On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Kari from Arrive Logistics about some tips to help personalize recruiting.
Some Conversation Highlights:
Listening time: 25 minutes
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This is Recruiting Daily’s Recruiting Live podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week, we take one over complicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup (00:34):
Ladies and gentlemen, this William Tincup and you’re listening to the Recruiting Daily podcast. Today, we have Kari on from Arrival Logistics and our topic today is tips to help personalize recruiting. Great topic. Can’t wait to unpack this with Kari. Kari, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and Arrive Logistics?
Kari Heynes (00:53):
Hi. Absolutely. It’s so nice to meet you, William. My name is Kari Heyens. I am the Vice President of Recruiting here at Arrival Logistics. We are headquartered in Austin, Texas with three other domestic locations and we also have a presence in Colombia and Mexico. We are a transportation and technology company focused primarily on domestic truckload shipments, but expanding our modes every single day.
William Tincup (01:23):
That’s cool. Now a few things: so, have you lived in Austin for a long time?
Kari Heynes (01:27):
I have lived in Austin for a very long time. In fact, I did the math the other day and I’m coming up on 16 years in Austin.
William Tincup (01:36):
Kari Heynes (01:36):
William Tincup (01:36):
It has changed dramatically.
Kari Heynes (01:36):
William Tincup (01:36):
Oh my God.
Kari Heynes (01:39):
It really has. It has, but in most ways for the better, I’m finding. I love it here and I love that we’re headquartered here and get the opportunity to bring so much talent to Austin from other places.
William Tincup (01:48):
Kari Heynes (01:48):
William Tincup (01:48):
The other thing I wanted to mention is, I didn’t know this until someone mentioned it, but DFW, where I live, Dallas Fort Worth, is the number one industry up here is logistics, which of course I would-
Kari Heynes (02:03):
It’s kind of on the spot, isn’t it?
William Tincup (02:04):
… I would’ve never guessed that.
Kari Heynes (02:07):
Yeah. I’m from the DFW area as well, and I only learned that same fact through when I first started recruiting, sourcing in the general area of Austin, because in Austin that is not the case, and a lot of the talent does happen to be in the Dallas area. Yeah.
William Tincup (02:22):
Isn’t it crazy, just to grow up here, you think, no, it’s got to be something else. Nope, it’s logistics. Well, shockingly-
Kari Heynes (02:29):
[inaudible 00:02:29] in the nation.
William Tincup (02:30):
… have four airports. Yeah. All right, so tips to help personalize recruiting. Let’s start with the basics. What’s your, because we are going to take this a number of different ways, but let’s go with your toolkit. How do you like to start with personalizing things to candidates?
Kari Heynes (02:51):
Yeah, I think how I would start to think about this topic is the why behind the necessity for considering personalization. When I started in recruiting about 10 years ago, I don’t know that that was at the forefront of-
William Tincup (03:06):
You were like eight years old. Got it [inaudible 00:03:08].
Kari Heynes (03:08):
… Yeah, I was like six and a half years old, which is pretty impressive.
William Tincup (03:11):
Kari Heynes (03:13):
But for me, initially it was about processing and conversion, and moving people through the pipeline in a very mechanical way. And as the talent market seems to get tighter and as we’ve grown as a company here at Arrive, so much of my focus has been primarily on that early talent pipeline. And in that pipeline, it is so incredibly important to facilitate a custom process that makes the candidate feel like an individual. And so, the bulk of my career as I’ve grown into this role here at Arrive has been creating those custom processes at scale because I’ve had the opportunity to take this company from 30 to over 1,500 today. And like I said, largely from an early talent pipeline. So, that customization became incredibly important. And so, while it wasn’t always kind of at the forefront of how I viewed recruiting, it certainly is now the biggest part of what I consider to be the recruiting function here at Arrive. And in fact, I now have a team focused solely on that pre-boarding piece of the recruiting puzzle.
William Tincup (04:23):
Kari Heynes (04:23):
William Tincup (04:24):
What’s interesting is with, I think there’s a couple things that kind of come together. Some of it’s the consumerization of technology, our smartphones: when we text someone, we expect them to text back. So there’s a speed element, a response element, that’s really fascinating. But also we grew up in an era where if we got an email and it had F-name, we laughed. It was a bit like, okay, you’re obviously sending this to 80,000 people. And we laughed it off, we’d delete the email or whatever, but I think Millennials and Gen Z, I have hope, because they just don’t put up with that stuff. Whereas I’m squarely Gen X, so I would’ve put up with it. I’ve been like, it’s a bit, sending out a marketing campaign, it’s no big deal. It’s not personal. And again, that’s the point: it’s not personal.
Kari Heynes (05:10):
Yep. That’s exactly right. They not only see through it, but they almost align what your brand as an employer is to that interaction. And so, it says so much more to someone who is in that Gen Z talent market than it did to myself or to you in the past. And so yeah, it’s really caused the necessity to be a bit more creative in how we customize and personalize recruiting and hiring.
William Tincup (05:41):
Obviously, I want to ask you about SMS or text, or other platforms like that. What’s been your go to? Because one of it’s the mentality, you’ve shifted mentality-wise as a leader of just saying, okay, yes, this is a one to many, but it’s got to be a one-to-one. So, how do we solve the one to many but also one to one? Where does texting, where does that play for you?
Kari Heynes (06:06):
Yeah, so as it relates to communication, the first thing I want to call out is that for the early talent pipeline that we manage, I have implemented a full desk recruiting process. So, there’s a one point of contact for the recruiter and the candidate. So, that alone has helped create that really custom, personalized feel through the recruiting process. And the recruiter has several tools at their disposal to get in front of the candidate correctly. And so, SMS is one, and that is honestly probably about a year in the making as far as being a part of our toolkit.
We’ve gone back and forth on texting and what that should look like, but now it’s absolutely imperative not just to personalize part of the process, but also to get in front of the candidate in the place where they are, which is on their phone. I think we’re seeing less and less reliance on email on the candidate side, and more responsiveness and actually constructive processing on the texting side. And so, we actually have a really nice built out integration with our ATS and a company called Grayscale, which is a texting platform that seamlessly integrates into our ATS and allows for the recruiter to reach out to the candidate via text, via email, or whichever channel best suits the conversation in that given time-
William Tincup (07:23):
Kari Heynes (07:23):
… but it’s incredibly important. Incredibly.
William Tincup (07:29):
Wait, what ATS do you use, if you don’t mind, of course?
Kari Heynes (07:29):
Yes. We’re currently using Lever’s ATS.
William Tincup (07:29):
Yes, of course.
Kari Heynes (07:29):
William Tincup (07:29):
Kari Heynes (07:29):
William Tincup (07:32):
… do you have recruitment marketing or CRM on the front end of that?
Kari Heynes (07:36):
We don’t. So we leverage Lever as our CRM.
William Tincup (07:42):
Yeah. They have a light CRM. That’s nice. But they were just acquired by [inaudible 00:07:45], which has three other CRMs, so that’s great. I know the CEO’s of both Lever and Grayscale, so if you ever get jammed up, let me know, but I love-
Kari Heynes (07:48):
Yeah. Totally. I think they’ve done a great job of scaling with us and with their customer base through some of those acquisitions and some of those partnerships with Grayscale. I’ve always been really happy with how they’ve continued to iterate as their clients grow.
William Tincup (08:08):
… I love that. You hear a lot of the negative stories when it comes to software vendors. You don’t get to hear positive stories as much, or at least I don’t get to hear them, so-
Kari Heynes (08:17):
We can take those offline.
William Tincup (08:20):
… I love that. Thank you so much.
Kari Heynes (08:22):
William Tincup (08:23):
Other things outside of technology and with your team, other tips that you would give recruiters are maybe struggling, because one of the things that you commonly hear probably with your peer group is, “How do I do this at scale?” Sounds great. Know that we need to do it. Fantastic. Everybody agrees. It’s like, yes, we should all recycle. Got it. Check. How do you do it at scale? And I know you’ve heard that, so what’s your retort?
Kari Heynes (08:47):
That’s the question that keeps me up at night. But some of the things we’ve implemented I do think alleviate some of the pressure of scalability: I think the first thing that I would call out is a new interview format that we’ve piloted over the past couple of years. We call it a super day, and super day in recruiting has a lot of different meanings and context, and it comes from the accounting and finance world actually, where there’s a huge long panel list of interviews that someone goes through.
The super day format in the context I’m using it is meant to bring on about 20 candidates from that early talent pipeline who are all interviewing for a similar start date in a similar seasonality, and we bring them on campus to either our Austin, Chicago, Tampa, or San Antonio locations, and conduct a full onsite day that has so many different components and so many different opportunities for each of those 20 candidates to engage with peers at the company and with potential managers at the company. And so, that allows us to meet and truly evaluate a growing number of candidates in a one day window of time and execute those offers in a really quick timeline as well.
William Tincup (09:58):
Oh, I love this.
Kari Heynes (09:59):
Yeah. It’s been really cool. And I think what it’s reinforced is the idea that the interview process is not just for the employer to evaluate the candidate. That’s incredibly important, and is often the first thing you’re thinking about, but we also have to give the candidate the window into the company effectively, and in a way that allows them to evaluate us, which is the scarier version. But that super day format really does allow for candidate evaluation, and we feel, and we’ve seen a higher conversion rate both to offer extensions and offer acceptances from that format than your standard one to one interview format. So it’s been a really cool iteration of our interview process and something we’re conducting as frequently as 20 to 30 times a year.
William Tincup (10:46):
I love it, because it’s the best parts of what we would see in the valley of hackathons, but applied to talent, especially sourcing and recruiting, right?
Kari Heynes (10:57):
Yep, that’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. It very much follows that same methodology.
William Tincup (11:01):
So how did you have the idea, what genesis, where’d the idea come from, and can get to a point where you’re doing these monthly? Or do you think that there’s a place where, if not in person, maybe virtually that you can do them more frequently, or where do you see this going? Two part question: where does start from? Where do you see it going?
Kari Heynes (11:25):
So it started with just a one time, let’s throw something at a wall and see if it sticks. We were in a high volume hiring season, we had a lot of open seats to fill, this was a couple years back. And so, we piloted it and it was successful, but it was only as successful as the resources that we could throw behind it. And so, we had to go back to the drawing board and say, okay, here’s the estimated cost of travel accommodations, food, bringing in guest speakers, et cetera. And then, I had to present that to our executive team and show them the potential value in both the offer extension and offer acceptance rates that we anticipated from this type of format.
So, once we were able to get the executive team on board and excited about this methodology, we were able to pilot a couple more in pretty quick succession. And so, the goal over time is that I would say if we could get 60% of our hires interviewed through this process, and the other 40 interviewed through that more off season in person, more formal one-to-one interview style, that would be my goal. Virtually, we do conduct these for interns because interns, the commitment level is a little lower, and I’m not necessarily as concerned if they aren’t able to formally in person see and touch everything, right? But [inaudible 00:12:41]-
William Tincup (12:41):
Well, it’s also broader base.
Kari Heynes (12:43):
… Yeah, [inaudible 00:12:44].
William Tincup (12:44):
You want to go after a much broader base of people. Are you using… Sorry to interrupt [inaudible 00:12:48] Kari, are you using technology to do that?
Kari Heynes (12:50):
Yes. So we partner with a company called Handshake. I’m sure you’re familiar with-
William Tincup (12:55):
Yeah. Of course.
Kari Heynes (12:56):
… [inaudible 00:12:56] early talent partner. They help facilitate some of that. And then otherwise, we’re just able to leverage digital software.
William Tincup (13:02):
Yeah, it’s nice to have those virtual event software platforms. There’s a bunch of [inaudible 00:13:09] Handshake’s great. And just to be able to, again, you can go across a lot of schools, and get a lot of people there, and it’s easier for recruiters to then answer questions and things like that.
Kari Heynes (13:20):
Yes, absolutely. And still gives the interns or whoever we’re interviewing in the virtual setting that one point of contact from the jump, which is going to keep them a little bit more engaged and help them feel like in such a high volume recruitment season for them, that they do have someone here at Arrive that’s going to bring them through the process in a more customized way.
William Tincup (13:40):
So, as you’re personalizing stuff for candidates, logistics, and what y’all do, if I go out on the street and ask 10 people what logistics is, I’m assuming that nine of them would have no idea what that actually means. Supply chain became popular because of COVID. However, it’s a 50 year old term or more, so it’s not like something new. But now everyone and my mother knows what supply chain is, which is really fascinating. How do you explain the jobs? Because you got an array of jobs, so it’s like personalization onto the candidate to find out what they need, what they’re interested in, and all that stuff. But it’s also, how do you render and communicate the differences in the jobs?
Kari Heynes (14:30):
Yeah, that’s a great question and it actually plays in perfectly to this topic because the thing that I love most about recruiting for this industry specifically at the early talent level at the volume we do, is the personalization of what logistics should mean to the individual is what should get someone excited to work at a place like this. And what I mean by that is, to your point, logistics impacts everyone on a personal level.
And COVID, though, mostly a negative experience across the board, did positively impact the interpretation of what logistics means and the importance of it. And the way that I like to explain what an entry level role at a logistics company is, is by providing a tangible example of the type of company that they would be supporting through this role. And often, those companies are the same companies you see when you open your refrigerator or you’re walking down the aisles of a mall, or you’re watching TV and you see a commercial, it’s very familiar brands that at Arrive and at logistics companies you’re going to be working with, and not only working with but tangibly impacting the customers that support those businesses. And it can be a really personal experience to work at a place like Arrive where you are supporting companies that you use in your everyday life, like everything from your favorite hard seltzer to your home improvement projects, you’re going to be supporting via your job, which I think creates a really cool personal experience in and of itself.
William Tincup (16:02):
So, not that there’s anything negative or wrong with personalization, but I have gotten a couple candidates actually tell me that they’re a little wigged out with response times, which [inaudible 00:16:15] the opposite. Again, I grew up thinking in years, months, and weeks, and my son’s thinking seconds, minutes, and hours. So I have different expectations of time, which is really fascinating. But the feedback I’ve gotten from some candidates is that it seemed too fast. Like again, almost the opposite of what we used to… Your resume went into a file and no one ever talked to you. Okay, well now you’re getting communication, but the process is moving too fast. Have you gotten anything, or again, advice for others around this in terms of personalization? Is there anything you probably wouldn’t do, or wouldn’t try, or maybe it’s failed for you or as it relates to response times, have you seen any of that as well?
Kari Heynes (17:06):
Yeah. It’s funny, right? There’s a sweet spot of speed and then the delicacy of that cat and mouse chase, which allows the candidate to evaluate the offer and take the time they need to understand whether or not it’s a good fit without feeling pressured. There’s a sweet spot there, and there is such a thing as being too fast. I would say, statistically, the majority of, and I’m speaking in early talent candidates, but I mean this across the board: candidates today are accepting the first offer they receive. And so, the goal is to be the first one to get to the finish line. But what happens after that finish line has to have a delicate balance of personalized communication and space. I totally understand that feedback. I think something that’s worked really well for us is implementing a post-offer strategy that continues the recruiting process beyond the offer letter and the offer being signed. That’s only-
William Tincup (18:04):
That’s cool. Tell me a little bit about that.
Kari Heynes (18:04):
… the midway point of the recruiting process is when someone signs, right? It’s then giving them the space to continue to buy into your brand, believe in the offer, and believe in what their role is going to become once they start. And for early talent, that can be a time period of up to nine months in some cases. And so, that’s when speed and personalization have to find the right balance.
And we do that through a number of ways: we’re sending once a month a custom newsletter to all of our offers that have been extended and accepted, so that they’re getting a little peak into Arrive, and starting to feel like they understand what’s going on. They receive a ton of custom swag after they sign their offer that allows them to start to represent the brand and really get excited about the brand that they’re going to be joining. And we also send a custom letter from our executive team to every single person that signs. So, all of these things space out over a period of time that allows the candidate to interact with our brand, but also gives them the space they need as well before they start.
William Tincup (19:11):
I think the thing with speed that I’ve come to grips with is Amazon has shaped a lot of our views in terms of shipping. If you need it now and you want to go fast, all right, well there’s an option. If you don’t mind it going a little bit slower or even really slow, okay, there’s options for that. Now, that’s related to price, but it’s also consumer behavior, which is essentially candidate behavior. So it’s almost like we have to ask them like, “Hey, we can go fast, we’re going to respond to you fast.” You nailed it: the first one that responds, generally speaking, wins. But also it’s after that, it’s like, “Okay, how fast do you want to go?”, and, “We go as fast as you want to go.”
Kari Heynes (19:49):
Yep. And it’s going to vary. And my recruiters are trained and encouraged that during any part of the interview process, whether it’s that first phone screen or the offer extension, to ask those questions, “What is your timeline? Are you in other processes? Are there deadlines that you are trying to adhere to?” It’s important as a recruiter to not take the answers to those questions personally because the reality is, everyone is interviewing and everyone’s going to continue to interview after they receive or even accept offers in a lot of cases. And so, to open up that line of communication is so appreciated on the candidate side, and really allows for the recruiter to get the best possible perspective of what the right cadence to set is with that candidate based on what’s going on in their other processes.
William Tincup (20:38):
Love it. So questions in my mind around mentors or storytelling: so on the first side, mentors is, okay, pairing them up with somebody, because I love how you’ve extended recruiting into HR, well, what was traditionally HR, and do you think of, or you’re already thinking about ways to partner them up with people so that it helps with that? And on the front end, it’s again getting back to logistics being all kinds of things that are hidden, or invisible, or hard to define: how are you thinking about storytelling from a perspective employee storytelling? Okay, “Janet’s doing a wonderful job over here,” how can I pull that story out to then highlight, “This is this job, and this is a person that’s actually exceeding at the job,” et cetera?
Kari Heynes (21:29):
Yeah, great question. My favorite, well I have a lot of favorite slogans, but one of them is that recruiting is a team sport. So, there are no better recruiters than your employees. And that storytelling component can often be the best way to sell a candidate feeling like it’s a sell, right? So, we start that idea of mentorship in the interview process. Our final interview has a component where the candidate will sit with who would be a peer of theirs in the role, someone who’s doing the role that they are interviewing for-
William Tincup (22:03):
Kari Heynes (22:04):
… Yeah. And they sit with them on the floor in their environment for 30 minutes, and are… The folks who we have shadow are trained on how to walk the candidate through their role, but a lot of that time is organic. This is a fast-paced job and a really fast-paced company. And so often, the candidate’s going to be a fly on the wall in a real time scenario with someone who’s doing the job they would be doing.
And so that initiates a good relationship right between the candidate and someone who would be a peer of theirs, and also gives them that real time storytelling component as well. So, it starts there and then as they progress through offer acceptance and then starting, mentorship remains a huge element of how someone is trained. Every single new hire receives a mentor following their classroom training experience, and that becomes a lifelong relationship for them to have early on in their time at Arrive and also all the way through. And so, I couldn’t agree more that mentorship and storytelling is critical, and we try to make that a huge part of the personalization in our process.
William Tincup (23:09):
I can tell you, you’re doing an amazing job just because I talked to a lot of your peers, they’re not doing half of what you’re doing, so you should ask for a raise. That’s what I got out of this call.
Kari Heynes (23:22):
My boss listens to this podcast [inaudible 00:23:25].
William Tincup (23:26):
So last thing I had on my mind, and it’s probably tangential, is around referrals. So if somebody has a wonderful experience, maybe, I’ve told people this in the past that the highest compliment that you can give a recruiter is that you didn’t get as a candidate, you didn’t get the job, but you loved the process. Okay, but let’s say they love the job and they love the process and they got the job, what are you doing now or what do you want to do in the future in terms of how you leverage that experience, that personalized experience, to then go get other people that they know?
Kari Heynes (24:04):
Referrals are critical, and yes, they are such a compliment, but they’re also truly the foundation of how we continue to grow. Ever since I started seven years ago, a fairly standard statistic has been about a third of the people we hire come through referrals. And so, that program alone scales with the size of the company as long as your employees are happy and they’re thinking of you as someone they’d want to refer someone to in their personal life, which is incredibly personal. And so, we really reward referrals and there’s three ways that we seek them out.
The first is through our summer interns. We really aim to give our summer interns the best possible experience. And it’s not just to ensure they want to come back, which is critical, but it’s also to ensure that they go back to campus the following year excited to act as a brand ambassador for Arrive and formally refer their peers in their networks on campus. That is a huge area for referrals for us, and we just kicked off that season about a month ago. So that’s one. And they are compensated for those referrals and it’s a really exciting program for them.
The second way is our employee referral program. And so employee referrals, again, are compensated, but they’re compensated in two ways: one upon the higher of a referral, but two upon a set amount of tenure for that employee to hit. So, someone receives a reward when someone starts, and then once someone hits a significant year or two years of tenure, whatever it is, for the particular role. And so there’s an incentive to not only refer, but to refer people that are great fits, and who are strong for the positions themselves. And that has been really well received and we continue to incentivize people through fun referral blitzes and raffles. We’re about to do a fantasy football type themed referral program, so it’s always top of mind for our employees, and it is so significant to know that they are willing to put their name on somebody. That’s an incredibly hard thing to do and it’s so appreciated.
And then finally, we also have this business card QR code on it that people can give to someone they might meet in passing, right? Someone might have a really great experience with an Uber driver and go, “That person be a great fit for Arrive, but they don’t necessarily have their resume,” so via this QR code, that person can apply and reference the person that referred them. And so, we want to expand that referral program to more social style referrals, which have been really great too.
William Tincup (26:41):
Kari drops mic, walks off stage. This has been absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for your time.
Kari Heynes (26:47):
Oh my gosh, this time absolutely flew by. I so appreciate it. It was wonderful to talk to you.
William Tincup (26:52):
And thanks for everyone listening to the Recruiting Daily podcast. Until next time.
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William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.
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