A Presentation to Remember; Humanizing Recruiting

Author: Derek Zeller

           “I have spoken too long for a writer. A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it. Again I thank you.”  Ernest Hemingway - 1954 Nobel Prize speech

           Like Hemingway, I am not an orator of any means. I am more of a writer than a speaker. In fact, after every time I speak in public, I seem to find a corner in the bathroom to actually beat myself up for a mistake or misstep in the presentation; there is no harder critic on me than, well, me. That being said, I rarely speak, and if I do, it is not to a large group of people. It really does not matter though as my face becomes flushed red and my hands sort of shake or, I think they do, when I am speaking. 


          I always feel that I am better on the phone or in a social situation in small groups, but conferences are different. You have to be ON all the time, and for someone more introverted then people that think I am an extroverted based on all the writing that I have done are only seeing a facade of me, not the real me. So, I rarely speak in public, and thankfully I am seldom asked. Sadly, as the story goes, I am just a boy that cannot say no. I have in the last many years been a person that wants to give back to the community and to lift up others. I have tried to do so with my writing and interactions at conventions that I have attended, and I have visited many and seen some grow, and others were just a legitimate waste of my time and other attendees.

           I decided early on that I was not going to go up on stage with a super looking PowerPoint, no, I was going to be with peers and wanted this presentation to be different. I did not want to speak at people but educate them differently, and well, it worked. I saw people look inside themselves and really think about what I was saying. I made them feel by telling them how to humanize recruiting, how we have shut ourselves out of the conversation that we are hiring humans and not computers. I am emotional, I know this, and when I speak about this profession and the things I have seen and heard, it is hard not to be so. I do cry or pause as I am human, and so are you. So, why not try being that way with your candidates, your managers, yourself. 

There is room for that in your life if you allow it, you know.


           The presentation went well, in fact, one of the best things I feel that I have done in a long time. Stacey Broadwell, the organizer, and owner of TechRecruit Conferences, let me be me as they say. The amazing thing was seeing the room nod their heads in agreement and in the end, the loudest applaud I have ever received. I think the reason is that I and all of us were present, listening instead of hearing. This presentation was intended to bring us out of metrics and time to fill and making this audience, these few vendors that were there that the world of recruiting is more than any of this. I offer you the messages below that were sent to me via LinkedIn and yes as I read them and reread them, it is hard to swallow down the feelings; so I don't because? Yes, you guessed it. I am human and allowed those emotions. And you should too. I hope to meet you or if we have met, see you again. I want to hear your story, as we all have one. You can put it here on this page, OR you can attend one of our one-day conferences in your city or travel for one night to see us and tell us your story in person. I would love that, we all would. 

I was so moved by your presentation at the Tech Recruit conference. Although I am not a recruiter, it was an excellent reminder for me to humanize customer interactions as well.


It was great meeting you yesterday at the TechRecruit Conference. Great job on stage as well. =)


Just wanted to say that I appreciated your thoughts and insights at the TechRecruit conference yesterday. Fun fact: It's clear that you really DO care. :)


Derek, thanks so much for you taking the stage today! Your session was a breath of fresh air to me. 


Hi, I was at today's TechRecruit conference, it was great to hear you speak. I wish I could've stayed longer to chat - hopefully in the future!

About The Author: Derek Zeller is the Senior Sourcing Lead for Lockheed Martin. Derek has been both an agency and corporate technical recruiter within the Federal and commercial spaces as a contractor and permanent employee. He has written three poetry books including, Thoughts and Poems for the Common Educated Man.


Stacey Broadwell