You might think that you have a particular candidate in the bag. The pay is good and the benefits are flowing…but then they blow you off. What happened? You might have forgotten to ask about your applicant motivations.

Our guest, Jeremy Roberts, Director of Solution Design and Innovation at Cielo Talent, talks about those vital conversational soft skills. Despite all of the technology to learn…you still got to make sure you learn those communication fundamentals like building rapport, learning about your candidates, and getting to the bottom of their motivations. Remember, people used to do this job without computers!

The psychology behind recruiting is a skillset you can’t ignore…the art of recruiting will always be a cornerstone of this career field, for better or for worse.

Quotes on applicant motivations by Jeremy Roberts:

“It’s like recruiters are learning the process, but the funnel doesn’t look as good as it should…because they don’t know the psychology of what we do.”

Then on the recruiting side, let’s not forget the soft skills. How do you build rapport? Well, don’t say, “Are you interested?” Say, “Hey, we’ve never spoken in the past. I have no idea if you’re interested. If you were to consider a change, Mike, what would that need to look like? I don’t want to bug you about a bunch of jobs that don’t matter. So, will you spend 20 minutes with me telling me what would motivate you to consider a change in case I see that at our company?”

“People will do phone screens these days and they’ll assume the person’s totally interested and that if they make an offer, they’ll accept it. But, it’s like they forgot to ask, what’s your motivation?”

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed the listen, all other sourcing school podcast episodes can be found here!

This HR Tech 2022 series is sponsored and made possible by our friends at Gem!

Jeremy Roberts
Director of Solution Design and Innovation Cielo Talent

Leveraging a deep understanding of the HR technology stack, the talent acquisition workflow, talent acquisition leaders, and the end users of recruiting software, I help talent acquisition teams find the balance between humans and machines.

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Announcer (00:01):
School is in session. This is RecruitingDaily Sourcing School podcast. We’re recording from HR Tech in Vegas. Thanks to our friends and partners at Gem. Sharpen your pencils and get your sourcing pants on, because we have the scoop on sourcing news, recruiting tech, and all the hot topics that you need to learn about. Here’s your professor, Ryan Leary, with special guests Shally Steckerl and Mike Batman Cohen.

Mike Batman Cohen (00:29):
All right. Welcome to this episode, Sourcing School. Again, we are at HR Tech, so we are surrounded by some of the best industry thought leaders in the space. And so with that being said, here’s somebody I followed my entire career, couldn’t be more excited to have you on here, Jeremy Roberts.

Jeremy Roberts (00:50):
Good to be here. Thanks for the compliment.

Mike Batman Cohen (00:52):
Oh, it’s true. You’re one of the first people I met and were wildly welcoming. This is four, five years ago. So, for those who don’t know you, the small percentage, why don’t you share with people who you are, where you come from, what you’re doing now?

Jeremy Roberts (01:07):
Yeah. So, my name’s Jeremy Roberts. I work with Cielo Talent. I’m a director of solution design there. I started in the recruiting space in about 2001 and spent a lot of time in retained executive search and a little bit of time in RPO. I basically really got interested in the sourcing side of the business. I quickly realized that the problem was identifying candidates that had not been previously identified at that stage of my career. And so I got good at sourcing and then that led to me leading sourcing teams. And then I was the editor of SourceCon for four years, or three years, four years, I don’t remember exactly, and then I went into the tech space. So, I was an early employee with HiringSolved and spent about four years there before they were acquired. And so now I’m back with a recruiting-focused services company, so Cielo Talent. So excited to be here and talk through what I think is going on at this point.

Mike Batman Cohen (02:13):
Yeah. Thanks for the intro. And for those who weren’t catching all that, so you’ve been in the industry a while. You’ve also played in most of the fields in our space, from agency side to the tech side, to now more of the consultative RPO recruitment services. So, you’ve seen multiple different iterations of the industry and seen it from different angles. And so one of the things we don’t often talk about and I think is really important, you brought this up before we jumped on is, what does it look like, early career, as a recruiter? And then what does that transition and growth look like today? Because it’s very different than when we started and it was stack of resumes, red pen, smile dial, right? And by the way, if that’s you guys right now… So, can you speak to that a little bit, from your different perspectives?

Jeremy Roberts (03:05):
Yeah. So, like you said, when I started in recruiting, first off, I didn’t even have a computer in my first recruiting job. It was all paper. And so I either used a hospital blue book because I was in healthcare, and I would just cold call into hospitals and look for people. Or I had a stack of resumes from people who had previously submitted a resume, and I was just constantly moving papers from one file to another. And I had a filing system so I knew who was active, who wasn’t. I earned a computer. You got a computer after your first placement because they didn’t want it to distract you. And so that’s how long I’ve been in the business. But back then it was, learn the art of recruiting and learn how to prep a candidate, prep a hiring manager, close the candidate, close the hiring manager, massage both sides of the deal to make it happen. Kind of the psychology behind recruiting.

Mike Batman Cohen (04:06):
This was full desk, you were doing for the client side and the candidate side?

Jeremy Roberts (04:10):
Yeah. Well, at that point I was actually not doing the client side. I wasn’t finding the jobs, but I was managing the hiring manager relationship.

Mike Batman Cohen (04:18):
Got it.

Jeremy Roberts (04:18):
So, we had a marketing person that was finding jobs. But just the psychology of recruiting was really important and that was the primary skill that was trained back then. Unfortunately today what I see with most recruiting teams is people are hired and they’re taught how to use the tech stack. So, they’re taught, “Okay, use LinkedIn and this is how you search LinkedIn. Then you send an email, and then you screen them, and you need to find out if they have these skills.” So, then they’re getting on the phone and finding out if they have the skills. For me, all I learned was how to psychologically bring them into the fold. How do you make sure they’re excited? How do you sell them on the job?

And so we’re not learning as much about that as we are how to use the systems and technology. And then software vendors are training recruiters, so they’re not learning the psychology of recruiting anymore. And so I see a lot of problems with that. When you’re looking at conversion funnels, how many people you’re phone screening to interview, to presenting to hiring manager and accepted by hiring manager. It’s like they’re learning the process but the funnel doesn’t look as good as it should in some situations, because they don’t know the psychology of what we do anymore.

Mike Batman Cohen (05:36):
Yeah. I think that’s an interesting point RE, the psychology, I don’t know that I’d thought about it in quite that perspective. So, I’d love to ask you a question legitimately from my curiosity in learning. When you’re thinking of the psychology or mentioning the psychology, my brain immediately goes to when we were trained to like, “Hey, make sure you’re asking open-ended questions that lead to things. Don’t use those filler words, so you’re not sounding like an order taker.” And then understanding what their reason for leaving is, and equating that back to all of the jobs. Is that kind of what you’re referring to or is it a little different?

Jeremy Roberts (06:10):
Yeah, that’s what talking about. People will do phone screens these days and they’ll assume the person’s totally interested and that if they make an offer, they’ll accept it. And it’s like they forgot to ask, what’s your motivation? So that you can remind them of that motivation in a later conversation when they’re on the fence. You’d be like, “What is your commute right now?” I mean, it’s like 50 minutes. And you mention that soccer games were important and they start at 6:00. So, they’re not getting that information to bring the candidate back around to the reason they were looking. And so then they’re down at the end and it’s all about money. But the reason at the beginning had nothing to do with money.

Mike Batman Cohen (06:46):
Yeah. You mean like a counter offer?

Jeremy Roberts (06:49):

Mike Batman Cohen (06:54):
And really great points. Honestly, I hadn’t thought of it that way in terms of the psychology piece of what people are being trained to. And honestly, I’m 100% guilty of this right now in my own company. Now we’re not screening candidates at Wayne Tech, but the idea of understanding the psychology behind recruiting I think is important regardless of whether you’re screening candidates or using a ton of different platforms and things like that.

Jeremy Roberts (07:19):
Which is all important. I mean, all of that is incredibly important, but we will talk about that I’m sure over the next few minutes. But you can’t leave the art of recruiting out.

Mike Batman Cohen (07:30):
Yeah. How do you equate, and then we can get into the technology piece. I think that’ll be important, particularly from your perspective in history. But my question on the human side, when you are bringing somebody on and kind of training them in this new psychology, how much of that is sales training versus recruitment? Where do you see a difference between that?

Jeremy Roberts (07:55):
Well, there’s operational processes and workflow. Do you know what I’m saying? And this is how we do business is where you put the people, this is what’s expected, these are the SLAs and this is how you’re supposed to bring candidates through the process. But then on the recruiting side, it’s not forgetting the soft skills. How do you build rapport? Don’t say, “Are you interested?” Say, “Hey, we’ve never spoken in the past. I have no idea if you’re interested. If you were to consider a change, Mike, what would that need to look like? I don’t want to bug you about a bunch of jobs that don’t matter. So, will you spend 20 minutes with me telling me what would motivate you to consider a change in case I see that at our company?”

Mike Batman Cohen (08:38):
Oh, you mean not shoving a job at them-

Jeremy Roberts (08:40):

Mike Batman Cohen (08:41):
… [inaudible 00:08:41] consultative?

Jeremy Roberts (08:42):
Right. And then getting to things that are deeper than just the real transactional. Candidates try to force the transactional process.

Mike Batman Cohen (08:52):
Well, maybe they’ve either been trained to that or think that, well, this is just the data they need to do their job versus, “Hey, we may actually be able to help you career wise if we have enough data to make the decision.”

Jeremy Roberts (09:04):
Well, and a lot of people are like, well, the younger generation only wants to hear from you with text. Well, it’s like, that’s true. But imagine if they haven’t had this deep of a personal connection with anyone else, the loyalty you’ve built, right?

Mike Batman Cohen (09:16):

Jeremy Roberts (09:16):
So, it’s uncomfortable sometimes to get to that level, but once you do, very few people have.

Mike Batman Cohen (09:24):
Yeah, I’ve had that conversation before, and I always compare it to marriage, which I know is something that people compare dating and recruiting. But it’s that idea of when you’re in a relationship and you’re trying to figure out what you want to do for dinner or what time, text and just figure that out. If you need to talk about a communication issue or understanding, the wants and needs of your partner or spouse, don’t text that. Have a conversation.

Jeremy Roberts (09:48):
Yeah, yeah.

Mike Batman Cohen (09:49):
Setting up an interview, sure, text a candidate. Talking about what’s important to them, maybe.

Jeremy Roberts (09:53):
Yeah. Yeah.

Mike Batman Cohen (09:55):
So, we talked a little bit about text messaging and communicating with candidates, which kind of segues in a little bit to the general technology piece. You’ve been in HR Tech for longer than most people particularly that we’ll be interviewing. What have you seen as… Well, again, I hate to go back to the same word, the evolution of past where we’re coming from, where are we at today realistically and where do you see, I’d like to, the trends moving forward and where do you think the trends should be if we were doing it the right way? So, all four of those, if you don’t mind.

Jeremy Roberts (10:29):
Yeah. Okay. So, to go back in time, it all started with the ATS, right? The system of record where applicants are held and fast forward to the early 2000s and everybody needs a CRM, kind of separate church and state. So, the ATS became the system of record for applicant data. The CRM was all prospecting. So, people pre-app apply, where’s the workflow for that? So, then we added the CRM. And then now LinkedIn is pretty much obligatory in every organization. Everybody’s using that. So, I’m kind of describing a tall building, bottom floor, ATS, second floor CRM, next floor LinkedIn, then you got Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, all the active candidates. And then you’ve got the People Aggregators, the SeekOuts, the Hire Easy. And so you’ve got all these different layers of tech, and then you’ve got the point solutions that, hey, this one will scrape a website for you. This one will match email addresses. So, we’ve added all of these things.

So, I think basically where we are now, I mean, we’ve got something to cover every piece of the recruiting life cycle. I think what we need is built. The struggle that most organizations are having is figuring out how to connect it all, right? So, we’ve got an ATS with a million candidates, we’ve got a CRM with 400,000, we’ve got access to LinkedIn and then we’ve got Hire Easy or SeekOut on top of that. I mean, we know every candidate who’s ever been interested in our company, and then we’ve got the public footprint of the entire world who’s had a job in all these other sources. So, now it’s about, how do we connect all of this and then push people through a process that makes sense, right?

And then on the recruiting timeline, the marketing automation exists and is working well, and then you’ve got the sourcing tools that are all working well, you’ve got the CRM to track it. That it’s just all the connection points and the integrations are the pain points right now. And then you’ve got the systems that have tied it all together and they’re like, “We can do every bit of this end to end.” And some of them can.

Mike Batman Cohen (12:53):

Jeremy Roberts (12:53):
They can do the sourcing, they can do the CRM, they can do the ATS. They’ve pulled all of it into one place, but there’s typically gaps depending on the industry you’re recruiting in, the workflow that you have and the commitments you have to your clients. So, there’s going to be a gap. There is no company that has connected it all end-to-end that works for everybody. So, then we’re all out there with all these disparate systems trying to figure out the right workflow to keep our team efficient. And so, I don’t know, point solutions are cool and they’ll continue to get funding and continue to do well. But I’m at a stage right now where I’m looking at some of our customer accounts where we’ve got 200 recruiters, and we want them to live somewhere and not distract them.

So, you’ve got to create workflows where you can have these people doing these tasks in this tool, and these doing tasks in these tools so that have the proper handoffs so that everybody’s not bouncing from system to system all day. So, that’s where I think we are right now is just everything exists, but it’s not connected yet.

Mike Batman Cohen (14:06):
Yeah. I love that explanation. I actually have a question I want to close out on. So, we’re close to time, but I think this could be a super impactful question to people, and in no way selfish me asking this question of you for personal gain.

Jeremy Roberts (14:20):
All right.

Mike Batman Cohen (14:21):
Okay. So, you spoke to, and I totally agree that we’re at an age where you can connect disparate systems that are best in class for each of the things they do. And figuring out how to connect those different pieces together is really where the magic happens. If you are a company looking to do that right now, and you’ve got these disparate tools, like you talked about that building, what would be the methodology you would suggest? And here’s the two catch points that I’m referencing specifically. You’ve got what would work best for your company for workflow and process, but then you also have what’s technically capable based on your either current tooling or even just technologically what is capable reasonably in the market. How would you suggest a company approach and balance?

Jeremy Roberts (15:11):
Yeah, that’s a great question.

Mike Batman Cohen (15:13):
It’s a million dollar question. I know.

Jeremy Roberts (15:13):
And it’s really hard to answer in a short amount of time. But you asked a couple of good questions within that question. So, first off, there needs to be a really deep dive into what are the actual problem statements. Oftentimes it gets oversimplified, and then we’re at HR Tech, we’ve got amazing tech all around us. And typically you only have time and resources at your organization to involve your technical team in one big integration, one big project. And all of these companies want a piece of it. Some will say, “Well, we need to sort your applicants and just show you the five that are the most qualified, so you don’t have to look at everything else.” Then another one is like, “Well, we want to help you search this. Well, let’s improve your diversity with this.”

So, it needs to be an internal person who is really good at getting to the bottom of the actual problem statement and simplifying the workflow, or an external consultant who can help your team through that discussion. Because there’s always a point solution to solve one little problem, but how do you scale that? You got to figure out how to do this in a way that is simplified and streamlined, because very seldom do you have two or three recruiters. So, you’ve got to build it for the masses, and then have a couple of people who are experts at the point solutions and the really complicated things.

So, I don’t think I answered your question, but really it is not a simple problem to ask. But it really comes down to mapping the entire recruitment life cycle from pre-apply all the way through onboarding, figuring out where your problems exist and trying to focus there first I think is probably a great idea. But the caveat to that is having good data and most people are not pulling good data pre-apply, and oftentimes from the ATS, right? And so it starts with good data to be able to even map the process and know your funnel well enough to diagnose where your biggest problems are.

Mike Batman Cohen (17:43):
And I like that as a closing point. This isn’t recreating a wheel and this isn’t creating all of Rome in a day. This is just looking at, “Hey, where are our pain points? Where are our bottlenecks? And let’s look at it within the scope of the entire process. But let’s deal with those.” I think that’s a great approach. All right, so final ending. I always like to end with this, which is, there’s going to be a bunch of people listening to this obviously. What is one thing that you would want to leave listeners with as emotion, or thought, or action item, whatever it is that you want to say to the masses listening right now?

Jeremy Roberts (18:23):
I think we’re at a weird time again in recruiting. Our economy doesn’t really make sense. The global economies don’t make sense. I was talking to someone in Argentina this week and they’re having some major inflation problems there. So, there’s a lot going on in the world in the economy, and I think a lot of people staffed up right after Covid again. And I think there’s a lot of places feeling like unsure. As a recruiting professional, I lived through 2001 timeframe and then 2008 and ’09. And the one thing I would say, when the economy is really good, we get a lot of people in our business who are not true recruiters. They’re processing applications and they’re calling themselves recruiters, but it’s just low hanging fruit. It’s an easy deal. If you survive this, then you’re one of the good ones. Do you know what I’m saying?

Mike Batman Cohen (19:27):

Jeremy Roberts (19:27):
Like these downturns where you really have to dig in and work hard to prove your worth, when you come on the other side of these economic downturns and you look around, the people still standing are solid. Do you know what I’m saying? And that’s where some of my best friends have come from. You go to all these events and you see these people, and then three years later post Covid it’s like, who’s still here? So, I don’t know, it’s a very strange time right now. I would just say dig in and become more efficient. Use this time to fix the problems in your workflow and processes that you can, and get even better at your job.

And then when things turn back on… Because I don’t want to be doom and gloom, I think it’s just kind of an unknown period, right? So, this could turn into not being a big problem or we could just dig in and make the best of it and come out strong on the other side. Yeah, just be resourceful, prove your value every day. If your wreck load is drying up, start being proactive, start identifying other things that you can help the leadership team fix. Be the only person who can do something.

Mike Batman Cohen (20:44):
Yes. So awesome.

Jeremy Roberts (20:46):
All right.

Mike Batman Cohen (20:46):
Thank you so much for taking time, Jeremy. We appreciate having you.

Jeremy Roberts (20:50):
Thank you for having me. Good to be here.

Speaker 4 (20:54):
Man, that means it’s over.

Speaker 5 (20:57):
You’ve been listening to the Sourcing School podcast Live at HR Tech in Vegas, sponsored by our friends at Gem. For all other HR recruiting and sourcing news, check out


Sourcing School Podcast

Ryan Leary

Ryan Leary helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drives RecruitingDaily. He’s our in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industries top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran to the online community and a partner here at RecruitingDaily.

Shally Steckerl

One of the pioneers of the sourcing discipline, Shally is the Founder and former President of The Sourcing Institute, where he has helped numerous F500 and mid-market organizations train and develop their talent sourcing capabilities for nearly 20 years. When it comes to innovative approaches to candidate search, Shally literally wrote the book. He is the author of the industry-standard textbook “The Talent Sourcing and Recruitment Handbook” as well as “The Sourcing Method: Tactics to Find Unfindable Talent.”

Michael Cohen

Mike “Batman” Cohen is the Founder of Wayne Technologies, a Sourcing-on-Demand and Recruitment Training Organization. Wayne Technologies On-Demand Sourcing is a revolutionary approach that provides the most actionable data available, is based on deliverables – not time, and is based on access to more recruitment tooling than any organization worldwide.


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