Storytelling about Lever with Barbara Bermes

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 88. This week we have storytelling about Lever with Barbara Bermes. During this episode, Barbara and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for purchasing Lever.

Barbara is a product lead who lives and breathes data-informed product decisions. Her passion to create products that help TA teams power up their recruiting processes really comes through during the podcast.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 26 minutes


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William 0:27
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to Use Case Podcast. Today we have Barbara on from Lever, and we’re actually gonna be digging into some of the new things at Lever which is really exciting. And so without any further ado, Barbara, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself? And for those that might not know Lever, introduce Lever?

Barbara 0:49
Absolutely. So first of all, thank you so much, William, for inviting us and inviting me to speak to you today. So yeah, my name is Barbara Bermes. I’ve been with Lever for 10 years now, I head up product and design at Lever. So we have about, you know, seven PMs right now and a design manager, a couple of designers are BI developers and a product specialist.

So they all are in my team, so that we can really build and know exactly what to do for our customers. I’m located in Toronto, so in Canada, and otherwise, the team’s pretty spread across North America, I would say. So that’s about me. But I think what’s also obviously very interesting to your listeners is what Lever is. So Lever is a leading talent acquisition suite. And it makes it very easy for talent teams to reach their hiring goals and to connect actual companies with those, with that top talent.

And what I also want to mention is Lever is the only platform that provides all talent acquisition leaders with a complete ATS and robust CRM capabilities in one product. And we call this Lever TRM, talent relationship management. And you know, as you know, the traditional ATS is no longer enough for talent acquisition professionals to do their job effectively, effectively. You know, when we think about the talent relationship management, you all of a sudden start asking, you know, your TA team, although they have a primary role in the company to all of a sudden, you know, level up their skill set.

And what that basically means is you have a TA team trying or wanting to market to candidates, they want to forecast, similar to a sales leader. And also they want to provide insights of, you know, big financial decisions, and Lever is that tool and that TRM provides all of that in one suite so that the TA teams can really power up their recruiting processes.

William 3:01
Well, you know, one of the things that that I love about Lever is—and I think y’all were one of the first and this was 100 years ago—y’all had a kind of user conference and talent acquisition conference. And it was when you first launched the CRM part inside, so it was built off the same kernel. And, and so you know, a lot of people do it through integrations and, and things like that, but your build, I think it was called engaged at the time, but it was basically it was a product inside the ATS.

There was a light CRM and y’all have done nothing but just build on that and made that even more robust through the years. But I want to ask you a question that goes back to the early parts of the pandemic. I remember talking to one of your founders, and they were like, we’re gonna, we’ve gotten kind of a gift of time, because right now things are slower. Because of what’s going on with pandemic and everyone didn’t know a new, kind of at that particular moment. This is like March, no one knew how long it would last year, all that stuff.

He said, Listen, our clients, what they’ve asked us for is deeper analytics, you know, kind of a better part of that part of the business, better dashboards, better things over there, maybe even some predictive modeling. And, I never really got the update afterward. So this is probably about the time that you know after you came in, could you give us an update on kind of what y’all have built?

And what’s interesting on that on that side of things, the analytic side metrics, what do you know, I’m not sure exactly what you’d call the product, but you know, that side of things where people can look in and see a little bit better have a better idea of the pipeline and, and what’s going on.

Barbara 4:58
Absolutely. I would love to because I think, first of all, I’m a big data geek and fan myself. So talking about analytics, Product Manager product.

William 5:07
We did not talk about this pre-call just everyone FYI. This came from us.

Barbara 5:13
Oh, yeah, this is. Absolutely. So yeah, Lever has done a lot of plumbing and a lot of improvements, a lot of upgrades to our analytics platform. So just again, for your listeners, we have three major products now, actually, that we offer to our customers.

It is, first of all, the data warehousing, which is really, you know, for these bigger enterprise customers that they have, they have their BI tools out there already. And they want to connect to Lever and want to get that data and manipulate it the way they want it. So that’s that offering.

In addition to that, we also have the Lever talent intelligence platform, which is a bit more advanced analytics that we provide and offer our customers, and then there is this what we call in-app reports, which are all about Yeah, inside the app quickly for recruiters to review the pipeline. You know, get some high-level basic information out of it. And I want to double click on that last piece that I said regarding the in app reports, we are moving into what we call visual insights.

We’re currently in a previous version right now, where we build not only necessarily feature parity to the inner property, existing integral points, but really way more granular functionality that we provide to our users, customers. Because I think, you know, I personally think data literacy is such an interesting topic, and especially in the recruiting world, because we do have all that data stored. So let’s surface it, give our customers actionable, you know, insights.

And so you can definitely expect a lot more on that this year. I’m extremely excited, we call it kind of the rise of the data-driven recruiting, we’ll have I mean, to be honest, when you ask me what my final goal is. Really that no user customer in Lever has to ever export anything, or create anything in Excel to manipulate. All that stuff should all live perfectly fine in Lever, and that’s our goal.

William 7:20
So that’s one of the things with analytics because you are data literate, is maybe the HR and TA folks might, you know, they’re not there, they’re on that path, but maybe not down the path as much as we’d like for them to be. I’ve seen two different kinds of ways that focus the TA technology kind of focus on this. One is, they try and get the technology to kind of serve up, you know, here’s what you’re looking at. You know, essentially, here’s how to make sense of the data. Okay, so I can run a report or I can see something, but I don’t necessarily know what to do with it as a practitioner. And so either the technology helps guide, you know, that person to Okay, here are the three things that you can do with this data here.

You know, let’s say if you’re interested in D&I and your pipeline, and there’s a deficiency and all of a sudden the data now alerts you that there’s a deficiency. Well, okay, that’s, first of all, it’s great. You didn’t have visibility inside of the deficiency before. Now you do. That’s the, so check. That’s fantastic.

But as a practitioner, you still might not know what to do with that. And so either the technology helps you kind of guide you through what to do with that, or have also seen where technology firms put a like consulting layer in, you know, maybe an account management layer in that basically says here, let me help you. Once a week, once a month. Let me help you make sense of the data. What would you like to have happen there?

Barbara 8:54
Yeah, absolutely. Very good topic. I’m just gonna drink water. Yeah, very good topic. I believe and wanna go back to what I said, with actionable insights and actionable insights. Really? Yeah, you’re not just going to look at something. And again, you’re right. Sometimes you need data scientists who have to look at dashboards, we don’t want to do that.

So we’ll have basic dashboards that will just be something for you to review. We also have our solutions. Our professional services team can also help build specific actionable insights with this Lever, talent intelligence, this advanced analytics. But what I think is extremely interesting, and we’ll be really looking closer into this, putting the data inside visible within the pipeline of within what our users or customers are using the app for best example.

As a recruiter you have probably you know, a goal to source I don’t know, let’s say 15 candidates for a specific software engineering role. Wouldn’t it be nice that you log into the platform or the app and get notified? Or see the status on how are you doing? Maybe even how are you doing compared to other recruiters? So making it really actionable within the app is something that I think is extremely important.

Also, for example, if you start with requisitions, and even job postings have some highlights that say, Hey, you know what, last time you use this description for this job posting, based on our data that we have, you might want to change why to want to extend it. So there’s a lot of possibilities and opportunities for us to really, yeah, help. As you, as you said, How, really the practitioners use the data to their advantage, and easily without actually knowing that, you know, they’re being presented with data, it’s just an action that they will take.

William 10:57
Right? It’s almost, it’s almost like the, you know, the Amazon recommendation engine, right? So, so you look at a book, and you think it’s you think it might be something that you like, and then and then right there, you know, 15 different ways in which Amazon does it. It also says, Hey, if you like this, you might also like these other things, I think, I think we’ve, that’s so woven into our psyche that we don’t even think about it. But, but as it relates to like Lever and talent, anything that we can make for hiring managers, or recruiters, or sourcers, when they’re in the application, to then think of, okay, hey, you know, here’s something else that you might want to think about, I love your example of job descriptions and being able to give them data on, like, effectiveness.

Here’s the last time we ran this, here’s, here’s where it worked. You know, like, here’s specifically, here’s some data around, you know, source of hire, here’s where it worked, here’s where it didn’t work. Here’s some of the things that have changed since then. So I love all of that. Let me ask you, you know, from a client perspective, and maybe even prospects, because you probably talk to prospects occasionally as well. What what are you hearing? And what do you all, you know, what are you feeling on the integration side?

You know, when people say, you know, I love Lever, but we use this behavioral assessment, or this background screen or this, that or the other? it, will we be able to kind of stick with what you use Hogan personality assessments will be, you know, will we be able to continue to use those personality assessments and use Hogan? Like, I know, I think I know the answer. However, I think it’s probably good for you to can give us some insight into what you see in the world of integrations.

Barbara 12:45
Absolutely. And I love this topic as well. So you’re really hitting topics that I really like talking about. So yeah, integrations platform. This is such a big piece of Lever’s ideas, especially in the next coming years, we all know. I hear from our customers or prospects, they may be happy depending on their segment there. And they may be purchased by their big integration partner or like partner like some sort of a tool that they want to inter have Lever integrate with, or bigger ones.

And my philosophy is that we shouldn’t limit the integrations to you know, any partner or vendor that wants to integrate with us. Because see, Lever is not a linear business, it is a platform, it is, in my mind, it doesn’t necessarily mean we need to own all those, you know, tools or processes that maybe our customers do outside, what I feel is important is it’s more about how we can connect to them, and that we do connect to them, because this is really, you know, the key business aspect or the key aspect of the platform.

And to be honest, William, I mean, our customers are in general people, people seek out products and services that enable them to get their entire job done in a single platform. Nobody wants to go out the platform. So we’re heavily involved, we’re heavily looking into this will make it really easy. And what I personally also really like is, you know, there’s one thing of just building an integration that is literally just a connector, but what I really like is how in-depth or how deep you can put some of those integrations within our UI. And that’s also one of our teams is working on this. So lots to lots to come in a lot of things. We want to make sure that Yeah, whoever you want to integrate with, we’ll make it work.

William 14:39
That’s a true differentiator for Lever because a lot of you know a lot of folks build ecosystems and their partnerships and you go through this process. In fact, I deal with a lot of startups that they want to be in those ecosystems, etc. And it’s, it’s, it’s an arduous process, you know, and we won’t name names or that type of stuff. But it’s usually in our arduous process and you get a new cue with another 100 or so, vendors wanting to partner with somebody.

I like y’alls approach of just saying, you know, customer A, Who do you work with? Well, you know, great, let’s get those integrations in. We don’t have to be official partners. It’d be nice. But, you know, we want this to be workable for you. And if you love and again, I use, you know, we use Hogan as a personality assessment, just as an example, there are thousands of these. If that’s something you love, like, we’re not gonna get in the way of that.

Let me pivot to process or workflow recommendations. And it might not be anything, you know, that Lever does now. But I’m wondering if you’re thinking, or if it’s something that your customers would even bring to your attention. Like, the three-legged stool of talent acquisition is people, technology, and process, right. So so you can put inferior technology on a great process, like take onboarding, we’ll take out talent acquisition for a second. And it’ll still work. But you can’t do the opposite.

You can’t put great technology on an inferior process. So in some of these things, were out of your control, you know, their workflow, or their process or processes, plural, a little bit outside of your purview, and some of it is out of your control. Do you think that there’s a way that Lever then can help them with workflow, and help them with processes and maybe show them efficiencies or inefficiencies and where things, again, are working or maybe not working?

And I’m thinking specifically, like, it’s taking you on average 72 hours to get back to a client and get back to a candidate? You know, that’s inside data. But okay, how do you get how do you then go to that next level of saying, okay, and here’s how to get faster?

Barbara 17:07
Yeah, that’s a that’s also an interesting question and have a few thoughts around that. So you’re, I mean, you kind of came back to the data aspect, again, in the actual insights. And I think that is, I mean, you know, one of our Northstar metrics is helping our customers like close that time to hire or reduce the time to hire metric. And I believe like the way we build features, we always have that in mind. That that is something that is Yeah, it’s top of mind, whatever feature we’re building, as you see with workflows, yes, I noticed that I noticed so many customers have so many different workflows, so many different ways of, you know, scheduling the requisition and approving it and all that stuff.

So what we, specifically this year, really, really doubling down on is the called the Lever your way, it’s, you know, if you have a specific workflow that works for you, but it might not work for another customer. Well, we’ll help you with that, we’ll let you set it up, customize it the way you want. So we can improve that specifically. And then hopefully, we can also show that per data and the data that you can say, hey, by introducing these new functionalities, we are helping you reduce your time to hire and mundane tasks. We’ve also launched last year, some automation rules and call it an automation hub.

I believe that is something that we probably also want to double click on as well, where it’s really it’s, it’s just reducing the time of these mundane tasks. For example, knockout questions that everything when you have a candidate and they’re not obviously checking off some of the boxes that you need that, you know, the recruiter doesn’t have to manually resource after measuring, reject, but rather do this automatically. So lots of opportunities, as always, and this is again, where data comes together, where innovation comes together and where Lever with the way we look at design, the way we are user centric with our approaches with our user research. We’re really laser focused on making sure that we hit that spot.

William 19:18
I love it. I can’t believe that we’re almost halfway through 2021. Seems like 2020 it was like a five-year you know, year. But this year, it’s just kind of blown past. What success from you from a product perspective. If you’re we’re sitting here in January of 2022. And you look back what’s what success for you?

Barbara 19:41
Yeah, success for us is so many things. So from a really culture perspective, I feel whatever we have done or our people team has such a great job in making sure that we’re still connected finding, you know, ways to interact with each other either through zoom outside Zoom. So that’s from that’s what I call internally, from a company perspective, absolutely success, to keep really everybody happy, and, you know, have just had that feeling, even if you’re at home, you’re still connected.

And then when I look at success kind of outbound, you know, I, sometimes When, when, when I talk to customers, and we talk about the roadmap for this year, I always bring up that slide from last year. And I kind of start the same way that you did, where I say, you know, what, it’s been the year 2021, I can’t believe this. But then I pull up this list of features and problems that we solve for customers, and it’s a lot and not all during, you know, during COVID, doing all kinds of crazy things in the world. So I’m so super proud and happy.

And that, to me, its a success that we were able to continue to help our customers, how wherever, wherever they needed us with, you know, you know, making sure that everybody gets to for free for a period of time, looking at some of the new challenges that would arise because of the pandemic and quickly acting on it. So that to me that yeah, that is, that is the success that I can feel.

William 21:19
Awesome. So let me ask you a quick question on, you know, what’s keeping some of the customers and prospects up at night, because some of the things I’m reading are retention, related and internal mobility related. So it’s, it’s front of funnel for all the new stuff, but it’s also there’s this feeling that everyone’s kind of hunkered down for a year and a half, and then there’s gonna be a lot of flight, which is good, because there’s gonna be job openings. But at the same time, that that also creates a lot of that creates lots, a lot of anxiety for TA and HR have you heard some of the same things around retention, and internal mobility.

Barbara 21:59
Um, I didn’t feel too much I haven’t heard too much around fear. And it was specifically retention, I do have to say, we have talked in big things to also our marketing team, we did a customer advisory board session with one of our top customers. And that was such a delightful conversation.

So we had internal mobility there as well as a topic. And everybody was actually excited about it was we were talking about it as partners. And that’s what I love so much about our customers, they kind of our partners, were talking about the same thing, and they’re looking up to us and asking us, how are we doing things?

And what came out of that is that Yeah, there is a lot of there a lot of ways that Lever can continue and to support internal mobility. So in that sense, I found a lot of alignment there, that, you know, we’re thinking the same way.

William 22:53
A lot less thing is, and it’s work from home, and we’re remote related, as in terms of especially from your, from your customer’s perspectives, because what’s interesting about remote is that it opens up the aperture for candidates, you know, that I can live in Paris, and work for a company in Topeka. But it also opens up the aperture for recruiters and sourcers, to then be able to look for talent anywhere in the world as well. How is that? You know, first of all, how is that impacted?

You know, or kind of played out for Lever in terms of you know, how your customers look at that aperture is now open on both sides, both for candidates and for recruiters to be able to look for talent especially and knowledge, knowledge worker positions, they can look for talent anywhere in the world. Good thing. However, also know there are some challenges associated with that. So give us, as we roll out, give us some insight into work from home and remote and what that’s looked like for from a Lever perspective.

Barbara 23:59
Absolutely, yeah. So what happens is not only remote, but we’ve also been hearing this model of hybrid, which also has got internally at Lever ourselves. So of course, yeah, we have new problems now. And we have a new way we need to figure out new ways how to accommodate for those kinds of things. Even the candidate experience is completely different, right?

The onboarding is completely different. You’re not walking into a company anymore on your first day. I hear that right now even with people that we onboard. So and again, this is why I love so much partnering up with our customers. We have heard from some of our enterprise customers that they probably will introduce some sort of, you know, timezone-related postings where you need to figure out to better post into some of those job boards and even indicate.

It goes even going back to diversity and inclusion, making sure that certain you know, countries certain timezone, For not discriminated because they might not fall under, you know, a couple of hours a common time zones. So, yeah, posting how do we attract more candidates who our customer, no more candidates in that new world. And I’m, I’m happy to partner up.

And as we go as we all navigate through this new world, there are so many new things that we don’t know. But that’s again, where we partner up, figure out how we can, how we can support that. I mean, we’re also doing a lot around video integrated video, interviewing integrations as well, coming up. So on that front, but that’s not all right, there’s a lot of opportunities within the product to help streamline that, even when you think about scheduling. Right?

And how does that look like to make sure that all time zones are properly connected? Yeah. And that’s, it’s exciting. This is exactly what you know, product management or why, why I’m a Product leader is figuring out, first of all, surfacing those new problems, new problems, and then solving them together with our customers.

William 26:02
I love it. Barbara, this is flown by. Gotta have you back on the show in a couple of months. And we can go through some new stuff. But thank you so much for the time today, and thanks for being on the Use Case Podcast.

Barbara 26:14
Absolutely. Thank you so much.

William 26:16
Absolutely. And thanks for everyone for listening, and until next time on the Use Case Podcast.

The Use Case Podcast

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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