YOLO Insights® founder Rebecca Barnes-Hogg is an expert in small business hiring. She’s been honing her recruiting skills since she was a teenager and made it her mission to help her high school friends find summer jobs. Today, Rebecca excels at matching the right people with the right opportunities through a combination of high-tech and high-touch techniques. In her June 13 webinar for MightyRecruiter, Rebecca shares her unique recruiting strategies and her pro tips for overcoming the challenges of hiring in today’s dynamic recruiting landscape.
We were lucky enough to steal a sliver of her time in the lead up to the big event to score some early insights just for you – enjoy!
You’ve written that, “Recruiters have to be proactive and engage with candidates long before an opening exists.” Why is that important and what are your best tips for making and maintaining those connections?
It’s important to engage with candidates even before you have an opening because the labor market is so tight right now. If you look at the numbers, it seems like it’s only going to get worse. For recruiters to efficiently fill positions, they need to be looking at talent all the time to create a pipeline, even when they don’t have an open position. Recruiters should always be building a pool of candidates for future use.
To do that, my best tip is always to be listening to potential candidates for qualities that employers want, even if you don’t have a requisition for it now. I’ll talk to candidates about their skills and which other industries or positions they might be interested in pursuing down the road. It’s about thinking outside the box as far as where their skills might fit, even if it is outside their current industry. Often, there are possibilities for moving candidates into other roles that the jobseekers themselves may not have ever considered.
I know you place a strong value on social recruiting. What’s your process for using social media to engage with candidates?
I don’t know that I have a process, per se. It’s more about reading between the lines. What words are jobseekers using? What are candidates talking about? And what aren’t they talking about? I monitor a lot of different Twitter feeds for things related to recruiting. One of the things that I like to look at are recruiting-related hashtags – #recruiterfail, #recruiterspam, #ihaterecruiters are some good ones. The things you read about when you look at these hashtags are funny at times, but it’s actually sad because recruiters are doing things that bother candidates—and they don’t know it. At the end of the day, it hurts them and their reputation. I look at these hashtags to see the things that recruiters are doing that candidates don’t like and make sure I act differently.
Let’s talk about another tactic you’ve touted in the past: Building candidate personas to help focus a candidate search. How do you go about building this into your recruiting strategy?
When I am dealing with a client that has had problems finding a cultural fit with candidates –which, by the way, is where most of the breakdown in the hiring process happens – I ask a lot of questions. I ask about the types of personalities at the organization, the company’s mission, and questions about what’s exciting about working there. I ask why people stay, and I also ask why people leave. What’s the worst thing about the job? Let’s face it: every job has tasks that no one wants to do, but transparency is important otherwise candidates feel misled. I try to bring to the surface everything I can about the job because, really, writing a job ad is about marketing. It’s about identifying what will sell the job to the perfect candidate.
Recruiters also need to know very detailed information about their candidates, so I tell recruiters to go hang out where their target candidates hang out. So, for example, if I am looking for tech people, I might lurk around a tech forum or at a meetup to listen to what people are complaining about and what they are excited about. Then I use their words to write a job ad or in an email to candidates to discuss an opportunity. I’ve learned that when I use their words to describe the things that they like and the things that they don’t like, I get a higher response rate. It takes some time, sure, but once you are used to it, you’d be amazed how much faster you get results than through the old-fashioned cut and paste approach to writing a job ad.
The importance of writing high-quality job posts has gotten a lot of press over the last couple of years. What are your pet peeves about the typical job post?
When I see people post a job description rather than a job post, that’s a big pet peeve. A job post should be an advertisement; a job description is a list of what the person in that role is going to do every day. A job post should attract people, and when you use a job description instead, you are actually using a screening tool instead of a recruiting tool. You are screening out candidates with a job description as opposed to attracting the right candidates through a great job post.
You’ve just written a book called The YOLO Principle. What did you set out to create and what do you hope readers will come away with when they read your book?
I work primarily with small business, most of which don’t have recruiting or HR staff. As I worked with these companies over the years, I realized that there is a huge underserved market there. When you look at the statistics about small businesses, most of them fail in the first 1-3 years. If you dive into the reasons for failure, most of the time it’s because they can’t find the right people to be able to become profitable quickly enough.
In that market, there is very little training and support for the recruiting side of business. Recruiting has changed so much and continues to change almost daily as technology changes how we find candidates. I saw a need to give those small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs an opportunity to get the recruiting expertise they need at a price point they can afford. When you are starting a business, you don’t necessarily have the cash to hire recruiters, and search firms can be very expensive and therefore cost prohibitive. This starts a rollercoaster of hiring where a business will hire the first person who looks good enough for the role but then they are disappointed a few weeks later when it doesn’t work out, and they have to let the person go. They have just wasted time and money that they don’t have to spare.
My book is a blueprint for getting hiring right and for having a solid foundation to start from so that small businesses can do better on those initial hires. Maybe they won’t get it perfectly, but they will be ahead of someone who hasn’t read the book.
On June 13th you’ll be doing a webinar for MightyRecruiter that covers a lot of ground. If you were going to summarize the content in a few sentences, how would you describe it?
The focus of the webinar is that recruiting today is about relationships over everything else. Recruiters have to build relationships with current employees, with candidates, with potential candidates, and with your community. These sources are where your future workforce is going to come from. It might come to you through your career site, through social media, or through referrals, but you have to build relationships, and you have to be human about it. I’ll be giving a bunch of tips and tricks and tools about how to create those relationships by using online tools and some old-school tactics, as well.
Sign up for MightyRecruiter’s upcoming webinar, Today’s Recruiting Landscape: Where to Post Jobs for Best Visibility, Which Benefits to Negotiate for Qualified Hires, and More, and ask Rebecca Barnes-Hogg your questions first hand!