Should Candidate Response Time Be a Measure We Care About?

I have expectations as a leader in my organizations for other employees who are in a leadership position in my company. One of those expectations is, if I call or text you on off hours, weekends, vacations, etc., for something that is urgent to the business, I expect a reply in a rather short time frame.

Some people would not like that. I don’t care. You’re a leader, the business needs you, there’s no time clock for that.

That expectation is set for someone at a leadership level in my organization. They know this expectation before taking the job. Also, I’m not an idiot about it. I can probably count on one hand the number of times in the past five years I’ve reached out to someone on weekends or vacations expecting and needing a response.

But, what if you measured candidate quality in the same manner? Seems unreasonable, doesn’t it!?

Well, check this out:

Nardini is the CEO of the sports and men’s lifestyle site Barstool Sports. In a New York Times interview, she detailed her process for vetting job candidates. After saying she was a “horrible interviewer” because of her impatience, she explained a unique process for gauging potential hires’ interest in the job.

“Here’s something I do,” she said. “If you’re in the process of interviewing with us, I’ll text you about something at 9 p.m. or 11 a.m. on a Sunday just to see how fast you’ll respond.”

The maximum response time she’ll allow: three hours.

So, Erika believes if a candidate doesn’t reply back to her on a Sunday at 9 pm within three hours, they are not interested in a job.

This is why recruiting is hard.

You have moron leaders who come up with stupid ideas of what they think is ‘important’ and then they make you live by these dumb rules. This rule is ridiculous. Erika’s assessment of why this works is ridiculous. But, she’ll get a pass.

Why?

She’s a she. If some dumb white dude came up with the same rule the New York Times would write an expose on how this guy is a complete tyrant and out of touch with today’s world, and how crappy this candidate experience is, and how bad leadership this is, etc. But, no one will. She’s just leaning in and doing what the guys do!

Yes, she is. She’s being an idiot.

Now, I’ll say I actually agree with her on her assessment on response time, assuming the roles she is expecting a reply from in three hours are time critical roles. She runs a media site with breaking stories. Twitter has these things up in seconds, media sites need replies to what is happening within minutes and hours. So, there could be some legitimacy to something as arbitrary as measuring candidate desire by response time.

It’s fraught with issues, to be sure, but for certain roles, it might find you some good talent. Should it be a golden rule of hiring for your organization? No, that’s just dumb.

If you really want a silver bullet I ask every candidate if they’re a dog person or cat person. Works every time!

How Should We Structure New-Hire Sign-On Bonuses for Hourly Hires?

Right from The Project mailbag comes this beauty of a question! Very timely in that so many organizations are moving super fast to add sign-on bonuses for new hires to help them attract more hourly candidates right now. Here’s the actual question:


Dear Tim,

We are looking to offer a new hire sign-on bonus for our hourly hires. I was wondering if you have any advice in terms of what is the best way to do this that one, makes it attractive to candidates, and two, works to help retain these hires so we aren’t just throwing money away?

Thanks for the help,

Mandy


How would I offer an hourly sign-on bonus?

It’s a great question because there isn’t any one correct answer. The correct answer is you do what it takes to meet your goals! In this scenario, without giving up Mandy’s specific details, here’s what I would do:

  • Offer an amount that makes staying on extended UI/Stimulus a non-issue. So, if someone is making $300 a week additional stimulus ($1200 per month), I’m going to pay that on top of our hourly wage.
  • Pay this sign-on as a fraction per hour worked. So, an additional $300 per week would be $7.50 per hour over your normal hourly rate. So, a person who normally makes $15/hr, would be making $22.50/hr until the “sign-on bonus” is paid off.
  • The decision you have to make is how long do you pay this additional extra hourly sign-on addition? One month, two months, until the end of September?! I would pay it for one month and if the person quits and tries to collect unemployment, we would challenge it. The reality is, once someone has worked for a month, there more than likely going to keep working. The ones who really don’t want to work, won’t make it a month.
  • “Tim, we just can’t afford that much”-edition. I hear you, $300 per week is way too much. What can you do? Steal workers from other employers who are making roughly the same as what you pay, but you pay more, just not $7.50 an hour more! Maybe you pay $2/hr more.
  • But, wait, you’re not done! What about your current workers? The reality is, if you start offering a sign-on bonus to new hires, your current employees are going to be upset, especially your best ones! So, you have to make it good with them. More than likely you end up in a compensation track that pays your more experienced people more than your new hires. The key for success here is whoever is getting the best pay must be your best performers, or you get rid of them.
  • Also, you can’t pay your more experienced hourly workers $.50 to $2/hr more if you’re paying new hires sign-on bonuses worth more than that, but you don’t have to pay them the same. The key is to make sure your best workers are being paid at a rate that leads the market, so they can’t go anywhere else for similar work in your market and make the same or more. Pay for performance.
  • Move quickly to make changes to market compensation. In crazy employment times, as we have right now for hourly workers, you can not rely on paid compensation data and services. They move too slow. Pay attention to what candidates are telling you and make some calls to fellow pros around your market to see what folks are paying.
  • Bonus Tip: Have multiple sign-on bonus/retention plans for potential new hires/current employees to choose from! Let’s face it, no one plan will be what everyone wants. So, design three and let them choose. Maybe some want an additional hourly rate, maybe some want a retention bonus paid at the end as a lump sum, and maybe some want something totally different. Get creative!

Brainstorming Idea: What if you paid bonuses for certain activities that lead to the new employee behaviors you wish to have? Show up for the interview, get $50 cash in your hand. Show up to the first day of work, get $100 cash in your hand. Make it through the first week, etc.! Reward based on the behavior you want to happen, and ensure it happens. Yes, payroll will hate you, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done!

Yes, this is expensive, but not as expensive as going out of business because you can’t find labor. You can always increase your prices for your products and services to meet this additional demand. Say hello to inflation, it’s going to happen, the current administration made sure of that with a multi-trillion dollar stimulus package!

The key to making sign-on bonuses work is to only pay those bonuses fully to those workers who truly are working. If you start paying that higher wage to slackers, you’ll be dead in the water. People are willing to work market leading wages, but they are also willing to collect market leading wages for not working so hard if you allow it.

The Weekly Dose: @Rejobify – A Better Way to Reject Applicants!

Today on your Weekly Dose of HR and TA Technology, I take a look at the candidate experience technology Rejobify. Rejobify is a combination of a better candidate rejection template experience versus your normal ATS rejection email and free candidate tools that will help them in their job search.

Rejobify was founded by RecTechMedia’s founder, Chris Russell. I’ve known Chris for at least a decade and he’s one of those guys that just gets Recruiting Technology and the pain points of recruiting at a very high level! So, I knew if Chris was behind this, it was going to be useful and cost-friendly, because he gets what it’s like to be a head of talent!

Rejobify is basically a platform that your rejected candidates can use for free to increase their job search skills. It’s a seven-day course that takes them through things like how to build a better resume, higher-level interview skills, how to better search for a job, etc. They do this through your normal rejection process by simply clicking a personalized link that you have built into your normal rejection templates.

Here’s what we know about rejected candidates right now. First, most don’t even know they’ve been rejected, because we kind of suck at dispositioning candidates. Rejobify helps you ensure not only is your process of dispositioning working, but you can now measure it to be certain.

What I like about Rejobify:

  • For one, it doesn’t change the workflow of your recruiting team, but it does work immediately to raise your candidate experience of rejected candidates.
  • Rejobify gives candidates this psychological feeling that yes, I was rejected, but this company cares enough about me to give me some feedback and direction for the next steps.
  • Rejobify actually measures which candidates begin and complete the training as candidates click through the links and sign up for the training.
  • Using a tool like Rejobify has the potential to help you increase your employer rating on Glassdoor as so many of our negative reviews many times are coming from displeased rejected applicants.

At the end of the day, giving rejected candidates a better experience is a clear differentiator from your competitors. Most employers, at least 50% by recent studies, still don’t even tell candidates they’ve been rejected. They just kind of ignore them and hope they die or something! This has a long and ongoing impact to your employer brand, especially in small and highly competitive markets.

Using technology to not only help ensure you let every candidate know they’ve been rejected but turning this opportunity into a positive for your brand by showing the candidate you want to help them on their search is a true win-win. I found Rejobify to be a cost-effective and automated way to help you increase your candidate experience at a time when most candidates don’t feel very good about the experience or your brand! Well worth a demo, and there are no integration issues with your ATS as it gets built out within your current ATS process (meaning? super easy and inexpensive to get it up and running!).

Talking Talent Acquisition Tech w/ Madeline Laurano (@madtarquin)

Madeline and I are back with our second “Vlog” as the kids like to say! We are Vloggers! Which is like one step below “Influencers” but you get to keep your dignity!

In this episode of Vlogging with Talent Nerds (not the real name, we aren’t naming it) Madeline and I talk Recruiting CRM technology. It’s part of the recruiting landscape that keeps morphing into other areas of the stack, and honestly, we find it pretty complex for the average TA leader.

Madeline Laurano and Tim Sackett – Vlogging TA Nerds!

Question: Do you use a Recruiting CRM? If so, about what percentage do you feel you and your team actually use?

Hit me with your answer in the comments!

Do people really not want to work?

On my way to work this morning, I saw seven businesses that had “Help Wanted” signs out front. The sign above is from a fast-food restaurant requesting you be nice for the few staff they have that are working their butts off to get you fat! Please be patient, your fries, double cheeseburger, and shake will be with you shortly.

I was on vacation for Spring Break (yeah, I said it), and traveled out to St. George, UT, and spent time outside hiking. Stopped at a McDonald’s for a Diet Coke on our way back from Zion and the manager was locking the doors at 2:30 pm in the afternoon. He apologized and said he normally has 50 employees on the schedule, but currently only has 16 and can’t keep the doors open!

Do People Really Not Want To Work? 

1st – Of Course People Don’t Want To Work!?! How stupid is this question!? (Wait, so let me get this straight, I don’t have to work? And I’ll get money? And I don’t have to pay rent? Okay, I’m not gonna work.)

2nd – Read #1.

3rd – If you give anyone the choice to not work, but still get their bills paid, they will not work. This is what is currently taking place in this great country of ours. In fact, some folks are making more not working than they were working. So, none of this is surprising!

The surprising part is politicians seem to be the only people alive, in America, who don’t understand that businesses can’t get people to come to work right now. They like to point to unemployment numbers, but those numbers are not telling the true story of what’s happening across the vast majority of industries.

Certain companies and industries got hurt super bad by Covid. We needed a policy that was sniper rifle accurate to help those people. Our government, instead gave us a nuclear bomb acting like everyone was in trouble. Which lands us in the position we are in right now. Too much work, not enough people who need to work at this moment.

No, Really!? Do People Not Want To Work? 

Here’s my take:

People want to do things that make them feel valued. Things that make them feel satisfied. Where they have some freedom of choice. And at the end of the day they feel safe, secure, and that they matter.

The vast majority of jobs from $10/hr to $20/hr can’t meet those basic needs.

If anyone of us was given the choice to not work and have our basic needs met, even for a short period of time (like the current Stimulus package) most would take it and do things they would rather be doing. Some will help others and volunteer. Some will take time for themselves. Some will actually do nothing and just wait until the time comes around when they have to go back to work to meet their basic needs.

So, basically, if you are hurting for workers and you pay below $20/hr, you are going to be in a world of hurt through at least this summer and maybe longer.

What Can You Do To Get More Workers? 

First, do everything in your power to keep the workers you have. Be kind. Be helpful. Be understanding. If they are overworked, be empathetic and try to do what you can to help them and their quality of life.

Second, don’t give new employees stuff you won’t give your current employees. I see this constantly. Oh! Hey, come work for us and we’ll give you a $500 signing bonus! But you won’t give your current employees a $500 retention or Hard Work bonus.

Third, stop thinking you are all that and a bag of chips! You can’t just throw up a Help Wanted sign and get workers. Be Better! Yep, that means you might actually have to put money into recruiting. Yes, hourly recruiting is as important as salaried recruiting and in many businesses more important. But, I find most organizations that hire a lot of hourly workers are vastly under-resourced when it comes to hourly recruiting as compared to salary recruiting.

Fourth, it’s time to take some chances with all those biases you have. Hire folks who test positive for weed. Hire folks who went to prison. Hire folks who aren’t your “Norm”. It’s time to take some chances, which really aren’t chances, but being more inclusive in hiring, but that’s an entire other post.

Finally, vote differently. If one employer is having a problem hiring, most likely that employer isn’t really that great to work for. If tens of thousands of employers are struggling to hire, something went wrong at a macro-scale. In terms of our current situation, we know exactly what went wrong. Bad policy is causing some short/long-term pain for employers.

Economics will eventually take care of this problem. Employers will pay more, offer more, change. This means we’ll all pay more for stuff we used to get cheaper. Some businesses will go under because you won’t agree that paying more is worth what they offer. This will cause workers to be unemployed. Making it easier for employers to hire at market wages. The law of supply and demand is undefeated.

 

Recruiting Idea! This Might Actually Work!

Why don’t potential candidates pick up your phone calls? Well, yes, no one picks up phone calls anymore, but, no, people still pick up phone calls for certain reasons. We don’t pick up phone calls when we don’t know who it is or we don’t want to talk to the person who’s calling.

Why do we pick up phone calls? 

  1. We actually like the person who is calling and we want to talk to them.
  2. We actually believe the incoming call is super important.
  3. It’s a return call we have been waiting for.

Under number 2, let’s put things like, it’s your boss calling, the kid’s school, your spouse, the police or fire department, hospital, etc. You see who it is on your cell phone screen and you instantly believe you need to pick up that call!

My family hates me! 

There’s this fun game I like to play with my family. You see, my monthly cell phone bill is equal to the GDP of a small country. So, I will, from time to time, get onto my cell phone account online and change the names of my family to something I think is funny. So, now when they call someone, instead of the receiver seeing “Tim Sackett” they might see something like “DJ TImmy T”, as an example!

Did you know you could do that!? You can, and it’s super fun! At least, it’s super fun if you have the power to be the person who can change those names to anything you desire!

My wife’s phone still says, “Kimmy” and I chuckle every time she calls me. I’m sure my son, Cameron, would love it if I changed it to “Queen”.

What does this have to do with Recruiting!? 

Oh, be patient little baby birds! I’m going to feed you!

Let’s say you’re trying to track down a potential candidate. You’ve sent the emails, the In-Mails, and even tried texting, but you are being shut out. You even *69 direct-dialed, and still, no pickup or response! The average recruiter/sourcer would have given up, but are not average! You’re slightly above average and you want to keep trying!

You see it now, right?

You go into your cell phone account and you start testing different names to see who will this potential candidate pick up for! Let’s say this person works for General Motors, here is what I might try:

  • “Ford” , “Chryseler”, “Toyota”, “Tesla”, etc.
  • “City” Police or fire – of whatever town they might live
  • “College” where they graduated
  • “Your Dream Job” they probably won’t pick up, but they’ll laugh!
  • “General Motors” who isn’t going to pick up a call coming from their own employer!

Just like Sex Panther, 60% of the time, this works every time!

Want to know why recruiting can sometimes get a bad reputation? Because I have the ability to come up with ideas like this!

If it works. It works. Don’t hate the players, friends, hate the game!

How to Help Your Company to Stop Sucking at Hiring!

Hiring people to work for you directly is probably the single hardest thing you’ll ever have to do as a manager of people. To be fair, most people are average at hiring, some are flat out killing it, and probably 20% are awful at hiring.

The first sign you suck at hiring is your new hire turnover is an outlier in your organization, your market, or your industry.

So, what constitutes new-hire turnover?

I find most organizations actually don’t measure their hiring managers on new hire turnover but use this to judge effectiveness on their talent acquisition team. That’s a complete joke! That is unless you’re allowing your TA team to make hiring decisions! New hire turn is a direct reflection of hiring decisions. Period.

When should you measure new-hire turnover?  Organizations are going to vary on this based on your normal turn cycles and level of the position. Most use 90 days as the cap for new hire turnover. That is safe for most organizations, but you might want to dig into your own numbers to find out what’s best for your own organization. I know organizations that use one year to measure new-hire turnover and organizations that use 30 days.

How do you help yourself if you suck at hiring?

1. Take yourself out of the process altogether.  Most hiring managers won’t do this because their pride won’t allow them. If you consistently have high new hire turn comparable to others, you might consider this, you just have bad internal filters that predispose you to select people who don’t fit your org or management style. Don’t take it personally. I suck at technical stuff. I shop that part of my job off to someone who’s better. You might be an exceptional manager of your business, but you suck at hiring. Shop that out to someone who’s better!

2. Add non-subjective components into your hiring process and follow that 100% of the time. Assessments are scientifically proven to tell you what they’re designed to tell you. If you follow what they’ll tell you, you’ll be much more likely to make consistent hires. If that assessment gives you better hires, then keep following it, or find an assessment that does give you that consistency.

3. Analyze your reasons for each misfire hire. Were there any commonalities in those? What I find is most poor hires stem from a hiring manager who gets stuck on one reason to hire, which has nothing to do with being successful in your environment. Example: “I want high-energy people!” But then they work in an environment where they are stuck in a 6X8 foot cube all day. It’s like caging a wild animal! 

Numbers don’t lie. If you consistently bomb your new hire turnover metrics, it’s not the hires, it’s you! In the organizations where I’ve seen the best improvement in reducing new hire turnover, it was in organizations where new hire turnover metric results were solely the responsibility of each hiring manager, and nothing to do with talent acquisition.

It’s the 80/20 rule. 80% of most new hire turn is usually coming from around 20% of your hiring managers. Fix those issues and ‘magically’ your new hire turn improves.

How long should it take a candidate to decide on a job offer?

When you make a candidate an offer, how long do you give them to tell you they want the job or not? 24 hours? 3 days? 1 week? Immediately?

For two decades I’ve been in the camp of a candidate should be able to tell you ‘yes’ or ‘no’ immediately, or you (the recruiter and hiring manager) did something wrong in closing! But, I think I’ve changed my stance on this, if “fit” is really important for the position, your culture, etc.

Here’s the deal, if the job and/or company fit is really important to your organization. The candidate should take as long as they need to, to make sure that your organization is the one for them. That might mean they need to finish up other interviews, do more research, go through counter-offers, etc.

So, if that takes two or three weeks, so be it. The fit is critical for you and you actually want the candidate to take their time with this decision.

I feel so strongly about this, I think you should actually make candidates wait 72 hours after you offer them the job, to give you an answer! Yes! You won’t accept an acceptance from them until they’ve taken 72 hours to really think about the job, the new boss, the organization, everything!

Why wait 72 hours if they already know!? 

A “cooling down” period will give them some time to get through the infatuation period of getting the offer! It will give them some time to really think about your job, their current job, other jobs they might be considering. This time is important because too often, too many people get that offer and at that moment everything feels so awesome!

After a couple of days, they come down from the high of being desired by you and start to think clearly, and all of sudden you’re not as pretty as you looked two days ago, or you’re even more pretty by playing hard to get.

But what if a candidate gets cold feet by this technique? 

That’s a real concern especially with historic unemployment in many markets and fields. If you force a candidate to wait 72 hours there is a good chance someone else might come in and offer them a job!

Yep! That actually would be awesome if that happened, because then you would really know! Do they love you, or did they just fall in love with someone else!? Remember, this isn’t for every organization. This is only for organizations where fit is critical to your organizational culture.

If a candidate gets cold feet by another offer or by waiting 3 days, they don’t really believe your organization is the one for them. They don’t believe what you have is their dream job or organization. Also, if you get cold feet by having them wait, you don’t really believe fit is important!

So, how long should it take a candidate to decide if your job offer is right for them? 

There is no one right answer. Each of us has our own internal clock to make those decisions. If you force a candidate to decide immediately upon an offer, that speaks to your culture. If you let candidates decide on their timeline, that also speaks to your culture.

In a perfect world, I still believe if the process works as designed, and everyone pre-closed as they should, both you and a candidate should be able to make a decision when the offer is placed on the table. But, honestly, how often does our process work perfectly?

Hit me in the comments with what you believe is the proper amount of time you should give a candidate to decide whether or not they’ll accept your job offer?

The Secret Sauce to Landing Your Dream Job? Apply Less!!!

Robert Combs over at Fast Company had a brilliant article recently, and if you’re in Recruiting or HR, it’s a must-read! If you’re looking for a job, it’s also a must-read!

Here was Robert’s concept. A.I. (robots) are running the world. It’s the biggest innovation to come into recruiting since Big Data (wait, didn’t we always have data…). If robots can run the application process and find you where ever you are, Robert thought, why not use a robot to apply to jobs for him. Let the robots fight it out!

So, that’s what he did, he built a robot to go out and find jobs he would want, apply to those jobs, and then even follow up!

He applied to hundreds of jobs in minutes! It got a bit out of control:

So I started slowly casting about for new challenges, initially by applying (perhaps naively) to openings at well-known tech companies like Google, Slack, Facebook, and Squarespace.

Two things quickly became clear to me:

  1. I’m up against leaders in their field, so my resume doesn’t always jump to the top of the pile.
  2. Robots read every application.

The robots are “applicant tracking systems” (ATS), commonly used tools for sorting job applications. They automatically filter out candidates based on keywords, skills, former employers, years of experience, schools attended, and the like.

As soon as I realized I was going up against robots, I decided to turn the tables–and built my own…I fired it up I accidentally applied to about 1,300 jobs in the Midwest during the time it took me to get a cup of coffee across the street. I live in New York City and had no plans to relocate, so I quickly shut it down until I could release a new version.

After several iterations and a few embarrassing hiccups, I settled on version 5.0, which applied to 538 jobs over about a three-month period.

So, what did Robert find out? Here were his biggest learnings:

1. Even your ATS robots suck at giving responses! Around 70% of his applications never got a response!

2. Only 4% of 538 jobs he applied for, got a personal email response from a recruiter.

3. Only about 6% of your hires come from people applying to your career site.

Robert found out what most of us in the business already know. Applying to jobs doesn’t actually work. Yet, we spend so much time, energy, and resources building these great tech stacks and apply processes for just his!

So, what works?

Turns out about 85% of jobs are filled by good old fashion networking. You know someone, who knows someone, who has a friend, whose cousin works in the department you really want to work for.

“Out-of-the-box hires rarely happen through LinkedIn (or any job board, career site) applications. They happen when someone influential meets a really interesting person and says, ‘Let’s create a position for you.’”

I disagree somewhat with the above quote. I’ve worked in large corporate TA shops, we just didn’t run around all willy-nilly creating jobs for really cool, smart people! We did many times find really great people and then stick them into a job we already had open, and usually, the reason we found the person was someone who knew the job was openly referred the person to us.

My advice to job seekers is always the same. Stop applying to jobs, start networking with every person you have a possible shred of connection with, and let them know you’re looking for a position, what position you prefer, what position you would take, and where in the world you would work.

Every minute you spend networking is a thousand times better than every minute you spend online applying for jobs. Robert just proved this!

Do you ask your interviewer about your competition?

So, here’s the deal. Timmy gets his big break and gets the interview he’s always wanted. Goes in. Kills it. You know how Timmy does! The interviewer is doing interviewer things and drops the question, “So, Timmy, do you have any questions for me?”

Do “I” have questions for you!?! Heck, yes! I’ve been preparing for this interview for all of my life, or at least for about thirteen seconds before walking in the door! I do have some questions!

What question can an interviewee ask that will totally turn you off? 

There are probably a lot. We covered one a few weeks back in terms of asking about money, which is a big turn-off for a lot of interviewers. But one question came up and I wanted to crowdsource some results! Here’s the question:

“So, Mrs. Interviewer, can you tell me how I stack up against my competition?” (The other candidates who are also interviewing)

Hmmm….

I’ve got some feels on this:

  1. Gutsy. It could definitely blow-up on you in a hurry! Might be an immediate turn-off, and I’m not sure it would ever be a real turn-on.
  2. It does allow you to redirect the conversation back to strengths if your competition has some things they like over you. “Well, let me tell you a little more about how I also bring this to the table…”
  3. Most Hiring Managers will politely decline to talk about other people interviewing, maybe chuckle a little at the question, it’s a bit old school, so the older the people in the room, probably more likely to get a positive response.
  4. It’s aggressive, so if the role is a position where aggressiveness is a trait that is desired, it might be worth a shot.

I think there might be a better way to ask the same question, but use different wording to engage the conversation:

“What have you seen, by others interviewing, that you really liked about what they would bring to this position? Or, was there something you were hoping to hear from me, or others interviewing, that you’re not hearing?” 

This now takes it off the personal comparison of one candidate to another, and back to what the hiring manager is really looking for. Which again, allows you to redirect to your strengths, or minimize a weakness.

What say you TA and HR Pros? Hiring Managers? Does this question turn you off? If not, is there a question that would turn you off on a candidate?

Hit me in the comments!