Kate Keller is the founder and principal of Keller Augusta. Her intuitive approach to talent management and entrepreneurial spirit has transformed Keller Augusta into a well-respected, leading recruitment agency since its founding in 2001.Follow
On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Kate from Keller Augusta about how the numbers don’t lie – Americans are feeling down.
Some Conversation Highlights:
Listening time: 26 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 gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the recruiting daily podcast. Today. We have Kaitlin from Keller Augusta, and we’ll be talking about our topic for today is the numbers don’t lie. Americans are feeling down. Can’t wait to unpack this with Kaitlin. Kaitlin, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and Keller Augusta?
Kaitlin Kincaid: 00:57 Sure, sure. Thank you for having me. Kaitlin Kincaid. I’m senior managing director at Keller Augusta. We are a real estate search firm. We’re based in Boston. We have an office in New York and an office in south Florida. We work on assignments throughout the commercial real estate industry, we focus within all the sectors and work on all levels of positions, we’ve certainly been busy in this time. There’s a lot of market activity, a lot of factors that are playing into the success of our assignments and it’s been an exciting time to be in the business.
William Tincup: 01:38 Fantastic. So I would assume that the last two or three years has been really, really interesting, especially I’m thinking about commercial. We went from late 2019 where the office rent was just outrageous because there wasn’t as much inventory, and then, all of a sudden, two years later, a lot of inventory, but now people are trying to do something different with those spaces. So it’s interesting because you all specialize in this, what are the things that, if we haven’t paid attention to real estate, what other things are you seeing?
Kaitlin Kincaid: 02:14 Well, I think, from a hiring standpoint, there’s been just so much activity in a very condensed period of time, so, there wasn’t any just general career attrition or any strategic hires that were made, call it for 18 months, anyways. Maybe there were replacements for immediate needs during that time, but very few people were like, “Hey, now’s the perfect time for me to look for a new job.” That just wasn’t happening when we were at the height of the pandemic. So once we came out of that, more people than normal were started looking for their next move. I think there is a phenomenon of a post COVID perspective, if you will. I personally have struggled with the great resignation term because I don’t think that’s really what’s happening.
William Tincup: 03:12 Me neither.
Kaitlin Kincaid: 03:13 Maybe it’s a great reshuffle or something like that.
William Tincup: 03:16 Or is it great? We’ll just start with the modifier. Is it actually great? Any of it?
Kaitlin Kincaid: 03:24 It’s funny, because I think there’s some data coming out to support that maybe it isn’t, maybe people do feel like they made a rash decision. Like “Finally, I can look for a job and maybe the grass wasn’t greener,” or maybe that type of thing. But I think the idea that so many people are making moves, so many companies are hiring at the same time has made things more complicated in not only finding the right people. It’s also about retaining people and a lot of people are looking for the same types of professionals, whether it be a certain function or sector or certain asset type within real estate. There’s more activity within specific groups, which again, also challenges the exercise of hiring people.
William Tincup: 04:18 I love it. So I live in Texas, which is kind of heavy on commercial real estate. Dallas is, at least, on the commercial real estate side. But our residential real estate is probably like a lot of places in country. It’s outrageous. There’s just no inventory. And everyone’s moving from California. So prices just skyrocketed, which is just insane, which I’m not accustomed to because I live in Arlington, so I live in a suburb of Dallas and Fort worth. And I’m not accustomed to being asked for my house to be sold. Pretty much weekly people drive by. It’s crazy. I’m sure in certain neighborhoods that happens all the time, but not my neighborhood. So let’s kind of jump into the topic feet first. Americans are feeling down. Let’s unpack that. What do you think’s driving? First of all, how did you arrive at that? How’d you get there? And then what do you think that’s driving it?
Kaitlin Kincaid: 05:29 Yeah. I think that there we’re living in a world where the expectation is that everything can be done instantaneously, whether it be you’re grocery shopping or… Everything needs to be done immediately. And the time that things used to be allowed for certain things, whether it be work, whether it be, like I said, just basic errands and responsibilities, is now, I think, the timing of it is challenging people. I think this whole remote work environment, there’s people that are desperately hanging on to the idea of flexibility. They do not want to go back to the office five days a week because they think they have a better balance, and maybe they do, maybe their commutes are horrible, maybe it just allows them to be home and walk their dog, or have dinner with their family, whatever it might be, maybe they do. But I think people are working longer hours.
Kaitlin Kincaid: 06:35 I think they’re missing just the in person collaboration with their colleagues, and there’s a lot of positive that comes out of that, but that’s just not happening. I think many companies are moving to, at least, a hybrid schedule, now. I think most people are back in the office to at least some degree. I was actually in New York this past week and it was dramatically different than it was like four weeks ago. In Midtown, which is the people walking on the street, and just the activity, people are definitely back, even in that, like I said, four or five week window, significantly more. So yeah. I think that will help. I think that people are seeking that collaboration at a different level.
William Tincup: 07:32 It’s interesting, because some of it is… I feel the same way, and I think some of it is some people need structure. I learned this years ago, I was a graduate assistant, but I was teaching at the… I don’t know how University of Arizona let me do this, but I taught undergraduates and literally the first time I taught, I didn’t have a syllabus. It was just participation. No tests, no papers, no quizzes, none of that stuff. Just we’re going to read. We’re going to come in. We’re going to talk. We’re going to be fun. Fantastic. And half this class, was probably 50 students, half the class loved it. Like, “Okay, I finally found a class that will let me just be me.”
William Tincup: 08:17 And the other half literally asked for a syllabus. Like, “Okay, that sounds great. What are the tests? When’s the midterm? When are the papers due?” It’s like, “Yeah, there’s none of that. There’s none of that stuff.” And what I learned through that painful experience is that some people, they need structure. They thrive in structure, I guess. And some people thrive in ambiguity. And I’ve wondered about this through the pandemic is flexibility sounds great, but if you’re a structured person and you need structure, then flexibility can be a bit overwhelming.
Kaitlin Kincaid: 08:57 Oh, on both sides of it. There are those people that are probably sitting at home taking too long on whatever exercise they’re working on because they don’t have someone telling them what to do right next to them or just that structure, but on the flip side, again, I think there’s no definition around, “All right, I’m going to get down into the office around 8:30. 9:00, start my day. I’m going to head out 5:00 ish.” People are sitting down at their laptops in their pajamas and starting their Workday an hour or two hours before they used to. Is the quality of the work, is the time spent as efficient? I don’t know. But I believe loud and clear people are working longer hours in this remote environment. Are people, again, doing an errand in the middle of the day, working out, going for their walk in the middle of the day? Maybe. But I still think that people are certainly working more hours in this fashion.
William Tincup: 10:02 And more hours doesn’t necessarily… I think, early in the pandemic, we all saw the same thing because we’re all scared and terrified on so many different levels, and so we were probably over productive. Just probably crazy productivity. Right? And then all of a sudden, that just started like, “Okay, enough.” Then that led to burnout, mental fatigue, mental illness, all kinds of different things. But I remember the first year of the pandemic, because my office faces out into our residential, and the first year of the pandemic, especially after about six months or so, man, people were outside. They were walking their dogs, they were jogging, they were just out and about and it was cool. It was actually really nice to see people out and about, families and just all kinds of stuff.
William Tincup: 10:53 Not as much now. And it’s like something’s changed. I live in the same neighborhood. It’s the same time of the year. And there’s not that many people that have pass by the house and it’s like, “Okay, so either they’re going into work, which, if they want to, that sounds fantastic, or they’re sitting at their terminal. They’re sitting at their computer or they’re not. It’s crazy to me to think flexibility in a way that, especially as you talked about it at the beginning, flexibility, it’s almost going to be defined by the individual. If it works for them, it’s we’re solving different algebra now. Does it work for you to come in the office three days? Five days? One day? Whatever. Or does it truly work for you to work remotely?
Kaitlin Kincaid: 11:48 Yeah. And listen, I actually think that like the hybrid model will balance that and will give the people that need the in-office time, the people that want or need the home time, I think it will balance that. The reality is hybrid is much harder than everyone in the office, which is what we used to have, and then everyone went remote. So now we’re not on an even playing field of you decide to go into the office on a Tuesday, but somebody else decides to stay home. You will miss out. The person who’s at home may miss out on that opportunistic conversation, that quick group discussion in a conference room that just happened opportunistically. So it’ll be interesting to see, but I can tell you loud and clear from candidates looking for new opportunities or considering new opportunities, people do not want to go five days a week to the office.
William Tincup: 12:54 I’ve told this story before, but I have a friend who called me probably about a year ago and said, “Hey, I need your help. I need to figure out some synonyms for the word commute.”
William Tincup: 13:08 He runs TA for a large firm in San Francisco, and I’m like, “What’s going on?” He’s like, “We’ve got to kind of mandatory three days in the office. You can pick any three days. Doesn’t matter to be whatever it is. But so you still have some flexibility, but you got to be in the office three days.” And they’re trying to force, and it’s for a good reason. They believe a lot of their culture is that in-office stuff that happens. And he goes, “I get people through Offer Loader,” and then I explain we get to around to the bit and he goes, “I had people drop out.” And I said, “Well, you want the good news or the bad news?” And they’re both the same. I said, “You got to talk about it, first.”
Kaitlin Kincaid: 13:54 Yeah. If we call someone about a role that we’re working on, it’s the second question. It used to be like, “Okay. What’s the firm? What’s the title? What’s the opportunity? What are they willing to pay this person?” Now, it’s, “What’s the firm? What’s their work from home situation? What’s their flexibility?
William Tincup: 14:18 That mirrors-
Kaitlin Kincaid: 14:18 People are prioritizing flexibility over compensation and over opportunity.
William Tincup: 14:25 I’ve found the same thing and it, indeed, kind of mirrors this and LinkedIn mirrors this, too, where job postings that have the word remote or remote work in them are indexed higher, and then you get more action on them. So I think the transparency, it’s expected by the candidates to just, “What’s your model?” Even if you don’t know for sure it’s carved in stone, what’s the model that you’re working with now? And I’ve even had candidates are “Is this remote forever?”
Kaitlin Kincaid: 14:55 No way. People are asking me that all the time and many of our clients are saying, “I can’t promise you it’s forever, but I don’t see it going away anytime soon.” And one thing we’ve seen is sort of pre-COVID, most of the people that asked for a work from home day were balancing childcare, that type of thing. Mostly women. That’s not what’s happening anymore. And I think, in my mind, in some ways, I think that’s why it will go on longer than it necessarily might have been. Because I think most people are asking for flexibility. So it’s interesting.
William Tincup: 15:42 I love it. I love it. So what’s what do you think’s driving the people being down? Do you think it’s we are at the edge of just mental fatigue, and just burnout, and people didn’t take time off?
Kaitlin Kincaid: 15:57 Yeah. Well, I think that’s fine and we had the last couple weeks, and even in my own company, we’ve had sort of this back to back series of vacations and it’s disruptive when you’re so busy, but then you’re sort of like, “Geez, these people haven’t taken a true vacation in two years.” So we have to make it work. We have to figure out a way for people to do it, because people need to recharge and they need to have that little break to come back and people work harder and are more productive when they take vacation. That’s an established thing. So, yeah. I don’t know. I think there’s been a lot of factors on a political front, on the COVID front, and like, “Is this over?” “Is it really [inaudible 00:16:46]?”
Kaitlin Kincaid: 16:47 “What’s going to happen?” “Is it coming back?” Now some of the global issues that are going on. So I think there’s this unknown that maybe we never realized how quickly something can change. No one saw COVID coming and it disrupted the daily life for everyone over a couple of days. So I think there’s that. And plus, I think there’s people who just… It’s been a hard time they’re really still recovering from that whether they’ve had people that were sick with COVID, whether they homeschooled their kids for a year and a half, they’re literally traumatized by that.
William Tincup: 17:31 Yeah. It’s interesting, because a lot of the societal movements, it was a rolling. MeToo, LoveIsLove, Black Lives Matter, culmination of George Floyd’s murder, in front of us COVIDm and every time that we’ve almost thought, “Okay, we’re almost to the end.” And something else happens. And I think we’ve been through three or four of those types of waves. We’re like, “Okay, all right. It’s in the rear view? No, it’s not. No, it’s not.” And I think the war in Ukraine has also got a lot of people, especially the financial folks, it’s got a lot of people stressed out. Just to see it on a nightly basis what they’re going through, and what’s people being displaced all over the world, just, again, you turn on the news and there’s not a lot of positive stories.
Kaitlin Kincaid: 18:28 Right, right.
William Tincup: 18:29 You think social media has… Probably a loaded question. Do you think social media is also impacting this?
Kaitlin Kincaid: 18:39 Oh, I think so. And I think, in general, the media and having the easy access to different headlines, you feel like you sought answers to like some of these scenarios, like what’s going to happen? But once you really start weeding through, are we being presented with the truth? Is this really the reality? And I think, not only is that confusing, but I think it creates some scenarios. It created unnecessary hysteria and others, again, I think it can be misleading people into believing something that might not be the reality. So I definitely think social media is a big part of this.
William Tincup: 19:30 We haven’t talked about recruiters, but what about recruiters? So we’ve talked a lot about candidates and kind of the candidates needs, et cetera like that. What do you think’s what’s going on with recruiters right now?
Kaitlin Kincaid: 19:44 We’ve never been busier. Our industry colleagues have never been busier from just a pure volume of assignments and I think the other part of this-
William Tincup: 19:55 Carrying more [inaudible 00:19:56]?
Kaitlin Kincaid: 19:57 Oh yeah. Because I think, generally, people, the way that we work, people partner with us so we can present a slate of candidates so they can hire, but they’re also going to get a snapshot of the market, understand what their competitors might be doing, understand other strategies people might be doing, get to understand how other firms pay their people, all sorts of market intel that’s very valuable, but not everybody wanted to do that. So there’s many companies that would run a job posting, get however many resumes, review them, and pick one.
Kaitlin Kincaid: 20:32 Well, because of all the activity, the pool of qualified candidates that are applying to job postings is just not there. So it is very difficult for companies to just hope they can hire someone and they just land on their desk. I don’t think that’s happening anymore, but from a recruiter standpoint, I think there’s a ton of activity. The volume is great, like I said, but I also think some of these assignments are just not that easy. People are looking for the same profiles.
William Tincup: 21:12 Right. Sorry to interrupt. Do you think we have to look outside of the traditional… Because they’re looking for the same. Is it looking for tangential skills and skilling them up or how do we, if we say scarcity, we just don’t have them, well then, do we build them? Do we borrow them from other industries? What’s potentially…
Kaitlin Kincaid: 21:41 Yeah. I think it’s a combination of things, but I think we’re telling our clients within certain sectors, within certain functions, this is a small pool of people and it’s a small pool of people because, again, take life science as an example. Certain markets that have this big focus on life science and office to lab conversions, they’re desperately looking for talent that has experienced in this asset type. So not only is there high demand for these people, but recruiters have been calling the same people. They’ve stopped answering their phone.
William Tincup: 22:19 Right. And none of the communications work, so it’s not like they stop answering their phone. They’re not answering email, they’re not answering emails, they’re not answering-
Kaitlin Kincaid: 22:29 People have just been knocking on their doors over and over and like whatever may be left in their head, but maybe they haven’t. And that’s happening. I think the other thing that’s frustrating from a recruitment standpoint is you go through a process, you have people that engage with your client, understand the job, feel excited about the job, we’ve talked about the economics, and you’re down to the finish line and you think we’re done here, and they either get countered at their current employer, or they were weighing two opportunities and they picked the other one. And that’s happened more in the last 15 months than it has in the last 15 years of me doing this, and it’s not a reflection of the recruiter’s work in most situations, it’s not necessarily even reflective of the offer, and the benefits, and compensation that was offered. There’s so many factors that people are weighing that are different than they did before COVID.
William Tincup: 23:38 So last question, and we both agree that folks are feeling down on all fronts, so candidates, recruiters, hiring managers, just across the board. What’s a quick hit? If we recognize that everyone’s feeling down, how can we can change it? Because you’re not going to go from down to up. You’re going to go from down to neutral.
Kaitlin Kincaid: 24:01 Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I think you said it. I think it’s, from a hiring standpoint, it’s being open-minded, someone could call and say, “Hey, I need someone that has 10 years of experience doing this, this, and this. And you might say this person might not have the experience, but they’re open to learning, and if you’re willing to put some training and some more mentorship, we think they have the fundamental skill sets and they have the ability to do the job, maybe they don’t have a long track record, so I think that’s certainly a solution. I think the idea that many companies are prioritizing diversity in the candidate pool is great.
Kaitlin Kincaid: 24:45 In certain geographic cities and locations, it does add another challenge, if you will, because the pool isn’t as always as deep as it is in certain markets. But I think our message to our clients is we need to be open minded and we will present a range of qualified candidates and let’s really look at the big picture. And the other thing is obviously timing. If you like someone and you need to keep them, you need to keep it moving along because you will lose them to something else.
William Tincup: 25:19 You might not deal with software engineers as much, but four interviews. If you get to the fifth interview, done. They’re out.
Kaitlin Kincaid: 25:28 Yeah. You don’t have a lot of time to like sit back and think about someone you might want to hire. ‘.
William Tincup: 25:35 Ooh. You got to jump. Especially if you like someone. Especially if you’re like, “Okay, we can make this work.” Then make it work that day. Kaitlin, this has been awesome. Thank you so much for your time and your wisdom.
Kaitlin Kincaid: 25:47 Thanks. Totally appreciate it.
William Tincup: 25:49 Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the Recruiting Daily Podcast. Until next time.
Music: 25:54 You’ve been listening to the Recruiting Live Podcast by Recruiting Daily. Check out the latest industry podcast, webinars, articles, and news, and recruit.
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.