In Today’s Podcast
In this episode, we talk with Julia Levy, Head of Global Talent Acquisition at CommScope. Julia brings a unique perspective as a leader of a global TA team who is also a leading voice in recruitment marketing.
Listening Time: 35 minutes
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Announcer: School’s in session. This is RecruitingDaily’s Sourcing School Podcast. Real talk about recruiting, sourcing, and cyber sleuthing. Hot takes on sourcing tools, recruiting tech, and anything we want to talk about with no filter. It’s time to level up and put your sourcing pants on. Here’s your dudes, Ryan Leary and Brian Fink.
Brian Fink: The Georgia Bulldogs won the national championship.
Ryan Leary: Funny story about that for everyone who’s listening. So, Fink you sent me a text that said, “Natty,” or something like that.
Brian Fink: Yes, we won the natty.
Ryan Leary: I have no clue about college football. I’m in Philadelphia area, we got Temple University, we have like 3,000 people at the stadium on a good day. And he said, “Natty”, my first thought, “Why the hell are you drinking Natty Light? You are way too old for this.” That was my thought, and then I felt like an idiot when I realized he meant the national championship.
Brian Fink: All right. So I’m excited about the national championship, but I’m also excited that we’ve got somebody with us today who I have mad esteem for. I’ve had the opportunity to present alongside her. I was introduced to her by Shally Steckerl. We have got the lovely and talented Julia Levy with us today. Julia, what’s going on? How are you?
Julia Levy: Hey guys. And Ryan, I’m totally with you. I went to Drexel and I do not get SEC football or the SEC football fever at all.
Ryan Leary: When they’re packing 90,000 fans, I’m like, “What is that?” That means nothing to me. If we got 3,000 people on a fantastic, perfect day, that was max capacity. And that’s in the Linc that holds 80,000 people. So it looks ridiculous.
Julia Levy: Drexel didn’t even have football, so I’m a childhood Ohio State fan and more Big 10 than I am SEC. But I do vote [crosstalk 00:02:22].
Brian Fink: Vote for the SEC. SEC. It’s funny, Julia, we’re a divided house too, because my wife is a huge Penn state fan. So it’s all Big 10. My daughter claims that she’s going to a Big 10 university. We’re going to see if I’m going to pay for it, but we’ll get there, right? Julia-
Julia Levy: Anything she wants, she gets.
Brian Fink: Exactly, right. If you follow me on Instagram, you follow me on Facebook, you know that she gets whatever she wants. About getting whatever one wants, that is the topic of today’s conversation. Recruiting recruiters. Julia, you have worked with some of the best recruiters in the business, you’ve worked with some of the best sourcers in the business. First question that I ask you is, why is it so tough right now for a pimp? Why is it so tough to recruit recruiters?
Julia Levy: Well, it’s obviously one of the most unusual times in the work force, I think ever. And I look at it as this perfect storm of job volume, especially in the U.S., although I work for a global organization, but the job volume has increased I think almost triple. At least double, almost triple. So you have the need for more recruiters right now, then you have, I think coming through COVID, when you look at… People call it the great resignation, whatever it is, great reshuffling. People through COVID are saying, “I want meaningful work or to work for a meaningful company,” and reevaluating the type of work they’re doing, the companies that they’re working for, what their career development is, what their opportunity is in the future. If they’re flexible, remote, working in office.
So many things about that going on, and then you have labor market participation decreasing as well. And so it really is this perfect storm where there’s so many open jobs available and it’s so much harder to find good talent, and that includes recruiting talent. I know most recruiters that I know, myself included, are getting calls about opportunities daily or weekly, and you really have to think about what’s most important to you. There’s just a lot of opportunity right now.
Brian Fink: So I got a question. Do you think the great resignation’s going to slow down and if so, do you think the hunt for recruiters is going to slow down with it?
Julia Levy: I don’t know if it’s going to slow down, but I think that it’ll continue to shift. I think maybe not so much as… Right now you might see an increase as companies pay out their bonuses and things like that, the typical cycle in the first quarter or two when bonuses and raises are happening. But I don’t think it’s going to slow down anytime soon.
Brian Fink: All right, so wait a minute. You talked about bonuses and higher salaries, we hope that will anchor people and keep them from making a move. What’s the role of remote? I mean, I joke that recruiters only need food, water, and wifi, and food and water are optional. Is remote and flexibility playing a bigger gap or what’s going on here?
Julia Levy: It’s critical. I think across the board, not just with recruiters, but across the board, as I’m talking to people, because we’ve been hiring as our REQ volume skyrocketed at the end of last year and into this year. And as I’m talking to people to join our team, there is a strong desire for people to work remotely or flexibly. So if someone is near site or remote, and when we return to office, I think the challenge will be… Whether it’s return to office or at least whatever, some sort of normalcy will look like, is just how do you build the relationships and the strong relationships?
Because when I cut my teeth in recruiting, I could go walk down the hall and talk to one of my hiring managers. Now you do have video, but there is something to be said for being face to face with someone and you shaking their or hand or a fist bump or whatever today’s hello is, but actually sitting in a room with someone and really forming that strong bond. And so looking for people that have that relationship building capability and being able to build it virtually, but then also you need that balance of in person as well, I think.
Ryan Leary: As you’re talking, a lot of things are racing through my head here, and I think you and I have talked about this a lot. I know it’s a big debate that’s out there, but the skillset of a recruiter, the skillset of a sourcer, recruiter verse sourcer. So in today’s market, being that recruiters are so incredibly difficult to find and bring on… Because you’re sitting at a high level at a top organization, where do you see the gap between recruiters and sourcers and the skillsets that you need today that you’re planning for versus two years ago?
Julia Levy: I think that the sourcers and recruiters, and I’ll say maybe a little more recruiters, who are going to be most successful are the ones that are tenacious and innovative. Before we started recording, I was saying that every time I talked to Brian, he’s dropping some sort of golden nugget of information. A website, a blog, a tool, whatever it is.
Ryan Leary: [crosstalk 00:08:04].
Julia Levy: It’s always something. Brian is really good about innovation and he pushes the boundaries, he thinks outside the box, and it’s that type of skill of someone who, I guess it’s be curious, and that curiosity, and that somebody who is… And LinkedIn is a great tool for many reasons, but someone who only relies on LinkedIn and they’re sourcing on LinkedIn, isn’t going to be successful in this new world. It’s really having curiosity and I’d say tenacity of trying new things and not just reaching out to someone once and waiting, but really having that precocious and tenacious nature.
Brian Fink: Okay. So let me drop something else in here is that you use the term sourcer and you use the term recruiter. I’ve used them. Julia, how do you define who they are, and then what’s the difference?
Julia Levy: So I think every recruiter needs to have sourcing skills and capabilities and knowledge. Out of the bat, if I think about a recruiter, sourcing is a piece of what a recruiting person would do. They would have the sourcing capability to not just rely on a job posting, but help go out to market and use their network and develop pipelines. So recruiters need sourcing exposure, experience. They also now need to be marketers and understand how to craft a message to candidates. We all have LinkedIn and regular email boxes and voicemail boxes that are full of a lot of clutter. How do you break through that clutter? The marketing skills are really critical for a recruiter as well. And then you have on top of that, the candidate care and candidate management, and you have on top of that, then, the hiring manager, the account manager and sales aspect of things.
So a recruiter has a lot on their plates if you are full cycle and you don’t have a sourcing team behind you. There are a lot of skills that as a leader, I need to develop and nurture and bring out in the recruiting organization. Now you ask about a sourcer.
Brian Fink: Yeah.
Julia Levy: The sourcer is really creative, tenacious, I mean, marketing. You have to understand labor market and different dynamics that are going on, keep a thumb on what’s going on within competitive organizations. So being able to look at competitive intelligence and not being scared to cold call people, or use different tools and understand your candidate personas and where they’re spending their time online and deconstruct what does a software engineer look like? Where do they spend their time? What do they do? And really dive deep and build those pipelines and build relationships of passive talent.
And so there, there are some differences. I think sourcers, if they’re really true sourcers, that’s all they live, breathe, and eat is that relationship building with passive talent, understanding the market. Whether it be schools, organizations, companies, so that labor market information I think is really critical as well. And being able to quickly identify or find the creativity in that. And innovation’s really important.
Brian Fink: You mentioned something else that I want to jump into that, shout out to some of the peers that I work with, that you need to bring data to a meeting with a hiring manager. What kind of data does a recruiter or a sourcer, and I’m sorry that I’m using those interchangeably, I apologize to the audience. But different organizations shift how much responsibility is on a recruiter and how much responsibility is on a sourcer. What kind of information does TA need to bring to the hiring manager to have that relationship, that strategy, instead of a takeout session? I’m sorry, I call intake meetings takeout sessions because I’m apparently there just to take an order.
Julia Levy: So I think that there’s some different pieces of data that you can bring. So the first thing is looking within your ATS to see what you already have in there that might be similar. Can you retarget candidates or people in the system that you might not have looked at before that have similar skills? So are we fishing in our own pond, and can you come to the table during the intake with a couple people that either they’ve interviewed in the past, people in the role in the company today, looking at their LinkedIn profiles to say, “Are we looking for another Brian, are we looking for a Ryan?” Or maybe not either of those, but really trying to bring data around what you already have.
Then if you have other data sources like a TalentNeuron or LinkedIn Insights or MC, being able to pull data around the labor market, in that job family group, location, industry, et cetera. Bringing some of that to the table, to be able to talk to the hiring manager about what’s going on within the marketplace. If you understand your business well enough, and you can discuss what’s going on with some of your competitive organizations, competitive companies, that’s another piece of data to bring. Salary information. I mean, there’s so many different data points that you can come to the intake conversation with in order to have an educated conversation.
Brian Fink: Got it, got it. And I guess that goes back to that element that you talked about, curiosity. Julia, do you hire for curiosity in a recruiter and if so, how do you test it?
Julia Levy: I try to. I’m probably not as good at uncovering it sometimes, but I think where I like to talk to people… When I was at Fiserv and I was hiring sourcing teams, I would give a little, not a test, but a homework assignment, I guess, of sorts, prior to my really formal interview with the person, because I want to philosophically really understand how someone’s approaching a role or a search that they’re given. So what questions are they asking me about the role or the situation, hypothetically. What sources do they typically go to or where would they search?
So I want to give them a prime example of a type of role that we hire and understand their thought processes, how they’re curious, what sources they normally go to. Do they have favorite podcasts? How do they stay up to date on what’s going on within their industry or their business? So it’s definitely part of my conversation with people. I’m always asking about those types of questions to try and dig at… If someone’s not on social media at all, and doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile, that might say something about how up to date they are with their skills and capabilities, or if they don’t listen to any podcasts or other items.
Ryan Leary: I’ve got a question for you. So hiring for curiosity can be tough, right? I mean, it’s a subjective thing, right? But I think some of the conversations I’ve had recently, and a lot of the reasons why for the upcoming HRTX, we’re doing recruiters recruiting recruiters, because it’s just such a pain in the ass thing to do. And we’re hearing you [inaudible 00:16:26] the audience. You spend hours a day. All you do is developers and tech and that’s hard, right? We know that. So we just did an event in December on that and we know it’s hard, but recruiters recruiting recruiters, it just seemed a monumental task. And there’s always a skills gap somewhere in there that makes it hard. What we’re finding when we’re having our conversations is that heads of TA, they’re hiring recruiters in volumes. They’re hiring a lot of recruiters, but then they get rid of them. They don’t work out. And I’m curious, what is your thoughts on where are we missing the mark on hiring recruiters? What skills are lacking in current recruiters in the market? Where’s the problem?
Julia Levy: I think some of it is around our interviewing capabilities. So recruiters, when they’re interviewing someone, are really pre-qualifying someone. I’m not an engineer, I’m never going to be able to give someone a really intense technical engineering interview. As a recruiter, qualifying people to make sure that they meet the minimum and hopefully many of the preferred qualifications, I’m doing an interview, but I’m not necessarily really digging into the minutia and the details.
And so I know recently, in the last four months, we’ve hired a lot of people at our organization and I sometimes will do a final interview on some of the people. And a couple of times I had someone say to me, they’re answering all the questions, but I don’t know if just because they’re a recruiter, they know how to answer these questions, right? These are the questions we’re asking of candidates all the time. Are they just giving me what they expect me to hear? Or is this really how they are and who they are. And so I think that when we’re recruiting recruiters, it’s how do we ask those follow up questions to really get to and pull out from someone what’s really going on within their recruiting skillset?
Brian Fink: Do you think that there should be a recruiting test?
Julia Levy: I did that little bit of sourcing homework, right? I balanced that because I have friends that are in sales and those people in sales are always asked to create a presentation and present. It’s pretty typical. The recruiting test, I go back and forth on that, because yes, I feel I wish I knew ahead of and could really do some sort of test, go find all these people. But then if someone asked me to do that, I’d probably be like, “Hell no. I’ve done all this, I’m telling you about it, why do I have to go prove myself again?” I think that would be off-putting to people, and I think there’s a balance around that. In this marketplace, would people do it?
Ryan Leary: It’s interesting, I’ll tell a story of someone who will remain nameless because-
Brian Fink: Brian Fink. Brian Fink.
Ryan Leary: No, no, no, no. It’s an active conversation of employment. And it’s interesting, I was talking to this person the other day and he’s very high level, right? He up there with the top, and they were asking him about what would you do in certain situations? I forget what the exact situation was, but it was a very tactical conversation. What would you do to do this? And they were looking for something super tactical, like, “Get in the weeds and do this.”
I’m going to run your global organization. I’m not going to be here. And that’s the vibe I’m getting here. Why am I going to waste my time doing this? There’s 85 other of these opportunities out there that will take me as I am today and I can have an impact on. Why am I going to do these five things for you and run a rat race and have no expectation that I’m actually going to get a real interview or a real opportunity?
Brian Fink: Ryan, I want to comment on that for a second. And I want to comment on that and ask Julia a question about that. Julia, do you believe in try it before you buy it, i.e., that recruiters should be contractors for 90 days before they come on board to prove that they could do what they need to do to hit their metrics, or just hire them full-time? Because I know this market is crazy and everybody’s got a different model. What’s your take on this?
Julia Levy: I typically will try and do our best job in evaluating talent and hire them as full-time employees. The try it before you buy it, you really limit yourself to who’s available in the marketplace. And I sure wouldn’t leave a full time job for a three month contract that isn’t necessarily going to go anywhere. I mean, it might, but I think that you limit yourself from finding the best available talent if you’re only doing try it before you buy it.
Brian Fink: Got it.
Speaker 1: Got it.
Ryan Leary: You know what, I’m with you there, Julia. I sold it in the past, right? Here’s your attempt to hire type thing, and-
Julia Levy: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Me too.
Ryan Leary: It was easy to sell, I mean, it sold the hell out of it. Now that I’m on the other side and I’ve done other, the organization, the amount of time it takes to get that person ramped up, to get them trained, to really see an impact. It’s not 90 days. I mean, you’re not seeing anything. The only thing you’re getting, in my opinion, is are they moldable? Are they willing to learn? Do they fit into your organization? But 90 days, you’re not going to get a significant production out of them. I mean Fink, if you went somewhere for 90 days, I mean, it takes you 12 months to get a hire, right? You’ll never.
Brian Fink: I know it takes me 12 months to get a hire, right? You got the zingers today, buddy.
Ryan Leary: I got to take them where I get them because there’s not many I can get with you. So when you’re on your Peloton, riding your bike and not paying… I got to take them.
Brian Fink: Yeah, if you want to [inaudible 00:22:57]. Hey, speaking of Pelotons real quick…
Ryan Leary: I want a Peloton, though. I’m coming to your house and we’re riding.
Brian Fink: Ryan, that’s not the way Peloton works.
Julia Levy: In tandem, in tandem.
Ryan Leary: I thought I could just come and get on your bike, can’t I do that?
Brian Fink: I can’t wait for the show notes and we post this somewhere on Apple Podcast. It’s like, “Julia explained to Brian and Ryan how to recruit recruiters today, and also Brian described to Ryan how you ride a Peloton.” I can’t.
Ryan Leary: We’re going to be canceled. Oh man. I’m still looking for this anchor video bar you’re talking about, so I’m not even paying attention here. But for real, I mean, I don’t know. I feel like this temp to hire thing is… I think it’s old. I don’t think it has a… I mean, maybe it has a place in the market, I don’t know. It wouldn’t have a place with me.
Julia Levy: I mean, I sold temps earlier in my career and same kind of thing. And there’s nothing wrong with it, and there’s nothing wrong with someone getting their foot in the door as a temp and converting over, but as a leader in talent acquisition, I’m trying to have a multi-pronged approach so that I can get a better view of the full talent marketplace. So right now we do have some contract recruiters. We had some contract recruiter positions open, some full-time positions open. We have one sourcer. I’d like to eventually build that out further to something similar that I built out when I was at Fiserv, but also looking at things like RPO and temp agencies and other staffing levers that I can pull to help meet the global needs that we have.
Brian Fink: You mentioned the word agency. So I was having a conversation this morning with an agency here in Atlanta. They’re a well established agency, they do a lot of work and what have you, and they were asking me, “Hey, Brian, where are you finding your recruiters?” I was like, “Well, I’m not sending them shitty emails.” And I think everybody’s heard me rant about that. Julia, where’s the place for the agency in today’s recruiting model? Because I see so many companies hiring for in-house recruiters and I’m just wondering, is there a place for the agencies? I mean, I know Matrix here in Atlanta just got bought, but is there a place for this?
Julia Levy: I definitely still think there is. I think we use agencies in a couple different ways. So we have at our VP and C level, we will go out to retain search on occasion. Then we have different vendor partners that are more of that contingent search that are probably a senior level through that VP level that we might send something out on. We do use Recruitify to help manage that process from a technology perspective. So tools like Recruitify and BountyJobs can be helpful there, managing that kind of spend.
And then we also have a managed service provider relationship with Allegis to manage our contingent workforce. So all of the temps in several countries, it goes through Allegis, and we have a wide variety of staffing firms that staff those. A lot of our hourly, some of the temp to hire roles that we do have in some of our businesses go through the MSP relationship. So there is definitely, I think, a wide variety. There’s firms out there that help you with source and screen if you don’t have a sourcing function or aren’t seeing the applicant flow or can’t get the head count to add additional recruiters.
So there’s always an area for that RPO. So I think it depends on the company’s geographic structure, their business structure, the types of roles that they hire. There’s a variety of ways in which you can use that to supplement your recruiting team efforts.
Brian Fink: Got it, got it, got it. And also, I know that more and more individuals are getting interested in recruiting because it is the number two hottest job on LinkedIn behind software engineers. Julia, what advice would you give to somebody who says, “I want to get into recruiting, I want to help people?” What advice would you give them?
Julia Levy: So if someone’s really just starting out and doesn’t know much about recruiting, there probably aren’t as many entry level or junior recruiting jobs open. I’ve seen a couple different things. I got lucky, cut my teeth in recruiting, but I also… Working at an agency. I find that a lot of our recruiters that have agency backgrounds have more of that creativity and tenacity that I like. They might not have all of the sourcing skills depending on if they’re an agency where you’re working the candidate side and the sales side of the house, it just depends. But I do find that the agency recruiters sometimes are a little hungrier, at least to start, than someone that’s been in corporate recruiting for a really long time. But the agency recruiters do have a lot of that relationship management and organization because they’re working with so many different companies, typically.
So going on the agency side and then moving over to corporate, I think is a good path for someone to do. Also, you could start out as a recruiting coordinator and then work your way up through a recruiting organization is another path, but learn the basics. Really learn. There’s so many different courses out there where you can get knowledge of how to source for candidates and find people, expand your network and start reaching out to people, talk to people that are sources or recruiters in organizations.
There’s different certifications out there now. You’ve got ATAP that helps with talent acquisition professionals, you’ve got TALK is another. I know that SHRM has some certifications. There’s so much knowledge, I think AIRS is still around. So there’s so much knowledge and information out there that you can start learning, and if you’re not in that role now, maybe in the company that you’re in, your talent acquisition team would let you help out as a project on the aside. Or talk with your business leader to say, “Hey, as we have hiring coming up, I’d like to help,” and start networking, give referrals, things like that. So I think there’s a couple different angles to go at that.
Brian Fink: This has been a powerful conversation. I’ve got lots of notes. I’m holding my notes up the screen. Julia can see them, so can Ryan, but you, the humble listener, can not. Julia, there is one thing I want to come back to is that you mention the ability of marketers and the ability to craft your message, and the persona. And I want to contrast that with the agency recruiter or the new recruiter being curious. Do you feel that marketing is a required subset of successful recruiters?
Julia Levy: Yes, 100%. I think that you need to understand the persona of the type of person you’re going after. So if you don’t know what a persona is, it really is this stereotypical… A persona of an engineer is going to be… What are most engineers like? Where do they spend their time? What motivates them? What demotivates them? But you have to understand your target audience and who you’re going after, and you have to craft your messaging towards that person. And I think that is a unique skill. Even with your job descriptions, as you’re working with hiring managers. And that I struggle with still. And we use Textio to help, but most recruiters who’ve been in the business a long time are not marketers at heart. And so those are skills that we’re trying to teach them, of how do you rewrite this boring job description into something that a candidate’s going to look at? And how about this. I think Brian, you posted something recently around above the fold on-
Brian Fink: I did, I did. I’m not going to give his name, but there’s somebody that I’m helping with their resume and Julia, you and I said, “We don’t write resumes.” Real quick, if you’re listening, Brian and Julia do not write resumes. Ryan writes resumes, but Brian and Julia do not.
Ryan Leary: Julia is going to be a resume coach.
Brian Fink: Yeah. So I said that basically the first third of your resume is the most important real estate that you have. If you’re not going to do something chronologically, to be able to put up the numbers and say, “Out of seven people that I interview every two people get hired.” Put some stats in there, tell a number with stories.
Julia Levy: So yes, and the job description and job posting is no different. While the resume, a candidate, only has 7 to 10 seconds to catch the recruiter’s eye, it’s the same thing. If you think a job seeker is living and dying by your job post, it’s not happening. A lot of people, you have Spark, you have Altru. The video resumes really resonate with me, so being able to craft a job post that’s not going to put someone to sleep, that isn’t 60 bullets.
It’s not just the job post, but your message. If you’re sending a message to everyone saying, “Hey Ryan, or hey Brian, I’ve got this engineering job I want to talk to you about,” are you going to respond to it? Probably not. Then you reach out to someone with a message and you don’t hear back from them, do you have a follow-up message already prepared?
Now a lot of the CRMs and other tools can help make that drip campaign and those drip messaging easier to go through. Even how you’re posting on LinkedIn. Are you using images or videos as part of your post? How are you trying to capture the attention of someone and get them to act on it? So what’s your call to action with someone, and then how do you respond to that? How do you continue to follow up with people? These are critical skills for any recruiter or sourcer.
Brian Fink: Awesome. Julia, I love it, I’ve really enjoyed having you. I don’t want to steal Ryan’s thunder. I want to let Ryan ask his favorite last question. I want to get out of the way.
Ryan Leary: No no.
Brian Fink: No, no. No, no, no, I’ve been asking it lately. So I’m going to let you say, “Hey Julia, could you give us three bullet points of things that you think people should take away from this conversation.” Ryan, it’s all you. I put the ball on the tee, all you got to do is swing.
Ryan Leary: Julia, give us three bullet points that recruiters can take away from this conversation. There you go. He opened the door and I’m just going to [crosstalk 00:34:52].
Julia Levy: So I’ll say one is, we talked about it, be curious. Don’t get too comfortable in what you’ve always done, because if you’re always doing the same thing, you’re going to get the same results. I think the think like a marketer, and then what’s probably most important is make sure you’re having fun with what you’re doing and where you’re doing it, and if you’re not, then take some time to reevaluate what you need, what’s important to you, and make some change.
Ryan Leary: Oh, man, that means it’s over.
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In 280 characters or less, Brian Fink is a Senior Technical Sourcer at Twitter. Obsessed with all things sourcing and recruiting, Fink focuses on attracting open-source technologists who want to build the future!
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.