The Masters of Modern Recruiting Podcast! - Episode 5 with Evan Donaldson - CEO of Talentry


The Masters of Modern Recruiting Podcast! - Episode 5 with Evan Donaldson - CEO of Talentry

MMR Podcast host Derek Zeller and guest Evan Donaldson discuss the impact an untrained hiring manager has on the overall hiring process. At what point do we hold the hiring manager responsible for their role in the process?

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Episode 5 Complete Transcription:

Derek: Hey, everybody, It’s Derek Zeller with Masters of recruiting, how is everyone doing this fabulous day? I hope it's good for you, but we were staying cooler or staying warmer or just saying. for all of my friends out there in the Carolinas, on the east coast. You know prayers are with you. My prayers are with you. I can't physically do much for you, but hopefully you're safe and your property safe and your home and the waters are receding. So thanks for listening and I want to introduce my next guest or my guest for this particular podcast. His name is Evan Donaldson. Evan Donaldson, he's in San Diego, California and he is the proud owner of his own recruiting agency and just so you guys know, you may not know Evan, but Evan and I used to work together for staffing forever ago. I'm not going to tell you how long because just tell you how old I really am, but he is a great guy. He's an amazing recruiter and an amazing source and he also has a master's degree in engineering. Anybody else know anyone like that? Uncle Steve Leavey? Maybe? No. okay. Evan, Welcome to the show, man. Thanks for coming on board.

Evan: Hey, Derek, thank you so much for introducing me. I actually did my masters in engineering, but like some other folks, I actually did not get that degree. So studied it, understand some of it, but don't have that piece of paper.

Derek: Yeah, I know you're a smart guy.

Evan: Maybe not smart enough to finish the degree. I don't know.

Derek: Listen, it’s a piece of paper, don't even get me started on that.

Evan: Life got in the way and It's been going ever since.

Derek: Well, yeah, absolutely. How’s San Diego?

Evan: it's beautiful today. Of course I can almost say that everyday, but today especially beautiful. My favorite times of year in San Diego are the months of September and the month of October, so I'm in heaven right now.

Derek: Awesome. so everybody who has started listening to this show, we’re on our fourth episode, Evan’s my fourth guest, and so I asked some general questions but we have another topic that we're going to get to in a little bit that I know you're kind of passionate about, but one thing I ask every guest, predominantly posting, is post and pray really post and pray?

Evan: Yeah. You know, it really is. I think part of post and pray depends on the capability of the person writing the job posting because they're all compelling job postings. In fact, there are even some job postings that are so compelling that people share them with one another just because they're funnier, they want to read them or they're interesting or they're so well written. Most job postings, however, as we all know, are exactly 180 degrees. The opposite of that. They are, they are boring. They describe duties and tasks. They don't talk about accomplishments. They don't talk about what kinds of problems you're going to solve and why you'd want to solve those problems and what those solutions, how they impact the organization and how they impact you as an employee. And so, you know, post and pray is, is called just that because basically most of the time companies are taking a bunch of responsibilities and tasks and throwing it out there on the Internet and hoping that someone will match up some keywords with those responsibilities and tasks and send their resume in, and in this kind of environment, especially where the unemployment rate is so low, particularly among professionals, it's really challenging to get the right quality of candidate from that kind of an approach.

Derek: So that’s probably your top challenge right now in recruiting today?

Evan: If you’re talking about getting engaging candidates, engaging good candidates, I would say absolutely. That's the top challenge right now. Most people, I mean the statistics back it up, but yeah, most people are working. Most people are busy. Most people are so busy, they're not going to be perusing job sites and what have you, despite that fact though Derek, it's interesting, just still more than half of people. If you look at studies, the numbers vary from one study to another because more than half the people said they would entertain a new opportunity or they're actively considering making a move. Now they may not be really following up on that because they're working and they're busy, but they aren't really considering

Derek: That’s interesting so do you think, is there really a passive candidate or is that kind of a method we make up, if somebody’s interested, they’re going to let you know they’re not really passive right?

Evan: Yeah, that's a great point. I think what people often mean by passive candidates, are candidates who are not actively out on the job boards, but there could be a different meaning to and that could be candidates are not or would not consider another opportunity even if you brought it to them and it was compelling or candidates who would consider another opportunity if you brought it to them and it was compelling, so I think that there are passive candidates out there, but going a job posting on a job board isn't going to engage them either way because they're not, They're not surfing job boards, they're not out there in the world looking for and looking at new positions as a matter of course.

Derek: Ok, that makes sense, that’s what I liked about our sponsor, engaged talent, that gives you contact information and you can get contact information. There's tons of ways of getting that but engaged talent tells you when they might be most engageable even though they're not out there because their company got delisted or their company got bankruptcy or they lost a massive contract or all kinds of things, little negative things that you don't know about. We'll alert you if you're following the comfortable companies or people you really want to talk to you and let me tell you, hey, we think right now there is really, really cool.

Evan: Yeah. That brings up a very good point there, that the status changes from day to day. I talked to candidates in the past so they absolutely would not consider another opportunity and then the next week they called me because their boss saying her boss had a real falling out or like you said, their company was denied a contract or lost out on a competitive bid or what have you. So it does change. And so a tool like engaged talent, you know, is very important, So it's also even if you have that and you know, or have a suspicion of who might be potentially interested in considering something new, that's not the whole story. The other part of it is you've got to engage them and you know, there are, there are two ways to do that. And one way is unfortunately the way that a lot of companies do, which is send out 5,000 generic emails to a candidate.

Evan: We're looking, and I don't know about you, but I get this all the time since I did a lot of, you know, I studied science a lot as an undergraduate. So I get, I get job postings for scientists, lab workers, lab washers, you know, on a weekly basis, just because somebody saw that biology and chemistry on my resume was completely inappropriate because, you know, if anyone looked at my background, they would know that that's not what I've ever done or what I do. Um, and so it's a big turnoff, but if they send out 100,000 or 200,000, they only engage a 10th of one percent. They will get candidates. My, My, um, my supposition is that my hypothesis is that those candidates will tend to be kind of the lower end of the spectrum candidates. You know, the flip side of it. And one of the things I've done with the recruiters here is, you know, I say slow down and, and engage the candidate in a personal way. You know, if you're to, if you're an in mail or email them or call them, you know, give them a message that lets them know that you're engaging them. You're not just blasting out to the community or find a – go ahead.

Derek: oh, no I’m agreeing with you completely , 100%, I remember we used to go in on Saturdays.

Evan: Yeah,

Derek: we went to Rockies, get a burger like magnum Pi. We were racing

Evan: who could write the most compelling messages that would get the highest response rate because people, when you engage with them, if you find the right mechanism, pushed the right buttons, they will respond back to you. It's. It's personalizing, customizing, optimizing messages that will engage some of those passive candidates, which again, in this marketplace is really the competitive advantage because you know, eight years ago, seven years ago, you could throw nonsense out there and get great candidates because they were available, now you can’t do that

Derek: You can’t do that anymore, especially with the ones that everybody wants, it’s like that one architect, that one network engineer that built these giant Google server farms or they're hiding in the shadows predominantly because they're just, They're talking to, It's almost like being a rock star or a movie Star. They’re afraid to go outside. They're afraid to open up their emails.

Evan: Exactly. So when the recruiters like, hey look, I found this person's email address or I'm going to send them an inmail, aren't I good? The answer is no. This person is hiding from, they’re ducking down because they're getting it so many times every day that they are just not going to respond to you unless you come up with something that really is compelling and engaging, so I think that's really critical for the post and pray. That's one mechanism, but the other thing is actually going out as an active recruiter, developing a compelling message and presenting an opportunity to a candidate rather than just throwing job descriptions out there on the Internet.

Derek: Excellent. So you and I, before we got online here, we started talking about some things you were really passionate about and that’s interviewing skills with hiring managers. Hiring managers not knowing how to interview or not going through their training and I even see this with general younger recruiters or maybe not even a year's experience where they don't even have the interviewing skills and they're trying to talk to somebody who's been in the business 20 years and they're kind of coming across as cheesy and tell me your thoughts on that, that’s why I stopped our conversation, I thought this would be really good for the audience.

Evan: I appreciate that. There are two topics that you bring up. One is recruiters interviewing skills. In other words, not the sourcing side of it, but the qualifying side of it is one aspect and the other aspect is when you get the resumes and the candidates to a hiring manager and they're actually either on the phone or face to face with the actual hiring manager. What about the hiring manager's ability to make a determination about who's going to be a good candidate for the whole. And I would say that the recruiters workers of course come in with usually very poor skills because they just haven't gotten the training. Most good companies will provide them with some great ideas and some good training. Not everybody will pick up those skills and which is why, you know, recruiting team is easy, but a lot of people get into the field and fall out quickly because they just don't learn lessons, they don’t learn those skills.

Evan: But I would say the thing I'm even more passionate about is training, hiring managers on interviewing and selection because it is very challenging and very frustrating for a recruiter, whether it's an in house recruiter or an agency recruiter to have finally found as we talked about, engaged this great candidate which is so hard to find. And then the person goes to the interview and then the hiring doesn't know like I don't know whether I should hire this person. Let me see five more. I'm going to wait. You know, I don't know. I'm going to wait till the decision's made for me. And I see that happen a lot. And I think part of the problem is that hiring managers don't get a lot of training on how it is to select good candidates. And I think a lot of it goes back to what I was talking about before, which is job descriptions and resumes look like tasks and activities. But you're not going to hire somebody, you know, maybe one of these days I'm going to write my book called so what? Right when, when I interviewed the candidates, whether it's internally or for a client and they say, oh, I documented this and I designed this and I managed that and I engineered this and I'm in charge of 12 people, and I say, well, so what? Right, okay, you're in charge of 12 people, so what? What's the, What's the outcome of this? You know, that's not a result.

Evan: Companies only hired people for one reason and that's to solve problems. Managing 12 people doesn't solve problems. Sometimes it creates problems. There's a disconnect there.

Derek: I know managers that say yeah, I have 12 people reporting to me but they’re not managing them.

Evan:  That's right. Yeah, you're right. You have managers that don't have great management skills, but along with that you have managers that may or may not have good management skills, but they again may or may not be able to qualify candidates when candidates are put in front of them. I have sat in on interviews with all different kinds of candidates with hiring managers when they've gone through the interview and at the end they just say, I'm not really sure. I don't know.

Evan: Yeah, because they did not. They have not been trained on how to know how do you. How do you go through an interview process and at the end know whether this person is going to be the right hire or not? Now you can't predict the future. It's not 100 percent. There's no way you'll always be 100 percent accurate and you know people change. Things happen. That's not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is being able to interview a candidate and know that this candidate meets the criteria for success for your role and your company and is interested and available and check those boxes and it's here in front of you so you know when that happens, then you should be moving towards the opera stage in order to make success has happened. If, if that's not the case, then why not? What's the, what's the problem? Well, the problem is insecurity and a lack of certainty.

Derek: Ok.

Evan: That’s a big problem.

Derek: Now you’re considered a third party right? You work for yourself.

Evan:  Yep, for many of our clients, we are considered third parties. However, I also do some engaged,  some kind of semi rpos types of engagements where we are, we act as the outsource in-house recruiting arm.

Derek: Oh very Cool. So do you offer training to the managers that you work with?

Evan: Well, that’s one of the things, I liked doing the best and in fact I had done some training for companies where I haven't even done any recruiting for them, but they've brought me. They brought me in to help train their managers on interview selection and hiring and it's one of the things I'm really passionate about and I think more companies should do and I know it sounds very self serving to say that, but I think they've had really great results because of it. Because imagine this, I'll give you one example. Years and years ago, maybe 20 years ago maybe I was put in charge of designing a program that would help a company that was hiring tons and tons and tons of technical people. They were hiring so many technical people for this giant project that their mid level managers were spending literally a third of their week in interviews and they weren't hiring anyone. So they interview you know, 30- 40 people a week for this project for a week after week after week.

Evan: And the hiring would come trickling in. Well, not only are you missing out on good candidates because you don't really know how to find them. You're wasting so much time and so much money in the interview process because these people now are not doing what their primary job is. Instead they're spending a third of their time in the interview process and they're not getting a good result, so we went in and designed a process, trained the managers, and then immediately shortened that cycle down by almost a factor of 10. It was amazing and they were very. They were very pleased. Well, and it's not magic. It's not magic. It's just designing something that's successful in a way that is going to be able to be something that people can do. Maybe even people with minimal training managers don't need weeks and weeks and weeks of training to learn how to interview People, you know after a few hours they can really pick up the keys, things they hadn't thought about and what they should be looking for, the right questions they should be asking, and then how you follow up on those questions and that will show you really very clearly, Oftentimes whether you've got a candidate that's meets the characteristics for success you want, but whether you have someone who's just showing up for a job or who's maybe stretching the truth a little bit about what they know, what they've done and what they can do

Derek: Totally, I think we got to a point in hiring and recruiting with EEOC and government contractors are scared, scared of being compliant. You have to have diversity, which I'm totally okay with, that’s what we should be doing. Yeah. Well I think we were looking at it now with the recruiters or a lot of hiring managers are, they didn't know what to ask anymore. In the technical interview, they can white board it and they can find out when you really come in javascript and things like that. But when it comes to like any kind of personality issues or cultural fit as they like to say, um, I think a lot of people will become more afraid.

Evan: I think you're right. I think they are afraid and I think part of that is because they haven't been trained as to what those, how those regulations impact them and what kinds of things they can and can't consider it in the hiring process. And I think once people feel comfortable about what that means, then they can design an interview process that will be fair to every candidate, but at the same time allow you to come up with a good feeling about whether candidates are going to be able to do the job. Because I agree with you completely. I think diversity is a strength and I think that it's really important to follow the laws and the regulations. But that said, there are good diverse candidate and there are bad diverse candidates and there are good non diverse candidates and there are bad non diverse candidates. And I think that, you know, coming up with the right process to be able to, you know, to be able to screen them, uh, without violating any rules or even thinking about  it, come into play I think is critical.

Derek: Yeah, I totally agree with you. I’ve always said over the years I'd loved to see a day where it doesn't matter what the person looks like, where they're from, what gender they are. If they can do the job, they can do the job. And I've got a salary of $100,000 and if you can do it then I want to give you $100,000 to do my job. I mean, you and I had been that way since back in, But even with Yo, I mean we never, we, we just wanted, we got paid when the guy, when that individual started, when he or she started on that Monday, we weren't able to cut an invoice. That's all we cared about. And for people that are listening to this show that don't really understand, or know third party very well , no third party recruiters that I know of. No, I could probably get myself in trouble with this. But um, I don't know. We were in many, I don't know, a third party in the history of being in this business for 22 years, going on 23 now that's going to try to get you a lower salary. You know, because they’re making a commission off of what that salary is. So it doesn't make any sense for me to say, well, I can pay up to 100K, but I'm only want to give you 80.

Derek: Right? It doesn't make any sense. So

Evan: Yeah, I agree with that. I think that I want to be fair to both sides, you know, being a, being a middleman, so to speak, middle person, it's got to be fair to both sides. So I'm not going to, I had candidates where clients have said, is this candidate worth this much money? And I said, no, I think that's a lie, that has happened. I think that obviously you want to provide value for your clients at the same time. You want to be fair to your candidates. And here in California we've got some new laws that are interesting around that, right? Where I'm not allowed to ask candidates what they're currently making,

Derek: I never recall asking that question. You and I both never did that. What are you looking for in order to take this gig, so I know that’s you’re within my ballpark. And I don’t want to waste my customer’s time.

Evan: that, that’s right. And I think that part of getting a good candidate, it's finding candidates with reasonable expectations, a professional with more than a couple of years of experience should know what their worth is out on the open marketplace in a reasonable fashion. And so if they say, well I want $300,000 a year, it'd be a sequence developer or something. Sure, okay, I want that too. That's great. But that's a wish. That's not our, that's not a real marketplace. That's not, that's not reality, right? So you have to make sure that, you know, reasonable candidates will give you reasonable salary expectations and there are some times when they're not really sure what that is. And I can point them to some resources as well as give them my opinion of what I think are reasonable salaries for their skill set should be, now our clients sometimes ask that too. Now they say, how much do you think this person should get paid? And I can say, based on my market experience, here's the range, and depending on a, B and c, and you know, I think it's someone who is successful over a number of years is going to be so because they are reasonable to both the client and the candidate that has a third party because if you're only looking out for one than the other, one will eventually give up on you.

Evan: You can’t do this without clients and candidates. Although, I gotta tell you Derek, Life will be a lot easier without all those darn clients and those darn candidates.

Derek: I know right, it’ll be less interesting, but a lot easier. What are you, we got five, six minutes left here. Give Me your pulse on the industry right now. Tell me what's going on from a third party perspective in the industry right now. I'm seeing and hearing from a lot of people that and that was just an hr tech last week that it's just, it's nuts. Like people are just losing their minds because they can't find, They can't find talent.

Evan: Well, yeah I agree. So there's a couple things at play right now and the marketplace starts to get a little bit wonky. Number one, you've got a couple of giant companies whom I shall not name, who can afford to pay people kind of whatever they want and that really causes some conflict in the marketplace because, you know, you've got these companies that are literally paying developers 200, $250,000 a year with sign on bonuses and stock options and this and that. Whereas, um, you know, I can within a hundred mile radius, I can come up with at least 50,000 companies that can't do that. So that creates a little bit of a conflict, especially when there's a candidate scarcity and some of those companies are starting to expand their footprint as you know, and opening offices in other cities and stuff. So that's a little scary for, you know, for some of the, some of the other mid level companies because they're afraid of losing their top talent.

Evan: And I think that part of what companies need to do is provide a good place for someone to look out for the people who are already working for you. And that's another topic for another day. But that's another thing that I see as companies spend more time trying to woo new candidates, new employees then sometimes than they do taking care of their internal candidates. And also part of the challenge in the marketplace now that relates to that is internal equities. So candidates are being in the open marketplace, offered salaries that internal employees just aren't getting. And that creates a conflict, a problem that's hard to solve.

Derek: They’re a prime company to look at. They do a cash stock solution. Uh, and uh, your stock vest after two years and the two year mark, when they got their stock vested, they were boom, they were gone. They were out the door. And these are top software developers. Their turnover ratio is in the high forties at a two year mark. So now I've heard they've changed the vesting to four years and they front, they back loaded. So it's the last two years is when you get the most stock, not the first two years than others. But once again, if you'd, like you said, and it's the environment. I mean, why go unless you're growing and expanding your footprint in the market and you need more people. Why aren't you taking care of the people that you worked so hard and so diligently to get in the first place? That's the thing.

Evan: Yeah. And sometimes all you have to do is ask to, hold a town hall meeting, or maybe not with the whole company, but in small groups and just say, Hey, what would you like to see? How we doing? That kind of stuff, because I think that it's not hard to keep people. people stay at companies over, anyone who’s been with company longer than two, three, four years is not staying because they're getting top market salary. They're staying because of other reasons. They liked their work. They like their boss, they liked their commute.. They're, you know, they're happy with their coworkers. They were happy with their health insurance reasons so you know, it's easier to get them to stay than it is to convince somebody else to take the exact same package.

Derek: That’s awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to come and say hi to me on the masters of recruiting show brought to you by engaged talent and it was great talking to you man. And I'm sure we'll chat again soon for those, Just a signing off my little recruiting maniacs. All right. Once again, thank you so much everybody. Have a great day and also if you're interested in being on the show, just go ahead and reach out and let me know, but eventually I think we're going to be doing this about once a week, but we do record our sessions and I'd love to chat with you if you're in the recruiting industry. That is not an. It's not just in recruiting. You can also be sourcing, it can be an employment branding and even get involved with this. I love to chat with you once again, Evan. Thank you. Have a great day.

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