Here at Landing.jobs, we’ve been able to help so many tech professionals find the right employer in the last few years. It’s been a real pleasure changing so many lives. Right now, our founder vision is much less of a marketplace for tech jobs and more of a digital careers manager. But more on that some other time…
In all these hard working days, I’ve been able to engage with a lot of candidates in every stage of their career shifting process, whether it’s a CTO tired of the startup experience who has a couple of kids at home, who is looking forward to exploring new technologies and join a small-medium enterprise, or just a recent grad willing to work their ass off and join an early-stage startup. These candidates’ trust have made me learn a lot and I’ve now lived long enough to write about my worst recruitment experiences so far. 👻
I’ve dealt with so many different hiring processes and one thing is certain: every single employer I’ve met has a unique hiring process, and you can learn so much about every employer’s culture by going through it. Whether it’s their transparency (do they show the salary upfront?), their sharing culture (any stock options plans?), or just how long the process takes (do the founders/hiring managers respect candidates enough to give them a fast reply?). We list all of these on our YourFit model, by the way.
If you know me, you know I’m a “get shit done” dude and I don’t like to take “no, that’s not possible” for an answer. There’s always a way in or out. That’s why in May last year, when we decided to start testing the London market, we went at it with a hands-on approach that allowed me to further understand what lays beneath the dark employer mantle!
It’s been an very enriching experience so far, but sometimes you just want to blow someone’s brains out, (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻
Ok, breath in, breath out. Let’s put the table back: ┬─┬ ノ( ^_^ノ)
Here are three of the worst recruitment stories that have happened to me (disclaimer: I cannot refer to candidate or employer names, as you might understand. Or I just really don’t want to get my ass kicked.)
The Landing.jobs website was just a quick and dirty landing page, and we were not yet in the market per se. I was the only full-time person in the team doing everything manually. It was literally a one-man wolf pack. Paiva, José and Pedro Rodrigues were moonlighting, and it felt really lonely sometimes. Our small office was a little 2-square metre room @ Startup Lisboa’s 4th floor and the ladies’ bathroom was just next door. Every single time I went on a call, someone decided to use it and it made for some very interesting phone conversations. 👏🏽
One of our first employers, most of which started working with us through word of mouth and our own network, was this great Lisbon-based startup that needed help hiring a great developer. Our website wasn’t out yet and I had to do all the raw work. I found a great person. Let’s call that person Mr Jekyll.
Mr Jekyll was from outside of the EU, but had been working in Portugal for a little over a year. Mr Jekyll came through a referral, a friend of mine, and was a super nice person. Mr Jekyll had a product-oriented way of thinking and was great at coding, too. Mr Jekyll loved the team and what the startup was doing. Love at first sight. Great.
My biggest mistake was assuming that Mr Jekyll’s previous employer was legit and had Mr Jekyll working legally in Portugal. Mr Jekyll also thought that the situation with the local Portuguese authorities was taken care of and, therefore, neither I or the employer made any inquiries about Mr Jekyll’s legal status in Portugal, because, well, Mr Jekyll was okay with it; Mr Jekyll had been working at a company for a while now and had a Portuguese beloved one, too.
Everything was a-okay. The start date was set, the contract was lovely, the salary was fair. Mr Jekyll was happy; the employer was happy, too! ❤️
Until a call comes in on that Tuesday morning.
“Hey, Pedro, Mr Jekyll still hasn’t showed up.”
“Dude, don’t worry, Mr Jekyll is not from around here and it’s a far location from the previous job site. Wait a couple more minutes and Mr Jekyll will show up.”
Then a text comes in.
“Hey Pedro, going to forward you an email from Mr Jekyll.”
Long story short? Mr Jekyll got deported the day before Mr Jekyll’s first day. Mr Jekyll’s situation wasn’t regular at all, his previous employer didn’t take care of the paperwork and Mr Jekyll didn’t worry about it because Mr Jekyll thought it was taken care of. The Border Services were not very happy about it and gave Mr Jekyll a mere 24 hours to leave the country.
Imagine how I felt that day, completely alone in the our small office and feeling responsible for a person’s deportation. I can’t even imagine how the candidate or the hiring manager felt…
Everyone is great nowadays, I’m still in contact with all the parties and the employer has hired people through Landing.jobs after this episode and Mr Jekyll is happy, back in Mr Jekyll’s country — Mr Jekyll’s got a nice job there.
Lesson learned: Triple check EVERYTHING. It was my job to do so and I failed. I was a n00b back then.
If you’re good at something, never do it for free
This story takes place at a very different moment at Landing.jobs and in my life. Landing.jobs was no longer a baby, we were no longer the next-to-the-ladies-toilet, pre-seed, one-man show startup; our team was growing and I moved to London in May 2015.
We had recently closed a seed round and re-branded from JOBBOX.io to Landing.jobs. We even celebrated this change by putting together the epic Landing.jobs Festival in less than 4 weeks (and the second one is on the way!).
I met these two European founders at a very cool event in Lisbon. They were putting together a trendy startup and were raising cash from a Central-European investor. It wasn’t the sexiest of businesses, but the founders seemed to have it in ’em, they were cool and driven — I felt compelled to help them find the talent they needed to build their product even before they got funded.
Let’s call this startup, Mr Robot.
Mr Robot sent over the job descriptions. We advised them on salary conditions and basically everything else. Mr Robot had just a small little problem which wasn’t even going to be a problem at all because they would solve it asap. Cash was coming into their bank accounts very soon; they were just closing a few details… You know, due diligence stuff, lawyer stuff. 🙃 Mr Robot didn’t have money yet, but was going to be rich very soon!
You can see where I’m going and you could ask, “hey, Pedro, how stupid can you be?”. The answer is “very stupid, indeed”. No excuses, but I definitely resonated with their situation as Landing.jobs bootstrapped for 1.5 years, and we know how long it takes to build a business and raise cash from VC’s. In my head it was only a matter of time. Right. We did our job and matched Mr Robot to more than 20 great candidates for a couple of different roles, they interviewed all of them and were going to hire a couple of great candidates!
Guess what? Mr Robot never raised the cash. Mr Robot never hired anyone. Mr Robot is dead. We tried to help the candidates land a job elsewhere, and we succeeded in one case but failed in the other. 😔
Lesson learned: Always check if the employers we end up working with are legit.
This story happened a short time ago. I was already establishing myself in London for a few months now. Just to give you some more context, Landing.jobs was already setting up a team for the UK, as well as reinforcing our presence back home in Portugal.
Let’s call this employer, Ms Lovegood (Harry Potter ⚡️).
Ms Lovegood was looking for a great CTO for her fast-growing company to help her rebuild her existing product (and let’s say it wasn’t a very good one). We asked Ms Lovegood to send us a job description, and so she did. Ms Lovegood got a premium treatment and we helped her find that perfect match like we always strive to do. BAM, ring the bell, we found the perfect guy! 🔔
Everything was going great. On his first day on the job, we called the candidate just to check how it was going over at Ms Lovegood’s, when…
“Hey, guys, thanks for calling… Guess what: the whole site is developed in technology A instead of technology B, the one I was hired for and the one we’ve always talked about.”
All hell breaks loose back at the office, everybody starts panicking! Wtf?! How can this happen to us?! Ms Lovegood, what were you thinking? Ms Lovegood put the wrong technology in the job description, and somehow she never checked during the interviewing process. It happened.
On our side, we didn’t have a direct way to confirm the technology being used. It didn’t end badly; we helped the candidate land a job elsewhere and rebooted Ms Lovegood’s process — with the right technology…
Lesson learned: if you’re working with a Ms Lovegood, make sure you triple-check the technology and everything before kicking off.
I’ve opened my heart and shared the worst recruitment experiences I’ve had so far. Can you please share with me your worst recruitment experience? And what about the best ones?