The Journey East: How A Major Career Choice Helped me Better Understand Candidate Experience.

I stood proudly looking down from Ensign Peak in Salt Lake City, UT, on August 11, 2012.  One could not help but see that a view from where famous Pioneer Leaders of the LDS faith nearly 165 years before had used as a planning platform for the city that would come to be known as Salt Lake would enable the planning and estimation steps needed.  I sat back on a rock admiring the view near a poignant and interesting marker marking the historic spot where the survey and landscaping mapping was drawn up.  Among these early pioneer forebears of my faith were Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor and others that made up the planning committee that would create a massive grid system that today marks much of the city - Degrees south, north, east, and west heading out from the center of the city or where the famed LDS Salt Lake Temple is.  Here is a little taste of the view that I enjoyed although I arrived more during mid-day and this picture was taken from dusk but gives you the idea:



It truly is a remarkable view which sets one to think, how had my journey up this mountain with the twisting trails and vast vista could be comparable so soundly to my current situation.  I had had quite an adventure to get to Utah to start the next leg of my career journey. 

My career journey to ADP begins with the end of the story of my last days at NetPolarity.  Knowing I needed an internal Recruiting step to fuel my next success path and further develop onward in my career I had interviewed at several places as the opportunities presented themselves seeking the right mix, the right home, and the right environment of opportunity to propel me soundly to my goals.  Along about June 28, right before the 4th of July Holiday I had 2 offers come down, both with two very reputable silicon valley firms.  I had never before had so many progressing situations at once, and much to choose from as I pondered what steps to take.  It was then that the awesome importance of my decision needed to include ADP.  I had one final interview.  I sent an email on Thursday acknowledging the situation, and interviewed with our Director over my current group to discuss the options. 


I needed to give an answer to both companies on Tuesday the 3rd of July.  And so with that I had to wait.  ADP finally got back on Tuesday with the offer I had anticipated and something within me looked at the decision with all it's weight.  2 would give me a good situation near home in Silicon Valley, CA where I had grown up spending some 30+ years of my life.  ADP would require that I uproot my family, and find a new place to live, a new home, and a new lifestyle, as well having to find a way to get a house full of stuff from San Jose to Salt Lake City, UT.


The decision was a no brainer.  Challenges and growth lay with ADP, how could I not take something that would pave me to my greatest opportunity?  How could one not see the required steps needed to take me to the next level in my career.  ADP bought out The Right Thing, an RPO provider and key famed AIRS training product.  The exposure to this as well recruiting for client services roles within an industry leader formed the basis of my decision. 


I could not be more grateful in this economy to have choices, choices that mattered - but yet my biggest challenge would be leaving a NetPolarity work family behind that for 2 and a half years had had my back in many circumstances, where I had been able to become a top performer through grit and persistence, and where I learned to love tech staffing.  I knew that the skills honed there at a top National Staffing Firm would pay dividends.  For a long time I had been part of something great, but to leave the stability and take the risk to move to a new place, with a new baby on the way, to start from scratch to try and build the panorama of success once again.  This choice I knew would define a new me, and a new day.  My boolean skills would become stronger, my candidate relationship skills broader, exposure to an internal staffing process only would build forward momentum that could only be found in a place like ADP.  And so the time came on July 3rd a verbal offer extended, I made my choice, and gave my verbal acceptance.  What transpired next over 3-4 weeks really set the tone for character building moments.  I had wanted to give NetPolarity a 2 week notice sooner rather than later and with a planned family vacation was hopeful that everything would clear quickly.  The offer package arrived on July 6th.  And then I had the formality of going through a background check process that taught me much about candidate experience.  I had a fabulous recruiter, and for privacy will not mention his name here in this forum, but suffice it to say, his excellence in follow-up, tact, and customer service taught me a great deal about the company I was joining.


It was here that the background check process took a couple of weeks.  In essence when I delivered to NetPolarity a firm end date and to ADP a firm start date, my family vacation was sandwhiched between my two week notice.  In essence I turned in my notice and did one week, and then traveled to Utah and back again to CA.  My wife had been in Utah for family visits, (that too was another choice and reason why Utah).  In that week with my family on vacation near Heber City, Utah in the Wasatch mountains I could not help but be grateful.  Amazing circumstances, that my wife could be in Utah and find us a nice home when all fell into place.  I then returned to CA and would spend 4 days finalizing my commitment to NetPolarity and all the while preparing and packing for Utah as well prepping boxes for the move ahead.  The end day came and went, and I had a final goodbye lunch with colleagues who had become dear friends, a very hard choice to leave a place that had paved so much good in my career, where I had helped in team efforts leading to 140+ hires over a 2 year span, effectively carving out my own chipping away at the economic mess of the past few years.  Along the way lives had been changed, good friendships gained, and staffing had made me a better man and professional.


That lunch that last week provided by a dear friend in my Director of Client Services at NetPolarity, a Business Development genius who has been one important success factor for NetPolarity was in fact a true indication of the type of professionals I worked with.  You can't not work for 2.5 years and have good friendships that you gain.  While some will see work as just one dimension of thier lives, it is part of your life, where 40 hours a week are spent.  In short, you better make it count.  And these colleagues had.


My new manager had been a supportive facilitator patiently following up with me to ensure things were moving successfully and that the transition would be smooth.  This genuine heart felt momentum would carry on to today.  For privacy reasons I won't mention her name here in the forum, but let's just say I can pay no greater compliment then the professional courtesy, and absolute effort to make me feel welcome at my new company was by far one of the warmest welcomes in my career.


As I took one final look at San Jose on August 4th, on my way up the 85, to the 280, and then onto the 680 and 580 highway that would take me through Sacramento I just felt sad and happy, leaving a part of myself behind - in fact the emotions swelled up as I rounded the last pass over the Sunol Grade and saw Silicon Valley fade away in my rearview. I had decided to see if I could make a swing into Lake Tahoe for one last view on my way out of CA and eastward to my new home in UT.  It was on my way through Sacramento that my front passenger side tire blew out.  So the Tahoe idea fell flat.  It was here I witnessed the best humanity has to offer: a highway patrolman whose name I have forgotten but who will forever in my mind signify what is described in the "Fred Factor" book as a "true Fred" came to my rescue and stayed with me until my tow truck driver arrived.  Thank goodness for AAA.  The tow truck driver arrived and towed me to safety.  I had gotten the address of a mechanic shop that was according to AAA still open on a Saturday at 5p.  They were not open, and so this other "Fred" took the time to look up another tire shop in the area, and towed me there.  I shall forever be grateful to those of 7 Day Tires in Sacramento for thier getting me back on my way so that I could start my new job on time on the 6th of August. 


I continued my journey through the Donnor pass with new tires and my car just seemed to have new life to it.  I went right into a storm on the 80 highway through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and arrived safely in Reno.  Just like life right?  A storm of monumental proportions does seem to hit us at times in our staffing endeavors.  The key is patience and a bit of luck.  I had both on my side as I arrived at the Sands Regency in Reno. 


After a good night sleep and setting aside $20 on the black jack table for fun, I headed out on the last leg of my journey.  I had the whole of Nevada before me.  Driving all that day and arriving at the Utah Border I snapped a picture at Wendover.  Arriving with light still available on a beautiful summer night, I drove and at last arrived at my in-laws home.


My new job started on August 6th.  It would be 3 more weeks before we had all our stuff arrive.  My wife, bless her heart along with my mother-in-law managed to get help from an ADP recommended company and we got packed up.  It was phenomenal to see a picture of all our items in a truck.  It took a final week of preparation to pack up everything.


Then we had the interesting experience of having the delivery company be without a driver for 2 more weeks.  I arrived home one interesting day about a week and a half ago and there as I walked into our new house many boxes.  I couldn't help but be in awe.  Daily while I was working my wife unpacked as best she could.  And my nights were spent pushing forward on that front as best as was possible.

Now, I sit here tonight on the 6th of September and can only fathom the amazing circumstances.  Because the truck was late the moving company cut down on total cost for our move and gave us back $75 a day discounted off the total price and covered our food expenses. 


During my weeks at work, trying to balance a new recruiting environment, discovering new circumstances, starting from scratch at building relationships and dealing with unique individuals I could not help but take a moment and ponder candidate experience.  In sharing my story here are a few things that stand out and lessons learned and the importance to candidate experience:


1.  Every recruiter like mine from ADP wants a super star hiring manager that will take the time to provide sanity in the onboarding process. In this endeavor I have been lucky to have that.

2.  Candidates deal with life changing circumstances when it comes to any major career change. 

3.  Candidates need some understanding from the company they work with in a relocation situation.  Pay close attention in the first month or so of a relo situation to provide help and stability.  The employee has other things outside of work to juggle.

4.  Questions about benefits, and logistics for start date, and other unforeseen logistical factors are all key points to be addressed.  Detail orientation is key on the part of staffing.

5.  Getting back in a reasonable amount of time to talented candidates is critical.

6.  You get back what you put in.  Karma will always follow true intent.

7.  There is so much more in play beyond talent and skills in any offer situation, including competing offers, growth opportunity, et al.

8.  Every moment in life should be cherished including interactions with candidates, they could one day be customers.  Like I was treated well by ADP, and how good colleagues stepped up to be of assistance, one can never fully repay kindness given, only by paying it forward.

9.  A little empathy goes a long way.  Timely follow-up, timely outcomes and deliverables are key.

10.  Giving a realistic overview of the job, the benefits, and the offer package clearly spelled out in a holistic and complete offer letter is a key element of staffing success.

11.  A good recruiter with tremendous knack for follow-up and a listening ear will always win candidate's hearts.

12.  Timely feedback is always appreciated.

13.  A hiring manager that takes enough time to be available to their new hire, and provides clear expectations is gold and manna to the candidate onboarding experience.

14.  The first month is critical.  However, give some flexibility and allow for the "human" in "human being" to be observed.  In other words don't expect perfection.  You will be kidding yourself.  Your new hire may have multiple shifting priorities within work and outside of work too.

15.  From a candidate stand point it is like being in a new country when joining a new company, the language is different, the rules of engagement are different, even the expectations must be managed anew.  Acronyms and other Hail Mary components are at every turn.

16.  Relocation brings with it a whole new host of issues for the candidates to deal with.

17.  One will come to rely on the kindness of strangers and the generosity of others as a new hire, you are the new kid on the block, and everything you did and said before no longer is with you.  You have a new slate.  Allow new hires to share their past experience without defensiveness or disregard, instead embrace the new ideas and see if they can make a direct impact.

18.  ROI of a candidate will come as they get acclimated.  The first 90 days sets the tone for years to come hopefully or can spell a lost hire if turnover results.

19.  A key onboarding and new hire orientation process must be delivered efficiently and allow the new hires to ask questions about where key resources can be found.

20.  It's all a matter of commitment, when an organizational culture breathes support and success, that is rather an incredible thing to be part of.


Just a few thoughts and lessons learned in my own changing circumstances.  Along the first few weeks I have made some mistakes, but with a good attitude, good work ethic, and choice points borne of experience, one seeks to be a delivery point of client service that enables others to succeed.  If one keeps at the forefront a burning desire to help make others better and leaves others with a good taste from the candidate experience standpoint, then your employment brand can prosper.


I see that potential here at ADP, and remember the same commitment to greatness from NetPolarity.  All it takes is some good old fashioned, human patience, grit, and determination to make great visionary commitments a total and complete reality.  I don't think I would have it any other way.  The ground has been a little testy at times, but so far so good, the bright horizon ahead seems to be full of promise and hope for this candidate turned new hire.  The road is up to us to pave in our careers.  When others can't see the key outcomes it is sometimes up to a recruiter to look back on their own candidate experience to enhance the outcomes others deserve.

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Comment by Tim Spagnola on September 7, 2012 at 7:38am

Nice post Mike - thanks for sharing.


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