claims of discrimination if they don’t hire that person." We agree and wonder what the company does with information gleaned from, for example, Facebook that would otherwise be illegal to develop and/or pursue?  It would be an easy segue for a rejected candidate to pursue a charge of discrimination and a company guilty of that practice hard pressed to prove they didn’t use that information. The lawyers get richer…

No doubt most prospective, active candidates have an expectation of privacy in their lives.  Run a background/credit check, police report, drug screen, personality profile, etc., but don’t invade the sanctity of my hearth and home. We certainly understand but caution that if certain widely accepted community codes of conduct or behaviors or laws are violated (with convictions), that potential employer has the right, within limits, to that information and make that a part of their employment decision - if germane to the position.  If any institution charged with maintaining legally approved codes of conduct or behavior or law enforcement with probable cause and a warrant have a right, indeed obligation, to pursue any resources available to them including email, social networking accounts, really any and all of your private electronic records.  This is the other side of that two-edged sword we referenced earlier.

Having said that we need to all get on the same page and put this whole issue in perspective.  The opinions and perspectives embraced by many mirror that time when Congress wrote and passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) in 1986.  There was no World Wide Web, the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) didn’t open its doors until 1990, hardly anybody carried cell phones and those that were available (three brands) were woefully primitive, the size of a brick and in today’ dollars cost about $6,904.  There was virtually no “social networking” and if someone in 1986 had suggested our reality now they would have been perceived as a Trekkie or a Dick Tracy wannabe (look it up). What is commonplace and taken for granted in 2013 was science fiction back in 1986.  It was on that platform that many of our current laws were enacted.  We feel that review of our current and anticipated technologies, their effect on our lives including the potential for abuse is in order.
 
Time also for the realization that all those who use social media need to start acting responsibly in both our personal and professional lives. We do have a choice about the information we share literally with the rest of the world – or at least with your “Friends”.  If you want to act out and highlight what are for most folks, including potential employers, undesirable behaviors then you need to be ready accept the consequences. When you apply for a job you are, in essence, applying for a benefit and not an entitlement. Candidates have to prove their worthiness…

As George Orwell predicted, big brother is, indeed, watching and has been doing so for some time – and well before 1984.  It’s just easier now in a society where government and corporate, etc. surveillance is omnipresent.  Have you watched CBS’s Person of interest? That sci-fi scenario is far closer to reality than you think.

Illegal or not our behaviors are the proof of the pudding reflecting our potential, our suitability (or not) as employees and students.  As one HR pro recently opined, “Discretion and professionalism are always valued by employers. Your brand and image can be severely damaged by derogatory comments or photos.” Now what part of that don’t candidates understand?

And to those companies who would unethically (and at some future point illegally) raid the social media cookie jar, please know that Cindy Beresh-Bryant, HR consultant with HR Solutions by Design says it all for us and should for you, “While we have more candidate screening resources at our fingertips, there is no replacement for good old-fashioned, behavioral-based interviewing and background checks that are fully disclosed and separate a jobseeker’s professional and personal life.”

To those righteously motivated candidates of the world – Happy Hunting and much success. To those employers intent on harvesting social media, know that your brightest and best candidates may decide that your behavior is unethical and your company is not for them.  You lose…

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, March 2, 2013

SUCH A THING AS AN OVERQUALIFIED CANDIDATE?

An acquaintance recently confided that he was officially rejected from consideration for a position because he was ‘overqualified”.  Mind you, he had four interviews so somebody (plural) thought there was promise and legitimacy in his candidacy. It appeared that he wasn’t just trying to salve a bruised ego by offering me that information.  The alarm bells in my HR driven brain (such as it is) started going off. I wondered how naïve (potentially dangerous) it was to actually buy into using just “overqualified” as the only reason to reject an otherwise credible candidate. Now, we aren’t questioning the validity of the decision not to continue with this candidate, rather the way the employment process was handled. 

So, why do I care? First of all, I’m not an attorney and not offering legal advice, so please treat this as an observation and personal opinion – nothing more.  In my utopian business world it would be nice to see HR and Recruiting folks in all companies behave in a professional manner for the benefit of their organizations and clients and not expose themselves to the potential of a discrimination lawsuit. It goes without saying (OK, I will) that the ultimate goal in Recruiting is to source/attract, recruit and select qualified candidates who are best suited for the job, and leave that candidate with a good impression of your company.  

Candidates who meet and/or exceed all Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications (BFOQ) with substantive, relevant work experiences and the motivation and desire to work a particular position could be great finds for any company, able to hit the ground running, performing well above expectations and capable of mentoring the less-experienced members of that work force. These candidates (however young or mature of whatever gender, persuasion or race) tend to positively influence those in their sphere raising the bar and can as one manager recently opined, “be used as innovators, troubleshooters and strategists” adding knowledge and value to that organization. We agree.

Companies that use “overqualified” as a euphemism for not revealing the true reasons for rejecting an applicant are walking on thin ice.  On the other hand a potential employer who second guesses a well-qualified candidate’s motivation and out-of-pocket summarily dismisses their candidacy because of those experiences can be irresponsible and equally risky.  In case you haven’t noticed, the world has changed even in the last ten years. War Babies and Boomers are continuing to seek work because 1) they’re living longer and need to support themselves, 2) They can and they’re bored, 3) They have to because of their/our financial crisis and 4) experienced and/or mature workers are being outsourced, replaced, automated, etc. as our business models (d)evolve in the 21st century.  

I was appalled the other day when on a respected web site there were forum comments from short sighted participants viscerally chastising so called “overqualified” candidates for applying for positions and the recruiters even for considering them citing the great potential for a short term employee and how it would be unfair to the company and on it went, ad nauseum.  We need mention that they were mostly very young if their photos are accurate. Hmmm. There was little mention of the worth of that candidate let along the potential for litigation for discrimination for hiring younger, prettier, stronger, less qualified candidates – well, you get the message.  They seemed oblivious to recent studies which show that skilled workers do not exit less challenging jobs quickly or in high numbers or that recent court decisions reflecting that the use of “Overqualified” could constitute discrimination even to the point that courts are using that as a flag for potential discrimination.  Employers need to be careful when dropping the “O” word if, indeed, they should use it at all.  If they do, they need to understand and explain their BFOQ in great detail or fear the potential for litigation.  It would appear that if Recruiters (that includes independent and contract players) are making these mistakes they need to be first certified as HR practitioners who understand the law and what the ground rules are. It’s a lot more than just production metrics…

So, everything else being equal, if the company that considered our acquaintance sincerely thought that “overqualified” was a legitimate reason to deny a candidate, then they are walking that tightrope.  If there was a compelling, legitimate reason for their decision then they were just deflecting, believing they were taking the easy way out. If that was the case it was, at least, an error in communication.  Candidates might not be a fit for any one of a number of other legitimate reasons, but “Overqualified” just doesn’t make sense. Again, for the purposes of this post we are assuming that the candidate is, indeed, qualified and there is no underlying credible reason to reject them. It also begs the question, how does a company then defend the hiring of a less qualified candidate against the so-called overqualified candidate in a protected class?  Answer-they can’t!

Having said all that, the by now confused candidate could adopt a negative opinion of the company. He or she could assume some ulterior motive and whether in a protected category or not, open the door to a discrimination lawsuit.

Key: When interacting with Candidates you should always try to turn them into positive, professional experiences. Always endeavor to offer and perpetuate a positive image of your company assuming that they could be your future customers/clients, that perfect candidate for another opening in your company or a future colleague or even – are you ready – future Boss! In thirty-five years of recruiting we have seen that happen several times and in one instance, much to the chagrin and dismay of the offending recruiter. We thought it justice sublime…

We have hired C-level candidates to work at jobs some folks would think beneath their station and work experience.  Those that we have seriously engaged were motivated, sincere and when reminded that the company was looking for committed employees provided the degree of assurance that was a factor in their hire. All embraced the company’s core values and mission, lived up to their commitment and were exemplary Employees. And, they have remained supportive and sometimes collaborative Friends with the company.
  
We would offer that many if not most of those so-called “overqualified" candidates have the potential to contribute mightily to enlightened employers intent on strengthening their organizations. Employers need to take a second (or third) look at their hiring and employment practices and, if necessary, make the necessary adjustments to qualify those who would bring greater worth to their companies and their clients.  It’s a win, win proposition.

And if you are a mature candidate with substantial work experience make sure that the skills you possess are relevant in today’s workplace. Know how to market yourself and communicate how you can positively contribute to the organization. Find out what the BFOQ are for a particular position and then see whether you fit and proceed accordingly. 

Yes, some may consider me overqualified for my present position. I guess that by now I should’ve gotten this out of my system… Welcome to the “new normal.”

Aye,

Ned Buxton