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Who Do You Know? The Relying on the Kindness of Strangers Approach

By Jonathan Bogush (@jonathanbti), Director of Connectivity Practice

There aren’t many people in the world who plan on becoming a recruiter. There is really no education or career path that is focused on preparing you for the trade of technical recruiting and, to be honest, I didn’t understand that recruiters existed until after completing my undergraduate degree. Being an English Literature / Creative writing double major who wanted to create and manage creative goods, I certainly couldn’t have predicted that I would be working for a top-flight recruiting agency essentially leading my own practice and developing my own desk now in my mid-30s.

Every day as a technical recruiter is different, and how could one not enjoy something that always keeps you guessing? I can understand that this type of unpredictability isn’t for everyone. For me, it’s the unpredictability and the inherent challenges that arise during the pursuit of “A” players for my clients that keeps me coming back to my desk everyday hungry to improve my recruiting skills and tackle the next search.

DiscoveryThere is one story from my desk that really sticks out for me as an example of the unpredictability of recruiting and more importantly the unpredictability of receiving kindness from complete strangers that I called to naively ask “who do you know”. I was working for a European based client that was attempting to evangelize their high-end linear optical sensing products throughout the Oil/Gas and Utility verticals here in the US. This client, while very well known throughout Europe and the Middle East, didn’t really have much of presence in the states in customer base or channel partners and, on top of that, the linear optical sensing systems they made were relatively new technologies to the world which required me to have a deep technical understanding of their potential applications in the market place. Obviously – learning about these things quickly would allow me to effectively communicate to potential “A” players why they should consider working for this company as a Business Development Manager.

Now, I am not the most technically inclined person and, in addition, I had no idea about the competitive landscape this client was involved in. I literally had to start this search from scratch essentially practicing the tried and true “fake it ’til you make it” approach that I am sure more recruiters use than they are willing to admit. To start the search, I had to do a ton of research first on the technology and then on the existing manufacturers that made similar products. What I found was that this technology was usually created and managed by small product development incubator groups within massive oil field services firms or high-end optics/photonics technology developers. Now, if you’ve been a recruiter you know, finding the relevant 3 to 4 people to call within a 15,000 person organization can be a trying task. It requires a lot of trial and error, a ton of phone calls that result in half-hearted voicemails, and constantly asking complete strangers “who do you know” that could help me.

my-excited-faceBut that’s the other part of recruiting that can be not only career affirming but in many ways life affirming – the “relying on the kindness of strangers approach”. On this particular search, I must have asked 4- 5 dozen people “who do you know” and I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of quality referrals I received to individuals who were absolute “A” players that were passively looking for their next great career opportunity. Within due time I was able to convert several of these individuals into interested candidates and was able to not only impress my client with our “finds” but also help one of the candidates land the job and in part fulfill a life-long dream of his to move from the Engineering / Product Development side of linear optical sensing to the Business Development side of things.

Long story short, there are many things that you learn as you step into the career of recruiting. Many of those lessons learned have more to do with the art of building relationships and having complete strangers that you call think outside of themselves and help answer the question of “who do you know”.

Thanks for the support.  I welcome your feedback as we continue to make an impact in our local community and throughout the world.  You can find me on LinkedIn and at Twitter you can find me at @jonathanbti.  Also, you can learn more about TYGES at, on Twitter @TYGESInt, or here on our blog.

Our mission is simple:

We’re here to make good things happen to other people.


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