The Most Important Question You’ll Ever Ask A Hiring Manager!

How are those hiring manager “intake” meetings going?

You know, those meetings you have with a hiring manager every single time they have an opening. You sit down with your hiring manager face to face and ask them a page full of questions.  Why is this position open? What would make a candidate most successful in this role?  What color of skin would you like this candidate to have? Boobs or no boobs? Whoops! Scratch those last ones. We would never ask those…

We begin to hate these meetings. They feel forced.

The reality is Talent Pros really only have one question they need to ask hiring managers. That question is this:

“Do you trust that I can find the talent you need?”

Ultimately, this is all that really matters for your success.  If they trust you, they’ll give you all the information you need to be successful.  If they don’t trust you can find the talent they need, they tend to hold stuff back.

Yes, I know that doesn’t make sense, but that’s real world talent acquisition stuff! Welcome to corporate America. A lot of stuff doesn’t make sense!

Most hiring managers have no faith you’ll find them great talent.  They have this belief because of so many bad Talent Pros before you failed them.  So many before you didn’t really go out and find the best talent, they just delivered whatever warm body came into the ATS.

I just come out and ask the question.  The first answer you’ll get from 99% of hiring managers is a weird, “Well, sure, I do.” If you really dig into this answer, you’ll get the true answer which 90% of the time is, “Hell no! Why would I?  Your department has really never gotten this right!”

Thank you! That’s what I really needed.  I needed to get that out in the open, so now we can really build trust and make great things happen.  They’re mostly right. Talent Acquisition fails many of our hiring managers for a number of reasons. Right now, your hiring manager doesn’t need to hear those reasons, they need to hear why this time will be different.

Then, you have to live up to ‘different’! You have to be better.  You have to get it right. Getting it right earns trust.

Once they trust you, great things will happen. Earn that trust.

I’m back from London – What did I learn?

I was over in London during the 4th of July holiday. I hosted the DisruptHR London event and attended RecFest 2022. The weather was very un-London like in that it was amazing!

This was my third time in London and every time I learn a little more:

London –

  • Still the best mass transit system around. Nothing beats the Tube!
  • London is a better New York. Big city. Big city stuff to do. Smells wonderful and seems like a smaller city. Flowers everywhere. There’s so much to see.
  • Food is improving, but mainly that’s all the non-English food coming in.
  • Shopping is funny in London. So many people from different countries and middle east tourists love the gaudy logo brand clothing! The gaudier the better! They wait in line to get into the biggest brand name stores! Like, you never have to ask what they are wearing, you can read it clearly across their chest! The English, tend to not be so loud about their dress.
  • They still laugh at how much soda Americans drink, but that’s only because instead of drinking soda they drink the same amount of beer.
  • The English men dress exponentially way better than American men on average. Also, almost none of them wear shorts. I had folks comment on my “American” shorts, mostly that it was too cold for shorts. It was in the ’70s every day.
  • It’s one of the most diverse cities I’ve been to. You meet people from so many countries it’s unbelievable. And no one is complaining that England is trying to make the country their country. London is London, you came here, welcome to London. We’re going to stay being London, we hope you like it. If you don’t, you’re free to leave. That doesn’t mean they aren’t accepting and welcoming, they are. But they are also English, no matter your skin color or nationality.
  • I had drivers from six different countries – Afghanistan, Italy, South Africa, Iraq, Norway, and Croatia. Each one was excited to talk about America and all couldn’t wait to go back or go for the first time. They seemed truly excited. Also, unfortunately, most wanted to go to Las Vegas or New York. To them that’s America! This wasn’t normal driver chit-chat, these folks really wanted to talk about America and many had stories of them trying to get to America, but England was easier.

DisruptHR London –

  • Just an amazing group of HR professionals and speakers. The London HR crowd was so engaging.
  • We struggled to get 200 folks to sign up. Which is strange, but it’s really about advertising and marketing. Everyone who came raved about the event, but almost 100% said they had never heard of it. It felt like we hammered the marketing for eight straight weeks. Also, this was actually the 16th DisruptHR London, so it begs the question of who was coming to the first 16?!
  • If you’ve never done a 5-minute DisruptHR talk – as a speaker – it might be your greatest challenge! You must try one!

RecFest2022 –

  • 4,000+/- Recruiting professionals at an outdoor festival. Jamie Leonard, the founder of RecFest, hates when I call it the world’s largest Recruiting party, but it is! It’s also a festival and conference and it’s amazing.
  • It was a warm, sunny day, and I and like 50 other people had on our American shorts!
  • Word is, RecFest might be coming to America in 2022, but if you have a chance to go over to London for RecFest 2023, it’s a must-do!
  • People in the UK seem to love to queue (that’s standing in line, for Americans). When I arrived at the festival there were 1,000 people in the queue just waiting to get in! Eventually, they just opened the gates, then people went right back into the queue for coffee, food, and beer. I think the English just walk around looking to stand in a queue! That won’t work in America. Jamie and the crew will have to figure that out. If Americans stand in line for ten minutes, they’ll never come back!
  • There is nothing like this anywhere in the world! The RecFest folks truly have something special on their hands.

The Most Important 20 Minutes of Your Week!

A lot of folks are currently Looking for work and there are a ton of open jobs, like 12.5 million! This means that this week you’re likely to do more phone screens than a similar week a few years ago. Almost everyone in TA is working harder and trying to push more through the funnel. You and your teams will be cranking out phone screens!

You and I (TA Leaders and Pros) don’t consider a twenty-minute phone screen to be an interview. Candidates definitely believe it’s an interview. They prepare for your phone screen at the same level they prepare for an in-person interview with the hiring manager. First impressions and all.

Here’s the problem, that twenty-minute phone screen, one of many you will have during the week, isn’t even in your top 25 most important things you’ll be doing this week. So, how do we address this variance in importance with how the candidate will ultimately view your employment brand, you, your hiring manager, and the job?

That’s a tricky question.

I think the first thing we need to do in talent acquisition is simply to recognize this reality. We are going to be talking with scheduled candidates about who we are, who they are, and what we have, and this is extremely important to them, especially for those out of job. To have some empathy and understanding of the situation. To provide something of value, even as we look to gain some value of information ourselves.

It’s a powerful thing to know you’ll be talking with a number of people in a week, all of whom this could be their most important conversation of the week, month, or year. That we (all recruiters) have a major impact on this event in their lives. We can create an amazing experience, or we can do something less than amazing.

I have this naive belief that all of us humans actually want to do things that make other people happy and satisfied. Isn’t that a great little fuzzy, cute world I live in!?! If we knew we had the power to make someone’s life just a little better, we would use that power for good. That if given the choice to make someone’s day brighter, we would always make the right choice.

Well, we do.

Do Good. Be Kind. As Chris Kurtz would say.

This week, as you go out into the world and phone screen your brands out. Try and make someone’s week. You are worth it. They are worth it. It will be the most important twenty minutes of their week, it’s important we remember that!

The State of Hourly and High-Volume Hiring in 2022

It’s Friday. It’s the Summer. Blog traffic is crap on Fridays in the summer! You get my raspy, deep morning voice instead, enjoy! So, here’s a vlog instead:

It’s Your Boy!

Here’s the link to the report – The State of Hourly and High-Volume Hiring in 2022 by HR.com. Here’s the link to Matt Charney.

If You Could Choose 1 ATS Which One Would It Be?

One of the most asked questions I get over the last decade of writing and speaking is “What ATS should I buy?” I don’t have one, because there are so many variables at play, plus there are most likely over one thousand ATSs in existence!

My buddy, Hung Lee, at Recruiting Brainfood, had this study put together and I love it! Basically, it was asking users of ATSs (a couple thousand, worldwide, so statistically relevant), if you could choose an ATS which one would you choose?

The results:

https://insights.recruitingbrainfood.com/wdrw/2021

What can we learn from this data?

From the get-go, Greenhouse Software seems to be very popular with users! Greenhouse is definitely one of my top recommendations when people ask, and I truly think you can’t go wrong if you choose them.

You can also probably understand fairly quickly, that there isn’t a ton of big enterprise users that answered the survey because the vast majority of giant enterprise use one of the big 3: Workday, Oracle, or SAP. Taleo/Oracle and Workday are at the top of the big enterprise ATS world, with SAP/Successfactors coming in third, which seems to align with what I hear from enterprise Talent leaders.

You hear the big 3 enterprise recruiting modules get beat up a lot, but the truth is, when you’re hiring hundreds of thousands, if not millions of employees per year, you need a system that can handle that volume and complexity. Plus, you most likely need full global and you want something that won’t break. They tend to lower marks from users because they aren’t as feature-rich as the best-of-breed ATSs on the market, but all have a solid partner ecosystem that adds most of the features a big enterprise is looking for.

As you start to look at the lines that have more attractors than detractors, you see some interesting stuff. You see the large numbers of likes for SmartRecruiters, Lever, and SMB ATS Workable. All of which are great selections as well. Avature is a surprise, as they are an ATS, but were built as a CRM, but users seem to like the combination.

I use Loxo, so I’m excited to see them in a very positive light on a list with all these big brands and established ATSs. At the end of the day, the best thing that can happen for any brand or service is the people using you would choose you to use it again if given the option.

Are Recruiters Wasting Hiring Manager’s Time?

I had a conversation the other day with a corporate HR Director and we were talking recruiters, corporate recruiters.  My friend had a dilemma, a classic corporate recruiting scenario. The problem is she has recruiters who are doing a decent job, but they won’t get out from behind their desks and get out into the organization and get face-to-face feedback from the hiring managers. But, here is the real reason:  the recruiters feel like they are “wasting” the hiring manager’s time.

“So,” she asked, “How do I get them out to build these relationships?”

Great question, but she asked the wrong question (which was partially my answer).  Her problem isn’t that her recruiters aren’t building relationships face-to-face with managers. The problem is they feel they are “wasting” someone’s time.

They don’t value or understand the value they are providing to the hiring manager. If they did, it sounds like they wouldn’t have a problem visiting with the hiring managers.  It’s a classic leadership failure, solving a symptom instead of solving the actual problem.

I don’t think that this is rare, recruiters feeling like they are wasting hiring manager’s time. It happens constantly at the corporate level.  Once you train your recruiters (and hiring managers) on the value the recruiters are providing, you see much less resistance of the recruiters feeling comfortable getting in front of hiring managers to get feedback on candidates, and actually making a decision.  This moves your process along much quicker.

What value do recruiters provide?  Well, that seems like a really stupid question, but there aren’t stupid questions (just stupid people who ask questions).  Here are a few that will help your corporate recruiters understand their real value to hiring managers:

  • Corporate recruiters are the talent pipeline for a hiring manager. (or should be!)
  • Corporate recruiters can be the conduit for hiring managers to increase or better the talent within their department.
  • Corporate recruiters are a partner to the hiring managers in assessing talent.
  • Corporate recruiters are a strategist for the hiring managers group succession planning
  • Corporate recruiters are your hiring manager’s first line of performance management (setting expectations before someone even comes in the door)
  • Corporate recruiters are tacticians of organizational culture.

So, the next time you hear a recruiter tell you “I don’t want to waste their time.” Don’t go off on them and tell them to “just go out there and build the relationship”. Educate them on why they aren’t wasting their time. Then do an assessment for yourself to determine are they adding value or are they just wasting time. All recruiters are not created equal and some waste time, and it’s your job as a leader to find ones to add value.

A critical component of all of this is building an expectation of your hiring managers of what they should expect from your recruiters.  They should expect value. They should expect a recruiter who is a pro, and who is going to help them maneuver the organizational landscape and politics of hiring. They should expect a recruiter is going to deliver to them better talent than they already have. They should expect a partner, someone who is looking out for the best interest of the hiring managers department.

Ultimately, what they should expect is someone who won’t waste their time!

Is someone banking on you being lazy in your job?

I work in an industry where I’ve been told for a decade technology is going to take my job. The staffing industry is half a trillion-dollar industry worldwide. The entire industry is built on us banking on the fact that someone in corporate TA is going to be lazy.

Ouch! That should sting a little!

So, I don’t really bank on you being lazy at my company. We do contract work so we are looking to fill contingent roles, not direct hire staffing, which is an industry almost completely built on laziness! For my staffing brothers and sisters out there, I hear you, I know you’re ‘just’ filling in when ‘capacity’ is an issue. (wink, head nod, wink)

There are other industries that bank you us being lazy. The entire diet industry! You’ve got overpriced awful foods, bars, shakes, workout gyms, at-home gyms, etc. Because we won’t eat less and move more, because we are “lazy”, we pay a lot for that! Believe me, I pay my fair share! Just because I’m too lazy! Ugh, it’s embarrassing!

Direct hire staffing as an industry could be gone tomorrow if corporate TA just did what they were hired to do. You have an opening, you fill the opening. We aren’t trying to put a woman on the moon! This isn’t rocket science!

But, we don’t fill the opening. In fact, we do just about everything except fill the opening. We post the opening. We meet about the opening. We send whoever applies to the manager of the opening. We meet some more about candidate experience. We have another meeting about employment branding. One more meeting with the manager to see if anything has changed.

That doesn’t sound lazy, does it?

But, deflection of more difficult work is just another form of laziness.

My kid doesn’t want to go out in 90-degree heat and mow the lawn. It’s a hard, hot job. So, they come up with ‘alternative’ work that they have to do that just happens to be inside in the air conditioning.

As TA Leaders, we have to understand how are others are banking on us being lazy, and then make adjustments to stop laziness. So, how do you do that?

Well, I wrote an entire book on the subject – The Talent Fix – you can buy it here – but until you can get it, here are some tips:

  1. Have clearly defined measurable activity goals set for each member of your TA team.
  2. Make those measures transparent so everyone can see them every day.
  3. Have performance conversations immediately when measures aren’t met.
  4. Course correct as measures needs to be adjusted to meet the needs of the business.
  5. Rinse, repeat.

1 -5 above is like page 37 of the book. So, you can imagine what the rest of the 200+ pages will be like! 😉

If you follow the five steps above about half of your team will quit in 90 days. That’s a good thing, those idiots didn’t want to recruit, to begin with, they just wanted that fat corporate check and Taco Tuesdays. They were being lazy and it was costing your corporate bottom line.

The talent acquisition function is not a charity case. I think in the history of HR we’ve done some corporate charity where we let people keep collecting money even though they were costing us money. They weren’t giving back the value we needed for what we were paying. Great leaders stop this from happening.

Great leaders understand that there are people in the world that are banking on us being lazy.

The Baby Bonus Program You Never Knew You Needed!

In HR and Talent Acquisition, we tend to be in crisis mode constantly. We are some of the best firefighters are organization has! Our functions tend, by their very nature, to be short-termed focused. This month, this quarter, this year. Rarely are we able to think and plan further than twelve months ahead.

The problem is, currently and in the future, we (the U.S. and pretty much every industrialized country on the planet) are not making enough humans! In the U.S., we are early Japan. This means our birth rate has dipped below the replacement rate. Japan has been facing this crisis for decades; we are just starting down this path.

Why does this matter?

  1. If we can’t replace our humans, we have a shrinking workforce, and it’s very hard to grow.
  2. If we aren’t going to grow enough humans, we have to find another path to get more humans, and that’s immigration, and in the U.S., we have been awful at immigration.
  3. If we can’t get real humans, we have to build robots. The problem is, why robots will come faster than humans, it still takes time, and robots can’t effectively replace humans in most roles.

What is the solution?

This might sound a bit controversial, it’s definitely out of the norm, but HR needs to build a policy that encourages our employees to have babies!!

“Wait, what?! You want us to encourage our employees to have s…”

Okay, hear me out! Japan knew it had an issue decades ago and did nothing to address it, believing nature would take its course. But it didn’t! We have the opportunity to reward and compensate our employees for growing our next employees!

In the U.S., historically, we’ve also sucked at parental leave policies, and we’ve held parenthood against workers for promotion. Having kids, for the most part, has been a negative to your career. We need to change that! We need to make it a reward and benefit to your career. Like, imagine if Mark and Mary had seven kids! They both should be promoted immediately to Vice Presidents or Chief Growing Officers or something!

I’m only saying that half-joking! We are in a crisis and to get out of a crisis takes bold moves.

The hard part of encouraging our employees to procreate is that HR has spent its entire existence trying to stop our employees from doing this very thing! Now I’m asking you to become the Chief Baby Officer.

Um, are there other solutions?

Yes, but America tends to hate both of these options, traditionally.

The first option is to completely revamp our immigration policy and allow in millions of immigrants in both skilled/educated backgrounds and non-skilled/labor backgrounds. Traditionally, both political parties are against this because of the belief immigrants take jobs away from current citizens. Labor Unions hate this. Conservatives hate this. It’s usually a political non-starter.

The UK recently made a major change to their immigration policy because, like the U.S., they are facing a similar human challenge, and we should all take note because it’s an amazing policy. Basically, it allows professionals to come in with a Visa before getting a job, as long as they can prove they can pay their own way. This works because one of the biggest hurdles in U.S. immigration policy is we force an immigrant to have a job before they can enter, and for most U.S. employers, that just doesn’t work from a timing perspective.

The second option is more automation and robots. This is another one that labor unions tend to fight because it takes jobs away from humans. Unfortunately, this one is moving forward because we just don’t have enough workers, and even unions can’t produce more unions. More and more, we’ll see automation take the place of traditional roles we are used to seeing humans in. Cashiers, order takers, warehouse workers, truck drivers, etc. This is scary for many but a necessity for employers looking to run their day-to-day operations.

You might think that encouraging your employees to have babies is a very out-of-the-box idea, but in HR, we need to start thinking more long-term about how we’ll manage our workforce. If you believe your company will be around twenty years from now, a part of our job, strategically, should be thinking about this workforce concept.

Why is Walmart Struggling to Find $200K/Year Store Managers?

6.68% of Americans make $200,000 a year or more. Of course, that almost 7% is definitely centered around certain areas. States like California, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, etc., have a much larger percentage than the average. States like Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, most of the Midwest, etc., are under the average.

The Wall Street Journal had an article this week about how Walmart is struggling to fill their store manager jobs. Specifically, their General Manager job, the number one job in a Walmart store, which pays around $200,000 per year.

You would think with so few people making $200,000 a year, Walmart would have smart, ambitious folks knocking down their doors for a chance to make $200,000 per year!

But they don’t. Why?

First, most organizations tend to promote from within. Walmart is similar to this, but reality eventually hits the ceiling. An average Walmart store probably does a revenue of $50-100 million per year. The net income of those locations probably runs around $3-5M per year. There are roughly 350 employees in a Walmart store. Running a single Walmart store is like running a mid-sized enterprise business! Most SMBs in the country have a revenue well under $1M.

This means that Walmart can most likely train an hourly store employee to become a department manager, but to become a General Manager, they are looking for some formal business education. You have to run a giant P&L. You have major risk factors. You need real leadership skills. In many towns, “the Walmart” is probably the biggest business in town!

College kids, on average, don’t want to leave State U for a $65,000 a year job as a Manager in Training at Walmart. It’s not something you go back to the homecoming football game and brag about. Your friends took that $50k per year job with the tech firm in town as an entry-level, you make more, but they look down on you.

I know some folks are reading this and thinking, “So! You make more! You will continue to make more! You run are in line to run a giant business! You f’ing cares what others think!” Young adults do. Young adults care what other people think. If I’m frank, and I usually am, we all care what others think!

What would I do if I was at Walmart?

I love this game. It was the basis of my entire book! What would Timmy do if he ran your shop!

#1 – Stop trying to hire or require any form of formal education. Yes, you need smart folks, so give cognitive assessments. Find smart people who can learn quickly, who also have some “hustle” and “grind” to them. You probably have a ton of folks already working for you that you won’t consider. You also have to look at talent pools we tend to discount, most notably, in this case, 50 years and older, retired military commanders, etc. Walmart wants to solve this by talking new college grads into these jobs, I’d be talking failed executives into these jobs! Big salary. Big team. Big job. College grads don’t want that, your Dad does, and a retired military leader who is used to leading hundreds of soldiers does. Also, your Dad will work 60 hours a week and think it’s normal. A new grad will work a solid 40 and think it’s North Korea.

#2 – Build the Manager School. If a great GM in a Walmart environment makes them $3-5M a year, there are margin dollars to build more great GMs! Part in-person instruction. Part on the job training. Part virtual instruction. All the way in on fully engaging non-stop. Send them to manager boot camp. Make it exclusive. Bring in big-time celebrity speakers around leadership and performance. Do graduation with a gold watch.

#3 – Make it so lucrative they won’t want to leave. $200K is really nice, but you need some other stuff. You need to make folks say, “F! You!” To their friends that don’t think Walmart is cool enough. What is that? I don’t stock options. Partner programs on profit sharing. Company SUV.

Here’s what I know. The profit difference between Walmart’s worse GM store and their best GM store is so big it would make you blush. It’s millions of dollars. So, making sure you hire, train, develop, and take care of the great ones is priority number one. Building the talent pipeline to successful GMs would be the job of a team of people that included great recruiting leaders, brand and marketing leaders, and technology and data leaders.

I’m not saying this is an easy job. It’s enormously difficult and complicated. But, it’s doable. The problem is, that every organization thinks the solution to their problem is new college grads. They can help, but it’s only one sliver of the full pie that is needed.