SmartRecruiters Blog

What Parenting Taught Me About Hiring

Parenting a toddler takes patience, consistency and a really good sense of humor.  These traits help the hiring manager or recruiter when dealing with New Hires or Soon to be New Hires.  While most quality candidates usually don’t behave like children, there are some similarities in negotiating that could make you wonder if as the hiring manager, you REALLY are everyone’s parent or if toddlers are a lot smarter than moms and dads give them credit for.

1. They need you:  As the recruiter, you are kind of like their parent.  You were their first introduction into the company – in fact, you could say you brought them into this place.  As a new hire, they might be a little on the clingy side, which is completely normal.  They made the choice to come here much in part because they trust you, and letting them go and flourish into their role can be hard on them – and even you too.  Just as mom has to learn to let go sometimes and let dad, grandma or daycare manage, you have to trust that your bundle of joy has the right foundation and skills to grow as employees without you always by their side.

2. Providing incentives: Sometimes a sweet candy is the secret ingredient to lure an energetic kiddo into submission at big sister’s music program.  Get to know your recruits and find out where there passions lie.  When negotiating the hire, talk to them about your benefits which will mean the most to their personal situations.  For example, if your recruit mentions she is covered by her husband’s insurance, that benefit might not be one to lead with.  But, you know her daughter’s braces are something on the horizon so use the cafeteria plan as a candy when in the negotiation process.

3. Giving choices:  Giving choices is tricky business when dealing with a toddler or a new hire.  But, the ability to make decisions is empowering to both parties.  Guide them, provide advice, but ultimately let it be their decision.  Even if that means it’s the middle of winter and she is wearing a summer dress with a turtle neck, jeans and a tutu with ballet slippers to daycare…

4. Developing brand:  Consistency is the hallmark of your company’s brand development.  As the HR Manager, you must routinely deliver on message.  Similar is the parent of a toddler who requires a routine for smooth bedtimes.  A rambunctious two-year-old knows bedtime when he puts on his pajamas, enjoys a cup of warm milk and reads a book.  Next step is off to bed.  It’s the exact same routine and message every single night – even when there is resistance (and with a two-year-old, there’s a lot of resistance).   He knows what to expect and that despite some worthy appeals, mom and dad aren’t budging on this bedtime business.  The same is with your message and the company brand.  If you sway from it, your recruits and new hires will recognize it and they might question the company and even its integrity.

5. Drawing the line:  “I hate you.”  Nasty, dirty words out of the mouth of a toddler.  I don’t tolerate these words and they are one place I draw a hard line.  Everyone has to have a line they draw in life – whether work or personal.  When those words emerged from the lips of my sweet little boy one evening, my jaw dropped in disbelief, but I acted swiftly and promptly and he got familiar with the corner during a timeout.  As an employee, you need to know your own limits, clearly set your boundaries and stick with them.  This rings true when dealing with new hires, candidates or even your own boss.


At the end of the day, the experience of parenting has made me a better recruiter. Learn from the basics of childhood development, and let your the patience, consistency and humor play a role in each hire.


Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. Her 2 year old daughter, Ryleigh, tweets about her love of kitty cats and Barney the Dino.  Photo Credit Rasmussen College.

SmartRecruiters is the hiring platform with a market place of recruiting services.

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a HR consultant, new media strategist, and author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. Jessica is the host of Job Search Secrets, an internet television show for job seekers.