So this March was tough….my wife tested positive for covid, and it hit her hard….it hit us all hard. A week later, I got it too.  We did the right things, avoided social gatherings, wore masks, washed our hands, and stayed away from businesses without a strict mask policy. My wife still caught it, and she tested positive the same day she was set to get the vaccine. A week later I caught it, while she was in the hospital, even though I had taken precautions as well. 

This year, and last year has been tough for all of us, and as the definition of a desired workspace changes, so has recruiting. 

This is a personal story of how Covid affects a person, a family, and how we change and adapt and listen. Whether you are working onsite, hybrid, or remote…this experience has changed our viewpoint of this world, shown me how fragile life can be, and how a group of people can support others in such a way that’s beyond words.

It started when my wife wasn’t feeling good, feeling drained, she soon started running a fever. She went and got tested, and it came back positive. Things got worse for her, high fevers, nausea, she wasn’t able to eat or drink or sit up. I have literally never seen her so sick.

This disease is devastating.

Not going in the room was a huge challenge for me. Double masking, triple masking, gloving up, and bugging your loved one about fever, eating, and drinking was a constant struggle, on top of making sure my kids were fed, bathed, and not realizing how dire things were. I was so tired all the time but couldn’t sleep. 

She wasn’t getting better, so her mom took her to immunotherapy treatment at a local hospital. She ended up having her stay overnight due to her oxygen being below 90%. She ended up staying an additional 5 days getting additional treatments and steroids because her case was more severe than we thought. The kids and I zoomed her throughout the day trying to lift her spirits and checking up on her. Sometimes she was weak, but we were having longer and longer conversations as the days went on. The important thing was that she was making progress…slowly but surely. 

We thought this thing was almost over…but we were wrong. 

I started feeling drained and tired, and had a significant lack of appetite…I thought it was just stress. But then I started running a fever, and so I had to go get checked out. Unfortunately, I tested positive for COVID that afternoon, and our mothers took over taking care of our daughters because I had to be isolated. They had both been vaccinated, and I deemed them the  “Grandma Force” while they ran our household and made sure the kids had everything they needed. I ran a fever for 5 days, and it was the longest 5 days I’ve ever experienced. I couldn’t help with my kids, I had to work through the virus while my wife was working through a more severe case of it at the hospital by herself. She came back Sunday, but I still had to isolate for several more days to avoid spreading COVID to the girls. 

I cried….a lot, I broke down, I yelled at everyone for stupid reasons because I couldn’t keep it together. I didn’t know what emotion to feel at times because I was feeling too many all at once….and I couldn’t do anything to help. All I could do was manage my symptoms and wait.

Nobody mentions what this illness does to a family, especially when it affects the parents. I went from a parent partnership to caretaker, disinfection specialist, feeder, bather, anxiety ridden over thinker, insomniac, fever obsessor, pill pusher…and then I was flipped to being a patient lockdown in my office. I had to sit…and wait…while the disease took its gradual and irritating slow time.

Outpouring of Support

I had so many family members, friends, coworkers, supervisors, and people in the recruiting and sourcing community reach out to me and offer to help. The amount of support from all of you was so amazing, it left me completely speechless. The kindness of others can be truly eye opening.  Life got really real…but the one thing I didn’t have to worry about through all this chaos was work.

I’m telling y'all, this place is different..

M&T really came through for us, I was out for 2 weeks, but we have a COVID policy in place for just this type of thing. My bosses made sure I could focus on my family and recovery. I’ve never seen anything like that….like ever.

My team and sourcing friends even bought us meals and Grubhub so we didn’t have to worry about food. That’s the kind of thing people need when chaos happens…understanding and support.

A deeper level of humanity

What this experience has taught me is a deeper level of humanity. The caring others have give me and my family is overwhelming. Nobody truly knows what may be happening in someone’s life right now, especially when it comes to COVID or just life in general. I keep this in mind with every person I talk to, whether it’s a candidate, a teammate, a boss, or someone just needing help. We all have stories, we all have struggles, and sometimes life gets in the way and we have other priorities. Not every organization supports their employees through COVID like M&T has us. In fact I talk to engineers everyday that have lost their jobs, contracts, or family members to COVID.  This is the world we live in now, and throughout it all, we can come out of this stronger and smarter people that can in turn help others through it…

Its okay to get emotional about all this, about loved ones been in the hospital, getting the disease, about the worry your kids will get it and about the graciousness of your boss and the company. When my wife was admitted to the hospital, I told my boss I only cried three times that day…she knew I was going to be out the rest of the week, I didn’t even have to mention it. She went and researched the COVID policy and brought me the information, told me not to worry about work, and that she and her boss would  take care of things. It’s great to have that kind of mutual and honest relationship with your bosses, where you can tell them what’s really going on and they instantly understand. Yeah, this place is different y'all, I’m never going to forget it.

Why it’s important to recruiting

When you are talking to a job seeker, realize they may have been going through things, may experience a form of loss and uncertainty. Even if you can’t help them with a job you are hiring for….I encourage everyone to help in some way. This world needs it more than ever right now.

I strive to be like the ones that came to our aid, whether it was in person, via phone, Facebook Messenger or a text. I strive to help job seekers, teammates, sourcers and recruiters, family and friends in the same way you helped me and my family. 

  • I talked to an engineer whose spouse had covid
  • Another lost his dad
  • Another missed the interview because he caught covid
  • Another took a break to take care of her mother who was at the hospital and caught covid while there

These are all stories I hear, and it makes me reflect and feel and understand. We are all people at the end of the day, and our greatest strength is helping one another throughout this jarring time. When we talk to a jobseeker I encourage you to do more than listen, truly HEAR the challenges the person faces and how they’ve overcome them. As I write this I’m reading a post from a former teammate and friend, who has survived covid many times over as a long hauler. This disease affects us all, and we are all praying for you, my friend.

In this dark time, don’t forget to be the light. 
While we’re recruiting, we have the opportunity to bring people hope and security in this unpredictable world. 
One call can change a life, so let’s keep calling …

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Greg Hawkes

Greg Hawkes is a Principal Sourcing Leader at M&T Bank and Creator and Founder of SourcingIRLHRSourcingToolboxHealthcareSourcingToolbox and has ongoing Speaker and Contributor for a wide array of Recruitment and Sourcing Conferences. He’s recruited and sourced in tech, healthcare, tech, mechanical/electrical/structural engineering, biotechnology, manufacturing and many other industries. Greg has covered topics ranging from Site Searches, Programmable Search Engines, to Advanced Web Scraping, Virtual Conference Infiltrations and URL Sourcing. He has been a HR/Recruitment/Sourcing Speaker on several occasions and contributed countless blogs, vlogs, webinars (and now even YouTube Shorts and TikToks) covering a wide array of sourcing strategies. He is a huge fan of emerging technologies, architecting solutions through use of technology and humanity, and most importantly finding people jobs in one of the most challenging and chaotic times we’ve ever lived in.