3 Great Learnings from Rejected Offers!

The CEO of Kapwing, Eric Lu, a video online technology company, recently wrote a blog post about what he and his team learned from recruiting engineers and had sixteen offers that were rejected! Go read it, it’s a great insightful post, from a leader will to share a bit of his pain and learning for the benefit of all of us!

First, we all know that recruiting technology candidates have been, and will continue to be, very difficult, especially in Silicon Valley. Eric knows this as well, but you still like to dig into your own data and find out more. I find most leaders don’t truly like to know why someone rejected their offer. In fact, most leaders make up excuses about the candidates who reject them, instead of learning more about themselves. So, Eric is already a pretty damn good leader by just wanting to know more about this issue!

Why do people reject your offers?

Before we even get into some of the common reasons, the reason most candidates reject an offer is that “we” (recruiting, hiring managers, leaders) did a crappy job at closing the potential candidate. What should happen is we all have pre-closed enough that when an offer is made, we already know the answer, and that answer is “yes”! You should rarely be surprised by this answer, and if you are, something failed in closing this candidate.

Money! (Duh, you really wrote that?!) Yeah, turns out people almost always want more money to come work for you, when they have a job and have some experience. They want a lot more money when they have those things and others who also want them.

No High-Level Title. Why? Ego, yeah. But, honestly, this is also another money thing! If you can actually get a higher title, this helps in your career progression. If I’m looking to hire a “VP” I want someone who has that experience or career progression. Most orgs won’t hire a “Manager” to become a “VP”, so titles matter to a lot of people. Even though they shouldn’t.

Your Brand/Position/Leader is what they want. This is the hardest one because many times there’s nothing you can do. Some candidates are looking for something specific and they don’t know if that will be you until they go through the process to find out. Sometimes that takes them to the end where they discover this isn’t for them.

What did the CEO of Kapwing learn from his rejected offers?

1. Expiring offers actually work! I absolutely love this concept! It’s a psychological concept to be sure! Once someone decides to accept your offer, even if other offers come in, they will usually stay with that offer. Kapwing had both sign-on bonuses and offer expiration dates! Take a look at this pic –

Expiring Offer Model from Kapwing

2. Access to your founders, C-suite, and Board can make a difference! But, really it’s more than just access, it’s also about those folks showing interest and making the person feel desired. If I’m interviewing for a non-leadership role and the CEO and a Board member reach out to me to say great things, that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, and like those folks give a sh*t! I want to work for a company like that!

3. Communication from interviewers and potential new teammates is a big win! Candidates constantly get ghosted. They hate this and they hate “you” for it! If you want to land more candidates FORCE those who interviewed to email, call, send flowers, etc., and give those candidates constructive, yet positive, feedback. Also, have potential teammates of this person send notes, like “hey, Timmy, said he interviewed you last week and mentioned you have some knowledge around “X” we could so use you right now on this project…can’t wait to work with you!” A future employee wants to feel like they will find great friends at your company!

Shoutout to Eric Lu and the Kapwing team for sharing their pain, knowledge, and learning. It was a brave post, honestly, and I loved it!

@Hiretual’s 2021 Software Engineering Recruiting Report!

The single most-searched-for candidate on the sourcing technology platform Hiretual over the past twelve months has been for “Software Engineer”. Turns out, almost everyone, in every industry, in every market has a need for Software Engineers!

Hiretual recently released their 2021 Software Engineering Report (Click to download report) and it’s packed with some great data, you can download the report for free! Here are some nuggets from the report:

– The companies having the most success in recruiting Software Engineers are paying 13.2% more than the industry average!

– The sweet spot for experience level that companies are looking for is between 6-8 years. Those folks are probably going to be the hardest to find and most likely being paid above the market average. (Pro-tip – go for segments of experience that others aren’t – 10+ years, or under 4 years).

– The big East Coast cities are begging for Women and Underrepresented Ethnic Minority candidates more than the west coast. (San Francisco metro area probably has a more robust pool of women and underrepresented ethnic minority software engineer candidates than anywhere else in the US).

How can you use this report to help us recruit more Software Engineers?

1. Zig when others are zagging!

If everyone is trying to hire Software Engineers in San Fran and Austin, maybe you should hire in Chicago and Boston? Or Nashville and Atlanta. Let’s face it, most Sotware Engineers can Software Engineer from almost anywhere!

2. Fish in bigger ponds.

Use the data to know where to spend your job advertising dollars, and where to focus your sourcing efforts. Too often we spend way too much time fishing in small ponds for big fish when we should be fishing in big ponds for bigger schools of fish.

3. Pay us like you owe us!

Your C-Suite, especially your CFO needs data around compensation by market. It doesn’t matter how great you are at recruiting, and how great your recruiting technology is. If you aren’t paying the appropriate amount of money, you will lose.

Check out the 2021 Software Engineer Report by Hiretaul!

Choose Your Hard…

I was at SHRM Annual last week and a very common story from everyone I spoke to, know matter their title, was the fact that recruiting talent is extremely difficult right now. Most organizations are in desperation mode, and I’m not saying that to be dramatic.

There’s a concept that motivational folks have been using for a while now. The concept is “Choose your hard.” Meaning, a lot of stuff in life is hard. It’s hard to be overweight and not feel good about yourself, it’s also hard to work out and eat healthily. Choose your hard.

It’s hard to get up and go to work each day and put in long hours to make ends meet. It’s also hard to be unemployed and figure out ways to survive. Choose your hard.

It’s hard to recruit talent.

There are so many things organizations can do to recruit talent better. You can hire great recruiters and give them the right tools. You can actually fund your recruitment marketing and advertising appropriately. You can measure and performance manage your recruiters and sources. You can work with your hiring teams to help out as employee advocates to produce more referrals. You can shop out your entire recruiting to RPO or Agency. You can hire great employees who love your brand and train them to be recruiters. You can go out and lead the market in pay and total compensation packages.

All of this stuff is hard to do.

It’s hard because most of this stuff comes with accountability. If I can talk my CEO and CFO into funding us correctly, this will come with some expectations of performance. I will put a bullseye on myself and my team.

It’s hard to get fired from a job because you didn’t perform. Because you didn’t do the work that was needed to be successful. That you didn’t put in the work to build the plan, to acquire the needed resources, to lead your organization to success.

Don’t get me wrong, working harder is not a strategy. Working harder is a short-term fix, that eventually leads to failure and burnout. Hard is doing the work that needs to be done so your sole strategy is not just working harder.

At the end of the day, we all have to choose our hard.

The LinkedIn Invite That Got Me to Click!

The recruiter in me is constantly trying to figure out the best subject line for emails and Inmails to get a response. At the end of the day, I need people to click to open so I can potentially recruit them. That’s how we become successful in recruiting, getting people interested!

My #1 go-to subject line for years has simply been my last name “Sackett”. Just that one word in the subject gets more click-throughs than anything else I’ve used. Now my friends Stacy Zapar and Angle Verros will both kill me if I don’t mention that the real #1 click-through subject line is really anything personal to the person you are sending it to!

For me, being a huge Michigan State Spartans fan, if you sent me an Inmail or email that said, “Go Green” I would definitely open that message! It’s specifically personal to me and I know you had to take a few seconds to understand me as a person.

This Lady Got Me!

Here’s the LinkedIn Invite that got me to accept:

Brilliant LinkedIn Invite

So, I’m not making fun of Yvonne! I’m admiring her marketing brilliance!

I only accept about 40% of my LinkedIn invitations because, like you, I get so many that are just spam and/or sales outreach for things I do not want or need. The moment you accept comes some cheesy sales pitch and you end up hating yourself for accepting! So, I’m pretty picky. This one got me!

Right away I was leary. “Private Coach” – no thanks! “Business Owners” – Ugh, sales pitch coming…but Yvonne did something special. She personalized it, or at least it felt personal to me! “I’ve decided not to send you the generic LI invite…” And then the magic, “Fingers crossed”!

FINGERS CROSSED!

I got duped by a generic mass invite message, by a person saying “THIS ISN’T GENERIC” and then saying “Fingers Crossed”! My mind couldn’t comprehend that this wasn’t an actual personal message. It seemed so personal and yet was not personal at all once you really dig into it.

I was the idiot. The moment after accepting came the auto-response cheesy sales pitch! Ugh! Damn you, Yvonne (if that’s even your name!) you go me!

I actually was super impressed and told her, right after removing the connection! Give credit where credit is due. She got me and I had to give her a hat tip. It’s pretty rare that I find a truly magical wording that can get someone to click, and I think she found it. And I think we all should steal it because it’s actually marvelous in its simplicity!

G*d Damn, fingers crossed got me. I feel like such an amateur right now!

7 Words That Turn Candidates Off!

Communication is a tricky thing. It’s so easy to turn off another party by simply using just one wrong word, especially when you’re trying to build a relationship with a candidate you potentially want to hire.

I think there are some words and phrases that have a high probability of turning off a candidate to want to come work for your organization. I speak to students a few times a year about interviewing and I tell them something similar, which is what you say can automatically make a hiring manager not want to hire you!

Think about being an interview and the candidate starts to tell you why they’re no longer working for ACME Inc. “Oh, you know it was just a ‘misunderstanding’, I can explain…”

“Misunderstanding” is a killer word to use while interviewing! It wasn’t a misunderstanding! You got fired! The ‘misunderstanding’ is you not understanding the crap you were doing was wrong! 

So, what are the 7 Deadly Words you should never use as a recruiter? Don’t use these:

-“Layoff” – It doesn’t matter how you use it. Even, ‘we’ve never had a layoff!’ “Layoff” isn’t a positive word to someone looking to come to work for you, so why would you even add it to the conversation!

-“Might” – Great candidates want black and white, not gray. “Might” is gray. Well, we might be adding that tech but I don’t know. Instead, use “I’m not sure, let me check for you because I want to get you the truth.  Add

-“Maybe” – See above.

-“Unstable” – You know what’s unstable? Nothing good, that’s what! If something isn’t good, don’t hide behind a word that makes people guess how bad it might be, because they’ll usually assume it’s worse than it really is!

-“Legally” – “Legally” is never followed by something positive! “Legally, we would love to give you a $25K sign-on bonus, but…” It’s always followed by something that makes you uncomfortable. When trying to get someone interested in your organization and job, don’t add “Legally” to the conversation!

-“Temporarily” – This is another unsettling word for candidates. “Temporarily” we’ll have to have you work out of the Nashville office, but no worries, you’ll be Austin soon enough! Um, no.

-“Fluid” – Well, that’s a great question, right now it’s a fluid situation, we’re hoping that hiring you will help clarify it! Well, isn’t that comforting… Add: “Up in the air” to this category!

We use many of these words because we don’t want to tell the candidate the truth. We think telling them exactly what’s wrong with our organization, the position, our culture, will drive them away. So, we wordsmith them to death!

The reality is most candidates will actually love the honesty and tend to believe they can be the ones to come in and make it better. We all want to be the knight on the white horse. Candidates are no different. Tell them the truth and you’ll end up with better hires and higher retention!

Adjust Your Recruitment Packaging!

I talk to a lot of TA leaders and pros who tend to get stuck when it comes to their employer branding and messaging. They want to be transparent and tell candidates exactly who they are and what these candidates should prepare for. The problem being, they believe if they are transparent then candidates will not want to apply or join their company.

The problem with this type of thinking is every single employee, and every candidate for that matter will look at your company and your jobs through different lenses. Take your most loyal employee of all time (Timmy), the person who loves working for your brand more than anyone. What they believe is their truth. Our hope and dream is everyone sees the world, and our company, the exact same way!

Now, take the employee who is the exact opposite end of the spectrum as Timmy! This employee hates you, the company, their job. They are a walking work cancer. The only question you really have about this employee is can we fire them faster than they might be able to quit.

The reality is, your brand and your jobs are truly no different to these two employees, yet they see it as completely different.

When it comes to your employer brand there are some key things you should not adjust for:

  1. This is who we are.
  2. This is what we stand for.
  3. This is what we do.

The rest is just packaging!

Now, I’m not saying you should put out a video that shows daily ice cream socials and free Tesla’s. That would be lying. But if your packaging of your jobs and your company aligns more with how Timmy sees your brand, that’s the packaging. This world is real for at least one person at your company. It’s not a lie, it’s one employee’s truth.

You can change your packaging constantly. By location, by job, by month, etc. The core of your brand doesn’t change. This is who we are, and what we stand for, and what we do. You might even add to this with some this is what we will do for you or help you become. As long as that’s your core and you can deliver on it.

Each of us works for a brand and a job that can sometimes suck and sometimes be amazing, but mostly is a job that we like fine enough, but not as much as a puppy giving you a kiss, or your child running to you after you’ve been gone on a trip. And that’s okay!

So many of us are struggling to get people to apply to our jobs and come work for us right now, and the truth is, we need to step up our marketing game! We need to make our stuff more attractive! More desirable! We need to adjust our packaging. You’re trying to sell high-end jobs with generic branding, and you’re getting generic results.

3 Things to Stop, Start, and Keep Doing in Talent Acquisition! #SHRMTalent

Hey, gang, I’m out at SHRM Talent this week, and I have to tell you, it feels amazing to be back doing some in-person events! I’ve been a part of some exceptional virtual events during the pandemic, and the content is always very strong, but there’s something about interacting live with practitioners, face-to-face, that can’t be replicated!

As I’ve been hitting sessions and talking with corporate TA pros and leaders this week, it’s clear that the pandemic has given us some new challenges in TA, but we also have so many things that were broken before that we keep doing. Usually, at SHRM Talent, I find a lot of stuff that speakers are telling us we should start doing, some will tell us some things to stop doing, almost no one says “Hey, keep doing this…”

The Top 3 Things I Heard You Should Start Doing:

  1. Find automated ways to include all applicants in the selection process. Currently, we eliminate too many candidates that we believe aren’t a candidate, by taking a five second view of their application or resume. Hello, unconscious and conscious bias! Also, this kills are diversity and inclusion. We need to find ways to let everyone in the process, without slowing the process down!
  2. Go back to old school techniques! I’ve been hearing from everyone at SHRM Talent that many are finding success by going back to some old school techniques like, in-person career fairs (no black hole!), actual newspaper advertising, community networking with religious organizations and community organizations, etc. Yes, digitial is important, but when everyone turns right, some will find success by turning left!
  3. 95/5 – Still only 5% of organizations are using Programmatic for job advertising. 95% of organization’s marketing teams are using Programmatic to sell your organization’s products and services. More organizations are going to have to start testing and using programmatic for job advertising.

The Top 3 Things I Heard You Should Stop Doing:

  1. Stop treating candidates like crap. Okay, you aren’t, but everyone else is! The fact remains that candidates are telling us in survey after survey they keep getting ghosted and not getting feedback after applying and interviewing.
  2. Stop spending money on “job boards” without knowing what your actual stastics are regarding that spend. Which “job boards”? Indeed, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, etc. If you are spending money to post a job you need to know what is actually happening or not happening. Too many of us are still posting jobs and spending a ton of money without really understanding what is happening. More spend doesn’t always equal more of what you want.
  3. Stop allowing HR to pre-board and on-board all those candidates you worked your butt off to get to a “yes”! The candidate has the relationship with a recruiter, and they are more likely to work with a recruiter on issues they might be having intially. It’s too easy for them to break-up with HR, because they don’t know HR.

The Top 3 Things I Heard You Should Keep Doing:

  1. Keep picking up the phone. Turns out, very few candidates claim they will accept a job without first speaking to someone either via phone or live about a job.
  2. Keep trusting your remote recruiters by fully understanding and knowing what they are actually doing through measurement of funnel recruiting metrics that validate why you trust them so much!
  3. Keep communicating non-stop with your executives, and really your entire organization, weekly on what’s really happening in recruitment. Be transparent and ask for help. When a crisis hits any part of your organization almost all employees would be willing to help. We are in a hiring crisis, it’s not time to be quiet, it’s time to be loud and get everyone on board!

Hourly Hiring Made Simple! @ParadoxOlivia

I’ve looked at a lot of hourly recruiting technology in the past three months. It seems like every organization that has mass hourly hiring all had issues all at the same time. Every org, every industry, every marketplace has openings and is trying to hire.

Take a look at this video from Paradox, on the re-launch of their hourly recruiting technology:

Of all the hourly hiring technology I’ve taken a look at, Paradox/Olivia seems to be the one, at Enterprise scale, that has the most merit to be wildly successful! The hourly hiring product is intuitive and the process flow seems to be actually built by someone who has had to hire high volume hourly workers in their career!

I’ve spoke to a number of CHROs and CPOs over the past few months and I’ve been very specific with them about having their teams check out what Paradox has put together. Well worth a demo, especially with all the pain that’s out there around hiring an hourly workforce.

I think so many organizations who have high volume hourly hiring issues right now are wondering why their ATS isn’t working better. The problem isn’t your ATS, it’s the automation behind your recruiting stack. Hiring high volume hourly workers quickly and efficiently takes a different level of automation that enterprise level ATSs do not have built. Most have a process designed around hiring your normal white collar, professional worker, and they do a fairly good job at it. Hiring 1000’s of workers a week or month, all via a mobile device, is a completely different animal!

Paradox didn’t pay me for this review (although they should!). This is how much I like this product, that I wanted to share this with all of you so you could make the decision is this would help your right now with delimma most of us are facing when it comes to hiring high volume right now!

“Hire Fast! No, Faster! Fire Fast!” The New Recruiting Axiom!

Traditionally, talent acquisition pros would say it’s “Hire Slow, Fire Fast”. I always thought that was stupid because the reality was for most corporations it was “Hire Slow, most likely Never Fire someone unless they kill another employee in front of you…” Or something like that!

Okay, “It was Hire Slow, Fire Fast”, but we all know that never really worked. Currently, around the world, it’s mostly, “Hire Slow, Fire Slow”. I’m a true believer in we you don’t hire someone to fire them. So, move quickly, hire well, and then support the heck out of them and make them superstars, seems like a higher ROI approach to hiring!

Welcome to 2021!

The problem is, economies don’t give a crap about our axioms! Currently, in the US you better Hire As Fast As You Can, and Still that probably isn’t fast enough! So, “Hire Fast, No Faster, and Fire the Bad Ones That Got Through Your Super Fast Process!” That is really the only shot you have in 2021, and most likely for 2022 and 2023!

Let’s break down what would really happen if you started hiring super fast!

1. You would fill positions much faster than you do now.

2. You would probably make more bad hires. Turnover would increase if you do it right.

3. You would probably spend more on training.

4. You would probably hire some folks you normally wouldn’t and actually, some of those will be really good.

5. You would be forcing your hiring managers to make very quick decisions if you let them decide at all.

Of course, this isn’t your long-term let’s do this forever recruiting strategy! This is, hey, if we don’t start moving super fast, we’ll never be able to compete for talent in our marketplace!

Amazon Warehouses can currently hire candidates from applications to offer in under 30 minutes. Low skill jobs, paying around $17-21/hr. Yes, their turnover is about 150%. Yes, that is actually about normal for warehousing jobs. Turns out, Doug, the hiring manager, doesn’t have some magic selection instinct. Is the Candidate is interested? Does the Candidate show up? You’ve got a 1 in 3 shot they’ll be a good hire.

If I was in the same marketplace as an Amazon Warehouse and hiring the same level of talent, I would literally hire a taco truck to sit outside their property across the street and just hire all the people who turnover from Amazon on a daily/weekly basis. That would be my sole recruiting strategy! Let them do all the work, and I just clean up the mess!

How Could We Make “Hire Fast, No Faster, and Fire Fast” Work?

It’s pretty simple. You pay slightly above market pay. Be one of the top-paying companies in your market. Hire extremely fast, and the moment an employee starts to show you they actually suck BAM! You fire them. The reality is, being a pay leader in your marketplace will continue the funnel of incoming candidates coming.

We aren’t trying to put Jeff Bezos in space people! We are just trying to fill openings at our companies that are all about average. We treat you fairly well. You’ll have some laughs, and once in a while, we’ll buy ice cream and stuff. It’s not the best gig, but it’s far from the worst.

The key is you can’t let low performance even show up for a day! You reward, celebrate, and do all the good stuff for those who come to work. Those who come to collect a check, and not work, you have to kill instantly! Sounds harsh, but this isn’t show friends, this is show business!

The Top Recruiters Never Get Surprised! #Recruiting101

If there is one thing I could give a new Recruiting Pro it would be this simple advice. No matter how prepared you think you are, you really only need to prepare yourself, for one thing, being surprised.

You don’t really get judged on your daily stuff.  Let’s face it, 99.9% of the time that goes off without a hitch.  You get judged on how you handle surprises.

Surprises make and break great Recruiting Pro careers.

There’s really only one way to prepare for surprises.  You need to expect that a surprise will always happen. That one interview you desperately want, who calls to cancel with ‘car trouble’, the candidate who backs out of the offer after signing the paperwork.  Talk about it, plan for it, and basically come to grips that it will happen.  Then it will happen, and you’ll be the only one not surprised by it.

The best Recruiting Pros I’ve worked with had this one common trait, they were unshakeable when surprised.

Almost like they expected it.