Should Corporate Recruiters Get Paid Salary & Commission?

First, shoutout to @Hervbird21 (Recruister) on Twitter for starting this conversation (Editor’s Note: Hervbird21 I don’t know who you are but send me a note and I’ll share your LinkedIn if you’d like) Also, take a look at the Twitter thread as there are some exceptional recruiting thought leaders who had thoughts on this subject.

Link to the thread

I’ve written about this a number of times over the years, but with the recruiting market being so hot right now, I’ve actually had a number of Recruiter compensation calls with corporate TA leaders trying to figure out three main things: 1. How do we retain our recruiters; 2. How do I attract more recruiters; 3. How do we reward great recruiting performance?

First, I’m all in on the fact that recruiters should be paid in a pay-for-performance model. That doesn’t mean that corporate recruiters, agency recruiters, and RPO should all be paid the same way. All three of those roles are different and should be compensated based on what the organization needs from each recruiter.

Let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons of Performance Pay for Corporate Recruiters

Pros:

  • You get more of what you measure and more of what you reward.
  • Your best recruiters will be compensated more, and higher compensation is tied to longer tenure.
  • Low performers and internal recruiters who actually hate recruiting will hate it and self-select out.
  • It will most likely raise individual recruiting team member performance in the aggregate.

Cons:

  • You will most likely have turnover with this type of change
  • Potentially, you could get behaviors that aren’t team-oriented. (IE., senior recruiters not helping junior recruiters)
  • Potentially, you could lower your quality of candidates as recruiters move quickly to gain performance comp. (the quantity over quality argument)
  • It actually might increase your compensation budget, initially, until you can find the model that is most effective.

Okay, wait, why did I say “potentially” on the Cons? Primarily, because it truly depends on the model design. Just making a decision to pay more for hires is ridiculous and leads to bad outcomes. But, developing a model that rewards individual performance that is based on recruiting behaviors that lead to better hires, quickly, and in a team setting, well, now you diminish the negative outcomes of pay for performance.

How could we make pay for performance work for corporate recruiters?

I’m not trying to dump on all the folks who commented on “Quarterly Bonuses” but stop that! “Quarterly Bonus” really means, “I don’t want to be individually measured and held accountable, but I also want more money on top of my great base salary”. Quarterly bonuses in most corp TA shops are a joke. They are usually based on Hiring Manager satisfaction and days to fill, two of the most subject measures that have zero correlation to better recruiting.

Also, internal recruiting pay for performance is not just a modified agency or RPO model. Corporate recruiters do much more than just recruit in most TA departments, so if you reward them to just recruit, understand, you’re just standing up an in-house agency model. Your internal recruiting model for corporate has to be unique to the job.

Some thoughts and ideas:

– Spend a bunch of time deciding what you actually want from your recruiters and from your function as a whole. Those two things must be aligned.

– Before going to a pay for performance model you need to get your arms around your recruiting funnel data. Otherwise, you’re just guessing at what and who to reward.

– In most cases, you can’t make the rewards the same because recruiters have different requisition loads and levels of position. Also, in most cases, certain areas of your organization hire at different times. So, get ready to test and be flexible to do the right thing at the right time.

– It’s okay if a recruiter makes more than you think if the model is producing what you want it to produce. Too often I hear from TA leaders that are like, “Jill is making too much!” But, Jill it killing it and the top recruiter.

– If you can’t get your head around paying for hires, pay for the behaviors and activities that lead to more hires.

– Start with a month or quarter test, make sure during the test no one will lose money. The goal is to try and reach some sort of outcome of better performance, to see if it can work. If they are only concerned they might make less money, you won’t truly see what can work or not work.

– It’s not about quality or quantity. It’s about quality and quantity. I’ve never led a recruiting team in a corporate or agency where good recruiters would ever send a crappy candidate on purpose. That just doesn’t happen, normally. If it did, that recruiter didn’t belong on the team.

I don’t believe in recruiting “team” rewards as pay for performance in most cases. Most teams are not designed and measured for “team” performance, so many on the team are getting the reward for a few doing most of the heavy lifting. You can still have team rewards, but you truly have to think about how you reward your most effective recruiters, short and long-term.

I think the ideal ratio for compensation for corporate recruiters should be 75% base salary and 25% pay for performance, where your best top recruiters can make 125% of their normal total comp if they are killing it. As I mentioned above, you will have recruiters quit because you have “recruiters” on your team that didn’t take the job to recruit, but to administer a recruiting process and collect a nice base salary.

Okay, tell me what I missed in the comments or if you have a model that is working you would like to share with everyone!

It’s Harder to be a Corporate Recruiter than an Agency Recruiter, Today!

And in this corner, weighing at 185 and standing 6 feet 1 inch, from Shrimp Taco Capital of the World, Mr. Corporate Recruiter! And in this corner weighing in at, “wait, what? what do you mean she won’t give us her weight?” Weighing in at the same weight she was the day she got married, and standing 5 feet, 6 inches with heels, from City of Night Lights, Ms. Agency Recruiter!

It’s been an argument that is as old as the profession. Who is better? Who has the tougher job? Etc.

For the most part, it’s an easy breakdown. Corporate recruiting folks, on average, do far more inbound recruiting, than outbound recruiting. Agency folks do far more outbound recruiting than inbound recruiting. Corporate folks have way more meetings and politics. Agency folks have to way more ass-kissing, but get to do way more actual recruiting. Corporate folks do way more administering of the recruiting process. Agency folks do way more contacting of candidates.

All that being said…

Corporate Recruiters Have a More Difficult Job, Today!

Why?

Basically, in today’s market of ultra-low unemployment and way too many open jobs, corporate recruiters are put in a no-win, highly stressful situation. Yep, they get paid salary and very little performance pay, but they are being forced to perform right now, so that big salary is really meaningless when your quality of life sucks!

Let’s breakdown all the reasons:

  • Corporate C-suites are pushing their TA teams over the edge. The c-suite thinks their TA teams suck, but really have no data to support it except for all the open jobs. But when you take a look at what those same TA teams did in 2019 vs. today, in almost all cases they are performing better. But, hey, the job isn’t getting done so let’s bash them over the head with extreme pressure.
  • Corporate recruiters can’t go tell a hiring manager who sucks to just f’off. Oh, you want me to find you someone but your JD sucks, you won’t give me feedback, you won’t give me interview times, and you throw me under the bus in board meetings! Agency recruiters won’t tell you to f’off, but they’ll just not work on your awful opening. Espeically right now when 99% of companies have needs and there is always someone better to work with.
  • Corporate recruiters have been conditioned and trained to do mostly inbound recruiting and for decades it’s actually worked okay. That is what made the job so desirable! Oh, hey, I get paid full salary and great benefits and I just have to post jobs and wait for someone to apply!? Yes! Sign me up! Inbound recruiting, by itself, is not working very well right now. Corporate recruiters are being forced to do heavy lifting and work longer hours. All the while, without the tools and training they need to be successful.
  • Corporate TA teams have worked for decades under this notion from our finance team that every year we should be able to reduce our budgets. Than we have a hiring crisis and some dumb corporate Accountant in finance who thinks they know everything says you can have 10% more to “help” out. When in reality you’re probably closer to around 300% underfunded to actually make it work. Agency folks are historically cheap, but they spend money when they can get the business! And they can turn that around over night!
  • This one stings a little, many Corporate Recruiters didn’t actually take the Corporate Recruiting job because they love to recruit. They took it because they love to administer a recruiting process. Those are two very different things, but now they are being forced t recruit. That sucks. If you took a job that you loved and now someone changed that job, that sucks.

All of this leads to the fact that being an Agency Recruiter, today, is a better job than most Corporate Recruiting jobs. Agency Recruiters have far less stress. There is still stress, but not like corporate. Agency recruiters can pick and choose, way more than corporate, on the openings they work and focus on. The commission stress that agency recruiting gets a bad rap for, isn’t really an issue, today, because everyone is so busy.

Do you agree or disagree? Give me your reasons in the comments!

The Most Brilliant Talent Tips Condensed Into Tiny Sentences!

I wrote a book with a lot of words. One I discovered is that people love for you to have a book, but no one really wants to read 60,000 plus words. They want you to break it down to about 500. “Just tell me what I really need to know!”

Okay – Here you go:

  • Always give personal feedback to candidates you’ve interviewed but didn’t hire. 
  • Make every candidate believe you desire them until you don’t. 
  • Job advertising works. Programmatic Job Advertising works best. 
  • You don’t hire the best talent; you hire the best talent that applied to your jobs. 
  • If your team only uses 50% of your ATS, it’s not an ATS problem, it’s an adoption problem. (which means it’s a leadership problem) 
  • Measuring the recruiting funnel will give you far better results than measuring days to fill. 
  • Only hire Sourcers if you truly have recruiters willing to do outbound recruiting. 
  • 90% of your recruiting is inbound recruiting, but your hiring managers believe 50% of what you do is outbound recruiting. 
  • Your diversity hiring woes can be tied specifically to certain hiring managers, but we are too afraid to connect the dots politically. 
  • 99.99% of candidates will never accept a job without first talking to a real person. Call volume, in recruiting, matters. 
  • If your sourcing tech is failing, it’s not a failure of the tech, it’s your recruiters hate doing outbound recruiting. 
  • They key to being a great recruiter is getting someone who doesn’t know you to trust you with their career. 
  • A candidate will always respond to a hiring manager more than a recruiter on average. They’ll respond to the CEO of your company even more than a manager of a function.
  • On average, there are worse selection strategies than hiring the most pretty people you interview.
  • The most underutilized recruiting resource you have is your own database of clients.

What is your favorite tiny piece of talent advice? Put it in the comments, and I use it in my next book which will only be 2,000 words!

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!

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!

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.

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.

TransfoRM Recruitment Marketing Conference! Sign Up Today!

The World’s largest Recruitment Marketing Conference is Back for 2021! You can sign up for free here using the code “TIMTRANSFORM” to join TransfoRM 2021! The conference will be held on August 5th, coming to you live from DETROIT!

For the 5th year, I”ll be the Emcee for this event, and I’ll also be bringing you the 4th edition of my popular walk & talk series “Recruitment Marketing Bootcamp” and in this episode, I’ll be discussing AI in Recruitment.

TransfoRM is such a unique conference that has been breaking barriers since it was started five years ago, and it has created a community of some of the greatest Recruitment Marketing Professionals in the world. The interaction is tremendous, and I wish more conferences would take note of what TransfoRM does! It’s fast, fun, and informational. No back-to-back, one-hour sessions – sessions that are short and sweet, get to the point, and make us smarter!

Who else will be joining me for TransfoRM 2021 Virtual?

  • Torin Ellis – my friend and who I believe is the top Diversity Recruitment Strategist in the world, will be dropping his amazing knowledge on us!
  • Debbie Tuel – The Chief Joy Officer and the Queen of the Joy Roadshows for Symphony Talent
  • Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman – From the popular HR Tech podcast Chad and Cheese
  • Julie Sowash – Amazing disability advocate and star of the podcast Crazy and the King
  • Roopesh Nair – the CEO of Symphony, and one of the smartest dudes you’ll ever hear from in Recruiting!
  • Advent Health will bring you Talent Attraction Strategies you haven’t thought of!

What else? TransfoRM 2022 will be coming back LIVE and if you register using my code “TIMTRANSFORM” you will get $500 off the live event also, for next year, on top of getting into the virtual 2021 conference for FREE!

Even if you can’t make the live event on August 5th, sign up and you can get the content sent to you afterward so you don’t miss a minute of great ideas and motivation!

Playing the Long Game in Talent Acquisition!

Yeah, but we need talent NOW!

I hear you. No, really, I HEAR you! And I feel your pain, I also need talent right now. In fact, I have not spoken to one organization since March who hasn’t needed talent. Everyone needs talent, now!

Here’s the thing…

(Editor’s note: This is where Tim will wax poetically about the big philosophies in life and some sh*t.)

It’s not about winning the battle, it’s about winning the war! CEOs love saying stupid sh*t like this, am I right? Actually, we aren’t fighting a war, we’re just trying to fill some jobs, calm down, Cindy! (Cindy is my fictional CEO, FYI) So, we have some short-ish term pain, currently in finding talent. The problem is, most TA leaders and organizations will spend 99% of their focus on this current issue.

When you do this, the current issue, becomes your future issue, because you have no vision or plan to actually get out of your current situation. Your current situation sucks, but you don’t want it to keep sucking. A part of me wants to tell leaders to just ignore the present if they truly want to solve the problem. Just go to your hiring managers and say, “Look, we can’t help you, you’re on your own!” The pain will probably be about the same anyway, but you’ll actually get to build a true plan for solving your real issue long term.

Of course we can’t do that without getting fired by Cindy.

We must play the short game and the long game simultaneously, at least, that’s what the best leaders will do in this time of crisis hiring. You’ll have your team fight the fire, while you truly maintain a focus on the future, ignoring the burning building you’re sitting in the middle of. That’s hard to do, and the only way you get away with it is by constantly communicating you’re working on a “permanent” solution for the crisis for the future.

The reason we don’t play the long game in talent acquisition is that we feel too much pressure to fix the present. The problem is you can’t fix the present, that is beyond broken, you can only fix the future. But, if our c-suite trusts we know what we are doing, we buy ourselves time to do what really needs to be done to fix this stuff permanently. Turns out, they will trust us more if we are communicating our plan for the big fix!

The Long Game Plan

Blah, blah, blah, just tell us the plan!

1. Admit that your stuff is currently broken and a mess, but we’ll have to muscle our way through this crisis in the short term.

2. Have a vision of a long-term plan and solution. We need some belief we won’t be living in this hell forever.

3. Look for some short-term wins for your team. Maybe it’s a new tool, some extra help, something that shows them this time it’s going to be different.

4. Make a timeline of action items. This might be a year or more. If you’re stuck in a crappy, dated ATS contract for the next 18 months, your plan is going to change drastically right away. But, this also gives you time to build the right process, tech stack, and team you need.

5. Get alignment of your plan with finance to secure the resources you’ll need. This actually solidifies your plan in concrete because finance pros are pretty good at following up constantly wanting to know how and when you’re going to use those approved resources!

And of course, constantly communicate publicly what you are doing and going to do. Being a great leader is part execution, part politician, and part being a dealer in hope. And right now, your organization needs some talent hope!

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 get constantly 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.