It's all about the first touch with candidates today! Not sure about the best way to make initial contact with a candidate? SourceCon editor, Shannon Pritchett shares her winning email-first approach and gives a sneak peek about some exciting announcements for SourceCon 2019!
Episode 8 Complete Transcription:
Derek: Hey there, it's Derek Zeller with ENGAGE Talent, bringing you yet another fabulously exciting, 30 minute podcast, talking about recruiting, sourcing, and just whatever else we feel like talking about and I don't like to talk to myself by myself and so I usually bring on a guest and I brought in a really fabulous one today. Kids, you may know her as the mother of all conferences. The queen of SourceCon. Yes, I am introducing my very dear friend Shannon Pritchard. Shannon, how are you?
Shannon: Good, I thought you were going to introduce Amy Beth for a second.
Derek: The thing is, I'm going to see you at some point. I don't want to get punched. By either one of you. Amy would probably take me out as well.
Shannon: And to check and see if you will actually clear. So there you go. So keep saying nice things about me.
Derek: I get tickets to shows, folks. Talk nicely about me.
Shannon: It's true.
Derek: It’s very true, it’s a true story. We’d like to say hashtag true story. So thanks for coming on, Shannon. As you know, there's just kind of casual conversation between us and talk about the state of sourcing and recruiting as we see it. One of the things that has been battered around consistently, people love talking about it, yet we keep talking about it because nothing's really changing and that is candidate experience. What candidates are experiencing. Even now, this is the lowest unemployment rate in history of my lifetime in recruiting and it's just like there's just more jobs than there are people to fill them. Especially when you get into more of the higher roles and technical roles, healthcare roles. What is your take of what's happening out there right now?
Shannon: It’s very interesting. I started before the economy crashed in 2008, it was a little bit of the opposite market then. I was lucky to have maintained my job working for TMobile Call Center. It was a scary time. None of us were hiring, right? And so it's amazing. Flash forward 10 years, how much we've grown now. The unemployment rate is really, really low and it's a candidate driven market. What's also interesting is that people aren’t holding onto their jobs as we typically see. When I first got into this industry, it was very uncommon to change jobs every two years and now I would say that is more common. I'm probably that generation that we really weren't looking for long term employment we were looking for like the next shiny object and I think a lot of people see that now and so that puts the pressure on us to deliver candidate experience. To be honest, everything that I have seen in regards to this industry, I do you think it’s getting better -
Especially with the age of social, now you have reddit sites and you have twitter. You have a lot more platforms and social media sites that really, really out terribly awful candidate experience. And I think for the most part, every time we survey people and talk about it at SourceCon for soft candidate experiences, that was one of the most popular topics. But also I really don't think it's necessarily an issue when it comes to most sourcers and recruiters. And I say that in the fact that we have bought into the process and we understand and we get the process. I think a lot of the ownership with candidate experience still comes from the newer sourcers and recruiters who have entered this industry and also the responsibility of the organization to hold those individuals accountable and there's a lot of stupid things that some sourcers and recruiters might do might slip up.
You know, you got it back up and say, well, have they had the training? Do they know how to pick up the phone? Do they know how to use it? Did they know how to talk to candidates? They might've had a bad experience themselves. It's embarrassing, right? When you talk to people especially your friends and family and they just - they get, you see the emails that they get, you hear about the conversations and you're like, oh my gosh, I know someone there. I just talked to that one person, this will probably in, that person gets it too, but I think it's that second layer, right? It's the accountability piece that this industry has been missing since at least that I have been in it, that we just haven't seen many organizations hold people accountable for it and that's what I think needs to change. I was hoping it would change, but no, here we are still talking about it Derek.
Derek: I agree with you wholeheartedly. One of the biggest issues that I've consistently see is not the older, like the people with three, four or five years experience. The one that they've taken their licks a little bit and realized that if you treat candidates like human beings and not like zeros and ones, you're going to get a much better response. Especially if you're in niche markets. You're going to run into that same person more than once and if they had a bad experience with you one time, that's pretty much. That's it. It's one strike. You're out for a lot of people including me. I mean there's definitely companies I just have zero interest in ever working for either now or again like to go back. It's just because of the experience that I went through either in the interview or it's that I like to call a bait and switch is they tell you a lot of things and then you get there and within the first couple of weeks you realize wholly cow, this is not what I was told, but now you feel because of society that you need to stick it out for six months or two years before you can really look for another job.
I think more people are starting to go away from that. I think a lot of candidates are kind of like, right now in this tight type of job market, they're like, you know what? I don't need to deal with this. I'm just going to go work for ABC Company and leave XYZ, and it's becoming the norm. The last study I read, the software developer, the average software developer looks for a new job anywhere from 18 months to 24 months, so a year and a half, two years and they’re off to their next project. So that's interesting to watch out there, I think, but I'm still seeing the spam. I mean I'm getting it. I'm getting emails pretty much daily, either through my InMail account or through what I call my wash account, which is an account that has nobody attached to it other than the one I use to evaluate software, in recruiting software and wouldn't get bothered, but it'd be like the spam folder for me on Google and I get all these requests and I always know that like Lockheed Martin's looking or Boeings looking, they're looking for a contract contractor and they're going to pay you a whole $35 an hour.
And I'm like laughing now. I’m not even in that market anymore. I’m in the recruiting world, but I'm not a recruiter anymore. And I kind of hung that hat up for a while and I do a little bit for us now, but not as intensely as I was for other companies. And I just looked, I had one guy who literally didn't even tell me what the job was. I think he was from Hewlett Packard. Your IT background fits into that we're looking for. I'm like, what IT background. I looked at my LinkedIn profile. Yeah. I used to recruit people for data analytics, and IT and software and things like that. But one: I haven't done it for over a year. And two: what exactly are you, what are you throwing at me and it kind of gets to a point where, and I've talked to many, many candidates over the last few years, they're setting up their own folders and they're taking your email address and they're putting it into do not bother me.
So it goes immediately into a spam folder. They never see your email again. Even if you've learned your lesson and now you’re really going after this person, let's say there was Ruby on Rails Developer or something like that, a little bit more profile, hard to find and you really do have a job that may or may not interests them because of where they're at in their life. But you've already kind of disqualified yourself by sending that really silly email like a year ago and they don't remember you per se, but because they don't have to. Have you heard of that happening out there? Because I sure have.
Shannon: Yeah, no. I have. I see it. I always joke around, I wish people could see my inbox. That always amazes me, you say those kind of stuff, It's like, oh wow, you really don't get it, but yeah, that's what I was talking about earlier with the whole accountability piece, is holding these people accountable, right?
Derek: Yeah. I think that’s the nicest thing about SourceCon, kind of a little plug here. It's coming up in March next year. It's going to be in Seattle this time. Very excited. I'll be there. I might even do a live podcast or something like that in the background and interview some people. Say hi. Shannon does run the event. As she said in the past, it's like herding cats, but it's always a great show and just a ton of learning. What's the theme going to be there?
Shannon: So, it’s the coolest part of my job, is experimenting with conference themes and it’s not to sell the majority of tickets, although of course I got to get paid somehow. I look at these events as a way to set industry trends and SourceCon has definitely done that, right? We control the robots that was pretty groundbreaking and one of the first AI conferences to date. I think about a million people followed it. I'm trying to think, what was it, social engineering? That was a good one. That was very fun. Yeah, that was in Vegas. The last one was growth hacking, which was a new theme for the SourceCon audience and it went over really well and I think people understood the message we were trying to deliver and so this one is, I'm not trying to set an industry trend, I’m trying to change the way we communicate. The theme is lessons learned. It's actually going to be called SourceCon, The Road to Sourcing Greatness because everyone had to travel down the road, right?
But the actual theme is going to be lessons learned. So typical SourceCon conferences, we've all been there. For those of you listening, this is the format that we typically see. You show up, you have fun, you might get a really cool session where someone pull a rabbit out of a hat and there's this really cool trick and you're like, oh my gosh, it's amazing. You go home, try to do it and you can't replicate it. So that happens often at any conference. And so I wanted to take a step back from the tools and take a step back from the heavy sourcing stuff and look at the actual person who is going to be presenting and what have they failed from in the past, right? What mistakes have they made, where have they screwed up, and then what have they done to overcome it.
So it's kind of audiences that just loves tools and loves knowledge and loves to share information. But also they love people's stories and I think we all learn best from one another. And that's definitely the SourceCon spirit. And so this conference is a unique way to share information, so instead of sharing maybe something new and shiny that someone's playing with, it’s going to be sharing an actual case study of something that they've done within their career. And I don't want it to be necessarily positive. I want it to be okay, this is the mistake I made and this is how I overcame it. So it ends up being a positive, but I think we can all learn from other people's failures. And that's what I wanted to do with this event.
Derek: That’s awesome.
Shannon: We'll see how it goes. Yeah. Yeah. And actually that was inspired by an article Amy Beth sent me and it was titled, What's wrong with conferences? And it was exactly that. It's like the people were like, I want to hear people, like how do they get there? What happened, how they overcome it, what mistakes do they make along the way and then how we can do the same thing. And so all the speakers were vetted and I said, hey, this is going to be the theme. It's going to be a little different, but you're going to have to be very humble when you go on stage and tell us a story and then tell us how you overcame it. So I know some of the stories right now. They're quite awesome and I'm excited to see the rest of this conference come together.
Derek: That’s how we started this conversation though. If we treat each other like we treat our candidates, then how are we going to stop the dog from chasing its tail and that's an absolutely fabulous idea. I've been a story teller my whole life. Sometimes I share a little too much, but that's what makes us human as humans. I think it’s a killer idea and I’m now more excited and I think this might've been a scoop for this podcast, that you might be hearing this person what's going on because as a SourceCon attendee for many, many years now, a former speaker twice for SourceCon, it's one of the best shows, if not the best show in my opinion, for the sourcing and recruiting community to really get together as a family and the learning doesn't just stop when you pop in a session. Learning just pours out into the hallway and the conversations I get to hear and I saw this and this was really cool and what do you think about this? Hey, let's look for this candidate together and I can show you and you've got people like Jim Stroud and Ronnie Bradford, Amy Q, Amy Beth, Cindy Davis, yourself, myself, Uncle Steve, Dean DaCosta. It's just insane. But each and every one of those people is approachable and wants to chat and wants to talk, so just line up or just say, can I get 10 minutes with you if you have a good question or you just want to say hi. So that was our SourceCon plug. Thank you.
Derek: You mentioned AI, I have to bring up because it's kind of like a pain in my lower back when people start talking about AI, which stands for Artificial Intelligence and it doesn't really exist. If it did, we would have machines doing things without us telling them to do them. Making their own decisions based upon experiences that were programmed into them. Right now, we're at the level of machine learning, so I think right now we're crawling. We're not even really trying to walk. Do I see it in the future? Possibly. I mean Stephen Hawking actually said it would probably be the end of the universe or something if it ever actually went through, but I like machine learning. I think it's kind of cool. I like the fact that I can program or Susanna Conway built a Recruiters Who Code got that out of SourceCon, the idea and remember they had a track for coders, right? Are we still doing that?
Derek: Yeah, it's pretty cool. So we've had people come up and show how to write code in Basic Python and how to use Tableau as a reporting tool and how to do searches using those types of items. That's what's really cool. So there's lots of tools that are specifically designed to aggregate and find people. Like Shannon and I were talking about, ENGAGE Talent is a perfect example. I can give them a little plug, this is their show. ENGAGE Talent is really cool. One of the best things about it is not only can it find aggregation for you and find the candidates, contact information, emails, phone numbers so on and so forth. The machine learning will also tell you the viability of this individual actually wanting to talk to you. So if this is a person that you're trying to go after, a software developer and you didn't do your due diligence, you just saw the keywords that you put into your Boolean search string and you find Jan Miller. Well you don't know without doing the actual proper research is that Jan just started at Google three or four months ago.
Pretty sure Jan’s not going to want to talk to you, so you do all the spamming. You send out all these emails and your response rate is like 3 percent. Some agencies think that that's fine and dandy. They're still making money and that's all that matters. But I have other agencies that I know for a fact that went from the three to four percent response rate up to 28 to 35 percent response rate and doing much better because they're not wasting the candidates time or their time and they're reaching out to them with a well crafted email saying, hey, I think you might be interested in this position because I see that your company just filed for bankruptcy or just lost a big contract or whatever, or you've gone through three CEOs in less than two years, so the stability may not be there and that kind of helps them out. So let's move on to some other cool things. What's your take on it, Shannon? From an AI slash why nobody used the word AI or the acronym AI all the time. But do you feel that we're at that level or are you with me on the machine? It's okay to not agree with me.
Shannon: I definitely agree. We're not there yet. I think we will be. It's just a matter of time. But it's really exciting. In my opinion, I think if you look at the AI and the future and for those who actually do understand AI, you need a human behind it. You really, really do. Someone still has to make the identification. Someone still has to monitor the data, overlook the data, see the automation coming through. It's just not going to all exist within a robot. To be honest, sourcers and recruiters are extremely excited that this technology is eventually coming. The beauty of true AI is that it's going to allow us to search things that we just can't because we're physically limited as humans and so that possibility is amazing and I think that sourcers honestly lead with AI and will definitely stand the test of time. Sure, a lot of what we source is going to look completely different and we're going to be looking at things in a different, unique way and we won't have to do so much search necessarily, but the actual identification piece will still need to be there and that's what hopefully we can run.
That being said, I think we're at least 10 years away from that actually happening. You've been listening to me speak for a long time, and I've been saying this going on year five, if you act like a robot, you will be replaced like one because the technology is coming and the best way to stay on top of that is making sure, again, going back to candidate experience that even though you're a sourcer and you might not be interacting very much with the people you're recruiting, it's important to add that personalization in there.
Derek: I just did an article for you on SourceCon this week or last week, but one of the things I was talking about was the use of the phone. The phone is kind of dying out apparently. What are your takes on email or phone call when you're trying to reach a candidate or both? Should we be doing a mixture of both or should you be texting?
Shannon: Talk about lessons learned. When I first started, I swear I held the record for the fastest person to be able to call a candidate. I'd find the resume, I called them. I was calling them right before I left my standard voicemail. I had them uploaded into our applicant tracking system, listed on my call sheet and also I had an email ready to go, right? Long gone are the days where you can do that. Let's be clear. I don't know how many people have answering machines like they used to back in the day, which is great because the awkwardness of getting the spouse who is not working at home, like why do you want to talk to my husband? I promise, I'm a recruiter just trying to help him get a better job.
Derek: It’s Jake from State Farm.
Shannon: Yeah, she sounds hideous. Really glad those days are gone, but I always think the process is, send them an email first exactly how you want to be contacted. Send someone an email. There are so many cool email tracking tools out there. If you don't know, just go out to google and type in email tracking tools and you'll get a list of them and most CRMS do this as well. Track those emails, find out if your candidate is looking at the email, find out if they receive it and you can even set up pings for the candidates to constantly get notified. I know there's a really cool AI company that just uploaded this to their passive sourcing tool, which is set for launch next week that coming out, so pay attention to SourceCon. It's difficult CRM type format, right? If the person's not going to pick up that first email you sent, it will send them the second one automatically and then even a third one and you can customize all those messages, right?
The candidates not ignoring, you’ve sent two emails and they're ignoring, try a text message, why not. At this point you've made a little bit of an introduction and then try to follow up with a phone call. So that would be the order I would do. I would send the email first. Absolutely, right. Make it responsive, add a little personal touch to it, right, wait, track it, then a couple of days send them another one. Again, wait another couple of days, now maybe it's the end of the week and I'm pretty sure most of these searches, you can wait a couple of days and then, do give them a phone call, send them a text message. If they’re still ignoring you, then you might want to move onto another one, but don’t be afraid to pick up that phone. I have no problem with texting. I've had plenty of candidates text me. I’ve had that the other way around, I’ve had recruiters text me and I kind of like it because then I can ping them back automatically. I don't think it's weird. I don’t think it’s creepy. To me that is personal, right? Hey Shannon, I'm just a recruiter. I sent you a text message. Are you interested in this role? Thanks, bye. Hey, you, no I'm not, okay, thanks. Bye. It's painless, so -
Derek: Especially with unlimited texting too. Every cell phone plan now, they offer you for an extra couple of bucks a month, you get unlimited texts and so on, so forth. I love reading studies, I’m a geek that way, but that’s how I can improve within my own industry and it was written not so much for recruiting, but I saw the recruiting implication is that 97 percent or something like that of people actually respond to text messages where only 40 something percent of people actually even listen to voicemails anymore. I thought that was really fascinating. Even on my phone, I have an old phone, I have an Edge 6, don't judge by the way. I'm just cheap.
But when I get a voicemail, I go to the voicemail. I click it to listen to it, but it gives you basically all of the texts that is left in the voicemail. So I never actually have to listen to the voicemail. I can just read what you said. So you might have texted me anyway because a lot of times I'll take the time to go out and listen to the voicemail. I'm busy. And if I see a number I don't recognize, my eyebrow kind of gets raised a little bit. When something comes through on a text, even if it's a number I don't recognize, I'm more than likely opening it up saying hmm who is this, and if they don't introduce themselves and sometimes they don't, because people are getting used to it, I have to write, like who wrote this to me and what exactly are you looking for?
But it's really the thing that we're talking about candidate inexperience as well as it's not always or ever always the beginning of the conversation either. It's ending the conversation. I think that there's another whole level of fear for recruiters and sourcing recruiters, people who are doing sourcing and recruiting, not just pure sourcing, making that phone call saying you didn't get it. And I really find it personally offensive if I have taken not only the time out of my day to do phone interviews, phone screens with you, I've taken a day off of work or a half day off from work or if I'm not working, I had to prioritize my interviews and I put you at the top of my list and I go and I got good feelings and you're asking me, when can you start or what we call buying questions in the recruiting world and then all of a sudden it's just crickets and then I feel weird.
Do I do what? Am I supposed to bother you? Like you told me you will be in touch as soon as you know so, do you just not know or what's going on. And then eventually, you get that email and you're all excited and you get this basic canned email saying thanks for coming in and interviewing with us, but we decided to go a different route or we've gone with another candidate that we feel is better fit for the role. I just think if I've spent that much time as a courtesy to me is to pick up the phone and say, hey listen, Derek, you're a great guy. It just didn't work for us on our end. We have somebody else that we feel is stronger and the things that we need, but we definitely want to keep the conversation going with you because these types of roles do come available at different levels throughout the year.
So please feel free to keep in touch. If you see anything, shoot me a quick email. We wouldn't have to go through the whole process again because you've already been here. And from a recruiting standpoint, it's a silver medalist. That's someone that you may be lucky to find. Let's say like a Green Plum database administrator. There's not many of them out there. So you really want to piss them off because they're going to go to their green plum events or their Facebook page that they have for all their friends, a secret page and only they know about and they're going to talk about you and that can harm you later on in life. Right?
Shannon: Silver Medalists candidates, I don’t know how recruiters and sourcers are aware of this but a lot of the tools that are coming out now, like Google Hire is one. Talent Hub for LinkedIn, their new ATS. They are ranking silver medalist candidates towards the top of your search results. So, for example how you treat those silver medalists candidates are going to be hugely impactful and there’s also lots of companies that actually specialize in keeping silver medalist candidates warm and actually trying to place them at your competitors, just cause they had a good experience. So I know some of those startups exists out in San Francisco, the Silicon Valley area, but if you're not going to be treating those people right and they're going to be coming up to the top of your search results, it's first off, going to be a stern reminder.
Derek: No, it really is.
Shannon: I actually think there's nothing wrong with a rejection email, but I do think as the courteous, you should have that rapport where you can call up somebody and be real with it and it's always going to be a difficult conversation. Yes, we know that it's going to be uncomfortable, but keep in mind, we decided to work in an industry that we deal with people and so that is a huge part of our job. I think that's part of the where the bad rap comes from. Right? Like anytime you've ever complained at a restaurant, any kind of customer service environment, we filed a complaint. Right? It's generally because you've been burned by somebody that works or somebody obviously did something to upset you. People don't get that upset when you contact a person for the wrong position they're not qualified for. Right? They've been burned by a recruiter and then they get contacted by one.
That's that extra level. So the long terms effects of customer service. I think Glenn, Kathy and I have debated this, not really debated, but we've had these like really in depth conversations that no one's really measured the long impact of a terrible customer service experience on an organization. But that is part of it and now we're starting to see that silver medalist candidates are getting treated excellently by exponentially, I know I kind of combined a bunch of words together, podcast jokes, but anyways, but if technology has taken it serious then we do too.
Derek: Well, that’s awesome. All right folks. We’re at the end of our show.
Shannon: You want to hear something funny before we go?
Derek: Yeah I would love something funny, we can go over a little bit of it.
Shannon: So I'm playing around in the Chrome store like I normally do and I'm on a known Chrome extension that I'm not going to mention and you how when you're on that Chrome extension in the coast or you can go over and see the related section?
Shannon: So. Okay. So like the related Chrome extensions, we got Hire chill in here. We got Seek Out, we got Zap Info. We have bull context scout improver connected fire source, right. It's all ones we know. They're all sourcing, recruiting related, but then there's one that is not. And I find it hilarious that it's related to all these other sorts of extensions and that is the Pokémon showdown.
Shannon: So, the Pokémon showdown has made it to the list of sourcing and recruiting extensions in the Chrome store. So I guess, talking about machine learning.
Derek: What’s even creepier, is my phone, Siri, just activated from our conversation. It’s never done that before.
Shannon: See, now it's going to start downloading the Pokémon showdown. Everyone's like, what tools did you learn from the podcast of Shannon and Derek? And they're like, oh, Pokémon. They’re going to be like, that was the worst podcast ever. They’re gonna be like, no, it was the best podcast ever.
Derek: They're all listening. Machines are all listening right now. I was Charleston at our headquarters last week and my boss and I were deciding on we wanted to do for dinner, so I'm always up for Italian. He says it's hard to find good Italian in Charleston. And I said yeah, but I know one place, but it's like pretty far away. So I ended up getting in the car and we decided we were going to go and meet up with some other friends and about five minutes into our driving, his phone pops up and it's a pop up for an email or something that came up and said the best from Grub Hub. It said best Italian restaurants in Charleston.
Shannon: That's creepy.
Derek: We just kept mentioning Italian but we never sent anything or looked up anything, nothing at all, and then all of a sudden we get an email from like Grub Hub thing saying these are the best Italian places. I'm talking to my boss who’s a former employee of Oracle and he’s a former programmer and really really smart guy and he turned to me and looked at me. He's like, what the heck is going on here? He took a screenshot of it and just couldn't stop talking about it for the rest of the night, just showing people, can you believe this? He said this is where we're at. Anyway, we're at the end. I want to thank Shannon for having a good conversation with me. I love it. And the most important people out there, my recruiting maniacs, the ones that actually download the show and I appreciate you for doing so. It's free, it's fun. And if you ever want to come on and you’re a recruiter in the recruiting industry, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and shoot me an email and maybe we can set something up. If not, I'll see you guys next week. Have a good one. Bye!!