Forget the candidate experience, think recruiter experience

evidence of a great recruiter experience
Forget the candidate experience

We have all read about the candidate experience.  I want to share an amazing “recruiter experience” I recently had where I found myself working REALLY hard to get this candidate into our company.  We didn’t even have an opening for this candidate.  Think about that.  No opening, and the recruiter is fighting to make a hire.

I don’t know how long the term "candidate experience has been around, but I have a hunch it came around with the introduction of the Internet into the job search and the younger generations who are now trying to enter the workforce.  With the advent of the Internet, companies like, and sites with forums like Reddit suddenly have visitors are not only provided an avenue in which to rant, but may also have an opinion or a grudge.   

Younger generations won’t put up with a crappy interview experience because this is viewed as an extension and a peek into the company itself.  Younger generations have made companies re evaluate how the employee force is viewed.  They want to work with a company that embraces and values them, not a company that treats their employees like rented mules.  Yesteryears employment practices, circa MadMen may have run a different show and been able to get away with telling the women to show a little more leg, but this is the 21st century, Obama just got re-elected and these Imperial Roman time practices just don’t fly.  A dirty bathroom in a restaurant gives a bad vibe and raises questions around the sanitation practices of the restaurant and specifically the sanitation of the kitchen.  A lousy candidate experience raises questions as to the culture and specifically the management of a company. 

In the same way the candidate has an “experience” with every company, as a recruiter, I have a “recruiter experience” with every candidate that I talk with.

Recruiting narrative:

I attended an event where author Brad Feld and a number of heavy hitters made up a panel speaking on Brads most recent book.  Typical of these events, attendees were catching up with old friends and making new ones, AKA networking.

I met our candidate casually, introduced by a friend and it was obvious within just a few seconds this guy had “it”.  I have a tough time describing what “it” is, but he smiled, he talked, he made fun of himself, he was interested in what others had to say others, and he listened.  He wasn’t the center of attention, but he held his own and this is as close as I can come to describing “it”.  My recruiter Spidey sense went off and I knew I wanted to get to know this guy.  My initial hunch is that he isn’t a straight up developer.  This guy has a little too much style and a little to much charisma for a code monkey.  My initial thought was a designer or UI / UX guy.  This town is in short supply on both of these skill sets but we thankfully happen to be flush on.    

Introductions are made and it turns out he knew both myself and our CEO through close mutual friends and colleagues.  Thankfully this doesn't turn him off.     

I quickly learned that he had just turned in his two weeks notice at a world class tech employer / brand because he was tired of the corporate world and wanted to get back to his roots.  He is a start up guy, prior co-founder and was the number one employee with a well-known local company that scaled.  Bingo!  I am practically drooling.  Rarely do you find someone unemployed, actually looking for a gig and with tech chops in this town.   You get 2 out of the 3, but you don’t get all three.  Yes, I am getting tingly inside and if Mrs. HRNasty was watching, she would be raising her eyebrows and wondering about these two metro's.

So as to not tip my hand, I don’t explain that I am playing recruiter or let on about any of our openings.  I do ask  “what technologies are you passionate about?  I am trying to triangulate “What kind of company are you looking for?”

All I get is “I am looking for the right team”.  “I am not so passionate about any one technology, it is all about the right team mannnn”.  Yes, that urban hipster attitude with a casual and relaxed attitude was starting to show.  He wasn’t desperate for a job either.  He just quit a high paying gig and he was going to be choosey.  He either had an inner confidence or the open bar gave him courage.  I suspected the former.   “You know, it’s all about the team and the people dude.”  

I grock where he is coming from.  He knows that the divorce papers will be signed within 2 weeks with his BigBox company and like anyone coming out of a long term relationship, the next relationship is going to bring WHATEVER THE FRICK WAS MISSING with the last relationship.  If the last girlfriend didn’t like it when I watched football all day on Sunday, you can bet that the requirement for the next girly will be that I won't hear a peep when I watch TV all day Sunday in my tighty whities.  I OWN the remote on Sundays.  If the last girlfriend didn’t like me going fishing on the weekends, the next girl better have a weekend job or like to dig worms and clean fish.  With this guy, the next company was going to give him what he was missing at BigBox.   This guy wanted a “team”.

I can respect working with the right people, but that isn’t enough for me.  I am greedy and I want someone who can also become passionate about what we are doing as a company. 

We talked, got to know each other a bit more, exchanged contact info and said we would keep in touch.  It wasn’t one of those insincere “let’s do lunch” partings.  We knew we would meet back up after the effects of an open bar were behind us. 

On my way home, I was trying to figure out what role this guy could fill for us.  He didn’t have the exact skill sets we needed, but I felt really good about him being one of the right people to get on the bus.

My mind was racing.  I knew that time was short.  This guy already had a number of interviews, and coffee meetings lined up to figure out his next move.  He already had flights set up for interviews out of the state. 

Yes, I had a man crush on this candidate.  I was trying to figure out "HOW COULD I FIT HIM INTO OUR ORG?"  Let me say that one more time.  I, the recruiter, am trying to figure out “HOW CAN I FIT THIS GUY INTO OUR ORG?”  Every candidate should want a mole, a rat fink, a double agent on the inside doing their dirty work.

Over the next couple of days, we exchanged emails and a few phone calls.  I trying to triangulate how to sell this guy to the rest of the team and what skills does he bring to us?

Turns out that in the next 48 hours we pull an offer from a candidate and Booyahhh!  Opening baby, and I just might know a guy.

Over the next couple of days, our candidate fits us into his schedule of job interviews including trips to the Bay Area, but every time he comes into the office, he is gracious and full of energy.  Some folks are wondering why we are interviewing this candidate because his skill set doesn’t quite match anything we are looking for, but when they come out of the interview room they are sold on him.  “Don’t frick it up” is a common saying around our company and as much as it is said in a joking manner, it is usually only mentioned on serious projects.  I get a number of “don’t frick it ups” because the rest of the team wants to work with this guy and it has now become my responsibility to get his butt in a seat.

I of course have been setting expectations with the team that this guy is interviewing and we aren’t the only cowboy at the dance.

What stood out:

  • He came into the office with energy, and this after interviewing all morning with another company.  He made no excuses, and he got himself fired up.
  • The “interviews” were conversations and continuations of the initial meeting at the event. The interview wasn’t an interview.     
  • Before he left the office, he made it a point to try and shake hands with the folks that he interviewed with and say thank you in person.
  • He thanked everyone for taking the time to interview and literally said “I know it is tough to organize all of these meetings and take the time out of your day”
  • He researched the company and was very articulate in why he was so interested in working with us. 
  • He was transparent.  He let us know that his fiancée was very interested in moving to California and tired of the weather here in Seattle.  (We interviewed him in March after a record rain fall)  He let me know of the companies he was interviewing with, the status, how they ranked and at what stage the talks were in.  The candidate experience for each was telling.

In the end, we didn’t even get to push an offer out.  He took a job in California where he and his fiancée could enjoy the sun. 

What put this experience over the top for me was that he asked if he could stop by one more time and say “thank you to the guys” for taking the time out to get to know the team and the company.  Here is a guy that is leaving the state and we will probably never see again, but he still wants to say “thanks” in person.  When he comes into the office, he has a bottle of Jaegermeister with a bow and a card.  On the cover of the card is a cat, reflective of a inside joke within the company.  I don’t know if the Jaegermeister and thank you was a reflection of the type of candidate experience the team here delivers, but he delivered a great recruiter experience.

See you at the after party,


nasty:  an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something. E.G.  “He has a nasty forkball".



Views: 1210

Comment by Suzanne Levison on April 3, 2013 at 12:49pm

Enjoyed this, excellent!

Comment by HRNasty on April 4, 2013 at 1:23pm

Suzanne and Volkan, thank you so much for the support on the blog post!  Really appreciate your comments!

Comment by Molly K Eaton on April 8, 2013 at 8:42pm

Loved it!

Comment by HRNasty on April 9, 2013 at 12:59pm

Molly, thank you for the support!  Great to see friends in the PNW.  


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