On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup talks to Jo from Crosschq about the state of recruiting from a recruiters’ perspective.
Some Conversation Highlights:
Listening time: 25 minutes
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Music: 00:00 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 overcomplicated 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, it’s William Tincup, and you are listening to The Recruiting Daily Podcast. Today, we have Jo on from Crosschq and our discussion or topic today is the state of recruiting from a recruiter’s perspective. Good time to talk about it, and I love talking with Joe anyhow, so this is going to be a lot of fun. So, Jo, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and Crosschq?
Jo Avent: 00:57 Yes, definitely. So thanks for having me. Sure. I’m Joe Avent. I am the extremely new chief people officer at Crosschq. The reason I’m at Crosschq is Crosschq recently acquired TalentWall where I was a co-founder. So Crosschq now has a slightly larger suite of products, because obviously includes TalentWall. Crosschq basically provides data across the entire candidate journey, right through to hire and beyond to employee to really look at performance and efficiency across that whole pipeline.
William Tincup: 01:39 Love it. Okay. Let’s start off with some of the basics. The state of recruiting from a recruiter’s perspective, what do you see right now?
Jo Avent: 01:48 I mean, it’s hard to go on LinkedIn, where of course we all love to hang out and not be struck by this downturn in the market and seeing folks who’ve been laid off. They’re sharing layoff lists. So I think certainly from that perspective, that’s, I think, if not front of mind for folks, in case they’re personally affected, I think it’s definitely an opportunity for folks who are actively recruiting to get their hands on more candidates. But I would say, having been in a position to hire recruiters many times over the years and knowing what it takes to find great recruiting talent and how long that can take to find just from a hiring process and then ramping up a recruiter, there’s some similarities.
Ramping up a recruiter and ramping up a salesperson, it can take a few weeks, fastest, or even a few months. So if you think about a hiring process that’s taken a few months and then add a ramp up process that can take a few months after that, if you are thinking about reduction in force and looking at your recruiting team and thinking about laying off recruiters because you’re not hiring at the moment, I think you’d do well to think twice and think about ways that really can retain those folks where possible. A lot of the time, recruiters are the people who really embody your culture and values that [inaudible 00:03:36] the folks that day in day out are selling your company externally.
Obviously when they’re talking to candidates, they’re trying to convince candidates to join their company. So they’re really died in the wall super fans of your company. Yeah. So that’s top of mind for me just because obviously we’re chatting with recruiters all the time. It’s tough to be in that situation and lose folks from your team and to be someone who has, through the good times, oftentimes recruiters are really overworked on the team. I was delighted this year at the greenhouse conference to see a session on recruiter burnout and see folks talking about that. But given that recruiters often are really working very, very hard in the good times, it seems those are the folks you really want to hang on to, if possible, when things are looking a bit leaner.
William Tincup: 04:41 Yeah. It seems like a bit of an overreaction in terms of what we saw at the beginning of COVID is there’s a lot of uncertainty, rightfully so, and people overreacted and it cut too deep and especially with talent, both in HR and in recruiting and sourcing. And so they cut too deep. And maybe less than 90 days later, they had to go and hire again. They had to go hire those folks, if not those folks, they had to go hire again. And it’s just like, that could have all been avoided.
Jo Avent: 05:20 Yeah. Yeah. And hiring again in a market when it was coming roaring back. And by the way, everyone else is hiring those same recruiters. So all the prices have just gone up too. And you’ve lost that time. As mentioned earlier, that ramp up time is so expensive from, A, you’ve got these folks and they’re not giving you anyone yet. So yeah, I think you slow down your hiring machine and reduce your hiring machine at your own peril a little bit.
William Tincup: 05:54 As you talked about, I think some of this is also reputation and employer brand, because these are keepers of the culture in a way, and they sell your culture to candidates. And if you don’t treat them right, it seems to me that, how can they tell that story? How can they represent you if they’ve been done wrong? And again, we’re saying done wrong in the sense of layoffs and rifts that maybe are a knee jerk reaction to uncertainty.
Jo Avent: 06:34 Yeah. I think something really interesting that’s happened in the recruiting space over the last, gosh, particularly in the last few years, but definitely it started maybe 10 years ago, was this idea of there being such thing as a recruiter community. Certainly, when I started back in the day, they really wasn’t any sense of that at all. In fact, it was very much if you were onto something, the very last thing you’d do was share it with anybody else. But I see so much more recruiter sharing and community.
And there’s lots of really great Slack channels out there and meetup groups. We have our own Slack channel, which we see people sharing all the time and reaching out for help and stuff. So I think exact exactly what you’re saying. More than ever now, there’s this, the community memory of if you let your recruiters go, if you don’t do right by them to some degree, that’s much more visible than it ever used to be. But what I see as well on a more uplifting note perhaps is what I see from that community is people actively and proactively really trying to help each other out and pick up those folks who perhaps have been laid off to find a new home for them.
William Tincup: 07:58 Oh yeah. Well, Twitter laid off a bunch of folks yesterday. And I reached out to a bunch of people that are there, finding out, A, what’s going on and can I help? And it’s just amazing. That part of this world, I love. Because in good times and in bad, people were willing to help. I love that. And that’s not every industry. That’s not every group of people. Let me get your take on, okay, so after the initial layoff from COVID, things got hot, we had to rehire. And then it got crazy for recruiters, both in terms of the amount of volume that they had to consume in terms of [inaudible 00:08:50], but also the recruiting recruiters.
We did, in March just of this year, we did a recruiting recruiters event, over 5,000 people there. It was well attended, because it was also very hard and difficult to recruit recruiters. What do you think about if people made… Because I got this question on LinkedIn yesterday. Should I leave a job that’s for money that’s going to pay me twice as much as I’m making now, but I love the job that I’m doing right now? And so the question is the folks that moved, I have no hate if you moved for whatever reason, you moved, is the company less loyal or more loyal to somebody that moved in that time period? Or do they see this as a way of beating down prices in terms of how much recruiters cost?
Jo Avent: 09:54 Yeah. So you’re saying if a recruiter got head hunted out of where they were-
William Tincup: 10:01 That’s right. That’s right.
Jo Avent: 10:03 Yeah. That’s a tough one. I’m getting flashbacks to slide groups. I was on at the time and people, desperate for recruiters and everyone’s desperate for recruiters. And I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know a single recruiter who’s not already being headhunted out of where they are. I think Roblox did something really interesting where I think they actually created their own recruiter… They took it into their own hands and created their own pipeline of recruiters by starting almost, I don’t remember what they called it exactly, but something like an academy where they were training folks in house to become recruiters. Completely fascinating.
William Tincup: 10:49 Oh, that’s smart.
Jo Avent: 10:49 Yeah. Really cool and innovative. Is there a perception, could there be perception of… Sure. Yes, absolutely. But also, who’s really going to begrudge recruiters? The same thing that developers have been doing for a long time, product folks, sales folks. I think good for them, about time. As I said at the top of the thing, I think recruiters are often the first folks to get let go at the first line of trouble, to some degree, to make hay a bit while the sun shines. Obviously, if your resume is looking like six months here, six months there, then you might want to reconsider your decisions. But I think the market’s going to rule for where folks move.
William Tincup: 11:48 Yeah. And I think the interesting part about salaries with recruiters is they’re underpaid to begin with, and so the market was just basically correcting that to a place to getting them to where they should be. Now, what will be fascinating to see is when, it’s not if, but when the market comes back, will the salaries come back at the pace where they were, which I’m not sure. I don’t know how that plays out.
Jo Avent: 12:18 Yeah. So, so, so, so interesting. Yeah. I think again, having been around the block a few times here, I think even in the early 2000s, I think recruiters were, if they were in house recruiters, were probably for the most part seen almost as an administrative process a lot of the time and were paid as such, and then reeducating folks about the value and the worth and what’s actually involved in doing good recruiting. People are really lent into this idea of this metaphor, I guess, of comparing recruiting almost to sales and marketing, and people get very excited about funnels and CRMs and borrowing all this lingo from that space. And I think that’s interesting and there’s lots there that’s really valid and comparable. But I think, and maybe this is a different other bias from me because looking back and looking at folks when they were in those administrative roles and it was this just walking someone through a process. Externally, maybe that looks like that’s what was happening.
But I think for folks who were doing recruiting, even then, knew that it was a bit more complicated than that. And so I think some of the stuff we’ve done and the, I guess, inspiration behind TalentWall to some point was really taking what dynamics are at play on software development teams and looking at them and how there might be 10, 20, 30 people or working on the same code base, which is so interesting. How are they all navigating that? When you think about recruiting, you’ve got candidates in the mix. You’ve probably got a recruiting coordinator. You might have a sourcer who touched the candidate first. You’ve got a recruiter, you’ve got your hiring manager, you’ve got all your interviewers.
So by the time you add all those folks, you really got a small village of people all trying to work efficiently and smoothly around this central point and give a good experience. And so I really like thinking about that collaboration piece and how that plays into a team and thinking about how the data that you are surfacing about the process and providing, how that works in service of making that team the most efficient that it can be, the most transparent, what’s going on, the most clear of who’s up next? Who’s got the ball? What’s going on? I think that collaboration piece and that team dynamic is something we are getting to next and is the next step beyond this, oh, it’s just like sales and marketing.
William Tincup: 15:30 Right, right. Do you think right now… Again, we’re at a really interesting phase. We’ll have this conversation in a couple months. It’ll probably be completely different. But right now at this particular juncture, do you think it’s better to be a generalist or a specialist in either sourcing or recruiting? Is it better if you’re a wooden bullet Barney and you’re technical sourcer and that’s what you do? Or a technical recruiter or a healthcare recruiter, et cetera? Is it better to be at this point someone that can recruit anything or source anything? Or at this moment, is it better to be specialized?
Jo Avent: 16:13 Yeah. Wow. You don’t ask the easy questions really.
William Tincup: 16:19 Oh, I’m sorry.
Jo Avent: 16:21 I wonder if it’s actually, if it’s what flavor of sourcer or what flavor of recruiter is better, and I wonder if it’s better to almost be your own sourcer and recruiter. I wonder if that’s the way to slice and dice these things.
William Tincup: 16:38 That’s interesting. Yeah. I was going to ask you that. Right now, do you think the people that are going to come back first are going to be the people that have the skillset that can do both? They can both find the talent and recruit the talent.
Jo Avent: 16:53 Yeah. I think good people and people who are well networked are going to win, whatever the market. And then, oh gosh, I do think it’s a little bit, how long is a piece of string? Or six of one, half a dozen of another with the generalists versus specialists. And then it probably would depend what you’re specializing in. I think tech has proved to be such a resilient space to be in as long as you’re not specializing in hiring, I guess COBOL developers or something. As long as you’re keeping up with what some of the latest technologies are and keeping your own network up to date, I think tech probably is a fairly safe bet. Yeah. Yeah. Gosh, wouldn’t it be great to know the ball?
William Tincup: 17:49 So what comes back first for you in terms of… What I’ve seen in the past after something like this is staffing. People are still not knowing how to this is going to play out. And so instead of hiring somebody full time, they go to an RPO or they’ll go to a staffing firm and they outsource it before that. But before you answer that, do you see the same things or do you see it play out a little bit differently?
Jo Avent: 18:25 Yeah, I think every time we go through one of these cycles, I think the tools space has a bigger role to play. Obviously RPO is like services type model. But as the tool site gets more and more sophisticated, I think they’re going to start playing a bigger role and people will lean into tools a bit more before they start employing humans, which is tough. There’s great things about that and sad things about that when we’re not giving jobs out. But yeah, I think small, medium sized businesses will be much more gun shy about adding head count.
William Tincup: 19:16 Right. Right.
Jo Avent: 19:18 I think for larger companies, they’ll probably be a little bit braver. But I think in all cases we’re going to start seeing people leveraging tools more to work to allow the folks they do have to work smarter.
William Tincup: 19:32 Which is a good thing. Which is actually a great thing. It’s been a lot of fear for years that automation is going to take people’s jobs in both sourcing and recruiting and HR and all this other stuff. And really, it augments. We know that it augments. But when you go through something as emotional as layoffs and riffs and uncertainty, then you look at the robots as competitors. And they’re not competitors. They’re still augmenting. Nothing’s changed. They’re still augmenting. But right now, it’s not going to be looked at that way. It’s going to be looked at like, “Well, that’s a job that somebody could have. They could be scheduling interviews instead of that bot that does the scheduling of interviews, et cetera.” So I think you’re dead on with the tools, especially with automation. And so it’ll be interesting to see. Again, I think you’re right with small businesses. They’re going to be really gun shy about hiring. And again, how long that is just depends on how fast things come back.
Jo Avent: 20:44 Yeah. That’s true. My bias, I suppose, because a lot of our customers are in that small, medium size and VC backed space, is if you look at the VC space right now, there’s certainly messages around from VCs about trying to be really cost effective and not spend money when you don’t need to, and it’s unclear when the VC purse strings are going to be opened again. And so absolutely, from that perspective, it’s going to be really interesting.
I think in terms of tools not being threatening for folks, I do wonder that it’s that breakdown, isn’t it, again of soft skills versus hard skills. And so often, what the tools are capable of replicating, right now, at least, it’s quite often the hard skills. And then it comes back to that perennial issue about, do we value soft skills? Are they always visible? Are they quantifiable? What the heck do we do about them? So I value soft skills incredibly highly. I don’t know how to quantify them. But yeah, I think that’s probably another challenge for us is as people, people to think through and promote and educate around the value of those soft skills as well.
William Tincup: 22:22 Okay. So two questions. They’re both relatively quick. One is, we’re at the end of the year and we have this conversation, what do you think we’re talking about?
Jo Avent: 22:35 Oh my gosh. You know what I think we could be talking about? Well, I’d like to be talking about how candidate experience is evolving.
William Tincup: 22:50 Oh, nice. Okay.
Jo Avent: 22:51 Yeah. I think this is a journey that we’re on that we haven’t quite finished yet. I’ve seen some customers like Zapier for a year or two now, maybe longer, have been not requesting resumes of candidates, and that’s super interesting, makes things a lot more accessible and easy for candidates. I just saw a tweet the other day from a candidate who was delighted to be given a choice. She’s a developer engineer and she’d been given a choice between a take home test or a paired programming interview. And I just thought that’s really great and interesting, gives people an ability to adapt to their own learning styles. Folks are interested in candidate NPS scores now. So I think there’s more of a choose your own adventure thing happening and centering the candidate and giving them their own voice a little bit more, which is not a bad outcome.
William Tincup: 23:51 All right. Well, last question is, do you think as people come back, that the business, executives, et cetera, use this as a leverageable moment to return to office?
Jo Avent: 24:06 Oh my. Some of them already are, right?
William Tincup: 24:10 Right.
Jo Avent: 24:12 And I think enough aren’t that they will struggle to hire and retain the best folks. Gosh, who was it? Some country probably in Europe just named it a human-
William Tincup: 24:30 The Netherlands. Yeah.
Jo Avent: 24:31 The Netherlands. Yes. I was thinking Denmark, so I was somewhat geographically close. Yeah.
William Tincup: 24:38 You were close. You were close. You’re close.
Jo Avent: 24:40 Sorry to people from Denmark and the Netherlands.
William Tincup: 24:42 No, no, no. Yeah.
Jo Avent: 24:44 Yeah. Just made a human right to be able to work remotely, which, gosh, how desperately progressive that we could get there too.
William Tincup: 24:55 Yeah. Jo, this has been absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much. And we’re going to have the show at the end of the year and see how far we were off or whatever, which is what I love about shows like this. But thank you so much for your time.
Jo Avent: 25:08 Thank you, William. It’s always a pleasure. Thank you.
William Tincup: 25:11 And thanks for everyone listening to The Recruiting Daily Podcast. Until next time.
Music: 25:16 You’ve been listening to The Recruiting Live Podcast by Recruiting Daily. Check out the latest industry podcasts, webinars, articles, and news at-
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.