Archives for hiring managers

Taking On Fixing the Broken System of Hiring and Careering

Any workable solution has to bridge the agendas of all parties – talent, recruiters, HR, and hiring managers. Everyone is working from different playbooks, even using different dictionaries. So much money has been thrown into HR tech, and none of it has fixed what’s broken.


There are problems with the human solutions:
  • Bias – It requires a LOT of self-awareness, which requires time for reflection. Time is something of which we all, recruiters included, have less and less. Speaking of…
  • Time – It’s not reasonable to expect recruiters to read résumés for 300-3000 job applicants. Then you also expect that they send a response and gather and provide feedback while spending adequate time on the phone with candidates who appear to fit, and hold on-site interviews, test, reference check, network, maintain professional partnerships, etc.
  • Arbitrary job requirements – Companies are too cryptic or even naive about what skills and experience candidates really need to step successfully into a role.
There are problems with the tech solutions:
  • Keywords – What % of résumés do you think actually have all the right keywords, and in a context that qualifies the candidates’ proficiency or lack thereof? Relying on keywords shrinks a candidate pool significantly.
  • True success indicators – Keywords do not predict performance, so the candidates that rise to the top of search results are not necessarily the ones who will perform the best.
Some other unfitting pieces of the puzzle –

Rolling recruitment:

Companies, especially in this market, need to be pooling talent whether there are positions open or not, but candidates aren’t buying into this whole talent community thing. They change jobs when they’re ready to change jobs, and once they land, it’s not a great career management move to jump ship because a company you vied to work for when you were looking is finally ready to hire.


Market pay:

If companies invested money in programs that ACTUALLY improved engagement AND accountability (few do!), maybe they would be able to give their current talent the money they expect and would be offered elsewhere instead of losing this talent, suffering losses from vacant positions, and then having to pay a new hire more and invest resources and potentially money in training new talent. Projections on actual losses that may not show up on the balance sheet need to be factored into payroll budgeting.



Companies automated so much of the recruiting cycle that it seems human-to-human communication is perceived as a nuisance instead of a necessity. HR people don’t want candidates calling. Third party recruiters often have zero interface with a hiring manager. How many recruiters wasted weeks trying to find candidates with X experience only to find out that the client hired a candidate without it? In all that time the recruiter could have followed up with candidates with real updates.


Culture killers:

Hiring managers are spending a large percentage of their time killing drama, trying to get their teams business-ready in the face of resistance to change, and fighting politics and bureaucracy that there is little to no time left to give thoughtful consideration to candidates who don’t check all the boxes and provide productive feedback. Eliminating a candidate because they don’t have industry experience, for example, can be shortsighted.


Elimination criteria are evolving:

Background checks are still revealing crimes related to marijuana for candidates in states where it is now legal. Blacklisting is a practice facing increasing scrutiny. Companies are (and have been) eliminating references due to fear of litigation. Discriminating against candidates who suffered long-term unemployment or any unemployment is now illegal in certain municipalities and states. Eliminating candidates who have been underpaid, or using previous pay to justify paying lower than market rate are illegal. Pursuing litigation against your former employer isn’t as illegal as facing retaliation from your former company, but it won’t be long until it is, I predict.


There are no band-aids for the problems that plague hiring and careering. The whole system needs to be torn down and replaced.

Yes, I have ideas. I’ve paid close attention as a former job seeker who experienced long-term unemployment, a former IT recruiter, and as someone who has been a close confidant of corporate leaders as a career coach for 13 years as well as an adjunct professor teaching the next generation of talent how to navigate job search, careers, and leadership. I need the right ears. I need to find partners. This is a HUGE undertaking, larger than the sum of all I’ve accomplished to date. Hit me up if this mission speaks to you.

Wounding and Healing of Men

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Wounding and Healing of Men · Francis Dunnery Hometown 2001 ℗ 2004 Francis Dunnery Released on: 2004-08-03 Auto-generated by YouTube.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (, is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Old School Hiring Practices Facing Scrutiny and Backlash in a Job Seeker’s Market

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! There are more job openings than candidates.

I don’t think all people in hiring positions have gotten the memo – it’s a job seeker’s market. I say this because for three years now, I have been tracking and capturing gripes of job seekers (as well as recruiters, human resources professionals, and hiring managers.)

The power has shifted, and qualified job seekers are in a position to demand that a few irksome practices be abolished in favor of you wooing them into accepting your position. In a few cases, the law is even in their favor, as more legislation is passed at the local level prohibiting employers to play games with job seekers.

If we apply the trickle-down theory (not the economic theory) of adoption to hiring best practices, there are going to be early adopters, those who are watching and following the early adopters to see if new practices succeed, those who will only jump on the bandwagon after most others, and those who insist on bucking anything new.

Traditionally, this theory purports that cost is a factor for products, which does apply somewhat to practices, since new employees require training when a company updates standard procedures to adopt new best practices. More recent revisions of this theory take a closer look at motive to adopt anything new. Herein lies a mystery. All companies need talent of some kind or another.

Look at how long it took employers, even early adopters, to jump on the candidate experience initiative. User experience (UX) has been a web interface design focus and official term for nearly 25 years. Customer experience and guest experience have been evaluated and improved in retail and entertainment since the dawn of the industries, but didn’t adopt the Xx acronym until the mid 2010s, and the x can connote a purely digital experience. Patient experience has been measured since the 1980s.

In 2005, talent management thought leader, Kevin Wheeler, introduced the Candidate Bill of Rights initiative. Five years later, the term “candidate experience” was coined and within a couple years, several entities started recognizing companies who provided exemplary candidate experience.

What took employers so long to focus on the experience of candidates? The motive wasn’t there as long as they were in the position of power.

Though candidates have the power, not all employers got the memo, so if you are a candidate and you stand your ground on any of these practices, just know that you could risk an offer with employers who are on a slower adoption curve.


The following are hiring’s most hideous, harmful practices of which job seekers and their advocates are becoming more vocal and less intolerant about:

  1. Not being transparent about budgeted salary

Job seekers have traditionally been advised to not be the first to bring up salary to avoid being categorized as money-motivated, which could also contribute to the candidate being a flight risk, apt to leave their job at the drop of a better offer. Now we know – employees who stay loyal tend to be paid less than professionals who change employers. This is backwards, yes. Companies, in essence, are losing money by having to replace people they lose with people who will expect more compensation when they could have just offered better pay raises and growth opportunities. Retaining employees costs less than vacancies, re-allocating resources to backfill positions, and paying to onboard and train new employees, and that’s not even taking into account lost productivity while new employees ramp up.

Not being upfront about budgeted salary also doesn’t make sense from a time standpoint. If you have 5 qualified candidates, but only 2 would accept your offer, why invest time in interviewing all 5?

Now that the power is in the job seeker’s hands, it’s the companies who choose to withhold budgeted salary who risk being perceived as wanting to get as much as they can for as little as possible, while C-suite employees enjoy 7-figure compensation and bonuses.

Also, don’t undervalue talents’ time. If they are currently employed, it requires them to take time off of work to interview. If they aren’t employed, their time is their money. They don’t actually have time (or energy or emotions) to invest in opportunities that are not going to help them meet their lifestyle needs.

Don’t jerk job seekers around. When a requisition for a position is approved, it is approved with a budget. Negotiating, at its best for long-term mutual benefit, is supposed to achieve a win-win. We’ve seen how win-lose negotiating eventually backfires.

  1. Asking about perceived weaknesses

I personally like this question, but I have seen/heard certain thought leaders encourage candidates to avoid it because it’s a trick to get candidates to disqualify themselves. As a recruiter, I asked it, but not for that reason. In fact, to preach that the only reason this question exists is to get candidates to shoot themselves in the foot is plain old inaccurate. It has a more noble intention, though I also recognize that the means can be achieved through more conscious questioning.

The intention when I asked this question was to gauge self-awareness, accountability, and coachability. All of these are requirements of being employable.

However, I am in Marcus Buckingham’s camp of focusing more on identifying and applying strengths vs. developing weaknesses as a sound career management strategy. All strengths can be liabilities, however, if unchecked. It can take real world experience to test how to balance strengths, and in doing so, there is trial and error. It’s the error – the acknowledgement of the cause/effect relationship between something done too extremely or too deficiently, and the future correction, that leads to growth and development. Also, as we become we wiser and realize that there are a multitude of things we don’t know that we don’t know, we start to better recognize knowledge and skill gaps.

Questions to identify such moments don’t have to be so entrapping. You can achieve the same result by asking two behavioral questions – one that deals with soft skills and one that addresses hard skills.

A. “Tell me about a time when you identified a knowledge or skill gap. How did you become aware, how did you fill it, and what impact did that have?”

B. “Tell me about a time when you identified an area of growth. How did you become aware, what did you do to develop in that area, and what impact did that have?”

  1. Demanding salary history; asking for W2s

Unfortunately, I worked for a firm that had a policy to require salary history and request W2s to validate a candidate’s most recent salary. It went against my values. As someone who had been chronically underpaid (until I learned and applied negotiating skills with my own boss), I did not feel that a person’s past salary should have any influence whatsoever on their future salary (and the training that my company sponsored in 2004/2005 confirmed this.) Still, it was our policy. This, among other policy and cultural changes, were the impetus for my own disengagement.

Perpetuating low pay keeps marginalized groups marginalized. This policy is anti-equality and sustains gender and race wage gaps. This is why many municipalities and states have passed laws prohibiting employers from requesting salary history.

  1. Ghosting/Blacklisting

The majority of job seeker gripes revolve around spending time pursuing open positions, filling out online applications, doing due diligence as advised, and then getting nothing – zero response – from a company. Even an automated confirmation of receipt would be reassuring to some level, according to job seekers. However, once a candidate is in the system, they expect an update of some kind. Newer applicant tracking systems build in candidate updates and make it quite simple to blast out when no more applications are being accepted, when first round candidate interviews are being scheduled, and when the position is formally closed with an accepted offer. Not all employers have such sophisticated ATSs, however the early adopters and those that have followed them do. The companies lagging behind are sending a message that they are not focused on candidate experience.

One of my most viral LinkedIn posts to date is about recruiter blacklisting. Some have mistaken this post as an endorsement for this policy, but it was really intended to make job seekers aware of things that they do to burn bridges with recruiter, and how the small world of recruiting can mean a mistake with one recruiter may restrict your ability to work with other recruiters as well.

It happens, and to be clear, I am not condoning it. It, too, is illegal in certain states and municipalities.

However, when a bad reference comes back or a candidate abuses a client or no-shows, their file gets marked accordingly. Many readers who commented rightly pointed out that some recruiters are on a power trip, and can be vengeful in limiting someone’s future opportunity because of a bad experience that perhaps that recruiter even precipitated.

Yes. There are recruiters who have become a bit too accustomed to judging candidates as worthy or not worthy of working with them. These are the recruiters who need a wake up call. Just as ATSs allow recruiters to keep notes on which candidates have misbehaved, there are several recruiter rating sites out there now, and their brand is sure to be tarnished by acting from ego. Karma is a b*tch.

  1. Automated rejections to candidates who have interviewed

This is a bit like breaking up over text. When two or more people have invested time getting acquainted face-to-face, an automated response just seems shallow and dismissive. Some of these candidates could be your second choice, and you might want to tap their shoulder in the future should your #1 reject the offer, not work out, or move up quickly. Any of the candidates you’ve personally met are potentially in a position to promote or tarnish your employment brand. Have you read Glassdoor lately?

I get that you can’t give a personal response to hundreds of candidates who apply, but if you’ve had under 20 people interview, (and, really, if you’ve had over 10 without an offer, there’s a flaw in sourcing and/or qualifying) it is reasonable to expect that you can let them know they are no longer being considered, even if you use a template – at a minimum.

  1. Not giving accurate feedback and updates

If someone takes the time to come out to meet you and your team, take a moment to give them real, individualized feedback and updates. A phone call is preferred, but I have had the experience, as I’m sure any recruiter who tried to make it a policy to provide feedback, of someone swearing that they would take feedback professionally, take it personally, and dismiss the feedback as wrong, or even discriminatory. There are liabilities in providing feedback, even when the reason for rejecting a candidate is on the up and up.

However, if your hiring practices have been thoroughly audited (have they?), and you are sure that bias is not influencing hiring, I’m certain that you can provide a legitimate reason for a candidate not being considered, or even being forthright about something that puts them at a competitive disadvantage or advantage.

Do you think there are legitimate reasons to NOT let a candidate know that they are one of three finalists? What this information does is help the candidate understand that, even if they feel that they are a shoo-in, their efforts to find their next opportunity need to continue.

Don’t let a candidate believe that a job is theirs to lose so that they cease other opportunity development while you continue to vet other candidates.

  1. 4-month long hiring cycles

At the executive level, especially in this day and age, leaders need to be scrutinized to a certain degree. The stakes are high, and there are potentially many stakeholders. It is understandable that the hiring process can be delayed for due diligence and because getting busy executive leaders and/or directors to arrive at a consensus can be a time-consuming process.

However, we all know that the pace of change is accelerating and even at the executive level, decision-making needs to be expedited.

At an even lower level, four months is just excessive. Top talent who make things happen and innovate will perceive a long hiring cycle as a systemic sign of slow progress. If you have justifications for such a long hiring process (such as clearances or thorough background checks), it would be best if you clarified this from the beginning.

  1. Passing over people for employment gaps

When I finally landed after a 10-month unemployment period induced by 9/11, I found myself expected to disqualify technical candidates who had been unemployed for 6 months or longer. This client request was based on the implication that tech talent who had not been actively working for 6+ months somehow lost their touch, grew stale, or had skills that are now obsolete.

This was 18 years ago, and things weren’t changing that fast! This was a huge conflict for me, and one that made me rethink my own career choice.

Fast forward to the great recession, and layoffs touched more people than ever. Hard-working, talented, valuable, qualified employees were out on the streets, not just those you could assume were dead weight – which is a bias, if you hadn’t recognized this.

There are some who never financially recovered from that, 10 years later! Add to being laid off any kind of personal or health challenges and you have people who are now perpetually in debt.

Anyone can be the casualty of poor leadership in any economy.

  1. Requiring 3 references from past supervisors

Even 14 years ago when I was recruiting, many of the companies we recruited for and from instituted “no reference” policies. Apparently, many employers had been sued for defamation, among other things. The best some of them can do is verify work history and maybe be coerced into affirming or denying that they would hire them again in the future.

Here in the pharma-rich Greater Philadelphia area, pharma professionals, among others, are unable to provide references because their company adopted this policy. Does that make them unemployable? No.

Reference checking is and has been a hiring best practice based on the theory that past behavior is the best predictor for future behavior, as is the behavioral interviewing methodology.

Has this theory been proven, though? Is it infallible? Are references the only or best way to validate performance?

There are two sides to every story, and then there’s the truth. Hearing someone else’s version of a story does not help you arrive at truth, necessarily. In fact, it can raise caution flags where there needn’t be any.

My previous firm’s policy required three reference checks. Every time I butted up against a challenge, I had to validate the challenge in order to circumvent the policy and move forward with a candidate, or I was told to find new candidates. This was an unnecessary hurdle to finding the right candidate.

I’ve also learned that, not only can references be biased, but they can also can be faked or pressured.

I admit, I check references for people I hire for my company, even subcontractors, but it’s not a witch hunt. It’s a way for me to learn how to inspire their best work and what projects I might want to outsource to someone else. I don’t require a certain amount and most of the time, if they have impressive, specific LinkedIn recommendations, that is good enough validation.

As a recruiter, sometimes the validation a reference provided was used verbatim in my candidate presentation to a client, so they do have value, but should not be required to consider a candidate. Special circumstances and changing corporate policies have to be considered.

  1. Using the term “overqualified”

I admit, I have defended this term as a justifiable reason to reject candidates. It’s true that from experience, some employers have learned that hiring an experienced person to do a job below their abilities has resulted in that person disengaging, growing frustrated by not being able to apply their knowledge, jumping ship at better offers more in alignment with level and pay, and resentment toward younger managers who feel threatened.

A hiring manager will not trust a candidate’s word over their own experience, but this can still signal a bias.

The problem is that the term “overqualified” has become synonymous with age discrimination. You can’t detach that meaning once it’s there.

The pressures of decision-making authority and staff supervision can lead to burn out, family issues, and even health complications. For many legitimate reasons, some people choose to sacrifice income for better quality of life. Get a candidate’s why – always.

If there are ethical, logistical, or cultural reasons why you won’t offer an experienced candidate a position, explain them explicitly.


These are just 10 of many trends that are shifting as companies become more aware of the need to be attractive to top talent in order to survive the next few years.

Epic Careering wants to make sure that more of the opportunities that are available for today’s and tomorrow’s talent are with conscious companies with conscious leaders who are nurturing a conscious culture.

If you know or work for a company that has a future at risk, that is losing top talent to competitors, or that is behind the curve in adopting consistent conscious hiring and leadership practices, nominate them anonymously. Provide their name, your reason, and any contact information that will help us get through to a decision-maker.

Bob Dylan The Times They Are A Changin’ 1964

TV Movie, The Times They are a Changing’ (1964) Directed by: Daryl Duke Starring: Bob Dylan

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (, is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Why Recruiters Ask You Questions That Your Résumé Clearly Answers Already


Have you, like many other job seekers, noticed that it seems sometimes like recruiters, maybe even hiring managers, ask you questions that have clearly been answered already in your résumé?

Like, “Do you have experience with business intelligence tools?” while your last position was “Business Intelligence Analyst.”

You’re getting all kinds of advice from career coaches like me to do your research and come to interviews prepared to intelligently talk about the company’s specific goals or challenges, but you get to the interview and it feels like you’re just interview number 9 today, not their potential next highly valued employee.

Experiences like this are just one of the hundreds of gripes that I see job seekers making online, and I have been collecting them for over a year now. (I also procure gripes from recruiters about job seekers, recruiters about HR, recruiters about hiring managers, HR about recruiters, HR about hiring managers, and hiring managers about HR – what a mess!)

I have to admit that as a recruiter, I have been guilty of this. Here’s what happened:

  • I had a third party recruiting firm play bate and switch with me, sending candidates to interviews who didn’t match the résumés they presented. As a result, I made a bad hire that I had to replace for the client. From that point on, I always asked clients to validate what was on their résumé. Once you uncover deception, you become skeptical. Once you get burned, you become cynical. I’d rather have a candidate insulted that I was asking them questions that I should have already known from their résumé than hire someone who was misrepresenting their skills and qualifications.
  • Coincidentally, I had some very indignant candidates who were quite put off that I would ask them such questions. The worse they took this experience, the more I worried about their temperament. I had candidates who seemed completely professional in their interviews get to the client, have a bad experience, and completely lose their cool, as well as their chances with that client and me. I also had a candidate I referred to another firm get escorted out by security for becoming threatening. In this day and age of employee sabotage and mass shootings, a person’s temperament is always being evaluated.
  • From time to time as a recruiter on top of still needing to fill hot job requirements, you have to put fires out, such as when my candidate was fired and needed to be replaced. Sometimes I was not as prepared for a candidate interview as I liked to be. I would normally just be upfront about this and apologize. Under stress, however, I might not have been as empathetic. I had some bad days as a recruiter, and I may have come off as aloof, scattered, or insensitive.  I wasn’t my best self, and all I can do is aim to be better. I’m a decade (plus) older and much more emotionally intelligent than I was then. Not all recruiters get how their candidates’ experience affects their long-term success, and even if they do, they can’t always buck the broken system and fix their candidate experience. I’d like to think that eventually, especially if the candidates’ job market continues, more recruiters will have to evaluate and improve how they treat candidates, acknowledging them as people, not commodities.
  • Résumés are rarely written to include “behind the scenes” details that demonstrate and prove a candidate’s qualifications. Often it’s a list of what a candidate was supposed to do, not what they did or how well they did it. So, a phone screen or interview was your opportunity to tell a compelling story that demonstrated your value. The résumé was just a tool to get me to invite you to an interview. If you have qualities and skills I felt would impress the client, the résumé also had to inspire the client to interview you, but I need to take it up a level. You may have stated that you did something on your résumé, but I need to know more to enhance the résumé. AND, I need you to be able to articulate your experience to the hiring manager and other stakeholders. I’m not just making sure you have the experience required; I’m making sure you can effectively communicate this to me, and therefore others.

I’m definitely not condoning recruiters’ negligence to understand a candidate’s experience prior to an interview; it goes against common sense best practices. However, I find the volume and extremity of the gripes I have been procuring online for over a year now to be disturbing and discouraging.  Solutions that truly disrupt and overturn the broken system cannot be devised until all parties involved in hiring and careering can understand the other parties’ perspectives. I don’t want to take sides; I want to bring the sides together.

This may or may not ease your frustration with the recruiter experience, but ultimately you are absolutely capable of landing your next job without them, and you will probably find those activities much more enjoyable. Eliminate or manage as many stressors as possible so that YOU can be your best self more of the time. If you want to know how to execute a career campaign without recruiters, schedule a free consultation.

If you want to learn how to get recruiters to call you back MORE often, download my free report.


This World Fair “Don’t Make Me Wait” from Disturbia

Get it at iTunes: CD: SUBSCRIBE: This World Fair “Don’t Make Me Wait” music video. From the movie and Soundtrack to DISTURBIA.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (, is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

What Is Experiential Recruiting and Why Are We Not Seeing More of It?


Trust Fall

Trust Fall

Believe it or not, experiential recruiting isn’t new; it’s just a term that hasn’t caught on…yet.

Experiential recruiting refers to interactions between recruiters and/or hiring managers and candidates in which there is an element of performance, either professional or social. Some may say it’s just about storytelling and video, but that is one-sided. You may have heard the term “working interview,” but experiential recruiting can go far beyond a working interview (which, by law, do pay.) Hackathons are experiential recruiting. Any event a company has to which candidates would be invited can be considered experiential recruiting.

I held experiential events in 2008-2009. They were called Helping Hands Job Fairs. I paired recruiters up with candidates to do a half-day of community service and then break bread together. At one event, attendees sorted donations at a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store on a Saturday. At another, we had two teams winterizing homes in the community. At yet another, we had a few teams assigned to various projects through United Way’s Day of Caring, including mucking horse stalls, planting flowers, weeding, painting, etc.

For whatever reason, it was challenging at the time getting the employers committed, even though I was offering to recruit, identify, and pre-qualify the candidates. I stopped because I was pregnant; I had one baby, and then another. Organizing events is time-consuming and complex.

And here I am now with two kids in school all day. I’m ready to advise, strategize, plan and organize more events like this, as well as events that are less service-oriented and even more about fun, culture, and adventure – all depending on what you want your company to be to your current and future employees.

There’s a key to success – the events have to attract the talent with the hard skills, soft skills, and values that you want. The great thing about them is that, while events like hackathons can help you determine technical skills, these events help companies better assess someone’s soft skills and values. Also, hackathons sometimes attract top talent, but that talent doesn’t necessarily want to be employed by you or at all.

At the HireOne Task Force meeting I attended last month, the employers in the room all echoed the same complaint – not enough of the candidates with the hard skills they need have the soft skills that they want. So, they have to narrow their pool down in a pool that for some skills is already too small.

Part of the problem is that not everyone can put their best foot forward out of the gate; some people, like many introverts, need time to warm up. An interview, which can seem like a barrage of questions, doesn’t allow these people the time they need to let their true personalities show. They may come off as competent, but not likeable.

Another problem is that soft skills development isn’t taught in school (few do – it was something I taught as part of the Career Management and Professional Development course I taught at Drexel University to business students.) The county that sponsors HireOne offered an 8-week course for struggling job seekers that did also teach people how to shake hands, make eye contact, be courteous, follow etiquette, etc. They reported that still some participants could not put what they learned into practice

Remember when you learned how to drive, though? How much there was to pay attention to – the mirrors, the signals, pedestrians, pedals, steering, etc. It took time for those skills to become automatic, especially when you’re nervous.

Experiential recruiting events offers candidates who have the potential to become strong team members the opportunity to spend a little more quality time with recruiters and more time to come out of their shells and show who they really are.

Soft skills, which at their best can be considered high emotional intelligence, ARE teachable, and I have tricks to accelerate the application and adoption (mindfulness training and hypnosis.) Otherwise, people just need a lot more time and practice.

Time – ah. We have hit upon the major objection of doing these events.

If you have them during work hours, you are excluding those candidates who are working and find it challenging already to sneak away for an hour-long face-to-face interview. Some companies, like Vanguard, are combining community service initiatives with graduate recruitment, which eliminates the problem of time of day. While attracting and recruiting the best new graduates for your company can definitely be aided by events like this, many more companies are in need of better methods of attracting experienced talent. This is where most of a company’s ROI on talent gets generated.

If you have them at night, you are asking your staff to sacrifice their personal time.

This is all the more reason why these events really need to be designed to be time well spent – something you, your staff, and your candidates would want to do anyway.

Back in 2012 when I last spoke at the Greater Valley Forge Human Resources Association HR Summit (I speak there again next month on executive branding), I deconstructed why talent communities haven’t effectively helped companies build talent pipelines. Talent communities were a trend back then proposed as a way for companies to line up people with skill sets that they’ll need on a recurring basis or in the future. Some job boards were trying to transform themselves and take advantage of this. They never took off because job seekers don’t want to be in a community of competitors for jobs they want.

Companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, etc. build talent communities simply because they are who they are. Everyone else would like to think that they’re employment brand game is so strong, but let’s be clear what candidates really want – a fair shot, quality time, and to be recognized as special. They don’t want to wait in line or mingle with people who might get the job over them – that’s like The Bachelor/Bachelorette of recruiting, without the mansion, cocktails, and breathtakingly romantic trips.

Another time constraint is built into recruiting models that don’t allow for recruiters to even have that extra time. When my firm experimented with different reporting models and metrics, we had a certain number of calls and in-person interview we needed to complete each week. This meant the work-hard/play-hard culture I loved became a work-hard/work-long environment. I became disengaged pretty quickly. My wedding was a great distraction. The last thing I wanted to do was spend MORE time at work. In fact, I needed a long break; thank goodness for my honeymoon.

Job fairs do not count as experiential, even though they are face-to-face, and for the reasons stated above about the limited time and nature of an interview. Job fairs barely allow someone to get an impression past the initial first impression, which are NOT always accurate. In fact, recruiters have been evolving in their awareness of biases and ability to dismiss them. They occur automatically – it’s how our brain works. Our conscious mind matches experiences with experiences from the past. So we don’t expect that people can rid themselves of biases, just become more adept at recognizing and dismissing them. However, at a job fair, there is very little time to do this before the next person steps up. Again, like driving a car, you can become faster at this until it becomes more automatic. In the meantime, job fairs offer only a few stand out candidates with charisma to make a lasting impression.

A couple of things along my professional path inspired my interest in these events.

My former boss invited the team to spend a day at his Jersey shore house where he fed us and took us to the beach to play games. We knew he was a 3x Ironman and that he worked out. We could see how the other runner in the office gained his favor. I didn’t realize that beating him at horseshoes would impress him, but it did. He shared that with me. (I’m glad I didn’t know that beforehand or I might have choked.) He appreciated competitiveness as a quality. Then I remembered how me playing on a softball team was one of the things the company shared about me when I was hired. Apparently, that meant that I fit the culture.

However, so many times these things don’t come up in the interview process. They did a good job of uncovering that. Then I thought, what can companies do to identify these types of cultural qualities better? How about a game night?

When my youngest child finally started pre-school and I had mornings all to myself, I started Job Seeker Hikes. I invited job seekers to hike a moderately challenging trail with me while I asked them questions and gave them advice, not dissimilar to my free consultations, only I got to hike, one my favorite things in the world to do. I could coach multiple job seekers simultaneously, allowing them to learn from each other, build trust and rapport, and increase my chances of converting one of those job seekers into a paying client.

I called this experiential business development. And I loved it, and I’ll probably do it again now that both of my kids are in school, pending I can see that fitting into everything else I am excited to do with a full workday.

As I pondered my clients’ and contacts’ recruiting and hiring pains, I often came back to this model as a great replacement for job fairs, which, by everyone’s account, suck. I thought I coined the term “experiential recruiting,” but I looked it up and it was a thing already.

In fact, I identified a company in Milwaukee that was using events like this not only to help employers brand themselves and better assess the soft skills and values of their candidates, but they were also using the events to promote the cultural richness that the city has to offer. It’s called Newaukee. Why isn’t this in every city??? Talk about triple bottom line!

Another potential objection is cost, but the truth is, depending on what you do it may not cost you much more than a job fair. However, you can get more in-depth with a smaller, more targeted candidate pool.

To get ROI you first want to make sure you understand the kinds of candidates that YOU want who ALSO want to work for you. You (or we) build a candidate profile, much like a buyer profile. Find out what segments exist and what they like to do.

You might need two or three different kinds of events. For instance, you might want to have a game night or block party, a community service event, and an art gallery trip.

Need people who can be creative problem solvers? How about an escape room?

What do you think about having family-friendly recruiting events? Does that blow your mind?

Then you also need to get those people there AND use the events to tell a compelling story about your company and its people straight from its people, which may take a bit of training. The other key is LISTENING. Use the events to learn about your prospective candidates, improve candidate experience,  and create even better events.

Word of mouth spreads fast about these events. People will get very interested in attending, even if they aren’t very interested in working for you, so you (or we) have to vet them. However, even candidates who may not have thought they wanted a change may find themselves swayed and a bit more invested and enthusiastic about a company after a great event. If they really aren’t going to budge now, they may some day, and they can refer some talent in the meantime. So, the vetting is more about skills, value, and culture fit. A lot of the times the nature of the event and who is interested in it helps assess value and culture right off the bat.

So, in my Epic Careering version of these events we combine employer branding, target candidate identification and buzz-worthy experiences to keep a pipeline of high-quality potential hires pumping in, while the recruiting teams and hiring managers also have worthwhile experiences. I am all about productive play!

Contact me today to learn how your recruitment teams can use events like these to better compete for top talent.

Phish- Waste

great version great song

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (, is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.


Catch Your Next Job with the Right Tools

Photo courtesy of Casey Bisson of flickr creative commons. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Photo courtesy of Casey Bisson of flickr creative commons. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Trout season is approaching in Pennsylvania! Would you try to catch those fish by throwing stones at them? Throwing stones could possibly work, but using a fishing rod is a much better idea. We’ve all heard the saying: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Learning how to fish is great, but you’ll still need the right pole. A rod used for fishing in a serene lake is very different from a rod used to fish in a choppy river. You also can’t ignore the importance of a good lure, bait and a hook. Not being able to catch fish means starvation, especially if you’re dependent on that catch for your meal. At the very least, you’ve wasted your time and energy with efforts that don’t pay off for the day. How many days can you do this before you give up? Likewise, when it comes to job opportunity, skills are crucial, but you still need the right set of tools and a good location to reel in an employer. Like a fish, a good employer can provide substance in the form of financial security, a sense of purpose, and putting your passions to use.

Find a place to start by creating a plan:

If you were going fishing, you wouldn’t start by running to the closest creek and casting your line. First you would decide on what type of fish you’d like to catch. Then you would research an ideal fishing location, and ask a few fishermen to tell you about it. Next, you would get your gear in order and you would be certain to make sure you have the right pole for the situation. You can think about job hunting in the same way. You locate your ideal employers, research the company, work your networks, manage your brand, revise your résumé and review it.

In my article, “Become an Effective Job Hunter: Work Smarter, Not Harder!”, I wrote that you can see tremendous results in fewer hours than you think, if you put your time into the right resources. A lot of job seekers may be tempted to apply online through job boards and internet searches, because they think they’ll be missing out on opportunities AND because it’s a habit. Or they perhaps they work during the day and feel that the job boards are the only resource they can turn to after work hours. However, the percentage of people hired via internet searching is shockingly low. Less than 10% of people are hired by employers through this method. In fact, only 5% of your time should be spent looking for work on job boards, after you’ve set up your agents and have validated suitable results. Choose two days per week to check your agent results and add those companies to your target company list, research them, network and market yourself appropriately. Relying solely on job boards is like going to the ocean to catch fish. The fish are plentiful and so is the competition. The chances of getting the fish you actually want are slim. This concept can be summed up succinctly by Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, “The fishing is best where the fewest go.”

Picking your employer and role:

Do you want to work for a large employer, or a small company? There are positives and negatives associated with employer size. A smaller company will most likely have you wearing multiple hats. In other words, all of your skills will be put to use. If you’re the type of person who likes doing multiple jobs that take advantage of your dynamic skill set, a small company could be a great fit. If you prefer to do a specific job, and you don’t mind being slotted into one position, a larger company may be a better fit. It really depends on your needs, and your ability to identify those needs. These are typical characteristics of jobs at smaller and larger companies, but there are also exceptions. Your target list goal, if your criteria defy those typical characteristics, would be to identify those exceptions and research, network and market to them appropriately.

Once you have a company size in mind, and a possible employer, it is time to research that company. Job review sites like Vault or Glassdoor are great places to get a feel for employers, including salary rates. There may be companies worth flocking to. Other companies may raise too many red flags, or may not be a good cultural fit. I wrote extensively about this process in my article, “You Can’t Afford Not to Investigate Your Next Employer!” In addition to salary and healthcare benefits, vacation time can be considered as part of your compensation package. At this stage you’re still at the pre-qualification level, not unsimilar to when an employer determines if you meet the minimal qualifications for a job. At this point, you’d really want to do as thorough a job searching them as they would do to qualify you. There are some great research tips within the Daily Job Search Tips on the Accelerfate Facebook page.

Work your networks:

Networking is the number one tool in your job seeking endeavors. The word of mouth has serious power; according to a 2012 ABC report, 80% of job seekers land their position through networking. It is similar to the way a fishing buddy can help steer you to the right fishing spot. Start with your professional connections, friends, family and even alumni for job leads. Reaching out to employees and hiring managers at companies you’d like to work for could result in a job. It is through these professional and personal networks that possible job openings can be discovered. When companies have exhausted their internal candidates, they will often rely on referrals from employees and job seekers they’ve met at informational meetings. In short, networking is the lifeblood of a job seeker. Many people don’t think that they have a network. Other people assume that their network doesn’t know anyone. There are also people who’ve tapped their network, but got few to no results. Without connections, finding a job becomes significantly more difficult. I discuss how to tap into these networks in my vlogs, “How Does Your Garden, uh, Network Grow?” and “Get Interviews in Your Network.”

Your personal brand:

Networking is an outlet for your personal brand, and your brand messaging should be consistent with networking as with your content. A well-crafted online presence can be thought of as a lure for job recruiters. For working professionals, LinkedIn is absolutely the best place to be. Over 97% of recruiters looked for talent on LinkedIn in 2012. It also serves as a great tool to engage with recruiters, and further research an employer. You can receive job postings along with company news through the service. The postings are a great way to become aware of opportunities and to find out who you know that could recommend you for the job. If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile recently, make sure you’re not using a default headline and that your profile doesn’t mirror your résumé. Make connections to your corporate and school alumni, if you haven’t already. You can also take your experience on LinkedIn to the next level by joining groups within your industry.

Facebook and Twitter are other platforms for your personal brand. You can cultivate your presence on these networks in order to capture the attention of employers. These are great tools for sounding off about your industry, keeping abreast of news, posting news, and following influential people within your industry. Professional blogs are also a great way to demonstrate your knowledge about your industry. Workers with a passion for their field, and those who take the initiative shine brilliantly, and stand out from the competition. Again, if your personal brand can be likened to a fishing lure for employers, bold and bright lures tend to capture attention. It’s like being the most attractive, juicy bait for your ideal catch.

Hook employers with your résumé and cover letter:

A fishing pole, lures, and other types of bait aren’t very useful without a good hook. No one wants to work hard with networking and personal branding, only to let the job get away. A well-polished résumé and cover letter can get an employer to bite. A personalized cover letter is the result of your research on a company. It stands out and makes it impossible for a hiring manager to ignore, even if the company isn’t hiring at the moment. A generic cover letter makes it much easier for a recruiter to ignore and weed out potential candidates. My vlog, “Our Cover Letter Secret Sauce” discusses how to write a customized letter. A well-tuned, well-customized letter can garner same-day responses from top executives at highly attractive employers. After all, taking the time to write a great cover letter shows an employer how passionate you are about the position, and how you could bring that same passion to the workplace.

A résumé is the deciding factor in getting that all important interview and most hiring managers only spend a few minutes looking at them. Taking the time to invest in a professionally written résumé can help you stand out from other job seekers. You are competing with hundreds of other potential candidates for the same position, and hiring managers are inundated with résumés and cover letters on a daily basis. The key is not just having a powerful, branded résumé, but getting it in front of decision makers.

You have your job skills, and you’re very good at your job. Think of landing a position at a new employer, like catching a great fish. Locating a spot where few reels are cast by others, wrestling with the fish, the excitement of pulling it into your boat and ultimately tasting the success of your hard work is a thrilling reward. Not only are you great at sustaining yourself with the job hunt, you can easily do it again the next time you’re ready to move on. New employment opportunities can bring greater financial gain, and renewed passion in your professional life, especially if you feel stagnant at your current employer. To get to the next level of your professional life, you’ll have to reel in a great employer, and you’ll need a good set of tools and the right techniques to stand out from the crowd. These techniques consist of brand management, going to where the recruiters are, and reaching out to hiring managers to ensure that they see your cover letter and résumé.


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Stop Treating LinkedIn Like An Online Résumé

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Are you using your LinkedIn profile as an online résumé?  In other words, does your profile reflect a personal brand you’ve carefully crafted, or does it just mirror your résumé? You know as a professional you need to have a presence on LinkedIn. You created an account, made a few connections, and copied a few items from your résumé to create your profile. In fact, you used so much material from your résumé that it is impossible to distinguish it from your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile deserves to be so much more. A résumé is a document that reflects your past experiences and is meant to be seen by future employers. In contrast, a LinkedIn profile is a vital part of your online presence and is meant to be seen by a much wider audience. It should compliment your résumé in an exciting and engaging way.

Your LinkedIn profile is different from your résumé

Let’s imagine a scenario for just a moment. You have been using your LinkedIn profile as little more than an online résumé tool, and a hiring manager comes across your profile. You have already sent them your résumé as part of a job application, and they decided to Google you. Imagine their disappointment as your LinkedIn profile is exactly the same as your résumé. Or, on the flipside, they’ve seen your LinkedIn profile and ask for your résumé. Again, both your résumé and your profile are indistinguishable. This redundancy isn’t helpful because that potential employer won’t learn anything new about you, and you’ve done very little to set yourself apart from other job candidates. A redundant LinkedIn profile is also a major missed opportunity to show employers, connections, and others members of your online audience how unique and interesting you are as a professional. It’s a chance to allow people into the back story of who you are. Help them visualize what it’s like to speak and work with you.

Your résumé is concise, is customized for your potential employer, and is designed to show an employer how you are uniquely qualified for their opportunity. You can’t include all of your past work experiences, recommendations from others, or general interests. In short, your résumé needs to be laser-focused on a specific role, and on a specific employer. However, your LinkedIn profile can include all of your work experience, recommendations and interests. A good profile allows you to weave an engaging professional narrative that showcases your personal brand far beyond your résumé.

Use your LinkedIn Profile to dazzle your audience

LinkedIn should compliment your résumé by being a creative vehicle that illustrates your professional life. Every aspect of your profile should enhance your personal brand. If you’re using the default headline, ditch it. I previously wrote about the importance of strong headlines in my article titled “Increase views: Ditch the default LinkedIn headline.” The experiences section is an opportunity to list vital keywords that will attract the attention of job recruiters. I covered the importance of carefully using keywords in another article, “Use Keywords With Care or Beware.” The summary is where you can exercise the most creative freedom. In contrast to your résumé, you are allowed to talk about yourself in the first-person. Use this section of your LinkedIn profile to breathe life into your experiences, skills and professional achievements.

You don’t want your profile summary to come off as trite and uninteresting. These types of summaries are often subjective and vague. Just think of a profile summary filled with boring buzzwords shaken up in a bag, poured out into a pile, and arranged in the semblance of a paragraph. Here’s an example of a profile summary filed with cliché words pulled right out of a résumé:

“A dynamic individual with great leadership skills who is highly organized. A proven track record of accomplishments and great teamwork. An effective communicator with a strong business sense and a can-do attitude…”

Most career consultants and recruiters viewing this LinkedIn profile would be tempted to close the page quickly as they stifled a yawn. I believe a person with such a profile is capable of so much more than a lifeless summary. Don’t fall into the trap of creating a boring paragraph of buzzwords. Tell your audience a captivating story. Here’s an example of a more engaging profile summary:

“From a young age the phrase, ‘Shoot for the stars,’ has always caught my attention. It spoke to the core belief that I should never do anything half-heartedly. If I’m going to do something, whether it is professionally or personally, I’m going to go above and beyond anyone else.

‘I have over a decade of experience managing large IT projects, and leading large teams to success. Under my leadership, members of my team knew exactly what was expected of them. The results of our projects were some of the best in the industry…”

This type of profile summary captures a reader’s attention and gently invites them to learn more about you. In short, it compliments your actual résumé and adds a new level of distinction to your online presence. Earlier, I mentioned a hiring manager coming across your LinkedIn profile. Now imagine their delight as they read a captivating profile that brings a new dimension to your résumé.

The point is to captivate your audience and polish your personal brand to until it shines. Again, your résumé is a brief account of your job qualifications, while your LinkedIn profile is a living part of your online presence. It is a compliment to an already great résumé. Your audience should be entranced by your profile, and should want to connect with you. A redundant LinkedIn profile that mirrors your résumé is a wasted opportunity. Unveil your brilliance by showing your online audience just how creative and interesting your professional life is!

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Missed Opportunity

1988 Music Video for Missed Opportunity