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Best Practices for Recruiters and Hiring Managers: Webinar Follow-Up

Great Hiring 2020 Webinar

Last week, Gem presented a live webinar in collaboration with Greenhouse on best practices for recruiters and hiring managers. Speakers were Khang Tran (Head of Engineering @ Hipcamp), Joeri Leemans (Technical Recruiter @ Sonder), and Alexis Tissian (Technical Recruiter @ Greenhouse). The idea was to get perspectives from both sides of the aisle on what makes a solid recruiter/hiring manager relationship. There were a lot of great questions posed in the Q&A, and we couldn’t get to all of them. Our friends at Greenhouse took on some of them in their follow-up blog post; we took on the rest. If you’d like to watch the webinar in its entirety, you can find it here. In the meantime, here are the answers you’ve been waiting for:

Do you have any particular advice about doing job market research for a role? How do you do this research and learn the current state of the job market for certain roles? 

[Joeri]: My preferred tool for job market research is LinkedIn Recruiter. The purpose of doing job market research to me is to A) to identify good places to look for candidates for this role and B) to come up with a rough timeline to hire in order to set expectations with the hiring manager. To achieve B, it’s important to estimate what the recruiting funnel is going to look like and to think about the volume of inflow you expect. Let’s say that for the role you’re working on you expect organic inflow to be minimal. The question becomes “how many profiles can I source a week?” Doing some quick LinkedIn searches will help you answer this question: do thousands of profiles show up or do you not get more than a couple dozen? Looking at these numbers can also help you decide what tactics to employ. If only a dozen profiles show up in your search results, you may want to set up a SOBO sequence and organize referral jams in the beginning. If thousands of profiles show up, these things may not be needed and regular sourcing will do the job.

What tips can you give us to partner with hiring managers most effectively—both in general, and also to help them ID what they’re looking for early in the process, so the process stays as efficient and focused as possible?

[Gem] Some tips we can think of off the bat: Know their needs (better than they do!) from the start; use data to help your HM understand what the talent market looks like and what they can expect in terms of candidate quality and time-to-hire; educate them on your recruiting process and give them full visibility every step of the way; offer them interview training; and build and nurture a deep talent pool. This way there won’t be a “delay” early in the funnel, and it won’t appear to HMs that you’re not putting the effort in. As far as helping hiring managers ID what they’re looking for early on, our best advice is to come to the kickoff meeting with a handful of prospective candidate profiles that you and your hiring manager can go through together. Putting the profiles right in front of them might help them articulate what they get excited by, and what makes them lose interest in a prospective candidate.  

What data do you find most helpful to report back to hiring managers on a regular basis with respect to their search? Specifically, do you report candidate experience survey results to your hiring managers?

[Joeri] One of my main goals is to continuously improve the hiring process, and I believe using data is crucial to do this. To pinpoint areas of improvement, conversion rates across the funnel can provide clues as to where we can do better. If I come to the conclusion that we can do a much better job on candidate experience, it could definitely be worth it to show candidate survey results to the Hiring Manager to get buy-in for an initiative to make it better.

Can you tell us a little more about what goes into initial hiring manager training between recruiting and a new hiring manager?

[Gem] So much hiring manager training depends on what individual HMs have yet to learn; so a lot of that training happens on a case-by-case, one-on-one basis between recruiters and HMs. Some hiring managers need to be trained on what the recruitment process looks like so they know what to expect or why it’s taking so long to see a single interview. New hiring managers don’t necessarily come to their roles with interview experience, and need to be educated on what makes an effective (and what makes an ineffective, and what makes an illegal) interview question. They may need to be made aware of how unconscious bias can creep into interviews; so recruiters may need to offer data to break down preconceived notions they might hold (for example, that a candidate’s educational background is one of the worst predictors of job performance). And so on.

What are some of your favorite recruiting tools to use? 

[Joeri] Gem, hands down. It’s a very powerful and versatile tool that helps speed up many aspects of the job. It allows me to source much faster, ask hiring managers for reviews, send out SOBOs [send-on-behalf-of], automate the outreach process, keep a searchable database of all talent I’ve ever sourced, and so much more. It now also has a dashboard functionality that’s able to give an instant overview of the recruiting funnel.

How do you reconcile a ‘data-driven’ hiring strategy with the inherently gut-driven aspect of hiring?

[Gem] Our general rule of thumb is data-first. There’s a lot that intuition is important for in our day-to-day lives; and intuition will inevitably present itself when you’re talking with prospects or meeting with candidates for the first time, or when you “have a feeling” that certain sources are better than others for finding passive talent, or your “instinct tells you” that certain messaging will be more likely than others to resonate. But “listening to your gut” or “going with your gut” is often synonymous with those unconscious biases we all hold (the affinity bias and the halo/horns effect are two that come to mind). And when it comes to optimizing outreach and managing the candidate pipeline, the data doesn’t lie. It tells you exactly what messaging fares better than others; it lets you know exactly what your passthrough rates are; and it can forecast pretty accurately what you need in your pipeline in order to make that next hire. So at Gem, we try to stick with objective data as much as possible.

There’s room for intuition when it comes to interpreting that data (“Why might so many candidates be falling out of process after our onsites?”); but you still won’t take a guess at that answer and run with it based on your gut. You’ll send out candidate surveys. You’ll experiment with different ways of optimizing your onsites until one or two changes get your passthrough rates up to where you want them to be. And what’s behind all of that will be data—whether qualitative (candidates’ reasons for why they dropped out), or quantitative (a numerical passthrough rate change commensurate with your decision to try diversifying your interview team, for example). 

With so many people working from home right now, are candidates more or less responsive? Is a phone call a better way to reach candidates right now? Or is LinkedIn/email outreach preferred during this unprecedented time?

At Gem, we’re still sticking with email. After all, 90% of talent prefers to be contacted by email rather than through another medium—InMail included. So if you want to keep prospects’ preferences (and the overall candidate experience) in mind, email is your best bet. (What’s more, 40% of tech talent has InMail notifications turned off, meaning that they won’t see those messages unless they proactively go check LinkedIn.)

How do you go about keeping strong candidates warm when you just closed down a role, but will have it open again when the virus is over?

[Gem] It’s a strange holding pattern some recruiters might find themselves in during this time. Your reqs may be on hold; existing candidates may be temporarily trapped in the “under consideration” stage in your hiring funnel. At Gem, our best advice is to keep nurturing them. Keep checking in to see how they’re doing. In the interest of transparency, keep them up-to-date about what’s happening in your company. Share out the good news when you can (“Best Workplace” awards, media mentions, etc.), and offer tools and resources that might be of value to them in this unprecedented time. We can’t think of a better time to be focusing on human relationships—which is what nurturing is ultimately about. Sooner or later you’ll be hiring again; and that nurture may pay off in a talent pool that felt seen by your company in a time of crisis.

What is a sourcing party?

[Gem] A sourcing party is a social gathering with your team—sometimes involving friendly competition—that turns the entire company into members of “the recruiting function” who search their networks for qualified talent that might be a good fit for your company. We recommend you kick off the event by educating everyone—from employees to hiring managers— on best practices for searching and sourcing, equip them with templates for their outreach, and let them craft and send the outreach themselves. You can also use these sessions to have them reach out to personal connections they think would be a good fit for your company. 

Can you provide more information on Gem Software?

[Gem] Gem is an all-in-one recruiting platform that integrates with LinkedIn, email, and your applicant tracking system (ATS). We enable data-driven, world-class recruiting teams to find, engage, and nurture top talent. With Gem, recruiting teams can manage candidate pipeline with predictability and drive better decisions with predictive analytics. We’re the source of truth for every candidate relationship for companies such as Lyft, Slack, Pinterest, Peloton, Dropbox, and One Medical. For more information, or to request a demo, visit gem.com.

Can someone who has used Gem and other candidate engagement tools besides LinkedIn Recruiter talk about their experiences with it and why it’s valuable?

We’re a little biased at Gem (!), but we can give you a quick business case. As we just noted, 90% of talent prefers to be contacted by email rather than InMail. What’s more, your first outreach message is statistically unlikely to succeed: While a single email only sees a 15% reply rate, a 4-email sequence sees a 35% reply rate. Yet InMail follow-ups are manual and can’t be tracked without a spreadsheet, meaning recruiters are much less likely to remember to follow up after that first attempt. Gem’s automated email follow-ups make recruiters more than twice as likely to get to an initial phone screen; and talent teams source 4x faster thanks to automated email finding and 1-click uploads of prospect information to your ATS. But don’t take it from us. Take it from our customers at Dropbox, Twilio, Robinhood, Cockroach Labs, and BloomBright.

Could you add some points around recruiting as it pertains to D&I?

[Gem] This is a broad question with a lot of different roads we could go down! So we’ll just point you to a few resources… and please get in touch if you want to know more. If you want to know how to better source underrepresented talent at the top of the funnel, look here. If you want to know how to hire for culture add (which means de-homogenizing your teams), look here. If you want to know why recruiters should bother at all with D&I, look here. At Gem, we’ve also been working on a three-part series on diversity sourcing called The Ultimate Guide to Sourcing and Nurturing Diverse Talent Pools. Part 1 (Diversity Sourcing 101: The Talent Leader’s Handbook) and Part 2 (Diversity Sourcing at the Top of the Funnel: Where to Find Underrepresented Talent) are available. Part 3 (Recruiting for Diversity: Best Practices for Nurturing Underrepresented Talent) will be available soon; feel free to reach out to our team if you’d like a copy of it once it’s ready. 

What are some tips for how we can source passive candidates with the new remote hiring environment?

[Gem] There are ways in which passive talent outreach necessarily needs to shift in our new climate. At Gem, we’ve recommended some important best practices: empathizing with prospects and acknowledging why they might be wary about a career change right now; emphasizing that your company is still growing and highlighting key business metrics that are trending positively; including social proof that underscores how your company is in it for the long haul; and mentioning that even if they’re absolutely clear about the risk of a career move for them right now, you’d still love to chat to hear about their career goals. We’ve shared some examples of passive talent outreach in uncertain job markets if you’d like to take a look.

What are you looking for in candidates in terms of cultural fit?

At Gem, we like to think in terms of “culture add” or “values fit.” For us, that means looking for talent that not only reflects our company values and our professional ethics; but also brings diverse opinions and experiences that enhance our culture, rather than replicating it. Do we have cultural blindspots? Are we lacking perspectives that would make our company even stronger? If we can find talent that will make up for what we’re missing and get on board with our vision and our values, we’ve found “culture fit.” (Also: we’ve written about how to hire for culture here.)

What are some great technologies for sourcing diverse candidates?

At Gem, we think one great technology for sourcing underrepresented talent is Gem. 😊 Gem helps companies track diversity at the very top of the funnel—which means recruiting teams don’t have to wait until someone applies to have visibility into the diversity of their pipeline. By providing full-pipeline metrics, Gem helps recruiters measure and improve their sourcing, events, and communications to prioritize diversity and inclusion. Sourcers can report gender (male/female/non-binary/unknown) by person or in aggregate, so that managers can determine if there’s bias in the sourcing process, whether by role or by recruiter. We also offer custom fields for tracking other underrepresented groups that TA teams can customize based on their diversity initiatives. You can track any of these fields throughout the process—from response rates to initial outreach all the way through the interview—with Pipeline Analytics, to determine where your funnel is leaky and zero in on stages where you’re falling short on equitable hiring. 

When you need to hire 15-20 salespeople in a few months, what is the best way to do that without using external agencies? 

A sourcing tool that allows you to personalize outreach messaging in bulk, automates your follow-ups, and gives you analytics on what’s working so you can pivot quickly in your strategies. (Check out our sourcing solution at gem.com.)

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