Cracking the Code

In the world of recruiting, most conversations I’ve heard come in coded language. Understanding the true meaning behind these terms can be both revealing and enlightening. Let’s decode a few together:

1. “Offer Pending”

  • What it implies: “I’m preparing to extend an offer.”
  • What it means: “I’m uncertain about the candidate’s willingness to accept, or they haven’t responded yet.”

2. “Professional References”

  • What it implies: “Previous supervisors providing insights about your work.”
  • What it means: “References like your parent’s friend or your old coach don’t cut it. My boss wants your previous boss to tell us how great you are versus your priest telling us how great you are.”

3. “Market Offer

  • What it implies: “Salary based on local industry standards.”
  • What it means: “We didn’t anticipate market changes; here’s what we can afford based on projections from a couple of years ago.”

4. “Excellent Benefits Package

  • What it implies: “Comprehensive benefits covered by us.”
  • What it means: “Similar benefits to others, but ‘Excellent Benefits’ definitely sounds more appealing.”

5. “An “A” Candidate

  • What it implies: “Top-tier talent with impeccable credentials.”
  • What it means: “This is the best person (and only person) we could find to accept your marginal pay rate, crappy location, and iffy company culture.”

6. “Niche Recruiter

  • What it implies: “Specialized in specific skills or industries.”
  • What it means: “You think you need someone who specifically recruits only for what you are looking for. The reality is a great recruiter can find you whoever you need regardless of skill/industry, but it makes you feel better if we tell you we have that specific niche.  So, YES, we are “niche.”

This recruiting jargon effectively masks reality and creates a culture of polite misdirection. We “dance” with each other and tell each other what we want to hear – and we leave with this wonderful false sense of security that everything is fine. Yet, when crucial decisions are at stake, transparency does matter. When in doubt – Speak the truth.

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?

A 30-Minute Commute is all Most Employees Are Willing to Make

We all kind of know this fact. Once you get more than 30 minutes away from your job, no matter how you actually come to work, it starts to feel like a chore. You begin to hate the commute. Doesn’t matter if you drive, take a train, walk, etc. 30 minutes, one-way, is our max!

It’s called Marchetti’s Constant: 

Marchetti’s constant is the average time spent by a person commuting each day, which is approximately one hour. It is named after Italian physicist Cesare Marchetti, though Marchetti himself attributed the “one-hour” finding to transportation analyst and engineer Yacov Zahavi.[1] Marchetti posits that although forms of urban planning and transport may change, and although some live in villages and others in cities, people gradually adjust their lives to their conditions (including the location of their homes relative to their workplace) such that the average travel time stays approximately constant.

I can’t tell you how many times, as a Recruiter, I was talked into believing this wasn’t true by a candidate who then screwed me by ghosting on an interview after driving to the location and seeing it was too long, declining an offer late, started the job but then quickly left because the commute was too long, or we had to over-compensate to make up for the time the person spent on the commute.

Probably one out of one hundred people can actually take a longer commute and live with it. 99% of people will eventually crack if the commute is over thirty minutes. So, what does this mean for us trying to attract talent to our organizations? There are certain locations in the U.S. that are much easier to have a thirty-minute commute than others:

On average, large metro areas with the shortage commute time:

  1. Grand Rapids, MI
  2. Rochester, NY
  3. Buffalo, NY
  4. Oklahoma City, OK
  5. Salt Lake City, UT
  6. Kansas City, MO
  7. Milwaukee, WI
  8. Louisville, KY
  9. Hartford, CT
  10. Memphis, TN

All of these metro areas have the majority of their citizens with a commute time under 30 minutes.

Who has the worst commute times? Think about the largest metro areas, even when you take into account their transit options: New York, San Francisco, D.C., Philly, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, etc.

So, it’s thirty minutes one-way or one hour per day, or five hours per week, that the average person is willing to commute. I wonder if this plays itself out when you begin to factor in work-from-home options.

Let’s say you ask someone to commute one hour each way, two hours per day, but you let them work from home two days per week. Total commute time is still more at six hours per week, but would that make a difference enough to retrain and attract more talent to your organization? I have a feeling it would. It’s worth a test for those who have longer commutes at your work location.

Also, I have seen this done by any company, but I would love to see turnover data by commute time! I have seen data on hourly worker turnover, and it’s amazing to see the differences by miles from a worksite in a radiant pattern. Every mile you get farther from the work site, the turnover increases exponentially until you get to about five miles, where it skyrockets. So, we know if you hire hourly, low-skilled workers, your best bet for retention is less than five miles from your location (this also is about a 15-minute commute – car, public, walking, bike, etc.).

So often, we want to focus on the stuff we control versus stuff the candidate or employee can control, but we think it’s ‘their’ decision. The problem is we allow people to make bad decisions and don’t think it will affect us, but it does in high turnover. All things being equal, or close to equal with candidates, take the one with the shorter total commute!

Job Advertising: Missed Opportunities and Easy Fixes

My friend and exceptional journalist, Roy Maurer, covered my Job Advertising session at SHRM Talent 23 and this is an excerpt from his article over at SHRM. Check it out:

Hiring often begins with a job ad. And attracting the right candidates starts with thoughtfully developing a targeted, creative job ad that stands out. Unfortunately, the vast majority of employers still practice the “post and pray” approach—posting generic job ads on a careers site and hoping someone will apply.

“Job ads are meant to interest people in your jobs,” said Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, an industry veteran, technology expert and author of The Talent Fix (SHRM, 2018), speaking April 17 at the SHRM Talent Conference & Expo 2023 in Orlando, Fla. “Applying is an outcome, but the interest must come first. Great job advertising is not about getting more people to apply—it’s about getting the right people to apply.”

Sackett outlined some job advertising fundamentals to help attendees craft more effective job ads, best utilize their recruitment marketing budget and understand the latest job posting trends.

Job Description vs. Job Ad

Misunderstanding the difference between job descriptions and job ads has long been an issue, Sackett said. Many employers are copying and pasting the job description—an internal document—right into the external posting for the job ad. But job descriptions and job ads are fundamentally different and require different treatments.

“The ad is designed to attract. It sells the job. The description describes it. One is created by recruiters [to attract applicants], and one is created by HR with compliance in mind,” he said.

“Recruiters must become more like marketers,” Sackett added. “Your job ad should be mission- and vision-driven. It should not be compliance-driven. You can have fun with it. You can be creative. Think about what it would take to get someone to apply. It’s certainly not a bulleted list of requirements.”

He recommended getting content ideas by asking people already in the role:

  • What do you like about the job?
  • What about the job challenges you?
  • How would you describe this job to someone with no knowledge of the industry?

Sackett said that including a video component is essential. “Simply with the addition of a short video in the ad, 46 percent more people will apply. Even if the video is awful. And every ATS [applicant tracking system] has this functionality.”   

Salary Range or Not?

The majority of employers are not yet required to add salary ranges in job ads, but doing so is another surefire way to attract candidates.

“If you can put the salary in the job title, you will get seven times more candidates applying for that job,” Sackett said. “Even if the posted range is under market, more people will apply. People want to know what they will be paid.”

The most common reason employers hold off on adding salary ranges is to avoid upsetting current employees who may not be making as much as a new worker, Sackett said.

Lowest and Highest ROI

Sackett said employers get the lowest return on investment (ROI) from their careers sites. “If you don’t advertise your career site, no one knows to go there,” he said. “You can spend time and money building a beautiful career site, but if you don’t advertise your brand to get people to go there, it’s like putting a billboard behind your building and wondering why no one sees it.”

He said that an employer’s highest ROI is its ATS database full of past candidates. This should be a gold mine of potential employees.

“The message is that if they are not hired, they are…

Check out the rest of the article over at SHRM.

TA Tech Vendors, You all are sleeping on #SHRMTalent!

I just returned from the SHRM Talent Conference in Orlando, and while it’s growing and getting bigger, I was somewhat shocked at the lack of big-name TA Technology vendors in our space who weren’t there.

The argument from the vendor community has been, “Well, Tim, SHRM Talent doesn’t have enterprise buyers.” The thought is that SHRM’s audience is roughly 65% SMB HR professionals. This is when the vendor community shows their lack of math skills. Or really it’s their marketing teams, so I guess we should probably have lower expectations on math skills.

Let me give you some personal data from my 2023 SHRM Talent experience. I was told there were 2300 participants at SHRM. It definitely felt that way. I had two sessions there that were packed with TA professionals, and the rooms were big (500+).

My connection numbers from SHRM Talent 2023:

Total LinkedIn connections: 163 (90% TA-specific titles)

Total downloads of an eBook offer: 141

NPS score of my talks (this is just bragging): 87%

Title level of connections by percentage: Over 50% were “Manager” or above. Of those, over 25% were “Director” titles and above.

Of the 163 connections, how many came from organizations over 5,000 people? 68 and 26 were from organizations over 20,000. Including Toyota, Boeing, Siemens, Johnson and Johnson, Gannett, large universities, large health systems, banking and finance, state and fed gov’t, and large franchise organizations.

In one of my sessions, I asked how many folks were using Workday Recruit, and more than twenty hands went up. There were massive amounts of Greenhouse users, Paradox users, and HireVue users. None of those brands cared to show up. These are some of the biggest brands in our industry.

The SHRM Talent Attendees Are My People!

They are in the trenches, real talent acquisition professionals doing the work and using the tools. They are leaders of TA in organizations that are spending real money and buying technology. In my sessions, these professionals stood up and spoke about the tools they were using. The vast majority are desperate to find recruiting technology to buy, and they believe they have limited options because they aren’t being sold options.

I get asked weekly, by recruiting technology vendors, how they can get connected to our potential buyers. Every single time I tell them they have to get out and put themselves in front of them. It takes time to build the pipeline. People have to see your brand multiple times before they buy. They just don’t get an email and buy. I tell them to go to SHRM Talent, but most don’t listen.

The SHRM Talent Conference continues to grow. When I went a few years ago, there were 50 vendors at the expo. This year there were 100. Next year, it’ll be bigger. The reality is SHRM Talent is one of the only talent acquisition-specific conferences in the US that is really delivering content for TA leaders trying to get better. The sessions aren’t sold to vendors like most conferences in our space.

We (Talent Acquisition) need a great conference in our industry. SHRM is getting close. Having the great TA tech companies show up would definitely put it over the top. It’s a huge miss for the attendees who are there not to have access to all the great tech.

SHRM Talent attendees are the top 10% of talent acquisition professionals in the world. Why? Because they are few who made a conscious commitment to investing in their development. To be at the forefront of TA. To be interested in what’s next. To be open to new ideas and new technologies. You won’t change my mind on this. The vast majority of TA professionals in our industry just show up and do the job, and don’t look for further development. These folks did and I celebrate you.

The 5 Reasons Your Recruiters Aren’t Recruiting!

Oh boy, here we go. Buckle up, gang!

I guess I need to start at what the hell is “recruiting” and what’s not “recruiting.” We have to because what most of you are calling “recruiting,” I call processing candidates who applied to your job. To me, that’s administering the recruiting process, not really recruiting.

If you post a job and someone applies, technically, most of you call that recruiting. You’re paying a full-functioning human anywhere from $65K to $165K for them to be a “recruiter,” and they are posting jobs and waiting for someone to apply. I used to say I could train a monkey to do that job, but now I get to say I can easily train A.I. to do that job for pennies on the dollar.

Posting and Praying is not recruiting. Posting, collecting candidates who applied, and screening them, is what I like to call “Inbound Recruiting,” and that’s not really recruiting. It’s just administering the recruiting process. Do. Not. Get. Me. Wrong. Being amazing at administering your recruiting process is still valuable and needed. The best “outbound” recruiting shops will still have about 70% of their hires filled by “inbound” recruiting!

Outbound recruiting is then “real” recruiting. That’s when a recruiter has a requisition and really has no valid candidates for the hiring manager, and thus they have to go out and find valid candidates. Now, part of that process might still be finding new places to share and post jobs, but that’s only one small part. The larger part of “real” recruiting is cold outreach to people who don’t know your job is open or might know, but they need some persuasion.

Okay, Why Aren’t Your Recruiters Doing Any “Real” Recruiting?

1. They don’t have capacity because, as humans, we naturally fill our time with what gives us the most success, and in your current state, that is “Inbound recruiting.” This means you tell your recruiters, and you expect your recruiters to do outbound recruiting, but they can easily fill their day with inbound recruiting, and it pays the same. So, why not take the easier route?

2. They don’t know how to really recruit. Honestly, most corporate talent acquisition pros who have never worked in an agency have spent most of their career doing 99% inbound recruiting. That’s just the truth, and we know why from what I said in #1. So, we have to teach them how to do outbound recruiting! (Side note – HireEZ’s own internal Recruiter, Vivian Jiang, will be doing an Outbound Recruiting Session specifically for Corporate TA Pros at the Michigan Recruiters Conference on Nov. 10th in Detroit!)

3. They aren’t rewarded and recognized for doing real recruiting. Almost every time I work with corporate TA teams, I find that the recruiter who fills the most jobs is looked at and rewarded like they are the top recruiter. What I find is they rarely are the top recruiter, but they are the recruiter who processes the most fills through inbound recruiting.

4. Your TA Shop is not structured to do real recruiting. See #1, but basically, you should have “processors” who only do inbound recruiting, and they are amazing at it, and then you have recruiters who only really recruit in a modern TA function. You can get processors for half the price of real recruiters, and they are measured completely differently than outbound recruiters.

5. Your hiring managers don’t know the difference. Right now, today, your hiring managers honestly believe that your TA team is recruiting for their opening. They have no idea that you are only posting jobs and collecting whatever person applies. Those people applying might be the worst talent in the industry, but you are selling them on they are the best. If they knew the truth, they would demand change. What I find is real recruiters work with hiring managers to actually uncover the best talent together in the best TA shops.

This isn’t easy!

I get it. The change management alone from moving from inbound recruiting to outbound recruiting is painful, which is why I think the best approach is to break up the function into two very specific processes of inbound and outbound. It never, and yes, I’m saying never, works to have and expect recruiters to do both.

We built the Michigan Recruiter’s Conference to specifically work with Corporate Talent Acquisition teams to start to work on these challenges and pain points, and I’m super excited to bring it back on November 10th in Detroit with our awesome corporate TA team sponsor DTE Energy onsite at their beautiful and modern campus. Join us!

Why Does Spam Recruiting Work?

I just got done deleting the 17th phishing email from my personal email inbox today. Comcast, Amazon, Princes from far-off lands, I’ve never been more popular and, apparently, soon-to-be rich!

I was asking our Cyber Security company why phishing is still such a big deal. I mean, don’t we all know by now that some Nigerian Prince isn’t going to give us a million dollars or that Amazon doesn’t send us emails asking for our credit card numbers or passwords!? There is no way someone can be this stupid, right!?

Apparently, I’m way wrong, we are all still a lot stupid! 

The reason phishing and spam are not because they are really tricking us. It’s the sure volume of messages and cadence. While we can all spot a fake fairly easily, can you always spot a fake when it’s sent a thousand times, all different times, with all different designs and strategies? Scammers will send a million to get one click. That one click will pay off.

Therein lies the strategy of why Spam Recruiting still works. It’s not about being good or the best. It’s about being there all the time, knowing a certain percentage of the time will be the right time! Do we like it? Well, I guess that depends on who you are. If you happen to be that one person who gets the spam recruiting message at the exact time you’re desperate for a job, then yes, you will like it!

If you are the superstar performing software engineer getting twenty spam recruiting messages a day, you hate our industry!

Spam Recruiting Works Because It Works Some of the Time

I have never met one American-based TA Leader who believes that Off-Shore Recruiting firms (you know, the off-shore RPO spam emails you constantly get all day long) actually are good. For the most part, they don’t recruit. They spam. Because they pay next to nothing to their workforce, they can spam a whole bunch and still make money, even if the entire process truly sucks.

They don’t have to be good. When you’re being paid like $10 a day, all you have to do is spam a couple of thousand people a week to get one placement a month, and you’re making a profit for the “man”! Any company engaging in off-shore recruiting for hiring in the U.S. is basically engaging in slave labor. But I digress. Back to crappy recruiting.

Bad recruiting is a lot like bad sex. If you really need a job, you don’t care how you get it. Which perpetuates you just continuing to be bad.

Spam recruiting works, and will always work, because the world will always have candidates who just need a job. They don’t care that you’re awful at your job. They don’t care that you are spamming them. All they care about is getting the job. Also, if you do care. If you do hate bad, spammy recruiters. It turns out you also are fine with them being awful when you’re out of a job!

Spam works because we are all vulnerable at some point. It feeds on us being weak, naive, and desperate. But, at the end of the day, it works. It doesn’t work well. But it does work. And that sucks.

The Recruiter Texting Rules!

Here we go! Your boy is back with some more rules! You know I love me some rules! I’m high rules, and low details, which drives most people crazy!

I was having a conversation recently with some recruiters about texting candidates. For the most part, in recruiting, we’ve gotten to this point where we believe every candidate prefers texting over every other kind of communication. And, if they don’t want a text message, then they want email.

This isn’t exactly true! I did some research and surveyed over 1600 candidates we screened to find out the facts and published it – 6 Things Candidates Want You to Know – you can download it here for free. But I’m not here trying to sell you a free whitepaper!

The entire reason we believe candidates prefer text over any other form of communication is some creative marketing around text vs. email response rates in overall text vs. email communications. Now, this is where all of this falls apart. I get over 500 emails per day. I get maybe 25-50 messages. Of course, I’m going to respond more to text messages vs. email. But that doesn’t mean, as a candidate, I want text vs. email, necessarily!

This all lead me down a path where I believe we need some rules around texting as recruiters!

The Recruiter Texting Rules:

Rule No. 1 – As the first outreach to a candidate you don’t know, texting is not preferred by candidates. They don’t know you, and they certainly don’t want you jumping into their private text messages with a spammy job offer!

Rule No. 2 – No one of quality ever accepted an interview and job offer through text message without first speaking to a real human. Pick up the god damn phone. Once a candidate is all in with you, then yes, they will most likely only want texts from you.

Rule No. 3 – Give me a way to opt-out of your bad text recruiting automation hell! For one, it’s the law. But, most still make it way too difficult to stop the automated texts.

Rule No. 4 – Just because you have my number as a candidate does not give you permission to stalk me for a date. It’s super creepy!

Rule No. 5 – If we aren’t friends, don’t text me like we are friends. Avoid sarcasm. Keep it professional and short.

Rule No. 6 – If it feels like you’re sending candidates too many text messages. You are sending candidates too many text messages! Also, don’t text me a novel! Send long stuff in an email.

Rule No. 7 – If I ask you a question, answer the damn question! We are adults. You can tell me the truth I don’t need some run-around answer that doesn’t really answer my question.

Rule No. 8 – If you expect me to respond within minutes. I expect you’ll respond within minutes. Set the ground rules around expectations early.

Rule No. 9 – Never! And I mean, NEVER! Text with a green bubble! Just Kidding! 😉

Okay, peeps, what did I forget? Give me your favorite rule for texting candidates in the comments below.

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.

Greenhouse Adds Sourcing Automation to ATS #Open22

I’m out at Greenhouse Open this week, and Greenhouse made a major product announcement adding Sourcing Automation to their core ATS solution. What the heck does that even mean?

From the press release:

Introducing Sourcing Automation: a new outbound sourcing solution that helps users find, reach and engage top talent quickly and effectively – all with Greenhouse. Sourcing Automation improves email deliverability, scales outreach through personalized and automated campaigns and gives hiring teams the insights they need to become sourcing experts – and turn more candidates into hires.

What does it all mean?

So, isn’t this just Interstellar, the CRM they purchased, finally just launching? A little bit, but to call this “CRM” is a misnomer. CRM in the recruiting space is really designed for large enterprise TA teams that have a team that can run the CRM and gets the value out of it. Greenhouse’s Sourcing Automation is more marketing automation designed for individual recruiters to use daily.

Does this replace HireEZ and Seekout?

No, this is more of a complementary product. How so? Sourcing Automation isn’t a sourcing engine like HireEZ and Seekout are. You use those tools to find the talent you can’t find anywhere else. Sourcing Automation makes it way easier for you to actually connect with those people, plus easily add in candidates from your own database to connect with as well. The reality is one of the biggest challenges we face as recruiters is connecting with candidates as fast as we can, at scale, and this type of automation allows individual recruiters to do that effectively and efficiently.

Do your recruiters need this?

The short answer, in today’s world, yes.

Long answer, it depends on how you want to recruit. If I’m totally honest, way too much of the recruiting we do is a simple post and pray, inbound candidate processing. If that’s what your recruiting is, and that’s what you want to continue to do, save your money. This product is not for you. If you want to give your team a tool to do more outbound recruiting and add capacity to your ability to recruit more candidates quickly, then this product is worth a look and a demo.

I don’t say that in jest. The reality is some of us aren’t in a position to do outbound recruiting for a number of reasons. We are all on various levels of our recruiting maturity, so it really depends on where you are at and where you want to take talent strategy. Sourcing Automation is an amazing tech, but like any tech, you must use it to get the value out of it.

It’s well worth your time to dig into Greenhouse’s sourcing automation product and compare it to full-blown CRM recruiting tech and understand what sourcing automation is and isn’t. I think you’ll find that Sourcing Automation is a tool your recruiters can use every day in their day-to-day outreach and connection.