The 1% Rule of Candidate Experience

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, August 12, 2013

Imagine you're among the best and brightest at what you do.  Your talent is recognized by nearly everyone.  Any employer wants you to be part of that organization.

If you are truly among the 1%, candidate experience is not going to matter (in the traditional sense).

Say, you're the #1 ranked college basketball recruit, Jahlil Okafor.  346 Division 1 schools would love to have you join their program.  338 know they have no shot.  Eight schools are under consideration, with one believed to be the leader (more below).  

That being said, the critical information (see p. 15) a typical applicant for a job might want to make the candidate experience worthwhile is not applicable


  • Application accepted?  Most likely for Okafor, an offer to play for a particular university has  already been made, and the application process is cursory.
  • Expected time to hear back from a recruiter?  Again, he already knows the "job" is his if he wants it
  • If I have been knocked out of consideration.  Doesn't apply here
  • Next step in process.  The universities competing for your services are waiting for you to come for an official visit and say "yes"
  • If anyone has reviewed your information.  Again, cursory
  • Where I am in the process.  As a top notch college recruit, my guess is that each organization is in constant contact with Okafor, visiting him at basketball camps, calling him on the phone, texting him, and seeing him play during high school competition.  And, this is going on for a matter of not days or months, but years.
  • What criteria is used to determine my job-fit.   You're tall, talented, and skilled. You'll fit.
  • Fit with minimum qualifications.  Uh, yes.
  • How I stack with other candidates.  You're being wooed, and the school would accept you immediately
  • Number of applicants - this almost doesn't matter, except that schools have a limited number of spots.  As Dave Telep, ESPN recruiter noted on Twitter on July 30 after a number of basketball camps, "July reality: if you know where you want to go and you aren't a Top-25 guy, make your decision before someone takes your first choice."  "As of right now, most schools have 2-4 guys they'd take at your position. First one to call gets the spot."  For Okafor, they would leave the spot open.
  • Expected feedback on application - this is almost immediate.
Again, if you're in the 1%, traditional candidate experience is not going to matter.

However, there is a flip side.  What if competing employers believe there is a leader?

The ongoing rumor that Duke is the leader for the recruiting package of No. 1-ranked senior Jahlil Okafor and No. 3-ranked Tyus Jones is ruining the recruiting process for the two players, Okafor's father said on Friday.

"It's disappointing. It's taking the fun out of the process for the two boys," Okafor's father, Chukwudi Okafor, said by phone on Friday. "That's a shame. Let the kids go through the process. I just want them to enjoy it, not the media, not Twitter, not the coaches, not the AAU coaches. Those kids are highly intelligent. They know what to do. Let it play out, and I think the world is in for something special."

"They're going to make their decision. Everybody is saying they say this and they say that. It's not fair to them. It's not fair to the other schools. It's not fair to Duke. They might want to go to Duke, but decide not to go there because everyone is saying that's where they're going. I'd hate for that to happen." 


As Dave Telep notes, "I think a number of kids are genuinely torn about telling a school "no." In August, "no" is the best thing after yes. Both need to move on."  If I am trying to recruit top talent to my school, there is a limit to the amount of resources and time I can pour into every candidate, let alone the 1%.  If I am no longer in the running, I would prefer knowing that than trying to continue the facade of thinking I have a chance.  

Sometimes it is tough out there for the 1%.

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