Make my birthday wish come true!?

Guess what?

It’s my birthday! Let’s make this one for the books – literally! The only thing I want is for you to go pre-order my new book The Talent Fix, Vol. 2. Head over to the pre-order page, secure your copy, and let the countdown to the book release begin!

I’m beyond grateful for your ongoing support and am lucky to continue sharing this incredible journey with you. Cheers to another year of growth, learning, and a leader’s guide to recruiting great talent.

Reject Like a Pro

Getting turned down for a job sucks, but how you handle it can impact how people see your company. A while ago, I applied for an executive gig, and 18 months later (emphasis on this), I got a snail mail rejection letter. No communication for 18 months – then a rejection. Now that’s a solid candidate experience, right!?

That experience got me thinking about the dos and don’ts of rejection letters. Here’s the lowdown:

Dos:

  1. Send signed letters to folks you talked to personally – phone calls, meetings, or internal referrals. And don’t wait 18 months.
  2. Write rejection letters that match your company vibe.
  3. If someone’s a definite no, shoot them the rejection letter. For maybes, keep them in the loop.
  4. Use the ATS for mass rejection emails when there’s been zero personal contact.

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t send a letter to everyone who applies. When someone applies, include a message in your recruitment process, letting them know that only those selected for interviews are considered part of the process. This means we’ll communicate directly with those individuals. Others, thanks for applying – please consider other positions that match your experience and background.
  2. Avoid saying someone else was more qualified – you can’t know for sure. Focus on the one who fits your current needs.
  3. Ditch the promise of keeping resumes for the future. Be straight – if they want another shot, tell them to reapply and maybe network a bit.

In the end, rejection letters should leave people thinking, “Okay, I applied once, and I’d do it again. Maybe even support or buy from this company.” It’s not easy, but doable.

For real feedback on your rejection game, give a few rejected candidates a call. They’re usually cool with sharing their thoughts on the process.

Why Do Good Candidates Slip Away?

Hiring can be a puzzle, and losing good candidates is something that happens more often than we’d like to admit. I once heard that a whopping 95% of hiring managers are curious about why good candidates bail during the hiring process.

Now, the big question is whether talent acquisition isn’t telling hiring managers why candidates bail, or if hiring managers just don’t believe the reasons they’re given.

When asked why a candidate left, most teams usually blame the candidate – they backed out, the job was too far, or they got another offer. But hiring managers often hear a different story from their connections. It could be the TA team dragging their feet on travel expenses or taking too long to schedule an interview. Or a candidate might have been left in the dark for weeks about the status of their application, leading them to accept another offer out of frustration with the lack of communication.

The reality is, many TA leaders shy away from finding out the real reasons because it might make them and their team look bad. It’s not a pleasant thing to deal with, but if you want to improve your hiring process, you’ve got to know why your candidates are actually leaving.

So, what’s the trick? Don’t have your recruiting team ask the question directly. You’ll probably end up with answers that make TA look good and blame others. Instead, get someone neutral or a third party to find out and spill the beans. It might not be pretty, but real leaders want the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable. Facing reality is the first step to making your hiring process better.

The 2 Key Criteria

If you’re looking for a new job, it feels like every move, every past action, and even future potential is under intense scrutiny. But one of my favorite studies (an oldie but a goodie) from a Harvard professor reveals that when it comes down to it, job seekers are primarily judged on two critical factors. That’s it – just two.

In a study spanning over 15 years, Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy revealed what shapes initial impressions. She unveils the core inquiries individuals subconsciously ask upon meeting someone for the first time:

  1. Can I trust this individual?
  2. Can I respect this individual?

Trust and respect. These are the immediate judgments following the lightning-fast assessment of one’s appearance. But once you start talking, they start checking how believable you are and the background that earns their respect. It’s often based more on the person making the judgment than on your actual attributes. Unfair? Absolutely.

So, how can you tip the scales in your favor?

  1. Adapt your energy to match that of your interviewer. Harmonizing your demeanor with theirs can bridge gaps in compatibility. If your energy doesn’t match, they might wonder if you’re a good fit for the team.
  2. Research your interviewer beforehand. Understanding their background and weaving connections during the interview fosters trust and respect.
  3. Be interesting. Share a short, engaging story that connects and grabs attention.

Remember, an interview is not an examination; it’s a conversation with strangers. Sometimes the chemistry clicks, and sometimes it doesn’t. If you find yourself disliking the interviewers, chances are the job might not be the right fit either. Trust your instincts.

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

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

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

Maximizing Employee Referrals: The Key to Hiring Success

Referral hires often stand out as the cream of the crop in any company’s recruitment efforts. It’s a simple equation:

Good Employee + wanting to stay a good employee + employee’s reputation = usually good people they recommend to HR/Recruiting to go after and hire

I’m like Einstein when it comes to HR math! However, here’s the challenge: despite this equation, many companies struggle to receive enough referrals. We’ve analyzed our referral process, fine-tuned collateral materials, and even leveraged technology to automate referrals. Yet, the numbers remain short of our expectations and needs.

There’s a straightforward but often overlooked aspect: giving employees explicit permission to share job openings within their personal and professional networks every time a referral is needed for a specific position.

HR excels in roll-outs—we’re masters at initiating programs. However, where we often stumble is in the continuity of these programs post-roll-out. Brutal truth, but true.

So, how can you ramp up your referral game?

  1. Establish a program (surprisingly, not all companies have one).
  2. When in need of a referral, ask for it every single time. Assuming that employees will naturally share openings isn’t always effective.
  3. Specifically “give permission” to employees to share job openings on their social networks—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok you name it!

BEST PRACTICE TIP: Create departmental email groups. When a relevant position opens up, send an email to the group with standard referral language and an easily shareable hyperlink along with clear instructions.

Granting “permission” triggers action—it’s a psychological thing, and it works wonders. Think about it, like you were a 5 year old.  Your parents tell you, you can’t ride your Green Machine in the street.  Then, one day, Mom is out getting her nails done and your Dad sees you doing circles in the driveway on that Green Machine and he goes “Hey, why don’t you take that into the street?!”  What do you do?  You immediately take that bad boy for a ride in the street! Dad “gave you permission” and you ran with it!

Referrals aren’t quite the same, but it’s surprising how some employees question whether they’re allowed to share job postings with friends and family. Don’t assume—they might surprise you.

So, empower your employees. Give your employees permission to get you some referrals! Or what if you allowed anyone in your company to hire?

What Should a Corporate Recruiter Get Paid?

I’ve had some very specific conversations over the past month on corporate Recruiter compensation. It’s a hot subject when it’s brought up because everyone believes they are worth more than what they are for the most part.

Recruiter compensation is and has always been all over the board. There are so many variables that impact it, including industry, company size, market, what tools the recruiter has available, type of recruiting, expectations, how much the function is segmented, etc. I can find great recruiters right now in America that make between $65,000 and over $200,000. The problem is, I can’t tell you that the $200,000 recruiter is any better than the $65,000!

Therein lies the problem!

Your value or worth as a recruiter is what you can get paid.

I’ve lost really good recruiters in my career who came to me and said, “Hey, Company XYZ is going to pay me 25% more than you are!” At which I’ve got to make a decision. Do I believe this person is worth 25% more, or can I get someone of equal or great value for the same price or less than the increase in expense?

Let’s put it another way. Let’s say I’m paying each recruiter $75K, and a recruiter comes to me and says, “I’ve got an offer for $125,000.” What I’m really trying to decide on is $50,000. What can I get for that additional $50K? I already know what I’m getting for $75K. Is this recruiter going to give me $50K more in value if I match the offer? Most likely, no, since I’m probably getting everything I’m getting now. But, if I hired two recruiters for $62,500 each, that equals $125K. Will i get more from those two recruiters than I’m getting from my one at $75,000 (or the new salary of $125K)? I probably will get more with two!

Why am I not paying a corporate recruiter a ridiculously high salary?

  1. Upwards of 50% of the positions they fill will be internal hires on average.
  2. The vast majority don’t hunt. They post jobs, and their corporate brand fills the funnel with viable candidates. They are administering the recruiting process.
  3. Most are not held accountable to hard recruiting metrics.
  4. The vast majority, based on research, are not delivering a better-than-average candidate experience.
  5. You do not see a discernible difference in performance across corporate recruiters working in the same function.

Okay, just tell us what we should be paying a Corporate Recruiter!

Now that you can actually recruit anywhere, market compensation shouldn’t be a thing, but it’s still a thing. That being said, if you take market compensation out of it, I think you can find really great generalist corporate recruiters for $85k. People who actually find talent, fill positions, follow up well, and flat-out move the TA needle.

How did I come up with this very scientific number?

First, this is way over the salary data on recruiting you’ll pull off the internet, but it will still basically show the average recruiter’s salary in the $60K range. But that takes in a lot of factors, including the millions of entry-level agency recruiters who start with bases way less than $60K.

I’ve spoken to so many corporate recruiters who got laid off and corporate recruiting leaders who have been laying off $100K+ corporate recruiters and finding out once they are gone that they weren’t really worth that kind of money. Now, I don’t blame the recruiters for this! Girl, if you can get paid, go get paid! I’m your biggest fan! But also, don’t come crying when you get laid off because you were overcompensated for all that time.

Here’s the thing – you have top recruiters who are worth every single penny you pay them. Those are literally about 2-3% of recruiters. The problem is every single recruiter believes they are in the top 2-3%. They aren’t. Take a look at your own team. You most likely have a bunch of “B” players who are fine but shouldn’t be getting top dollar. You can hire a million of these recruiters. They are all the same.

There is a law of recruiting productivity that comes into play in every recruiter’s life. You can only do so much and deliver so many hires. Once you get to the top of the pay scale and you are basically doing the same as someone at the middle or bottom of the pay scale, you no longer seem like a great buy. Top pay requires the top performance. Very few recruiters getting top pay are doing exponentially more than those getting paid much lower.

I say $85K because I know if you’re in the Midwest, you can find great talent for $85K. Also, if you allow recruiters to work remotely, you can get great recruiters for $85K. You can also get great recruiters starting out for $65K, but they’ll soon start producing, and you won’t keep them for $65K.

You should be using performance compensation for Corporate Recruiters!

Another miss, in my opinion, is corporate TA leaders are not using performance pay strategies with their teams. I was told by one TA leader that she couldn’t do that! I then asked if they used performance compensation with their sales team, which they did. It’s not that you can’t. It’s that you are unwilling to change or figure out a better way.

PRO TIP – Your best recruiters, by productivity (filling jobs), should be making exponentially more than your worst recruiters. Yes, even in a corporate setting. You should not be paying recruiters based on tenure. Tenure doesn’t matter in recruiting. Filling positions does.

I believe that corporate recruiters should be working on a 2/3 base salary and 1/3 performance compensation. This means that the total for a solid performing recruiter would land in that $85K range. Your best recruiters should be able to go above that range because they’ll make more in performance compensation.

I’ve seen agency recruiters who can and have made well above $150K, and some IT agency folks in the valley upwards of $500k and more, the same for executive agency folks. Corporate recruiting is a different game and you don’t need to pay $150-$200K+ salaries to get great performance.

Alright, corporate recruiters, take your shot and kill me in the comments!

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 then 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 really 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, you showing them more desirable 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.