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Allyship Blog Communication Life Lifehacks Process Improvement Relationship Workplace

The Skill that Saved My Business and My Marriage

If there’s something people have remarked consistently about me, it’s that I can talk about almost anything.

I am a naturally curious person.

And, in recruiting, it’s not a lie that I get a lot of excitement hearing about people’s life stories, their passions and their dreams. Occasionally, their downfalls and their struggles.  All of these things, to me are part of the tapestry of their life, and I love hearing about them.  

Being naturally curious may be my super power as a recruiter.

I also enjoy reading, spend an unhealthy amount of time on medium, and replaced my heavy metal music with podcasts and audiobooks while mowing the lawn on the weekends.  (The latter has become somewhat of a favorite past-time, which my 10-year-ago self would have actually, verbally scoffed at.)

Often, I find myself using this treasure trove of stories from different sources as an attempt to relate to people. The flow seems natural at first glance, 

“Oh, you went zip lining? Nice! I know a guy that runs a whole Zipline and ropes course. Cool place. They are expanding and they do summer camps now. I played basketball with him and his sons for years. Good people…”

From inside my own head, this seemed like a good conversation. But from an outsiders perspective, and especially from the perspective of the other person in the conversation, I had developed a problem. 

I had become a One-Upper.

I had a story for everything and everyone, and while I thought I was adding to the conversation and moving it along, in reality, I totally missed the person right in front of me because I got too busy sharing something someone else has done!  Or worse, something I have done!

What a jerk move!

We all know that person who can’t keep their mouth shut about an experience that clearly tops whatever experience you share. 

Beware The Me-Monster

Brian Regan calls this the Me Monster, and covers the phenomenon beautifully in his act, I Walked On the Moon (Amazon): 

Needless to say, when you find yourself in the company of a one-upper you feel pretty small and unappreciated after a while (like, 27 seconds).

Imagine working with or being married to one (some of you know how this is from firsthand experience)! If you have been chained to a one-upper as a desk-mate or partner, and had a chance to magically do-over that relationship, it seems most people would either opt-out of the one-uppmanship or opt out of the person altogether.

And that is what was happening for me in my life and in my work. People and relationships that were important to me were starting to move away from me, or just not invite me back to work with them.

In my marriage, this was part of some other challenges I brought that all resulted from being overly focused on myself and not what my partner was dealing with or concerned about.

The Elementary School Skill That Saved Me

To get around this problem, I began to realize I needed to do something that would:

  1. Help my mind stay quiet when others spoke
  2. Enable me to actually listen and hear the other person
  3. Recall and remember the things they discussed

As with most things, being aware that I had a problem here helped me start to look for way to fix it.

The Importance of Taking Notes

Back in 2015, I stumbled on* a linkedin post from Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group** called The Importance of Taking Notes.

In the article, which also strikes at the heart of gender disparity in the workplace, he noted how infrequent it is for him, who is a ravenous note taker, to see other executives taking notes in meetings.

He states the aside that many of the most-successful ventures he has undertaken came about because of random chance things he thought to write down. Yet, in business, note taking is somehow not seen as a smart way to It is seen as “office housework,” to quote Sheryl Sandberg, and, as Branson notes, is a fantastic skill to develop to help someone understand their business better:

“On top of counteracting gender bias in the work force, it will also give men a better understanding of what going on within the business and what needs to be done to make things run more effectively.'”

The Importance of Taking Notes by Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group

So, I started consciously taking notes.

On p.a.p.e.r.***

In a hardbound notebook that I carry everywhere and can reference later.

It’s something I actually found myself good at doing, since I really had been taught to take notes since elementary school.

And, over time, I found that the process of note-taking forced me to actively listen to people as they spoke, to get the words and information they were trying to convey.

This helped my mind focus on them and what was going on, not on myself or what I wanted to say next.

That enabled me to really connect with the person I was talking with, feel with them the hard parts of what they were experiencing, celebrate with them the successes they had, and make an actionable plan that could be carried out to collaboratively solve a problem we identified.

Leveraging the brilliance of the scannable app and my Evernote account to archive and keep notes forever, a journal (with page numbers) became the final lynch pin in my note taking trifecta as I could reference items by page number or, if something was really a long project, by book and then by page number.

I used to prefer Moleskine notebooks, but more recently, I prefer the Leuchtturm 1917 dotted, numbered series journals, and the “A5” size (148 x 210 mm), which is a thing. It feels a bit like a legal sized piece of paper folded top-to-bottom, then turned on it’s side to write with.

I find the A5 book size is just enough that I have plenty of room to write most things, and I am not carrying around a huge notebook and feel like I should be headed off to school at any moment.

Note Taking Has Become A Super Power

Its been five years since I actively worked on this habit, and I would like to think it has over taken my desire to overtalk and subconsciously one-up the others in the room.

This has lead to more business deals, fantastic opportunities I have been able to execute on that came initially from scribbles on a pice of paper, and the uncanny ability to actually recall what happened in a meeting three months ago because, I wrote it down.

Clients have remarked how much they appreciate that I take notes. I have been told it helps people know I am listening, and there’s a sense that I truly must value what they’re talking about or else, “why would [I] take notes on it?”

Wait, How Did Taking Notes Save Your Marriage?

Anyone in a committed relationship will tell you that your relationship will be stronger if your partner seems to really be interested in you, listen to you, sees and hears you, and follows through on the things they said they would do.

To the letter, every one of the benefits I have found from note taking will improve your ability to be present with, care about and follow through on your commitments with your partner or loved ones.

I have even pulled out my notebook in the middle of something going on and said, “One moment. This is important to me. I am going to take some notes.”

As awkward as it may have been the first time I said that, my wife appreciates that, when I write something down, it sticks in my mind longer than the dinner menu does, and when there’s a commitment I make, I stick to it much better.

Try it and let me know how it goes.

*well, the algorithm “stumbled upon”
** disclosure: I own shares in Virgin Galactic via Robinhood.
*** mental note: why I write on paper deserves its own write up.
Some links in this article

Categories
Blog Hiring Jobseekers Networking Recruiting Industry Working with Recruiters

Real Talk About Resumes in Nine Pithy Tweets

Meme of a resume that simply says "please hire me" in large type
This is what your resume looks like to all recruiters, no matter what.

I have some real talk about resumes and how they are really, really a bad way to get yourself into the job you love. They are a part of it, but relying to heavily on your resume is a rookie mistake. As we used to say where I grew up, “Let me learn you some about it.”

Pull up a chair.

I wrote a tweetstorm about why resumes suck so bad at helping people get jobs and how you can step out of the hamster wheel and actually get attention from employers for who you are.

Just a note: Recruiting and Hiring is intensely biased by nature. It’s very hard to do well. Many great recruiters and people leaders spend all their waking hours trying to solve this problem and curb the risks of institutional bias in what they do. That being said, it’s out there. Everywhere. Being aware of what you’re up against doesn’t make it fair, but at least you know a little more about your enemy, which is understanding the reasons people hire versus the process companies tell you to follow when applying for jobs, which, spoiler alert, are completely opposite each other.

If you hear nothing else from this, remember this one lesson: “Standing in Line is for Suckers”.

Stop following “the rules” when going for your dream job. Do w.h.a.t.e.v.e.r. it takes to get noticed. That gets you hired, and promoted, and respected.

(While you’re waiting to get a call back from that intern screening resumes, someone is connecting with the department VP right now, and they will get hired in the next 3 days)

On to the tweetstorm…

Bottom-Line Up Front:

☝? Hiring is based on feelings not facts.
✌? Getting referred gives everyone that buzzy feeling about you.
?? You get to show up and be your authentic self. They already like you.
?? Spend 80% of your energy getting REFERRED for jobs

Come along for the ride, below:

Take a look at this tweetstorm about resumes and why relying on them to help you find a job is never, ever a good idea.

Looking for resume feedback?

Here the real talk: jobseeking is marketing.

And resumes suuuck at marketing you. Your vibrance. Your passion. Your drive. Your dreams.

The REAL you.

Proof resumes are the worst marketing tool:

  • Ever bought a smartphone because of the resume they put in a commercial? No.
  • Ever went to that trendy restaurant because of the resumes they sent you? No!

You did those things because of something you FELT about them.

Because no matter how much someone will tell you otherwise, hiring is an EMOTIONAL decision.

Not fair? Yes. True? Also, Yes.

In fact, the most emotional decision any manager will make is who they hire.

? Use this to your benefit and encourage them to feel interested in talking to you.

The reason recruiters/hiring managers respond to the person who submits a resume or not is based on how the resume makes them FEEL. (Usually a more logical feeling, yet i argue still a feeling)

Lots of us are trying to make this less biased but it’s still how it is today.

Why You Didn’t Get Called Back

And the reason you didn’t get called back after that interview, even when they said you have all the skills, is either you didn’t make them FEEL whatever they felt about you at first or someone ELSE they interviewed gave them that feeling they were looking for.

Stop Gambling With Your Career — with a PDF!

Waiting on a boring text attachment in an email or submitted online to give an accurate portrayal of the fullness of YOU—your fiery passions and talents, lifelong dreams and skills, even fears and struggles—is a terrible, terrible gamble.

Get on the referral gravy train! ?

Meanwhile, research shows “88% of employers said referrals are… the best source for above-average applicants.”

So companies drain precious money and resources into employee referral programs and tracking their success.

The combination here is perfect for you:

An employee you actually know (not a recruiter) referring you to a company is the BEST and easiest way for you to show off your WHOLE self.

AND companies trip over themselves to incentivize & reward employees for referring candidates.

This is what Steven R. Covey was picturing when he said “win / win”

Categories
Blog Lifehacks Process Improvement Tools and Apps

Missive, How I ❤️ Thee…

This is a love letter.

A love letter to email.

Well, not exactly to email, because you, email, are a necessary evil.

This, is about my email application.

No.

My — unified messaging and communications operating system.

Missive App.

(Disclaimer: No, missive pays me nothing for this. They don’t even have an affiliate program. In fact, I pay them a fairly solid monthly subscription for my growing recruiting team. I will gladly keep paying. And, enjoying the hair I did not pull out of my own head over using plain old email tools)

Story Time

Its about 23 minutes into the zoom meeting and, the other person says, “give me a moment, that’s in my other email account…

“… ugh, I got logged out.

“OK! Sent it.

“Dang. I sent it from the wrong address. That’s not going to work.

:angry email noises:

…”

via GIPHY

Meanwhile… the hopefully polite look on my face while I witness this belies the eye twitching that is happening under the surface. Not only could this meeting have likely been an email, 80% of this meeting ended up being about email issues:

  • Not finding the mail
  • Mail in the wrong place
  • Did you get the email?
  • Did they send the email?
  • Not being cc’d on the email or otherwise not knowing the content of said email
  • Getting forwarded the email last-minute and now having to page through mind-numbingly confusing forwards to find the part of the email that matters for this meeting,
  • …all from your phone because your laptop is presenting.
  • Needing to email someone and ask a specific, detailed question
  • Emailing the person again asking them to quickly reply as we’re trying to make a decision
  • Clarifying the question we asked, since, thanks to brevity, we assumed they knew all the context of what was being asked and were forced to reply with “It depends…”
  • and so on
  • and so forth

Email issues that could have been solved if communication, not email, were the priority. ?

If I Haven’t Told You Missive Is Better Than Your Email App, Either We Haven’t Talked, or I am Being Nice

The other half of this story is that people who work with me know that, at this point in the meeting, if I have not yet brought up Missive, the email app I have been leveraging for at least three years now, it is because of an immense amount of personal strength to keep. my. mouth. shut.

Why?

Missive is like my right-hand, time-saving, boss-level communications master control center.

Missive is like my own mind, but with a better memory, and with emoji support. ?

I can’t stress enough all the ways that Missive helps me, my personal life, my family and my team through a week and, in building ConnectedWell from a literal company-of-one to a growing team with expanding partnerships and opportunities, Missive has been my most-trusted ally, by my side in that awesome, scalable, helpful-but-not-clingy kind of way we all seek from our email applications, but, sadly, most never find.

OK, Hot Shot. Why is Missive So good?

Here is a list of things my email program does effortlessly that yours doesn’t. Neener, neener.

  • Works effortlessly across any device I have, via app or browser, with zero functionality loss on mobile. Truly a mobile-first application.
  • One Login. I login with my account once and it remembers all my other accounts, gmail, gsuite, exchange, outlook, or whatever other email server you use.
  • Keyboard shortcuts. The gmail ones. Or, use your own
  • SWIPE multiple emails at once. Delete, Archive or Snooze all these junk emails at once and then, boom, inbox zero #FTW.
  • Also remembers all my inbound/outbound signatures, forwarding rules and other tweaks for each account.
  • Good search across all accounts or separate ones
  • Email templates for you or shared
  • SNOOOOOOOoooooze emails for working with later
  • You can even snooze email from the alerts that pop up on your computer or device.
  • Send emails later, as well (so you look like you were (or were not) up at 1:30am)
  • Snooze emails to come back to you after you sent them (so you can follow up). Choose to snooze only if the other person does not reply.
  • UNDO send, too, so you don’t look like this guy when you accidentally reply-to-all (see below, or here: youtube). This one is YUGE.
  • Rules and filters that make gmail rules, uh, not rule and make outlook’s rules feel like 1990s tv sitcom dramas. Cute, but really not that entertaining any more.
    • My personal favorite use of the email rules? I have a set of filters and rules that keep all email OUT of my inbox except for a few very specific times of the day (a la Tim Ferris style) so I can actually get work done.

What Happens When You Reply All

Here are some of the superpowers Missive gives my team and me:

Missive’s integrations beef up my
email superpowers ??
  • Inline email collaboration and editing (and inline sidebar chat) like a Google Doc, but in. email.
    • Let that last one sink in a little
  • Assign people and tasks to an email or just FYI them. Do not forward the email. Just @mention them in the sidebar and they have access. Boom. Instantly, to the whole thread in their screen, along with all chat messaged about it, in chronological order, as if they were the one who got the initial message.
  • Real team shared inboxes, both a general box like “[email protected]” where everyone gets a copy of messages, or a way to let everyone see the status, and replies of all other messages — so nothing slips through the cracks (and a great way to share know-how and best practices among team members)
  • Send on behalf of the team or as an individual, either all the time or just ad-hoc. For example, you could can ask me for help on an email, we collaborate on it, and then you can send the email AS ME, using my own email credentials, right from your own email app, and zeeeeero tech support or password sharing required.
  • Don’t forward an email to yourself or your trellor board or something. Send them (or your task list/trello board) an actual URL LINK to an exact email so you can click once and go right back into the content you need.
  • Ready to power up? Seamless integrations with apps you’re already using. I use their trello, todoist, pipedrive and other integrations every hour of the day.
  • Social integrations let me manage facebook, instagram and other social messages from my email app. Yeah. That easy.
  • Missive’s powerful Twillio integration powers the chat “bot” telegram like feature on this site (lower right corner), dropping site-based chats into the [email protected] team inbox as if they are emails. Try it.
  • I could also use Twillio to send SMS messages, too, fwiw.
  • Missive is actively being developed with a very responsive team (I’ve chatted with Etienne, Phillipe and Rafael frequently). Their Canny feature requests, get this, actually turn into product releases. They ship multiple times a month.

I will come back to this and add more, but for now, this is a pretty good list of reasons you should check out Missive.

Again, missive doesn’t pay me, but I gladly pay them. It’s a good app. And, for something you use 38 hours a day, you should treat yourself better than the way you’re being treated.

I’m just sayin.

Of course, how you choose to email is none of my business.

Would you like to reply?

Categories
Blog Entrepreneurship My Favorite Things Process Improvement

Gusto Makes Paying Payroll & Contractors Magical

I have used Gusto* twice now to run my payroll in my business ventures and, in the 8 clicks or so that it took to pay my contractors and employees today, I thought I should write about it. Partly because, for some strange reason, I avoided using them during my current venture even though I loved them before. Looking back, I put myself through a lot of pain this go-round. Don’t do that to yourself. #learnFromMyMistakes

Managing payroll and compliance with Gusto makes my small business or solopreneur venture even more awesome. Key benefit for me? Paying contractors any amount with direct deposit with no extra fees or transaction charges. ? ⬇️ Finally, I can stop using Venmo!

Gusto definetly goes on my list of how to run a business smarter, not harder. Three years (and $20k in tax issues later), cough up the comparative pocket change to do this right.

The OLD WAY of paying contractors for me included trying to find their venmo account, ignore how many times they bought tacos last week (really?) negotiate on if they wanted payment from Cash App instead or maybe paypal… and then haggle over who paid the transaction fees. This worked “great” until I had enough business I bumped up against my venmo transaction limits, and my people will attest that the waiting around for payments SUCKED. I had two contractors getting paid by venmo, one on Cash app, a bunch I had to hoodwink into reactivating their PayPal accounts (and I coughed down the fees most of the time). P.S None of this included the accounting gymnastics I got to do monthly when I had to parse out which payments went to whom and for what work

The cost of using Gusto to pay yourself + 9 employees is the equivalent of 58cents an hour. If your billing rate can’t choke that down, I seriously recommend you find a regular job ?.

If you are going out (or already out) on your own or taking on a side hustle, or partnering with some colleagues at a joint-venture, it’s alluring to run everything on your own and go lean, but after three years of trying and making mistakes at this, I am learning to automate the things computers can do so I can do the things I do best — which is recruit and lead and support my team.

Things Gusto does very well (the top three were enough for me to stop kicking myself and sign up)

  • Manages payroll for W-2 employees seamlessly.
  • Send payments to 1099 Contractors direct deposit, and for no extra fees.
  • Run as many payroll or expense reimbursement runs per month as you like, for no extra fees.
  • Ability for your employees to get “instant” paychecks if they like or are short on cash (no cost to you).
  • Ridiculously quick and friendly support.
  • Awesome, simple user interface.
  • Access to benefits and other nifty features such as charitable contributions, 401k, 529 accounts, life insurance and more.
  • Helps you process 1099s and W-2 statements at the end of the year.
  • Know before you submit payroll exactly how much will come from your accounts and when.
  • Automatically handles state and federal tax requirements, sending the right tax amounts to the right withholding accounts so you can rest easy knowing the tax man cometh, but not with a scythe. They even got my account numbers for me. I did zero paperwork.
  • Onboard and offboard employees, even sending offer letters!
  • Sync magically with all accounting packages.
  • Causes your accountants to regularly break out into song.

Plus, they’re giving you $100 Amazon gift card to try it just for signing up at my recommendation (after you run payroll). I mean, I would recommend it anyway, but, if they’re going to front you a hundred bucks, that’s 2.5 months worth of their fee if you (yourself or others) are a W-2 employee. That’s 4 months free if you have no W-2 employees and 4 contractors (16 months free if you have just one contractor).

Full disclosure, I also get $100 if you try this. I’d recommend it anyway, so, if you feel strange about that just go to gusto.com yourself and sign up, or ask your accountant to refer you if you want to keep the cash “in the family”, so to speak.

Either way, I ran payroll and paid my contractors and ticked off a bunch of tired old tax-compliance boxes using Gusto this morning in way less time than it took to write this.

Or, keep doing payroll the hard way.

Gusto is part of my accounting stack for small businesses, which includes:

Tell ’em I sent ya ?

*This is a referral link. If you go here and buy stuff, I may or may not get a small something in return. It might be money or a gift-card or a discount on my service. It’s usually not much. And, I am a paying customer of all these services, so its really just soda money in the end. I am not living off this, lol. If this makes you feel strange, feel free to run over to that website all by yourself or ask someone else to refer you. No problem. But if you feel like my advice helped you, clicking this link is one way to say thanks. I mean, that or five pound box of $50 bills would work, too… but clicking the link is easier. #justsayin

Categories
Blog Hiring Process Improvement Recruiting Industry Recruitment Process Automation Workplace

Recruitment Automation 101

A trend that is becoming pretty exciting right now is recruitment automation. Likely accelerated by the tools that are more readily available like integromat and zapier, and more open APIs between HR apps and Applicant tracking systems, recruitment automation is a brave new world of growing and improving your HR and Recruitment Systems and keeping your human interactions exactly that, more human.

The most important item to stay focused on when considering recruitment automation is the candidate. What is the end-result, and what is the purpose of what you are trying to automate.

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

Picture of Steven R Covey
Steven R Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People

Steven R. Covey, of 7 Habits of Highly Successful People (Amazon) fame is accredited with the famous line “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” #

As you consider what you are trying to automate and why, this is an important piece of the puzzle. Just because something can be automated does not mean it should.

Another way to look at this has become my unofficial axiom for recruitment process automation in general:

Automate the things computers do well, so you can do the things humans do well.

This means rethinking the old standbys like calling candidates personally to book calendar appointments, but then sending blind, generic emails from “noreply” email accounts when they are no longer considered in the process.

Perhaps, automating your calendaring time could help candidates feel in some control of the process as well as allowing you to let candidates know they are not being considered any longer for a role with a personal call, not a heartless “thanks but no thanks” message.

Categories
Blog Commentary Economics Hiring Jobseekers Recruiting Industry

Many Americans Earning More on Unemployment Than In Their Jobs

It appears that nearly 70% of Americans on unemployment are earning more than they did in their pre-laid-off jobs. Some as much as 150% more. What does this mean for recruiting and the economic recovery?

Making recruiting entry-level workers even harder than it has been in the past, many people are finding their unemployment benefits outstripping the amounts of money they would have earned had they not been let go.

This graphic, from the venerable 538, shows the distribution of benefits as a function of replacing the worker’s income, state by state in the United States.

They cite a report from University of Chicago economists which “estimate that 68 percent of unemployed workers who can receive benefits are eligible for payments that are greater than their lost earnings.”

What does this mean for Workers?

I believe there are three factors at play here which can be good and bad for things in the short run, but will end up as major factors in the long term.

The winners in these struggles remain to be seen, but history has a few lessons of its own to share:

  • We’re in a once-in-a-lifetime reset of the economy
  • These debts will come due sooner or later (and probably both)
  • Recruiting & Retention will continue to be challenging in new ways.

Once-A-Century Economic Output Shift

First, I believe we are at the tip of a once-a-century shift in massive economic change. In fifty or seventy years, b-school textbooks will talk about the 2010’s like the last few years before refrigerators took over the ice box business in 1930s America. Those lectures will undoubtedly relate similar harbingers in our time of how none of the significant and profitable ice-trade businesses which boomed in the late 1800s ever made it as a significant player in any sense past 1950.

What does this mean for us? Booming industries that were safe havens for workers and owners alike just months ago may be gone in the next 5-10 years and, except perhaps for

Someone Has To Pay The Bill

The massive, crippling consumer debt problem is going to continue to cause issues in unexpected ways in the next few years.

Smart individuals will work hard right now to find ways to pay off debt and remove unneeded expenses. These short-term benefits in unemployment are intended to be a bridge over troubled waters, not a platform to build on. Mind you, the gravy train will come to the end of the line. Will you be clinging to the freight car when that happens hoping to eek out one more spoonful of gruel, or will you have taken your fair share and moved on to better things leveraging the economic boost for what it was intended for — to keep you from selling plasma to pay your rent — and instead contributing meaningfully to this new post-COVID-world of ours.

End of the day, someone has to pay these bills. Of course, those payments have to come from the backs (and pockets) of taxpayers. If the economic times turn around quickly as some hope, we may see a way to narrowly escape truly challenging times. However, even as it’s predicted these job losses will be felt far into 2021 and beyond, it stands to reason that, like grabbing the store credit card on your way out so you can save 10% on those jeans, as convenient as this all is, the whole world will be economically paying this down for a long, long time.

Recruiting & Retention is going to be harder for entry-level roles

Companies who value their entry-level workers will need to find ways, monetarily or otherwise, to compensate these workers and intent them to work rather than stay home, collect unemployment and “look for work” while golfing, watching NASCAR, etc.

Furthermore, I predict retention will be a killer subject not to far from now, as companies eek out some life, and things seem to have some semblance of settling down, I believe that people who were lucky enough to survive the unemployment cuts in the first place will pack their bags in droves as they realize, with some disdain, that all those glittery perks at their former companies was not, in fact, gold at all when it came down to what really matters to them in their lives.

Categories
Hiring Process Improvement

4 Smart Ways to Improve Recruitment Candidate Experience during COVID-19

4 Smart Ways to Improve Recruitment Candidate Experience during COVID-19

If you’re a little tired of hearing about these “unprecedented times” here’s perhaps something you can do about that if you’re on the “front lines” of a team lucky enough to be hiring and dealing with an inbound flood of applicants.

tl;dr: Skip to the Goods!

Recognizing that, as of this writing, thirty million people in the United States have claimed unemployment and are actively seeking work and that many hiring teams who are lucky enough to still be hiring may also have been impacted negatively in terms of having less help on the team and less tools or resources.

Hiring Teams Have Been Impacted, Too

In this environment of less help, less tools and way more applicants, recruiting and TA teams are faced with a very real problem: How to help everyone when you know you can’t hire them all and that many of them will not be qualified anyway. 

The urge to want to not miss all these people is real, and good and human. There are steps you can take to both help them how you can and not lose sleep or sanity doing so. 

Crank Up the Transparency

Improving the candidate experience during a time of massive inbound candidate flow will require some teams to begin taking a deeper look at how they are actually working, being more honest and open with candidates than they have before and starts with Recruiting and TA getting a better process in place to begin with. 

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself how you would want to be treated if you were the one that was seeking a new role.  Add on an extra measure of desperation, a little paranoia that all the good jobs are going to be gone, and that job application processes are so unique sometimes that the candidate’s stop reading and just start, well, button mashing until they get the next application in. 

An opportunity to breathe a little and help your candidates do the same will go a long way to improving the job search process a little more human for everyone involved. ❤


Four Ways you can Immediately Improve Candidate Experience

Four ways your recruiting team can manage your candidate experience during COVID-19 times include: 

  1. Better job advertisements
  2. Stated, public SLA updated for COVID-19
  3. Better, more human approach to rejection
  4. Stop lying

I think companies who find ways to do a better job of connecting with applicants and finding how to really and truly express what they want from an applicant and being bold in that will find their applicant pools are actually way more interesting. 

I’ll give some high level explanations below and deep dive into each of these in the coming days. 


First: Better job advertisements.  

Job advertisements today are lame.  

Rewrite them so it is absolutely crystal clear what you are looking for, how you will measure what you are looking for, and what you are not looking for. 

A powerful and moving way to do this is video.  Grab a phone or record a zoom meeting of the hiring manager, team leader or someone doing the role explain some of the key things that are needed and what the business problems are that you are wanting to solve.  

Humans communicate so much more through nonverbal cues. Your video will do wonders for your communication of what the role really is.  

Want to level this up? Some B-roll of how your hiring team works to vet candidates and what the interview process will be like would be a great addition.  Tie it all off with that clip from your SLA (see below) of your CEO noting how hiring is important to them and inviting candidates to reach out directly if they experience problems with the process,.  Please do NOT say “I am the CEO and I approve this message”, but you kindof get the point. 

But really, getting something out there is better than nothing. 

Pro-Tip: Add these two caveats to your job postings to boost applications from a more-diverse background and help people NOT apply but still stay connected with you if they feel this job isn’t right:

  • Encourage people to apply if they are on the bubble and might second-guess their qualifications. 

    Something like “We are interested in people from all walks of life and backgrounds. We can’t guarantee a job to everyone, but if you don’t have every one of these skills, but you’re close and can knock our socks off in at least 2 or 3 of them, then let’s talk. Please.“ And give them a way to actually reach you.  THis will increase engagement as well as a proven way to improve responses from a more diverse candidate pool. 
  • To encourage people to stay connected with you even if this role isn’t quite right yet.  

    Giving candidates some other way to connect with you, perhaps a way to get into your applicant pool that does not involve them applying to a role that they know they’re not qualified for, but one that still gets them to be affiliated with your company and get access to insider tips, jobs or information. 

Have a Public COVID SLA.  Have your CEO introduce it. 

I think it would be a good idea to publish how you will communicate and how often you will communicate with candidates during the COVID crisis.  This should cover specific milestones with deadlines. Perhaps you commit to get to every applicant within 2 weeks from their apply date with either a go/no-go response.  You tell them how you are working through vetting each profile. Don’t overpromise, but follow up on time, every time.

 Post that online publicly.  Link to that in your job postings and have your automated email that goes out when someone applies mention it.  

Even better, have your CEO or head of talent record a video talking about what you will do.  Tell us about the challenges your team is facing as well, but that you are committed to getting people to work and doing this right.  Ask for a little patience as you figure it out, and give candidates as much control over the process as you can. 

Better than that, at the end of the video invite applicants to email you if something goes awry and promise to help make it right without judgement.

Give yourself a way out, too

Finally on this, give yourself a way out, too.  If setting a two-week deadline means 13 days in three hundred people get blind “sorry” emails, that doesn’t work either.  A better way may be to automatically email each candidate who is being considered, even tangentially, with a “we’re taking a look at your profile, but it’s taking longer than expected.”  note.  Perhaps the ones who still have not been touched after a week perhaps get a “Yikes, this is taking longer than we thought” message with an updated timeline and an email at least weekly until their application has been vetted. 

Pro-Tip: Give candidates a way to respond to these updates — to a human.  If something has changed in the candidate’s search, they got a job or want to withdraw their candidacy for some reason, let them. Help them help you. Be real that you may have missed the best candidate you could have ever hired here.  You should loop in any self-withdrawals to your NPS scoring system or some other feedback loop, but that’s for a different day. 


Reject better.  

Here’s how I recommend you do this: In your SLA, you discuss your posture for rejections.  Then, tell the candidate how you do rejections when you talk to them.  Finally, follow your process each time. 

Since you’re moving at scale, something I have done that works is to tell candidates I will do this first, but then I send an immediate, lightly detailed rejection message to the candidate as soon as I know. I told them I would, so I do.  Then, crucially, I invite them to setup a time with me to discuss detailed feedback if they like, with a link to my calendar-scheduling tool. 

Some old-school HR and Legal types will freak out mildly here because I did say that I will gasp give real feedback to the candidate if they ask for it and setup a time. This is something some candidates yearn for and deserve.  This is a small gesture, but people deserve this.  This part should not be automated. 

Pro-Tip: Not every candidate will ask for feedback. This is why the two-step approach helps you move quickly at scale, but it is important that you describe this process up-front. 


For the Love, Stop Lying to Candidates.

One terrible but common behavior in recruiting is we get to be masters at putting someone on “the back burner” or putting them on hold when we know they are not going to make the job.  

Be more honest with candidates.  Tell them “I am sorry to say that you scored about average in our test.  That means you’re not out, but you’re not really “in” at the moment until we do a few other reviews.  I know this is an awkward place to be, but I would want to know if it were me, so I am letting you know as well.”  

This goes over better than you think it will.  Give the candidate a chance to walk away. They will thank you for it. 

Summary

Here are four ways you can improve your inbound candidate flow, treat people the way they would want to be treated and help yourself as well. 

I think companies who find ways to do a better job of connecting with applicants and finding how to really and truly express what they want from an applicant and being bold in that will find their applicant pools are actually way more interesting. 

Let me know what you think!


Photo by Headway on Unsplash