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Recruiting Q&As from Bamboo HR’s Employee Experience Week

In the first week of March 2021, Workable’s partners at Bamboo HR hosted Employee Experience Week. In the event, numerous insights were shared on recruiting and HR concerns during these very volatile times in the pandemic.

Recruiting Q&As

During the online conference, Bamboo hosted a Day of Coaching which gave attendees an opportunity to ask questions of their own on various topics and challenges specifically in recruiting. Workable’s Global Head of People Melissa Escobar-Franco and Content Strategy Manager Keith MacKenzie were on hand to address some of the more interesting inquiries.

Table of Contents

1. Candidate experience

2. Lean recruiting

3. DEI in the recruitment process

4. Competing for talent

5. And one more for the road… on hiring after COVID

Following are some exchanges from that Q&A session (with names of guests removed to preserve privacy):

1. Candidate experience

On sidestepping “Where do you see yourself in X years?”

Guest:
What is the best question to ask potential employees about retention in the office?

Melissa:
Hi, thank you for your question! To clarify, are you asking how to respond about retention at your company if the answer is not positive?

Guest:
Yes, we have a lot of longevity in our office. I have worked there for over 20 years. It takes about a year just to learn the job. I wanted to think beyond the “where do you see yourself in 5 years”. I know there are some gray areas to avoid, but any advice would be great!

Melissa: 
Assessing staying power can be hard to navigate, I would focus on sharing your company’s lengthy ramp time and the need for time commitment that employees need to invest in order to make an impact. For the right candidates, this transparency and approach will resonate.

However, we also have to recognize that workforce behaviors have evolved when it comes to tenure and the average time in a role is around 4.5 years and those aged between 24-34, it’s around 3 years, so employers have to adjust in order to maximize the impact employees can make in that timeframe.

Guest:
Great advice!! thank you so much!!!!🙂

Melissa:
My pleasure!

On recruiting passive candidates

Guest:
Could you provide advice on best practices when it comes to sourcing passive candidates?

Melissa:
Hi again, of course! RESILIENCE. Candidates are cautious to leave jobs right now so don’t get offended if you don’t get responses to your reach out.

Personalization is key, show that you have a good understanding of their background and why you think making a move into your organization would be worthwhile. Projecting warmth and enthusiasm goes a long way and sharing as much about your company and why it’s a stellar place to work.

It’s difficult but you also have to do this as succinctly as possible. And don’t be afraid to use multiple methods of reaching out, direct email, LinkedIn or even a call.

Keith:
Think of it in terms of recruitment marketing. You are marketing yourself as an employer. You want to show your value as an employer to the candidate. Usually, it’s the other way around, in that candidates are trying to market themselves to you.

Show your value as an employer, in terms of what that candidate can gain from making such a move. As Melissa says, passive candidates aren’t just going to jump ship. You’re asking them to take a risk. You want to show them that you’re worth that risk.

Guest:
Thank you so much you two! I really appreciate it! I often do get discouraged when I don’t get a reply back. I will consider trying different approaches and watching which one works and have really been looking into recruitment marketing.

2. Lean recruiting

On start-up recruiting without benefits and perks

Guest:
What is the best way to recruit people into a start up that currently has no formal benefits and very few perks. It’s hard in the world of free lunch and a games room!

Keith:
Oh yeah, that is always tough. You’re in a very competitive space already. Workable CEO Nikos Moraitakis offered some great insights around that theme in an interview a few years ago:

To your point about free lunches and games rooms, he offered this: “No one ever came to work because of the ping pong tables. Even less so, stayed for them.”

He does have a point. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about benefits and perks – you can communicate the value of the work itself, which can be unique and interesting in so many ways compared with other startups.

You may also find this to be a good resource.

Melissa:
Hi! You have to capitalize on the things a startup does offer – a chance to be part of building and shaping structure, tech tools, teams and culture! Post your jobs in places that might draw in candidates that are inspired by that type of opportunity – AngelList, VentureFizz and Built In to name a few. At this stage of your growth, count on referrals too, they’ll have a better sense of what they’re walking into.

On sourcing diverse talent on a tight budget

Guest:
What are some strategies for sourcing diverse candidates when the organization doesn’t have the budget to invest in diverse platforms?

Melissa:
Hi … thanks for your question! To me, it’s about posting in multiple places to source from as many diverse job boards/candidate pools as possible. There are organizations who also focus and partner with companies to support diverse hiring. Also, using technology like anonymized screening will help.

Training hiring managers to identify biases is a crucial starting point when interviewing in order to to avoid unintentionally disqualifying candidates. Getting commitment from the hiring team will sometimes take longer than you wish, so patience is required.

Just so I can try to help further, what are the diverse platforms you’re referring to?

If you’d like to do some reading on the topic, here’s a great resource for you (and definitely, watch the video!).

Guest:
Melissa, thank you for the advice. This is very helpful. Currently we have looked in areas like Dice or POCIT. And I have been told we do not have a budget to post on paid platforms at the moment. Current postings are those provided via our current ATS. Thank you again for sharing this resource.

3. DEI in the recruitment process

On supporting DEI in hiring

Guest:
There are some new recruitment products, touting support of DE&I with this process, that is championing for even more increased “blind” selection criteria to go beyond hiding names, home addresses, school names, etc. which have been known to elicit hidden biases to not utilizing Zoom or video interviews to further cut down on unconscious biases from creeping into this process – ie. voice, dialect, dress, hairstyle, etc.

So these products are focused on the employer asking work-based questions for the candidate to submit in writing. Would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this new burgeoning recruitment strategy to further support DE&I efforts?

Melissa:
Hi … thank you for your question! This is a tough one, but definitely a good one. While there is research available that shows the positive impact of anonymized screening, it needs to be part of a wider DEI initiative to have an impact.

For example: According to a study completed by Harvard Business Review, “Before any anonymization, men outperformed women by about 5%. After just the removal of the names, that number dropped to less than 3%. When the applications were fully anonymized, women outperformed men by 1%.”

However, even if this method does improve your diverse hiring metrics, it does not guarantee the organization’s culture is inclusive. Anonymized screening is one piece of the puzzle – it’s a tool companies can utilize to meet their goals – but so much more needs to happen as well.

On the efficacy of Workable’s anonymized screening tool

Guest:
I also noted that you have anonymized the Workable ATS, could you please let me know to what extent this has reduced unconscious bias and how, in cases where the content of the CV or application either countries where one has worked, college or university can give an indication of nationality

Melissa:
Hi, great question! This article has a few screenshots that can help you visualize what our Anonymized Screening tool does. As you can see, college & country are considered identifying information, so these would be blocked out.

According to a study completed by Harvard Business Review, “Before any anonymization, men outperformed women by about 5%. After just the removal of the names, that number dropped to less than 3%. When the applications were fully anonymized, women outperformed men by 1%.”

Guest:
Great feedback, that’s good analytics. I noted that some panel members try as much as possible to have women in the shortlist and sometimes this can be at the expense of men.

This happened last time, I pointed this out to the team and they thought, it’s good to have an all-women shortlist. The results were anything but; we did go back to the longlist and selected the next group which was a mix and the second round was much better and men did better compared to the first group.

Need to reduce bias in your hiring?

Learn more about how Workable’s anonymized screening tool can help your company succeed in its DEI strategy.

Boost your diversity

On hiring diverse candidates for a school district

Guest:
Hi! As a recruiter for a school district, my biggest challenge is to recruit diverse candidates for all positions. What suggestions or ideas do you have on how to do this?

Keith:
Hi – great question. We talk a lot about this in Workable’s own content. First things first, you want to diversify that initial candidate pool. In that, you’ll need to think about where you’re actually posting your job ads and where you’re announcing opportunities at your school district. The more diverse your outreach, the wider range of candidates you’ll attract, so to speak.

Another thing to think about is the overall messaging of your school district. An overt statement that shows you value diversity, equity and inclusion can do a lot in terms of candidate attraction.

If you’d like to do some reading on the topic, here’s a great resource for you.

If the challenge is about making a case for it with stakeholders, then this may be helpful.

Melissa:
Hi, thanks for your question!

I agree with Keith, you want to increase posting in multiple places to source from as many diverse job boards/candidate pools as possible. There are also many organizations focusing and partnering with companies in support of diverse hiring. Also, you’ll find using technology like anonymized screening will be helpful.

On the hiring manager side, training them to identify biases when interviewing to avoid unintentionally disqualifying candidates will get the ball rolling. When it comes to commitment from the hiring team, it will sometimes take longer than you wish, so patience is required.

4. Competing for talent

On compensation in different markets

Guest:
I recently joined a fully distributed company with employees all over the country. When it comes to hiring cross-country and compensation, what philosophy do you think makes the most sense? Different compensation for different markets? Same compensation regardless of market, which can mean you’re priced out of the most expensive markets?

What’s your advice when coming up with compensation recommendations knowing how much markets can vary?

Keith:
Hi! This is obviously a tough one, because there’s no “right” answer. It’s been debated widely, especially as more companies move to remote-first operations during the pandemic. There’s a great discussion from Forbes on it – highlighting Reddit and Zillow as companies that opted to pay the same regardless of location, and Facebook at the other end, preferring to pay based on location.

And if you wanted to go down the rabbit hole on the topic of distributed teams, we do have some great reading for you. First, an interview with SmartBug CEO Ryan Malone, whose company was fully remote way back before it was cool.

And another, on the topic of hiring in different countries.

Melissa:
Hi, thanks for your question. Definitely a hot topic right now. But really, it comes down to your company’s compensation philosophy. Do you want to lead the pack on comp or stay conservative or middle of the road?

It’s unrealistic to expect a company of a certain size and revenue located in one geography to compete with the likes of large enterprises in NY and San Fran.

So the best advice I can give is, make a fair and realistic budget for roles based on comparative comp data, budget approval and cast your net far and wide in your candidate search. You’ll soon get a pretty good picture from candidate feedback if any comp adjustments need to be reconsidered from there.

And sometimes, you have to accept, this is how much a role is going to cost to fill, and you gotta pay if that’s the position your company needs.

Guest:
Yeah, it’s interesting. We’re a small 30-person series A company so our resources are very different than many of the companies frequently mentioned in regards to this topic. I think the biggest challenge has been helping my hiring managers realize that our budget for a role is X.

We might find someone great in an expensive market, but there’s only so much flexibility we have in regards to compensation.

I think they are struggling to understand that there’s always going to be great talent out there that we simply can’t afford–and I know that’s not unique to just my company.

Melissa:
The way I look at it is, if budget is non-negotiable, then time and patience is required to advertise and source for this needle in a haystack. The other, less ideal option, a re-assessment of the job might be required and understand that you might have to get someone who checks 70% of the boxes or a more junior profile.

As much as we’d like to move mountains for our hiring teams, we’re also not miracle workers.

On finding top talent when you’re not the ideal

Guest:
Melissa, thank you for your time and expertise. I am at a small, regional, rural public university in the PNW and we are challenged finding qualified IT faculty to hire. Suggestions?

Our comp structure is “average”, benefits are very good, and livability is superb (if you don’t need a city to live in). Thanks again.

Melissa:
Hi, thanks for your question! Happy to help as best I can. IT / tech talent can notoriously be difficult to find. Do you find you’re not getting enough quality candidates to fill the pipeline? Or, are you getting candidates, but they fall off during the hiring process?

Guest:
Unfortunately – both. Lean applicant pool and quick bailouts when offers to our best candidates come in ahead of us. We cannot sponsor H1B visas and that portion of the labor market appears to be the applicants most available.

Melissa:
This is a tough one. Advertising and promoting those stellar benefits is key and the livability, it will help make your position stand out. Thank you for clarifying, if it’s a lack of qualified candidates, focusing your sourcing efforts on passive candidates at other educational institutions would be where I’d start first.

Keith:
Hi! Seconding Melissa’s comment that IT/tech talent is tough to find. We have written a lot about that in our website. You’ll probably find these articles particularly helpful, especially if you’re finding that talent attraction is a challenge:

Guest:
Super! Thanks for the tips and online resources. We will move ahead optimistically!

Keith:
De nada! If you search “tech talent” in our site, you’ll find plenty of other helpful stuff as well.

Guest:
Thank you again. Your online availability is just great…

Melissa:
Our pleasure!

5. And one more for the road…

On hiring after COVID

Guest:
Any recruiting recommendations for hiring pre & post COVID?

Melissa:
Hi, thanks for your question!

In the past year, we opened our scope to other states offering greater flexibility on location, resulting in a larger pool of candidates. We’ve also focused on a higher utilization of video interviews. As we’re working remotely and will likely continue for the foreseeable future, that comfort with technology and video communication is key.

We’ve also been looking at our scorecards and how we assess candidates to evaluate autonomy and greater emphasis on communication skills. We’ve found by doing these activities, we’ve had greater success in securing hires that do well under our new ways of working.

Keith:
Melissa basically answered it… but thought you’d be interested to know that we surveyed our employees on the kinds of skills that are needed in a remote work world, with some great results.

We also sat down with a CEO of a company that has been fully remote for nearly a decade. He had some great tips on how to identify ideal candidates for that kind of environment.

Have more questions for us?

We are always here to support recruiters and HR professionals in doing what they do best. If you have any more questions that you wish you had the answer to, don’t hesitate to email us at [email protected] with “Recruiting Q&A” in the subject headline. We’ll assemble your questions and have Melissa answer them for you in a future article!

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