Kareem Bakr
Managing Director Selby Jennings Follow Follow

On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Kareem from Selby Jennings about making recruiting more human.

Some Conversation Highlights:

I think it’s safe to say, and everyone’s probably seeing it across the board that the recruiting market is quite hot with unemployment at all time lows, it’s really a candidate driven market. We see the direction heading in is that the clients and businesses that are taking a bit more of a human approach to understanding candidates needs and wants, and taking that extra step to go a bit more in depth are the ones that are getting ahead.

One of the things that we’ve done to differentiate ourselves and to make the process a bit smoother while the market is incredibly tight, is ideally starting with the candidate and a lot of places, or a lot of different firms will maybe start with, this role is posted by this client, let’s go and find the candidate pool on the back end.

Whereas we take a different approach of, the recruiting market’s this type, let’s make sure that we’re establishing relationships early on in a candidates career. And even if we don’t have something for them at the moment, we’d like to build a relationship, not just for today, but for the future. And as a result of that, we’ve been able to lean into a pretty seasoned database of referrals and our extensive network to enable individuals to be able to move to some of these new roles and to access a pretty limited talent pool for our clients.

 

Clinch A Modern Tailored Experience
Tune in for the full conversation.

Listening time: 27 minutes

 

Enjoy the podcast?

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The RecruitingDaily Podcast with William Tincup. Be sure to subscribe through your favorite platform.

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:
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you’re listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Kareem on from Selby Jennings and our topic today is making recruiting more human. Probably no better time to talk about it than right now. So Kareem, welcome to the show. Would you introduce both yourself and Selby Jennings?

Kareem:
Absolutely. Thank you. William for having me today. Pleasure to be here. Very excited to kind of chop up the topic of making recruitment human. As a quick introduction again, my name’s Kareem Bakr. I’ve been with our business now for about nine years. Selby Jennings essentially is the financial services recruitment brand underneath the parent company of Phaidon International. So Phaidon International has six different specialty businesses underneath it, Selby being the one focused within FS. In terms of our presence and what we do, we’re focused on essentially four core pillars of the market. The first being candidates and roles focused more from a STEM background. So client analytics, traditional technology, and risk management. The second being a bit more of insurance, actuarial services, data science analytics, as well as underwriting. The third is more of our investment management practice. So focused on all things, private equity, asset management and hedge funds. And last but not least a bit more of the revenue generating goals within the world of investment banking, sales, and trading and wealth management. So that’s pretty much us in a nutshell.

William:
I’m glad you explained that. Cause that was actually going to be one of my first questions. When someone’s nuanced like that, let’s say for financial services, sometimes people take that for… You’re just literally looking for quant folks that just can do financial services and you easily explained that no, we’re looking for the full spectrum. We want engineers, we want data scientists. We want actuaries. We want all kinds of folks for the financial services.

Kareem:
Yeah, exactly that. And I think the one thing that we’ve honed in on is ideally focusing on business critical niche roles. We’re ideally looking to find that needle in a haystack type candidate, the roles that our clients can’t live without, if they’re not filled, or if they’re not filled for example, it’s going to be a pretty big hindrance to the success of the business. So that’s sort of the niche or space that we’ve carved out within FS recruitment.

William:
Are you looking more established talent or are you looking also at kind of the college, the early career folks, I guess it probably depends on the client and the needs… But go ahead.

Kareem:
Definitely depends on the client. I would say we tend to lean more towards that mid to senior level, that VP and above skill set, where the market’s going now. You look at, let’s say someone coming fresh out of a master’s program or a PhD tech candidate, if they’re going to be more on the tech risk or quant side. These individuals are actually getting looks to step into some pretty seasoned, high profile roles at a relatively early stage in their careers.

William:
So from your vantage point, especially from what you deal with both on client side candidate side, what do you see as the state of recruiting today?

Kareem:
Sure. So I think it’s safe to say, and everyone’s probably seeing it across the board that the market is quite hot with unemployment at all time lows, it’s really a candidate driven market. We see the direction heading in is that the clients and businesses that are taking a bit more of a human approach to understanding candidates needs and wants, and taking that extra step to go a bit more in depth are the ones that are getting ahead. One of the things that we’ve done to differentiate ourselves and to make the process a bit smoother while the market is incredibly tight, is ideally starting with the candidate and a lot of places, or a lot of different firms will maybe start with, this role is posted by this client, let’s go and find the candidate pool on the back end.

Kareem:
Whereas we take a different approach of, the market’s this type, let’s make sure that we’re establishing relationships early on in a candidates career. And even if we don’t have something for them at the moment, we’d like to build a relationship, not just for today, but for the future. And as a result of that, we’ve been able to lean into a pretty seasoned database of referrals and our extensive network to enable individuals to be able to move to some of these new roles and to access a pretty limited talent pool for our clients.

William:
Yeah, it’s more than just building a pipeline you’re building…. What we used to do is build relationships with folks, if not now later, if not you someone else, et cetera. And so, again, everyone’s busy and it’s probably harder to get candidates both engaged and on the phone or… How are you… Both your team and also the candidates that you work with, cause it’s different. Especially people that care about financial services. It’s just a different breed. How are you making that more human? How are you like tactically? Because I think everyone’s strategically, especially when they see the topic for the day, they’re going to go yes, need to do that, especially in the face of all of the AI and bots and all the other stuff, which is all fantastic stuff that automates a lot of the lower value tasks, but then the conversation quickly becomes okay, fantastic. How do you make it more human?

Kareem:
Yep, absolutely. So I think it does come down to coaching both sides of the point, both on the client and candidate side and when approaching a client, it’s pretty important just to level set with them as to… We’ve lived through a pandemic at this point, right? People have changed. Everyone’s ideology and interpretation of what does flexible work mean to them. That’s one in a hundred different things for an individual could be having one day a week remote that’s flexibility. For another business or another team, it could be having a team of 10 where you have 10 different team members set in 10 different states and the headquarters is in a complete different state. So it’s just understanding that it’s not a one size fits all solution when attracting talent that… In this day and age, everyone wants to have a bit of something, whether it’s going to be a full spectrum of benefits for the remote work or the lack of relocation or [inaudible 00:07:01].

Kareem:
The clients that we’re working with, who almost tailor fit or pick, let’s say two or three main sticking points per candidate that they’re going to try and push forward when putting forward an offer. Those are the ones that are winning and making the process a bit more human. I think second to that, if you were to backtrack to 2019 and someone was doing a virtual interview or something on a VC, they would… The candidate might have a dog barking in the background or a kid run by in the back of the screen, that would be [crosstalk 00:07:37]-

William:
That’s a deal killer right there. That’s done, that’s the end of interview.

Kareem:
Exactly that. And I think in this day and age, the clients that still hold that mentality of, it’s an absolute deal breaker are losing out on some pretty skilled people. Whereas some clients are saying, that’s part of life that’s the world that we live in. Obviously to a certain degree of professionalism needs to be maintained. I think there is a fine line and border to uphold and not to cross, but just understanding that this is part of some people’s lives right now.

William:
Yeah. It’s interesting before you moved to candidate. It’s interesting because everyone sees a lawyer in flip flops and that’s cool, up until you’re jammed up and you need a lawyer and then it’s not cool. You know what I’m saying? When you’re dealing with the investment community, this is serious, this is actually money, there can’t be… I mean, there’s very few things that are more important than money, so it’s serious. So on some level, decorum, like you said, the people that they’re going to interact with, because they’re ever all going to interact with folks and it’s all going to be on some level or another about money. So there’s a levity that’s important here for everyone to understand.

William:
I love that you started with personalization and remote because I was going to ask you about that. There’s a lot of headlines months ago about how financial services return to work and return to the office and they were throwing money at it and bonuses at it and all kinds of stuff like that. And a lot of people attacked them for that. I didn’t, I just basically said well, it’s a different industry. They need different things. They feel like they need folks in the office. Well, okay. No harm, no foul. That’s their bid. But I love that you’re coaching that side, your client side and saying, just before we get started, here’s what’s going on with the candidates. Here’s what we see, highly personalized. Some of them are going to want some type of flexibility and let’s take a look at what flexibility could be.

William:
Flexibility could be just one day from home, flexibility could be, never comes to the office. So there’s lots of different ways to think of remote and lots of different ways to think of flexibility. Let’s define what you care about, but also what’s going to get you candidates. Cause at the end of the day, that’s what they care about is getting high quality candidates. And then you pivot it into something, another coaching point, which is coaching clients into, essentially loosening up the rigidity. Okay. Things are serious. What we do for a living is serious. If something happens in someone’s background, not as serious, obviously depending on what it is, but I love that. I love coaching the client. I love that you started there too, because essentially you have to reframe things to be successful these days on the RPO staffing, MSP side, you have to reframe things for them first. And then obviously figure out the candidate side. So is there anything else that you love doing with clients these days and are they taking the coaching? Are they responding to the coaching?

Kareem:
Yeah, absolutely. I think the majority of clients recognize that the market is just so tight right now for top talent that they are trying to pull out all the stops and take feedback on board more so than ever, which is great. I think one of the last points in the clients thought that I would highlight is that actual line managers and hiring managers are getting more involved in the process more so now than ever before. Traditionally you’d have a talent acquisition individual run the process, schedule interviews, work with external agencies, work with the candidate, work on delivering the offer and all the rest of that, where a candidate’s exposure to the hiring team might be one hour longer or maybe just one panel day of interviews, where now, we saw an example where a candidate had two offers, one through us and one through competing [inaudible 00:12:08] they had on their own.

Kareem:
And the global head of the group took the time to write the candidate email, get on the phone with them, further sell the position in the business and express how excited they were to have them on that team. Whereas the other firm didn’t, and that was essentially the push that candidate needed to make the decision to join the firm that we were staffing for. So yeah, in a nutshell, more so now than ever hiring managers, getting a bit more personal in the process and showing their gratitude and desire to have top talent join their team has made it a pretty big difference in how people are reacting and feel to that.

William:
I hope we never return to the old days in some ways, especially with this particular point, because it’s so important for the candidate to then say, okay, this is the person I’m going to work for. This is a team I’m going to be working for. This is the things I can ask directly instead of through the recruiter, through HR, through other people on the team, et cetera. This is the person. This is going to potentially be a mentor to me. This is the person that I’m going to learn from. I love that. And that is… You couldn’t make things more human. That’s just a great example of like, listen, you really say, you care about talent? You really want this particular grade of talent? Okay. You got to get involved.

William:
Everything’s important. Their schedules are packed with important things, I get it, but there couldn’t be something more important than if you really, really want this gal or this guy or this person, et cetera. You need to get on the phone, you need to get on video. You need to actually talk to them and tell them a little bit about yourself, tell them about what’s going on. Like now you said sell, which I love, love that phrase, because it is. Essentially it is selling them the opportunity and what could be more human than that. So that’s the coaching on the… We’ll probably think of some other ones, but that’s coaching on the client side. Coaching on the candidate side, how do we do that now in a more human way, from your perspective?

Kareem:
Yeah, so it almost mirrors what we just discussed on the client end of things. I think with candidates going into an interview process, if they go in expecting the world and that they want every sort of perk and benefit that could potentially be offered, because they heard this, that [inaudible 00:14:35], through their own network. It’s not realistic. So we try and hammer out a couple of key things that will make or break the process for a candidate from the get go. And again, not just about the traditional things like progression or title or compensation, but on the softer skills, right? If there’s… What does the work from home shift look like, right? What is their work life balance? What are the benefits that are on paper?

Kareem:
Do they want to be heavy on a 401k? We’ve seen that shift and focus and spotlight on all the nontraditional things start to come into the foreground of this is what’s most important for candidates and identifying one, two, max three things that are going to be the main sticking points when going into an offer negotiation, or just laying it on the line from the get go with a client saying, this is what I’m looking for outside of just traditional things has helped candidates come across a bit more succinct and I guess prescriptively what they want.

William:
I love that on so many levels. And again, I hope the return to the old days is dead and gone, but the idea of here’s the deal killers and talking openly like, okay, listen, we’re going to cover comp because it’s going to be important. We’re going to cover your trajectory and internal mobility and opportunity training and all these other things, up skilling, because those are almost table stakes at this point. Okay, fair enough. But the things that you do care about now more than you did before, now let’s dig into what do you really, really care about, and all things aren’t equal. So in rank order, what’s the most important to you today as it stands? Just let’s deal with it because if a client can’t provide that for you, for whatever reason, then we’re not going to put that opportunity in front of you.

William:
That’s foolish and we wouldn’t do that, so let’s talk openly. It seems like almost a more frank conversation with candidates about their desires and passions, which again, outside of the harder stuff that we would’ve normally talk to candidates about. And again, in a candidate driven market, we’re asking them about themselves where I think in an employer driven market, we’re more talking about the company and the role and the job. I don’t know if you’ve seen the same thing, it’s probably different in financial services, but what other things do does DEI or social injustice or any other types of things kind of come up in conversations with candidates?

Kareem:
Yeah, absolutely. I think the DNI push is one that’s been around, it’s taken a bit more presence I would say over the last 18 to 24 months, and again, you can snip out, who’s really taking it seriously from a client perspective and candidates are asking this in some instances as to, is it just moving someone over to check a box at a senior level or are they actually taking the time to build up a platform from the ground up, starting with their fresh hires, their analysts, their fresh grads, et cetera, and actually trying to implement diversity from stage one and organically growing those people up through the ranks versus just adding in, let’s say a director here, or a board member there.

Kareem:
That’s, that’s come up a bit on the candidate side, I think in terms of coaching candidates as well, where we’re at in the market, now there’s a lot of cross industry or crosspollination if you will. So he skill sets that we cover do transfer between traditional technology within financial services, but then also the big tax, right? The things of this world. And we’ve seen candidates that come in expecting what they might get, let’s say from a big tech non-financial institution with-

William:
Facebook offered me $780,000. [crosstalk 00:18:57]

Kareem:
Exactly that, and the perks that come with all of it. So that’s a pretty big one for us. It’s definitely an advantage that we have with Phaidon International being our parent company, we have different brands that cross pollinate with each other and share candidates through a central database. We kind of see what’s going on across the board and compare and contrast. But again, I think that the big one is big tech versus FinTech and how we set the expectations for candidates that may be having competing offers at any one given time from two on each side of the fence.

William:
Yeah, I was going to ask you about the nuances, if it’s a software engineer or let’s say a full stack developer, make it simple and they’ve got an offer from big tech and they’ve got an offer from, let’s say big finance or FinTech, how is it nuanced for them? How do you bring them into the world if they’re on the fence, and they’re thinking about, okay, I could have a career at pick a company, in big tech, or I could go FinTech, what’s the sell there. Maybe it isn’t a sell, maybe it’s just discussions. How do you communicate with them and talk with them about the benefit of financial services?

Kareem:
Absolutely. So it really comes down to, I think, a few things with that type of candidate, the platform that they’d be stepping into, the tech stack and the technology that they’re going to be exposed to. And then also the individuals at those firms. We’ve recently done a lot of work with a number of different startups and some smaller by-side shops where there’s some pretty exciting senior level talent, leaving some more established needs to break off and do their own thing. And that, as a result has attracted a lot of talent from big tech looking that they could switch over saying, I could be jumping into a new, exciting platform. I’ll have some pretty cool people to work with some exciting technology that to actually develop.

Kareem:
You look at the world of crypto right now. It seems to be everywhere, everyone seems to be wondering what’s the NFT? Is this picture worth anything and all the rest of it. And that I think has definitely spurred a bit of a movement where it’s tying the two where you have a crypto driven hedge fund that’s looking to poach people, let’s say from a consumer FinTech lending shop that was hot maybe three, four years ago.

William:
Right. Last question. And it’s a big one in terms of the great resignation, reshuffle, whatever we want to call it today. How have you seen that impact both sides? Again, you really set the table at the beginning of this with, Hey, we’ve all been through this. We’ve all changed and reevaluated our lives or priorities, et cetera. But how are you seeing the fallout of people just say, deciding not to take a job or leave a job. Somebody with a wonderful opportunity. They’re there for a year and they’re just like, yeah, done doing something different. Have you seen that impact y’all’s ability to be more human in the way that you interact with both sides, you’re servicing both sides. So how you interact and be more human with both your clients and your candidates.

Kareem:
Yep. So I think from, a title like great resignation, I tend to lean more towards great reshuffle. When I think of great resignation, I think of everyone’s quitting their jobs and just sitting at home or buying a one way ticket to a beach where a lot of these people are jumping back into the market with different opportunities, better work-life balance, better pay, et cetera. Where I think the main impact has been on our side is that the conversations, as you mentioned before, are just a bit more frank with both sides of the point. We’ve seen clients almost make spike hires. If you are, I’ve been calling them where they find out that candidate may be interviewing with their main competitor across the street. And they’re pulling the trigger on hiring that individual ASAP because they don’t want that person to land up or end up in the competitors-

William:
See, I love that. Not just because the competitor stuff, I love that because of speed. That they’ve determined. You know what, we’re going to move fast, which I love, because I think that that’s also something that we haven’t talked about because we focus on the human side is that we’re just going to have to get faster at what we do, which means that the hiring process, hiring manager, all the decisions, like we don’t have weeks, that’s gone. We don’t have weeks. We might have minutes, we might have hours or days, but we don’t have weeks. So I love that. The competitive stuff’s always there and always going to be there. And it’s a competitive business. It’s a competitive industry. It’s, you know? There couldn’t be anything more competitive.

Kareem:
Yeah. Couldn’t agree more, and speed and efficiency is really, what’s driving this whole great reshuffle and realization or whatever you want to call it. The quickest to the punch, with the best well rounded offer and platform, and personalized touch will be the one who wins the battle. And again, I think we’ve seen them for quite some time, you have the applicant tracking systems, recruiting back in 2015, 2016, there were maybe a handful of places that used an actual third party technology. Some people are still using an Excel sheet to keep track of who’s coming in, who’s coming out. Pretty much everyone, probably 90% of our clients have adopted some sort of automated system. That frees up the time of talent acquisition to have real personal conversations and move the process quickly versus being bogged down with admin. So again, something small and it’s almost less human on the adding in a bit of technology, but also on-

William:
It gets you to the human. If we get those low value, lower value candidates scheduling, if we get those lower value tasks out of the way we can be human. Kareem, I could talk to you all day. I appreciate your time and your wisdom. So thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Kareem:
Appreciate it, Will. Thanks for so much for having me and yeah, hopefully we speak soon.

William:
Awesome. And thanks for everyone listening to 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.


Discussion

Please log in to post comments.

Login