What I’ve learned after 10+ years of Recruiting


Orrin Christianson

on •

Jul 3, 2020

What I’ve learned after 10+ years of Recruiting

So there is this hobby I have…I love to talk! Between my obsession for sports and commentating every step I took, I was destined to become the next Howard Cossell or Al Michaels!

But, sometimes life doesn’t happen quite how we built the framework and we can find ourselves in search of identity. From the age of 18–24, I was in search of mine. Countless jobs from delivering car parts, selling shoes at Champs, and even joining the National Guard only to be medically discharged shortly after due to a back injury.

The feeling of not knowing what you are going to do in life is not something I saw as freedom, it was torture. Thankfully, not long after I had a friend that would change my life by introducing me to the career that today, is my craft; Recruiting.

It’s been over 10 years now and I still love what I do and the experiences I’ve had. Like a fairytale, they all led me to where I am today. I often get asked by family, friends, and even randomly in conversations “In the last 10 years, what are the most important things you have learned?”

1. People are not data points.
In the beginning, my first 6 years was recruiting in a contingency firm that would echo the culture in “The Wolf of Wallstreet”. Contingency firms only make money if they place candidates. So, It was an extremely stressful environment that forces you to rely on the numbers and send resumes before other recruiting firms. You became focused on getting the representation more than getting to know the candidates. In this “What have you done for me lately” world, people were just data points.

As I made the shift internally at Oneview Healthcare, they were based in Ireland and I had the opportunity to not only build out the Chicago office but also travel to Dublin and meet the rest of the company! Jacinta, an Outcomes Manager that lives in Australia, was the first person I ever met that I had hired. I could have cried with excitement. Over the next few years, those data points were now my colleagues and would come to be known as my friends.

2. Culture is so much more important than I ever thought.
At the minimum wage jobs I worked at, I don’t think they ever even used the term “culture” but there were always posters on the wall like “Loyalty”, “Dedication”, and “Respect” reminding you the values that they expect you to embody. In the contingency firm, we had tank top Fridays and if you showed up in a shirt, the sleeves got cut off. If you had 0 placements for the month, you were doing dishes and starting the coffee for the office. That was actually normal by the end.

Over the years, thank the Lord, my opinion has shifted.
Culture is not a poster on the wall nor marching orders to follow. I look at culture as the environment that we all continually drive every day in the way we interact and respect each other, leaders included.

3. I am still fascinated by the people I get to work with and how intelligent they are, BUT,
I am more fascinated when I meet someone intelligent that’s also humble, kind, and enthusiastic about sharing their passions.

While at Pivotal I was talking to a potential developer to join and through the conversation, I learned that he was in a long-distance relationship. I was curious and asked more about the dynamics of long-distance with the 10+ hour time change they were able to get around. He explained that he had built a little box that each of them would put next to their beds and each had 2 buttons. 1 button turned the light red representing they were asleep, the other button blue, representing they were awake and welcome to talk. I still love these types of conversations!

4. The intangibles!
Yes, the skills, location, and comp range are always an important filter in the recruitment process. However, the intangible factors of people, who they are, and what cultures they thrive in is the game-changing approach that we take at Artium.

This year, we had a client that engaged Talent Labs for both their 1st and 2nd engineering hire to their team. The company was in the luxury travel space and the first hire we brought in was a former musician turned web developer. The cultural fit was there and coming from the music industry he had an appreciation for the product.

It was the 2nd developer that brought an intangible that I myself would even aww over. He was also a musician turned developer which was ironic and lucky in itself. However, in the final call with the CEO, he noticed that she was french, so the candidate switched it up and they conversed in a french dialog for the rest of the interview.

As recruiters, when we are looking for web developers, the terms “musician or french speaking developer” don’t really come up. But most intangibles that people connect on are outside the scope of the role and more often than not, the push over the edge that makes wonderful hires.