It Depends On Your Point of View

Today I came across a picture online of a letter that a candidate had sent to Recruiting or Human Resources, or pretty much anyone who might be of assistance in getting a particular job. Take a second to read it, and then formulate your opinion of this candidate and company in rapid time.

Applicant - Thorough














My initial reaction was, “Wow! This person really wants this job!” I also assumed that this person was likely a European male, although I have nothing to validate that (except that I’m a dude and it sounds like something a dude would do).  But then I began to think of this at a deeper level and discovered that there is more here than one might initially notice.

1) A hand written note. How often do we see hand written notes in recruiting anymore? How often do we ever see a hand written anything anymore? I hear “experts” say often that a hand written note is more personal and shows that the person writing it places a high value on the receiver and the message. I can’t help but believe that this person felt this position was of great importance due to the numerous steps taken to eliminate a “No.” response.

2) The company was highly sought after. This obviously wasn’t the candidate’s first attempt to gain employment with this company. The writer used the words “Each time I apply for a job…” clearly letting us know that he/she has applied on more than one occasion, likely numerous times. This leads me to make another assumption. I assume that there is a form letter that goes out to everyone rejecting them with the same message over and over again. If they have a standard Applicant Tracking System, then I’m confident that a human never laid eyes on his C.V. and was systematically rejected without much effort.

The way candidates are treated do have an impact on the overall branding of a company, and often impacts the brand financially. Companies should seriously consider how their recruitment efforts, particularly when they reject a candidate, is handled and how it can be done in the most courteous of ways. You’ll notice that this candidate had a tad of bitterness towards the company when stating, “I have caught you red-handed and you have no excuse…” It appears the candidate didn’t believe the “no vacancy”reason being given to him/her in the past and felt it necessary to prove the point.

3)  Thorough and Anticipatory. Regardless of if you see this candidate in a positive or negative light, you must admit that they were thorough in their efforts. He/She followed the happenings of the company closely so they knew that the Technical Manager had passed away. At the breaking of this news, the candidate saw an opportunity and began to map out a path that would hopefully end with the opportunity to gain employment. He/She anticipated what possible responses might come their way and tried to head them off and shut them down before the company could even try to use the form letter again. Think of it – he/she went to the blasted funeral to verify that the person actually died and was buried. This leads me to another assumption – I bet there are pictures somewhere on some mobile device just waiting to be delivered to someone’s email. They even went so far as to get a copy of the Death Certificate. Wow!

The actions of this candidate might seem desperate to some. To others, they applaud the initiative. Still to others, they think he/she is straight up crazy! What do I think? I think this person would fit in nicely at a staffing firm in a business development role!




FROZEN Out of Talent? Let It Go!

The following is the transcript of a webcast I did on 8/26/14 for SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management).  This should not be copied or used without my permission.

Frozen - Title Slide











Hello everyone. My name is Doug Douglas. I’m speaking with you from Austin, Texas today where I live and have my business. Let me just say a couple of things before we dig into our topic today:

  • I love to have people connect with me at the end of these sessions, so if you’d like to connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – please feel free to send me an invitation. I’ll put my contact info up at the end of today’s session.
  • The biggest challenge for me in doing these webcasts is the diversity of the audience and the types of information that might be specifically useful to you. We have some on the call today from major global brands that all of us would recognize, and we have some on here who are from very small companies. Some have big budgets, and some have no budget. Some have a team of people working on recruiting, and others are a single person trying to do recruiting along with other responsibilities. So, in planning the information to share with you today – I really do try to consider all of those factors and try to make sure there is something for everyone.

In 2013, the movie “Frozen” was released by Walt Disney. This was based on the Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen.” The movie was wildly popular, but there is a song that came from the movie that has been sung by just about everyone imaginable now…

  • Demi Lovato
  • Idina Menzel
  • Pearl Jam
  • Boxer Manny Pacquiao
  • And countless parents singing it at the top of their lungs as they drive with their kids

The song is “Let It Go.” And the chorus says…

“Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore.

Let it go, let it go. Turn away and slam the door.

I don’t care what they’re going to say. Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway.”

As you face recruitment issues and executive expectations and reduced bandwidth among your team, it requires a leader to stand up and say, “We are going to fix this and not just keep doing things the way and expecting different results. I don’t care what they’re going to say. Let the storm rage one…the cold never bothered me anyway.”


As you consider the current state of your recruitment efforts, you might find that you are getting frozen out from the best talent.

  • In a recent CareerBuilder survey, 30% of employers say that recruiting qualified candidates is their biggest concern.

Maybe you are seeing that your employees aren’t content and you fear a mass exodus at any moment.

  • Did you know that in a recent poll, 78% of people currently employed say that they would leave their current job if someone would offer them another?

Or possibly you just see your recruitment costs rising and putting a strain on your budget.

  • 18% say that recruitment costs are the most critical concern they face

If you work in an industry that employs skilled trades, you are undoubtedly getting hit hard in your recruitment efforts.

  • Over 10 million skilled labor jobs went unfilled last year.

You live in this world. You see these very real concerns. You are tasked with trying to find solutions. Yet sometimes your bosses don’t see and understand the challenges that you face, the shifts that have taken in the workforce, and the demands for specific types of talent.  In order to face these challenges, it takes someone who is confident, sure, and steadfast – committed to the big picture – and when the storms rage on, they just say – “Let it go, the cold never bothered me anyway!”

Recruitment Optimization. That might be a new term for you. I have been involved in this for years, but I finally named my process that a couple of years ago. At the time, you could go online and Google “Recruitment Optimization” and you would get less than 5 returns – mine being a couple of them. But today, you can search for it, and you get pages of returns. The trouble with bringing to market a fresh idea or term is that others quickly latch onto it and run with it. It is beginning to take on the same kind of feel as SEO did several years ago. Initially, SEO was a luxury for a rare few, but as it has become more complex and algorithms are changing moment by moment, then it is now seen as a mandatory aspect of a company’s marketing initiatives.


The days of posting an open job and waiting for people to apply so you can sort through them and pick one are over. A modern day recruiter must have a wide variety of skills, or the company must outsource this aspect of their business to an agency that has the tools, technology, and talent to compete for the best talent on your behalf. Consider what a modern day recruitment model looks like, according to Josh Bersin of Forbes Magazine:

  • Development of an employment brand
  • Developing creative advertisements and promotional materials
  • Developing job requisitions (working with hiring managers)
  • Placing and managing recruitment advertising and promotion
  • Managing university and college recruiting
  • Developing candidate relationship management and “farming” programs
  • Sourcing key candidates for critical roles
  • Screening and reference checking
  • Use of pre-hire assessments
  • Creating an interview process and using video and other interview tools
  • Training and engaging hiring managers in the recruiting process
  • Creating a career website
  • Selecting and implementing an applicant tracking system
  • Creating a mobile career website and experience
  • Supporting candidates through the process and creating a positive candidate experience
  • Globalizing each part of the process and localizing many steps
  • Understanding local labor markets to localize programs and promotions
  • Hiring and training recruiters
  • Accessing third party agencies and executive recruiters
  • Measuring and managing the process and focusing on speed, quality of hire, and efficiency
  • Onboarding new people
  • … and staying up to date on hundreds of new tools and technologies.

That’s a lot of responsibility, probably far more than you anticipated. If you asked your current recruitment team to write out their responsibilities – do you think they would hit on all of those areas? Most of them? Some? Or would they name just a few of those? Do they understand the strategic end of their efforts, or do they just smile, dial, and repeat?

Because some organizations understand the complexity involved in today’s recruiting efforts, rather than try to do it all themselves, they have made the decision to outsource this function to a 3rd part firm. Apple uses recruitment firms to assist them in their efforts, especially when starting up a new location. Very well-known Fortune 50 companies use firms because internally they haven’t figured out how to attract young talent or create a work environment that is appealing to Gen X or Millennials.

And for those who remain steadfast in doing everything in-house, they are often forced to deal with low performance, high turnover, and poor customer service if they do not have a well defined and appropriate recruitment model in place. Places like Google believe that hiring great HR and Recruiting people make a big difference, so they spend 4-5 times as much as other large companies.


Like so many businesses, families, and even our government – when we see that we are behind on our metrics, we tend to assume that if we add more people or money to it, that we can “fix” whatever the cause is. But when it comes to recruiting, that isn’t necessarily true. If your strategy, processes, and metrics are bad – then putting more money and more people into the machine that executes bad strategies, processes, and metrics won’t fix anything. You might get a temporary boost, but the problems will overtake them at some point.

Other companies go to the extreme the other direction and decide that things are so far behind that they just need to quit trying to do it themselves and outsource everything to someone else to do, or maybe they do a hybrid approach and keep a small internal team and supplement it with outsourcing other searches to a firm.

But there is another option that often gets overlooked or ignored. In most cases, current strategies, processes, technologies, metrics, social media efforts, etc. can be optimized to increase effectiveness and efficiencies, while also reducing costs and turnover. This shouldn’t be the last resort – it should be the first option! By making these adjustments, a team can increase bandwidth within their existing team, reducing or even eliminating the need to hire more people or to further outsource some of the workload.

A comprehensive optimization program should be one that addresses all of the following:

  • Recruitment Strategies
  • Recruitment Processes
  • Recruitment Technologies
  • Social Media Efforts
  • Metrics
  • Team Structure
  • Recruitment Costs
  • Team Performance

Many companies continue to use strategies and processes that were set in place 10-15-20 years prior. The six most dangerous words that a business can say is, “We’ve always done it that way.”

In my opinion, strategies and processes should be evaluated and optimized every 2-3 years now. There are two main drivers behind my opinion:

  • Technology changes quickly. Tools change quickly. “Go-to” places change quickly. If you have had your same strategies and processes for the past 10 years, Twitter wasn’t even created until 8 years ago. Pintrest came along 5 years ago. LinkedIn Recruiter came about 2 years ago. How do you not include things as widely used as Twitter, Pintrest, or LinkedIn Recruiter in your recruitment efforts, or at least consider them? Mobile recruitment is a huge part of the current landscape, yet a vast majority of corporate websites are not friendly to mobile browsers.
  • Generational changes. Think with me of how the internet has changed the way business is done today. Things are radically different!
  • The way we communicate with each other
  • The way we solve problems
  • The way we research
  • Our customer base is no longer local but global
  • Expectations for speed and efficiency are higher

So, if the internet has changed the way that business is done today, wouldn’t it stand to reason that it has also changed the way the first generation to have the internet every day of their lives would go about living their lives and addressing their careers?

When we consider those two things alone, the use of technology in our recruitment efforts, and the generational shift in expectations – I have to make a big point on this…

We have shifted too far to the technology end of things when you consider the modern day and next generation candidate.

There was something else that we have done that has also reshaped this modern day candidate. When they were kids, we decided that it was important that every child think things are equal and fair. There are no winners. There are no losers. Regardless of their contribution, they will be treated just like the one who contributes the most. So, we gave every player a trophy, ribbon or certificate.

As they continued to grow and go throughout their middle school and high school days, teachers would consistently provide a curve to the grades, so those that under-performed wouldn’t be punished as severely and gave them higher grades – many times allowing someone to pass a class that really hadn’t earned it.

Well now, little Tommy and Susie aren’t on the soccer fields, baseball field, volleyball or basketball courts – they are now in your offices and applying for your jobs. And what do you think their expectations are for the way they will be treated? They have a deep need for human interaction, assurance, collaboration, and recognition.

The technologies being used today remove the human element from the process almost entirely. A person can spend two hours applying for a job online, only to have an answer on their candidacy within 30 seconds of them hitting “submit” on your career page. Don’t get me wrong, it would be impossible today to have an effective recruitment model without numerous technologies involved, but the important factors are their balance and in the motivation behind them.

The key to the modern day and next generation candidate is influence, engagement, and personal value. These things are so far removed from what companies are doing currently that it is having a huge impact on the quality and quantity of qualified candidates for their open positions. Any changes to your current strategies and processes need to be centered around these things. Companies like Zappo’s have gone to the extreme in this direction and placed all of the eggs in the engagement basket. We don’t have time to go and take a deep look at what they’re doing, but there are plenty of articles online that point out the positives and negatives to their approach that you can learn on your own.

There is a definite need for optimization when it comes to recruitment strategies, processes, and technologies. However, there are a few OBSTACLES that come into play when considering optimization:

  • To get the best optimization recommendations possible, it requires someone who is unbiased to evaluate current strategies, processes, technologies, spending, social media efforts, team structure, performance, metrics, etc. When an internal person does this evaluation, there are personalities to be mindful of, there are existing ties for a current process to a current employee who developed that process, and obvious general preferences would be in play. The idea here is to get the most effective and efficient recruitment effort possible. PERSPECTIVE MATTERS!
  • HR/Recruitment leadership worry about their own personal reputations. To bring in an outside evaluator, the HR/Recruitment leadership worry that they will be seen by their own bosses as not capable of handling their function or not being knowledgeable enough to optimize it themselves. When you look at this from the standpoint of #1, this removes all personalities from it. When you look at it from an executive’s standpoint, the issue is establishing a world-class recruitment structure that will be beneficial to the company through reduced turnover, faster turn-around times to fill open positions, and saving money on the recruitment efforts across the board. It still requires an ongoing person there to manage and drive that new process, which the HR/Recruitment leader would continue to do.
  • Time. Time is always a factor. I began doing recruitment optimization several years ago, and now I do it exclusively. The biggest misconception that people have is that for me to come in an lead a full evaluation of the their current efforts in order to make recommendations for optimization, that I would require a month, or a couple of weeks, or even a full week of everyone’s time. While I’m sure there are consultants out there who make that their model because they are charging by the hour, this is not true of me. I have a comprehensive document that I created that walks me through every element of the recruitment function and I can almost always complete this in a single day. The most that I need any one person to sit with me and go through information is 3-4 hours. This allows each person to go about their normal responsibilities without a huge time commitment from them to support this process. When considering a consultant to do this type of evaluation – find someone who charges a flat fee for the service, and not charging you by the hour.
  • Cost. Again, if you bring in a consultant that is charging you hourly, they will likely want that process to take as long as possible so they can bill for as many hours as possible. By going with a consultant who charges a flat fee for the consultancy, they want to wrap things up as quickly as possible, but also want to make sure they do a great job for you so referrals will potentially come. The cost – at least in my world – is not substantial, but the benefits of the optimization efforts will provide a very significant ROI quickly to your organization.
  • Lack of options. Surprisingly, there aren’t many consultants out there who focus specifically on Recruiting, and those that do typically work for a recruiting firm and their finding will always include recommendations that you outsource some or all of your recruiting to them. You have many consultants out there who are HR consultants, but recruiting was just a piece of what they have done in the past. When it comes to evaluating technologies used and the various capabilities of those technologies, or knowing the modern day and next generation recruiting models, they have some exposure to it but maybe not much. Also, many HR consultants were at the executive levels prior to transitioning to a consultancy role – so it may have been several years since they were involved in transactional recruitment efforts. As someone who is exclusively involved in Recruitment Optimization, I only know of 2 or 3 others in the country that I am aware of who are focused on this much needed area.

Optimization can provide a significant ROI for you. It should be included in any evaluation of current strategies, processes, technology and so on so you can measure the overall return on your optimized plan. Typically, you should see a positive ROI in the following ways:

  • Reducing turnover costs by hiring better. Many companies, even when unemployment is high, are facing a limited number of reasonable candidates for their open positions and they end up settling on someone out of desperation instead of making sure to fill the position with someone who is functionally capable and culturally non-threatening.
  • Transitioning to a pipeline approach and away from a just in time approach. Several factors go into this, but the idea is that through engagement, you have prequalified candidates who are interested in your company and just waiting for an opportunity to become available. When it does, then you can move quickly to plug in the correct person in a much shorter time frame and minimize any lost revenue potential.
  • Minimizing lost opportunity costs. Many companies deal with this, but don’t even factor it into their recruitment costs. It’s when a company has to turn away potential business because they are understaffed and do not have the capability to ramp up quickly enough to gain that new business.
  • Strategically planning the best path forward. So many companies just post jobs here and there and then never track to see where the bulk of their candidates are coming from. Or maybe focusing on an internship program would be a better route. Maybe reducing the money spent on advertising and increasing referral bonuses makes more sense. Depending on your company and the specific issues that you face, a deep strategic look could provide an overwhelming ROI.
  • The use of technology. Technologies must be used in recruiting – there is no way around that. But they should be used to speed up efficiency and convenience for the candidate and the recruiter alike…not just the recruiter. That’s how we have gotten into the mess we are in now. The average time a recruiter spends on a resume today is 6 seconds. A solid recruitment optimization consultant should have a great understanding of the tools available today and how they can be plugged into the overall processes to give it a balance of high tech and high touch.

Bottlenecks in your current process also impact not only the speed and efficiency of your efforts, but your recruitment costs and ability to close those great candidates. The problem here is that many companies do not have the correct metrics in place to measure the data needed to realize these bottlenecks. They certainly aren’t included in the default reports that come with your Applicant Tracking System. Specialized adhoc reporting is required. By doing so, you can uncover where the process is consistently slowing down and potentially losing candidates or costing the company more money as delays occur. Here are a few areas that I like to measure because it tells me where I can make improvements:

  • Total days open – goal should be under 30 days
  • Total days before candidate submitted – no bandwidth or tight market or neglected
  • Number of candidates submitted (the recruiter doesn’t understand or the hiring manager doesn’t know what he/she is looking for or there was a misunderstanding between the two)
  • Total days from candidate presented to hiring manager feedback – a search may be open for 45 days, but many times it was because it took the hiring manager 2 weeks to get back to the recruiter on each candidate submitted – hold managers accountable too
  • Percentage of candidates presented who were interviewed by hiring manager – is the recruiter finding acceptable candidates or does the manager just interview everyone sent over
  • Total days from hiring manager feedback to interview – are we scheduling interviews too far out and losing candidates / are we cancelling and rescheduling interviews
  • Total days from interview to offer/decline – Are we constantly in an undecided mindset and thinking the next one might be a little better


I hope you have begun to see the importance of optimization efforts. It’s far more than just advertising in the right places, asking the right screening questions, or getting people in empty seats…it carries with it the profitability and stability of the company.

Most, if not all, of us drive cars. On a day to day basis, most of us think about how much gas is left in the tank. You can’t just put gas in the tank once and expect it to run forever. You have to continue to monitor where you are and every so often, you have to stop what you’re doing to fill that tank so you can continue to move forward. But solely focusing on how much gas in the tank doesn’t solve your problems if the car is out of oil, the engine overheats, the tires are flat, and the car won’t stop because the brakes have been worn away. You have to consider the whole car and make sure that everything is running as it should for the car to do its job.

Optimization – if done correctly – can help you to be effective and efficient in your overall recruitment and retention efforts. For some companies, you may only need some gas in the tank, but in others – you may need a complete overhaul. But for most, it falls somewhere in between those two extremes. I encourage you – have an unbiased person come in who understands modern day and next generation recruiting strategies, technologies, and processes and have them see where you are today and provide the road map to get you where you want to be.

On a topic that is this big, and so many unique and diverse companies listening in – I was only able to give you some basics to think about when optimizing your efforts. I’m hopeful that you were able to get something useful from our discussion today, but knowing that I wouldn’t be able to give you great detail – that is why I offer to have you contact me afterward with specific questions.

I have seen optimization work time and time again – reducing recruitment costs, increasing bandwidth, lowering turnover rates, and providing big ROIs. The point of today was to let you know that this should be your first option and not your last resort.

The Class of 2014: Is the Future Dim or Bright?

Class-Of-2014-4In my professional life, I spend most of my time with executives and business leaders discussing workforce issues. Most of the concerns that are raised are with the younger generation who is entering the workforce. They are most often described as:

  • Self-centered
  • Lazy
  • Lacking interpersonal skills
  • Uncommitted

Company turnover rates are too high as they tend to move from job to job. Communication styles have changed as our technologies have changed, so texting, blogging, posting, has often replaced looking someone in the eye and having a verbal conversation. Many of today’s younger workers aren’t interested or aren’t planning on taking jobs that involve manual labor because technology is such a big part of their lives, and let’s face it, they do a better job of marketing opportunities to young adults than construction, oil & gas, or skilled trades do.

But in my personal life, I spend most of my time around students. My daughter is wrapping up her sophomore year of high school. She’s very involved in basketball with her school and in an AAu program. I help develop players for the basketball program at her school, so I am around students almost every night and weekend. There will always be those who are the poster children for the descriptions above, but not all of them. Not even most of them.

I’d like to share a few students with you that I’ve spent time with this year who are seniors – about to graduate and head off to college to begin their serious pursuit of a career. These students have genuinely impacted me and made me feel good about their potential to succeed and make others around them better.

Samantha – I’ve known Sam for a couple of years now. My first impression of her was that she was tough and not very personable or friendly. But as I’ve gotten to know her, I see her quite differently. She played basketball and was apart of my AAU program last year. She was a tireless worker on the court and a leader among the other girls. She was entering her senior year and it looked very bright for her. But just a few games into the season, injuries knocked her out for the rest of the year, and for the rest of her sports career. Obviously she was disappointed and saddened, but she stayed with her team and became their biggest cheerleader. She would sit on the bench and help younger players to understand what was happening on the court. Very positive on the court, but weeping off the court as the season didn’t work out the way she envisioned. Sam is smart, funny, driven, supportive, and the ultimate team player. She’s a leader. Sam wants to be a teacher and I believe she will be an amazing one!

Martin – Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with Martin and get to know him. Positive. Energetic. Strong interpersonal skills. Funny. Professional. His ambitions are to study some sort of neuroscience as it relates to sports injuries, or possibly physical therapy. I have extremely high expectations for him in his career. He is infectious with his enthusiasm for life and relationships. I see him being a leader throughout his career and his life. It would be very advantageous for a company to snatch him up now for an internship and begin to cultivate a relationship with him.

Patrick – I was able to meet and work with Patrick as he was preparing to go compete in a state competition for his school. He would be competing in the area of sales presentations. He had a product that he needed to present, be able to speak about the capabilities and nuances of the product, and answer questions regarding it. He did an excellent job! I have been around lots and lots of sales people over the years and Patrick has a VERY bright future ahead of him. He’s a gentle giant – friendly, engaging, humble, gracious, very strong communication skills, and the ability to present technical information in an easy to understand manner. I know lots of CEO’s in the Austin area who ought to give this guy an internship immediately! When he finishes that business and marketing degree, he will be unstoppable.

Gaebri – What an accomplished young lady! She is the captain of the dance team for the school. I spent each night last week around Gaebri as it was their end of the year Spring Show. 3 hours of non-stop music and dancing from the various dance groups in the school and area. Not only did Gaebri dance in the show, but she danced at least 15 dances and she choreographed the vast majority of the show. She has incredible talent, but that wasn’t the main thing that grabbed my attention. She was so at ease in the middle of all of that chaos around her. I’ve never seen anything like that! She is driven. She’s competitive. She has great attention to detail. She’s a multi-tasker galore! But she is well grounded, humble, kind, approachable, and a joy to be around. With the work ethic that she has, there’s no doubt that she is going to be successful at whatever she wants to pursue. There’s no doubt in my mind.

These four young people are incredible in their own unique ways! If we were to take the descriptions that business leaders have for this generation and compare them to these four people – they totally destroy those preconceived notions. There are many others that I could have mentioned as well. Look, I evaluate talent for various companies in multiple industries. I’m paid to be skeptical and only promote those who really are the best of the best. While none of these four students could come in today and be top producers in most organizations, I believe all of them could be quickly with training, mentoring, internships, and opportunities.

I feel good about the future workforce. Not everyone will be like the four that I’ve introduced to you today, but many of them are hard working, dedicated, loyal, personable, do the right thing kind of people. Good luck Class of 2014! I see great things ahead for you!


Political Stance Screening Questions?

American Politics ConceptRecently the big news story was Brendan Eich and his stepping down as the CEO of Mozilla under pressure from his board due to the calls for his firing by OKCupid and their followers. Six years earlier, Mr. Eich wrote a personal check to a cause that he supported aimed at defeating a gay marriage law in California. According to everything I have read, he had never been accused of discrimination or any unlawful act in his professional responsibilities. At issue was what cause he chose to support as a private citizen…the same stance, by the way, that Barack Obama held at the same time. OKCupid believed that his own personal beliefs and contributions from 6 year prior were grounds for him to lose his employment at Mozilla, where he had been employed for 13 years.

As someone in the recruiting industry, I’ve begun to ask myself how this scenario will impact how recruiters will do their job, and how they will need to respond to hiring managers or clients who may want to know more about their potential candidates. Although I haven’t been asked to yet, what if a client asks me to lead a search for them and they only want people who support gay marriage? Or what if I have a client who says they only want to see candidates who are against gun control? Or pro-life? Or pro-choice? What if they want financial records for the past 10 years to make sure they haven’t donated to a charity or a cause that the hiring manager doesn’t personally support?

Obviously, I cannot legally ask these questions. Or at least I can’t yet. But is that where we are headed? Will recruiting take on more of a private investigator persona so we can only have people working alongside us who think identically to the way we think?

It is troublesome to consider these scenarios. Individuals should be able to form and hold their own personal opinions, beliefs, and convictions. They should be able to support a cause if they feel it appropriate and lawful. If they can maintain those opinions, beliefs, and convictions without unlawful issue in their professional lives, then so be it. Mr Eich’s story is something all of us should consider. It isn’t about what side of the gay marriage argument you support. The next time, it could be another hot button topic that you adamantly oppose, and someone just like you could be fired because the boss doesn’t see things exactly as you do.

Share your thoughts with me…is this where we are headed?

Experience? I Don’t Need Experience to Build an ATS!

QuestionsI have made a decision. I think I am going to write a book on the safest way to skydive. Now, I’ve never been skydiving, nor is it likely that I ever will as I am afraid of heights. But really, how hard can it be? Stick a parachute in a backpack – hitch a ride on a plane – open the door – jump – scream – then pull a cord and let the parachute do the rest. Easy, right? I should be able to write a best selling instructional guide with no problem.

Or instead I could become a survival expert and I could start taking people on adventurous trips around the world where we experience extreme situations! Yeah, that would be awesome! Granted, I have no medical training. I have no background in extreme sports or survival situations. However, I have watched Man vs Wild, Naked and Alive, and Survivor. I’m sure I’ve picked up enough knowledge from that to do okay.

As absurd as it sounds for me to undertake either of those scenarios based on my background and lack of experience, and even more absurd that people would trust me in either of those endeavors, I have found that there are some in business who have made equally absurd assumptions and created products to market to an industry they know nothing about. While I’m sure there’s a list of things we could name here, my culprit today is Applicant Tracking Systems.

In a discussion yesterday with a long time friend, former manager of mine, and mentor who has taught me many things regarding the recruiting industry, our conversation turned nerdy quickly and we started talking Applicant Tracking Systems. We both feel the same pains from the ones on the market and agree that there are a few common sense things that could be done to them to dramatically improve them. If you want to see my list of those things, you can read a previous post of mine here. But our discussion took a bit of a twist and focused on WHY so many of these ATS companies miss so many obvious things that would benefit recruiters. The answer: Most often, in our experience, the people who start these ATS companies are software or technology people, not recruiters. Their perspective is unique to the world that they live in and requires assumptions to be made regarding what a recruiter would need or want.

User interfaces, bells, and whistles are not what makes an effective ATS. It’s knowing various recruiting models that are out there and being able to customize your tool on the fly to fit any of them. It’s counting clicks to see how many steps it takes to get from point A to point B, because that may not seem like a big deal in your demo sessions led by other non-recruiters, but for those of us who have to click those buttons thousands of times a week and wait for the page to load – it matters. Speed matters! It’s knowing the unique needs of a corporate recruiter vs an agency recruiter. What about the metrics we need? What about including a CRM and accounting suite to it so everything can be done seamlessly within a single tool?

Obviously, I have made a sweeping claim here. I’m sure that not every ATS company has people running it with no recruiting experience. I’m sure most have someone on their team that has done recruiting at some level for some period of time. Product Development teams should have a well-seasoned person with a stellar track record of establishing strategies and processes for teams of recruiters as a critical piece of their teams. This person should have experience using a variety of recruitment tools and technologies in order to know what the competition has and how it can be improved. And you CEOs of these ATS companies – this person should be your most trusted advisor and best friend, not the CFO!

Once your Product Development team has that person in place, the next thing would be for you to actually go find sales people who know what in the world recruiting is and why our questions matter. I would be a very wealthy man if I had a dollar for every time a sales person said to me during an ATS demo, “I don’t know but I can find that out for you.”

I guess I have two points for this post:

1) If you don’t have a background in recruiting, please quit trying to create tools for us that do.

2) If you ignore #1, then please go find extremely qualified people with a recruiting background to talk to us and build the products for us.

The Suckiness of Phone Time Reports

phone-timeRecruiters have lots of metrics that they are measured on, but the most worthless of them all is the Phone Time Report. This is the report that shows how much time a recruiter spends on the phone each day/week/month. Some live by this report, and for the life of me, I just can’t see why. It is filled with abuses and does not accurately reflect the production level or successes of a recruiter. I first become familiar with the Phone Time Report several years ago as I had a new VP who thought this was a vital measurement of the success or failure of our recruiters. We would have team meetings and emails and conversations about how THIS was the key indicator of recruiting greatness, or recruiting slothfulness. Our executive team touted it, therefore our Directors touted it, therefore our Team Leads touted it. Some of our recruiters really began to focus their attention on getting their name on the leaderboard of the Phone Time Report. I was not one of these recruiters….I wanted to be on the top of another leaderboard – the Who Filled the Most Jobs leaderboard. One day, our VP called me into his office and said, “Doug, I was going over the Phone Time Report and I see that you have the lowest phone time of all of our recruiters.” He looked up at me with the anticipation of an answer. I obliged by saying, “Yes.” I then asked him a question. I said, “If you have that report, then I’m assuming that you also have a report that shows who has filled the most jobs, right?” He said that he did. So I asked him to pull up that report…he did. I asked, “Whose name is at the top of that report?” He replied, “Your name is. How do you explain that?” I explained to my VP that it wasn’t about who talked to the most people or who spent the most time talking to people, but that what mattered is talking to the right people. If you talk to the right people, then you don’t have to talk to as many people in order to fill the job. I went on to explain that some recruiters take the approach that they will speak with anyone in the hopes that there will be enough there to move forward with a candidate, but that I took a different approach. I only spoke with people that I knew were a fit for the job and the purpose of my call was to verify what I believed to be true about the candidate and to see if any surprises came up that would keep me from moving forward with a candidate. I also explained that I could get my name on the top of that Phone Time Report if I did as others in the office and called into webcasts and then muted my phone and left for lunch so my phone minutes would be racking up while I was down the street eating a cheeseburger. Or I could add some minutes by chit-chatting it up with every candidate that I call and stretch those calls out as long as possible. I could call a bunch of wrong candidates and add a lot of time to my meter that way too. OR – I could just keep doing what I was doing and fill the jobs so we could get paid. I was never asked about the Phone Time Report again after that conversation. The better metrics for measuring the productivity and success of a recruiter would be:

  • Number of total days open
  • Number of candidates screened vs submitted
  • Number of candidates submitted vs number interviewed
  • Number of interviews to make a hire

These metrics will tell you if the recruiter is on the same page as the hiring manager and if they are talking to the right people. If these numbers are out of whack, then either the recruiter didn’t understand the position, there was a misunderstanding between the hiring manager and the recruiter, or the hiring manager doesn’t really know what he/she is looking for an needs some assistance from HR.

Obviously, a good recruiter is going to have to be on the phone. It’s a requirement of the job and necessary to move things along. However, telling me how much time someone has spent on the phone doesn’t tell me if they are successful or not.

Calling Hooey on You

Hate peopleHooey. If you aren’t familiar with this term, it’s a nicer and friendlier way of calling “BS” on something or someone. It’s when your words and your actions don’t line up and your hypocrisy has been exposed. Such is the case with Recruiters. I am calling “hooey” on you today.

I have been in recruiting for around 10 years. During that time, I have interviewed and hired countless other recruiters. I have conversations with other recruiters all of the time just talking shop and exploring strategies and processes and so on. One of the things that I always find myself asking is, “How did you fall into recruiting, since no one ever really sets out to be a recruiter?” What I really want to know is, “Why are you a recruiter?” One of the universal answers that I hear well over 95% of the time is, “I love people. I really like helping people.” To this, I call hooey on you.

More and more recruiters are seeking out technologies or apps to do their work for them. Companies invest small fortunes into their recruitment technologies to try an minimize the human element in recruiting now. As a result, many candidates now can go through the entire application process – and within seconds afterward, the rejection process as well – without a single human being ever even knowing that they applied or considering them for a job opportunity. Recruiters love people so much that they want to minimize any interaction with people. Robots are the preferred method of dealing with people. Let them scan a resume seeking out exact matches to keywords found in a job description, and if enough of them can be found, then you might be a special enough person to a recruiter’s attention. Just a quick question though, what about the candidate who is fully qualified for the opening but they used a different term than they one used in your job description? Oh, silly me….candidates are supposed to re-write their resume for every single job that they apply for and make them robot proof…got it.

Want further proof of your hooeyness? For those recruiters who are generous enough to lay eyes on a resume, you spend an average of 6 seconds on it. Yep, you enjoy helping others. After your 6 seconds is up, you discard that resume and never even consider sending an email, a phone call, a text, a smoke signal – nothing – to let that person know they were not going to be considered. Instead, you’ve decided that you love people so much that you’d send them a message when they applied that thanked them for their time and letting them know that you would be in contact if it was a match (presumably letting you off of the hook for any future common courtesies). I would consider giving you a gold star for this effort if you had sent it from your own personal email address, but instead you sent it from a “do not reply” email address so those people that you love helping couldn’t possibly know who you are or reach out to you.

As I mentioned at the outset of this post…I’ve been in recruiting for about 10 years. Do I spend hours pouring over every single resume that I receive and place individual phone calls to each and every candidate that applies for my openings? Absolutely not. But I do provide them with feedback – every single one of them. I’m sure I may have missed a handful of them over the years, but I do try to give every candidate information (good or bad). Am I anxious to answer the phone every time it rings, especially when I know it’s the candidate who has already called me 15 times in a 3 day period…no. I roll my eyes and I dread answering that call…but I do or I call them back. Am I a saint for doing these things…nope. But here’s what the point is for this post…

Behind every resume that we receive is a person – a human being – a family. Many are in a desperate situation. The mortgage is due. Car payments need to be made. Groceries need to be purchased. Their kids have a school or church event coming up and they need to register. We sometimes think we just live in a world of resumes, but each one has a face and a story.

The way forward is to have a balance of high tech and high touch. There is no way to do effective recruiting today without a heavy dose of technology involved…but they should be used to make the process more effective and efficient for the candidate, not as an excuse for the recruiter to do a lesser level of work. There are some recruiters who truly do love people and gain great satisfaction in helping others. To you, I applaud your extra efforts and keeping the big picture in mind. But for those recruiters who say they love people and want to help them, but actually loathe people and cannot stand talking to them – please get out of my industry because you make the rest of us look really bad.