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

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

In this episode Katrina Kibben, CEO and Founder of Three Ears Media, shares 4 key components you MUST HAVE when writing a recruiting email. Check it out.

Anything else to add to Katrina’s list? Leave a comment.

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Episode 7 Complete Transcription:

MMR Episode #7 Transcription

Derek: Hey, good to see the Recruiter Maniacs…..hopefully this is not your first time listening but if it is, welcome. Basically what we're doing here is it's going to be about a 30 minute conversation with some of the really cool people in our industry so that you may have heard of something you may not have. And that's what makes the show interesting, pretty open format and we just kind of chat about things for a good 30 minutes. And it's something for you to listen to while you're making lunch or making dinner or running on the treadmill or something. So welcome and I want to introduce my good friend who I've known for forever. She was at one point my editor at Recruiting Daily. She is now gone on to start her own company and she is killing it. Three Ears Media and the person's name is Katrina Kibben, also known as KK.

Katrina: Thanks for having me.

Derek: This is awesome. This is fun. This is something like we've done these before but never just like in a podcast format. We've done webinars and things you and I.

Katrina: Oh yeah. We have definitely been at this Rodeo a few times, that's for sure.

Derek: Been there. Done that. Burned the tee shirt, right.

Katrina: Either recorded or not recorded, right?

Derek: You’re really one of my favorite people to seek out at any conference because you're kind of like a rock making the say yes, there is normalcy for a little bit.

Katrina: Exactly. Normal in the weird, right?

Derek: We can be weird together. Nobody else gets it except for you and me. And that's what makes it fun.

Katrina: Exactly.

Derek: So tell me a little about two years radio listeners know what's going on, what are you doing? And give yourself a little uh, shoutout here.

Katrina: Yeah, so Three Ears Media is a recruitment marketing consulting firm. And what that means is basically I got really tired of reading terrible job ads. I got really tired of looking at career sites and wondering why anyone would ever apply there. And I thought, you know, I've been doing this recruiting and marketing thing for a really long time. I bet I could help. And so we do what we call research based recruitment marketing. Which means that nothing is prescriptive. So if you go to our website, there's not a list of services, you're not going to be like, oh, I'd like to buy three job ads and an email. So what we do is we go in and we listen first, we get to know your people, and then we translate that into recruitment marketing strategy that's custom to your company. So whether that means writing new job ads or creating business cards that your executives can hand out when they go out to eat. Everything we do is kind of based on people. And you know what's funny is as I'm saying that I think to myself, I think that's why Derek and I are friends in the first place.

Derek: I hear that. I agree with that. In fact, I'd like to buy a vowel. No, I'm just kidding. So you’re saying job descriptions do matter then, right? It's just they're just not being a written correctly.

Katrina: Absolutely. You know, when we look at the equation of hiring, right? Here's one thing that we all can agree on, no matter what. If you have hired one role, you can agree on this, that people are completely unpredictable. And so we need to do better at what we can control, the variables we can control and your job ad and your careers website, whatever presence you decide to create, whatever content you try to create, all of that should be really good because it's literally the only thing you can control.

Derek: Because it’s your job description right?

Katrina: Yeah, exactly. It's the first impression, the moment of impact, so to speak.

Derek: This is a questions I asked Pete, and it’s kind of becoming an interesting one for the recruiting community. Even though I know you're not a recruiter, but you'd been in the community for a long time and you really get: Is post and pray really post and pray then?

Katrina: I think we. So yes, depending where you're posting it. So if you're still spending a ton of money on job boards and you cannot recall the ROI right off the top of your head, you shouldn't be doing it right. Unless it's working so well. You know, you know monster is my number one source of hire, I'd be backing off the post and pray. But here's why it matters. When you post it on your website and you get people who are already bought into your brand who want to work there and they are seeking out Intel to make that decision to make the leap. That job on your site starts to matter a lot more. And when we're working with people who are already bought in and already like completely interested, that's when I want to hit a home run. If you know example, if I put you in a room and I said, okay, there are 15 people in here who already said they want to buy from you. You or, or I can give you a 100 people who have shown no interest, but they're in the room. What are you going to do? I'm going in the room with 15 people. I'm going to not go in, go in for the home, run.

Derek: Right that’s exactly it. Of course, quick plug for ENGAGE Talent because they’re covering the cost for these things and that’s where I work. But that’s what ENGAGE Talent is really good about. We don’t just give you the phone number and email, we tell you that the likelihood of them going to engage with you. So why go after somebody who just started with Google six months ago as opposed to somebody who's been with Google for six years and that department, uh, was, you know, like Google glass and was going away, they may be looking for new opportunity in engineering or development and so on, so forth. So we do give you those tools and are right now as of this past Monday, we found out from a multiple customers that they've gone from a seven to eight percent response rate anywhere from 38 to 40 percent and one person had to go up to 82 percent response rate. Pretty amazing. But as you and I talked about a little bit earlier before we got on the show, engaging emails. That's, that's the thing, right? I mean just because I can get into your inbox, if I just spam you with hi Bob, I am looking for and I started off the email with I am looking for. It tells me right away that you're not interested in me. You're interested in filling your role. What's in it for me? Right?

Katrina: Exactly. I tell everybody there's four things you have to nail. If you want to write a really great email,

Derek: okay, can everybody go and grab a pen and paper if you don't have a next to you or if you do, pause. If you're listening, if you downloaded it, which you probably have, and go get a pen and paper and then come back and now we're going to go with the four.

Katrina: Four things you absolutely have to have if you're going to write a recruiting email, that's going to get a response. First thing, a killer subject line. Second thing, you have to tell them “why them”. Third, why work? Fourth, why that matters to them?

Derek: Boom.

Katrina: If you can do those four things. You can get anyone's attention and have a conversation.

Derek: Yeah, that's exactly right. We talked so much, with the candy is for example, in the candidate experience awards and the candidate experience but nobody seems to really actually doing it. You know, I get an email at least a day or an inmail a day with somebody saying: Hey, we're looking for a contract recruiter in Maryland for a DOD defense contractor. Would you be interested? Well, no. You didn’t look at my resume. I’m not in recruiting anymore, I’m part of it, I’m not officially recruiting, I haven’t done DOD recruiting In two years. I had one guy, you know, you should do your research. So he sent me back an email with a resume that he had in his database, I'm assuming from like 10 years ago with an address, a place I hadn't lived in over 10 years with a phone number that doesn't even exist. The only reason he caught me on the email is because I've had like Hotmail slash outlook since the beginning of time. It's just impossible for me to get rid of it because that was my original for email and I didn’t really became a Gmail person until later, so that's why I got the email and I'm like, dude, have you heard of LinkedIn?

Katrina: Right. That’s the thing, that information and opportunities, and I'm air quoting the opportunities, are not commodities right now. Right. Information, anybody can get that. Anybody can go on Google and boolean or backs or whatever search their way with whatever tool, like ENGAGE and find people. It's what you do next with that information and how you contextualize it. Pardon me? Contextualize it for a human that will change the way that we recruit.

Derek: Yeah. I think the whole terminology, this whole AI stuff, which I just think is kind of a crock, but it's machine language, let's get it right, first of all. But everybody's talking about it's going to take over everything and Blah, blah, blah. I mean it might help streamline stuff, but at the end of the day, and I hate saying that terminology, but it's true. You're recruiting people, not recruiting robots. I'm recruiting human beings that have feelings. We have families, they have husbands and wives and kids and cousins and moms and dads and their friends and they went to school and they have all of these things. When all this stuff is happening in their lives and we as recruiter is going to go through this. It seems like they forget about all of that. All they do, all they see is you’re assistant administrator. No, you know, I'm a dad, I'm a single dad with three kids and I just lost my wife a year ago. That's who I am. I work as a systems administrator, but that's not what I am and it's one of those things where I've told junior recruiters coming up like never say, oh, I see you're a systems administrator or systems or systems engineer. No, I say that you work as a systems administrator or you work as a systems engineer. It's how you say that.

Katrina: Exactly. I think that’s the number one mistake that companies make and recruiters make is that they make it all about them. They make it all about the company. They start plastering in those little lines about how they work at an epic company with huge opportunities and it's like, this isn't about you.

Derek: Right, we’re looking for a rock star ninja. We've had that conversation so many times. It's not even, It's almost hard to talk about it anymore.

Katrina: It's still happening. That’s the disgusting part.

Derek: I know. I know. The only people that, in my opinion, and I think you'll agree with me on this that can say recruiting rockstar without me, don't like going to go off the deep end is Johnny Campbell out of Ireland because that's been his logo for years. He was doing it well before anybody was trying to make that hot and sexy. Johnny's been doing that forever, so I always, I always add an addendum to that comment that Johnny is allowed to do. He's the only one in my opinion that’s allowed to say that without me wanting to throw something at him.

Katrina: I’ll give you that one.

Derek: I mean I figured that. So yeah, one of the things we're doing at ENGAGE now and we didn't get a chance to really talk about that, we are, I personally have been setting appointments now with people to help them with their engagement emails for our customers. And that has helped a great deal. In Fact I did this one yesterday, again, online with you. You send me the bones of what you've been sending and tear it apart and then send it back and give it to you in a much more concise content way. I think one of the biggest problems I've seen for a lot of the emails lately is people almost like throw up on the email. Get to the point, you know what I mean? It's like the first two or three paragraphs is all about your company and you. And like you said, you know, this is a great place on earth to work and so on and so forth. What are you trying to sell me? Where is that? Why is it, Why are you burying the lead as they say in journalism? Why are you putting it away down in here in the bottom? It should be up here and the first. The first thing isn't, Hi. Hi. Hi. Katrina. I would like to chat with you about a position. No, no. What I say is hi, Katrina. And then, put a comma and then you go down to my paragraph. The first thing that I write, How are you today? How are things going?

Katrina: Yeah.

Derek: You think in your mind, I'm like, yeah, I'm doing all right. I'm doing horrible. But you know what's going on. You know we are looking for, I try not to use I in emails or as little as possible. I usually use we or the company and this is what we're looking for and the job description is below in a html string, so you want to go look at the actual job description. Sometimes they'll take four or five of the main points of what you will be doing. Not what I'm looking for, but what you'll be doing at this role. So you need to look, get a chance to look into this and say, hey, listen, I already know you're a JavaScript developer, this is all over your resume, so I just say I'm looking for JavaScript and that's why I'm talking to you. We're already past that.

This is why you want to come work for me because this is what we're doing with JavaScript and this is the platform that we're working on and we're building all kinds of new stuff on the front end. You're a front end developer. I don't need to tell you that that's what I'm looking for either. It's almost like flipping the script right for people to look at it and I mean our response, our response rates are going through the roof now and it's, It's pretty entertaining. I love the job description content that you’re doing. The four things that you’re doing, it’s perfect, everything about that was perfectly spot-on.

Katrina: I try, you know the other thing that I like to add to my email is something about the team. Because I do think that work is less valued than a great team at this point. I think we've all been at that place where we stayed a company a little too long because we loved the people so much and so I will try to talk to teams and get some anecdotes to say, you know, this might be interesting to you. I found it really interesting. This team really cares about x when typical product teams care about y. So for example, I just did a big project helping a company find engineers and sales talent. I can not name names, but for engineering we found out that their engineering team actually cared more about their flexible work schedule and how excellent their team was than any of the work that they did. We really tried to push it like, okay, what projects are you working on there? Like it's not about the project, it's about the people we get to work on when we do it. It's about the way we come up with ideas. It's about the fact that I can leave at 3:00 and no one gives me grief.

Derek: There’s like summer hours, some places have that. You can get, on Friday, they're allowed to get off at like two or 3:00 in the afternoon to go out and enjoy - Especially like for example, here in Portland, you only have a finite amount of time before the rain comes. We’re worse than Seattle. It’s almost like being in a rain forest, when the winter comes, pretty much the end of September, beginning of October we know what's coming. Um, so in those summer months when you had a chance to get down to the river and have fun when it's nice and warm out there, that is very practical. But then there are some groups, it'd be like, okay, you have that flex time. Or um, my other favorite is the unlimited PTO. When it’s never really unlimited, you know? You can't just say oh I’m taking one month off. No one's going to let you take four weeks off, you know, you still have to do the job.

And there’s some departments that you can't, you can't do that period. I mean, they can't do the summer hours. We can't, accounts payable, checks gotta get written. And in the beginning of the month and the end of the month, they have to do all the accounting and make sure all the folks are good and so on and so forth. I mean, if it's a good company, they don't get to take that time off. It’s great for engineering, I know a lot of engineers, they can work from home and they prefer it because they can run three machines at once and one machine doing one thing, one machine doing another, and then they're writing emails with our third machine. Well those things are compiling and doing all this other thing they need to get done and nobody's bothering them. Nobody's coming up and saying, Hey Carl, hey, let's go grab a can of soda.

Or did you see last night's Big Bang Theory or something like that. You know, I mean it's just like I always prefer working from home is like, I’ll go on my time. So, And here's another quick question for you. Okay. So we've been talking about engaging talent, right? We've talked about that people coming in internally from the outside and then supplying and their jobs and you reaching out to them with engaging emails and this is just your opinion. There's no right or wrong answer to this, I have mine. But is it okay to engage talent at their workplace or during the day?

Katrina: Yeah I think we all have a choice about whether we're going to answer or respond or interact. The other person has the choice. If they find that terribly offensive, like I'm sorry, we live in a digital world. I can contact you 12 different ways if you put a phone in your pocket. Work is not an exclusion in my opinion. What do you think?

Derek: This is interesting. For you, it was a no brainer, for me it was a no brainer. If that’s where they’re at, and if that’s how I’m going to be able to find them and that's the only email I have. Then of course that's where I'm going to send. What I tell people is, I send them an email, I leave them a voicemail on their cellphone. I used to recruit for the scary three letters in DC, you know, for people with high levels of clearance and I used to make a joke, one of these people, they go out in the parking lot and they get on their cell phone in their car and they're having their sandwich and they're talking on their phone. Those companies don't think that, hey, I wonder if he's cheating on his wife or calling his girlfriend, no one’s going to know you’re talking to North Korea because you are an analyst.

So I always tell people I send the email and I specifically put in the email, here's my email, you've seen it obviously it came through, in case it didn’t, it’s in my signature and I'll tell them straight out, I would like to chat with you. I know you're at work and I want you to steal time away from your employer, so email me whenever you can or email me from your home account or liquid account that may not be monitored. So some go to their Hotmail or their Gmail at work, some can’t. So I tell them go home or forward this email to your home account and then email me from your home account and we can set up a time to chat the next day or we can chat at night. I take that pressure off of them, because I do know a number of companies that do monitor emails.

Katrina: Exactly, and I think you're crossing the line, if you contact someone in their network to introduce that you're not familiar with, right? That's like a major boundary we don't cross. I think you have to consider where they work. Just like you said, right, If it's a three letter, if you know it's a top security kind of place or it's one of those big brands that has an entire network infrastructure team that looks at stuff, be respectful. I think otherwise we have some flexibility.

Derek: It’s the level of morality that we have to take into consideration.

Katrina: I approach every person in every outreach with a conscience and I would tell anyone to do that. All these little questions and you and I get them a lot about like, should I send this? Is my email too long? Did I do this? Just do what you would like. Do what you think this job requires and what someone who would be great for that job would love. Because I am a believer that there is a person for every job. Even the shitty, terrible jobs. There's a person.

Derek: For me, it boils down to, like you said, be you. Be real. Bad engagement with somebody, It's going to carry over and it's not just going to carry over just from you, but recruiters, whether they want to believe it or not, I believe that you're in sales. You're selling your company, you're selling them onto coming to come onto your company, or you’re selling them to go to your third party, to your clients company. And if you do a poor job of that engagement, it’s going to come back because saying that your company is going to call them or email them. Even if they're looking, I'm going to be like, I had a horrible experience with that company. You know what I mean? There was just this guy, they wasted my time and I don't ever want to do that again. I'm not going to work with the individual, sometimes is not remembered, but a lot of times that company is remembered. And when if something works for you, write it down, you know, do your own ROI. This particular email for this particular group and the strategy, I was getting response after response after response and this other email I used, I got nothing but crickets. Nobody responded.

Katrina: I'm so glad you mentioned that because I think people pretend that template is a bad word and it's not. If you have a great framework or a template with customization elements, they're kind of built in. That stuff is solid. That's exactly what you should be doing. You should always have an infrastructure that you know works and you should keep iterating on that too.

Derek: Yeah, and it's weird to me as recruiters and sourcers should be doing and they're not doing it. I get it to a certain point where like, you know, another metric I gotta do and trust me, I am the ultimate hatred, a hater of metrics, but in certain respects it helps you to prove it's a lot sometimes with, you know, I'm paying X amount of dollars for like a job board, like you said, or for this sourcing tool that I'm using. Well, what are you getting from it? What, what is your bang for your buck, I’ll do quick algebraic line and it'll tell you. I can tell you how much your resume costs from CareerBuilder over a year, depending on how many resumes you got from CareerBuilder, not only from the advertisement but from people that you may have gone and pulled from CareerBuilder and then how many placements you made out of that. Then let me tell you how much money you're spending for resume for that 10 or 15, $20,000 spend you have just for that, for this, for that CareerBuilder to a Monster, to a dice, whatever.

Katrina: That hurts my soul. It does. Well, and you know what? Here's the reality. I just saw a report from the Staffing Industry Analyst. They have a newsletter that's actually really good. It has really good data. But they said that job board spend was down, and I'm like very loosely recapping this. I'm sure there's more specific numbers, about 30 percent year over year. That’s a big sign for our industry and something we all need to get ahold of and come to terms with. That the old stuff, the job board and some of this post and pray, like you said earlier, that's not gonna be here much longer, I don’t know what's next, but when I figure it out I'm going to build it.

Derek: I was working on a blog post yesterday and I was saying, the markts so hot. This is the lowest unemployment rate I think I’ve seen since the late nineties and even I think it surpassed that when we were doing the dot com cruise. It’s all across the board, it's manufacturing, it's IT, it's medical, it’s accounting. Everybody. I mean everybody's seems like is working and it's getting harder and harder to pull people so this is something to kind of take into account. You know what I mean? Okay. We got five minutes left so I'm gonna throw out one question and then this is kind of what I do is I take the last five minutes on this show and I give it to the guest with a pretty open ended question for anybody that's in this industry and were talking about it right now. What are the challenges in recruiting today?

Katrina: So I think ultimately recruiters are expected to be good at everything. A great recruiter can write, a great recruiter can be conversational and have great relationships with people. They have to be pretty technical to be able to search. Right? And I'm talking about somebody who kind of does it all. I know there are variations of recruiters in their roles, but I think the real challenge is that there's so much expected in such variety in the skills that ultimately recruiters can't be good at everything. And so we either end up specializing and figuring out what we're really good at and doing that or we fail. And I believe that a lot of the bad behavior in this industry is not intent. It is lack of training and education. So the ultimate challenge is that we're expected to do a lot. My challenge to them is to learn how to be masters of all and to take advantage of opportunities to find templates, to find machines that can help them engage and really understand how you could do it all. But to realize that you aren't responsible for knowing how to do it all, you just have to know the tools that can help you do it all.

Derek: I like that. I like that a lot. I think it really goes to the core in a lot of things and I think that gets whitewashed. Everybody wants to be the perfect this, the perfect that, sometimes it's great. It's great to have, to be a Jack of all trades.

Katrina: Absolutely. There's glory in that.

Derek: There really is. There's been positions where I was, I mean, that's how I got into, how I became an OFPC, I had to, I mean there was nobody else in my company that was going to do it. And it was just coming out and it was going to affect recruiting. So I spent the time in the evenings and I just studied up on the subject and, you know, next thing I know I'm at a SourceCon speaking about it. Which is a dry subject to speak about. But, you know, I was the compliancy officer. I was the recruiter, I was a recruiting manager. I had recruiters underneath me, you know, and I put them in swim lanes and I'm looking at KPIs and I'm looking at, at the metrics and I'm doing the stuff with the job boards and where is my spend? All these things are, these are all the hats that if you're not wearing, you should look into it because it gives you a better perspective of what we do on a daily basis, which was really cool. So we're coming up to the final, our final minutes here

Katrina. Got anything else for me?

Katrina: No, I’d just love for people to check out Three Ears Media and our Recruitment Marketing Library has lots of tips like this to help you write better emails, better subject lines. Write better, period.

Derek: I've worked with Katrina in the past. She was one of the best editors I've ever had and this lady really truly knows her stuff. And if you don't get her on your, if you don't get her on your radar soon, you're not going to probably get her on your radar because she's overwhelmed right now I believe with how much business she's getting and I'm just so proud of you Katrina. I think you're just one of the most awesome people in the world and I just keep knocking them out of the park and you know my phone line is always open, if you ever need anything from me. Thanks Katrina for coming on and that’s it from us. Everybody, have a great rest of whatever it is you're doing and thanks for downloading and listening. Have a good one.

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