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I’m totally spying right now.

I was picking a patio table to plunk down at when I heard this: “See, when I first started recruiting back in 2003, this is what it was like in HR…..”

I beelined for the table next to them and sat right down. [Head voice: Oh, please tell me. Please please please tell me.] (Same year I started in recruiting, FWIW.)

I was an unapologetic eavesdropper for the next 20 minutes, basking in their exchange, lapping up every word, opening a new note on my laptop to start capturing snippets. Oh, this was good.

“When I started in HR, I was a sub recruiting salespeople into the company. Recruiting wasn’t really part of HR, but that’s the department I worked in. They didn’t talk. And I was completely left to my own devices. We had no pipeline, I had no tools, there was barely social, but I had a stack of positions I needed to fill. And a phone. I got paid for fills.

So I used to sit on my apartment floor with a stack of resumes I culled from everywhere. I’d call each one to build a relationship, and then they were mine. When someone feels a personal connection to you because you took the time to start an actual relationship, you’re the one they come to.

This is how I ended up in real estate. I became a really good recruiter because I got paid putting people into jobs, and that’s no different than getting paid putting people into houses. I built pipeline, maintained relationships, and figured out what my differentiators were. It’s a numbers game after that. Put in activity, get paid.”

[Head voice: Aha. Recruiting is selling. I’ve said it a hundred times, but I’ll take this validation all day long. Is she coaching a newbie to the industry, maybe interviewing her? All I know is that this woman is good.]

Not good – brilliant. “When I moved into real estate, guess who I called? My relationships. I sold a bunch of houses to people whose job I once got them. They already come to me. So why not?”

[Head voice: God I love this woman.] Her recruited protege was also good, throwing questions straight into the strike zone. “What value do you receive working with someone who’s new like me? Or less than, say, 3 years in?”

Val’s answer was quick and bulleted (I’m going to call her Val; she feels like a Val):

“Good insights come from someone who doesn’t know everything.

You’re still excited about the business.

There are no bad habits to break.”

The newbie felt out her next question/sentiment….

“I realize how important relationships are in selling, specifically trust. Social media IS trust. I’ve never been one to put my life out there, but people need to know me if they’ll do business with me…? (almost begging to be wrong)”

“Absolutely. Share whatever feels like you, but share. Be human. No one does business with a brand.”

[Head voice: YEEEOOOOWWWWW! All my days of employer branding and recruitment marketing and employee advocacy and influencer marketing… you hear this woman? ABSOLUTELY YES, A THOUSAND TIMES OVER.]

And the final question: “How long is this going to take me? To make a real living at this?”

The Queen (OK, I’m just calling her The Queen now):

“What you did 90 days ago is what you get paid on today. If you’re not getting paid, you were doing something wrong or you simply stopped when you should have kept doing. Put in the work, get paid.”

So people buy people, not products; recruiting is selling; HR and TA still don’t talk but should; and there are no shortcuts. Nothing has changed in my last 16 years, either, Queen.



Jess Von Bank is a 16-year industry veteran and impassioned evangelist of the modern employee experience. As both a former recruiting practitioner and an expert in bringing HCM vendor solutions to market, Jess looks to broaden executive mindset to better design and deliver a workforce experience that exceeds the expectations of talent and the needs of the business.

Jess is the Head of Marketing for Leapgen and runs FuelWork, a global community for digital transformation of workforce experience. Jess is an active community emcee and ambassador for women’s and girls’ organizations in Minneapolis, where she raises her 3 daughters.

Leapgen is a global digital transformation company shaping the future of work. Highly respected as a visionary partner to organizations looking to design and deliver a digital workforce experience that will produce valued outcomes to the business, Leapgen helps enterprise leaders rethink how to better design and deliver workforce services and architect HR technology solutions that meet the expectations of workers and the needs of the business. Contact us to get started.

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