Other than being used as a verb, as in “he plucked some feathers,” as a noun rarely used in the United States, it’s an old English term meaning courage, resolution, or determination. Someone with pluck has backbone; spunk. They have heart! It’s a quality of character worth cultivating. I consider it more valuable than talent, knowledge, education and even experience, for without a good measure of pluck, dreams and goals take a back seat to obstacles and challenges, and excuses come easy.
As the past five-plus years have been challenging, with high unemployment and a supposedly widening gap between high and low income, speaking as an employer, I have a theory as to what might be a contributing factor to our problems: Our supply of pluck is seriously depleted!
Not long ago, I placed an ad on Craigslist for a job opening here at ALIVE. One of the criteria for consideration was to provide a compelling cover letter along with a resume. Over 30% of those responding failed this first simple test, providing one or the other, but not both. After reading through a mountain of applications, I scheduled appointments for the most qualified. I confirmed four applicant interviews for our first day of evaluations.
Upon arriving at my office on that morning, I received an email from applicant #2. He had “just remembered” a prior commitment and would not be able to come in as scheduled for his eleven o’clock interview. No matter; I had three other seemingly qualified applicants to interview. I was really hoping to meet the person scheduled for the first interview at ten o’clock, as she seemed a perfect fit for the position. By 10:20, with no phone call or email, I knew she wasn’t coming.
Can you guess where this is going? Around 11:30 I received a phone call from my one o’clock, apologizing for car trouble and asking to re-schedule for the following week. Applicant number four, scheduled for two o’clock, followed the lead of “Miss Most Promising Ten O’clock No-show.” No call. No email. No job. I was most disappointed with this last one, as he claimed to be a Marine Corp veteran with self-employment experience. It would have been his job to take.
You may ask: Was this for a minimum-wage position offering no opportunity for growth? It was a sales position with a $43,000.00 first year base salary, plus commissions and bonuses. All four applicants had solid, confirmed appointments. All had relevant experience and were college graduates.
Words and resumes never reveal one’s level of pluck. Actions do.