Ed Stevens
Preciate

Ed Stevens is the founder and CEO of Preciate. He is deeply committed to helping others build strong, authentic relationships with the power of technology. Mr. Stevens has a BA from Stanford University.

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On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Ed from Preciate about using virtual meetings to streamline HR recruitment.

Some Conversation Highlights:

I’ve been in the software space for the majority of my career and it’s always been hard to find really good software engineers and really good technical people. And today, I don’t know that it’s any harder. I think maybe wages are going up, but it still feels like the same kind of process of building culture and all that good stuff. But in terms of recruiting virtually, the most important thing in HR recruitment that I’ve really seen is how do you connect with people on a personal level?

You can do it on a phone, you can do it on a video conference. People have had those tools available for a long time. And I think that the most important way to use those traditional tools is to fan out earlier in the HR recruitment process. And what I mean by that is sometimes, we would run a recruiting process where the hiring manager might be working with a recruiter and they kind of find a candidate and then they do the interview with the hiring manager and an offer goes out. And then very near the end of the process, they start to move into kind of meet the team.

 

Tune in for the full conversation.

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Listening time: 23 minutes

 

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Music: 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: Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today, we have Ed on from Preciate, and we have a wonderful topic where we’re going to explore it’s using virtual meetings to streamline HR recruitment. So let’s just jump right into it. Ed, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and Preciate?

Ed Stevens: Yeah. So I’m Ed Stevens, and I’m the founder and CEO of Preciate. Preciate is a social presence platform, which enables our users to join a video meeting on our platform that gives them the ability to move. And that authentic connections and those authentic connections help to accelerate business, and they certainly help to accelerate recruiting, which is what we’re here to talk about today.

William Tincup: I love that. So explain just for a second, when you say move, what do you… Because my mind went like nine different directions.

Ed Stevens: So when you’re in a Zoom meeting, you’re in a rectangle and at the very most you’re allowed to join a breakout room if the host puts you in there. But if you could sort of imagine that that meeting was really circle instead of a rectangle, and now with your arrow keys, you could move around and that all 100 people in the meeting can move around.

William Tincup: Oh, that’s cool.

Ed Stevens: Yeah.

William Tincup: Oh, I love that. Well, we’re going to have to talk more about that just on a separate call. So using virtual meetings to streamline HR recruitment. So let’s just jump in right into that. How do we do that? Because the word streamline is what everyone’s going to key in on if course. It’s like, how do you get faster? How do you get to quality faster? Et cetera. So what’s your suggestion or where shall we start?

Ed Stevens: I mean, recruiting right now is as challenging as I’ve ever seen it. And that’s no surprise to you or anyone who’s alive.

William Tincup: Right. If you have a pulse and you’ve been paying attention, the fact that HR and recruiters are as sought after as software developers is insane. I mean, it’s just insane, but we’re here now.

Ed Stevens: Yeah. It’s amazing. It really is. But I’ve been in the software space for the majority of my career and it’s always been hard to find really good software engineers and really good technical people. And today, I don’t know that it’s any harder. I think maybe wages are going up, but it still feels like the same kind of process of building culture and all that good stuff. But in terms of recruiting virtually, the most important thing that I’ve really seen is how do you connect with people on a personal level?

You can do it on a phone, you can do it on a video conference. People have had those tools available for a long time. And I think that the most important way to use those traditional tools is to fan out earlier in the recruiting process. And what I mean by that is sometimes, we would run a recruiting process where the hiring manager might be working with a recruiter and they kind of find a candidate and then they do the interview with the hiring manager and an offer goes out. And then very near the end of the process, they start to move into kind of meet the team. 

And I think that that is that kind of meet the team component of the remote recruiting, virtual recruiting is moving forward in the process. So now, we would have people meet the team after the initial screening call. And then the hiring manager might have an interview for skills, but before we even decide to put out an offer or even talk about terms or an offer, we are having this individual meet at least to probably as many as for additional people on the team, just as part of the standard interview process.

William Tincup: Do you believe that’s driven by the candidate, this desire to meet more of the people? Or is the company’s desire for more of the folk people to meet the candidate?

Ed Stevens: It’s our strategy. Only the really senior candidates might express that kind of a like, “Hey, can I meet some more people?” But more mid-level or lower hire’s not going to think of asking for that. I don’t think. So we’re doing it.

William Tincup: Yeah. It’s a wonderful way to then just say, “Hey, by the way, before we send you an offer letter, why don’t you meet some people? So that there’s no shock at all, there’s no surprises, and you get to meet some folks.” So here’s 12 people, pick a couple that you’d like to meet and meet them. They’d like to meet you too, whatever.

Ed Stevens: Yeah. I mean the two broad themes for virtual or remote working are relationships and process. The processes, we’re not talking about today, but the two things that really kind of fall apart when you’re not all in the same room-

William Tincup: Communication.

Ed Stevens: … is how we do things, that’s the process side of things. So that’s a whole area of focus that probably is a different podcast. But in terms of relationship building, you have to be very intentional and put in, I don’t know if it’s three times more effort, you have to put in a lot more effort to get people to understand if they’re going to be a relational or cultural fit. And that’s why you have to bring it up sooner, now, which is why we bring it up sooner in the recruiting process, because intermingled with the just remote nature, you’re just not going to see people as much. It might take a little longer to figure out whether you’re going to get along with people. So that just means is more time and effort further forward in the process. And then also when you mix in diversity goals or other kinds of broader governance or social kind of objectives in your hiring practices, now you’re talking about maybe inviting someone who is… A diversity candidate might be even more unsure whether they’re going to fit in. Does that make sense?

William Tincup: Yeah, it totally makes sense. What I love about this is most people are, we’re talking about speed and speed in some ways begets quality because if you’re not fast enough, then the quality candidates are already gone by the time you get to them. So what I love about this front of funnel meeting the team. The other’s an initial, obviously there’s a screen, there’s assessment. The candidate makes sense from a perspective. And even if you’ve done hiring manager call, that’s great. But immediately, like right then, like if it’s a green light, meet the team. And I think that’s good for candidates. I think for the candidate’s experience. It lessens the anxiety around making the wrong choice on both sides, but I’m thinking about the candidate right now, is there’s a lot of anxiety of, “I really like the hiring manager and, or I really like the recruiter and the hiring manager,” and then they get on the job and it’s like, “I don’t like anybody else.”

Ed Stevens: Right.

William Tincup: So that’s shock. And everyone has that anxiety and even company side, the team has that anxiety as well, of course. But I love that you’re basically bringing something that’s very human, but you’re bringing it further in the process to help with speed and quality.

Ed Stevens: I think it’s easier for us to do it because we’re a certified B Corp. And our stated purpose in our incorporation documents is to help people build stronger and more authentic relationships in the workplace. And so for us, we live that value and it’s kind of easy for us to remember to do that. The thing that I learned when we did the original research in starting this business was we did a lot of research about relationship building in the workplace. I had sold a company. I had moved from California to Dallas and I had no friends here, no social network, no family. And I started really working on building relationships, business, networking, all kinds of relationships. And that’s what actually got me started on this path with Preciate, and this purpose. Was I just got kind of obsessed with it.

And then when COVID hit, I got obsessed with it, how it plays out in a virtual or in a remote world. And what we learned was that people… Well, first of all, we learned that strong, high quality relationships are the single number one factor in human happiness, including at work. It’s like, if you hate everybody at your office… You’ve heard the old adage, people don’t leave a job, they leave the manager. 

William Tincup: That’s like the oldest.

Ed Stevens: One of the old ones, but I think they also leave their team. And so, if they like the people, if they have good relationships, not only is that more pleasant for them, it’s also actually more leading to success because when you have social capital, you can cash it in once in a while. You can cash it in for advice, for mentoring, for opportunities. If you and I are close, I might remember you when I hear something happening that I think you could benefit from and I remember to pass it along to you. So, that thing about social capital is that people know they need it, and that’s what we call this relationship building. And very subconsciously, I think that’s what’s going through candidates minds early in that process.

And especially with a remote job, they’re trying to think, “How am I going to build real relationships that would lead to promotions, that would lead to opportunities, getting put on good projects, being given good customers.” Whatever those things may be, it all comes from relationships. And then you just pull back 10 steps and realize in a virtual world, it’s really, really hard to do that. So what do you do? Well, first thing you do when something is really hard is you expect to spend more time and money on it. That’s my attitude. And so if it’s really hard, then you’re just going to have to spend more time and money on it as a business.

William Tincup: So you’ve hired for a long time. So pre-pandemic, you probably had an idea of what the candidates’ needs were for different positions that your firm might have been hiring for. What do you see now? What do you see are their needs or desires in the experience? What’s changed?

Ed Stevens: In the hiring experience?

William Tincup: Mm-hmm (affirmative). From a candidate’s perspective. What do you feel they need and they want more of?

Ed Stevens: Well, I think the first thing that comes to my mind there is they want a better vision of kind of where they’re going, what their career path is going to be, or what they can do inside your company. And you have to align yourself with them very well on that. And as a smaller company, as a startup, we have to align along, you will have a lot of responsibility, you will get to make decisions that you wouldn’t even be within three layers of the decision, if you were at a giant company. So, that’s how we try to align with their needs, and they’re very focused on that. But I would say the other thing that’s a lot different, and maybe isn’t so much related to the virtual thing, but we see candidates now much more interested in where you stand on social impact, diversity, and environmental. And we went through the B Corp certification early as a company when we only had five people. And several of our key employees joined the company just because we had that.

William Tincup: Explain to folks that might not understand C Corp, or LLC, the difference in what a B Corp is.

Ed Stevens: So B Corp is a legal structure, most states have it, and it’s either a public benefit C Corp, or it’s just a B Corp itself in Texas, and Delaware, it’s a C Corp that elects to be a public benefit corporation. And what that does is it allows the board of directors to make decisions that are not strictly fiduciary. It allows them to make decisions that are in the best interest, not just of the shareholders’ financial interests, but also the purpose of the company as written in the articles of incorporation. So it gives legal freedom to the board of directors to stand behind their purpose.

William Tincup: Yeah. There’s very little flexibility with fiduciary duties.

Ed Stevens: There’s zero flexibility. 

William Tincup: I know. I know.

Ed Stevens: Whole Foods was a C Corp, and when Amazon went to buy them, they couldn’t say no, because Amazon was offering enough money that they had to accept it legally.

William Tincup: That’s right. Yeah, they could possibly open themselves up for lawsuits.

Ed Stevens: Yeah, a lot of people don’t know that board members on a C Corp are personally liable if they don’t look after strictly the financial interests of shareholders only. So when you have companies talk about social purpose, if they are just a C Corp at the end of the day, the board of directors will always have to vote for the money. So B Corp shifts you away from that. And then once you are a public benefit Corp legally, then you can go ahead and get certified by bcorporation.net. And what they do is they take you through an extensive proctology exam, you might say, about all of your practices on environmental, governance, diversity, community, who you’ve with.

William Tincup: That’s cool. They’re holding you accountable.

Ed Stevens: Yeah. And you get a score. The best thing about it is that as the leader of the company, you never really know where you should stop on these things. You know you can’t do everything that perfect. And so the question is, how much is enough environmental goodness? How much is enough diversity? How much is enough community service? And the nice thing about this third party agency is they kind of objectively benchmark you against everybody else. And you can sort of say, “Hey, here’s our score, we’re certified, and we know that’s at least an objective way of saying we’re a pretty good conscious company.”

William Tincup: I love that. I love that. Thank you for explaining that to folks. In talking about our topic, we talk about virtual meetings. I want to kind of make sure that the audience understands in the current context, what do we get right about virtual meetings? What have we learned over the last two years that we were getting right, or getting better at? And what do we just get wrong? Like some of the things that we make mistakes with recruiters and candidates.

Ed Stevens: Well, I think the one thing that we get right is these tools are ubiquitous and it’s good to use video. You can see why these tools have become used every day by lots of people, and they’re as ubiquitous as a telephone. So I think overall, connecting with people over video virtually works really well. The one place where it doesn’t work, and I think where we’ve gotten things wrong is if you take a Zoom meeting, let’s take an onboarding meeting. So let’s say now, you’re hiring 25 people a week. So once a month, you have 100 new people, and they’re all over the country, because you’re either a really big company or you’re a remote company.

And so how do you get those people to establish some kind of rapport with each other? How do you introduce them to divisional managers, VPs, directors? A lot of those events are still attempted on platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. And once you get over about 15 or 20 people trying to have some kind of interactive experience on those platforms is really bad. So bad, in fact that I started a whole company to change that. I won’t spend the listener’s time tooting my own horn, but there are a variety of platforms like Preciate that specifically solve that problem.

Make these 50, 100, 150 person meetings. And that’s where the movement and the room really becomes an essential characteristic. We’re not talking about 3D avatars and metaverse, this is two-dimensional, it’s on a screen, use a regular laptop and everything. But that is, I think really important to point out, because that onboarding process and that team cohesion does ultimately accelerate the pace of business.

William Tincup: And what’s great about that on the front end, when we talk about on the recruiting side, but you’d also brought it in the onboarding, you could see it in internal mobility and even our placement as well, it’s there’s relationships. Is at the center of this human relationships. And you’re trying to foster those human relationships using technology. What’s kind of your advice for your team and also the audience in terms of, “Okay, we’re pushing forward meeting the team experience?” Which has been there, but it’s always been pushed either after they offer a letter or even worse after onboarding. And so you’re pushing that forward, which I love, which gets us to the heart of what we’re talking about with our conversation. Now, what are some of your tips and tricks for relationship building for either the team with the candidate or the candidate with the team? What are some icebreakers? What ways in which you like to where you could even make it personal? Things that you like to do when you’re meeting someone for the first time virtually.

Ed Stevens: There are three Fundamental ways that people build relationships. One is activating the give-get cycle. I cook dinner, you do the dishes. I help you move your couch, you buy me a six pack of beer. That’s the give-get cycle. It’s classic relationship building. The second is identifying shared values. “You coach your kids’ soccer team.” “Oh my gosh, I coach my kid’s soccer team. That’s amazing.” And then the third is accomplishing goals together. Like, “Hey William, you want to go run that 5K together?” “Oh man, I got to train every day.” Yeah. But then when we cross that finish line, it’s going to be amazing and you and I are going to be closer. So the way that we approach this is by intentionally activating those three relationship building techniques. We focus on goals and accomplishing them together. That can be community service goals, like a blood drive or some kind of charity. It can also be just like a business goal or a project. We make sure we focus on celebrating that.

Shared values, identifying those, that’s a typical kind of icebreaker activities where you might say, “Hey, go over to the left side of the room if you like action movies, and go to the right side of the room if you like love stories.” And then people will kind of separate and begin that exploration of values that they share. And there’s lots of icebreakers that you can run. Just Google icebreaker business, and there’s a zillion. But we do them virtually and that’s really great. And then activating the give-get cycle, straight up, we use employee recognition platform. We have one of those too that we built and it’s just the, “Thank you for helping me with this project.” And then that recognition cycle, the give-get cycle. Those are the three things we do and they work amazingly well.

William Tincup: So, you’ve used the word intentionality three times and it’s one of my favorite words. So thank you. For folks that struggle with intentionality for whatever reason, it really doesn’t matter, but maybe it’s a new concept to them. How do you intellectually or emotionally get them over the hump and get them to that place of intentionality?

Ed Stevens: Well, if I was really just trying to put it in a simple way, I would say spend more time doing it. Spend more time thinking about it. Put a block on your calendar, read a book about it. Anything that you want to realize, unless you brought your magic wand to work, you probably need to spend time and probably some money on it. So that’s really what I mean, and of course, you can’t have 10 things like that. So the other aspect of intentionality is eliminating priorities that you just don’t have time to focus on. And don’t try to spread the peanut butter so thin. We at Preciate have a quarterly kind of big, we call it our quarterly rocks or our quarterly goals. And so that way, you just have two or three things for the quarter that are really, really important to accomplish. And that’s a nice way to think about intentionality too. It’s just like, don’t try to have 10 goals, just have a couple.

William Tincup: Yeah. And communicate what those things are so that everybody understands what they are, so that there’s no shock at all. Last question. We’ve talked about a lot about the positive side of moving the team forward. There’s just I don’t see a counter argument to it. It’s just a great thing to do both from the streamlining, but also from making sure that everyone understands and feels good about the transaction and what goes next. It is just going to happen if it hasn’t already that someone’s going to go through that process and it’s not going to work like meaning candidates are going to meet the team and go, “Yeah, this is just a bad fit for me.”

Or, “I don’t have the skills. Maybe I oversold myself and I don’t have what they need right now.” Or vice versa. The team’s going to see something in a candidate. First of all, I see that all as all positive. I don’t see any of that as negative because it’s better for both parties if we learn that now as opposed to nine months from now. So I think it’s good for both parties. But what do you typically give advice to folks when that happens? That being a a good thing, not a bad thing.

Ed Stevens: Well, without making it too long of an answer, it’s disappointing for sure. And it can be frustrating and disappointing if you’re like, “This is the third time it’s happened,” or you still don’t have a person, you’re two months in, you’re three months in. So, what I will do when a recruiting process is getting longer, getting to the point where people are frustrated, then I have to decide, “Do I just kind of try to give everybody a pep talk? Or do I do something about it?” And I do give them a pep talk, but I just up the ante. So I just sort of double down. Like if we were spending X amount on recruiting or advertising, as the process goes into month two, or further along, then we just increase our attention and our spending on it, the time and money that we spend on it until it’s put to bed.

So, that’s the way that I deal with that general issue, which is like if this is happening over and over again, I’m not going to leave it at a steady spend of time and money until the position is filled. I actually increase it sort of linearly as the process gets longer. And then you always end up getting a really good person at the end. It just costs you a little bit more than you thought, but you don’t get into that really demoralizing, “Man, this is a huge waste of my time. Why does nobody want to work here?”

William Tincup: Yeah. First of all, I love the answer. It costs you more money, but in the long term, if you did the math, if that person stayed nine months and then you had to replace them and go back out, retrain, et cetera, does it really cost more money? I don’t know. That’d be actually really interesting.

Ed Stevens: I don’t think it costs more. I think it’s cheaper, because also your current staff is getting distracted and tired of it.

William Tincup: That’s right. Demotivated.

Ed Stevens: Especially, if you’re pulling up these team meetings earlier in the process, they can only take so much. So you got to just kind of like realize when something is bogging down and it’s really important, then it shoots to the top of the priority stack and you get it done.

William Tincup: Ed, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. You’ve been wonderful.

Ed Stevens: My pleasure. Really enjoyed it.

William Tincup: And thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Until next time.

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

Authors
William Tincup

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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