The Lover – The Accomplice – and The Toilet Bowl

Let’s look at “the” relationship that a person has with our company over time… in particular, I’m interested in the psychotic (channeling Christopher Walken) relationship we have with our peoples.

Shall we review…? (If yes, read on. If no, go directly to comment form and write something snarky.)

In the recruiting process… as we are courting folks… we tell lies, half-truths, sometimes the truth, some days or with some candidates… we might even be genuine. For the purpose of this article, it really doesn’t matter… how accurate we are about “life at Firm A” as opposed to how we hide the caustic asshole boss or three. My point is… we romanticize the story a bit. Like in the dating process… we don’t tell the whole truth. For example, about 10 years into my marriage and my wife was shocked to learn that I know all the words to almost every George Strait song. Truth is… I prolly hid that little nugget from my fiancé. Like duh, I grew up in Texas in the 80s… who didn’t want to be George Effin Strait? So let’s get back to the story at hand… in the romance phase, a la, when we recruit, we lie. We want them to love us and thusly, we tend to tell candidates anything they want to hear. Again, not the way it should be… just the way it is for 98% of us.

Then we actually hire some of these sheep.

As employees, we tend to tell them the truth… or at least a version of the truth (channeling Jack Nicholson). Turns out, they’re “insiders” now… may as well let them know what they’ve signed up for. Continuing the dating / marriage metaphor… your employees are now married to your firm. Done. Think about how conversations are different once they’ve signed the @$$-beating onboarding paperwork. Tactically… who’s sleeping with who… where can you score good dope… who enjoys a strip club experience or three… who’s a dem, staunch republican… who’s the biggest asshole in the place, etc? The point is… reality sets in… real dysfunctional people doing real dysfunctional work. That’s most of us, right? Think about the difference between thematically what we talk about from candidates to employees. Tone, bullshit factor, accuracy, etc…

Then we part ways with some of these sheep.

Yuup. Doesn’t matter who decided and/or how… we’re going in different directions. Once a candidate, then a proud employee… now an alumnus. Pow! What conversations do we have then? Not the tactical offboarding shit. How real are we with folks when the parting happens? Continuing the lame dating / marriage metaphor… now you‘re divorced. Bam. Doesn’t matter who cheated on whom or who squandered Auntie’s Morgan Stanley account… that s#*t is toast. Keep looking forward Lennie (channeling Gary Sinise)… we tend to tell different lies when we part ways. Like, let’s catch up down the road…let’s have a beer from time to time, etc. But, in most cases… we just want the dearly departed to go away. We really don’t give two shits about them. We kinda did when they were employees, but now… if they could just go away, that would be great. Again, this is true for most of us… be honest…

And, that shit is depressing… and I thought it and wrote it. Still depressing.

I guess what I’m looking for is symmetry across these conversations. I’m going to try and avoid the use of the words “genuine” and “authentic” for the rest of the article. Good effin luck.

If we can objectively evaluate ourselves… then let us ALL pressure test two points in our global HR process…

  1. How we onboard people?
  2. How we offboard people?

How do we actually (reality versus academic) treat people in the process… leading up to these moments, during these moments and, just as important, after these moments? What’s the soul of our conversations?

I’ll throw out some ideas for shits and giggles…

Onboarding should take a week… maybe even two… not because we’re ineffective, but to the contrary because we care enough to enable people for long term success with our firm. We need to have a lot of conversations with our new shiny employees… everything we didn’t talk about while they were candidates… we need to cover all that stuff… of course, in theory, I’d rather we push some of that content in to the recruiting phase…

Also, I think every firm should have an alumni network. Created and maintained by HR for ANYONE that passed through the pearly gates of gainful employment with our firm. Sans criminals – of course. Every company should have a forum for ex-employees to gather, reminisce, connect… maybe even boomerang. Turns out, this alumni network is going to form – no matter what – via the Internet… and more specifically, via sites like Glassdoor… why NOT own it? Own the conversation!

Let me leave you with this thought… for a moment, imagine you’re a waiter / waitress at a fine dining establishment… over the course of a year… a family of 5 visits your quality establishment… they ask for and are promptly seated in your section each and every time they visit. With three of those experiences, you don’t lie per se, but you don’t tell the truth as to what the restaurant is really good at and/or what sucks on the menu. With three of these experiences, you are brutally honest with the family… read: “avoid anything that isn’t green…” or “we’re being investigated for salmonella…”  Real talk for real people. And, lastly, with three of these experiences you’re a mean-spirited asstard. You really just want the family of five to visit another restaurant. Be. Gone.

Nine different experiences… inconsistent, right? Boiling rabbits crazy is more like it! If you agree, then why would it be okay for us to have inconsistency with our conversations… with candidates, with employees and/or with our alumnus?

FOT Background Check

William Tincup
William is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He’s written over 200 HR articles, spoken at over 150 HR & recruiting conferences and he’s conducted over 1000 HR podcasts. William prides himself on being easy to find on The Internet, Google him and connect with him via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Not up to speed in the social media game? Reach out via email. William serves on the Board of Advisors for Talentegy, Wellocity, GlitchPath, Talent Ninja, Universum Americas, Engagedly, Echovate, VibeCatch, Continu, Hyphen, Bevy, Happie, RolePoint, Causecast, Work4Labs, Talent Tech Labs, and SmartRecruiters. He was previously an advisor to PeopleMatter (sold to Snagajob Q2 2016), Good.Co (sold to StepStone Q1 2016), Smarterer (sold to Pluralsight Q4 2014) and a board member of Chequed (merged to create OutMatch Q3 2015). William is a graduate of the University of Alabama of Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


  1. William,

    Great article! Based on your marriage metaphor it seems like you are okay with employers whitewashing the small stuff (like loving George Strait :), but are advocating a need for HR to be clear and honest about critical aspects of the office like culture and co-workers.

    I couldn’t agree more. This is actually a huge issue in the internship world, where not only do employers often pitch students on a shiny version of what a given internship experience will be like, but sometimes entire internship programs can act as an inconsistent, fairy tale version of what it is like to work at a specific company. The industries that compete the most for student talent (including tech, banking, consulting, etc.) often focus on creating elaborate summer internship programs, replete with baseball games, parties and less rigorous work hours, that don’t reflect the day to day realities of their office.

    I understand the rationale behind this, but also am a big believer that seeking real cultural fit will lead to longer lasting hires and more happy/productive employees.

    Is that one of the benefits you see in creating more consistent messaging — employees who are a better fit and are more likely to stick around longer?

    Thanks again for the article.



  2. lizz pellet says:


    Love the snark, but let’s be honest, today sheep have way too many tools to be lead down this path so easily. it’s the whole “internet” thing, easy access to any information about you the recruiter, the dirty little secrets about the company and who the biggest A-hole is, just check for that one.

    I do dig the metaphor and the channeling though!

  3. China Gorman says:

    Having spent 25 years as a leader in the outplacement sector, and now serving on the RiseSmart Advisory Council, I couldn’t agree with you more. HR talks a lot about the employee life cycle, but few really pay attention to the opportunities that potential and former employees create for brand and talent pipeline building. Well — and colorfully — said.

  4. Sherry says:

    I would have taken your article more seriously had you used proper punctuation throughout. Hard to believe this got posted on Fistful of Talent without being proofed.

  5. Amy Ala says:

    Love it… was just talking about this with a colleague this morning. Thanks for reading my mind, yo.

  6. William, I agree with you on many of these points…and just got out of a meeting with a client that gets to the point you make about onboarding new employees EFFECTIVELY! The poor sap was under the impression that HR does it in 30 minutes when the new guy starts. EGADS! He’s properly schooled now, thank goodness!

    On your point re: being authentic/honest with candidates during the dating phase…I like to help Hiring Mgrs. identify “the realities” of the situation – what hurdles/barriers/realities/crap get in the way of success here at company X? Then, tell that story! Identify if the candidate you are interviewing has the competencies needed to wade through the crap, jump over the barriers, etc. to get to success. (Because let’s face it, if they can only get to success in a perfect world, they are useless to you.) This is what needs to be done or we’ll continue to “offboard” the schmucks who couldn’t succeed in our reality. And, of course, these schmucks will continue to bad mouth our company for setting them up to fail.

    In any event, good post…thanks for the taking the time to write it!

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