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Ep 419: Speeding Up Hiring

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Perhaps the hottest topic of 2022 so far is how employers can speed up recruiting while simultaneously maintaining or improving the quality of process and quality of hire. It’s something that I’ll be getting a lot of different perspectives on in the coming weeks, as I know it is a crucial challenge for many of you.

My guest this week is Shannon Russo, CEO and Founder of RPO firm Kinetix. Shannon’s organisation is working with many employers to help them speed up hiring, and she has a tremendous amount of expertise and experience to share.

In the interview, we discuss:

• Challenges in the market

• Why speed has never been more important

• Speeding up hiring and improving quality

• Same day offers

• Finding talent

• Reaching back out to existing candidate databases.

• How are companies standing out

• Recruiting Technology

• The role of RPO in 2022

• What does the future of recruiting look like

Listen to this podcast in Apple Podcasts.

Interview transcript:

Paradox: The AI assistant for recruiting (0s):
Support for this podcast is provided by Paradox – the conversational AI company, helping global talent acquisition teams at Unilever, McDonald’s, and CVS Health get recruiting work done faster. Let’s face it, talent acquisition is full of boring administrative tasks that drag the hiring process down and create frustrating experiences for everyone. Paradox’s AI assistant, Olivia, is shaking up that paradigm, automating things like applicant screening, interview scheduling, and candidate Q&A. So recruiters can spend more time with people, not software.

Paradox: The AI assistant for recruiting (40s):
Curious how Olivia can work for your team, then visit paradox.ai to learn more.

Digital Talent by Matt Alder (48s):
Before we start the show, a quick announcement to say that my latest book, Digital Talent, is now available to order or pre-order wherever you get your books. In a disrupted and technology-enabled world of work, a company’s ability to attract, recruit and retain people with digital skills can be the difference between business success and business failure. I’ve co-authored again with Mervyn Dinnen and in the book, we explore how employers can find, recruit, retain and develop the people they need in a time of intense digital transformation. The book is out now in the UK, and will be published in the US and around the world, on March the 29th.

Matt Alder (1m 50s):
Hi there. This is Matt Alder. Welcome to Episode 419 of the Recruiting Future Podcast. Perhaps the hottest topic of the year so far is how employers can speed up recruiting while simultaneously maintaining or improving the quality of process and the quality of hire. It’s something that I’m going to be getting a lot of different perspectives on in the coming weeks as I know it is a crucial challenge for many of you. My guest this week is Shannon Russo, CEO, and Founder of RPO firm Kinetix. Shannon’s organisation is working with many employers to help them speed up hiring, and she has a tremendous amount of expertise and experience to share.

Matt Alder (2m 38s):
Hi, Shannon. Welcome to the podcast.

Shannon Russo (2m 41s):
Hey, Matt. Great to be here. Thanks for having me on today.

Matt Alder (2m 44s):
An absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Could you just introduce yourself and tell us what you do?

Shannon Russo (2m 50s):
Absolutely. I’m Shannon Russo. I’m the CEO of Kinetix. We are a recruitment process outsourcing firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. We operate in the US, North America mostly, but we do recruitment outsourcing, which the simple way to think about it is your internal recruiting team, we would be that. And we would help you manage the process from beginning to end as you.

Matt Alder (3m 15s):
And are there any particular markets that you focus on just to give us a bit of context?

Shannon Russo (3m 22s):
So we focus in North America primarily. And we focus on financial services and healthcare as our big kind of industry segments, but we do niches as well.

Matt Alder (3m 33s):
So obviously we’re going through a highly disruptive time when it comes to recruiting at the moment, perhaps somewhat of an understatement to say that. What are the challenges that you’re seeing in the market at the moment? And what are your clients experiencing?

Shannon Russo (3m 48s):
I would tell you there are a couple of things. The first one is that speed has never been more important for a recruitment process. And where we’re seeing challenges is where clients hiring leaders, particularly, think that they have all the time in the world. And that is not the case anymore, especially in the skillsets that are in high demand of which there is, you know, a good number. So I’d almost say it’s for everyone. You really need to move more quickly. And then the second part that goes along with that is hiring managers also seem to forget that they need to sell as much as they are vetting candidates.

Shannon Russo (4m 29s):
So it’s this sort of dual role, which I think sometimes unless you’re Google or maybe Apple, you don’t have the luxury to have people who are just dying to work for you. And so while you’re vetting a candidate, you are also taking that opportunity to tell them, cause they’re vetting you to decide if they want to work for you. And so those are some of the bigger things that have really kind of come into focus. They’ve always been around, but never so much as they are now.

Matt Alder (4m 57s):
I think that’s really interesting. And all the TA leaders I’ve had on the show in the last few months, speed has been the number one issue for them alongside finding potential talent in the first place, which is something we can come on to talk about. One of the obvious issues with speed is also quality in terms of quality of the recruitment process, but also the quality of the people who eventually get hired. How are you managing to sort of speed up the recruiting that you do, but also maintain or even improve the quality of the process, and also the quality of the people being hired?

Shannon Russo (5m 34s):
You know, I have often told folks hire slow, fire fast. And what I mean by that is not to take a long time to hire, but take the time before you start the hiring process, before you start the recruiting process to really truly understand what you want, what works, and importantly, what doesn’t work. And so taking that extra time before you start recruiting will allow you to act with speed and improve that quality. Because now you’ll have much more clarity. What we find often as people kind of have this general idea of what they want and only when they are faced with candidates, do they start to focus in by spending time focusing in on that.

Shannon Russo (6m 19s):
Beforehand, especially if there’s more than one person that’s involved in the recruiting process in terms of decisions, making sure you have clarity on that can be a critical difference that can allow you to go fast and have that higher quality because you really know what you’re going for.

Matt Alder (6m 34s):
And in terms of the process, the procurement process itself, because in the previous episode of the podcast, we were talking about companies who are removing parts of the recruitment process to try and make it quicker. But actually, in the long term, it was slowing everything down and making it more inefficient. What is it that people should be doing to speed up the process without losing that quality of the process?

Shannon Russo (6m 57s):
There are a couple of things that you can do that will not affect your quality at all. Let me give you one. When you get to the end of the recruitment process, we coach people to do same-day offers. Now, if you’re interviewing someone in the afternoon, that might mean a 24-hour offer, but truly going for a same-day offer can make a significant difference because a lot of times that drags on and people can kind of be in a weird place. The other thing is when you’re dealing with your recruitment team, whether it’s an outsourced recruitment team like Kinetics or your internal team, allow them to schedule the person directly into your calendar while they are doing their screen.

Shannon Russo (7m 39s):
So then you don’t have any extra time in there while they’re going back and forth and figuring out. You can do it. And if the candidate can do it, you can take a big step out of that process by allowing the recruitment team to actually schedule the person directly into your calendar, because you either trust your routine or you don’t. And so allowing them to schedule them directly onto your calendar, giving them interview slots, or those kinds of things will really help truncate that process. It can allow it to move much more quickly.

Matt Alder (8m 8s):
Now, I guess we could probably spend the whole rest of the interview talking about speed in this way, but I want to really give everyone the benefit of all of your experience and expertise. The other big issue that obviously people are finding in these markets is finding the talent in the first place. So you’re obviously working in some sectors where talent is hard to come by and I’m sure you’re working with a number of clients. So you’ve got a lot of people to find. How’d you find people in the current market?

Shannon Russo (8m 38s):
I wish I could tell you there’s a silver bullet. [Laughs] Unfortunately, there is not a silver bullet, however, who are blocking and tackling are ways that you can really do a good job finding candidates. We use some AI behind the scenes to run campaigns and really be on top of that. But here’s what I would tell you. I’m a TA leader in my company. I guarantee you, they haven’t gone back to someone who applied to a job and maybe was too junior for that job two years ago or 18 months ago, or even three years ago at this point and reached back out to them.

Shannon Russo (9m 18s):
Now those people, their careers have moved forward. They might be perfect for the roles you have now. And it’s like people forget that they have these candidates that have already expressed interest in their company. Going back to those, reaching back out to them, we’ve found it to be a really significant tool that people are just ignoring, for the most part. They want to protect their database, but they don’t actually try to use it and try to connect with candidates before they need them for hires.

Matt Alder (9m 45s):
And I guess that is a source of genuine competitive advantage because I’m guessing when people are sort of going out and sourcing in all the same places as each other, they’re seeing the same candidates accessing the same talent, but at least by going back and looking through those databases, there’s that relationship there. There is that kind of differential is that sort of what you’re saying, basically?

Shannon Russo (10m 8s):
Yes. So the miss is nobody has a walled garden anymore. Those candidates are the exact same candidates you’re going to find on Indeed, the exact same candidate you might find on Career Builder or any of the niche job boards that you might go to. That’s not the point. The point is they were interested in you. So you, to your point, you already have that connection with the candidate. That’s the material difference. And you can use some data from your system to say, “Hey, I know two years ago, you applied for this job, but we’d like to talk to you about this job.” Right? So you have that extra connection. So it’s not about finding the candidate because anyone with the right tools and the right outreach, whether that be even LinkedIn, right, Glassdoor, all these guys are pulling, they’re pulling these candidates.

Shannon Russo (10m 53s):
There are no more walled gardens. You can’t say I’ve got all the candidates and nobody else has them. But what you can say is you were interested in one of my opportunities. Well, now I’ve got more of a connection. It’s not just a spam outreach, right? It’s a significant difference because some of these candidates in the hottest skillsets, they are getting pounded by recruiters day in and day out. And so that difference of that connection that you had, even if it was from a couple of years ago, can make all the difference in terms of really connecting with them.

Matt Alder (11m 26s):
You mentioned when we sort of touched on hiring managers earlier, that whole aspect of the hiring manager selling the position to the candidates that they’re interviewing. And with people, as you say, being bombarded by messages from recruiters and all those kinds of things, how are the best companies standing out in terms of things like employer brand, but also how they do their recruitment marketing?

Shannon Russo (11m 51s):
They are spending time on that, whether it be kind of reaching out to candidates before they’re even needing them for a job or doing that and sharing information, they need to understand, sometimes we call it the sizzle. They need to understand why they work at the company that they’re at and be able to express why you might want to work at their company and what the opportunities are and why it’s so exciting. And a lot of times people miss doing that. And that is in the moment. And then that follows with their employer branding, where they’re doing broader outreach using kind of social media and those kinds of tools to just get people, generically aware of them.

Shannon Russo (12m 32s):
But where the rubber meets the road is at the hiring leader level, every single time. You might have an interest in the company because you saw a post on Facebook, or you saw some stuff, you went, you watched some videos, right? So they are employer brand, they’re doing a good job. But when it comes right down to it, when you and I talk, you’re the hiring leader, my decision is going to be based on my conversation with you and my connection with you.

Matt Alder (12m 59s):
You mentioned using AI to help in the process. And obviously, there is a huge amount of investment, noise, and general sort of use of recruiting technology at the moment. What’s the role of recruiting technology? And how does it dovetail with that very human aspect that you were just talking about?

Shannon Russo (13m 19s):
We are big believers in technology and AI specifically, but it also is not a silver bullet. So that is really about finding and matching the right candidates. And that’s where the human element kind of takes over to say, alright, let me talk to Matt and make sure that the opportunity that I have is a fit for him. And let me actually get to know him a little bit better, not just taking and tying the skillsets that I know that Matt has from his CV or from any of the stuff that I’ve done in order to identify him as a candidate I want to talk to. Let me use that to leverage. And then people hate it when I say this, but the blocking and tackling, when we’re going after those quality candidates that we know were the right fit, we are calling them, emailing them, texting them, calling them, emailing them, texting them, calling them, emailing them, texting them.

Shannon Russo (14m 16s):
I’m sorry that that’s so boring, right? To say, it’s just doing the work, but that volume of doing that, and then I’ll give you an example from a healthcare setting. A lot of these are doing [inaudible]. You shouldn’t be calling them at one in the afternoon because by the way, while that’s convenient for you, that’s not convenient for them. You need to hit them before seven in the morning or after seven at night, while they’re on their commute and they have time to focus on something other than their job. And they shouldn’t be listening to you during the time that they’re working anyway. And so you need to flex to meet the candidate where they are if that makes sense. And that’s, it’s always been the case, but it’s even more so now.

Matt Alder (14m 58s):
And tell us a bit more about, really the role that RPO is playing these days. We’ve said that it’s very disruptive times for recruiting, TA teams are struggling, all that kind of stuff. Where’s RPO coming in and really sort of fitting in with talent acquisition at the moment?

Shannon Russo (15m 18s):
We can, in our view, we can be not a replacement, but a true partner to fill out a recruiting team that’s been maybe decimated, right, during the last couple of years, either because the people quit or because they were laid off. It doesn’t matter the reason. You don’t have the team to be able to fill it in. So as a partner, we can fill in that. The other thing is that we’ve got skill-based specialties where we can get into those niches with recruiters that really understand the skillset and can talk first person about why this job is interesting and what the opportunities are for the candidate. And so we can really fill in, add that extra horsepower and a dramatic focus.

Shannon Russo (16m 4s):
We are not going to benefits meetings. We are not talking about the employer aspects of when the holiday party is. That has nothing to do with us. We are only focused on getting candidates to fill the jobs. And so we are incredibly focused on that. So we can really help do that. The other thing frankly, that we can do is we bring this sort of high energy speed focus that can really help energize teams again, to say we’ve got to do things faster. We can’t live with the way it used to be. We got to make some changes and tweak some things so that we can be the best in class in terms of how we do things.

Shannon Russo (16m 46s):
And so that’s the other places we can bring those best-in-class practices to the table and help sell them as part of the TA team internally to make the changes that are necessary for people to be successful in the recruiting process. Sometimes people are stuck and they’re like, well, we’ve asked to do same-day offers and they don’t want to do it. Like it’s not, this is not an ask. This is a requirement in order for you to be successful. And so sometimes us being that stranger with a briefcase can really help support those TA teams moving things forward.

Matt Alder (17m 22s):
So as a final question, as each day goes by, it becomes very clear that predicting the future is genuinely impossible, but I’m going to ask you anyway, what do you think the future of recruiting looks like? If we were going to have this conversation again in a couple of year’s time, what would we be talking about?

Shannon Russo (17m 40s):
Here’s the interesting part, some of the very same things that we’re talking about today, now, my hope is, you know, I would tell you that things like texting, I mentioned that as part of our recruitment process, it’s standard part today, whereas a few years ago it was not standard part, right? So I think there will be some more things like that, where we’ll continue to use technology to kind of connect the dots, but at its core, this interaction like you and I are having today, where we’re talking LIVE and we’re hearing the inflections of each other’s voices, and we are really making that connection in order to find the right fit for both the candidate and for the company, that’s not going to go away.

Shannon Russo (18m 25s):
You’re not going to see recruiters disappearing. You know, every once in a while people say, this is the end of recruiters. It just is not going to happen because, without that, you don’t make the right fit. And then long-term, it’s not that, people are not pens. People are not paperclips. You really have to kind of take that extra step to make the connections so that you can do it. So that’s the part that won’t change. I think a lot of the technology stuff will continue to evolve and we’ll figure out what the best ones are. I think some great examples of some recent technologies that are pretty settled now are chatbots on your career site. I think they’re brilliant and they can help answer questions for both the candidates and for you, and kind of get that out of the way.

Shannon Russo (19m 11s):
So you’re both closer to being really interested in each other when you have that conversation.

Matt Alder (19m 15s):
And lastly, where can people find you and where can they connect with you?

Shannon Russo (19m 20s):
Absolutely. So we are all on all the usual channels, kinetixhr.com is our website. And if you use that same [inaudible] Kinetix HR on really any of the social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, you will be able to find us and connect with us on whatever your preferred channel is.

Matt Alder (19m 44s):
Shannon, thank you very much for talking to me.

Shannon Russo (19m 47s):
Thank you for having me, Matt. I really appreciate it.

Matt Alder (19m 50s):
My thanks to Shannon. You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple podcasts, on Spotify, or via your podcasting app of choice. Please also follow the show on Instagram. You can find us by searching for Recruiting Future. You can search all the past episodes at recruitingfuture.com. On that site, you can also subscribe to the mailing list to get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show. Thanks very much for listening. I’ll be back next time and I hope you’ll join me.

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