Recruitment Troubles — Bad Karma or Destiny

Michal Vallo
5 min readJun 3, 2019


It is always nice to invite some candidates to our office for interview. I like this a lot. It is always an unique opportunity to learn something new, to share something about us and our mission and I try to understand what is the motivation of the candidates to join our team. I am energized when I see promising CV, I am curious and always hope to see fit with our expectations in real. I am imagining to how we are nurturing qualities of the candidate to become a rock star and how our business grows and shapes in consequence. Seeing my colleagues grow is amazing.

However, my joy for hiring turned bitter. In the era of 0% unemployment it is indeed difficult to do recruitment. Let me share with you why on the examples of two candidates I interviewed few months ago for our marketing position. In both cases their CV’s were just great, and I couldn’t wait to greet them.

First candidate — currently in managerial position

“I am marketing director in [some financial] institution”, says politely a younger lady when we met. I am member of the board. And I am looking for a new job because [realistic reason].
“It is fantastic! We are looking for somebody to do the marketing for us. What do you do in a single day?” I asked her.
“I am in charge of this daily administration, for example if somebody needs business cards or we need branded pens, so I will arrange this”.
“Common, you can’t do just this”, I commented in disbelieve.
“No, not really. We are from time to time opening a new branch. And I am in charge to make sure they all use the same layout”.
“Great, how you do that?”
“I ask the agency to design it according to our design manual”.
“And how do you know you need to open a new branch?”
“My boss will tell me”.
“So you do not have any strategy or market analysis that you could use to propose new branch in the area based on something?”
“No, I don’t do that”.
“Did you ever do something like market segmentation or design of marketing plan?”
“No, it is my boss doing it, probably. Never seen that”.
“Do you have some formation in marketing?”
“What do you mean?”
“Something like CIMA certificate or similar, just any type”.
“No, never heard of”.
“How long are you doing this?”
“Well, 3 years or so”.
“Do you like learning? Studying something new?”
“Of course, I like to go to trainings”.
“What was the last one?”
“I don’t know, I have not been for long time. No budget”.
“I haven’t asked about current company only, but have you paid yourself for some training?”
“Do you read books?”
“What would you like to do, if we hire you? What is your ideal type of work or area or responsibility?”
“I don’t know, you tell me”.
Salary expectation: 50–60k Kč. (country’s average salary is 28k Kč)

Second candidate — currently an employee
“I am marketing manager in a company — reseller of [leisure time] vehicles. I do marketing”. “Great, how you do it?”
“Well, our product sells itself, so our customers already knows us, we don’t do much here. But we try to keep them active, so we do small events for them. We plan for the ride, on particular date and send them a newsletter”.
“What tool are you using to send it?”
“I guess Mailchimp”.
“You guess, so you don’t do it yourself, right?”
“No, our technician does, I prepare content. I mean pictures”.
“And texts?”
“No, somebody will write it”.
“You have never written one?”
“Who does graphical design?”
“I guess technician with somebody from agency. And then they mail it”.
“How many people reads it?”
“I don’t know”.
“There are statistics, have you see them?”
“No, maybe technician knows about it”.
“You do not care about impact?”
“You do not analyze feedback and traffic data?”
“What are traffic data? Our equipment sells for itself, our customers already knows it”.
“How long are you doing this?
“2 years”.
“Do you have any formation in marketing?” No.
“Have you been already at some trainings somewhere? For example, Mailchimp or some specialized CRM that assists with marketing activities”.
“No, but I like to go”.
“Why don’t you go on your own? Some courses are not very expensive.
“On my own, why?”
“How do you learn a new stuff?”
“Do you read books?”, “No”.
Salary expectation: 40k Kč. (country’s average salary is 28k Kč)

I do not know what to think after such meetings — frustration, disappointment because I recruit for nearly 2 years already for this position. My great day has converted itself into a bitter one. I do not write this as a critique. I just share my observation. And I ask myself, why is this? Is this a result of destruction in families? Or an illness of society? Or is it a result of style, how current employer develops human talent? Do I miss something? Why people have no interest to work, create and make impact?

I run a small company. I have never had external funding, loans, today's popular venture capital or anything similar. I built all by myself and later with the help of my dedicated colleagues. I indeed have to count every penny twice before I decide. Should I invest our hardly earned funds and start cultivate these people, who might bring some fruits in 2 years from now? And will they stay for so long? Will they be able to progress independently or will I have to inspect daily the progress and basically push them forward? How much should I pay them?

Many people suggest, pay high salary and problem will be solved. However, it is not easy like this. There must be value behind first hand, cashed into our bank account, only then can salary appear. Back to the examples. Given we have capacity to absorb these two persons, I think it would be fair to offer in the first case minimal salary (12k Kč), and later, as soon as she learns a new staff, starts implementing knowledge for daily routine and generate value, then also salary may rise up. No problem there might be even 100% salary growth per year. In the second case, I could recruit the person only on contract and for no pay. At least for very first month or two. Then, together with first results, the salary may start growing. It could work, if both candidates would be willing to learn new staff proactively. If someone does not read, does not show any interest in his profession, then it is very difficult to believe thatit will worth to invest. And it is indeed investment from my side because it takes 1,5 to 3 years before someone will get productive.

What are your experiences with recruitment? Would you hire one or both candidates from the example?

PS: Both are indeed areal cases. I did my best to reproduce it as it happened. I have slightly modified the description of their organizations.



Michal Vallo

Building human organizations ( Chair in Agilia Conference / Agile Management Congress - inspiring people w/ new ideas to grow their business.