My grandfather, born in 1927, celebrated his 90th birthday today. Nine – zero. Wow, what an accomplishment!

A veteran of WWII, he put himself through college at Georgia Tech (Go Jackets!), married a beautiful woman (now known as my Mimi), and became a successful engineer in the textile industry. In honor of his 90th birthday, we are having a good ole’ fashioned roast, and I have decided to revisit his favorite story about me growing up.

Don’t worry, the story will apply to the modern day world of talent acquisition.  

Fooling children with fables and shenanigans has become a lost art. Today, for example, we use Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Donald Trump to motivate, fascinate, and frighten children into listening to us.

When I was growing up, I had a donut tree.

Visiting my grandparents in Marion, NC was a big event. Our visit was the only thing going on in Marion in 1984. Eventually, the Batman movie starring Michael Keaton began playing at the local cinema, which replaced grabbing a hot dog at the town’s only convenience store, Rose’s, and then staring at trees for hours. A few years later, a Walmart came to Marion, which generated enough excitement to create a town parade.

Prior to this epic moment in Marion history, there was only family, congregation, and the trees.  

Forest GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

One brisk August afternoon, while visiting with my Papa and Mimi, a new fable was born. Donuts were no longer baked, they were planted!

As an outrageously curly-haired-four-year-old (picture a young Richard Simmons), I was wandering through the yard searching for something – anything – to do. Sensing my desperation, Papa handed me a bag of Cheerios and told me to plant them.

“Son, plant these donut seeds! When you wake up tomorrow, there will be bushels of donuts ready for you to eat!”  

This was quite possibly the best magical secret a child could stumble upon. I beamed with excitement and immediately began planting.

When I woke up the next morning, I was thrilled to find the trees outside of my grandparent’s house covered in powdered donuts. Oh happy day! It was a fun event and it stays with me to this day. More amazingly, it stays with the “tricksters” even more.

Fast forward to 2017: Papa still tells that story every time I see him. It’s a beautiful shared event that transcends 30 years. Why?

Because of the experience.

Now back to the wonderful world of recruiting. You’re probably wondering how I will possibly relate this story to what a candidate experiences during the interviewing process, right? Yeah, it’s not that easy. This memory is a generational moment between grandfather and grandson, and it’s priceless.

We can all get over the gap, though. We’re hiring managers.

The lesson learned? PLANT SOMETHING.

Star GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Plant value in your recruiting process so that, no matter what the outcome, everyone comes away with a powdered donut.

Don’t leave them hanging!
Confucius says, “Desirable donut lays heavy on the branch.”

(…Maybe? I was a management major.)

Translation: The average IT professional is on the market for less than 2 weeks. If you like them, ten other companies do, too.


Why aren’t they powdered?

Tony Robbins says, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

Translation: Branch out (get it?) from you’ve done in the past! You might be planting Captain Crunch.


Let them know why they aren’t powdered…yet.

Nelson Mandela says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Translation: Be the professional push they need to help them get where they want to be in their career. Even if where they want to be isn’t with you right now.


Eat the damn donut!

Harry Carey says, “It’s the fans that need spring training. You gotta get ’em interested.”

Translation: If you like the candidate, don’t dilly dally! Make the offer quick and make it stick.


Life is full of interesting characters, and in the world of recruiting, you meet them in spades. If you’re serious about successful recruitment, plant your donut tree.


About Michael Whaley

As Director of Talent Delivery, Michael Whaley leads Relus' group of rebel IT recruiters on an interstaffing domination mission that will bring peace and prosperity to the IT Recruiting community. When not at Relus, you can find Michael golfing, traveling or cheering on one of his favorite teams: the Braves, Falcons, Hawks, or Yellow Jackets.