What Email Subject Lines are Getting the Best Candidate Response?

Recruiters love to talk email subject lines! I think I could run my response data every month, and it would easily be my most-read post each month. It’s part of the secret sauce of talent acquisition, especially as ultra-low unemployment continues to make it very difficult for recruiters to get responses for candidates.

G*d Dammit, Tim! Just give us the secret magic subject lines so I can use them!

See? It’s like giving out that first hit for free! You give them a little taste, get them addicted, and now they can’t live without it. You start feeling itchy, so I’ve heard, and you can’t focus on anything but those free guaranteed-to-work subject lines!

Calm down. I got you, baby.

Try these on for size:

  1. “We need to talk” – Like any good subject line, this comes from a place of personal psychology. Usually, when you see this in a message, it’s not a positive thing. Most likely, you’re in trouble, or you’re getting broken up with. Which, like any good subject line, is why this is so good. This gets extremely high open rates because it triggers something personal in people.
  2. <Just Your Last Name> – It still works as well as any subject line I’ve tested over the years. I use this one more than any other subject line in my toolbox, and 60% of the time. It works every time! This works because no one does it, so the person does not view it as spam.
  3. <A question that speaks to someone’s expertise> – This works because most of us have this psychology of wanting to help others and show off all at the same time. “Hold my beer. I need to show this person how smart I am, and make myself feel good that I help others…” A good example of this might be something like: “Tim, Can you help me with a recruiting issue I’m having?”
  4. <Salary Data Subject Line, Personalized> – Why does someone change jobs? Nope. You’re mistaken. It has very little to do with their manager. It’s most likely someone else has shown them they can make more money by making this change. At least, that’s what all “the new” data is showing! “Software Engineers are getting 28% salary increases by making this change.” “A Technical Recruiter in the ATL is making $140K.”
  5. <Anything specifically personalized to the receiver> – If you take 13 seconds to look at the resume or profile of a person you’re emailing, you can get something personal from that information to use. School mascots for men work well because you’re gambling that person is a sports fan of the school they graduated from. Or maybe you saw a post they like some certain professional team. “Go Green!” because I’m a Michigan State fan would get me to open that email every time.

Honestly, most of these subject lines work simply because they just don’t suck. 90% of recruiters still use lame subject lines like “I’ve got a great opportunity I would like to discuss with you” <vomit face emoji>! Actually, the vomit-face emoji alone in your subject would be a great subject line to test!

Try these out and let me know how they work.

Also, if you’ve found one that works great, help a brother out and share it in the comments below!

New Leaders! You’ve got one shot, one opportunity…

Are you a new leader, or do you know someone who is about to get into a new leadership position? This post is for them!

Every time a new leader starts in a position, they only bring two things with them:

  1. Your resume.
  2. A speech.

Your resume is easy. It’s all the crap you did in your career to this point. You’ll be judged on that resume by your new team. It can go several ways, but usually, if you got hired, you have the resume to back it up.

There’s nothing you can do about your resume when you start a new position. You are who you are, regardless of how you got to this point in a new leadership role. It’s too easy for people to check up on you, so lying isn’t an honest answer, especially when starting a new job.

The speech, on the other hand, is completely up to you!

Every new leader must come into the new role with ‘the speech.’ Your speech. What does your speech need to have in it? Well, that really depends on what kind of leader you are, but here are some basic components:

1. Why you? Why are you the one to lead us? What is your personal vision in life?

2. What were you hired to do?

3. What about us? How do ‘we,’ your team, fit into this?

4. How will we know if we succeed or not?

5. What are some things we should know about your style?

This is your Day 1 speech. I know you want to wait a while. Get to know your new team. Get to know the ‘real’ problems. Get your feet on the ground. But you can’t. You don’t have that time.

You have to come in and be ready to deliver your speech. This one speech will most likely dictate your success as much as your resume. You will either kick off this new leadership position with the right momentum, or you’ll just be another schmuck to take over and do what every other person before you did, fail.

Does it feel like I’m putting too much weight on this one thing?

I’m not. I’m actually trying not to scare you because most people don’t give great speeches when they’re terrified they’ll fail. But don’t kid yourself. This Day 1 leadership speech is critical to your success.

You are now the leader. Everyone is looking at you for the answers. You might not have any of them yet, but you better make it sound like you have them or you’re about to discover them!

You only bring two things with you into this new position. You only control one of them at this point. Don’t miss it.

How do you “practice” HR?

We are constantly told that if we want to be good at anything in life, we must practice. It starts when we are kids, and we want to be our heroes. If you want to be good at sports, or dance, or computer games, you must practice. Not just “play” but specific steps that lead to success in the endeavor we’ve chosen.

Tyler Cowen released his book “Talent” in 2022 and I really like this quote from it:

“What is it you do to practice that is analogous to how a pianist practice scales?”

What do you do each day to practice your profession?

What I find when I ask HR and TA professionals this question, and we really dig in, is there “practice” is showing up and doing the job. That is akin to an NBA player just showing up and playing games but never putting in time and effort outside of the game to increase or maintain their basketball skill level. They wouldn’t be successful for long.

Just showing up and doing the job isn’t practice. That’s the job.

Are we talking about practice…

YES!

Let me tell you how I practice my skill in HR and TA:

  • I write on this blog that has nothing to do with my paying job.
  • I design and present content for roughly 20+ webinars every year.
  • I design and present content to present live on stage for around 20 different talks every year.
  • I consciously reach out and schedule calls with experts in our industry to “talk shop” each month that has nothing to do with my paying job.
  • I network on sites like LinkedIn to expand my professional network and ask and answer as many questions as I can.
  • I will do upwards of 100 tech demos per year in the technology that impacts my industry.
  • I will attend upwards of 12 HR and TA professional conferences.

Okay, I’m a complete freak around personal development, primarily because I actually really like this stuff. That makes it easier to do, for sure.

But, I rarely get into a professional dilemma where I don’t feel prepared to handle the situation. I believe that is because I’ve “practiced” a whole bunch!

I get asked frequently, “How did you learn this stuff?”

Practice.

Honestly, my hope is one day, I’ll take this love of practice in my professional life and turn it into some other sort of practice in my personal life. Like, someday, I’ll roll out of bed and be like, “okay, today is the day I stop being an out-of-shape dough ball and get back into shape like I was in college!

I mean, if I can put this level of practice into my professional life, it stands to believe I could put that same level of practice into any part of my life.

Do you want to be “Great” at your Career?

I find almost 100% of people I would ask this question to will say, “Yes, of course!”

But like my lazy butt sitting on the couch at night watching Netflix, they are willing to put in the practice of being great. They are just showing up to work and doing the job. That usually doesn’t lead to greatness.

Don’t get me wrong. Some folks can show up and be great, just like freak athletes. That is about .001% of our society. So slow your roll. That isn’t you.

I want to be great at my job, but I don’t really do anything other than the job to ensure I’ll be great at it. Doesn’t that sound funny? It goes against everything we know about greatness in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe I’m great at HR and TA. I think I’m pretty good at certain parts of it, but I know people who are so much better than me at so many parts. When you compare yourself against the top 1% in your profession, you feel small. You feel like you need more practice.

When you compare yourself against Kevin in payroll, that constantly loses his way back to his cube, you feel like you’re a giant. Practice isn’t needed to be greater than Kevin. That’s our problem. Most of us are surrounded by average players, and your slightly above-average performance makes you feel like you no longer need practice.

Pick higher performance targets. Chose to emulate someone who amazes you in your profession. Chase greatness through practice.

Your first internship, in your career, should be in sales! No matter your major.

So, it’s that time of year when we begin to think about our interns for the summer. I love interns because we get to show them what they’ll never do or see again in the real world when they get their first job! I’m only half-joking. Most internships I hear about today (and I hear about a lot) aren’t coming close to teaching young adults what it’s like to really work a job in your company.

Suppose I was Chief of HR for the country like I got to make all the HR decisions and make rules and stuff (wouldn’t that be a fun job!) – Chief Justice of HR! I would force every kid who ever did an internship first to do a sales internship with whichever company they decided to do an internship with. Great, you want to be in HR, or an Accountant, or an Engineer, or a Developer, etc., first, you need to go out on the road or sit on the phone with Jerry, he works in sales for our company.

Why sales?

Too often, I see entry-level grads come into organizations with this strange sense of how the world works based on what it is they do in their chosen profession. Do you want to know how to really impact your chosen profession? Go find out how the sausage is made! The ‘sausage’ in most organizations is sales.

Want to find out how to save the organization money as an Engineer or Accountant so you better understand your customer and what and how they’re buying? Want to be a great designer or developer? Sales will teach you what your priorities should be. Want to find out how to impact employee development and career growth? Go find out how hard it is to sell $1 of the product your company sells every day.

This isn’t some plan to get everyone in the world to think sales is hard and you should pity them. Sales are hard. Great sales pros also make a ton of money. No one usually feels bad for sales. This is truly about getting the new grads coming into your organization to have a better perspective on what’s really important.

If we don’t sell our stuff, you can’t ride down the slide into the lobby on your way to hot yoga.

So, no matter what you do in the organization. You should know how to sell. Well, Tim, I’m going to be a nurse. Hospitals don’t sell. We save lives. Congratulations on becoming a nurse. It’s such a great profession. You’re a moron. Every organization sells. Hospitals compete against other hospitals for high-margin healthcare business. Nonprofits compete for donations and grant dollars. Churches compete for your soul!

Every organization is selling something, and you should know what it is you’re selling and how it’s sold.

We do a disservice to new grads when we make them think that their profession is only about the skills they’re learning for some title they’ll one day have after graduation. Your profession, every profession, is about ensuring crap gets sold.

The Best Recruiting Conference/Festival on the planet is coming to the U.S.!

I go to a lot of HR and TA conferences. All over the world. I’ve consistently said the top recruiting conference in the world is RecFest in the UK. Its outdoor summer festival meets business conference, and it’s magical! Well, I’ve got great news! RecFest US is coming to Nashville, TN, in September 2023!

Check this out:

I love RecFest, especially for a Talent Acquisition Team event. Beyond the great recruiting content and amazing speaker lineup, RecFest at its heart is a festival, so at the end of the day, you have live music, drinks, and food. Over the past three years, so many TA teams have been working overtime, so this could make a great team event to plan for.

Early Bird Tickets are on sale right now –

I hope to see you there! I’m planning on attending with so many other TA Influencers, thought leaders, and friends. I already know of a large number of enterprise-level TA leaders who are also attending with their teams! I can’t wait!

Here are some highlights from RecFest UK 2022 that I attended:

Do Your Employees Have Unrealistic Pay Raise Expectations? #HRFamous

On episode 112 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee, Madeline Laurano, and Tim Sackett come together to discuss what they’re hoping to learn in 2023, the extra burden placed on women in Executive level roles, and unrealistic hopes for pay increases. 

Listen below and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (iTunes) and follow (Spotify)!

1:00 – JLee asks the crew what is one thing that they want to learn in 2023.  JLee has only ridden a bike a few times, and she wants to master riding a bike this year. Madeline’s goal is to get better at golfing. 

4:15 – Tim is taking his Jewish family to Israel this year. His youngest son, Cooper, is learning Hebrew at school, and Tim wants to learn some of that language. 

6:15 – JLee brings up an article from Fortune about women in C-Suite or Executive level positions and how they may have to pay a lot of money on childcare and household help. JLee asks Madeline if we are talking about this topic enough. 

8:50 – Madeline tells a story about her son, who had a female friend over. She told the kids she just needed to take some time to clean up and her son’s friend said to her, “don’t you have a cleaner?”. 

11:30 – Tim mentions how when his mom was starting her business, she hired Tim’s Grandma to come to clean the house while she worked. 

14:00 – Madeline thinks that there is more stigma around people hiring for childcare help than household help.

16:45 – Tim wonders how much of this is American culture vs. culture from all around the world. He mentions how shocked he was when he visited South Africa, and he saw how much help middle-class white families had for their everyday life. 

20:30 – Lesson of the day: parenting is not easy, and it’s nearly impossible to do it all by yourself! 

21:30 – Bloomberg reported on the unrealistic high hopes that employees have for pay hikes in the new year. JLee asks the crew if they are seeing this in the workplace. 

24:45 – Madeline notes how it still is an employee/candidate first market due to the number of jobs available. She does think that due to the layoffs happening across the workforce, the behavior of asking for raises may change. 

29:00 – JLee notes that any publicly traded company has to listen to its shareholders and what they think is best for the business. A big question for these companies is, “who are we in service to?”. 

31:30 – When can you stop saying Happy New Year? Madeline thinks she could go to 1/30, but Tim only gives it two weeks. 

America’s Greatest Threat is Lack of Labor!

America’s Greatest Threat? Lack of Hourly Workers!

I spoke to a group of upcoming high graduates yesterday, and it got me to thinking about the future. I don’t dump on young kids like most people do today. My feeling is we all sucked when we were young. We grew up. Got experienced. And we suck less. But we look at young people and we are shocked they suck at mostly everything. We. All. Did. When. We. Were. Young!

Businesses, big and small are desperate currently for workers. Low-skill, semi-skilled, people who have no skill but are willing to be trained. The hourly rate is anywhere between $12-22/hr. I’ve spoken to companies in every market and industry, many of whom will tell me they’ll hire as many people as they can find, they just can’t find anyone!

Now, I don’t want to get into all the reasons why organizations are struggling to find hourly workers. There are many, and it’s a complex situation that isn’t going away anytime soon. I want to focus on how not having enough hourly workers puts America at a competitive disadvantage in the world.

What Happens When America Can’t Hire Enough Workers?

First, organizations will do what it takes actually to hire talent. They increase wages and benefits, which initially seems like a big win for workers. Businesses will also raise prices to pay for those additional expenses. Say hello to inflation. The supply and demand dynamics of labor all happen fairly quickly.

Organizations will look to become more efficient and add technology that, in the long term, can be a better value than workers. Let’s be honest, this has been happening since the beginning of time, but in times of true pain in hiring, all this speeds up and happens faster than normal. Say hello to the robots!

Companies will offshore more more than they already do to countries with an abundance of hourly workers. China, Mexico, India, and various countries in Africa if they can get politically stable, will gain millions of jobs from organizations looking to sell their products in America. Say hello to more jobs leaving our shores. Also, as we’ve seen with the Pandemic, this will cause further issues with our supply chain in critical times.

What Should We Be Doing In America To Ensure We Have The Hourly Talent We Need?

Okay – I’ve got some ideas. Some you’ll agree with, some you’ll hate, but something has to change. American demographics are not changing. Our labor force is shrinking and we are getting older as a country. We have a crisis staring us in the face, and we are too divided to even see what’s really happening!

  1. Major investment into trades and apprenticeship programs at the high school and post-high school levels. Free College? Screw that. Rich folks can pay for college. Let’s have Free Trades and Apprenticeship programs. Let’s start these in Junior High and High School and continue their post-high school. Let’s have 22-year-old kids making $40-60K a year in skilled occupations.
  2. Blow up public education as we know it. It’s broken. Can we all admit to this? About 70% of kids are not college kids, but we force them down the path of college. Let’s have public education that promotes our best and brightest but also promotes kids who want to work with their hands, who want to work in the arts, etc. If we are the most powerful country on earth, why can’t we have multiple avenues for our kids, whether they are rich or poor?
  3. Encourage our children to once again be firefighters, police officers, home builders, big truck operators, cooks, delivery drivers, etc. Both boys and girls. I was struck when I was in Australia how many construction workers and road workers were female. You rarely see that in America. Our children should feel proud to have an occupation that is helping their community and others, but instead, we, as parents, talk down these occupations. Our children are constantly listening.
  4. Open the Mexican border. Uh oh, he didn’t just say that!? Yeah, you know who has millions of people who want the jobs that Americans don’t want? Mexico. If you don’t want to work that $15/hr job, step aside, there are people that do want those jobs. Plus, actually having a great labor force strengthens America! Would you rather have Mexican citizens come to America and make American products, or have American companies go to China and have the communist government of China make the products sent back to America and much of the profit goes to China or India, or somewhere else outside of America?
  5. Pay Equity laws limiting the spread of pay between the highest-paid executive and the lowest-paid employee. I’m not saying that entrepreneurs and executives don’t deserve great salaries for their efforts and their risks. They do. But should a CEO of a company make a $100M a year and the workers make $17/hr? That just seems a little bit out of line, right? Should a college football coach make $5M a year? It’s a stupid game. A game I love to watch, but come on! We’ve got a bit out of line with the haves and the have-nots.
  6. National Occupation Corp. What if every single American child upon graduating high school, put in one year of service into a select list of hourly occupations? Road workers, infrastructure projects, building affordable housing in their community, building parks, etc. Mormon kids do a two-year missionary to spread their word, and it doesn’t seem to harm them one bit, in fact, most would argue it actually helps them become better adults. Doing a national occupation corp would show some kids they actually love this type of work.
  7. End or fix programs that encourage workers not to work. We need people collecting unemployment to prove they can’t find a job. They can’t get work. Because, for the most part, it’s a lie! There is work everywhere! Our Unemployment Insurance system is broken and needs an overhaul.

How do you like those ideas!? A little GOP, a little Dem, a little socialism! If you’re a regular reader of the blog some of those ideas, coming from me, probably surprise you. This is how desperate I think this situation is! We are facing an economic meltdown in the future if we don’t fix this issue, that will make the great recession look like child’s play. America can not be without a great labor force, and right now, we are quickly trailing the rest of the world in the one thing we always hung our hard hat on.

ChatGPT 101 for HR and TA Pros!

n “Making HR Tech Easy,” work tech expert Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, makes complex HR technology understandable for all HR professionals, because having a high competency in HR technology is critical to moving your HR career forward.

It’s been really hard not to hear about Open.AI’s ChatGPT over the past couple of months. It seems like everyone has been talking about it since its recent release in 2022. But if you’re just now encountering it, ChatGPT is a conversational SaaS artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that understands the intent of complex, specific questions and has the potential to produce human-quality responses. Yes, really human!

I say “potential” because it’s still learning. Although it’s already pretty good, and it gets better every minute as millions of people use it.

Why should you care about an AI chatbot that can answer questions like a human? Because it will most likely change work in both significant and minor ways in the near future, similar to what we saw during the first industrial revolution.

Are chatbots going to take our jobs? Well, if I’m honest, some jobs will be lost for sure, at least initially. But it will also create new jobs, many of which we don’t even know yet. Again, similar to the first industrial revolution.

Will ChatGPT Take HR Jobs?

ChatGPT can…

Click here to read the rest of this article on the SHRM website. 

Utilizing your PTO get 40 days off per year! Yes you can!

We all know of that one co-worker that just finds a way to take advantage of every possible benefit to the fullest extent possible! These are the folks who, when on a work trip, will find a way to use every single penny of that per diem! “Hey, can I get a $3.27 gift card added to my dinner bill?”

Well, I think I found one of those folks who cracked the code on PTO! Take a look:

@johnsfinancetips Here is how you can take 40 days off with only 15 vacation days. If you had 19 vacation days, you could take up to 47 days off. Also, do you take all your vacation days every year? #pto #vacation #paidleave #work #vaca #timeoff #personalfinance ♬ original sound – John Liang

So, there’s some creative PTO math in this video for sure, but I love it. Of course, how he’s doing this by also adding in paid holidays and weekend days with his PTO, which I hate to tell a young millennial that workers have been doing this since the advent of paid time off, but he’s so excited I don’t want to burst his little bubble.

I wonder what he could do if he added in his “work from home” days! OMG! He would have like 400 days off a year!

What is your favorite PTO trick? Hit me in the comments!

Can you freelance your HR shop? #HRFamous

On episode 111 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee, Madeline Laurano, and Tim Sackett come together to discuss 2022 and give their thoughts about this year in HR and talent. 

Listen below and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (iTunes) and follow (Spotify)!

1:00 – Tim asks the crew what their favorite TV show, movie, or book from 2022 was. Madeline is a big Euphoria fan, JLee loved Ted Lasso, and Tim couldn’t choose one (House of Dragon, Peaky Blinders. 2022 was a great year for TV!

8:00 – The crew name some of their favorites (Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is Madeline’s). Tim loves Talent by Tyler Cowen. 

10:00 – JLee tried to get Cowen to come speak at a Marriott event and she found that he isn’t too fond of HR folks. She wants to dig in with him and see his real feelings about people who work in HR. 

12:00 – It’s time for the HR and talent year in review! JLee mentions the transition from The Great Resignation into Quiet Quitting. She found that we can get worked up over things that end up not being as noteworthy in the long run. 

14:00 – Tim tried to make “The Big Regret” happened but it never took off…

16:50 – Tim thinks that the HR and talent community needs someone that we can trust for facts and information. He shouts out Roy from SHRM for his journalism work. 

19:00 – Madeline brings up how the biggest topic that isn’t being discussed in HR is the rise of freelancing within the job market. She notes that by 2030, 50% of an organization’s workforce will be freelancers. 

24:00 – Tim says that he thinks there has been a de-emphasis on DEI in 2022. Madeline thinks that within the HR technology space, DEI wasn’t the hot topic of the year. JLee notes that in 2020 there were so many topics culturally that forced the conversations around DEI to be at the forefront. 

26:00 – As we look ahead to 2023, Tim asks the team what points of emphasis he sees coming to the head. Madeline thinks the skills conversation has surprised her in its prominence. She thinks it’s the topic that everyone is obsessed with. 

28:00 – Tim asks JLee where they are at Marriott with skills. She thinks that organizations can be intimidated by the topic and that people are over contemplating where to get started. 

31:30 – JLee’s focus for 2023 is AI and how it will affect content creation.