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In the world of recruiting, some people.


Have seen it all. They build recruiting teams from the ground up, hired hundreds of people in the best companies in the world, developed their expertise year after year. I'm Robin Choi and I'm on a mission to collect their learnings. These are their stories. Hi everyone. Today we're having Mavalam on a topic that is how to inspire UTA team, provide them with meaning and purpose. Welcome. You've been actually recommended by Jeff Winner who was a former guest credit visit as well. So welcome. Can you tell us a bit more about your background and also why it's so important to inspire the talent acquisition team and how you want to tackle this?


Gratitude Robin. And thank you so much for creating a space for us to have this conversation. So my name is Malam, currently a senior HR and Talent advisor. A Point is essentially a real estate finance platform that created a brand new consumer finance product out of the equity in people's homes. Prior to that, I led to an effort at LTSC as their first had a talent hire helped scale that team up over 18 months. Prior to that, I supported the team at Better Up. So overall, I would say in the past few years my role within Talent has encompassed a few things. One development, scalable talent strategies. So essentially building hiring systems for equitable and sustainable hiring while leading growing a team as well as managing day to day operations. What I'm really most passionate about is meaningful connections and supporting individuals to live out their professional dreams.


Cool. And so one of the big questions when we talked about the topic that we could address together was talent acquisition is hard. You're often feel alone, often feel overwhelmed from a ton of different notifications, email slack notifications and it can feel very disappointing as a role. And a lot of times Inquisition leaders and managers wonder about how to inspire their team, how to help them bring the most of themselves and also get real happiness from the job because it can be very rewarding as a job and we decided to tackle this and we've seen that it comes from processes like having good processes by empowering people. So there's a lot to cover. Where do you want to start? And maybe can you tell us more about why it's important to inspire the team to start with and just not tell them what to do and do they do it on their own? Why is important to inspire them and give them this purpose?


Well stated there. So to start with, as a recruiter, source or talent leader, we are responsible for identifying, qualifying and ushering individuals into their career transitions. And within the US, career transitions are up there in terms of stressful life events. So it puts us in a unique position to influence the lives of many top professionals. Whether you're sourcing recruiting or closing candidates, we are coaches. We are mentors, we are the cultural catalysts that essentially bring in the individuals that will grow the organization. And we are gatekeepers of life changing opportunities that can affect wealth generation. And for some underrepresented communities, this impact can be exponential. So top professionals build trust quickly by connecting with candidates and prospects in a railway. They then present these candidates with opportunities to live out of professional dream. And oftentimes the majority of candidates that we engage with, we're not going to move forward with. So during that short interaction, we use that time ideally to connect and get to know and to add value to their lives. So it's incredibly important to be intentional about what you say, how you say, as well as your process. And all of that comes from the training, the nurturing, the up leveling and the frameworks that you've provided for your team to really get inspired about the product, to find meaning within their work so that they can connect with another human being in a real authentic way.


Yeah. And the role that the person will end up choosing will drive a lot of interactions, professional meetings, her wealth again. So it has so much impact and a person will spend 50 70% of their time working for a company. So it's very important that they pick the right one and they agree with you. It's a huge responsibility and I would probably say that most recruiters will agree with that. But then the reality of the role is often that you get bombarded by these job racks and that you're always under pressure to deliver on the targets. And so even if you want to be a coach, it's hard to consolidate this with the daily work and the daily tasks. How do you do this?


Perfect. It's a really good question. So it's a little different for everyone. I think about it as let's build the lightest process we can to allow us to work effectively, ensuring that we are providing a frictionless experience on both sides. An example of that would be at the Royal launch. Rather than taking a job recommendation, because we know when hiring managers want to hire, they generally want to hire yesterday and taking that and running with it, we ask three questions. One, what is the goal of the position? And then from there, what are the deliverables? What specific time bound deliverables will this new hire have to provide before the actual goals are met? And lastly, what skills are required to actually meet those deliverables? So those three questions, we'll take the deliverables question and turn that into the onboarding plan where we have time bound goals over the next twelve months of when the person tired. We'll take the skill sets conversation and turn that into not only the job description, but also the structured interview distilling questions that allow us to find a proper signal. With this lightweight framework, we can then move on to discussing what does it mean to have a high performing team?


What's missing from the team now? Within these conversations? To me, this is where you find meaning. Not only are you doing your role and getting the information you require to provide a frictionless candidate experience, we also connect with the hiring manager and having a conversation that allows them to be aware of perhaps nuances that are missing on their team competencies or experiences that can really up level the team. This is also where we discuss representation. So by building processes like this, I found it incredibly helpful. It allows the hiring managers to understand that the relationship between recruiting is truly a partnership where we're all after the same goal building high performing team. And secondly, as a recruiter for back to back meetings, these lightweight processes allow you to show up as your best self irregardless of the amount of calls and the context switching that's within your day.


I like those three questions. What is the goal of the position? What are the deliverables? What skill set required to make those deliverables? Is there any other questions that you can ask during the intake meeting that really positioned like the recruiter as a business owner? Do you have other questions like this?


When it comes to questions and oftentimes specifically with my experience, teams I have coach. Hiring managers are focused on skill sets and experiences. And what we want to do is once an experience is brought up or we're looking for someone with five years of system architecture experience, want to find out exactly what that means and turn those words into competencies that we can test for. So irregardless of the information that's provided as a town professional in that intake meeting, your job is to distill it into actionable bite sized data that you can leverage. Either build a structured interview where you have preset questions and a rating system, or to turn it into an actionable item through the job description or perhaps on the on boarding. So part of that meeting is collecting information. To me, the skill comes in when you take that information, digest it, and turn it into a product of some sort.


And that's also how you get to actually coach the candidates because you understand the role, you understand the requirements, and you understand what's needed from the person. And this is where you can add value to them. Instead of just saying, I don't know, I'm just looking for this role and talk to the hiring manager. Right?


Exactly. And that information also allows you to be thoughtful. So when you do talk to an individual that may not have the skill sets or what they've expressed to you as it pertains to their career trajectory, it's not in line with where this role is. You can then put yourself in a strategic coaching hat and better direct and inform the individual of where the role is now. The impact that it's going to make and where it's headed and where it diverges from where they see themselves.


So my understanding is also something that I like to say that good recruiters, like good sales people, are all about the discovery and asking a lot of questions. Like, good sales people will come to you, ask a ton of questions, and in the three final minutes of the call, they will close you to their product because they know everything about you and they know your needs and what keeps you at night. And recruiters, all good recruiters should be doing the same, right? Asking a lot of questions and not just writing down what the hiring manager says.


Exactly. Not only are you asking those questions to better provide insights into the candidates, but then you're also leveraging your own intuition, the data that you've got from the conversations to really see if this person will be a culture, add to the organization if their goals are aligned and ideally, creating a long term friendship with that person.


And do you have advice for recruiters? And again, that happens all the time when you need to challenge the hiring manager and say, well, that role just doesn't exist, that person doesn't exist. Or there are three people like this in the world. How do you actually charge the hiring manager on the requirements?


That's a phenomenal point. And it goes back to what you shared in terms of discovery and understanding the why. So there are tons of places to get data. And when it comes to overall addressable candidate pool, you can open up LinkedIn Insights and really get a better understanding of the distribution of skill sets and people within certain areas and GEOS and leveraging that data to have conversations. So in the first conversation with the hiring manager, you've discovered the skill sets, the requirements, and perhaps there are a myriad of skill sets that you may in tune are difficult to find. By breaking it down into the overall tombound nature of the gold, you can better understand what this person has to input. And then by leveraging data from sources like LinkedIn Insights, you can present a strategy to the organization. By that I mean to the hiring group that you're hiring. So part two of taking this information is providing the product. The product could be the job description, the onboarding plan, as well as strategic sourcing plan of what you're going to do when you're going to do it, and the expected yield. And this is where you can have that dynamic conversation by letting the hiring manager know of the data that you found, where it points to, and where the roles might need to be.


Essentially, iterated so that perhaps it's broken into two positions. Or we see what else we can do to ensure that we are actively thinking about the whole as well as the individual that we're hiring.


So step one, you start by asking a lot of questions, making sure you understand the role, the requirements, and beyond what I expected from the hiring manager. What is the goal of the position asked a lot of questions. So that's a lot of discovery. And because you start diving into this, you have a better, more strategic approach to hiring. And then step two is probably building that strategic sourcing plan that you mentioned. And again, here, a lot of recruiters will just go on LinkedIn, search for the skills and reach out to people, sending generic messages. And that can be very like mind destroying to do this all day. That can be something that destroys the purpose of being a recruiter. So can you tell us more about that strategic sourcing plan?


Perfect. So in terms of strategic sourcing plan, there are various ways to go about it. One methodology would be really understanding what's missing from the team as it pertains to high performance and also understanding what your pipeline is doing. So, for example, if you're opening up a senior software engineer position, you have been sighted into the data from, ideally your previous hires. Either time to fill diversity data in terms of top of funnel and you can leverage it to build a strategy. Let's say one position you're aware that the last time you open the role, 90% of the applicants were male. So by having a clear understanding of that, you can direct sourcing top funnel sourcing activities to individuals that present as other outward appearances of diversity that you're seeking, while also being acutely aware of the top of final data. When it comes to sourcing, part of that strategic sourcing plan is really identifying who you're going to reach out to, whom is going to reach out to them and how. And it could be as simple as creating a, let's say 30, 30, 40 plan. So 40% of the candidates you engage will be individuals that perhaps you engage through thoughtful messaging on LinkedIn or perhaps using Gem and using a sequence data shows that the second and third message provides the highest yield that works well.


30%. The other 30 would be individuals that perhaps the hiring managers engaging. Perhaps they are individuals that have surfaced through internal team referral jams. And we're being strategic about how we engage them because these are individuals that we can see as long term or organizational partners. And the other 30%, perhaps you direct your team accordingly, leveraging various tools, whether you are posting on various job boards, various Slack channels, whether it's color coded Afro tag, you're checking Hacker Rank, you're reviewing GitHub, and you're on Twitter looking at who's posting what and what groups you can join to authentically present the opportunity in a way that it will be digested. So monotony is something that can be fun for some, for others, as you mentioned, they could really bother your ability to find joy in your work. So by creating a sourcing strategy that allows you to reach out to candidates in different ways than you're thinking. Then as a recruiter, as a source town leader, you're a strategic adviser. You're not only doing what you know how to do well, writing messages, having conversations, but you're taking that information, digesting it, and turning it into something that's meaningful, leveraging the information that you've gathered through the process to better advise and report to the hiring manager, while at the same time taking the consultative approach to the candidates that you're engaging.


And one part of this that some people might not like this, I do. I love building up contingency plans. And so by that I mean if we are expecting this hire to join, let's say three months from now, and that they will be ramped up with six weeks after they join, we should be clearly aware of our time frame. So perhaps two weeks before that hire supposed to be there, if the onsite data shows that we're not going to get it to be able to leverage a contingency, whether that's an external firm or a previous employee, to ensure that at all cost, the roadmap items are delivered. Because at the end of the day, as town professionals, our goal is to build companies by hiring the right people that will do the work.


I like this idea of starting with the end in mind. So you say, okay, we need to do that one higher. We look at previous numbers and we know we need to source X number of people and then we can reach out to 40% of them using LinkedIn, Gem or higher suite CRM, by the way, and then have 30% of the hiring managers engage with them, etc. Etc. All for people that want to stop having that strategic approach but don't have the numbers yet, can you give a broad average numbers that you've seen in your previous experiences? Like if you need to hire a software engineer, how many interviews do you need to get? How many outreach do you need to send? Can you share a few numbers if you pass through rates as well?


Perfect. So if you're starting out and I've started out in a number of roles like this where you have no pass data, you're either the first talent leader professional, the first talent professional source, or this specific team has just been able to get it done. There have been some incredible founders that I've worked with that have been able to scale teams from zero to 50 or even 100 with just three individuals. And when you get into that zone, then it's a matter of you want to understand and be able to build gauges to let you know what's going on in your process. So perhaps you don't have any of this data and you start sourcing right away. Looking at your inbound volume, I would say you want to be aware of the representation within your team. So first let's get clarity on. Let's create a gaze that gives us into the individuals that are applying for a role. Where are they coming from? What is it? Representation data, and so on and so forth. Once iteration above that would be getting a clear understanding of your response rates. Oftentimes, depending on your brand, how the world actually connects with you, and what you've done to develop your corporate brand.


Response rates can be as Low as five. Ideally, when new sourcers join, especially with new organizations, we want to set response rates anywhere between 5% and 20%. And these are message campaign response rates with the understanding that we will either play the volume game and at times that would mean the response rates are lower or we can be extremely strategic. And so we can set overall weekly sourcing targets at, let's say, 200 engagements perceive per week as their response rates increase over a series of three to four weeks. We essentially allocate 10 hours for phone. And so by that I mean if you're in a process where your source or sourcing, as well as conducting initial screens, you can set them at 200 outreaches per week. And as the phone screens increase, reduce that by 50. And essentially what we're doing is building a framework that someone can come in, leverage the data to show us the gauges and what the output is, and then from there, we can readjust as needed. If you start off on this journey, you're realizing that you actually have a 50% response rate and you have a structured interview process so the team knows what they're looking for.


You may not have to do as much output. If that's not the case, then you can leverage the gauge of output as well as response rates and accept rates as a way to ensure that you're getting top of funneling. Now, all of this does not make an impact if you are not running a structured interview process. If the hiring team is unaware of what they're looking for, or perhaps you're in a situation that I was in a few times where we're leveraging the initial interviews to get a signal on what we're looking for, that's not ideal. Ideally, we want to take the hiring team through this exercise, identifying the skills, working through a structured interview plan before you start the interview process.


All right. Just to make sure, you say you start with 200 engagements per source per week, and then you decrease it by.


50 or 250, we decrease it by 50. So I look at it as if you're having 10 hours worth of calls. And as you know, when you engage the candidate, you're screening or taking notes, there's a number of operational items that are done in the background that might equate to 10 hours. And so we reduce that accordingly.


Okay. Got it. Okay. That's a very good way. So you have no data. Start by. And from day one, you should be measuring what's happening and then measure start about a good rule of thumb is 200 engagement per session per week, and then you decrease it. And that's a bit of a tangent question, but that's the question that we actually had for Jeff in our interview together. When should you start hiring and specializing, sorcerers versus recruiters and full cycle recruiters, because here we are talking about 200 engagements per source. Should that be done as early as the first hire in the real recruiting team, specializing between sources and recruiters. How do you feel about that?


So I think it depends on where you are as an organization personally. And I think Jeff may agree with this as well. It's been a few years, I'm not sure, but I value full circle recruiters. So my previous engagement, I've been able to get a lot done with a little in the sense that due to our overall resource constraints, we brought on two full cycle recruiters and they were sourcing at a smaller clip. However, they to me, were a bit more effective in that they can do three things. One, they can support and manage the over hiring manager relationship, walking them through the process, too. They can engage candidates at a really high velocity, but do it in a thoughtful way where candidate experience is paramount. And three, they can work up and down the overall operational ladder, which means that they can build systems, they can guide interviewers, they can close, they can source. Ideally, personally, nowadays, I would start with full cycle recruiters. If there's budget and funding, then when you're building that team, ideally having dedicated sourcers for really hard to fill positions. So in my experience, that's been engineering. So having one source or for engineering, perhaps that lead up to two recruiters, and then on the non roles, we hire full cycle recruiters to support those roles.


All right. And the full cycle recruiters, what would be the engagement target for them? Would that be like 50% per week? Would that be a good number?


It's interesting that you say that. So with that, we start with the overall end goal, and that would be perhaps three to four candidates that are qualified, engaged added to the process on a weekly basis. Now that would be the overall okayr. Now, looking at the overall leading indicators, then we're talking about message outreaches response rates, as well as quality of candidates as it pertains to the individuals that we're chatting with. So you could find some seasoned individuals, and I have met some that are phenomenal and strategic at sourcing. So they might be doing a low volume source. I've met sourcers that reach out to 30 to 50 individuals per week but have a crazy response rate. We're talking 75% to 90%. And of that, 50% of those individuals are engaged. And because of those experiences, I actually value the full cycle recruiters lifecycle because of their ability to have an impact on those strategic carriers as well. Now, if the recruiter is not able to do that. And then you build out a roadmap of what an overall source or does, what the expected response rates are, let's say five to 2021. You're fully operational, and they can leverage that data, distill it themselves, and create a daily working process that works well with them.


So part of this is really taking the information you have, presenting it, and allowing individuals to strategically take ownership of their role and build a roadmap that works well with them.


And paradoxically, building the process allows people to be really responsible and honest. So here we are talking about tracking the numbers of outreach, tracking the replies, managing the entire pipeline. So you have numbers, but that's actually a good way to motivate people and give them purpose because they know and they can measure the impact of their work. And this is also something we discussed together. Right. If you measure what people do, naturally, they will feel more engaged with their work because they can see the impact of what they do. Well, often in marketing teams, you can send 20 messages on Monday and do not get a reply before the next Monday. And so you can feel, again, very disappointing when you're spending time on sourcing but not tracking everything that's happening after. And you can feel like it's useless. Well, actually, you got a lot of interviews, so I like the idea of using those measurements and the process to actually empower people. Right.


Agreed. One part of this as well is when it comes to meeting and purpose. Oftentimes recruiting stops when the person joins the organization. And I found that it's deeply important to have that conversation continue. So ask your team to have 45 30 day check ins up to six months after the person has been hired to really get a sense of where they are, to get that anecdotal and objectional data points in the sense that you are ideally the person that's built the most trust with this person. You brought them into an organization. So getting a sense of how they're being on boarded, what sentiments they have to share, and really staying close to them. One of the first hires I've actually hired at Thumbtack while being mentored and supported by Jeff Winter was Heidi Hernandez. And Heidi and I. This was back in March 2020, right before the US started shutting down for the pandemic. I actually had dinner with Heidi and a number of friends, and she shared that her parents still had a handwritten note on their fridge from when she was hired. And so I think when it comes to meeting and purpose, it's one thing about hiring and another thing about staying connected to really see the impact that you've made based on the people that you've brought in the organization.


And I understand also why for full cycle recruiters, because you get an entire understanding from the first touch point to the actual hire. And even after if you do those check in six months later. So because you get more understanding, you're not just specialized in just the piece in one bigger machine. That's also, I think a huge benefit for the feeling of ownership and of purpose. Right?


Wholeheartedly. And if this is a role that you're hiring multiple headcount for or it's an evergreen road not only do you have the data points that you've gathered through the role launch through the first few searches but now you have real life data points that you can gather from someone that you've hired in a role. And so when you engage other individuals that are actively interviewing, you essentially have more information and you can really better gauge their fit for the role and provide the opportunity in a very honest and direct manner.


That's a good one. Maybe something we'll do ourselves in our recruiting team. Then there's six months chicken. It's a good one. Thanks a lot. Is there anything else, any final advice that you'd like to share for talent acquisition leader assistant to us?


Thank you so much for having me. And when I think about last words advice, I would encourage you no matter what role you have in the talent space, you are cultural catalyst. We as recruiters are the gatekeepers of these life changing opportunities specifically in the tech startup world. I think it's incredibly important to realize that your role is an essential part. Without recruiting, without the people function, it's difficult to find the people that will build the organization. So as you go throughout your day to day understand that not only is your role essential but your role can have a tremendous impact on the organization and the people.


Good. Thanks for this final voice phone. Hey there. This is Robert. Most of our listeners come from word of mouth so thanks a lot for your support and if you enjoy the players, please keep on sharing it with your team and friends. Stay tuned for the next episode visit and if you can't wait, follow me on linking for more content and recruiting. Catch you next week. Bye.