3 Words That Will Change Talent Acquisition Forever ( in a really good way)

3 Words That Will Change Talent Acquisition Forever ( in a really good way)

recruitment marketing

There aren’t many instances in someone’s life when divine moments of clarity happen, but when they do, they can be game-changing. I had one of these moments recently and it was so impactful that I want to share it with the entire recruitment industry:

A few months ago I had a great meeting with my Co-Founder Bradley Clark and we were chatting about the acceleration of the recruitment industry’s transition away from its traditional HR heritage towards adopting the best practices, approaches, and technology found in the Marketing industry (which we’re excited about!). Brad talked about how you could literally read any article about marketing and each time you read the word ‘marketing’ you replace it with the word ‘recruitment’, and each time you read the word ‘customers’ you replace it with the word ‘candidate’ then the article will take on a completely different, yet highly relevant angle; giving us a snapshot into the future of where the recruitment industry is heading. It’s really cool and actually works — go try it and see for yourself!

So, back to those 3 words that I mentioned in the title … after discussing the many similarities between the core functions of recruitment and marketing we both came to the stunning (yet blatantly obvious) realization:

Candidates Are Consumers

I’ll let that sink in for a moment… Think about it. REALLY think about it, and now believe it.

Once you authentically believe that candidates are really consumers, then everything clicks and it will fundamentally change the way you approach Talent Acquisition. Suddenly, you’ll be looking at our industry through a new, clearer, and revealing lens.

Candidates are not job searching anymore, they’re job shopping. When you study the steps in a candidate journey and compare it to a typical consumer journey, the similarities are plentiful. Candidate Behaviour IS Consumer Behaviour.

Talent Acquisition Is Customer Acquisition

Let’s explore the typical steps that you’d take to buy something. For this example we’ll use a cell phone:

  1. Awareness: Before you’ve started looking, you’re already aware of companies like Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, LG, and Blackberry due to their branding, advertising and promotions.
  2. Consideration: You’ll Google search the handset options, read user reviews, compare different products, ask your friends etc.
  3. Conversion: You’ve decided that it’s a good option to upgrade your phone.
  4. Decision: You’ve visited a number of cell phone stores, talked to sales agents, negotiated price and terms, and chosen the best handset and plan that fits your individual needs.
  5. Buy: Transaction completed and cell plan contract signed.

Now let’s compare those steps to the job search process. The graphic below shows the typical customer journey through a 5-stage marketing funnel from awareness to purchase as demonstrated above. On the right you’ll see the typical journey that a candidate will take through the talent acquisition process.

So what can we learn from this?

Recruiters need to think and act like marketers to increase and nurture the number of talent ‘leads’ to be converted into candidates. If you do this, you’ll be working with deeper candidate pools which will increase candidate quality and reduce time-to-hire.

Unfortunately, the majority of the technology in our industry only focuses on the Job Application and Interview stages. Recently, Recruitment Marketing CRMs have started to address the top-of-the-funnel sections, but the software available is expensive and out of reach for most recruiters.

The good news is that at myRecdex we’re building a personal Recruitment Marketing CRM to enable all recruiters to have access to AI-driven Recruitment Marketing technology — not just the teams that have large budgets — so that we can all play a part in elevating our industry by thinking and acting like marketers.

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Most people only do it a few times in their life, but whether you’re a CEO or a receptionist, or anyone in between, starting a new job can be one of life’s most stressful events. Even if you’re the best in the world at what you do, you’ll still be in a foreign environment with different people, systems, processes and culture which all adds up to make you feel way out of your comfort zone. As a general rule of thumb, I believe it takes around 3 months (the ‘honeymoon period’) for a new hire to feel comfortable and fully productive in their new role.

As a consultant I typically change engagements every 6 months which means I’ve had lots of ‘practise’ in starting a new job over the years. In these engagements find myself regularly coaching new employees on how to best handle their first 3 months in their new role so I decided to write this post to share it with the masses. Here are my top 9 tactics to reduce new-job stress:

1) Manage your own expectations

Remember that good things take time. The primary source of stress that a new hire feels is the pressure of their own unrealistic expectations to immediately prove themselves to their new colleagues and managers. Once you come to peace and accept that it is impossible for you to be a high functioning, high performing employee on Day 1, and be comfortable in knowing that it will probably take 3 months before you are able to become fully productive, then you will greatly reduce the amount of stress you experience in your new role.

2) Be a sponge

Every company has its own unique culture, processes, systems and people and learning these can often feel like ‘information overload’, especially in the first few weeks. My recommendation is to listen, observe, and let this information ‘wash over you’ and be comfortable in knowing that not all of it will stick the first time.

3) Introduce yourself

Instead of waiting for people to introduce themselves to you, be bold and make the first move. Something as simple as “Hi, I’m Brian and I’ve just joined the recruitment team” can start a conversation.

4) Schedule regular check-ins with your manager

Checking in with your manager on a regular basis will help you to feel supported and confident that you’re on the right track in your new role. Hopefully your manager has already built these check-ins into your onboarding plan, but if they haven’t then take initiative and request some 1:1 time in their calendar on a regular cadence for the first few months.

5) Ask for help

Don’t know where something is? Not sure how to use the coffee machine? Don’t be afraid (or too proud) to ask for help! You’ll be pleasantly surprised that people are more than willing to help and it’s a great way to make introductions and get to know your new colleagues.

6) Eat in the lunch room

Instead of eating your lunch by yourself at your desk, head to the lunchroom, join a table and introduce yourself (but don’t bring last night’s leftover fish to reheat!).

7) Attend social club events

Most companies will have some form of social club or happy hour gatherings. Make an extra effort to attend these events and if it happens to be a potluck event then bring something really yummy!

8) Volunteer

It could be for social events, fundraising initiatives, or anything, but if the opportunity arises to volunteer for something then put your hand up or register your name. It’s a great way to meet people outside of your department and to experience the company culture (not to mention having fun while doing it!).

9) Get sweaty!

At the time of writing this I’m currently working at Lululemon and I am lucky enough to have full access to daily yoga and fitness classes throughout the working week. Whether it’s in the locker room or on a yoga mat I’ve met a bunch of really cool people during these ‘sweat sessions’ which has helped me become more familiar and comfortable in my new environment. Perhaps there’s a running group, bike club or boot camp that some of your colleagues have organised which is a great opportunity for you to network and socialise with your new workmates.

photo credit: pinterest.com 

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interview tips


With thousands of books, articles, blogs and courses that discuss the science and art behind ‘perfect’ interview questions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed on this topic. Throughout the last 10 years in my career I’ve learned that you don’t need to over-complicate interview questions and I prefer to keep my questions fairly simple and straightforward – Keep It Simple Stupid (as my dad used to tell me!).

Below are my top 12 interview questions that I like to use to gain an accurate, broad, and multidimensional understanding of a candidate to ensure the best possible long-term match for a specific job opportunity.

Note: I wont ask all of these questions in the same single interview, some of them are better suited for an initial phone screen conversation, and some of them are better suited for conversation during the offer stage.

1) Why did you apply to this position?
A good open-ended question to start the conversation. It will usually reveal the candidate’s main motivators (very important!),their current situation, and will provide a good basis to launch a productive conversation.

2) Why are you a [ insert: developer / project manager / architect etc] ?
Another very open-ended question that candidates will interpret differently from one to the next (but that’s ok!). Hopefully they will talk about the passion for their craft, what they like about it, and discuss the path that brought them to where they are today.

3) If i was a magic genie and could create you your dream job, what would it be?
This is a great question if you can’t quite peg down what the candidate is a fit for, or if you’re having trouble identifying whether the role is a good fit for a candidate. This question can also help to accurately ‘pipeline’ a candidate for future roles.

4) What’s your understanding of this position?
A good level-setter. During an interview I like to ensure that the candidate has an accurate understanding of the role that they are interviewing for, and this question should reveal any discrepancies or misunderstandings. Once they’ve answered this question, I’ll usually ask the hiring manager to explain the role in their own words and to cover off any discrepancies that have been revealed.

5) What are some of your key strengths as they relate to this position?
Most candidates will have a premeditated response to this popular question so I like to take it one step further by asking them to relate their strengths to the specific role they are interviewing for.

6) What do you love/hate about your current job?
This question can reveal a lot about the candidate’s personality, likes and dislikes and will help you to assess whether the role is really going to be an enjoyable and long-term fit for them.

7) What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?
It’s important to gain a complete understanding of the candidate and that includes their personality and interests outside of a professional work environment. This will help with culture fit assessment and will usually reveal interesting facts about a candidate that will keep the tone of the interview light and conversational.

8)Tell me about your long-term careers goals and how you feel this position fits into them.
Evaluating long-term fit is critical and this question will help you do this. I like to hear how the candidate feels about the long term fit, while I’ll also be making my own assessment.

9) Tell me about a single [project / task / event / product ] that you were involved in from start to finish that that you’re particularly proud of.
Taking a page out of Lou Adler’s book, this is a fantastic question that will reveal a lot about the candidate, and will create many opportunities for follow-up probing questions and conversations.

10) Tell me about your favourite manager and what about them made them so great?
Recruiters also need to evaluate whether the candidate is a good fit for the management style and personality of the hiring manager. This question will give you insight into this area and will help you make comparisons to evaluate a good overall team fit.

11) What concerns do you have about this opportunity?
This questions allows you to uncover, discuss and overcome any ‘red flags’ that the candidate could have about the role. It can also reveal any discrepancies or misunderstandings that the candidate may have. The quicker you can identify these, the more time you will have to overcome their objections and clear up any misunderstandings.

12) Compensation aside, why do you want this job?
Another page out of Lou Adler’s book, I’ll often ask this question during the offer stage to reduce the focus on salary and remind the candidate of the non-monetary reasons of why they should accept the position.


Asking good interview questions doesn’t need to be complicated or fancy. By keeping it simple and asking intelligent open-ended questions at the right time, a recruiter can easily gain a deep and broad understanding of a candidate to be able to make insightful and accurate assessments of their long term fit in a position and within an organisation.

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So what can a growing organisation do to help overcome this talent shortage challenge in 2015? Well traditionally, organisations have chosen to do one of the following:

  1. Do nothing and continue to rely on job postings, employee referrals and word of mouth.
  2. Rely on external recruitment agencies.
  3. Invest in building an internal talent acquisition function.

After nearly 10 years in the recruiting business, I’ve participated in, and observed, all 3 of these options. In my opinion, #3 is by far the smartest choice. Here are 10 reasons why:

1) You’ll have more success

A broad statement to start, but my own observations and personal experience is that organisations with dedicated high performing internal talent acquisition functions are far more successful in reaching their hiring goals than companies that rely solely on job boards and/or external recruitment agencies.

2) You’ll save a lot of money

When compared with the cost of using external recruitment agencies, I’ve calculated that I’ve saved my clients an average of $170,000 per 6 months in each of my previous 3 recruitment gigs. External recruitment agencies are expensive, typically charging anywhere from 15% – 30% of a candidate’s base salary for each placement. This can add up very quickly. In the end, the ROI for an internal talent acquisition function is much greater, and your average cost of placement is significantly reduced.

3) You’ll hire better people

Because they’re dedicating 100% of their day to your specific organisation, a high functioning talent acquisition team will be able to uncover and canvass a deeper pool of candidates than #1 and #2 put together, often finding (and closing!) those ‘diamonds in the rough,’ and ultimately providing more choice to your hiring managers. This means your average quality of hire will naturally increase.

4) You’ll hire faster

Because the best people get snapped up quickly, a good internal recruiter understands that momentum and speed is everything when it comes to hiring. By operating on the inside and having more insight and influence over the internal interview process, an internal recruiter will get feedback quickly and will be able guide the interview process along at a faster pace as required.

5) Your hiring managers will be happier

Because they’re actually part of the same organisation, and often working in the same office, internal recruiters are able to partner with hiring managers to build close, trusting, long-term relationships while opening up effective, high touch communication channels. This enables the recruiter to more accurately understand the unique requirements of every position to better identify a solid, long-term match, which ultimately makes the hiring manager happier.

6) New hires will stay longer

By recruiting from the inside, internal talent acquisition recruiters are able to gain a first-person, deeper understanding of the unique organisational culture as well as the subtle nuances of individual team dynamics. This enables them to more accurately assesses a long-term culture fit which will result in longer tenures for new hires.

7) Your candidate experience will improve

Having a great candidate experience has become a critical part of the recruitment process and can directly impact your hiring outcomes (see my blog on Candidate UX here). By acting as a friendly and knowledgeable supportive ‘point person’ and company ‘ambassador’, an internal recruiter plays a key part in providing great candidate UX to job applicants across the entire interview process, which will ultimately increase your hiring performance.

8) You will have more control of your employment brand

Your employment brand is a very important and valuable part of your organisation. It gives your company a unique identity within the labour market, and is a critical component when it comes to attracting and hiring people with the right culture fit. Internal recruiters live and breathe your employment brand in every interaction with candidates, and they are your key brand-ambassadors to the outside world. Trusting your valuable employment brand to external recruitment agencies who can’t possibly fully and accurately promote your employment brand is a missed opportunity and can be a major risk.

9) You’ll make smarter workforce planning decisions

Your internal recruitment team should have a good pulse on what’s going on in the labour market for your specific niche, and can be a great trusted resource when it comes to making strategic decisions on workforce planning for your unique environment. They’ll be able to advise on areas such as market salary levels, skills availability by location, labour market trends, and specific hiring challenges as well as what your competitors are doing.

10) Your competitors are doing it

Business is competitive and so is the labour market. We all know that the most valuable part of any organisation is its people; therefore, the ability to hire top talent is crucial to an organisation’s success. There has been a noticeable trend over the last few years towards companies investing in internal talent acquisition. In fact, the vast majority of the world’s top companies now have their own dedicated internal recruitment teams. This means that there’s a good chance your competitors are doing it, and will have the advantage when it comes to hiring top talent.  They may already be trying to poach your top employees!


2014 wasn’t an easy year for hiring, and by all accounts, 2015 is looking to be even more difficult. If your organisation is serious about growth next year, and about remaining competitive in the long run, then investing in a high performing internal talent acquisition function is very a smart choice.

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In today’s highly competitive job market, overlooking one of the most basic and simple parts of the recruitment process can reflect negatively on you, your company and your employment brand. Essentially, it will annoy and frustrate candidates and they’ll be less likely to want to work at your organization in the future.  Additionally, you also miss out on the opportunity to build your network and promote your employment brand

Ever since the early days of my recruitment career, I’ve made a special effort to differentiate myself from other recruiters and do my best to provide as much feedback as I can to applicants of my jobs. Admittedly, I haven’t been perfect in this area and there have been candidates that fell through the gaps, but over the years I have experimented with, developed and tested a number of simple ways  to improve my feedback rate and here’s a couple of easy tips that may help you:

1)    Implement a system to respond (and thank) every candidate applying to your job.

As well as a personal touch, this gives the candidate confirmation that their resume has been received. Thanking them for their application is polite and a good way to start the relationship.  This might sound like a lot of work if you are receiving hundreds of applications for a specific job but there are many quick and automated ways to do this depending on the technology of your recruitment process. Most Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and job board software products will have a customizable auto-reply function for new applicants coming in. If this isn’t available to you, then a simple email auto signature will suffice and only takes a couple of seconds to do. Here’s one I’ve used in the past:

“Thank you for sending your application to us. We will review your application over the next few days/week/end of month and will be in touch via email or phone with some feedback.”

Many ATS systems and job board products will offer a standard response, but I recommend customizing this message to reflect your personality and the employment brand of your organization.

2)    Let every candidate know the final outcome of their application.

This seems obvious for the successful candidates, but what about the ‘rejected’ ones? Remember, they might not be the right fit for this job but they could be a great fit for another role that comes up in the future (or might be able to refer someone to you). Also, remember that candidates talk to each other and you could quickly get a bad rep around town.

Again, many ATS systems will have a customizable function that will allow you to do this with the click of a button. If you don’t have an ATS system, then you can use another quick email auto signature to respond to the candidate. Here’s an example of one that I have been using recently:

“Thanks again for your interest in this postition. Although you have gained some great working experience throughout your career, your profile isn’t close enough to match the needs for this particular position and so we will not be proceeding with your application. We will hold onto your details in case something more suitable becomes available and please keep an eye on our website careers@xyzcompany.com”

This message is polite and complimentary to the candidate and gives a clear indication of whether they are successful or not. It also lets the candidate know what you’ll do with their information and promotes your career page. It can also be another chance for you to promote your employment brand.

This has been extremely effective for me and I have received hundreds of replies to this message from candidates thanking me for my time and for actually getting back to them. This small step reflects positively both on me as a professional as well as the company I’m working for. It also keeps the door open for future relationships as I continue to build my network.


By using technology and a little bit of thought and planning, everyone should be able to respond to all candidate applications. Instead of viewing feedback as a burden and cumbersome to give, try viewing it as a great way to promote your employment brand and build networks in the talent market. By responding to every applicant that has shown interest the opportunity, you are creating a good first impression and taking the first few steps towards building a relationship with the candidate.

Photo credit: recruitingdaily.com

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human resources

1)    Uncover your candidate’s motivators:

Every candidate will have their own specific reasons for looking to change jobs (lack of career progression/ challenge/ support from management/ compensation etc) and your first priority should be to discover AND qualify exactly why they are looking to leave their current employer. Remember; don’t take their reasons for face value! Qualify their reasons by discussing them in more detail and asking probing questions to dig deeper into why they really feel that way. Keep notes and document this important information as you can use it in the future to remind the candidate of their original motivations.
This is an important step as not only does it give you more control in a counteroffer situation, it also gives your more insight into the candidate and what really makes them tick.

What if the candidate is primarily motivated by money?

That’s ok! At least you now know so you’ll be extra alert to the heightened risk of a counteroffer situation. I’ve successfully placed dozens candidates whose main motivator is money – sometimes it can make it make the candidate easier to close as the motivation is black and white. Again, dig deeper and find out the specifics about their compensation requirements and the shortfall at their current employer. This information can be used to your advantage during the offer process.

2)    Discover their risk factor:

Once you’ve feel confident you’ve nailed down the candidates main motivations, then ask this question: “have you raised this issue with your boss/manager/HR yet?” This can give you valuable insight to the level of risk of a counteroffer occurring. If the candidate replies “yes but he/she can’t do anything about it” then you’re pretty safe. If the answer is “no I haven’t” then they could be high risk. I usually probe further here and sometimes, depending on their motivations; I suggest they speak with their boss/manager/HR before moving forward on their job search (it could save you a whole lot of time and effort in the long run!).

3)    Reveal and talk about the Elephant:

For the majority of candidates, the possibility of a counteroffer won’t have even crossed their minds so this is your chance to reveal the elephant hiding in the room to discuss and educate (and scare!) the candidate about the reality of counteroffers. An unprepared candidate may accept a counteroffer because they panic and they haven’t thought it through. Resigning can be an emotional experience and rash decisions can be made. A quick google search will bring up dozens of articles detailing why accepting a counter offer is a bad idea but the main 2 I use during this conversation are:

–    Your loyalty will always be in question: If you accept a counteroffer, then you’ve already broken your trust with your current employer and you’ll likely be seen as a ‘flight risk’ resulting in a good chance they’ll be looking to replace you anyway.

–    The figures speak for themselves: Multiple studies show that 80% of people who accept a counteroffer have left again within 6 months as money is only a short term fix to the core problems.

You could also suggest that the candidate does their own research online as they’ll quickly learn themselves that accepting a counteroffer is rarely ever a good idea.

When should I have this conversation with the candidate?

There are 2 key occasions that I recommend you have this conversation: The first during the initial meeting/interview with the candidate, and then again before you formally make them an offer to keep the negative reality of a counter offer fresh in their mind.

4)    Don’t leave it to chance: 

Just because you’ve already prepared the candidate to reject the counteroffer, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet. Another critical step is to make sure you keep in close contact with the candidate throughout the resignation process. Ask the candidate when they will be formally handing in their resignation and agree to schedule a phone call with them shortly afterwards to check in and see how it went. This way, if a counteroffer was made to the candidate during their resignation process, you’ve probably caught it early enough to use the information you gained in step 1 to remind the candidate of their original motivations to leave before a rash or emotional decision is made. 

5)    Don’t give up:

Even if you perform all of the previously mentioned steps, there’s no guarantee that the candidate won’t accept a counteroffer and you could be back at square 1. If you find yourself in this situation, then the best thing to do is to keep in friendly contact with the candidate, especially for the first 6 months (remember the statistics!). If they’re a super star candidate and a great fit for your team, then the chances are you’ll still have a need for them in the future. Call them a few weeks later to check in and arrange to meet them for lunch/coffee/beers for a friendly catch up. Think about it: by keeping in touch with them, guess who they’ll be calling first when they’re back in the market within 6months time?


Counteroffers are here to stay and are becoming more common. However, by educating yourself about the negative reality of counteroffers and following the 5 steps outlined above, you can greatly reduce the risk for a counteroffer getting in the way of a successful hire.


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Enlightened by the Dark Side:

In 2013, after 8 great years of working in agency recruiting, I decided to change career paths slightly and switched to the ‘Dark Side’ (or ‘Light Side’ depending on which side you’re on!) and became an in-house recruiter at an international corporation with their global HQ in downtown Vancouver. Being on the Dark Side felt new and strange at first, but it didn’t take me long to adjust to my new environment and I’ve enjoyed the experience so much that I doubt I’ll ever go back to the agency world (or what I now refer to as the ‘Dark Side’). Working in house has allowed me to work with businesses at both the tactical and strategic level to design and execute successful recruitment campaigns for immediate and future need, which is a nice change from the transactional, ad-hoc based recruitment style of the agency world.

It also didn’t take long before the flood of cold calls from recruitment agencies wanting business from me started to fill up my voice mail, email and LinkedIn account. After 8 years of ‘hammering the phones’ for new business at agencies, it was an interesting and enlightening experience to be on the other side of a cold call, and I immediately realised how repetitive and annoying they are to listen to. Almost every day I’d have messages in my inbox or voice mail that sounded something along the lines of this:

“Hi Brian, I’m calling from XYZ recruitment agency and I see that you’re advertising for a ABC position. I specialise in the recruitment of ABC’s and have a great candidate for your role. Please call me back at…”

Sound familiar?

It sure sounded familiar to me as I was guilty of leaving the same message on voicemails all over Vancouver for the past 5 years! Sure, it worked sometimes, but not very often, which is no surprise seeing as all of my competitors were probably leaving the same message.


Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… (drum roll please!)

What is the secret to building a solid client base for recruiters? After reflecting on this for a while, I’ve concluded that if I were ever to return to agency recruiting, I’d go about business development with an entirely different approach and here’s how:

1) The goal of the cold call should be to form a relationship with the HR representative or hiring manager as a CANDIDATE and not a CLIENT.

Sound simple? Well it is!

You’ll find that people are a lot more willing to take time and talk to you if you are offering them something. Instead of asking for business from a hiring manager or HR representative, offer to help them with their own career. In fact, make it clear that you don’t want their business and instead that you want to form a relationship so that you can confidentially notify them of career opportunities in the market. Don’t ask for something, instead give them something.

2) Don’t expect to get business for at least 6 – 12 months.

Go in with the expectation that you’re not going to get the business for at least 6 – 12 months and be ok with this. Take this time to build a deep relationship with them as a candidate and don’t be tempted to cross the line by offering to help them with their hiring.

3) Be genuine, keep it organic and don’t force it.

If you’ve done a good job of building a genuine candidate-based relationship with them, then you can be almost certain they’ll ask for your help eventually: “Hey, by the way, if you’ve got a great developer on your books then I’d be interested in seeing a resume…”

Also, if you’ve managed to place them in a new position during this time, the chances are that they’ll be picking up the phone to call you next time they look to expand their new team.



Separate yourself from your competitors by trying this approach. Even if they don’t become a client in the end, at least you’ve gained a good candidate (and maybe even a friend!).If they do become a client, then they’ll probably be one of the best and most loyal clients you’ll ever have.


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