SmartRecruiters Hiring Success Journal

Candidates to the Front

Charlie Nelson: Empowering candidates by revealing industry secrets of hiring managers.

First two episodes of To Whom it May Concern on HSJ or Soundcloud. Watch for weekly release on HSJ.

It’s 2008. The rolling global financial crisis has hit its high-water mark. People are out of work and scared. It is also the year Charlie Nelson graduates from the University of Washington Business School. He sees firsthand fellow job seekers’ fear and desperation, watching thousands of nervy applicants waiting in line to pitch themselves to companies at job fairs made me stop, and question – are we doing this all wrong?

Fast forward to now. Charlie is VP of Customer Success and Professional Services at SmartRecruiters, with almost 10 years’ recruiting experience he’s ready to guide job seekers out of the job fairs and into the front office with his new podcast, To Whom it May Concern, where he let’s the candidates in on how experts actually hire.

In your first of episode, you mention accompanying your mom to a job fair a couple months before you graduated and the profound effect it had on you, could you tell us how that experience inspired this project?

I was home for winter break and my mom asked me to go with her to a job fair. She was obviously nervous. After 25 years of absence from the workforce, she found herself applying to jobs with little to no idea of what she would be good at or what she even wanted. We pulled up to the Marriott by the San Francisco airport and at least 1000 people were waiting in line to talk to the companies. Each candidate was different but each had this air of, for lack of a better word, desperation.

The stress was palpable and I just kept thinking ‘there has to be a better way’.   

I imagined many of those candidates were like my mom – huge gaps in their working history, little relevant experience, clueless about what they’d be good at, or not even knowing what they wanted.

I created this podcast to put candidates in control of their job hunt, and give them some power back in a process where the cards are stacked in favor of the employer.

How will your podcast demystify the process of applying for a job?

When I graduated finding a job was scary and confusing for me but I knew I wasn’t alone. Now I want other people to know that too! After almost 10 years in the recruiting industry, I can let job seekers in on the process of the people doing the hiring.

The 13 episodes will be a journey through the job hunt, from the moment you realize you need a job in episode one, all the way to your first day. Every week we’ll have a guest expert unpack our topic and answer every question a job seeker has ever had about what happens behind the scenes once they click send on an application.

You’ve done a lot of volunteer work with candidates, how has this experience informed the podcast?

For the last five years, I’ve volunteered with job seekers both at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the San Francisco Public Library. Through all the forums, classes and one on one counselling my main realization is that this is a common struggle almost everyone will have to confront at some point in their career and so the more people I can reach the better.  

Name three takeaways for listeners.

First off, I want candidates to feel like they have a resource to uncover the way that recruiters and professionals think about hiring. From there, I hope candidates gain confidence in their job search and don’t make decisions motivated by fear. Looking to the hiring side, I see our guest experts creating a conversation for hiring professionals around the latest best practices.



Kaya Payseno

Kaya Payseno