conversations with recruiters

In this newest series, Flowing Conversation, we bring you a series of Interviews with exceptional recruiters and talent acquisition people. For our very first interview, we sat down with Virginia – who has more than a decade of recruiting experience under her hat with companies like Google, Sonos & Spotify and most importantly, has been advising us to build the product that our users love. In her latest adventure, she is the Director of Talent for Whiteops.

Here’s an excerpt of our conversation

M: I am a bit of a tools nerd and always the first question I ask is – What is your toolset?

V:I use a number of strategic tools to find the right people for the roles I’m recruiting for.

  • Entelo: I really like Entelo where I can find a candidate’s web presence and email them in a very engaging and personalized manner.
  • Vettery: Vettery is great! It has a lot of great candidates that are either active or semi-passive. They may not be aware of my company when I reach out, but most people on the platform are open to hearing about new and exciting roles.
  • BuiltIn: BuiltIn is one of my favorite sites for engaging with passive talent. It not only helps us source great candidates, it also allows us to get our name out to the local community.
  • Networking: A lot of people take networking for granted but it’s one of the most valuable sources of great talent. When I make a move to another company, it’s not uncommon for a number of contacts to get in touch regarding opportunities we may have available. It is essential for recruiters to be empathetic and natural networkers! Word of mouth travels fast and is challenging to track from a metrics standpoint, but so much of our success as recruiters depend on those relationships.

M: If you had to pick one KPI that you judge your own performance on, what would that be?

V: NPS score for candidates – I also think looking at employee NPS scores and each hire’s success at the company over time is a valuable indicator of how well I’m recruiting.

NPS score directly reflects the candidate’s experience. Even if the interview doesn’t result in hiring that person, it is imperative that they feel we are genuinely interested in them and help them out in every way we can. A high  NPS score starts a virtuous cycle of recruiting. Providing a great candidate experience can lead to someone we have to reject from the process coming back to us later or referring friends that might be a good fit. The world is a small place and a good candidate experience ensures that we are known as a company that cares.

M: What is your email outreach strategy?

V: I like to send tailored messages and be as engaging as possible. This is what I like about Entelo – you’re provided with each person’s publicly available profiles, including personal websites and blogs, which can give you a lot of added insight quickly. I often use this info as a way of trying to connect with recipients in the first few lines. I also set reminders for myself a week out, so I can check to see if I’ve heard back from someone yet and if not, reach back out. I usually send three emails total over the course of a month before setting a 4-6 monthly reminder to try circling back. I definitely don’t want to annoy the person I’m contacting, but want them to know I’m seriously interested in connecting with them.

I typically reach out to 10-20 passive leads per week. I know the number probably sounds low but I make sure that I am absolutely certain each person I contact is someone I think would be an amazing fit for the company. I also craft each email personally. For the kind of roles I hire for, quality is so much more important than quantity. The top of the funnel pipeline is kind of a vanity metric. One of the biggest challenges is getting the team to unlearn traditional recruiting practices and focus on best practices, which requires understanding exactly what they need before we start interviewing candidates. If you’re clear on the role and expectations, it’s absolutely possible to bring in the right candidate quickly. Comparing and contrasting candidates to figure out what you’re really looking for only wastes time. The closer to a one-to-one ratio (one candidate in, one candidate hired), the better. The goal is to hire the right people for the right roles, not interview the most people for each role.

(Read – A recruiter’s guide to email sequences.)

M: Do you think job boards’ influence going to decrease?

V: Absolutely. I think they’re obsolete and really don’t add any value anymore. Relationships, networking, and reputation seem to be bigger driving factors for finding the right candidates or them finding the right companies.

As I touched on previously, one of the metrics that I focus on is an interview-to-hire ratio. A healthy interview-to-hire ratio means that I am finding and bringing in the right candidates right away with the hope of finding the right person immediately rather than spending a lot of time interviewing and comparing candidates. It really is like finding a needle in a haystack. It is so much more productive to source candidates we think would be a great fit and focus all our energy on delivering an exceptional experience to them.

(See how Fusioncharts decreased their time to hire by 40% and dramatically reduced manager time spent interviewing by moving completely to sourcing and outbound recruitment process.)

M: How is the recruitment organized at White Ops?

V: We try to be as streamlined as possible. There’s still work to do there, but it’s gotten much better. Helping hiring managers understand what they need, how to identify it, and helping them feel comfortable making a final call based on each candidate’s qualifications and fit to the role, rather than comparing and contrasting candidates to one another as a way of figuring out what they want is something we’re working to be better at.
(Virginia has an exceptional blog post about this – you should probably give it a read.)

M: What is your favorite candidate experience moment that you congratulated yourself on?

V: This is when I was working at SONOS. I was looking for a Sr CRM Applications Manager. Our requirements were a bit unique and thus finding a candidate was not easy.

I found a really great candidate living in the Denver area. The role was based in Boston, and generally, it’s not easy to get someone in the  Denver/Boulder area to relocate because of the high quality of life and low cost of living in that area.

However, I reach out to him and managed to get him excited enough to have a conversation with the hiring manager about the role. During one of our conversations, I found out that his wedding anniversary was coming up so we paid to fly his wife with him to Boston over the time of his interviews.  We put them up in a hotel through the weekend so they could experience Boston and celebrate together and also surprised them with a bottle of wine, a fruit basket, and a handwritten note from the team welcoming them to Boston in their hotel room before they arrived. We also made dinner reservations for them to celebrate their wedding anniversary that weekend.

Once they flew back to Denver, we had already sent them SONOS speakers to help continue their experience with our company. Around the same time, I had put together a recruiting event in Boulder where we rented out an Airbnb house and staged it with SONOS products. We had a number of engineers and recruiters there to talk tech and help with the experience. We had extended the candidate an offer over that time and after attending the event, he accepted the offer and relocated his family to Boston for the job.

Give me your three commandments of talent acquisition.

  1. Do the right thing
  2. Focus on a great candidate experience
  3. Forget the process – (This probably needs a bit of explaining. Virginia clarifies that too often we get stuck following a process rather than thinking outside the box. The process should not be a hurdle for innovation and creativity. It’s meant to add structure and clarity, but if there’s a better way to handle something, there should be enough flexibility to modify the process when necessary.)

Flowing Conversations is our attempt at bringing honest and jargon-free conversations around recruiting, diversity, and talent operations to you. If you like to read more interviews like this, subscribe to our newsletter. We promise we will never spam and send just one email to you every week.

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