The Masters of Modern Recruiting Podcast! - Episode 2 with Pete Radloff

The Masters of Modern Recruiting Podcast! - Episode 7 with Katrina Kibben

In today’s episode, our host Derek Zeller chats it up with 20 year recruiting pro, Pete Radloff about how to avoid using “post and pray” as your main recruitment strategy.

If you enjoy todays episode, be sure to rate and subscribe on iTunes!

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 Episode 2 Summary:

In today’s episode, our host Derek Zeller chats it up with 20 year recruiting pro, Pete Radloff about how to avoid using “post and pray” as your main recruitment strategy. 

If you enjoy todays episode, be sure to rate and subscribe on iTunes!
 

Complete Transcription of Episode 2

Derek: Hey!!! What is happening my recruiter maniacs, YEAH!!!! I’ve got the wonderfully, amazingly funny Pete Radloff on with us today on our lovely podcast Masters of Recruiting. Pete how you doing man?

Pete: I'm doing good buddy how are you today? Happy Friday!

Derek: Happy Friday! All kinds of people have been calling me here sounds crazy this is what happens when it’s live, it’s exciting. So this podcast is about the masters of recruiting. Everybody calls them the thought leaders of recruiting. I would have called them the masters of recruiting. These might be people you've never heard of before they're behind the scenes. They are incredibly intelligent and really know what's going on in our world because they live in it. They're a part of it every day, just like you are. Mostly listening to this show. This is a free-for-all. We just going to just chat so hopefully it's just kind of like you guys just coming back, if you remember in the 80s when there was the party line that’s kind of what this is except you guys can't call in. A really long time I didn't even fly with my guest. Who is Pete Radloff? Pete, tell us little about yourself.

Pete: I’ve been in recruiting now for, next year will be 20 years and you know started on the agency side like most of us. And I've made my way to a couple of really good companies over the years and some pretty great experiences. And certainly, you know I think that half of the success of any kind is always kind of predicated on the people that you meet along the way. And I've been really fortunate to learn from some great people and you know be part of a community that's been able to you know really kind of take care of one another. And so I think for me you know, I've focused a lot on the kind of full lifecycle recruiting side of things, operations, sourcing you know luckily enough to do something that I genuinely love and have a passion for. 

Derek: So let’s quickly talk about that I have some other questions I wanted to ask but the main question is I'd love to hear that when somebody's actually passionate about recruiting. You know some people just think it's a job and I don't think it is. I think it’s almost a way of life in a weird way. I know a lot of people will be looking at me going like, you're just nuts and you know what I am but so is Pete! We actually take this seriously. It's not just a nine-to-five right?

Pete: Yeah it's not I mean it's something that kind of permeates who you are and it becomes a little bit of your identity. I think it's a little bit unique in that way because there's so much overlap between your professional and your personal life and how these two intersect right. So I think that's something that you know probably more so than other professions we probably see a little bit more deeply than others.

Derek: Cool man. So here are some of the questions everybody always thought it’s about job descriptions right now. Do they still matter?

Pete: Yeah of course they matter right. Like the main vehicle for your advertising right and I think the format that they come in is certainly evolved over the years right we've certainly moved from just pure kind of qualifications and skills and here's what you'll do here to you know video based descriptions and video based day in the life type of videos that you're able to look at and see. Okay, oh hey this is really what it looks like they're from nine to five but they're still important you still need to be able to have something to put out there to the public that is going to catch the eye hopefully of somebody who's out there looking right. You still need to be able to kind of describe what the role is and you can't just send people out with a blank sheet and say okay go find us our next you know hero. There has to be something to be able to go with that you can dig deeper on and really understand the role but then you know also allows you to be able to publicize that you know externally.

Derek: Do you think we're doing it well though? I mean I look at job descriptions almost every day because I signed up for a list because I'm a masochist and I like to find out what's going on in the country. But I read some of it and it’s so vanilla. It’s so like basic and the video is it's like almost cheesy some of the videos I’ve seen. Is that what matters right now?

Pete: Well you have two issues there right I think one, yeah most of them are garbage right because they're just they're not job descriptions they’re compensation documents which is how they can frame you into what they should pay you for that level on that role. Right I think that that's one of the issues there. The other issue is you know how often do you have the recruiter actually writing the job descriptions or how often do you have HR or recruiting actually doing the production and execution of the video. 
A lot of times its watered down or it's boxed in by marketing or corporate comms or you know everybody's got a hand in it. So you lose a little bit of the authenticity of some of those things once you have the polish put on it.

Derek: So when we were together a COMMS or it was the news right the week that we brought in to do something like that for us?

Pete: We did, yep.

Derek: And they did a really good job right?

Pete: I thought they did, I think one of the things that they did you know not certainly here to pimp their product but I you know credit where credit's due, they did a really nice job of being able to allow us to keep some of that creative liberty over the process right. It didn't become overly polished, it didn't you know look at the kind of panning camera as the person magically turns around in their desk and full of surprise with a big smile on their face. Like it took videos of people actually doing work and it wasn't scripted answers to questions and it was really kind of catching people in a moment which I thought was really well done. I think that's one of the things that made it successful and worthwhile to spend. Is that it didn't come across as too overly produce but they also have some nice things that are you know add-ons that that go with that that help showcase the company in a different light than you'll see on your career site. I mean come on career sites are not known for their sexy factor right. So the upside or something like a muse that then allows you to take a different approach to a different spin on what you constantly see.
Derek: That's awesome man. So there’s a commonality in our industry that we love to say phrases and one of them is “post and pray”. Is “post and pray” really post and pray? I look at it as if you have a really good job description you have something that's really like biting or a good video. Something or a really good email you sent which we'll get to in a minute is it really “post and pray”?

Pete: I mean you're always praying you're going to get the right candidate right whether you post the job or not. So I guess there's that piece of it but it doesn't have to be right. Yeah if you just slap a generic compensation document out on your career site absolutely it's “post and pray” and see what happens and what roles in. However if you take the time upfront to sit down with the hiring manager say this is the first draft of the description. I'm going to ask my questions based on this and you get more information and you go back and you wordsmith it alright. So part of being a good recruiter is that you do have to be able to write kind of well. You have to be able to communicate your thoughts clearly whether that's through email or job descriptions or something that's going to give a “WOW” factor somebody to go let me waste more than six seconds of looking at this. And I think if you can do that you can put something out there. You start to have a much more kind of living document that people can actually understand what the job is rather than just a checklist of their degree programs and years of experience. Because you know an engineer with five years of experience is clearly more qualified than one with four years of experience. So I think that you know you look at those things and you can then say alright now I can take this and I can SEO optimized this job description to put out on the web. So that the right eyeballs see it put it in the right places. Yes you're still going to do sourcing on top of that but why would you go hunting for the shark if you could just set up a really big shark trap and maybe the shark wanders in there while you're still hunting.

Derek: I love that that's a killer analogy.

Pete: I had a guy a couple of months ago that I put a VP level description and quite frankly probably one of the 20 best candidates I've ever talked to in my entire life just fell in my lap. He happened to be relocating back from Spain to Virginia, was looking for a job, had been in the industry, had been in this phase highly qualified fit with what we needed to do. Was just a great overall fit within kind of the company culture and structure and he fell in my lap. Like I wrote a good job description that gave them something that said hey this is more interesting than the other things I see out there.

Derek: That's awesome and it's true it's my experience as well I think the biggest problem is that especially you and I come from more of an IT space. So I can't really speak to like the medical or financial spaces but I think a lot of times that recruiters especially the new recruiters are so nervous and they don't see the buzzword bingo on the resume and they just figure out that the person isn't fit when a job developer didn't put they’re a job developer because they figured if you knew what EJB was then you would have known they were a job developer.

Pete: Right

Derek: I think there's a massive disconnect. So you mention sourcing right. We've got SourceCon coming up super-excited about it I know you're not going to be able to make it you know you’re starting a new gig. With Amazon I'm allowed to say that now because.
Pete: Yeah its public you're allowed to say it no more hiding in the shadows.
Derek: No more hiding in the shadows. The shadow knows, I know everything. So this show is brought to you by ENGAGE Talent and we help you source candidates and we actually get the content information like everybody wants. But we also tell you why you should talk to them and you know why they may be looking and we give you the reasons why and you can use that in a progressive email and non-spamming fashion. That being said, why has sourcing passive talent become the industry standard Pete?

Pete: Okay so let's just clear one thing up: before the person actually gets back to you everybody's passive talent.

Derek: Thank you.

Pete: Right so anybody who has a job is always passive talent. Anybody you haven’t approached yet is passive talent. So talent in general right I'm going out to find people what’s the difference somebody who's not looking versus somebody who's actively looking they don't make a better candidate one way or the other. And I think that you know the way that we approach them is it there's a couple of issues with that right again part of that is how well do you write and communicate right. Are you just carbon copying the same five line messages to 30 different people? That’s not going to get you anywhere. And if you do do that at least have the common sense to like change a couple of words here and there that actually resonate for that person. But I think one of the things that we don't do with this is we don't take the time to research people right. So there's a little bit of a deficiency the spamming is a kind of an offshoot of deficiency of several things. One it's lack of technical training for recruiters right they don't know what they're talking about out there they don't have the training to understand what that is. The second piece of that is they don't understand the communicator piece like we talked about earlier. That piece falls to the wayside and the third is that you know they're not necessarily looking from a sourcing perspective. They're not necessarily looking in deepest darkest places if it's not there ATS, it's not LinkedIn, if it's not you know popping up in the first three pages of whatever site they're scrolling through they're moving on. So they have to dig deeper and be able to garner more information to get that one thing that that person is going to look at and go, okay you know what they took the time to actually just reach out. Let me at least get back to them and tell them no thanks, I'm not interested or hey let's have a 10 minute conversation.

Derek: Exactly, I don't know how many times we've had conversations over a beer or over eggs in the morning breakfast before we go to work about spam. It's something that it's prevalent in the industry. It's getting worse not better especially since we have such a high employment rate for the first time in many, many years. So people are allowed to call fat and happy they're not really making that move. So the major corporations are getting these recruiters and they're sending out like five hundred emails at the same time and they're sending emails to people that, once again I love the word buzzword bingo. I love that phrase they think they see. Now the recruiter will put on there this is what I look for, I look for limits. I look for Oracle DBAs. I look for data analyst, I look for this, I look for that so they don't see their actual full resume. They have a computer that goes out like with Python and this finds those things and says hey this person more than likely is somebody that we want to send an email to, to waste their time.

Pete: Well and finding the resumes are easy finding the information is easy. It's what you do with that afterwards right and that's where the big deficiency is right now is that we don't take enough time to make sure it recruiters understand technology. We don't train them in behavioral based interviewing. Like that's wonderful that you found out the person's work authorization or whatever. Like what motivates the person how are they good how do they deal with adversity how do they change something when they see an issue you know. And from a technical perspective when I got to my last job they were you know it was kubernetes this and docker that. I'm like I don't know nearly enough about kubernetes and I went and I spent two nights researching and I'm like okay this stuff is just all over my head. Like I'm not an engineer I have a psych degree I could tell you if you have anxiety but I cannot tell you how to put together a cloud-based server. And so I went and look around and found a couple of YouTube videos like alright not, still not enough. I stumbled across this other one that was magnificent. This guy had said you know it's really hard to learn this so here's what I've created he created a video that was called the Children's Illustrated guide to kubernetes. And essentially he explained how cloud computing works in an eight-minute children's Illustrated video with giraffes in boxes and trying to get away from monsters in the ocean. And in eight minutes I understood the whole friggin thing and I was able to go in and have an intelligent conversation about it with a VP the next day.
And that ability to and I'm not saying all that training needs to be in a classroom that ability that inherent knowledge curiosity seeking is that's what separates the good from the bad.

Derek: You just made me think of that movie, Cameron Diaz I think was in it. It was the married couple that does the tape, tape of them. Remember that?

Pete: Yes.

Derek: And then she said “we have to we have to erase him”, he goes “we can't… it's in the cloud.” And she goes “what do you mean he’s in the cloud? what's the cloud? He goes “nobody understands the cloud.”

Pete: Exactly I think you have to have that curiosity to go find information right. Like then step two is okay now you have that information what do you do with that? But you have to be able to know how to research and to be able to gather information to then make your communications effective.

Derek: And that's the whole point right and that I think let recruiters you don't want to do well the reason why recruiters don't go to conferences a lot of times is because they feel they're not going to get anything out of it. Whereas opposed to the really good people in the industry the really smart ones are willing to share are the ones that are at those type of conferences. A lot of times it's not even the people that are speaking, it's sitting in a lobby you know what I mean or at breakfast or at lunch or even in just like a social setting a happy hour. And going up and just started chatting about the industry a little bit and learning about new and exciting things. I remember the one young lady I won’t say name that came the Dallas years ago at SourceCon and she literally after the first day had gotten so much information she said “when I go home I don't know where to start.” You know we both told her we’re like where you start is you pick one and you do it for like a week or two and see if it works. If it works that's great now you shelve it for a few minutes and go after the other ones and figure out which one's work best for you and the research is exactly what ENGAGE Talent does. We do the research for you by the way. Yeah we tell you what’s going on with the company. We tell you the reason why that candidate would be more than likely to either chat with you or not chat with you which is just as important. I think a lot of recruiters don't realize that we're smart. There's a lot of smart people out there you and I we’re just like mediocre smart actually you’re a lot smarter than I am. They can put you in a spam folder so the next time you email them it's a year later and you find out hey you know Barbara is looking well Barbara's never read her email because she puts you on a spam list.

Pete: People don't want to take the time out to learn this and whether that's going to a three-day conference or a local one day kind of thing something like that. Is it not worth like three days out of your life to get three times as good over the next three years at your job? You know you look at other industries right. You play professional football you look up to the veterans. If you are a you know if you're going to be an electrician you have to go to apprentice for a certain amount of time. If you're going to be a doctor you have to go through residency you have to continually keep learning in order to do that and I think that's where the trend is definitely headed there in recruiting it's a slow moving coup.

Derek: I think when you have this tight of a job market, it really is if you really start to find out you like I mean the wheat from the chaff. You find out who the really good recruiters are because you've been doing it for a while or even the new ones because they put in the time. Quick story: you know I love to tell stories Pete. A quick story is when I first started in recruiting I did the same thing that you did. I thought telephony was misspelled, I thought you were trying to say telephone I didn’t understand. I didn’t know what a backbone was when it came to the telephony systems or anything about network engineering or development anything else. For Saturdays I would go to the office when it was quiet and also they had much better internet access than I did at the time because that was right when like high-speed Internet which was a T1 came out and I was still on the phone line at home. And so I went there and I just started you know going to different websites and doing all of this research myself and writing everything down. And then I just started talking to the candidate and I just asked them some general questions to get into opening up a bit and telling me about themselves and just took copious notes. And I literally had notebooks for each and all the systems that I was going after right. 
Like software development in Java. Or back in the day the visual basics five and six that VB goodness as you like to say. But it's ever-changing. I think it's almost like we're at the point where say you know the laws are changing but they'll OCCP making new changes in the EOC changing and new technologies new platforms coming out almost daily it feels like.
Pete: When you look at that right so you have you have new tools coming out, new regulations. Okay there are people to handle the stuff with the regulations you can get a one shooter to give you the highlights of all that you don't need to be an OFCCP guru or a GDPR guru in order to be able to be an effective recruiter. You need to have an understanding of it but there are people that do that right. I don't even know how to fight off a litigation lawsuit we have lawyers for that. Right you know you don't have to know how to be able to do that. But I think you know you're right I think you do have to understand your job you have to understand how to do your job and then the other stuff can be peripheral and can be given to you in short order. But you need to be the master of your domain and know the work that you're doing you have to be an expert.

Derek: You may be an expert in into what you're recruiting for, you know right. I mean it's one of the things I always tell recruiters to, go sit in on the interview. Go check out the whiteboard sessions that they do for a software development or for network engineering. Go and hang out with those guys. Go hang out with those people. Hear the questions they're asking so that way you can do a better screening for them. And in this day and age, right now, right at this very moment, right when we're doing this podcast job seekers are if are interested into position what are we doing to make sure that this is the position that's right for them?

Pete: Right and we have to we get into a mode where we ask a lot of questions we're peppering them with questions right. And we so often get off the phone and the candidates like I didn't get a chance to ask any questions. You know and you know the things that we should be asking rather than like okay well tell me what you did at your last job. Well that's on a resume so we probably don't need to rehash that but tell me like why you use this certain tool. Tell me why this was a good project what was the result of it? What did it make better like why were you working on this was it just a backroom project or was it something that was going to kind of change the way the company did business? Are you doing maintenance like? There's a place for that to you know there's a VH and baseball for a reason it's not a good reason but there's a reason you know I think look at those things there's you know there's a rational why he did that I don't need them you go bullet by bullet in their resume. I just want to talk to them and see how they talk about their work and if they understand what they're doing.

Derek: It's sort of like they call it the Lenny syndrome from Mice and Men. You know Lenny gets the new puppy and then kills the puppy because he's petting it so hard because he's so excited over the puppy. I think a lot of recruiters get that way when they run into a candidate they're super excited about and they almost choke out the conversation. Because they start throwing up all of the things that they need it's about them. When that individual may kind of, sort of be looking. But they want to change careers or they don't want to do code maintenance they want to get into something new they want to play with the new technology, they're tired of just taking maintaining code, they want to build a whole new system. And recruiters are like so excited that they have the buzzword bingo words on their resume and it's just like when you have to want my job and it's about me not about you and that’s not the way it works.

Pete: And I think especially when you talk about a source candidate right like you okay you've written a great email they've gotten back to you and said hey yeah I could totally talk to you Tuesday at 10 AM great. The problem is that most people get so excited I'm just going to run through the job with them and they're going to be the perfect fit because their resume looks great but that's not how it works. The first question you need to be on the phone with them is: “Hey thanks for calling me back appreciate it. Why'd you get back to me like why are we here?” Tell me why you're looking or not looking or what I said that said okay you were worth calling back because that's good information for you to have to like yeah I really did the right thing there?

Derek: Yeah and you know that's an individual is going to stay you know I mean that's an individual that's going to stay I don't think I mean I don't want to get into that whole debate we only have a couple minutes left about recruiters and retention that's not my job.

Pete: My job is to get somebody in the door the right person in the door the right person that's going to be able to do the job and you know if it's a good company culture then we're going to stay if it's a good manager then they're going to stay. Not a good recruiter they’re going to stay that's my point. So Pete we got about 5 minutes left get anything that you want to talk about? Let's flip the script on that I mean I’ve been asking you questions you got anything to say.

Pete: I keep hearing there's different things that are going on in the industry right now and you know there's every literally every day when you wake up is a there's a brand new tool. And thank goodness we have the deans out there of the world that can you know just kind of organize that stuff in a way that you can go okay these are the tools that do this these are the tools that do that. And I'm a huge fan of using all those tools but I think you know where I struggle is that that that's not the silver bullet. Like it's the thing that helps you break down the door eventually but you have to know how to like get to the door and measure the door and find out if the doors held up by steel or whatever the case is. Because then you know what tool you need right I think the only thing that I think frustrates me right now is we're so laser focused and keyed in on tools, there has to be a little bit of a playbook to start with the absolute essential basics. And so I think that whole idea of recruiter training and there's definitely more companies now than there were before this. There’s you know three or four that I can think of off top my head that do really quality kind of recruiter training but problem is so many companies aren't going to send that. So what I don't understand is that why we don't have more in-house recruiting trainers and development leaders. I think that that's something that the industry is really lacking right now, is that we throw people into a pit we expect osmosis to take over and they're going to be able to learn everything that they need to learn in 90 days get up to 50k and spread and you know close every position and it's not going to work. Like we have to ongoing continual training in every profession that you have whether you're a professor you have to publish. If you're a doctor you have to go get recertification’s you have to, it's the same thing in our industry and I'm not saying we should burgeon everybody with certifications that they need but ongoing training and development internally is the probably I think the biggest hole for us right now.

Derek: Yeah I totally agree and I want to take these last couple of minutes here to do a couple quick shout outs, I want to think ENGAGE Talent for being our sponsor. Check them out it is a great tool it's a great software tool but like Pete says we've come to the revelation I think at this point in time that through this conversation that it's actually about the candidate. It's about people we're not recruiting robots, AI is not taking over, it's the human being it's the human factor and I think that's something we always have to keep in mind and sometimes it's tough to get it. But then again as I told every new recruiter the best advice I can give you is when you wake up in the morning and you're having a cup of coffee and you're sitting there at your computer waiting for it to load up, take a couple minutes and remember what it was like when you were looking for a job what you went through and if you carry that with you through the day, I'm going to tell you the candidate experiences were all built right into that you know what I mean. I want to also do a quick shout out to ASAP I hope everybody had a great 5th of September it was our first recruiter appreciation day. Pete did you have fun on that day?

Pete: I did.

Derek: Yeah it was a good time I was in Salt Lake City interesting town, lot of fun cool people.

Pete: There was a good event here in DC as well.

Derek: Yeah you guys are bold it up man and there are times I got to admit, I miss DC.

Pete: It's a unique community for sure.

Derek: I mean I'm in Portland now if you want to talk about unique community. It's great and I've lived all over the world and this is another great place. It was good people having good conversation having good discussions and actually getting to you know. Where we need to go and where we need to be and we're not there. Pete thank you so much for being on man. I really appreciate you.

Pete: Thanks for having me man.

Derek: I hope we can have you back on again. There’s other conversations I'd love to have with you but you know we want to keep these kind of short people don’t have whole day to listen to podcasts. So I wanted to keep it about a half an hour or one minute away any last thoughts from you?

Pete: I think we're good man, I think great weekend ahead.

Derek: Awesome brother! Well yeah, have a great weekend folks this was recorded. 
So if it's not the weekend and it's like you're listening on the Tuesday I'm sorry if I just screwed up your entire week would be. But you know hey, that's kind of what we do. Anyway thanks again and appreciate everybody have a great one, take care.

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