Chez Jennings, Tech Recruiter @ Lever. A recruiting nerd shares her best tools & trade secrets.A-Players - The top startups' recipes to build teams of top performers
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- 25 Aug 2020
Chez worked in recruiting for 7 years, starting in the agency side and made the move to in-house recruiting. In this episode specifically tailored for recruiters, Chez shares her current tech stack, somme key numbers and her top inspirations as a recruiter. She also shares her vision on building diverse teams and how to minimize hiring biases.
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I think it's really easy to make generalizations about what diverse means, but no one is. You need to look at what is diverse for your team. So that's one that we definitely focus on. One or two orig level is, for instance, you know, on the R&D team, gender diversity is something that we want to focus on. So making sure that we're adding folks to the pipeline so that as we get to later stages, things look balanced is kind of the question that we need to ask ourselves.
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Cool. So today we're welcoming changing things from from liver will give us very specific advice and very actionable insight about how it works to be a technical recruiter in a company which is probably one of the most used in all startups. So welcome to Welcome to a Player's. Really happy to have you here today. Thank you.
Thanks for having me. Really excited to chat. My name is Shay, a technical recruiter at Lemer. Like many, I started out recruiting back in twenty thirteen agency side. So as the saying goes, cut my teeth doing high volume light industrial recruiting, manufacturing, recruiting. I'm kind of worked my way up through agency for a couple of years, really knew that I wanted to transition into tech. That was kind of the big push. A lot of the clients that I was supporting, the most interesting ones were the tech companies so made the jump to recruiting in-house.
And definitely one of the best decisions I ever made. I think it's definitely Medda to to be, like you said, recruiting at each other tech company. But I think that's part of the fun.
And how do you make that move? How did you end up joining in the House team, Jeff? Any advice for people willing to do that move?
Sure, yeah, I definitely recommend it. I think for individuals who are a little bit more focused on going deep with the teams that they're supporting. For me, I really wanted to understand after the people that I hire go into their roles, what is it look like for them to become unboarded embedded within the organization? What is a successful employee lifecycle look like? So I definitely think like making the switch is well geared towards folks that that want some of that kind of hybrid H.R. and recruiting.
For me, it was just a lot of building relationships and being really intentional about my search and where I thought I could best support. So actually the first tech company, I was in-house, but it was almost like an agency within an app. So they're still around today, Blue Crew. So that was like my first step into in-house is working in-house for a tech company that was trying to innovate the agency style of recruiting and then just not from there.
I think LinkedIn and making connections is definitely a great way to start.
And can you tell us more about what you do today over whether you week look like what are your current challenges? Sure, of course.
So I love our currently I lead our R&D hiring. So that includes our engineering product and design teams across two offices. So we have San Francisco and Toronto. We are all working remote right now in this covid era, but generally higher in those those territories. So lately my time is split between active roles and then also cross-functional support of our sales and marketing team, because I'm also a user of our product as well. So it's about 80 percent of my time is screening resumes, sourcing, conducting interviews, managing that process.
And then the remaining 20 percent is facilitating customer demos, conducting internal trainings, webinars. Typical week I'm meeting with my hiring managers on a on a bi weekly basis or check in. And then for those that have active roles on a more individual basis as needed, I think I'm really fortunate to have hiring managers who are super engaged just be in the space that we're in. So really easy to get time. And in terms of things that we look at and we're really optimizing for on the metrics KPIs, it is time to hire, offer acceptance and conversion rates in between stages.
And what's good is that working at Lever, you must have a pretty good view on what those metrics are across the industry. Can you share specific numbers with us? What's a good time to hire? What's a good offer? Acceptance rate? And maybe because you talked about the engineering team. Be curious to see what you're seeing in the engineering roles. Sure.
Yeah. So we have benchmark reports that we release. Those are typically going out and I believe a quarterly basis. The nice thing about what we do internally is we have access to all of the fancy swanzy reports that our customers pay for.
So a lot of the things that I'm looking at are really easily accessible within lover in terms of benchmarks.
I think it's really hard for me to generalize the numbers now that I'm looking at essentially to two regions. So time to. Is really tricky, depending on how technical the roll is, if it's a more entry to mid-level role, I'd say ballpark, those roles should close within like 20 to 30 days. But again, that's a very loose based on the roll. That's what we use internally, as we call them, evergreen roles or positions that we're always hiring for.
We try to hire those 30 days or senior level roles. We're looking at around forty five days and then we look at director level and above as 60 days. So depending on the team, it really is going to vary. Also, how much pipeline do you have? Because that's going to affect the initial process in terms of offer acceptance. That one's a little bit easier to generalize those numbers, but ideally you want to be 70 percent or above.
And again, that's also going to fluctuate based on region. Our offer accepted for San Francisco roles is much lower than Toronto roles just because the market is typically not as competitive.
Cool, interesting. And you mentioned that you tried the the new reports before the customer got access to that. Do you get all these fresh features before all the customers and you get to try and work with levers, product team?
Yes, that's actually one of my favorite parts of my role. It's super cheesy, but just having that VIP access and being able to pick things apart and see what I like, what I don't like, definitely a big highlight for me. And I think it's really fun to also then engage with those folks that I ended up hiring in the user interview process as we're kind of working through these new features. I think it's really cool, especially I would say the last two releases have been, at least for me, game changers in terms of my work clothes and speeding things up.
One of the things that we added is the automation hub within our product just makes my process so much more efficient. And it's really cool to look at kind of where we we've come from since I joined in terms of feature development.
Yeah, that's cool, because you get to use the product that you helped build the same time. It's super fun. What's your what's real technical stuff to deliver with all the other tools that you're using, all that you recommend using? Sure.
Yeah, I'm a bit of a tool nerd and we actually don't use a lot of lever outside of the product just because nowadays we have so much built in. But in terms of things that we use on the tool side, a lot of our resources are going to be on the sourcing side. So we have it. And that one is really cool because they have diversity sourcing features. We also use their email finder, which really helps getting contacts. We found that sending emails is a lot more effective than emails, for example.
So getting into the inboxes of people to share with them about what roles we're hiring for, we also have a really great integration with higher tool, which I've actually been using for a couple of years now, and really enjoy how they generate social links. So if you look up someone's profile on higher tool, there's options where you can see, for instance, they're they're Behance or GitHub and all of these things are going to auto populate and new windows, which I love.
Anything that saves me time may also use rocket reach a good amount. Same thing for contact finding and then for people who are looking for a more comprehensive list. Super, super fan of Dean de Costa, who's like some would say, the godfather of sourcing. He has a website called SSA Are, and it pretty much has every recruiting tool and site you could ever want, especially on the sourcing side.
To have a look at the left me the custom right in Costa. Yeah, you mentioned that you used both until you and higher tool. Right. And it feels like they achieve the same goal. Or would you say one that you don't find in the other? Oh, yeah.
I'd like to describe some of these tools as like ice cream where you can have different flavors and they're not going to accomplish all of the same things. So we may use Intel for like the diversity sourcing hire tool. I'm using more for like deeper technical searches. So also across our team, we have different percentage usage of certain tools based on the types of roles where sourcing for. So like our Gené recruiters use Intel a lot more. I use Hayatou a lot more sense.
Can you tell us more about the special initiatives that you have and the diversity sourcing? So you mentioned Intel. How do you use that? How you do? How do you. Source for divers doesn't close. Sure, yeah, I think it's important to first look at the teams that you're hiring for. I think it's really easy to make generalizations about what diverse means, but no one is you need to look at what is diverse for your teams. So that's one that we definitely focus on, on or to orig level is, for instance, on the R&D team, gender diversity is something that we want to focus on.
So making sure that we're adding folks to the pipeline so that as we get to later stages, things look balanced is kind of the questions that we ask ourselves. So it's something where we're doing this, checking on a holistic basis with our hiring managers.
The I thing is we also have a live report for it as well.
So we have a diversity report which captures kind of like a version of EEO data, but it is more specific to any specific diversity categories that you're looking to capture. So it goes a little bit further than Ito and we're able to identify at what stage of the process did people fall off so we can really easily diagnose based on that.
And can you tell us more about the different diversity categories that you're using? So you said it goes beyond you. How is that what on the different categories that you're seeing? Sure, sure. Sure.
So EEO is generally more demographic data in terms of region, race, age, things like that. So we're also looking at, for example, is somebody a parent? What is their gender identity? Some of those questions aren't going to be captured with things like that.
Interesting. And you also mentioned before that you were a member of an initiative to help train and hire black women. Can you tell us more about that? Sure.
Yeah. So this initiative is super cool to hire. Black Initiative actually saw LinkedIn post on June 18th, which is a holiday here in the US, which basically celebrates the announcement of the ending of slavery. So on Juneteenth, there is a lot of chatter, especially now, given what's going on in the world about how can we better support these communities? And there was a recruiter that posted and her goal was to raise awareness about unconscious bias and hiring and providing support to people that are overlooked.
And initially, it was just resumé and interview support. It's crazy that it's been only a month because basically snowballed into this black community and mentorship program. So the goal is to help black women get trained, hired and promoted. So the group provides mentorship, community resources. So whether you're a black woman yourself or an ally looking to help, there's a lot of ways to get involved. For instance, I joined the community knowing that I'm a recruiter.
I have these insights where I can help people kind of get a leg up. So basically for folks who are in the group, there's a slack forum with different categories. You can post the support that you're looking for and people will reach out to you and make connections.
I've actually had even just in the last couple of weeks, a couple conversations about people looking for advice and making the career transitions resume, support, interviews, support. It's been really fun. So, yeah, they have a website hire black now. Dot com allies can sign up there. There's a go find me as they look to build out workshops. Lots going on with that. Super exciting.
Can you tell us more about how exactly you can reduce biases in the hiring process? I know that level of the the possibility to anonymize profiles. Right. Do you use that deliver and do you have any specific advice for people who listen to us but how to reduce the bias in the hiring process? Totally.
Yeah. So I think one of the nice things is, for instance, labor does not scrape photos when we have applicants submit their their application. I think there's a lot that we can build out in the product in the future to minimize bias. There's also some really cool extensions out there. If you search like social media bias, minimize errors that will block like names as well. So what has been found is that people who have more ethnic sounding names oftentimes have a lot more difficulty getting interviews than folks with the exact same skillset and background.
So I think there's a lot of things like that for our team. It's really important for us to focus on initially setting requirements for the roles and then build. Those requirements into our feedback form so that we make sure that we're assessing people fairly based on what we're looking for, so that there's not opportunity for bias to creep in like, oh, I really felt like I liked this person, because when they include something that's not on the rubric, they're really sticking to that.
I think there's also tweaks that people can make in terms of the way they structure their preference. So when you think about it, it's not directly addressing the bias, but what you're doing is when you make your process repeatable and you ensure that everybody is essentially getting the exact same shot, same length of interview, same type of interview, same panelists that you're evaluating, everyone on an equal playing field. So that can minimize bias on the individual level as well.
And of course, this focus is about eight players. And how do you identify them first? What on the question said, you like to use that lever to identify who will be in a player in the company? Yeah. How'd you do that? Do you have any advice on the assessment process?
Oh, yeah. Well, I don't want to give away too many trade secrets, but for us, I think one thing that really helps keep us in mind is as we're assessing people and really looking for those kind of soft skills, mapping those back to our company values. So, for example, one of the company values that we have is raise the bar. So basically striving for continuous improvement, whether that's on an individual level for our teams or for our product.
Of course, there's always things that we can make better. So as I'm assessing someone, asking them, what's the time that you went above and beyond, what motivated you to do that? And really showing like, first of all, do they go above and beyond and what is the driving force there? So really trying to understand what is the kind of snapshot of what this person's bringing to the organization? I think there's also this misconception that you can identify based on paper or someone's resume, like if they're strong or not.
I think there are some correlations, but it's also important to to dig in and be able to identify some of the motivations and areas that this person wants to grow, how they want to bring themselves to the organization is identifying kind of in a predictive way what what they're going to bring.
So you said you didn't want to reveal trade secrets, but what else what other trade secrets you can actually reveal? What's your specific advice? Something that couldn't be tied to specific weapons, secret weapon that you found in your experience that helped a lot in your job as a recruiter?
Yeah. So I think making data driven decisions is something that I've definitely grown in over time. I think as a recruiter, it's really tempting to just rely on an instinct for a lot of the choices that we're making for the teams that we support. But really identifying whether it's areas in your process that need improvement, whether it's creating alignment on your teams. I think there's a lot of opportunity to use data and more informed ways. So I would definitely say that that's a plus as well.
And I think as we're looking at recruiting from kind of a more high level and how do we best close candidates, how do we make our opportunities as engaging as possible for the market? I think it's it's super, super competitive right now is focusing on the relationship. So at the end of the day, the people that we're dealing with, they're human beings. Besides a closing of Iraq person that's going to count towards headcount is they also have life decisions, goals, a back story.
And really getting to know that person as you're working with them through the process, I think is is not talked about as often. So kind of keeping that at the core of what we do.
And I think it's really important to say your secret weapon is numbers and empathy. Yeah, I like that.
Cool. And so you mentioned that one of Levas key value was to raise the ball. How do you do that as a recruiter? As you already mentioned, some in the custom blog, do you have resources that you like to read, books that you like to listen to?
Yeah, I mean, a little bit of a recruiting bird. It's it's funny. Honestly, I think we're living in a world in which I mean, even from when I got into recruiting to now there's so much available online, it's honestly crazy. Like I could spend my whole day going through resources. If I didn't have my actual job to do, but I think in terms of podcast, there's a lot of good ones, I usually have the Talent Bubble podcast going on in the background, which I think is run by a lot of great blogs, newsletters.
I really enjoy my LinkedIn feed. I think that if curated, a lot of really positive connections in terms of just like the chatter that goes on there. I think even internal conversations like being able to talk to our customers and prospects is always an opportunity to hear what other people are doing. But I think that for folks that are either just starting out or have been in the game for a minute, it's like find somebody at a company or organization where you really admire what they're doing and recruiting and have a really respectable and scalable hiring process and follow them, see who they recommend kind of spider web through through that.
And I think a great way to get started.
And who was the person for you? Oh my goodness. There's so many. I don't want to leave them out. I mean, I think definitely being discussed in terms of sourcing. I also really admire Carmen Hudson, who has been in the game for a minute as well. And I think her team also does a lot of training and workshops as well. She's got a site called Recruiting Tool Box, which is got a lot of good resources on there.
And what's so they'll probably ask a few quick questions, some kind of fireside chat questions. My number one would be what's the advice that you like to give to your 10 years younger self in the. Yeah, I think my 10 years younger self would definitely be. It's OK to not know everything. I think I felt a lot of pressure initially, especially agency side your high volume. You're drinking from a fire hose like so much exposure in such a short amount of time.
And I felt like I had to be the expert in a lot of things that I wasn't the expert on. So I think I would have advised my younger self to get a mentor sooner. And yeah, I think another advice tip that I would give to myself is just like the follow up reminders, like I think it's really easy, especially in recruiting for things to fall through the cracks. We have communication with so many people over such a concentrated amount of time setting those points in my day where I look back through my inbox and make sure that I responded to everybody that I needed to respond to.
I think it's the little things that that add up.
Next question, then. This one's tricky. What's the path you hate the most about hiring?
I think for me, I get really attached to my co-workers, make fun of me sometimes I think to candidates. So it's so heartbreaking when you have somebody that you're you're rooting for and you get to the end of the process, then they either go with another opportunity or they withdraw or something happens where you're not able to close them. It's just so it never gets easier. Honestly, I think on the flipside of that, like when the wins happen, they feel amazing, especially with anybody who is dealing with technical or hard to fill roles.
Every hire is hard fought.
So I try to to balance my emotions out, but it definitely is tricky.
And my last question would be, how would you convince a players to join your team?
Oh, I like that one. I think with any opportunity, but specifically with LeBron, kind of what I'm dealing with right now, it's leading with what can we offer them and trying to align that with their goals, their interests. So some people that I'm talking to, they're working on really legacy software. So joining LeBron means having the opportunity to work in a more modern stack, and that's super exciting to them. Other people. It's maybe more personal.
They need to work life balance and they need a company that's stable and is not going to require them to work eighty hours a week. So having the conversations with them really early on to identify where we can meet them with their needs, I think that's a really great place to to go from.
When are you having the conversation? Is that during the first phone screen? Is that on the on the first on site?
Yeah. First of all, on screen. And then when I have the onsite conversation with them, because we do a recruiter interview at the home site as well. I'm also digging into that again. So my version. The question initially could be like, what's motivating you to make a change, what are you excited to work on? What is the path ahead look like for you? And then when we get to those later stages, it has the opportunity that we've discussed align with what you're looking for and if it's not what's missing.
And has anything changed? Because sometimes my initial conversation with someone is a few months back where they're not quite ready to make a change, we re-engage them. So making sure that I am surfacing those things back up over time, there's been a significant kind of gap there.
OK, cool. So thanks. Let's say it's been 30 minutes. I know you have other things to do today. Thanks a lot for your time. For the advice, for the recommendation. I'll definitely check the Coasters blog and thanks for having you today. And that was great.
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