Keep at it!

Back in the day, sales, marketing, and recruiting weren’t about fancy automation tools. It was all about your trusty ‘date book’ or relying on your memory to give Timmy from HRU a ring just to check-in.

Old-school sales meant one thing: keeping at it. Reminding folks that you’re still interested, still eager for their business. It was all about bagging that deal before someone else did.

CRMs? They’re good at their job, but sometimes, they miss the mark. I can easily brush off those automated CRM messages—I’ve been in that loop. But you know what I can’t ignore? The persistent lady who’s left me nine voicemails. The power of a nudge. That level of dedication deserves respect. I get how tough it is to make that many calls.

I’m all for tech—I’ve tried it all and automation sure makes life easier. But there’s an art to the old way of following up, keeping at it, a rhythm and persistence that’s hard to replicate.

Sure, you might get tired of “John” who calls every month, but guess who’ll come to mind when you’re in a bind? Not the newcomers who show up when you’ve made it big, but John who was there from the start. John who kept at it.

The downfall comes when companies forget the human touch in their CRM strategy. It’s not about choosing one or the other—it’s about blending both. So, next time you see a familiar number calling or delete an email without a read, remember the effort behind it. The humans are keeping at it, working hard to keep those connections alive!

Optimizing Recruiting Efforts: Never Underestimate the Power of Nudging!

I hate administrative work. Dotting i’s and crossing t’s puts me to sleep. I’m not a tasky person. This past week, I had to do a billing/invoicing thing for a client. It was like this 37-step process that I’m sure some accountant is so proud of. It wreaked of CYA. They used technology and walked me through each step. Dot this i. Cross this t. Give us three pints of your neighbor’s youngest son’s blood. You know the deal.

I skipped over one step because it was a live verification step. They wanted to verify that the person willing to go through 37 steps was actually a real person. I didn’t have time for this nonsense. I’ll ignore it. Most likely, they won’t need it. I mean, look, I’ve got a blog! Tens and tens of people know me. Surely, some real person on the other end of this process will see this and check the box.

Nope.

That’s when the nudges started. “Hey, Mr. Sackett, We see you mistakenly forgot to schedule your meeting with us…” Ugh. But, look, I’m a pro. I’ll keep ignoring it, and it’ll go away.

Nope.

“Hey, Idiot, Do you ever want to get paid?”

Okay, the tech wasn’t ever rude, although I suspect if it were, I would be more apt actually to respond! The nudges kept coming, and I was worn down. I scheduled my little call and finished the process. Long story short, the nudging worked. It always works.

I saw some data this past week from a company that gets about 2,000 applicants a month. Only about 500 of those actually follow through with the process and turn it into an interview. What’s the process, you ask? They get sent a link to schedule an interview! The company sends out one “reminder” after 24 hours, and then nothing ever again.

They decided maybe we should give some of these applicants one more chance and send them another reminder/nudge to have them schedule an interview. In the first round, an additional 300 responded. The company got 300 more interviews by sending out one email reminding them to click a link to schedule themselves for an interview.

Nudging works.

I tell my recruiting clients that you can never nudge enough. Your goal in nudging applicants to finish your process is to receive cease and desist letters from attorneys! If someone started your process, clearly they have interest. Our job as talent acquisition professionals is to follow up on this interest until we are 100% sure they no longer have interest. Not 97% sure. 100% sure!

It’s the only thing in recruiting that is black and white. You are either interested = Yes. Or you are not interested = No. Hearing nothing = make more f*cking nudges!

Your nudges should be multi-modal, meaning you should nudge via email, SMS, LinkedIn messenger, snail mail, phone calls, smoke signals, etc. You can use these modes simultaneously, like sending a text and an email at the same time. Or my favorite, The Triple Threat, calling the applicant and leaving a voice mail, texting them and saying, “Hey, I was the crazy person who just called you,” and sending an email, all together. 60% of the time, it works every time!

If we have learned one thing today, it’s to nudge more. Nudge all day, every day. Nudge until you can’t nudge any more. Then, nudge a little more. Get nudgy with it! Just Nudge It!

A Common Sense Crisis

In today’s world, the most precious asset is… common sense. Que “my precious” by Gollum. It’s become a rarity, dwindling away from our grasp. But I want to hold on to it so bad!

Society seems to have lost its ability to acknowledge perspectives beyond our own. Instead of embracing a variety of views, we’ve become one-way thinkers—where there’s only right or wrong, each person interpreting their own truth. It’s a messed-up reality that’s causing a lot of trouble and fights in our lives.

The breakdown in our ability to exercise common sense has led us to this. We’ve forsaken the middle ground, fixating on extreme ends. Rather than striving to understand various viewpoints, we’ve adopted an alarming stance: “I’m right, you’re wrong, end of story.”

Deep down, we recognize this flaw. How? By dismissing anyone who disagrees with us. It’s far simpler to cling to our existing beliefs than to step into the shoes of another.

This challenge isn’t fixed to a specific year or time. It’s not about 2020 or 2024—it’s about our collective inability to embrace common sense. The thing is, the extremes of a spectrum don’t show what’s right or wrong. The real answer is in the middle, where different views come together.

When hiring, I’m no longer fixated solely on a specific skill set or educational or experience. People who still hold onto common sense are what I’m looking for. It’s not just a passing trend—it’s crucial in a world where balance is lacking. It seems common sense is not so common!

The Change Code

What’s the one thing that drives employees crazy? Adoption new technology? No. Not enough PTO? Probably, but no. The biggest thing? Change.

Seriously, it’s the top contender for the most disliked thing a company can do to its employees. I know, some claim they’re all about change—love it, embrace it, advocate for it. But let’s get real. Those folks who shout about embracing change? They’re the same ones devastated when their favorite TV show gets the boot. Truth is, most people hate change. They like things steady—the same morning coffee routine, knowing their familiar doctor is on their insurance plan, the predictable paycheck schedule. That’s their jam.

So, here’s the secret to keeping your employees around.

Your folks don’t secretly plot their escape route. Starting a new job, dealing with a new boss, different location? It’s a headache! They actually want to stick with you. But, and this is a big but, they don’t want their job or the company to become unbearable. That’s where the problem lies: Change is bound to happen, but it’s also what they can’t stand.

How do you navigate this without causing an uproar?

Simple: Communication is key. Many HR departments tend to blow small changes out of proportion by drowning everyone in unnecessary info. New payroll system? Cue the panic. Checks arrive on different Fridays now! The usual reaction? Form a committee, plaster posters, rewrite policies, and talk about it endlessly for months. But hold on.

What’s needed is straightforward talk. At all times. Hey team, our payroll’s getting an upgrade. Less errors, more savings for the company. Checks will come on different Fridays. Get ready, and if you need help, your supervisor’s there for you. Change kicks in the next pay cycle. Done!

Here’s the thing: People hate change. So, let’s not make a big fuss over small changes! Only communicate the big stuff. When major changes happen less often, it won’t feel like a constant whirlwind. Your employees WANT to stick around. They HATE change. Stop bombarding them with unnecessary upheaval just to look busy.

Employee retention? Not rocket science. Because, deep down, your employees would rather stay put.

Escaping the Best Practice Trap

As we kick off this new year in 2024, it’s time to break free from the ‘best practices’ trap and pioneer fresh, groundbreaking approaches in HR. Ever found yourself at an HR conference, where even the mention of a best practice draws in a crowd eager to replicate its success? We’ve all been there. Sure, using strategies that have worked before is tempting. But what if these highly recommended ‘best practices’ don’t actually guarantee success?

The problem lies in assuming that what everyone else is doing must be the best way forward. But times change, circumstances shift, and what was once a winning strategy might be holding us back now.

Let’s face it, adopting someone else’s best practice might just help you reach their level, but is that enough? In the fast-paced world of business, striving to merely match your competitors isn’t what visionary leaders are after. They seek strategies that propel them ahead, not just keep them in the race.

Using successful methods from other companies might help a bit. But it’s like walking a path someone else already made instead of creating your own. The real game-changers aren’t found in replicating what’s already been done; they’re in the unexplored territories of innovation.

Picture this: HR conferences buzzing with ideas yet to be tested, concepts so revolutionary they have the potential to redefine industry standards. That’s the space where true transformation begins.

To truly revolutionize your HR strategy, dare to step away from the best practice treadmill. Instead of asking what worked for others in the past, challenge yourself and your team to explore what could work brilliantly in the future.

Are you ready to break free from the shackles of best practices this year?

The Unbeatable Top Email Subject Lines for Recruiting

This holiday season, I’m stepping away from my usual writing to bring you some of the top-read posts from 2023. Enjoy!

What Email Subject Lines are Getting the Best Candidate Response?

Recruiters love to talk email subject lines! I think I could run my response data every month, and it would easily be my most-read post each month. It’s part of the secret sauce of talent acquisition, especially as ultra-low unemployment continues to make it very difficult for recruiters to get responses for candidates.

G*d Dammit, Tim! Just give us the secret magic subject lines so I can use them!

See? It’s like giving out that first hit for free! You give them a little taste, get them addicted, and now they can’t live without it. You start feeling itchy, so I’ve heard, and you can’t focus on anything but those free guaranteed-to-work subject lines!

Calm down. I got you, baby.

Try these on for size:

  1. “We need to talk” – Like any good subject line, this comes from a place of personal psychology. Usually, when you see this in a message, it’s not a positive thing. Most likely, you’re in trouble, or you’re getting broken up with. Which, like any good subject line, is why this is so good. This gets extremely high open rates because it triggers something personal in people.
  2. <Just Your Last Name> – It still works as well as any subject line I’ve tested over the years. I use this one more than any other subject line in my toolbox, and 60% of the time. It works every time! This works because no one does it, so the person does not view it as spam.
  3. <A question that speaks to someone’s expertise> – This works because most of us have this psychology of wanting to help others and show off all at the same time. “Hold my beer. I need to show this person how smart I am, and make myself feel good that I help others…” A good example of this might be something like: “Tim, Can you help me with a recruiting issue I’m having?”
  4. <Salary Data Subject Line, Personalized> – Why does someone change jobs? Nope. You’re mistaken. It has very little to do with their manager. It’s most likely someone else has shown them they can make more money by making this change. At least, that’s what all “the new” data is showing! “Software Engineers are getting 28% salary increases by making this change.” “A Technical Recruiter in the ATL is making $140K.”
  5. <Anything specifically personalized to the receiver> – If you take 13 seconds to look at the resume or profile of a person you’re emailing, you can get something personal from that information to use. School mascots for men work well because you’re gambling that person is a sports fan of the school they graduated from. Or maybe you saw a post they like some certain professional team. “Go Green!” because I’m a Michigan State fan would get me to open that email every time.

Honestly, most of these subject lines work simply because they just don’t suck. 90% of recruiters still use lame subject lines like “I’ve got a great opportunity I would like to discuss with you” <vomit face emoji>! Actually, the vomit-face emoji alone in your subject would be a great subject line to test!

Try these out and let me know how they work.

Also, if you’ve found one that works great, help a brother out and share it in the comments below!

Posted on  by Tim Sackett

Lessons from Curveballs

This holiday season, I’m stepping away from my usual writing to bring you some of the top-read posts from 2023. Enjoy!

The Ball Will Always Find You!

There is a baseball metaphor about the ball finding you. Basically, if you are unprepared or you are scared, that’s precisely when the ball will find you! The moment you least want the ball to come to you is when the ball is hit at you. I’ve heard coaches say this statement my entire life being around baseball.

Life works like this as well.

The one time when you go into the office, and you’re not really prepared for your job or function is the day you’ll be called into an emergency meeting with the CEO! The one question you don’t prepare to be asked will be the one that will be asked.

So, how do you prepare yourself for being unprepared?

1. Acknowledge it when it comes.

So often, we want to try and fake our way through something we weren’t prepared for, but it shows. We aren’t really fooling anyone but ourselves. So, acknowledge it. You know, that’s a great question you asked. I’m not prepared to answer that at this moment, but let me do some research and come back to you with a thorough answer.

2. Redirect the conversation to what you do know.

This isn’t perfect because a savvy executive will come back to the original question, but 60% of the time, it works every time! “That’s a great question. What I focused on were these factors, which, in my estimation, is what we need. I believe…”

3. Answer another question like you’re answering their question.

This is risky, but politicians use this tactic all the time, and it mostly works because the person asking the question is sure you answered their question or not, and they don’t want to sound dumb by asking it again, thinking you answered it! Tim, can you give me some insight into how much we’ll be over budget in TA by the end of the year? “Sure, first, it’s amazing the progress we’ve made. At the beginning of the year, we had no idea we’d be 75% over our planned hiring, and the team has been amazing in reaching that goal. In the second half of the year, we see hiring beginning to slow, and we are anticipating that in Q1 of 2024, we’ll be back up to normal.” Then you just shut up or ask if anyone else has any other questions! Bonus points if you actually go back at them during your answer with some verbal ques like, “You understand, right?” Of course, they’ll be nodding yes! At that point, they will never follow up with another question!

4. Bluff.

Answer the question, even though you don’t really know the answer, and hope and pray they also don’t know the answer! I’ve seen way too many people in my career try and look like a fool. I find that very few executives ask a question they don’t have some semblance of an answer to already. They are just checking to see if you’re on your game and have the answer. So, I do not recommend bluffing. This is usually a low-performer behavior that is probably getting fired soon anyway, and they’re desperate!

5. Open the conversation up to the broader audience or the person who asked the question.

This strategy works really well if you have a strong relationship and trust with the person or people you’re speaking with. In this tactic, you basically acknowledge you don’t know but come back and see if anyone knows or has a strong opinion. You are still driving the conversation and asking questions, which puts you in an authority position, so you don’t look weak by not knowing the answer to the question being asked. “That’s a great question. I actually don’t know the answer, but I’m wondering if anyone else in the room does. Or does anyone have a feeling on what this might look like?” At this point, you could offer up an educated guess as to what you believe it to be if no one else has anything and agree to come back with some more specific information.

Professionally, the ball is going to find you whether you are ready for it or not. We all hope that we will be prepared and ready, but that’s not always the case. Your next reaction is critical to how others will end up viewing you. The more confident you are in your ability and performance, the easier it is to say you just don’t know. Unfortunately, so many times throughout our careers, we get caught off guard, and it might be during a time when our confidence isn’t super high, and that opens us up to trying to make something up on the fly and opening ourselves up to being viewed as a fool.

Posted on  by Tim Sackett

Are You Really Still Ghosting?

This holiday season, I’m stepping away from my usual writing to bring you some of the top-read posts from 2023. Enjoy!

The Reason You Got Ghosted by a Candidate!

Yesterday I answered a question from a candidate about why an employer ghosted them after their interview. Many readers were upset because they were also getting ghosted by candidates. In fact, like all the time, way more than they would ever ghost a candidate. Oh, two wrongs do make a right!

All ghosting is sh*tty behavior by candidates and by those of us who hire. Period.

The reality is that this is hard to admit, and as a professional, we own a portion of the candidate ghosting. Are candidates awful for doing it in the first place? Yes. I will not let them off the hook. But I also only control what I can control, and that is my process, behaviors, etc.

Why are candidates ghosting us?

1. We are moving too fast. Wait, what?! We are told to move fast because that’s what candidates want!? Yes, but when you move so fast, the candidates don’t know you (your company and you personally), the job, the boss, or the reasons why they should come and interview. It all doesn’t seem real. So, it becomes easy to just not show up. (Que Taylor Swift – We need to slow down!)

2. We aren’t giving candidates a way to easily tell us they moved on with another offer. Hourly candidates, especially, are moving fast and have multiple offers. You might have scheduled them for an interview later in the week, but they have already decided to go with another offer. While we gave them instructions on where to go and when we could have made it easier for them to opt out. Many organizations are using auto-scheduling tools like Paradox, which sends reminders and lets candidates choose to reschedule or cancel via text. Those organizations get significantly less ghosting!

3. We believe that once a candidate schedules an interview, our job is done. The most powerful human emotion in existence is being wanted by others. Candidates come to you for a number of reasons, all of which they can most likely get from someone else as well. But, showing them more desire than someone else is a key to great talent attraction. You still need to do that with your messaging even after the interview is scheduled.

4. We allow it to happen without any ramifications. (Okay, this might be a bit aggressive!) What if, every time a candidate ghosted you for an interview, you posted their picture and details on social media!? Yikes! Right?! “This is Tim Sackett, a cute redhead. He ghosted us for an interview yesterday at 3 pm. If you see him, tell him we are thinking about him!” Do you think it would get noticed? Heck, yes, it would!

5. We are making it too easy for candidates to interview. This is a catch-22. We need talent, so we reduce every roadblock possible for candidates. It’s so easy. Most don’t care if they burn the bridge or not. That is truly why employee referrals are so valuable for most employers. Referrals are far less likely to burn a bridge. That might be a trick to use. Ask a candidate: Do you know anyone at our company? Begin to tie the personal connection back to them, and they will be far less likely to ghost. Also, make it super hard to get an interview, and people will hold it as a higher value! “Only 1% of people who apply to our company ever get an interview! it’s a rare thing we offer to only the top candidates.” If you knew that was the case, you would show up for that interview!

I think most of the candidate ghosting is truly reflective of the poor morals and values of the people who are doing it. You made a commitment to someone. You keep that commitment, or at the “very” least, you inform that person you will no longer be able to keep that commitment. It’s a pretty basic human condition. Those who ghost probably had crappy parents and mentors in their life who didn’t teach them the basics. I’ve never once spoken to or met an upstanding individual who thought highly of themselves that would ghost. High-quality people don’t ghost. Low-quality people do.

People don’t like to hear that. They want to talk about circumstances and bad employers, etc. The reality is high-quality people will contact someone and let them know they no longer want to be considered, regardless of how crappy the employer may or may not be. Low-quality people just don’t show up. Don’t hate the player. Hate the game. I’m just telling you the truth. You already know.

If you’re an employer and you ghost candidates after interviews – You (not your organization). You, personally, are of low quality, just like the candidates who ghost you. I don’t like to hire low-quality people. But I also want to give every opportunity for a low-quality person to become a high-quality person.

Posted on  by Tim Sackett

Work From Home Real Talk

This holiday season, I’m stepping away from my usual writing to bring you some of the top-read posts from 2023. Enjoy!

Working from home is not more productive for most people!

The WFH home army hates to hear this! Yikes! But it’s true. While a small percentage of workers, overall, around 10% are actually more productive, the vast majority of people just don’t have the self-awareness and drive to be as productive as they are when they are in an environment that is designed to have them do work.

The media will never tell you this because it’s not popular and won’t get clicked.

Do you know what has happened since the beginning of the pandemic? The golf industry has exploded! Some Stanford researchers, who golfed, started to realize that the golf courses seemed busy. Like really, really, busy! And these courses were busy during times when they shouldn’t be busy, like mid-afternoon on a Wednesday. You know, the time when folks should be working!

They discovered they could use satellite technology paired with GPS and cell phone data to map out traffic at golf courses. This gave them a picture of what this looked like pre-pandemic and what it looks like today. What do you think they found?

First, you have to understand that before the pandemic the golf industry was hurting. Average rounds of golf were down and trending down year over year for a long time. They had this old white guy problem. This means that old white guys were the biggest participants in golf, and that demographic was getting older and dying.

Here’s what Stanford discovered about working from home and golf:

  • There was an 83% increase in mid-week day golfing from pre-pandemic to post-pandemic. All those WFH folks weren’t working all they said they were working!
  • There was a 278% increase at 4 pm. So, we have some hope for those who maybe just were cutting out a little early.
  • The pandemic has led to a golf boom with folks wanting to get outside, but weekend trips to courses were far less of an increase to weekday visits. So, yes, more people are golfing overall due to the pandemic, but weekday golf has exploded with WFH.

I know! I know! This is only one small little study. I’m sure you’re still WAY more productive working at home than you were in the office. But you’re not, or most likely you’re not, but that’s just because you have low self-awareness!

I think most of us just get confused with short-term productivity vs. long-term sustained productivity. The BLS shows productivity of workers has dropped off a cliff, so we really can’t make the WFH productivity argument any longer. I do think for short-term bursts of productivity working from home or someplace where you don’t get interrupted can make you feel way more productive. But day in, day out, over the long haul, working around others who are working will help you sustain your productivity.

I know you hate to hear this. Working at home is so lovely! Plus, you get those great golf tee times during the day!

Posted on  by Tim Sackett

The Good Ole Inbox Zero Metric

This holiday season, I’m stepping away from my usual writing to bring you some of the top-read posts from 2023. Enjoy!

Inbox Zero as a Measure of Performance for Talent Acquisition!

I have a new #1 question I get asked by Talent Acquisition Leaders! My old number one question was, “Which ATS should we be using?” That stood the test of time for almost a decade! But I now have a new number one.

“How should we be measuring success in Talent Acquisition?”

That question comes in a lot of versions:

  • What is the best metric in recruiting?
  • What do you use to measure the productivity of your recruiters?
  • How do you show your organization that TA is doing its job?
  • What are the metrics you use to measure TA?

I like using “Measures of Success” terminology primarily because of how I want to live my life. I never want our metrics, analytics, and data to be used as a hammer to obtain performance. I want to hire people who want to be successful in what they decide to do in life. Once they make that decision, I want to treat them like adults and help them obtain that success. I use data to help them track outcomes and measures of success to lead them on this journey.

Does that sound like a load of B.S. hustle culture or what?! LOL!

But, honestly, I genuinely believe in this philosophy, even though it’s sometimes hard to follow.

If a recruiter wants to be successful, I know there is a specific set of measures that will help them be successful if they follow the process, use the technology, and are diligent in their follow-up. They don’t have to work over 40 hours per week. They just have to work the 40 hours they work.

Every company could have a varied set of metrics that will make them successful. Most will have some similarities, but the actual numbers within the measures will be uniquely yours.

Inbox Zero is a measure a few TA Teams are using as a measure of success.

First off, I don’t necessarily believe that “Inbox Zero” has a high correlation to TA Team or Individual success, but herein lies the problem with measuring the success of TA teams today. The measures most of us use, suck! Time to fill = awful, zero correlation, you should be fired as a leader. (Editor’s note: Okay, Tim, breathe in, we know you’ll die on this hill.)

I find about 90% of TA Leaders work to build measures of success that look good without really having any real impact on actual recruiting success in their organization. That hurts, I know, but it’s true. Inbox Zero is just another sexy attempt at measuring sh*t with little accountability to success, but you can actually measure it, so it must be important. (sarcasm alert)

Just because you “can” measure it, doesn’t mean you “should” measure it.

Okay, what the hell is “Inbox Zero”?

It’s basically what it sounds like.

As a recruiting measure, some brilliant TA lead believes if every recruiter ended their day with zero emails in their inbox, they must be more successful than someone who didn’t end their day with email in their inbox.

There is some science behind inbox zero, although not a measure of recruiting success, just life success. It was developed in 2006, and here are the tenets of this email management strategy:

  • Some messages are more equal than others. On any given day, only a handful of emails are important and timely. Stop treating every email “like a Christmas present that must be savored.”
  • Your time is priceless and wildly limited. Few people have time to respond to every email they receive or even read them in detail. Accept that your workload exceeds your resources and slavishly guard your time.
  • Less can be so much more. Quit thinking that one-line email responses are rude — you’re not helping anyone by sending wordy responses. When it comes to email, economy is key, at least for most messages.
  • Lose the guilt. Out-of-control email is bad enough. Don’t make it worse by beating yourself up because of your overflowing inbox. Forget the guilt and just get busy cleaning up the mess.
  • Lying to yourself doesn’t empty an inbox. Learn to be honest and realistic about your true priorities and time expectations, while developing a “baseline gut check on what you really intend to do about any given message.”

The reality is we are addicted to data that we can measure that is clean. We love “time to fill” because we can accurately measure it. We like things like Inbox Zero because we can accurately measure it. We can show the business the black-and-white numbers we are confident in. No matter if they actually matter or not!

Inbox Zero is a time management strategy. The hope is if you can manage your inbox well, you’ll be a better recruiter. It’s a hope. That is all it is. It’s not a measure of success for talent acquisition. That being said, I need to manage my inbox better!

Posted on  by Tim Sackett