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On positive and negative touch points with candidates (plus 3 new Chief of Staff jobs)

Also, "The Waiter Rule", an aside on psychopaths, 1 new Chief of Staff role we're working on, plus 3 CoS jobs I came across recently

Hello, and welcome to the Right Hand Talent blog! I’m Zaharo, and I write about all things Chief of Staff, talent, and career excellence.

Every week, you’ll get 3 new CoS jobs that are on my radar, reqs we’re working on, my thoughts on growing in the CoS role and as a professional, top stories I’m following on X, and more.

  1. “Always” is the best one-word line from a movie (Snape in Harry Potter).

  2. Kendrick told Drake to try ayahuasca to heal in his latest diss track (!).

  3. There’s always one sacrificial pancake that gets burnt to an everliving crisp, and it’s always the first one (RIP).

I recently tweeted this after I had back-to-back experiences with different candidates that amounted to a “positive touch point” and “negative touch point”:

Got mixed responses to this, but mostly positive!

The Random Recruiter replied saying “Application process starts on first point of contact 🎯” (so don’t just take it from me — his bio says “Headhunter for Tech Pros. Billed $18.5M in profit & with ~700 placements at various F500s”. He’s one of my favorite follows on X because he’s seen a lot and justsays it like it is).

Putting email responses aside for a moment, every time we speak with a new candidate, it’s like a custom “database of interactions” gets opened up for them, except what we add to that database aren’t actual bits, but memories.

We don’t physically log the outcome of every interaction that we have with candidates because that would be absolutely unhinged, but also, it’s because we don’t have to. Positive and negative touch points build into very strong mental notes, and they help paint a more complete picture of them.

Examples of positive touch points can include the below. Candidate:

  • Follows up with us immediately after their interview with our client. This translates into engagement and excitement, and guess what? We share that with our client! Win, win, win.

  • Sends us a thank you note to share gratitude for presenting the opportunity even though it wasn’t a fit for them.

  • Says every other process they’re in is a distant second to the one they’re in with our client, or conversely, shares why this opportunity isn’t necessarily at the top of their list.

  • Gets back to us with lightning speed about scheduling an initial screen with us or interview with our client. This continues throughout the process.

  • Actually does what they say they’ll do, e.g. sending us an updated resume, following up with additional context to a question, getting back to us with availability, etc.

And examples of negative touch points are below, as well. Note that this isn’t about a single negative touch point in a vacuum; rather, it’s about how just a few negative touch points within the context of a series of positive ones may be indicative of a character trait or pattern that we may have missed earlier.


  • Cancels an interview(s) last minute and doesn’t offer a time to follow-up or a reason why = never interested in the first place (which is fine in itself), but this shows a lack of maturity and/or professionalism

  • Repeatedly cancels or reschedules interviews (more often than not) = interest is waning / never interested in the first place (which are both fine in themselves), but shows that they’re unreliable and don’t follow through on commitments

  • Ghosts ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Says they can do it all when pressed on specific experience = indicates a lack of humility, understanding of limitations and/or ownership of mistakes, maybe not a team player

  • Consistently interrupts or talks over us = not an effective communicator

Barring major life events, it’s not a good look to do the first three above. If you’re not interested, then tell us that and let’s have a discussion about it if warranted!

Regarding the last two, these are a few of the many reasons why we do phone screens in the first place. We spend time getting to know our candidates because 1) we’re not resume pushers and 2) people can look absolutely STELLAR on paper, check all the boxes the client wants (and maybe even the ones they thought couldn’t get checked) but then fail a screen for the reasons above or otherwise, e.g., comp expectations are misaligned, they want an early-stage startup role but work-life balance as well (😩) , they’re “OK, I guess” with hybrid but are DYING for a remote role and the client won’t budge on that thus not 100% aligned, they describe a weakness that’s a non-starter, or something else).

But generally speaking, why do candidates bomb interviews? Because…

  • They talk about themselves the entire time (self-centeredness, lack of humility)

  • They don’t ask insightful questions (didn’t do their research, don’t care)

  • They give a generic answer when asked "why this role / company" (not invested, don’t care)

  • They gave non-answers when asked about their weakness (lack of self-awareness.)*

*Side note: never give a non-answer, which is a strength disguised as a weakness, e.g. “I can be a perfectionist”.

First, it’s very obvious that you’re disguising a strength as a weakness and it’s a JV move. Your interviewer has had way more at-bats than you on this question and has likely fielded hundreds if not thousands of responses and has a VERY good sense of what a strong answer sounds like, and this isn’t it. Everyone has something that they’re bad at and working on — figure out what that is and own it.

Second (and to pick on this specific response), this isn’t as clever as you think it is nor does it have the effect that you think it does. What perfectionism translates to is: “I don’t know when good is good enough, I get into the weeds that don’t matter, I have trouble focusing on the big picture / goal / outcome….” 😔

Going back to the email responses, what matters there are the usual suspects: politeness, promptness, and transparency. These signal how committed you are to the process and your interest in building a relationship (this is for candidates with whom we’ve already established an initial touchpoint).

For cold outbound, I don’t have the same expectations, but if responses veer into impoliteness, then that is a massive red flag and an auto-pass for life.

Recruiters are interpreters and intermediaries in the services and relationship/people/hospitality business. We’re kind of like waiters, in a way. And how people treat waiters says a lot about them, more than a resume or interview ever could. This is called “The Waiter Rule”.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about this:

The Waiter Rule refers to a common belief that one's true character can be gleaned from how one treats staff or service workers, such as a "waiter".[1] The rule was one of William H. Swanson's 33 Unwritten Rules of Management, which was copied from Dave Barry's version: "If someone is nice to you but rude to the waiter, they are not a nice person."[2]

Bill Swanson, the former CEO and Chairman at Raytheon, wrote that you should "Watch out for people who have a situational value system, who can turn the charm on and off depending on the status of the person they are interacting with. Be especially wary of those who are rude to people perceived to be in subordinate roles."

A tried and true test, Bill / Dave.

To go on a fun tangent a bit, people who are superficially charming or incredibly charismatic could also be literal psychopaths. Not something I’m qualified to assess (though some employers DO have executive level candidates meet with psychologists/psychiatrists!), but I went down this rabbit hole many years ago out of pure fascination. Here are some page-turners that I recommend if you’re interested in doing the same:

TLDR; something like 2% of the world population are actual psychopaths but they aren’t so insane that they go the criminal route; rather, they’ve got all their psychopathic traits balanced just right so they instead become very successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, surgeons, politicians, etc., but similar to their criminal counterparts, typically lack empathy and remorse, and are manipulative and aggressive.

Gives a new meaning to the word “dialed”. 🫣

Chief of Staff @ Series A Crypto Startup

Our client offers a decentralized staking protocol that specializes in liquid staking on a Layer 1 blockchain, aiming to simplify the launch and operation of specialized blockchains (subnets).

It addresses challenges like high costs and lack of tools by offering staking and validation services, allowing users to earn rewards while maintaining liquidity through derivative tokens.

By leveraging its platform, the company aims to make subnets as transformative for blockchain as WordPress and Shopify have been for web2 and e-commerce.

They're looking for a Chief of Staff to help the Founder scale the company and improve operational efficiency.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Fundraising

  • Strategic initiatives

  • Project management + leadership

Ideal Candidates:

  • Management consultant archetype (McKinsey, Bain, BCG)

  • At minimum, you're "crypto curious”

  • Excited about the insane entrepreneurial environment of crypto

  • Someone who wants true uncapped upside

What They Offer:

💰 Highly competitive salary + equity

⚕️ Health & vision insurance

💲 401k matching

📍 Fully remote

If you're interested and want to learn more about the company, just apply here! I’ll get back to you ASAP if your experience aligns with what they’re looking for.

🚀 Tomahawk Chief of Staff @ Raytheon — defense + space manufacturing

My thoughts: Raytheon popping up twice in my awareness in the same day is a fun synchronicity, but why? Maybe there’s someone in the Right Hand talent network who this role is a good fit for : )

Responsibilities: Mostly project and program management. Participate in weekly engagements with customer and functional partners. Assist with the day to day program execution cadence (battle rhythm) of the program, ie Program Management Business Reviews, customer program management reviews, etc.

Things that jump out at me about the ideal candidate:

  • 8 years of total experience or 5 years of experience w/ advanced degree.

  • Preferred:

  • Experience supporting a large functional organization or a program office, preferably in the aerospace and defense industry

  • PMP certification

  • Need:

  • US citizen given DoD security clearance requirement for the role

💰 Salary: $96-200k/year. Generally, I think casting a wide net ensures that they see talent at both ends of the spectrum, but it could also mean that they don’t know what good looks like and so will feel out what level and/or skills they actually need through interviews (nature of the beast, unfortunately).

📍 This role is hybrid in Tucson, AZ (2-3x/week)

📥 Apply here.

Chief of Staff @ SnapMagic — AI copilot‍ for electronics design

My thoughts: Honestly, would have loved to see a bit more effort put into the JD! They describe what the Chief of Staff will be doing and job requirements but…what does the candidate get?! We need more info than just the salary range, pls & thx : )

From the JD: The Chief of Staff will..

  • Be streamlining Technical, People, and Revenue Operations

  • Support the operations, engineering, product, sales, and finance teams

  • Assist in recruiting, interviewing, and hiring

  • Create their own role after some time! (Neat-o.)

Things that jump out at me about the ideal candidate:

  • They’re looking for a minimum of 3 years of experience so the responsibilities are likely trending quite junior, at least initially.

💰 Salary: $120-180k. Solid range, they’ll likely look at candidates in the 5-7 year range with 180k on the base.

📍 This role is based in San Mateo, CA, 5x/week (seeing more and more of in-office requirements approaching 4-5x/week)

📥 Apply here.

💰 Chief of Staff @ Fifr — flat-fee, full-service financial advisor

My thoughts: It’s a 2-person team and their goal is to productize their offering over time. I think this could be a good contract—> full-time opportunity for someone very early in their career.

From the JD: The Chief of Staff will..

  • Help drive Fifr’s business strategy

  • Identify and execute on new go-to-market strategies

  • Lead critical business operational initiatives

Things that jump out at me about the ideal candidate:

  • 1+ years in management consulting, business operations, business development, sales or similar roles

💰 Salary: It’s a contract role that’s quite junior so I wouldn’t expect a high salary if you convert to full time, likely under $100k.

📍 They’re based in Nashville but this role is remote.

📥 Apply here.

  • The US dollar is a shitcoin, actually

  • Wes Wesley’s journey to becoming the youngest director in history tells us what we already know: “just ship it”

  • Wes Kao shares what managing up looks like

  • Banning smartphones in schools leads to better mental health outcomes

  • My friend, Nat Eliason’s book Crypto Confidential is available for pre-order! Check out his post here. : )


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