If you’re an employer that’s saying “we need better people” there’s probably something more you could be doing. HR innovation is a such a challenge to cover, as technology changes and grows almost faster than we can keep up with it. But, if you don’t keep your ears clean you might fall behind in this fast paced landscape.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (Founder of Workology) is here with us to talk about the ever changing landscape of recruiting. There’s fear all around us in this industry, and most of it comes from the reluctance to adapt. We realize that the post pandemic world looks a lot different than what we are used to, but this drastic change in how we work has also opened the door for other massive changes. New technologies, remote work priorities, AI algorithms, and pay transparency are just a few of these challenges to adapt to.

Quotes from Jessica on HR Innovation:

“one of the things that’s fundamentally different, is that the remote side of things. That has opened up everything. If you don’t have a remote team, that’s okay, but just know that the competition is harder. You’re going to have to entice those people to come to stay with you or work at your organization, when they see everybody else on TikTok and other places working remotely from their computer in their pajamas. Or I was in Jamaica this summer for a week. I worked there, I just flew in.”

“Increase people’s compensation. Maybe even just quarterly bonuses are good, but don’t tell someone, “Hey, I can’t give you an increase.” When the quarterly earning statement just came out, and they all know that the CEO made three bazillion dollars and the quarterly earnings were whatever they were.”

If you’re itching for more of our Sourcing School podcast check out all the episodes here.


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

Jessica Miller-Merrell
Founder Workology

Hi. I’m Jess. I have a passion for human resources, talent acquisition, technology and personal and professional development. I started a blog (Workology) in 2005 and left my HR executive role in 2009 diving into entrepreneurship.

Follow Follow

Mike “Batman” Cohen (00:26):
Excellent, excellent. We continue here day two, HR Tech, getting back to those pre-pandemic levels of attendance and participation.

Speaking of pre-pandemic, we’re now talking post-pandemic. Our guest needs no introduction, and so I’m going to let her introduce herself.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (00:45):
Hey, Jessica Miller-Merrell. So excited to be here. I’m the founder of Workology. Workology is a destination for training resources and information for human resources, talent acquisition, and just HR industry insights. I’ve been in the space forever it feels like.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (01:06):
Yep. You’re a name brand in the space.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (01:08):
Absolutely. It’s a lot of fun and I’m so glad to be back at HR Tech.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (01:11):
Right? It’s so great that everybody gets to see each other. All those people that we’re like friends with now over the last three years, we’re like, “Oh, actually this is the first time I’ve ever met you.”

Jessica Miller-Merrell (01:20):
Can we hug?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (01:21):
Yeah. Yeah, I forget to ask. I’m like, “Yeah. By the way, I’m a hugger. Sorry. It’s my bad.” Great. I think you’ve got some pretty big news. You open to share?

Jessica Miller-Merrell (01:32):
Yeah. Yeah. I have a new book coming out called Digitizing Talent, and it’s really an online recruiting resource post-pandemic, to help us get up to speed in this crazy post-COVID world where the market is always shifting.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (01:48):
Love that. We’re going to give that a shout out. It’s interesting, I follow you on Insta constantly. So yoga and HR. I’m like, “Hell, yeah. That rocks.” It’s flexibility and then yoga. I think this is going to be relevant for folks who are listening who may not know you.

First off, if you don’t, you need to follow her immediately unless you don’t care about growth, in which case, you probably shouldn’t follow her or yoga. How did you get into starting Workology? Because I think I know a little of this background story and I think it’s going to help people get some perspective.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (02:28):
I was charged with recruiting sales people at my job, and I’ve never been a recruiter in corporate anyway, specifically. I’ve always been an HR person who’s done recruiting or managed a recruiting team, any team of recruiters. I was charged with hiring inside and outside salespeople, and then the marketing support people for the company I was working at. This is 2005, and I was not having success. I was like, “Hey, I think I’m going to start a blog.”

A blog about the job search so I could start to build these relationships with job seekers in the market that I was in. The blog started that way. It was really just like, “Here’s why you need to spell check your resume. Here’s how to send a connection request on LinkedIn.” LinkedIn, I don’t even know if it was a thing in 2005, but it was coming soon. I was using social media, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, and it was accounting with the blog for 30% of my hires. My retention was a lot longer for those folks.

But remember 2005, 2007, social media was really new. For a lot of people, including my boss and the legal team at the place I worked at, it was super scary. My blog was even an anonymous blog. It was Jessica M, which there’s a lot of Jessica Ms out there.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (03:52):

Jessica Miller-Merrell (03:53):
I ultimately lost my job, because of my job search blog. The day that happened, was the first day that I went into entrepreneurship full-time, so it’s been a lot of fun. The blog became a business, and now I have a team.

That’s a whole new set of skills and experience, and things you have to level up. But it’s really fun to watch how there’s TikTok and Reels, and all these other tools now, and how different it is now for us to be able to do these things than it is back in the olden days.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (04:26):
Yeah. The MySpace name drop, I was like, “Oh, there it is.” What up, Tom? I miss you if you’re out there. I think that’s interesting and I want to take two seconds and I want get into the post-COVID conversation that we’re planning.

You innovated in a way that back then was like you’re doing what now? You’re sharing what? You’re putting this out there? Ultimately, from a corporate perspective, the feelings were surprise, curiosity and mostly fear.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (04:58):
Lots of fear. In fact, my boss flew down to meet with me to give me a final warning because he thought I was recruiting on the side and I was using LinkedIn to do it. I had changed job titles and then I was posting updates in the feed. This is 2007 timeframe. He sat me down, he took my desk seat and put me in the other one.

He had his little piece of paper out to give me a warning and he said, “Hey, you’re doing some things that are unethical in the organization. You’re recruiting outside of the business when you should be focusing on us.” His name was Tom. I said, “Hey, Tom. Are you talking about LinkedIn?” He’s like, “Yeah.” I said, “Have you actually clicked on the link to the opening for the, I don’t know, fundraising specialist position?”

Mike “Batman” Cohen (05:50):
At our company.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (05:51):
They hadn’t. I just was changing the job title you clicked and it was still my posting for the place that I was at.

He folded up his little paper and put it in his pocket, and then told me that I really needed to be careful and he wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing anything unethical.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (06:11):

Jessica Miller-Merrell (06:12):
That is when I knew the writing was on the wall for things for me. The first time I met Gerry Crispin, I flew to Toronto for this conference called RecruitFest, and I had to take vacation. I asked if I could go, I made the pitch for it. My boss was like, “No, we’re not going to pay for anything like that.” Then I flew and I had a great time. I met Gerry, I met Marin, I met so many amazing people, John Sumner, it was unreal.

It was so great. Laurie Rodman, I met her there too in real life. Then I went back home and my boss is like, “Hey, so what’d you learn at this conference?” Because some of the other people on the recruiting team for corporate were excited that I met Gerry. I was like, “I don’t know. Y’all didn’t pay for it.”

Mike “Batman” Cohen (06:58):
Sorry, John, I don’t remember.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (07:01):
That was me in the old corporate days. Now, it’s a lot more fun because I’m the boss so if we want to go somewhere, we just go. If I want to say something, we just say it. Most importantly, I’m helping elevate the HR and recruiting space with knowledge and information, because there’s so many people like my boss, that did not understand the changes that were coming.

The good news is there’s still time for all of us, if you’re not in or comfortable with that space, to get skills, training, information to be able to elevate your own recruiting game as an individual and for your team.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (07:36):
Yeah. I have two high five add-ons for that one for you, because I knew your story already because I follow you. First one on this one, is a thing for listeners to take from this for themselves. First off, you’re awesome. Second, lean into curiosity, not fear.

You’d be surprised how often innovation looks from the outside, like something that braces your hackles. When in fact, if curiosity were the first step, you’d realize, “Whoa, this is special. This is really special. Different isn’t bad.”

Jessica Miller-Merrell (08:16):
No, that’s so true. Different is not bad. In order to innovate, we have to be different. That’s just an imperative.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (08:25):
Yeah, I love your vulnerability and authenticity. The second is to validate your point where you’re like it’s not too late.

I think I’m fairly ingrained technically, and into the sourcing community and things like that. I’ve been sourcing since the middle of 2018. People are like [inaudible 00:08:43].

Jessica Miller-Merrell (08:42):
That’s really new.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (08:43):
Four years. I’m like, “Yeah, first conference was 2019.” Anybody who’s like, “Oh, you’ve been doing this for 15 years.” I’m like, “No, no. I was a crappy recruiter for a decade, don’t be confused.” You’re at most, two years away from being an industry thought leader, speaking at conferences, at most two years. I love your point and we love that encouragement. That segues in a little bit, which is to say, what got us here won’t get us to where we need to be.

That couldn’t be more true in a post-pandemic world where I know everybody says it, everything changed. At a fundamental business level, I believe everything changed. You literally wrote a book about this, so I’m going to defer to all of you on this. What do you see as the things that if you’re a leader listening to this, that you would go, “Oh, I need to pay attention to things”?

Jessica Miller-Merrell (09:40):
First of all, the book was already written and then the pandemic happened. Then I put the brakes on everything, because you can’t put out a recruiting book when nothing’s going on in the world. Everybody’s sheltering in place. Then when things started to open up again and hiring was happening, people were getting back to work. I was like, “Okay. I need to redo everything.” We completely, I went through and made edits and changes. Just really thought through, “Okay, what does the post-pandemic world look like?”

I think one of the things that’s fundamentally different, is that the remote side of things. That has opened up everything. If you don’t have a remote team, that’s okay, but just know that the competition is harder. You’re going to have to entice those people to come to stay with you or work at your organization, when they see everybody else on TikTok and other places working remotely from their computer in their pajamas. Or I was in Jamaica this summer for a week. I worked there, I just flew in.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (10:45):
Sure did.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (10:45):
That is what so many of your workers, the lifestyle is what they’re looking for. You have to find a way to entice them through your employment branding, your marketing, all your conversations, and your benefits and perks to say, “Hey, we might not let you be able to work from Jamaica remotely, but we do these things for you where we have developmental opportunities.”

The other thing that I think is real interesting is just the compensation transparency that’s really starting to happen now. Indeed just rolled up this new AI algorithm, which gives ranges. If you, as a recruiter, do not provide salary information, they will make an assumption for you.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (11:29):
Someone else will.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (11:30):
There’s states that are now requiring that on their job postings. Colorado’s one of them. But we are having to have conversations about comps so much sooner. In fact, I’ve never wanted to apply for a job, unless I knew what a salary range was. But finally, candidates are saying, “Hey, I’m just not going to apply. Don’t waste my time.”

We have no one to blame but ourselves, because we created these people or our parents did, so it’s all on them. They gave their kids free will, thoughts, they empowered them to do the things. Now they’re like, “Hey, I want salary ranges. I want flexibility. I want a stipend for my computer stand and this furniture, and I want to be able to do it all from Jamaica.”

Mike “Batman” Cohen (12:14):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny you say that because people are like, “Oh, they’re money motivated.” If you do research, Gen Z is the least money motivated generation ever, but dogs and sushi are expensive. I like both of those things.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (12:28):
My yoga pants, those cost a lot of money.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (12:30):
Yes. If you want a good pair of yoga pants that’s going to last you, sure does. I’m a navigation fan for my wife, but whatever, separate topic. I want to touch on both of those. The remote works, the larger ones, we’ll hit that second. I think that the pay transparency is interesting and I want to run something by you. I want to get your opinion on something I do professionally, personally, and then hear what your research has shown, and what your maybe suggestions are. I’m a super small company, around six people.

We have 100% pay transparency. Everybody knows what everybody earns, everybody’s bonus, everybody’s commission. My W2 at the end of the year as the owner, is put into Google Drive so everybody can see. There’s no question of like, “Oh, I’m earning this, but the founder’s got to be earning.” Nope, founder’s earning this exact dollar amount. I pay myself a salary and I give myself profit sharing, and it’s there on my W2, so you can see it at the end of the year. My wife is horrified.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (13:26):
Everybody thinks that startup founders and small businesses, they’re all loaded. No, I’m just here to tell you I am not rich. I have fun, I dance, I sing, I live my best life. I went to Jamaica, but it was a good price for me to go. Yeah. No, I like pay transparency. I think that we need more of that. In fact, I did a podcast interview with Jessica Williams, who’s a chief HR officer out of I’m trying to remember the name. A company out of San Francisco, but they’re a media company, a small media company.

I think they have maybe 50, 75 employees, maybe 200. Listen to the podcast and you’ll get what I’m saying, but they increased the starting pay to $75,000. They used the average starting salary in San Francisco, and they don’t have many employees in San Francisco. Let’s just say they have 250 people. It was a small number of those employees that actually had the salary increase, but they’re competing against these large marketing companies.

The fact that they have pay transparency and that they have a minimum threshold that everybody’s going to be at, is making it so they’re getting so many great candidates, and able to make so many hires, and they’re a completely remote company. This is what you’re competing against if you don’t have these things. Frankly, if you’re an employer who’s like, “Hey, I need better people,” these are some easy things. Now, I say easy. I’m not the one building your compensation plan for you.

You’re doing that research. But I’m telling you on this podcast, easy things with air quotes for you to be able to do. Start a standard baseline pay, everybody’s coming in at this, and then share, and then increase people’s compensation. Maybe even just quarterly bonuses are good, but don’t tell someone, “Hey, I can’t give you an increase.” When the quarterly earning statement just came out, and they all know that the CEO made three bazillion dollars and the quarterly earnings were whatever they were.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (15:25):

Jessica Miller-Merrell (15:27):
It’s just not going to leave a good taste in the mouth of your employees. Certainly, your candidate flow is going to be impacted.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (15:35):
Yeah. Yeah. This is an exciting year on my side. I finally have an employee who’s going to make more money than I will this year.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (15:42):
That’s a great feeling.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (15:42):
She’s horrified and I feel like a proud pop. I’m like, “This is amazing.”

Jessica Miller-Merrell (15:45):
Yeah. You go, girl.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (15:46):
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. She runs all recruitment operations. She’s fantastic. Julia, shout out to you. A question I don’t understand because I’ve never worked at a larger company. I’m commercially unemployable, which is fine.

What are entrepreneurs or executives’ fears around pay transparency? Because if you’re not doing anything untoward, what’s the hesitation that you found in talking to everybody?

Jessica Miller-Merrell (16:15):
I think a lot of people think that it’s just private information. I feel like I grew up, my family was not really conservative, but we were from a conservative area and we didn’t have a lot of money. You just didn’t talk about those type of things, but I think it’s really a control thing. If I tell you what I’m making, then maybe you’re going to tell somebody else. Then suddenly, a union is going to come in and demand all these changes.

Or if you’re like a Google, employees are going to create a Google Sheet where everybody puts in their compensation and they’re going to find out anyway. I would encourage you to consider thinking about pay transparency, but if you’re not there, just bring in a minimum threshold, and talk about that and then talk to your people. A lot of times, it’s just a conversation. It’s like, “Hey, you think that so-and-so makes a lot of money. Let’s talk about it.”

Mike “Batman” Cohen (17:12):

Jessica Miller-Merrell (17:13):
Also, I work a lot of hours, maybe. You don’t know. I might take more time off, but maybe I just have higher performance than you because I’m better at time management than other people. I wish more companies would think about pay transparency. I think because of the old way of things that we’ve been doing where really there were pay bands based on geography, and you had the cost of living adjustments and all these things.

That’s also changing because we do have more people working remotely. Frankly, I don’t think it’s fair for you to make $52,000 because you live in Omaha, when you do the same amount of work as somebody in San Francisco that makes 75. Sorry, you’re the one that decided to live in San Francisco. I’ve lived in the Bay. I know how expensive it is.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (18:03):
Yeah. I preach on that because I think people forget, employees are humans solving problems for businesses.

The problems aren’t different based on where the employees. It’s the same problem they’re solving. Yeah. You want to be in San Fran, cool. Your stuff’s more expensive.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (18:22):
Well, and maybe you need to be in the office so you can negotiate a higher increase, but that is between you and your bosses, and the hiring manager but we should have more transparency. Frankly, I would love employees to or candidates to pick up a book. It’s by Chris Voss, and it’s called Never Split the Difference. It is the best negotiation book ever in the history of negotiation books or anything.

I have note cards all over the place where I have responses to how I respond to things. If you are looking for a job as a recruiter, pick up this book. Think about what your strategy is in terms of negotiating a job, the perks and benefits you want. This book is great for that. I use it every day, talking to employees, talking to my clients, talking to friends, talking to my spouse. It’s fantastic.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (19:11):
Yeah, that is fantastic. To get folks uncomfortable, but also realizing the serious nature of this, ready for this? If you’re listening to this and going, “Oh, I don’t know about that.” I make $120,000 a year on salary, and last year I made 176 total at the end of the year. Merry Christmas.

I have nothing to hide. There’s nothing, It’s not weird, it’s just money. I get it. It’s like a faux pas, but it’s not a faux pas because it’s actually a thing. It’s a faux pas because socially, we’ve made it a thing. You know what I mean?

Jessica Miller-Merrell (19:40):
No. I definitely feel it’s like people have, and I’ve had my own money issues not thinking that I’m worthy or deserving. I’ve done a lot of personal work in that area. In fact, if you go into my hotel room today, there is some mantras and affirmations on the wall for me, to help me get into the right frame of mind to be here at this place, because I’ve been living at home in yoga pants and flip flops.

Well, maybe just a T-shirt and yoga pants for the last three years. To be in front of a lot of people and reconnecting, I’m a lot more introverted than I knew before the pandemic.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (20:22):
Oh my God, that hits me in my core. First off, congratulations for actually wearing pants for those three years. That puts you a step above a bunch of people.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (20:30):
I’ve never really been that person that didn’t wear pants in Zoom. I don’t know why, but I’ve always. And gosh, remember those early days where people were smoking during Zoom and they forgot they were on camera, and they weren’t wearing pants?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (20:44):
They stand up to go. Yeah. Yeah.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (20:47):
I’m glad we got through that. Congratulations, you made it through the pandemic and you figured out that you have a camera on your laptop.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (20:55):
Yeah, that’s a big one. I love all of those faux pas videos. Okay. We’ve got a few minutes, and I really want to touch on this idea of remote work, because we’re talking about the camera set up. A bunch of us were doing remote work before the pandemic hit.

For you guys, great job being ahead of the curve. That’s awesome. But for the other 90% of the companies out there, this is tough because to your point, compensation, hiring, talent pools. What should companies really be thinking about?

Jessica Miller-Merrell (21:28):
Training for their managers that are leading remotely that have never done it before because frankly, it takes a lot of trust, a lot of relationship building, and a lot of project management experience and organization to be able to follow-up with your remote teams. Because it’s not just your swinging by their cubicle, or you’re going to meet them in conference room B. You have to schedule a call and maybe your team is working asynchronously, because there now is a team in Brazil.

How can your new managers or your managers in general, they haven’t ever worked like that. I would encourage some training for your managers. We’ve come up with some really simple things on my team, we use Slack. I am very certain I have ADHD, because if somebody sends me a message in Slack and says, “I need you to do this,” I will stop everything and do that. Then now I’m onto the next squirrel. Then I didn’t get anything on my to-do list done. We implemented this thing and somebody on my team came up with this.

I don’t know if it was because of me, but probably so. However, we just put if it’s urgent or not urgent, and we just make a hashtag in the message. It’s like, “I need you to send me these documents or review this spreadsheet.” Then you put not urgent, then I know that I have 24 hours to get this to you, okay? If it’s urgent, then I know I need to get my booty in gear and probably in the next two hours get this done. Because what happens is I get 50 Slack messages in two hours maybe, I don’t know. I want to do all the things.

Part of me, my job as a leader and CEO, is to prioritize and organize what I’m going to do and then delegate to the rest of the team, so they can take care of business. But it’s really hard when you have 50 messages, because I just want to do all the things. My strengths finder, achiever is number one so this is a problem. I just want to work through that 50 list of all those messages, because it’s the most shiny objects that’s come through. But I’m the CEO, I got some shit I need to be doing.

That is for the success of the business, because I’m the one and you’re the one who has to hit that little button every Monday morning that says payroll. Yes, it’s a scary thing. I got to be organized and prioritized so I can do that so we did that. Then the manager training, I think those are the key things, and pick up a productivity book. We do a lot of scrum type stuff on my team. We have a scrum meeting once a week. Then I have my key people that I meet with on Mondays, that’s a little scrum.

Everything else, I do have regular calls because some people need accountability, but it doesn’t mean that we always have to meet, but it’s on the schedule. Then that way, they have some time before the meeting to get all the things done that they should have been doing throughout the week.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (24:18):
Yes. Sorry, I had to take notes. I had a really good time in college, so I don’t remember stuff. I had three things I wanted to talk to on this one. One, the management training.

Holy smokes, I experienced this first off when I became a manager, and I became a manager because I was a really good recruiter. Here’s the thing, when you’re really good at a job, does not mean that you are really good at managing other people doing a job.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (24:43):
That’s a whole other skillset we don’t even think about. Yes. Getting other people to do the things that you need done, you’re like a psychologist a little bit. I am having to talk people through things, clients, team members, whoever.

You have to work through that and say, “Hey, remember next Tuesday you have this thing that’s due? I just want to check in and see what’s going on. Need any support?”

Mike “Batman” Cohen (25:05):
Yeah. That training piece, I wish somebody told me that a little while ago. Okay. So urgency in the message in Slack, do they put the hashtag at the front of the message when they send it? Asking for a friend, obviously.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (25:22):
I’m not really a strict rule person per se, but as long as it’s in there so I can read it quickly because it pops up on my phone. Then if I see it’s like, “Okay, I’m going to wait on this.” You could make your own Slack channel and toss things in because I also do that too. Another thing that I love to do, and I do this when I have ideas from TikTok, and Reels videos and stuff, or a piece of content that I’ve read. I have different Slack channels that only I can see, but that way they’re not in my messaging so I just send them over there.

I’m like, “Oh, I really like this audio voiceover for TikTok and I want to film it next Tuesday, so I’m going to throw it in there.” Or I’m like, “I like this blog post. I want to cite it in some content that I’m writing for a client.” I’ll put it somewhere else in a different channel. Then I can go back later when I need, because otherwise, there’s going to be 3,000 messages in my Slack. Then I’m going to miss all the urgent or the non-urgent things to do. They’re going to be inundated with dancing videos, which are fantastic in voiceovers.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (26:15):
So important.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (26:16):
Yes. But it also helps me stay organized because it’s really easy for me to squirrel for three hours on TikTok. It’s designed that way, or whatever random popup that comes on that tells me, “Hey, look here.”

Mike “Batman” Cohen (26:29):
Yeah. Yeah. Also, I have ADHD and despite whatever medicine I take, I squirrel a lot. You literally saw me writing down create Slack channels for my own personal organization and just have Caitlin, who she manages me, and I have access to it.

Yep. Then ask about urgency in the message. Make sure they’re putting that hashtag in there, so it will show up in the preview when I see it.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (26:51):
Yeah. It’s not searchable so you don’t have to put the hashtag, but I like having it. It’s just there so I know, “Okay. This says that this is an urgent thing or a non-urgent thing.”

But yeah, the other thing I want to say that you just said, somebody managing you. You’re the boss. Why is that happening? I’m going to be the podcast interviewer.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (27:06):
Yeah. No, no. I love that. It’s like you do that. I’ve realized over time, that I have strengths and weaknesses. My thought process when I became a business owner was like, “I have to be the best at all things. I have to do all the things. I have to be excellent at them.” I’ve learned over time, that there are things I’m just not going to be excellent at. Organization, follow through, those aren’t strengths of mine.

Strategy, networking, sure. I finally realized, it took me four and a half years because I’m dumb sometimes, to say, “Hey, I need to have somebody around me who’s going to compliment me.” Somebody told me earlier this year and they were like, “Why don’t you get an EA?” I was like, “You mean a secretary?” They’re like, “Oh, you don’t know what an EA does, do you?” I was like, “Apparently not.”

Jessica Miller-Merrell (27:56):
No, they remind you to do shit.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (27:58):
Yeah. Yeah, They’re literally [inaudible 00:28:00].

Jessica Miller-Merrell (27:59):
They hold you accountable.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (28:00):
Yes. I don’t love the EA title only because of my own disambiguation. We call it a corporate enablement leader. But I introduce her as like, “Yeah, this is the person who manages me.” They are the person who takes all of those rough patches that I have, smooths them out and enables me to be a business owner.

I think you’ll appreciate this gesture because you also started just you. I just became an actual business owner like for reals, two months ago. I stopped being a really good sourcer and became a business owner and it is empowering, terrifying. Like Ricky Bobby says in Talladega Nights, “I don’t know what to do with my hands.”

Jessica Miller-Merrell (28:46):
I love that we quoted Talladega Nights in this podcast. The thing that’s been great for me, and I would encourage anybody if you are inundated, “Okay. So remember, I work for myself. I don’t work in corporate.”

We are unemployable. We really are. Hire a virtual assistant from the Philippines or somewhere else to go through your email and organize stuff.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (29:03):

Jessica Miller-Merrell (29:04):
I know your IT person, you’re going to say, “Well, Jessica said it was okay.” It’s probably not okay, but if you can get a VPN and they can remote access into your computer, whatever.

Every morning before you get up, they can clean up everything and get rid of things. Or say, “Hey, don’t forget about XYZ.” They’ll even pay your bills or do whatever, but it will change your life.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (29:27):

Jessica Miller-Merrell (29:27):
Every morning I wake up, and my email is read and I know what the priorities are because again, squirrel, it’s all the shiny things. But it will remind me, “Hey, you need to do this, and this and this.” It has saved two and a half hours of my day, just by having somebody email me.

Now, that might mean that you’re not going to get a response from me. It’s a canned response or an automated response that I’ve already prepared. The other book you should read is by Michael Hyatt, and it’s called Free to Focus.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (29:53):

Jessica Miller-Merrell (29:53):
This is the best book. The best part is he suggests templates. We already do this in sourcing and recruiting.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (29:59):
Yeah, I know.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (29:59):
We have template messages that we just copy and paste, and we put a few things in and then we send it out. You can do that with other things in your life. Manager asks for the same spreadsheet report every week. Make the message and put it in drafts or in a Google Sheet, Google Doc, and then copy, paste it.

“Hey, Jimmy. Here’s the thing for this week, insert date. Let me know if you have any questions.” Link, boom. Your VA could send that out for you. On Mondays, they have the link. They could update the numbers for you maybe even.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (30:28):
Yeah. Caitlin on my team has taken this responsibility over. To your point, the email thing, when you said that, I was like, “Oh my God, so much less anxiety.”

Because when I’m traveling in particular is a big one, but also being able to go through and act as me. She knows how our business runs, she knows.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (30:48):
Startups have chiefs of staff and they do that. They are in meetings as the CEO, that’s a total thing. We just aren’t thinking about it in that way.

Let me just tell you, your boss is doing this, the CEO is doing this. They’re just not talking about it at your company.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (31:02):

Jessica Miller-Merrell (31:03):
They’re not on all the meetings doing all the things. They’re getting a briefing from their executive assistant or their chief of staff, or whoever to let them know because there aren’t enough hours in the day. We have to start thinking about that as we manage and lead our teams.

Took me a while to figure this out because there’s only 24 hours. How does Elon Musk get everything done? He doesn’t. Okay, so quit thinking that you have to be like Elon Musk. You need to be like you. Elon probably has 25 people on his team. They wash his socks for him and then cook all his food. He just shows up.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (31:34):
Wait, Jessica, are you implying that the presidents of the United States don’t run their own Twitter account? I’m very confused.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (31:41):
You mean there’s like a teleprompter that tells them what to say?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (31:47):
A teleprompter.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (31:49):
Hey, I love my teleprompter. I use that a lot on my videos all the fricking time. If you go to my YouTube, I even have a script for the podcast.

I have a script of we plan what we’re going to say, the questions we’re going to ask our guests. It’s this whole new thing. It’s called organization and planning. It is so key. I just show up and I do the interview.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (32:07):

Jessica Miller-Merrell (32:08):
Other people on my team have already worked on what I should be saying and how I should be saying it. Obviously, we prep call with the guest, but makes my life a whole lot easier and yours as the guest.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (32:18):

Jessica Miller-Merrell (32:18):
You know what’s coming.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (32:20):

Jessica Miller-Merrell (32:20):
There’s not some right field, I don’t know.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (32:24):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s random questions and pause for 30 seconds on a podcast.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (32:29):
Surely, some of these people have not been like you and I, we’ve done a million of these. That’s cool. I’m okay with random curve balls.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (32:35):

Jessica Miller-Merrell (32:35):
But for our podcast, we have a lot of first timers who have never been on a podcast. They want to be prepared, to think through. I get it. Let’s make it easy for them. It makes comms happy too.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (32:46):
Yeah. A random quick share for you/audience and then we’ll close this out. There’s an app that we just started using called Fellow two weeks ago. Plugs into Google, Outlook, Zoom, Google Meet, and it’s basically a template for talking notes, and you can share it with everybody in there.

If there’s talking points that you want to talk about, my team will fill it in for our daily scrum. They’re like, “Oh, I want to talk about this.” It’s in there and it saves it against every meeting in perpetuity.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (33:14):
You sourcers have all the cool stuff. Honestly, there’s a few people and you know who they are. I will text and be like, “Hey, this is my problem. I need an app that does this or I need a Chrome extension that does this.”

This is why I love the sourcing community because y’all know where all the secrets are, the coolest new stuff and I don’t have to find it.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (33:35):
Yeah. Yeah. We don’t want to call anybody out embarrassing to Costa. Okay, so we’re going to wrap things up. I like wrapping things up this way every time, which is to say, if you were to share one thing with the listeners that you want them to take away.

It doesn’t have to be about what we spoke about. Something that’s going to hit them in the heart, the head, the soul, what would that one thing be you want to leave them feeling?

Jessica Miller-Merrell (33:55):
I just want y’all to be yourselves. I think I have spent a lot of time during COVID really thinking about what makes me happy. I think that most people who are listening have done the same thing. If you want purple hair and I’m looking at you, because I have had purple hair on the regular as of late.

I’m just me and I’m done apologizing. I’m just me and if you don’t like it, you’re not my people, but I want that for everybody. It is freeing. It’s so much better, so just be you. Do what works for you and quit worrying about everyone else.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (34:30):
Fantastic. Jessica, thank you so much. Hey, two things. Where can people find you and Workology, and name of your book and where can people find it?

Jessica Miller-Merrell (34:39):
Workology is the place to go. Workology.com, super easy.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (34:41):
Love that.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (34:41):
I got that domain, man. I don’t know how that happened. The book, you can go and look at information about it, pre-order or whenever you’re listening to this, go to digitizingtalent.com.

All the links are there and some freebies. I have some really good stuff that I talk about in the book that you can grab templates and various resources.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (34:59):
Awesome. Links will be in the info session here as well. Jessica, thank you so much. This is very, very cool. To interview you on a podcast, I was like, “Oh, no.” Thank you so much. This is humbling for me and very, very cool.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (35:14):
Well, I have always loved you and you’re so easy to talk to. Yeah. No, it was a great conversation.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (35:21):
Appreciate it. Have a great one. Oh man, that means it’s over.

Anil Dharni (35:28):
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 recruitingdaily.com.

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.

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.

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.”


Please log in to post comments.