I can’t remember what made me think of this story the other day but did I ever tell y’all about the time there was a rumor spreading at work about me having an affair with a coworker? This was a few jobs back.. but oh yeah… I’m scandalous.
First and foremost, the rumor was untrue. (Did I have to really say that? Come on!) Although admittedly, it was temporarily kinda sorta fun to think that people believed me to be interesting enough to talk behind my back like that. I mean, me? Involved in a workplace-mean-girl scandal like that? How naughty and thrilling! If only. But the story behind it is at least somewhat, maybe compelling. Gather ’round, friends. Story time!
At that particular point in time, I was mostly recruiting for HR types. It was all sorts of cool – recruiting for your own kind and then being able to see really up close the impact your recruits were making because they eventually became your own team mates. Awesome. HRIS types were always the toughest to fill slots for me. HR sensibility with an uber tech focus – that doesn’t always go hand in hand. You often come across some who are a little too HR, or a little too techie, or a little too nutty… and back during this time period, there happened to be a project where I needed a dozen or more HRIS types who needed to be that special blend and balance of techie and HR both. Ugh. Oh, and, it was contract work. Double ugh.
Through the course of my recruiting for those contract roles though, I did happen to unearth a guy who I believed to be a pretty fab candidate. He was a great balance of tech and HR both, but unfortunately, a little too junior for my needs at that time so I kept him in my pipeline until we had just the right role for him, which eventually happened. I just knew we needed to find a place for him within our organization, and I knew he’d go places. He had a ton of potential, and he was identified pretty quickly as a high potential performer. I was pretty proud of that find, and excited to see where he’d go, so I made it a point to regularly follow up on how he was performing and encourage our leadership that we consider him for stretch and promotional opportunities.
So there I was, a recruiter with a strong connection to an internal candidate who I thought was a total rockstar. And advocating for growth opportunities because I saw some cool and exciting potential. Folks in our leadership agreed. He was absolutely high potential. But… and here comes the but…
But how his peers viewed him and the immediate growth opportunities he was given, well, that was a different story. Favoritism, they thought, was maybe part of it. But what else was propelling this guy? Could it be possible that me, as a recruiter for the HR organization had the ability to recruit for, advocate for and “orchestrate” moves and growth opportunities within our fairly large HR team? Yes! Because surely he wasn’t being given opportunities based on his own merits. Maybe something fishy was going on! Because as “just a recruiter,” what reason would I have to advocate for an existing employee’s growth and development? My role was to bring new talent in the door, not be involved in growing existing talent… unless, unless! Ding! Lightbulb going off in the minds of some mean girls… maybe I was having an affair with the dude!
The situation was, and still is, laughable. And no one put much stock into the rumors. They were squashed pretty quickly with mean girls also being put into place just as quickly. But the story reminds me, that as a recruiter, I still stand by the idea that a recruiter’s job isn’t done once you’ve recruited someone and made the hire. You know the recruit just as well as their manager, if not better. You know their strengths, their weaknesses, their past, their goals — and the relationship with that hire shouldn’t end once they accept your offer and come and join your organization.
Keep tabs on those hires. Be continually engaged in their growth and development. And never stop re-recruiting them, within the organization, that is. Even if you work with mean girls like I have in the past.
Jessica Lee is a VP of TA at Marriott International where she leads a team that enables the company to think big, broad and boldly about all things talent acquisition and in effect, keeps them relevant and ahead of the curve in how they attract and acquire top talent. Don’t be fooled by that fancy pants title and description though, she’s still an everyday HR gal in the trenches at the core. SPHR certified, a decade and a half into trench HR life… she can whip up a corrective action plan or source for your purple squirrel in a heartbeat.