Candidate Courting & That First Kiss

Candidate Courting Should be Memorable

This post was inspired over cocktails at the People Report Summer Camp kick off mixer.  Like often times happens at business networking events, I was talking with a group of folks and discussing the role human resources can play in candidate engagement.  I likened it to your first kiss at summer camp no less which is where we are at — the People Report Summer Camp Conference.  Just like that this blog post was born.  I credit the gals at Taco Bell’s HR team for the inspiration.  They were recently featured in Restaurant News for their adoption of social media.  They inspire me, and they should inspire you because this crew is doing great, great things.

That first contact with a recruiter is so critical.  Candidate courting, relationship building, interaction, and trust leading to wooing that candidate to a job they’ll love, a job hopefully they’ll love to have.  I liken candidate courting, interview process, and job offer to that first kiss.

Candidate Courting & That First Kiss

The relationship that recruiters and company representatives establish with a potential candidate are great.  These are relationships, memories, impressions, and feelings that can last a lifetime whether or not they are a long term employee, termpory worker, or future customer.  The first kiss matters.

Your first kiss sets the stage for all future engagements, relationships, and interactions whether it’s with that same guy or gal or a different one altogether.  That first kiss stays with us a lifetime.  Shaping our future decisions and stories we share with our family.

My first kiss came in 7th grade.  I was 12 and Ben White asked me to my first junior high school dance.  I remember everything about that night.  The dress I was wearing, how I fussed with my hair, fought with my mom over the bathroom, and my first dance.  I waited in anticipation and wondered, and then it happened.  For me it was magical.

Let’s imagine for a moment that this first kiss was actually a job offer that your candidate received.  And instead of a junior high school dance, your recruiter was courting the candidate for a very important position, a position your organization could not do without.  What lengths would you go to make that memory magical?  Does your kiss leaving them wanting more or are ready to walk away?

In my mind candidate courting is a lost art.  Instead we treat our top prospects like the last person picked for kickball.  This is the opportunity, the memory, and bar that your organization, your recruiter, and you yourself can set by courting your candidate the right way.  And by making that first kiss magical because this one moment influences all future decisions within your organization as well as their professional career.

The memory of that first kiss lasts forever.

My first kiss became my steady boyfriend for most of 7th grade, and that summer he moved on to the high school big leagues.  This is where I learned another valuable lesson.  Love hurts but the experience teaches us so much.  My first job was no different except I didn’t get dumped.

Do you remember your first kiss?

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Steve Levy says

    J-yes, we have only one chance to make a first impression. I believe the inherent problem with this first impression and the candidate’s experience is that it’s been hoisted on the shoulders of HR to manage this process – and frankly, HR has demonstrated that it hasn’t been up to the task.

    I recently was one of CareerXRoad’s “Mystery Shoppers” who applied for a job through companies website – as “Chris Krinkle”, a fictitious candidate. After applying – as long as that took – we completed a survey detailing our experience with each employer.

    Want to guess at how many “word class employers” received “failing” marks for the experience? It was even funnier because many of us knew the head of recruiting and/or head of HR at these firms. In many cases, I was shouting at the screen because the process was so painful!

    HR takes the lead in candidate experience because seemingly no one else wants it. What a bad candidate experience teaches us is that a kiss from the head cheerleader or high school quarterback isn’t necessarily a very good thing if they leave you scratching your head and wondering why they left immediately after to be with their friends…

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says

      Exactly Steve. Sometimes the “best” label isn’t really about being the best. The head cheerleader is not only a cheerleader but a person of power who navigates the social matrix using her position and power. It’s manipulation at its finest, and so we give that person or company the honor of being the best at something. Because they’ll send out a tweet to their millions of followers, write a press release about it referencing you, or to establish a beneficial relationship — that benefits you.

      But sometimes once you kiss that company, it isn’t really what you expected. My kiss was memorable but there were many that left me really disappointed. I’d worked hard to get an interview with the premier oil and gas company, only to arrive to the enter and be extremely disappointed. Luckily for me, I turned them down because the long term prospects didn’t meet my expectations or standards. That’s the problem with the candidate experience — we often only hear the Cinderella fairy tail.

      Thanks for the comment Steve!




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