Funny Recruiting Experiences

Last year I was out on the road recruiting for candidates to staff our new uranium mine in Wyoming and thought it would be fun to share some of the funny and interesting things candidates said or did.

I received a phone message where the gentleman did not leave his name but rambled on about how he heard about the job. When he got to the end of his message, he instructed me to look at the caller ID on my phone to get his number and call him back…

I was interviewing a gentleman and a few minutes in, he asked to be excused to go to the bathroom.  I don’t know whether he had a medical problem or not but when he returned, after about five minutes, he proclaimed with a big grin on his face “Whew! That felt good!”…

I spoke with a young man and usually open my interviews with the question “What do you know about Ur-Energy?” (the name of my company – I like to see if they did any preparation work).  He looked at me funny and asked “Why the hell do you want to know about my energy?”…

Makes you wonder.

Maintain an Updated and Current Résumé

Keeping an updated résumé for yourself is an important part of being a professional HR leader.  As HR leaders, we often neglect our responsibility to our own career.

You never want to be caught without a current and updated résumé because you never know when you may suddenly be out of a job or have an opportunity of a lifetime come your way.

Having a current and updated résumé will significantly speed up the process of starting the new job search.  It’s also very impressive to immediately provide your résumé to that potential new employer or recruiter of a new opportunity.  Sends the message that you are organized and prepared.

So, I recommend that you schedule an half hour to an hour each quarter to review your résumé and update your accomplishments from the past three months.  Schedule this task in your calendar to repeat every three months so you won’t forget.  It’s so much easier to do this on a regular schedule than trying to go back and remember all your accomplishments several years back.

Build a “Master Résumé” that contains all of your accomplishments from all of your jobs.  This document will probably end up being several pages long.  From your Master Résumé, you can edit it down to one page using only the relevant accomplishments for the job you are applying for.

Most people probably haven’t updated their résumé’s since they started their current job.  Dig out your résumé now and start adding all the accomplishments you can think of since you started.  Once you get going and are in the mode of adding those accomplishments, you will be surprised at how many more will surface in your memory.

Once you build your Master Resume and schedule an update reminder every three months, you will feel much more confident and secure should you need to start a job hunt or quickly provide it to a recruiter for an exciting new opportunity.

Evergreen Jobs

I recently read this article by Dr. John Sullivan over at TLNT discussing the strategic advantage of using the “evergreen job approach” for certain key jobs in an organization.

So what, exactly is an evergreen job?

An Evergreen Job Program continually sources top talent in a mission-critical job. But rather than stopping when you create a pipeline of reserve talent, it continuously “over hires” each of the “more-than-qualified” applicants, in order to create a talent surplus in this critical job.

So you are basically seeking out and hiring candidates for the one or two most important jobs whether you have a position open or not.  Dr. Sullivan lists 10 benefits explaining why the approach is impactful but I won’t re-list them here – you can read them in his article.

I do want to list his business case, however.

The evergreen job approach has the highest impact when companies are in growth mode and the market for top talent is tight. If your organization is in this situation, you will need to make the business case to executives about the power and the impact of the evergreen job approach.

The most effective business case quantifies the negative dollar impact on revenue that having a shortage of talent in mission-critical jobs has. But it also demonstrates the positive value of the new opportunities that are created when you have a surplus of talent in any high-impact job.

Incidentally, my research indicates that the cost of almost continuous position vacancies in a critical job is at least two times greater than the possible negative costs resulting from having “too much talent.” The final element of the business case should involve calculating and quantifying the increased “quality of hire” (the improvement in on-the-job performance) that results from hires under the evergreen program.

I really like the idea of identifying a couple key jobs and applying the evergreen approach.  It makes a lot of sense when you consider the fact that you will always have somebody available to fill that key job rather than the job being open for a period of time while you are recruiting for a replacement.  You have to weigh the costs and with Dr. Sullivan’s research suggesting vacancies in the critical job is at least two times greater than the costs from having extra employees, it seems to be a no brainer!

How to Work With a Recruiter

Back when I was just starting my career, I received a few calls from recruiters and didn’t know the proper way to handle the situation.  I would usually simply ignore them and not return their calls.  Why bother?  I already had a good job and wasn’t interested.

One particular recruiter was very persistent and eventually convinced me to interview with a Regional Director for Target Corporation, a company expanding into the Seattle market at that time.  I took on the attitude that I was pretty hot stuff because this recruiter was pursuing me so aggressively.  I simply wanted to know how much money Target was going to throw at me.  Looking back, I’m embarrassed to admit I thought this way – I was a 23 year old Department Sales Manager with about a year’s experience in the workforce – big deal, right?  So I arrived at the interview, sat down with the Regional Director and proceed to act like I was a big shot high school football prospect talking to a college coach wanting me to play for him.  It wasn’t long before the Director stopped and looked me in the eye and said “Can you tell how angry I am right now?” to which I replied, “Hey, you guys called me.”  Well, let’s just say the interview ended there and I left.

From that embarrassing experience, I began to learn some valuable lessens about what recruiters do and how to properly work with them.   Currently, I am  regularly contacted by recruiters and have developed a procedure I follow which has served me well throughout my career.

First of all, there are basically two types of recruiters – contingency and retained – which I will leave to the link to define.  I will just focus here on my recommendations on how to work with them.

  • Always return their calls – the same day – and find out what opportunities they are offering.  You never know!
  • Before you call them back, have a name of somebody you know to recommend.  After they tell you that you were recommended by somebody, they will tell you about the opportunity and whether you know of somebody who might be interested.  You should give them your recommendation and also say that you are interested. Remember the interview process begins with this phone call so be professional and enthusiastic. 
  • From there, they will ask for a resume and if they determine your skills and experience meet the needs of their client, they will schedule a formal face to face interview (with the recruiter). You should always have a current resume ready to go at a moment’s notice (future topic for this blog).
  • If you make the ‘cut’ with the recruiter, you will be scheduled to interview with the client company. There may several interviews with different members of the client company as you progress.  I’ve gone through up to four interviews over a month long period with a company.
  • Always mail a thank you note to every individual with whom you interviewed.
  • Follow up once a week with alternating phone calls and emails until you are offered the job or told it went to another candidate.
  • If you don’t get the job or decline the offer, follow up with one last thank you note to the company and request a “debriefing” with the recruiter.
  • Remember that the interview process begins the second you return the recruiter’s call and that you are being evaluated with every interaction and communication along the way.  Be professional and enthusiastic throughout. It is important to build a positive professional relationship with them because they may help you find your “dream job” or may be able to help you if you are laid off and need a job.  Being able to contact a recruiter who already knows you and what you can do is extremely valuable.


Developing the Strategy for Staffing a New Mine – Establish Contact With Employment Agencies

The second thing I did, while continuing developing relationships in the communities, was to focus in on connecting with the employment agencies in the communities from which we were going to hire.

I simply contacted the Rawlins and Riverton Wyoming Department of Workforce Service offices and set up face to face meetings with the respective directors.  I also met with the regional director so that she understood our employment needs and could help.  I met up with these good folks many times throughout the process either by dropping in on them when I was in town or when I was attending the same community meetings they were also attending.  I also kept them in the loop by sending them copies of our news releases so they could more easily monitor our progress as we went through the permitting process.

This effort established trust and credibility in me with the folks at the employment agencies which was very valuable when we officially launched our hiring efforts. As an extra bonus, I can call these people friends!

Hard Hat Talent Management Strategy

One of the very first things I did when I started working as a Hard Hat HR Pro was to develop and install a comprehensive talent management strategy.  The strategy consists of a sophisticated and integrated system that helps create a culture of high expectation and excellent performance if executed correctly by HR and supervisors.

The Hard Hat Talent Management Strategy consists of the following elements which I will explain in more detail in future posts. None of this is theory. All of these elements have been used in the real world for many years and have been fined tuned – and will continue to be fine tuned as appropriate.  Some of the elements are pretty straight forward and some may surprise you because they are counter to conventional wisdom.

  1. Recruiting and Hiring Strategy
    • Recruiting
    • Interviewing
    • Hiring
    • Orientation
    • On-boarding
  2. Performance Management
    • Annual Performance Appraisal
    • 90 Day Performance Appraisal
    • Annual Objective Setting
    • Mid Year Objective Setting Review
    • Annual Talent Review Meeting
    • Succession Planning
  3. Responsibility Based Performance
    • Feedback and recognition
    • Reminder 1 and 2 (disciplinary system)
    • Decision Making Leave
  4. Training
    • Safety
    • Harassment Prevention
    • Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention
    • Understanding FLSA regulations

Developing the Strategy for Staffing a New Mine – Connect with the Communities

In the fall of 2012, I was ‘officially’ tasked with developing a strategy for recruiting and staffing our newly licensed uranium mine located in south central Wyoming.  When I say ‘officially’ I mean it was time to launch the strategy I had been developing and working on for several years.

I actually started developing the recruiting and hiring strategy a few years prior to my having to launch it.  We had been working on the permitting and licensing of the mine for several years but did not know exactly when we were going to receive the final set of permits that would allow us to start the construction and operation activities.  So with the luxury of time, I set out.

The first thing I did was make connections with people in the communities where our employee base would be located.  In this case, Rawlins, Bairoil, Wamsutter, Riverton, and Lander.  I focused most of my attention on Rawlins, Bairoil and Wamsutter because those communities are 45 to 15 minutes away from the mine site while Riverton and Lander are a little over an hour away.

I started the process of connecting with the economic development organizations in Rawlins by learning when they held their meetings and attended them.  I made sure I looked the part by arriving in Rawlins in the white company Ford F-150 with Wyoming plates (bad form showing up in Wyoming as a “greenie” with green Colorado plates!)  and wearing a company shirt and my Wranglers and roper boots.   The Rawlins community is a small Wyoming town with the majority of the population employed in the extractive industries and are predominately hard working blue collar.  It’s important to be deferential and try to fit in and not come off as a big shot big city type coming in to save them.

When attending these meetings, I simply introduced myself to everybody I could and explained who I was and what my company’s future hiring plans were.  This, of course, generated a very positive reaction leading the people I met to introduce me to other local influential officials.  I soon built up a solid network of influential people in Rawlins, Bairoil, and Wamsutter and kept in touch with them by sending them press releases of our progress, emailing them with company updates, and making presentations at city council and annual local “roundtable” meetings.

In addition to attending these meetings, I made a lot of phone calls and knocked on a lot of office doors.  This effort introduced me to a lot of people who would later help with my recruiting efforts and with gathering public support for the company.  I also made a lot of new friends.

I was able to build a level trust with the influencers in the communities.  This was important because they have lived through many “boom and bust” periods where companies swept in with big promises and swept out when things got tough, leaving the communities holding the bag for the infrastructure costs they incurred to accommodate the influx of employees.

Initially connecting with the communities established the critical foundation for the next steps in the strategy for staffing the mine.  Steps I will cover in a series of future posts.

A Manager’s Most Important Responsibility

What is a manager’s most important responsibility?  It’s quite simple, actually. The most important responsibility of any manager is to hire the best people they can.

Think about it.

What happens to everybody’s workload when a manager makes a good hire?  We love it!!  A good hire makes everybody more productive by allowing them to continue their work while being competent enough to do their own. A good hire is somebody who others enjoy working with creating a positive work environment which increases morale and production. It’s motivating when the new hire fits in well  and effectively contributes.

What happens to everybody’s workload when a manager makes a bad hire?  We hate it!! A bad hire creates more work for everybody as they compensate for the poor performer.  A bad hire can also create a poisoned work environment leading to poor morale and reducing overall production.   A bad hire can make good employees flee the organization if nothing appropriate is done to remedy the situation.  We’ve all made bad, if not horrible, hiring decisions in our career.  I certainly have and have paid the price.

It’s vital that managers take the time to learn how to effectively recruit, interview, hire, develop, and retain great employees. So many managers “shoot from the hip” when it comes to these critical steps.  Sure they get it right sometimes and justify their methods by focusing on when they did but more often, they get it wrong.  With the huge impact a good or bad hire can have on an organization a manager’s most important responsibility is to hire the best people they can.

With that said, I will be focusing on and posting about my experience and the techniques I’ve learned over the past 25 years for recruiting, interviewing, hiring, developing, and retaining great employees.

This is re-posted from

Recruiting Adventures

I’ve been out recruiting heavily for candidates to staff our processing plant in Wyoming this week and want to share some of the funny and interesting things candidates for the job do.  These are examples of what not to do.

I received a phone message on Monday where the gentleman did not leave his name but rambled on about how he heard about the job and when he got to the end of his message, he instructed me to look at my caller ID to get his number and call him back…

I was interviewing a gentleman and at about five minutes in, he asked to be excused to go to the bathroom.  I don’t know if he had a medical problem or not but when he returned, after about five minutes, he proclaimed “That feels much better!”…

I spoke with a young man and usually open my interviews with the question “What do you know about Ur-Energy?” (the name of my company – I like to see if they did any preparation work).  He looked at me funny and asked “Why do you want to know about my energy?”…

These are just a few funny examples of what not to do.  I have to say, however, there were many more candidates who were prepared and professional and a pleasure to talk with.

This is a re-post from

Introducing Hard Hat Recruiting

Over the past two months, I’ve been travelling to several Wyoming communities recruiting for positions to staff my company’s mine. While working various job fairs and in speaking with hundreds of candidates, I was reminded that recruiting in the mining industry is very different than recruiting in most other industries. There are not many people, if there is any at all, out there talking about the nitty gritty of recruiting in the industry. Most of the focus in the main stream media, blogs, podcasts, books, magazines, and conferences centers on the latest technology and mostly on professionals and knowledge workers.  While I find it all very interesting, it has nothing to do with the kind of recruiting I am doing.

As a result, I coined a phrase “Hard Hat Recruiting” to describe my work recruiting employees in the mining industry.  Hard Hat Recruiting is very different – not any better or any worse, mind you – than the typical type of recruiting most HR professionals and recruiters are accustomed to doing. Its an entirely different mindset and if you are going to be successful, you need to understand that mindset and not try to make these solid, decent, hardworking people fit into the mold of what conventional wisdom tells us a candidate should be or do.  For example, there are no suits and ties (or even khakis and collared shirts), resume’s are spotty at best, and social media recruiting – LOL, your kidding, right?!

I am starting another series of posts exploring my experiences and recommendations in the practice of Hard Hat Recruiting.

This is re-posted from