The 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 one 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!

Breaking Down @LinkedIn’s Entire Database! #TalentConnect

I have a confession to make. I use LinkedIn every day! Not just Monday through Friday, I’m on the app on Saturday and Sunday as well! So, don’t think this is a LinkedIn hater post! I’m a LinkedIn 1%’er! I’m a bit addicted to LinkedIn, to be honest, I might have to go see someone!

Being on LinkedIn every day like I am, you begin to notice a few things. Some are great, like content that I find my network sharing that I probably find on LI before I find anywhere else. I love to read about the celebrations of people doing great things at work. I love to read about the funny stories and the heartwarming stories of people in their workplaces. All great stuff!

The more time I spend on LI I begin to feel like the database is basically populated with about 6-7 main types of profiles. It’s like the world is broken down, not in male or female, or black or white, but in these mini-subsets of lives. Here’s what I see when I look at LinkedIn Profiles (these are not official LinkedIn database numbers!):

Sales Pros: I want to say that it’s at least 40% of the LI database, but I know it’s less. But, the reality is, if you’re in sales of any kind, you probably are on LinkedIn at least multiple times a week, and you’re probably sending me an InMail trying to see if I want to blindly give you access to my investment portfolio, sell me leads to executives, sell me offshore recruiting solutions, etc. It’s endless! Even the LinkedIn Sales Pros get into the game and I probably get a message through LinkedIn Sales Navigator from LI themselves at least once per month.

Recruiters: I think about 30% of the LI database are recruiters, but again, it’s probably less, but feels like more, because we (recruiters are my people) are so freaking active on LI! There are very few occupations you can’t find on LI. Of course, you’re probably less likely to find a great pool of truck drives on LI, but for sure any white-collar talent you can find. Recruiters and Sales Pros have to make up at least 90% of all InMails sent on LI, right?

Keynote Speakers: It feels like 1 out of 5 profiles claim to be “Keynote Speakers” which would mean there are approximately 100 million Keynote Speakers on LinkedIn! So, I know that number isn’t correct, but come on, you all can’t be Keynote Speakers! Maybe we need a “Keynote Speaker” definition. To put “Keynote Speaker” on your LI Profile you must be on the main stage speaking either in the opening session, the lunch session, or the closing session, and you must be paid. That probably knocks about 80% of the “Keynotes” out with just those factors.

Life Coaches: You know what happens when you get fired from your job, or can’t hold a job? You become a Life Coach and tell other people how to get a job or hold a job… Is it just me or does seem like 50% of LinkedIn profiles claim to be Life Coaches? “Life Coach” might be the single easiest job in the world to obtain. Life Coach criteria: 1. Are you alive? 2. Have you lived any amount of life? 3. Do you like to tell people to do things that you yourself probably wouldn’t do? If you can say “yes” to all three of those things, congratulations! You’re a life coach!

Executives: Turns out the great thing about LinkedIn is you can call yourself anything you want! It seems like about 30% of LinkedIn Profiles list their occupation as “Executive”. You really bend the matrix when you list yourself as “Executive Life Coach!” So, you are the sole person at your company? Awesome, you’re now the Chief Strategy Officer at Timmy Sackett, Inc.! In fact, I’m a Fortune 1 Million Executive in one of the fastest-growing industries in the world! It’s kind of like the banking industry where everyone is a Vice President, no matter what you really do.

Actual People Doing Real Work that are not in Sales or Recruiting, or playing make-believe as Keynote Speakers, Life Coaches or Executives: Like 3%? Okay, to be fair, I know it’s way higher than that because every week we hire real people off LinkedIn for all kinds of jobs in Supply Chain, Engineering, IT, Accounting/Finance/ and HR. But holy cow do they all seem like the minority. I’m guessing this is the case because these folks are not like me, they don’t live on LI every day. For the most part, folks with jobs are also not looking for attention, so they don’t stick out as much.

So, before someone goes postal in the comments about the value of their life coach or how my math on the profiles equals 347%, I understand that I built my LinkedIn network, so my view reflects a world I built around myself! I built my own nightmare! I put on my headline “Not a Life Coach” and stupid life coaches from around the world reached out to connect with me saying things like “I see we are in the same industry” in their invites.

My dream is that LinkedIn eventually gives me the ability to go in and easily curate my network. You know, do some searches and see that I’ve got “X” number of people in my network that I no longer want in my network and with one click, shrink it down. That would be so cool! Or maybe you’ve changed professions and while you used to want a network of HR pros, now you want a network of Business Intelligence pros.

As our networks get large, it becomes more difficult to curate, that would be super valuable to me. I would pay for that ability! As our careers grow and change over the years we’ve been on LinkedIn for a long time, we really need this ability. I hope as all of you are out at Talent Connect this week you enjoy the great content and networking. LinkedIn puts on one of the top Recruiting conferences in the world and I’m really upset I couldn’t make it this year!

Amazon just got 200,000+ Applications and That is a Giant Problem!

You probably saw the headline from Amazon: “Hiring 30,000!” Let’s face it, Amazon is a rocketship. Have you seen the Amazon vans coming down your street? I’m 100% sure the “Amazon Guy” who drives the van in our neighborhood stops by our house about 250% more times then the mailperson stops by our house!

I’m not actually surprised they have 30,000 openings, but I am surprised that they only got 200,000 applications!

The headline is from Business Insider and they’re mostly professional journalist thinking that when they write the headline everyone will be wowed by the big number, but in reality, that number is scary low! Do the quick math 200,000/30,000 = 6.6 applications per position.

Also, we (Talent Pros) know the reality. For positions that Amazon has no trouble filling, they probably got 600 applications per positions and for the ones they are having trouble filling they got zero or one, and that one wasn’t even close to being qualified!

I’m not sure exactly what Amazon’s applicant funnel looks like but if the top of the funnel only has 6 applicants, that’s a problem! A giant problem! The big question is how many applicants does Amazon need to fill 30,000 currently open, or anticipated open positions. If Amazon has 30,000 positions to fill, right now, how many applicants would they have to plow through to fill those jobs?

This is where the rubber hits the road with your Talent Strategy. There are a number of factors:

  • What’s the average pay per position?
  • Can we group these positions into various categories to better understand how long the process will take?
  • How many are skilled vs. unskilled vs. semi-skilled vs. white-collar?
  • What are the locations?
  • How fast do these need to be filled?
  • How picky are your hiring managers?
  • What’s our comp strategy? Trailing, leading, etc.?

Let’s just throw out some numbers assuming the average pay is around $15/hr. Probably low for many of the openings they are filling, but I’m also assuming the vast majority are warehouse, drivers, service level type roles. Scattered all over the country, but most white-collar positions will be in highly competitive markets.

Let’s say you need at least 20 applicants on average per position. That would mean at a minimum they will need around 600,000. But, there is a massive turnover of those lower-level positions, plus Amazon is known to have a demanding work culture that tends to push folks out even quicker, so you would probably need at least double that to around 1.2 million applications to fill 30,000 openings.

That means, in the real world, Amazon’s TA team is probably right now having a panic attack! A panic attack of being around 1 million applications short to fill 30,000 positions, and that’s not even considering current turn and churn of their giant employee base already, plus who knows what Bezos and the team have cooked up for future growth.

The numbers are staggering, but at scale this the job. It’s just a funnel whether you’re filling 30,000 or 30. You better know how many applications you need on the topside to ensure you get the hires at the end!

College Students Have No Idea You Want to Recruit Them!

For part of my career, I did the standard corporate college recruiting gig. It sounds “super-cool” when you first think about it. “Wait, I get to fly around the country and go the best college campuses and recruit people who actually want to be recruited?!”

The reality is college recruiting as a corporate recruiter is much less sexy. Think a lot of Courtyard Marriotts, a pizza, and a six-pack, while you watch crapping hotel TV and follow up on work email. Then wake up early and get to the next campus. You quickly begin to hate travel, hate college campuses and miss actually being in the office!

But, corporations believe they must be on campus to recruit the best and brightest college students. Here where the problem begins. College students don’t even know you’re there! A recent study by Walker Sands found out that the majority of college students don’t even know you were on campus:

Walker Sands’ new Perceptions of Consulting Careers study, 56 percent of college students don’t even know if consulting firms recruit at their school. On top of that, 82 percent feel that major firms only recruit from a limited group of select universities.
Okay, this study focused on consulting firms, but the reality is the students don’t really know the difference between Deloitte and Dell when it comes to getting a job!
What can you do to make your company stand out and be remembered while you’re on campus? Try these five things:
1. Develop a Pre-visit communication strategy. Work with the schools you want to recruit from most to find out how you can get your message in front of them (email, text, the student newspaper, geo-targeted social media campaign, billboards on campus, etc.). Each school has a way to reach every student, you need to find out what that is, and how you can tap into that, even it costs a little money.
2. Come in early and take over classes in the majors you’re most interested in. Professors are like most people, they don’t want to work hard if they don’t have to. So, if you build 45 minutes of great content, most Professors will let you ‘guest’ lecture as long as it’s not one big sales pitch. Come up with great contact professors will find valuable for their students, then go deliver it the day before the major career fair. Then invite each class to come see you.
3. Make a splash in high traffic areas on the day of your visit. College kids haven’t changed much, they like free food and drink, free stuff, basically anything free! So, find the highest traffic area on campus and give away free stuff college kids will like. If you’re only interested in one specific school within the university, find out where those students hang out.
4. Stay a day later after everyone else leaves. Whether it’s the day after or even another time altogether, find a time to be on campus when you don’t have any competition to getting your message out. 99% of employers only show up on career fair day. Stand out and be the employer that is there when no one else is!
5. Post-visit communication strategy. Most organizations never contact the students who show interest in them after they leave campus.  They’ll contact a handful of the ones who stood out to them, but so is every other employer. Recruiting kids after you leave is more important than the time you spend on campus. Most kids will see 20+ employers and will only remember a couple. If you stalk them after the fact, they’ll remember you!

Can we stop using the phrase “Top Talent”!?

Rant warning! Proceed with caution! 
First off the vast majority of us wouldn’t know top talent for a specific position if it came up and slapped us in the face. What we know are people/candidates that are actually open to listening to what we have open right now.
“Pipelining top talent” makes you sound like a psychopath! You truly have no idea who is the most talented person in your market for a certain position. Absolutely no idea! And every technology that says they can tell you who is the most talented is lying to you, they can just tell you who is probably more talented amongst a group of known candidates.
But somehow you believe you not only have one “top talented” person but now you have a complete pipeline of top talent? Shut up! You look like an idiot! What you have is a list of people who might work for your position, but you truly have no idea if they’re ax murders or super talented in the skill set they’re telling you they have.
Hopefully, you get lucky and make a good hire that will produce good work. Every once in a while we hit the jackpot and find a person who truly seems better than the rest we have on the team. But we only hire “top talent” is the biggest lie we currently tell ourselves in talent acquisition!
We don’t actually go out and hire “top” talent. We go out and look for people who can do the job we have open at the time we have it open, who are also open to our average pay, average benefits, average leadership, average culture, and location. Let’s not kid ourselves, about 80% of us are average, so are slightly better, some are slightly worse.
“Top Talent”… Give me a freaking break!
“Hire Sally she’s Top Talent!” “Hire Jimmy he’s Top Talent!” Do you know who’s not top talent? The person using the phrase “Top Talent”!?
I love it when I see an agency have some stupid 4 part process or plan or dumb little 4 P’s of how we hire the Top Talent in the industry. Psychopaths! They aren’t doing anything but posting jobs and hitting their databases to find out who might actually be open to taking the interview. Top Talent? How about “might show up for the interview” talent!
“No, Tim! We use the 4 P’s, it’s a proven process to uncover top talent!” What are the 4 P’s? It doesn’t matter! Because it’s all B.S., made up to make you believe there’s some secret sauce. The secret sauce is they picked up the phone and called people instead of waiting around for someone who’s out of work to find your opening and apply.
“You can use our A.I. driven technology that uncovers and delivers right to your inbox the “Top Talent” your company is searching for!”  It reaches out to everyone, finds out who is interested, finds out who meets your qualifications, and sends them to you. Top Talent? Or warm body talent? They both mean the same thing.
Okay – I’m done. Not really, but I have some “top talent” I need to go searching for…

Sure! I can give you my “Free” staffing firm option!

I’ve gotten a chance to work both sides of the fence for an extended period of time in the Talent Acquisition/Recruiting/Staffing game. For ten years I ran corporate talent acquisition shops for some very large organizations.  One organization spent over $3M annually on staffing agency fees! Obviously, prior to my getting there!

I’ve spent almost fifteen years on the agency side, sandwiched in between my corporate experience. What I’ve learned along the way is that there isn’t a “free” option when it comes to hiring great talent.

Frequently, I get asked from clients for discounts to my fees on the agency side.  I get that. When I was on the corporate side, I would never take an agency’s first offer.  Here’s the main problem with all of this:

Corporate talent acquisition pros don’t want any of it. They don’t your 20% direct fee, they don’t want your retained plan, they don’t want your RPO plan. What they want is Free. A free option.

Therein lies everything you need to know about staffing agencies and corporate talent acquisition.  One side wants free. One side needs to get paid.

The reality is, even staffing on your own on the corporate side isn’t free.  Corporate talent acquisition done right has a ton of costs. Recruitment tools, automation, branding, job boards, applicant tracking, college strategy, recruiter training, and hiring, etc. None of that is free.

All of this, though, should be screaming to the agency folks that something isn’t right.  What corporate talent acquisition pros are saying is “we don’t like the options we are getting from agencies”.  This should be of serious concern because there are companies trying to design other options for corporate talent acquisition pros.  Options where they’ll feel like they are getting the value they want.

These options aren’t free, either, but they are less than all of the traditional options that 99% of staffing agencies are offering.

When I was on the corporate TA side of the desk, here was my decision matrix to when I would use a staffing agency.

This matrix made me feel good about my decision to use an agency:

1. Does my team have the capacity to do this search? If Yes, why would I pay to have this done? If No, the cost is justifiable.

2. Does the agency offer me recruitment expertise and/or pipeline I don’t have on my team?  See #1 for Yes and No options.

3. Is it financially feasible for me to add more capacity to my team, as compared to an agency option? This one took some more work. If I had a need for an agency to fill, let’s say, three positions and it was going to cost me $100K, well, obviously I could hire a pretty good recruiter for $100K. But, would I need that Recruiter in year 2, 3, etc.? Adding headcount isn’t a one time cost for an organization.

Ultimately, for me on the corporate side, it was almost always a capacity issue.  I had the expertise, but we had bubbles of work I needed extra support with.  Too often, I see corporate TA leaders upset over agency spend and it’s based on the fact they don’t have good recruiters on their team, yet they’re unwilling to change this fact. I’ll pay for additional short term capacity. I won’t pay for expertise I should have on my team every day. That becomes my issue!

Corporate TA leaders become frustrated over agency spend because ultimately it’s a reflection on the team they have created.

DisruptHR Detroit 3.0 Speaker Applications Now Being Accepted!

For those who don’t know, I’m involved with DisruptHR Detroit with an amazing team of HR pros and leaders, and we are putting on our 3rd event on Thursday, September 19th at 6 pm.

Great DisruptHR events start with Great content and we are now Accepting Speaker Applications for DisruptHR Detroit 3.0!

Due Date is August 2nd!

Tickets for this event will go on sale on August 5th and we’ll announce the full slate of speakers and the agenda on August 9th.

The location of DisruptHR 3.0 will be downtown Detroit at The Madison. Click through to the DisruptHR Detroit site for more information.

Who makes a Great DisruptHR Speaker

Anyone with a passion for HR, Recruiting, People and pushing the envelope around what, why and how we do what we do every day in the world of work!

We especially love practitioners of all experience levels. You don’t know have to be a twenty-year vet to be great at DisruptHR! You can be an HR pro in your first year on the job. It’s all about passion and ideas!

So, what makes a great DisruptHR Talk?

  1. It’s 5 minutes – so you better be tight around what your topic and idea is!
  2. 20 slides that move every 15 seconds – you don’t control this, we do. So you better practice!
  3. No selling products or services – Yes to selling ideas and passions!
  4. Make us feel something – laugh, cry, anger – have a take and be proud of that take!
  5. We see and feel your passion.

We’ve built DisruptHR Detroit to be a supportive hub of HR and Recruiting. We want people to come and challenge us, but know you’ll be rewarded with an audience that will support you and cheer you on. These talks aren’t easy, and we get that! The audience gets that!

How can you speak at DisruptHR Detroit 3.0?

APPLY to Speak it’s easy! It’s a great development opportunity for those looking to get on stage and have some professional experience speaking. You actually get a professionally produced video of your talk that you can use as evidence of your ability. It’s also a great networking opportunity with the Detroit metro HR and Talent community!

You Can’t Teach Your Employees to be Human! #Transform

You might have seen this in the news a few weeks back. Mom and Dad take their Autistic son to a Universal Theme Park in Orlando. The son is over the top excited for the Spiderman ride, and Murphy’s Law comes into play.

The family gets to the ride and it’s broken down. The son loses it. Full blown, five-alarm tantrum on the ground in front of the ride. Mom and Dad are doing all they can to help him calm down, he’s having none of it, when this happens:

So, you see the son with his headphones and you see an actual park employee from Universal from the Spiderman ride who came over and got on the ground and just laid down with this child. Let everyone know who was gawking that you know, it’s okay, some days the Spiderman ride breaks down and it sucks and we all want to scream about it.

The child eventually calmed down with the help of the employee. The parents were all so grateful for the assist and help.

This is a great human story. This is also a great story for Universal’s recruiting team! Let’s be honest. The reality is, the TA team really had nothing to do with this. They ran their process, and out of that, got lucky enough to hire a person who had these capabilities and a giant heart.

You can’t expect or set out to hire, individuals like this woman. She’s a unicorn. In fact, I would bet that Universal in their training would probably use an example like this of what not to do from a liability standpoint! All that said, it happened and it was wonderful.

You might see a story like this and say to yourself, “we need to add this example into our onboarding so that our new employees know this is what we want them to be like!” That’s really unfair to your new hires. Some might see this and think that’s the scariest thing I can imagine, but they might be willing to do a thousand other great things.

The biggest learning from an HR standpoint on this for me is that we can’t eliminate risk in our environments. Things are going to happen. We hope we hire and train employees to do the ‘right’ thing. To be kind. To be human. To do what they would want someone to do for them in a similar circumstance.

Also, to know, when we ask our employees to take the risk of being kind, being human, etc. that sometimes it’s going to backfire, but if it was done with positive intent and good heart we are willing to take that risk.

@ZipRecruiter Launches a New Product to Help Get Candidates Recruited by You!

I’ve been trying to tell people for the past year or so that you shouldn’t be sleeping on ZipRecruiter. They have quietly been working on their tech with their heads down and they might currently be the best value recruiting product on the planet that no one is really talking about.

Well, yesterday they launched another product enhancement that is an AI-based matching technology to help candidates get recruited by organizations. Check it out:

The company’s AI-powered matching technology now instantly presents strong-fit potential candidates to hiring managers who post a job on ZipRecruiter. Employers can signal their interest with a single click, and ZipRecruiter connects the two sides to fast-track the hiring process.

“The number one job seeker complaint is applying to jobs and hearing nothing back,” said Ian Siegel, ZipRecruiter Co-Founder and CEO. “We’ve flipped the process on its head by letting employers initiate first contact. Job seekers can, of course, still apply to jobs, but now employers have the option to, in effect, apply to job seekers.” 

The product debuted in early April. During that month, 624,000 job seekers received outreach from employers, contributing to a 13% month-over-month increase in hires* across ZipRecruiter.

Here’s what Zip has figured out. The single most powerful recruiting tool any organization has is its ability to make candidates feel wanted. Sure they can make more candidates apply to your jobs, but what candidates really want is for you to want them. That’s a powerful attraction component that we miss when all we think about is getting more applies.

Having AI reach out and match candidates and give your recruiters the ability with one touch to show interest will deliver a highly engaged candidate that matches the needs of the position. With really very little effort on your teams part to get it all started.

Good, solid candidates, the kind that doesn’t need to apply to jobs, want to be wanted. We all want to be wanted.

Now, this might sound like recruiting 101, but the sad fact is most corporate recruiting, especially for SMBs, is just post and pray. Post a job on a site like Zip and pray someone will apply. This doesn’t work when there are over 6 million jobs out there for candidates to apply to! We have to show candidates we are interested in them and ZipRecruiter has created a technology that will make this simple and efficient.

Take a look and check it out, well worth a demo. ZipRecruiter is very inexpensive to test, so there’s really no reason not to.

Transform Recruitment Marketing Live Stream Registration is Now Open! (Free!)

June 20-21st I’ll be in Boston as the Emcee at Transform Recruitment Marketing conference. This is the 5th year of Transform and I’m super excited to be attending, but also super excited that Transform has opened up this conference to a virtual audience for those who can’t attend in person, for free!

I’m constantly speaking and writing about all kinds of Recruitment Marketing tactics, ideas, and strategies. It’s still a very new and fast evolving function within talent acquisition. What I love about Transform is they’ve gone out and really worked to bring in actual corporate TA pros who are recruitment marketing practitioners to share what they are doing and what’s working for them!

The 2019 Transform conference will have speakers from: Delta Airlines (“The Kid” – Holland Dombeck), Intel, CVS, Washington Post, IBM, Sprint, Fiserv, Cox, etc. It’s loaded with practitioners sharing all of their secrets and best practices around recruitment marketing and talent attraction.

So, what do I expect to learn at this year’s Transform?

– Connecting Employee Experience and Candidate Experience

– Next generation Talent Analytics

– Increasing Conversion Ratios of Career site Visitors

– How do we recruit Gen Z vs. all the rest

– Enabling and Sustaining Your RM Strategy

– Activating Talent Communities at Scale

Plus so much more!

I love that Transform is opening up the content to a virtual audience. Let’s be honest, so many of us just can’t afford to attend a live event each year, or you already have planned a different event. Is it the same as being there in person, no, but in TA we make do with the resources we have! If you get the chance to come next year, the real miss of not being there in person is building the connections and community of other like-minded folks that you can share and build ideas from. It’s really the reason we all go to live events!

Register for the Free Virtual Transform Recruitment Marketing Conference (who won’t get all of the content, let’s be fair some great folks paid a ton of money to be with me in Boston at the Live event, but you’ll get a lot!) Already thousands have registered, so I know this content is needed by so many!