Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The "Hard Close" and Other Recruiting Nonsense

It's a candidate driven market, y'all.

If you're a recruiter reading this, you know EXACTLY what I mean. For certain skill sets, opportunities are damn near limitless. I've been recruiting in tech for the last several years and I'm telling you, jobs are more plentiful and offers more competitive than I've ever seen.

Enter - the Hard Close.

Recruiters like to play this little game with themselves. The game is called Candidate Control. The objective is Make The Candidate Say Yes. This could be saying yes to a conversation, an interview, and ultimately, an offer. The holy grail of the recruiting process. The end all / be all (especially if you're on commission).

Full disclosure - I find the concept of "candidate control" to be irritating, annoying, and downright fictitious. Influence? Sure. CONTROL? Ewww. Go away.

So back to the hard close.

This is when you have an offer out to a candidate who isn't quite ready to pull the trigger. They may have other offers, still be interviewing elsewhere, or just not quite ready to make a decision. So the recruiter (desperately clinging to some semblance of control) does the good old takeaway. This offer will turn into a pumpkin at midnight! If you don't say yes RIGHT NOW you'll never get another chance!

Fine. The answer is NO.

See I've LIVED through the hard close myself. A few years ago I was approached by a start up newly launching in Seattle. GREAT opportunity to build out a recruiting function. There were some pieces already in place but some really cool work ahead and my potential boss was great. The interview process was smooth, they met my comp expectations, and I was seriously thinking about it.


At every touch point I shared my concerns and timeline. What I was walking away from. Assurances I needed to accept the new role. I was ready to say yes, but wanted ONE MORE CONVERSATION to walk through things like benefits, work / life balance, basically sanity checking what I thought I knew about what I was getting into.

I was told I was taking too long and needed to get back to the team THAT DAY. I'd had the offer letter in my hand for maybe 24 hours.

That's it. That's all it took for me to decide this was NOT the place for me. I immediately sent my regrets and regards. I didn't need to change jobs. The company needed me more than I needed them. Sure it could have been an epic opportunity, but there was also a lot of risk. And if the recruiting leadership was not willing to give me another day or two PLUS their time to discuss what mattered to ME - they didn't deserve me.

Now imagine you're a software engineer, or data analyst, or any of the other hot jobs out there right now. You've got multiple offers with more recruiters calling you every day. You're ready for a change, exciting about something new, but want to be really thoughtful in your final decision. You just want to make a call with all the available information in front of you. Then the recruiter pulls this shit, probably making you feel insignificant, not heard, and frankly, probably not respected.

So what's a recruiter to do? Yes I understand there are timelines - roles can't sit open forever and you can't let someone take 3 months to decide if they want to accept an offer or not. There are two critical questions you should always be asking your finalists -

1. What other information do you need (from me, my company, or outside) to make your decision?
2. What is your timeline to make a decision?

And finally, SHARE YOUR TIMELINE TOO. If you know this offer is going to expire, or there is a business need to put a specific deadline (need to respond to other candidates, team is going to implode if we don't fill the role, whatever) TELL YOUR CANDIDATE.

A little honesty and transparency goes a long way - a hell of a lot farther than "hard close" takeaways.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Real Talk About Req Loads

This one's going to sting a bit.

One of the favorite games recruiters like to play is HOW MANY REQS ARE TOO MANY. Now this is probably more of an issue for my corporate brethren, but if my agency friends will indulge me, you'll perhaps find something useful here too.

I won't argue if you have 30, 40, 50, or even 100 reqs. Of course you do. What I will ask you - are all those reqs created equal? PROBABLY NOT.

There are so many variables at play here. Some things we need to consider -

  • Which reqs overlap? Let's say I have 10 openings for a call center representative. If the profile is EXACTLY the same (or damn close) and I'm working with a single hiring authority, that is a far cry from 10 reqs with wildly different requirements and hiring managers. There are lots of creative ways to do high volume hiring - treating each headcount as an individual hiring need may not be the best use of your time.
  • Internal Only posts. Here's the hard truth - some roles are just not yours to fill. AND THAT'S OK. If a hiring manager already has people in mind, or just isn't that into external talent for whatever reason, LET THAT SHIT GO. You can follow along and/or keep track of the hiring process (depending on how your company does it, you might have internal transfer responsibilities) but you are NOT launching a full scale recruiting effort. So stop acting like it.
  • It's not a priority. One of my favorite lines to use following an intake with a new hiring manager - "I'll give this as much priority as you do". Here's the simple truth - if the HM is not willing/able to play ball, why should you? This doesn't mean you won't put in ANY effort - but again, not all reqs / hiring needs are created equal, and it's totally ok to have a different strategy for each.
    • Pro-Tip - clear this with your boss / HM's boss or someone who can cover your ass when the HM bitches that he/she never hears from you. Also, thorough notes/emails to prove your effort (and their lack of) can go a long way to CYA.
I know some of you might be thinking this doesn't apply to you. I can't possibly understand YOUR situation. I have NO IDEA how bad you have it, how busy you are, and how every single one of your 100 reqs require daily, individual, and specialized attention. So let's talk about it.

Send me an email at and I'll schedule a 30 minute check in. We'll review your req load, talk about your hiring partners and I'll give you a strategy or two on how to straighten out the mess on your desk.

I'm in. Are you?

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

How to tell if a recruiter is full of shit (and what to do about it).

A recruiter called with a job just PERFECT FOR YOU! Great news, right....? I mean, recruiters are AWESOME! Recruiters connect people with jobs! Recruiters are the happy go lucky bridges between workers and managers making dreams come true! Recruiters are....


Here's the real deal y'all - recruiting is a game of rejection, unfortunately. As much as we'd like to pretend otherwise, we have to tell a lot of people NO. Whether it's narrowing down our short list with hiring managers, or following up after interviews, there are all sorts of opportunities for us to anger people. Sure, there's lots of advice on the best way to have that conversation, but this is not that blog post. This is for the passive target just minding her own business AND the active applicant who both desperately want to know - just what the hell is wrong with this recruiter and WHY should I trust them with my career?

First Contact
So you get a call from a recruiter. Or an email, tweet, inmail (shudder) or some version of outreach. This recruiter has NEVER SPOKEN TO YOU BEFORE. Should you respond? If yes, how?

Not every message deserves a response. There I said it. While it is KIND to reply to everyone, you and I both know it's not REALISTIC. If I responded to every single form of outreach I ever received, I'd get hardly any real work done. So no - you don't HAVE to respond, but you might want to. Questions to ask yourself -

  • Does this recruiter work for / represent a company I'm interested in learning about?
  • Does the job (assuming they've given you some context) sound intriguing?
  • Am I at a point in my career where I MIGHT be willing to make a change for something AMAZING?
  • Did the recruiter write a relevant, targeted message that clearly indicates they have a clue and did their homework on ME?
If the answer is YES to any of these, a response is warranted. Even if it's a "no thanks not now" response, that's ok! I know I would appreciate it.

The Call
So you respond. Recruiter wants to talk, promises to share comp info, company detail, more about the role once they get you on the phone. THIS IS A TACTIC. Of course it is, we're trained to plant the seed to get you on the phone. This is not wrong, necessarily... but it can feel a little gross so it's totally fine to be blunt here. It's ABSOLUTELY acceptable to tell the recruiter you can spare 15 minutes, are willing to provide a brief overview of your background and lay out your expectations. A good recruiter would be all over that. A GREAT recruiter will do more listening than talking in this first conversation. What we want to know - 
  • Are you open to making a job change?
  • Are you skills and abilities a fit for my hiring need(s)?
  • Do you have reasonable expectations?
Now you're wondering what's reasonable... great question, and a recruiter should be able to tell you. Whether it's average comp for your industry / expertise, appropriate level / chance of getting to the next step in the hiring process, timing... all of this can and should be readily answered by the recruiter. It's worth mentioning that in the course of this quick chat, one of both of you may decide it's not the right time/opportunity. THAT IS OK. You can agree to follow up in 6 months. The recruiter can offer to connect you to other teams / colleagues. You can agree to never speak again. There are no wrong outcomes, but CLEAR outcomes with specific next steps are the best.

Pro Tip - if you're not comfortable getting on the phone, lay that out in your email response! I have literally done this as a prospect myself. I am interested in chatting IF (insert laundry list here). A smart recruiter knows better than to waste your time and will be thankful. If we can hit those hot buttons, AWESOME! We'll tell you that and set up a call from there. If we can't... well, in my experience recruiters just go away never to be heard from again. It happens. ;)

Red Flags
Full disclosure - this is MY perspective as a candidate / prospect who gets hit up all the time. I try really really hard to NEVER be this recruiter. I fail at this. A lot. But know it's not who I want to be.

  • Can't or won't disclose any details about the company / job / team. We're not holding the nuclear codes here, people. If the recruiter doesn't KNOW, then the recruiter is not truly a strategic adviser to their client and knowledgeable about what they're recruiting for. Proceed with caution.
  • Talks WAY TOO MUCH. Well shit. I'm guilty of this. I get excited, probably over share, so... the previous bullet isn't really a problem :) BUT - recruiters should be making it about YOU the candidate and taking lots of notes. If you have to remind your recruiter repeatedly that no you absolutely CAN NOT RELOCATE then it's a good indicator they're not listening. And that's bad.
  • Pretends to know more than they do. I don't know shit about coding. I often joke about being the least technical tech recruiter on the planet. I won't ask you a bunch of questions about latency or distributed systems or the difference between Java and JavaScript because frankly I'm not keen on embarrassing myself (much). I'll ask you for a high level overview and understand enough to know what you want to do and where you could potentially do it (in my company). Equally important - I will be the absolute EXPERT on RECRUITING, what it takes to get from point A to offer, and how to help YOU navigate the tricky tricky process that is interviewing and negotiating. That's MY super power. What's yours?

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Hello 2019! Now about those resolutions...

I don't really "do" resolutions.

But if I DID.... it would look sort of like this.

1. Run a race every month
2. Train for a full marathon by the end of 2019

That's it! I'm not going to make myself any false promises, lofty goals, or anything "hard". I'm not opposed to "hard", but I am opposed to forcing resolutions on myself just because the calendar flipped over.

Frankly, I sorta feel like my life is pretty on track. I have an AMAZING career, the best husband a girl could ask for, and my kids are all happy and healthy. Sure I could lose a few pounds, smooth out some of these wrinkles, and moisturize more frequently.

Or I can just live my life and enjoy the ride :)

Actually, a marathon might be hard. Huh. Doing it anyway.

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