The Ideal State for Great Employee Onboarding

April 6th, 2017 Comments off
ideal onboarding process

I don’t have an exact number, but I think I’ve probably onboarded close to 10,000 employees in my HR and talent acquisition career. Now, I didn’t always own the entire onboarding process but I played a role in all of those hires!

So, I like to think of myself as an onboarding expert. It’s a big responsibility, as onboarding is such a critical aspect of successful employee tenure. A horrible onboarding experience may drive new employees to look for another job by lunch time, but an awesome onboarding experience will make those same employees want to get out and recruit your next great hire!

It seems like most organizations are constantly tinkering with their onboarding processes, most likely because we feel like we can always make the orientation process for new hires better. I think for me there is never a “perfect” onboarding process, but I definitely think there is an ideal state for which you to strive to achieve in onboarding.

  1. Onboarding has to start before the first day of work. If your new employee shows up for their first day and no onboarding has taken place, you’ve failed that new employee.
  2. Administrative work for the new employee is absent on day one. That means you need to get all that administrative work out of the way before day one. There are a few ways to accomplish this but the best way is to utilize technology and have at least a portion of your onboarding completed online.
  3. Your new employees should know exactly what will be expected of them before they show up to work on day one, and hopefully much longer than that. When I went to work in HR at Applebee’s I was delivered a 90-day calendar completely filled in on what I would be working on and where I would be at each day. Of course, this is exceptional, but it’s not too much to ask that we deliver each new employee at least day one and probably week one.
  4. Give them a “wow” moment. A wow moment is not something that is the same for each employee, so this takes a bit of work. For one employee maybe it’s just taking them to lunch, for another maybe it’s sending flowers to their spouse and thanking them for allowing your team to “borrow” them each day. Maybe it’s decorating their office in their favorite team’s colors and banners. A wow moment on day one is really awesome!
  5. Onboarding can’t end after day one, or even week one. What’s the ideal length? I don’t know, that depends on your organization and the position someone was hired for. What I do know is that if you have a position with higher new hire turnover, you need to increase your onboarding time for those positions!


Onboarding is really hard to do well if you’re only using manual processes. Employee onboarding software allows you to do most of the administrative and scheduling of onboarding, which will then give you and your team the capacity to do all the extra things that make onboarding special for new employees.

Onboarding might be the most overlooked aspect of new hire turnover, and it’s something we in HR and talent acquisition completely control! By planning ahead, creating a good new hire experience and using technology to streamline processes, you can get closer to that ideal state of onboarding.

Find out more benefits of using technology in your onboarding process.

Tim Sackett, SPHR is the President of HRU Technical Resources a leading IT and Engineering Staffing firm headquartered in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of combined Executive HR and Talent Acquisition experience, working for Fortune 500 companies in healthcare, retail, dining and technology. Tim is a highly sought after national speaker on leadership, talent acquisition and HR execution. He also is a prolific writer in the HR and Talent space, writing for Fistful of Talent and his blog The Tim Sackett Project. Tim is married to a hall of fame wife. They have three sons and one dog. He is a lifelong workplace advocate for Diet Mt. Dew fountain machines and hugs.

3 Levels of Recruiting Metrics for Low Volume and Small Business Hiring

February 17th, 2017 Comments off
Recruiting metrics

Almost every single thing you’ll read on recruiting metrics is designed for large organizations and high volume hiring. It makes sense – the more you hire, the more digging into metrics can help fine-tune your process and gain greater efficiencies. On the other hand, in low volume hiring, each hire has significantly more impact, individually, to the organization.

The hard part of designing HR metrics for small companies is the data sample is small, thus, you have a greater chance of making bad decisions based on what the data is telling you. What!? That doesn’t seem to make sense! In large data sets, the outliers get blended in. In small data sets, the outliers can make a significant impact. Here is an example:

10,000 hires a year. Average days to fill is 32.45. One hire that is 634 days to fill, won’t move this number much at all. This one hire will move the average to 32.51, barely noticeable.

100 hires a year. Average days to fill is 32.45. One hire at 634 days to fill will move the average to 38.40. That one hire just blew your entire metric average!

This is the difficulty of small and medium sized organizations when designing meaningful recruiting metrics.

I think there are three different levels of small business recruiting metrics that make a difference:

  1. Funnel metrics
  2. Source metrics
  3. Retention metrics

Funnel Metrics:

Funnel metrics include all those recruiting activities you do to get to your final hire:

  • How many applicants did you get for the position?
  • How many of those applicants were qualified?
  • How many applicants were screened and passed on to the hiring manager?
  • How many of those applicants made it to the interview stage?
  • How many offers were made?


In most small business organizations, the recruiting function is shared, not dedicated, so measuring these metrics helps you understand the amount of work that was done, and needs to be done in the future, to fill a position.

Let’s say you have aggressive growth plans over the next year and you need to fill 10 of the same position. Your funnel metrics will give you a fairly close indication of how many candidates you need to attract, how many screens you need to perform, etc., until you reach your ultimate hiring goal. You can then go back to your executive team and give them clear direction on how long it will take to fill the positions they need to hire to help you grow!

Source Metrics: 

Source of hire in small business organizations is significantly important because every dollar spent in getting qualified applicants is hard to get. You just can’t throw $8,000 at one online source and hope to hire someone, because $8,000 might be your entire budget! Ironically, I find most small business organizations don’t even measure the source of hire and then cost per source of hire.

In a limited budget situation, you must know what your best sources of hire are and how much they cost per hire. Measuring this will open a lot of eyes in your organization and truly help you zero in on those tools that are a must-have for you to use, and usually some tools you’ll cut from your budget all together!

Retention Metrics: 

Retention? What the heck does retention have to do with talent attraction and recruiting!? Everything! For every single employee you keep, it’s one less employee you have to recruit and replace. Thus, retention might be the most important recruiting metric for SMB organizations.

So, measuring retention is easy. The retention I’m talking about is a little different. I recommend a couple of different retention metrics based on the type of organization and culture you have. First, retention by department/hiring manager is a great one. What you’ll find is as an organization you rarely have organizational retention problems, but you’ll pinpoint hiring managers who are causing most of your problems. Also, Top 90 percent (or whichever number works for your organization) retention is critical in small organizations. This metric measures the retention of your best and brightest employees, and doesn’t count against a hiring manager when there is turnover of low performing employees.

This gives you insight into what talent pools you should be keeping an eye on for backfills to increase the talent within your organization.

Check Out 3 Recruiting Metrics That Don’t Mean Much – And Why

Tim Sackett, SPHR is the President of HRU Technical Resources a leading IT and Engineering Staffing firm headquartered in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of combined Executive HR and Talent Acquisition experience, working for Fortune 500 companies in healthcare, retail, dining and technology. Tim is a highly sought after national speaker on leadership, talent acquisition and HR execution. He also is a prolific writer in the HR and Talent space, writing for Fistful of Talent and his blog The Tim Sackett Project. Tim is married to a hall of fame wife. They have three sons and one dog. He is a lifelong workplace advocate for Diet Mt. Dew fountain machines and hugs.

3 Recruiting Metrics That Don’t Mean Much – And Why

January 25th, 2017 Comments off
recruiting metrics

Let’s start off by all agreeing that it doesn’t matter when you start measuring. It doesn’t have to be in January. It doesn’t have to be on a Monday. It doesn’t have to be at the beginning of the month. Just start thinking about recruiting metrics.

The most important thing, regardless of when you start, is that you have a benchmark. If you don’t have a benchmark, just start anyway and make your benchmark. We were “X” in the last 30 days, so let’s see how we do in the next 30 days. Too often we get hung up on when to start, and if we don’t start on that date we should wait. Most people like clean starts and stops, but it’s really only a self-imposed prison.

It’s one of the biggest pitfalls I see in recruiting department metrics. “Well, we don’t know how many requisitions a recruiter should have, so let’s not measure that.” OK, but if you just started measuring that, you would know eventually. Not knowing what data you should have is never an excuse for not beginning to measure.

Recruiting departments (and HR departments) are classic in building CYA recruiting metrics – or the things that we measure to show we are doing the job we were hired to do so they don’t outsource our function. Every other part of your organization actually gathers data and measures things that will help the organization get better, not justify why you hired them.

Here’s a list of great CYA recruitment metrics – that actually don’t mean much:

  1. Time to Fill – You know this is the single most used recruitment metric on the planet, and for about 98 percent of organizations it’s totally a worthless metric! Time-to-fill is meaningless as a metric on its own. Who cares that you filled a software engineer job in 59 days instead of 61 days? No one! Now, if you show me that the decrease of two days saved the organization $X dollars, or made us $X dollars, now I’m listening. Or, if you show me that to reach our growth goals, based on the days it will take us to fill the positions, we will need to hire “X” number of additional recruiters or we will never meet those goals, I’m listening. But you don’t do that.
  2. Quality of Hire – This is a recruiting metric that really isn’t a recruiting metric. It’s a hiring manager metric, and it’s a metric that you can’t really measure until the individual that the hiring manager selected is fully productive, or determined that they’ll never be fully productive. What you should really do is rename this metric, “Quality of our hiring process,” because that’s what most organizations are actually measuring. “OK, the candidate that was selected 30 days ago was a crappy performer, so something went wrong with our process.” Could have been the pre-hire assessment, the awful ability of the hiring manager to select great talent, etc. What it is not is a measure of the quality of the hire. See the subjectiveness of this? That makes it a great CYA metric!
  3. Hiring Manager Satisfaction Hiring manager satisfaction might be the single least effective metric on the planet. Hiring managers love the recruiting department when they find them great people to hire, and they think the recruiting department is trash when it takes more than 48 hours for them to find candidates. The hiring manager sits on a resume for three weeks, then decides she wants to interview and is pissed at you when you tell them the candidate is no longer available. Does this metric really help your recruiting department get better? But, it’s another very subjective metric that’s easily manipulated when needed. I’ve seen satisfaction surveys written in a way that hiring managers could only give the recruiting department good grades, even when they were getting almost nothing from them!


So, I know what you are going to ask. What recruiting metrics should you be using? I think there are three levels of recruiting metrics, and next month, in this exact spot, I’ll give you the recruitment metrics you should be using right now to improve recruiting in your organization!

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Back to the Future: HR and Talent Acquisition Technology On the Horizon

December 27th, 2016 Comments off
HR and TA Technology

In 2016 I demoed over 100 different HR and TA technologies. I started doing this three years ago with a goal to demo one new piece of HR and TA technology per week – 52 demos a year. My goal was personal development as I thought I was pretty naive when it came to HR technology as a whole.

Now, I’m full blown HR tech geek and I love it! I love the interaction of technology and people, being that what we do is such a people-oriented business. Technology is great, but when you add in people, it can get crazy!

Those companies that are building the latest and greatest HR and TA technology on the market truly get this complex relationship and the new stuff that is coming just blows me away. As I look out into the future of HR and TA technology, here are some of the trends that I’m most excited about:

  • Video, Video, Video. It’s no secret at this point that we all, especially the younger generation, consume massive amounts of video! On our phones, on a plane, on a train, on a boat and on a goat, we are a world that lives in video. The video trend in HR and TA I’m most excited about is Video Job Descriptions. No longer the lame, boring text-based job descriptions that have been around since dirt. You can now have an employee doing the exact job you’re hiring for – or a hiring manager – tell the applicant via video exactly what the job is and why it’s awesome.
  • Artificial Intelligence (A.I). Right now this is mostly really smart chat bots. I’m hoping eventually I’ll get my Will Smith iRobot to fire employees for me, but until then I’ll make do with great tech that’s on the market. We are to the point where A.I. can actually take a candidate from pre-apply all the way to the first in-person interview without ever being touched or communicated to via a real human on your team. That’s super exciting!
  • Recruitment Marketing. Customer relationship management technology within the talent acquisition space continues to evolve and improve at a tremendous speed. The CRM technology on the market will soon be able to tell you when a great candidate is even thinking about maybe beginning to look for a job, when they stopped by to look at your career site, where they went after looking at you, and how you should go about getting them to come back and finally apply. It’s scary Big Brother stuff, and it’s so cool! Just know if you’re at work and you are looking for a job, everyone is now watching you.
  • Employee Experience. It took a few years, but we finally remembered that our employees are important. Sure, candidate experience is still important, but let’s not forget those we already have! To that end, there is awesome technology helping us communicate better with our employees and collaborate better as teams. Also, I love the fact that I think we’ve finally reached the tipping point of organizations understanding that once a year employee reviews have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Our employees expect and deserve constant, ongoing feedback on their performance, or they’ll leave to find it somewhere else.


I get that the trends and technology are moving at an incredible rate of speed. The changes we are seeing on an annual basis within HR and TA now would have taken three-five years to take hold just a decade ago. Make a goal to yourself in 2017. You don’t have to be crazy like me, but do yourself a favor and demo one new technology each month. That’s one hour per month, twelve hours for the year, for your own development. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make!

CareerBuilder’s CHRO and CTO discuss what they see as some of the biggest 2017 HR trends

The TA Technology I’m Putting on My Santa List

December 7th, 2016 Comments off
TA technology wish list

I love this time of year! You get to put your TA budget together for next year, you find out how much you get to play with and you can start dreaming about all the cool stuff you can do for next year.

If you’re like me, most of your Santa list was stuff that your rich friends already had. I grew up fairly blue collar, so my stocking was stuffed with socks and underwear. A nice winter coat and new boots were probably going to be under the tree somewhere. I grew up understanding you get the things you need for Christmas, first, and if there was some left over budget you might get something you want.

I’ve run my TA budget, over the years, the same way. Sure, I love looking at all the new shiny, cool technology on the market, but first, let me get the technology I really need to make my shop run efficiently and effectively. So, if I was looking at putting my Santa list together for TA tech this year, this is what I would be asking for:

  1. Sourcing technology. People Aggregators, like CareerBuilder’s sourcing platform and a few others, are the perfect for filling your pipelines with passive candidates, different from what you get from candidate databases and your normal “post and pray” sourcing strategy.
  2. SMS candidate messaging. A few ATSs already have this as part of their platform, or there are specific products on the market that will work with your ATS or CRM technology that allows you to text candidates directly. If you run a serious TA shop, your recruiters must have the ability to text candidates from your TA tech stack.
  3. An employment brand that is transparent. Most of us have this made-up employment brand. It’s not bad, but it’s not “us.” I want a brand that truly speaks to who we are. That’s scary because some of us don’t want our candidates to know who we truly are! I do. Just like our families. We love them to death and we have issues. I want people who want all of that, not just the good stuff! There’s great storytelling technology on the market that helps your employees truly share the real story of who you are as an organization.
  4. Hiring managers who own the talent on their team. TA isn’t responsible for the recruiting on your team. TA is responsible for helping you attract and select the best talent possible for your team. Ultimately, you – Mr. or Mrs. Hiring Manager – are responsible for the talent on your team. Want to completely change the talent culture in your organization? Make this one change! This means I need an ATS that is truly collaborative across our entire organization. Most aren’t.
  5. Candidate Relationship Marketing (CRM) technology. I need something to help me keep in contact, on an ongoing basis, with the talent we didn’t hire, but might just be our next greatest hire. It doesn’t work manually; Santa knows I’ve tried to do it manually for years!


I probably won’t get all of this, but that’s what Santa lists are for, to dream a little. My TA budget looks the same way! I’ll probably get some of what I ask for; I know I’ll never get everything, but little by little we’ll keep getting better. What would you put on your TA tech Santa list this year?

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What Should You Automate in Your Recruitment Process?

October 5th, 2016 Comments off
What should you automate in your recruitment process?

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you could just completely start over with your recruitment technology? No barriers or roadblocks. No legacy HRIS or ATS. Clean slate.

Of course, it would be easy to just tell you to go out and buy the newest, most expensive tech on the market. That would also be a bit of a pointless exercise, because 99 percent of us would never be able to do that. But, what if you got the chance to build a new recruiting tech stack from scratch?

What would you choose?

Below, I share what I would do if I could start over — which things within the recruitment process I would automate, and which would get a more hands-on approach.

Core Recruitment Technology

  • Applicant tracking system – Okay, this one is easy. It’s like your HRIS, or system of record, but for talent acquisition. The problem is that most ATSs will tell you they can do it all. I have never found one that can do it all (effectively). So, really dig into those claims.
  • Analytics – Everyone will tell you they have analytics, but when you finally demo a full analytics-talent acquisition technology and it completely blows you out of the water, you realize what powerful analytics really mean. The larger the organization, the more important and more of a must-have this becomes.
  • Digital phone technology – Oh, boy — here we go. Almost no one on the corporate side of talent acquisition has this, and it’s a huge miss. Most recruiting is still done by phone — and this won’t change. Unless you have candidates accepting a job without ever speaking to someone at your company, you need this. A digital phone system tracks usage by recruiter and gives you metrics that can help you see who is actually making calls and who’s not. Be forewarned, the lack of time your recruiters are spending on the phone may give you a stroke!
  • CRM – This is ongoing candidate communication during the pre-apply, apply and post-apply hiring process. Truly, 99.9 percent of ATSs don’t have anything close to CRM, but will tell you they do. You need a strong CRM technology to build talent networks, pipelines of talent, and catch so much talent you’re missing and have no idea you’re missing.
  • Recruitment training – All the best talent acquisition technology is the world is great, but if your recruiters suck, great tech only makes them suck faster! I suggest you find a great online technology that continually trains and enables you to track this training and use.



  • Job distribution – Recruiting can be broken down into two main buckets: inbound and outbound. Most corporate organizations do about 90 percent inbound (post and pray baby!). So, if that’s your main strategy (and it usually is), you better have the best job distribution engine on the planet.
  • Sourcing technology – This space is packed right and growing super fast. More money is being dropped into sourcing technology than almost any other segment, which makes it very confusing for talent acquisition buyers. Ultimately, before you buy, you need to talk to people you trust who are using the technology. I had one vendor drop the name of a competitor of mine. The vendor said the company “loved” using the vendor’s technology, but that because the company was a competitor they wouldn’t talk to me. BUT — I “need” this tech! So, I called the competitor’s CEO directly. Guess what? The CEO thought the tech was worthless.
  • Employee referral automation – Is employee referrals your largest source of hires? For most organizations, this is the case. Yet, when I ask how much money they’ve invested into technology to support their most important source, it’s almost always $0. Doesn’t that sound silly!
  • Job advertising – If you haven’t looked into programmatic job advertising, you need to: It’s what all companies will be doing in the future. Basically, it entails using technology to buy and place your ads in real time in a very hyper-specific way. Higher quality applicants, at a lower cost.



  • Video Interview Technology – I love this technology and how it’s evolving. What we know is that our hiring managers love to see candidates before they live-interview them. Video interview technology helps your organization be more effective with its time and resources.
  • Assessment technology – No more gut decisions! Assessment tech has also evolved way past the personality assessments of yesteryear. Predictive assessments can now accurately tell you who you should be hiring, and they have proven to be more effective than live interviewing. If you want to hire better, you need to add assessment technology to your stack.
  • Automated reference checking technology – This is a giant pet peeve of mine. If you manually do reference checks from references given to you by a candidate, you should be fired — it’s a giant waste of time. What do you think the candidate’s references are going to tell you? They gave you the references! They will tell you the candidate walks on water. There — I just saved you all that time. Seriously, stop this. Get an automated reference checking tool that’s proven to actually knock out some candidates based on how they’ll fit into the role and your organization.
  • Automated background checking – I think most organizations have this now, but if you don’t, you should. This is a way to verify the credentials of a candidate and the information that’s presented in a resume.



  • Interview/apply feedback – Don’t just think “exit interviews.” Think about all those candidates in your own database who you didn’t hire, but who are still awesome, talented folks you might want to hire in the future. How is your organization staying connected with them? For most, this will be with your CRM technology. Think about that entry-level engineer who loved you and applied three years ago. Back then, you just didn’t have an entry-level opening. Fast-forward to today, and that person now has three years of experience with your competition. How are you letting them know you still want them?


These are the big buckets of talent acquisition technology. Depending on your specific industry, location, and so on, you might have other buckets that you need or don’t need. Also, don’t get sold on the idea that you must have all of these technologies talking to each other, and thus must buy one big giant talent acquisition suite.

New technologies, built on a SaaS platform, will be able to “talk” to each other. The key is first checking to see if those integrations have already happened and talking to those using the tech now to know how they’re working. Suites will be great for some organizations, but they usually fall down on certain parts, so you need to know what’s super important for your organization before buying.

We’ve partnered with industry expert Tim Sackett to create a comprehensive checklist to help you take stock of where you’re at now — and take that first step toward determining where your process is too manual, too technology-focused, or just right. Get the checklist.

How to Create Job Descriptions That Don’t Suck

July 13th, 2016 Comments off
How to create a job description that doesn't suck

Job descriptions have seemingly been around forever. Actually, what most companies still use today as a basic job description format has been around for about 85 years. Which, in business terms, is forever!

The same old boring job descriptions. The reality is, even as we add video and links and all the fancy templated designs, it’s still a title, responsibilities, knowledge requirements, EOE message, and so on.  Boring. Maybe a little more pleasing to the eye, but still boring.

That’s the big question. How do we make job descriptions better? How do we make job descriptions, dare I say, sexy?

The first step is to really understand what candidates are looking for. Candidate behavior is the key to writing great job descriptions that are going to engage and attract the talent your organization wants and needs.

CareerBuilder recently released a study that shows candidates are looking for three things:

  1. They want to know how you’re different than everyone else. This means you need to build job descriptions that set you apart from your competition. Seventy-four percent of candidates want to know the salary of the job you have posted, according to the study. “Well, we don’t do that! Our competition doesn’t do that!” Well, maybe you should.
  2. They want the truth. Not the fake brand you want them to think you are, but what you look like in the morning before you put your “game” face on!
  3. They want to feel special. You know what your one process for all job applicants does to candidates? It makes them feel like they’re just like everyone else. Great talent hates to feel like everyone else. So, you need to have a process that treats everyone like the unique snowflakes they are.


Sounds easy, right? It’s not. It’s super difficult to produce great job descriptions with those three things in mind, but here are some tips to help you get there:

  • Use your employees to tell candidates what the job truly entails. Show short, unscripted videos of actual employees, telling everyone what it is they do each and every day. You can help them frame what to say, but let them use their words.
  • Use your hiring managers to tell candidates directly what they like to see from candidates in the position they have open. Again, short video works wonders for this, but you can also use hiring managers’ “quotes” within the job description to highlight important aspects.


  • The biggest frustration of all candidates is a lack of response of any kind from employers. Thirty-eight percent of candidates claim they never receive any type of communication to their resume/application. What should you do? Put your cell phone number in the job description, of course! If you have a hard to fill opening, this is a must. It shows you really care, you’re open to questions, and that if they apply they have a way to get an update. Also, 72 percent of candidates say they want to speak to a recruiter or hiring manager before applying, so give them that access.


  • Have an actual personality! Job descriptions don’t have to be boring. In the HR bible, nowhere does it say, “Job descriptions must be boring or thou shalt be spanked.” NOWHERE. It’s okay to have fun with your job postings, especially if that fits the personality of your organization or even the personality of your hiring manager. Candidates respond to organizations that aren’t afraid to show their personality.


Historically, writing job descriptions has seemed like a punishment for those in HR. No one has really wanted to do it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Find the most creative HR intern you can find — someone with strong writing skills — and let them have at it. Your job postings can be both legally functional and marketing-worthy.

You just need to add a little creativity to the mix.

Get more in-depth insights from CareerBuilder’s 2016 Candidate Behavior Study.

​You Need a Nurse, Stat! 5 Ways to Fill Your Nursing Openings

June 17th, 2016 Comments off
You Need a Nurse, Stat!

In the United States, we are facing a major nursing crisis unlike anything we have ever seen. When I ran talent acquisition at a major health system prior to the recession, I thought we had problems. Then the recession hit, and our problems were a bit less serious. Two things helped us. First, fewer nurses retired because of the recession. Second, colleges were first starting to address the crisis by adding additional capacity.

The recession hit full bore, and the nursing shortage didn’t seem that bad. In fact, we started seeing new graduate nurses unable to get jobs. So, we went back to focusing on bigger issues.

Fast forward to 2016, and the nursing shortage is now back — and back in a big way.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.2 million vacancies will emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022. By 2025, the shortfall is expected to be “more than twice as large as any nurse shortage experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s,” a team of Vanderbilt University nursing researchers wrote in a 2009 paper on the issue.

To make all of this even worse, all those nurses who didn’t retire during the recession are now retiring en masse. That isn’t a good sign for nursing vacancies, because it’s also one more sign that our population at retirement age is growing exponentially. This also means we’ll need more nurses.

If you’re in the health care industry, you already know all of this. You’re living this nightmare each day. Your recruiters are beyond frustrated in trying to fill openings, only to have more nurses leave every day. So, what can you do?

Let me give you five things you should be doing to fill your nursing openings:

1. Fish in ponds where there are fish! CareerBuilder recently released data that shows exactly where the largest populations of graduate nurses are coming from, and where there is likely an abundance of nurses to hire. The study shows that not all areas are feeling the same pain.

2. Ramp up your relocation plan. People are more willing to move for job positions than you think, but you have to be competitive with relocation. Relocation agreements are expensive, but couple those with a stay agreement and it becomes a great way to retain that talent.

3. Don’t give up on your alumni. An alumni hiring strategy isn’t a one and done proposition. Your past employees want to come back and work for you, but you need to stay after them on an ongoing, continual basis. Your strategy should include at least monthly communication, to include: email, direct mail, text messaging, and social media.

4. Be THE company at your local nursing school. Graduates don’t know who has the best jobs. They get told that by their professors and by those organizations who are on their campus constantly. You have a choice to make. You can be just another company that shows up, or you can be THE’ company that shows up. That investment will be worth it!

5. Develop a gold-plated save strategy. The easiest nursing vacancy to fill is the one you don’t have to fill. Develop a save strategy that will help you retain nurses who put in their resignation. Put them in front of your CEO and CNO before they leave. Ask them specifically what it would take to keep them. You would be shocked at how small and simple some of these requests are from exiting nurses.

Lastly, definitely check out CB’s Where To Find Nurses Now data. It’s pretty amazing and gives you a ton of suggestions on where you should be looking for your next nursing hire!

Your Next Top Hire Didn’t Graduate From College

May 31st, 2016 Comments off
Why Your Next Hire Didn't Graduate from College

For decades, the thing you knew for sure you were going to have on your job description was under the “Education” section. It was the easiest part to fill out: “This position will ‘require’ a bachelor’s degree in…”

Sometimes we even ramped it up and required a master’s degree! It became widely understood that we started looking at a bachelor’s degree as the new high school diploma. It seemed like you couldn’t even be trusted with putting a Happy Meal together unless you had a college degree.

Recently, seemingly out of nowhere, some really big companies have started eliminating the educational requirements on their job descriptions they’d formerly used as a way to screen out talent. Deloitte, Ernest & Young, Penguin Random House, and many others have all made this change to a number of positions in their organizations in the past year — positions in which a degree used to be mandatory.

So, why is this happening?

The data is telling these organizations something very important: A degree is just one piece of a potentially very large puzzle you’re trying to piece together when making great hires for your organization. That’s not to say that college grads aren’t desirable hires; they’ll still be the majority of hires all of these organizations make. But the fact remains: Organizations can no longer eliminate a talent pool based on one factor.

There are so many factors that make a great hire. For years, it was believed that that one common factor was a college degree. And while it’s true that having a college degree demonstrates a number of factors that contribute to job performance and specific skills, organizations are finding that many of these skills can also be found in candidates who didn’t graduate from college.

What are those attributes organizations are looking for?


Some of the most creative minds get stymied by traditional education and don’t perform well in those settings, yet they perform extremely well when asked to be a part of an innovative team or project.

Strong Work Ethic.

I speak with executives at companies every week that say, “Tim, just get me someone who will show up every day and work their butt off, and we’ll teach them the rest!” Unfortunately, this is a harder-to-find skill in our society than you can ever imagine.

Cognitive Ability.

Pure intelligence. Do they get it or not? Like creativity, many highly intelligent people get bored in a traditional educational setting. Assessing cognitive ability with today’s technology and assessments has become relatively easy. Graduating from college doesn’t guarantee you’re intelligent. It just says you took some classes, paid a bunch of money, most likely learned a bunch of stuff, and got a piece of paper. For most professions, you’ll never use the majority of what you learned in college in your actual career.

There are so many more factors, but these three are a few of the biggest employers are seeking. Does this mean the death of higher education? Absolutely not! Higher education is still the main track for people who want to increase their skill set and improve their knowledge in certain areas.

Talent isn’t an all or nothing game, and many organizations are discovering that as talent gets harder and harder to come by, they need to reach deeper into the pool to find some of those diamonds in the rough.

Or, at least diamonds that didn’t go to college.

Find college grads who have more than a pretty piece of paper: Turn to Emsi College Analyst to get essential data that will help you find college graduates with the right skills for your open jobs.

Will New College Grads Really Make $50K Salaries This Year?

May 19th, 2016 Comments off
Wil new college grads really make $50K a year?

I graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in education. I thought I was going to change the world as a male elementary education teacher. One of my professors told us that 50 percent of us would never work in education.

I thought that was insane. Why would I send four-ish years going to college to not work in my chosen profession!? Turns out, he was right. After student teaching, I ditched my grand plans on changing America’s youth, and took a job as an entry-level recruiter making $20,000 per year.

$20,000 seemed like a lot of money, plus I could make commission. My hope was I could clear $30,000 in my first year, buy a new Saturn, a pair of Air Jordans and one of those new fancy “car phones”!  Oh, those were the days!

CareerBuilder recently released their College Hiring Outlook survey about how the job market will be this year for new college graduates. One part I found fascinating was what employers expect to pay new grads for their first job. Can you guess what the average is?

If you asked the college students, most would say they expect to make “at least” $50,000 upon graduation. With the massive amount of college loan debt they’ll be dragging along with them to that first entry level job, I don’t blame them.

$50,000. Does that sound realistic? Are you going to be paying these grads $50,000?

Here’s what the survey said:

  • Will pay under $30,000: 25 percent
  • $30,000 to less than $40,000: 28 percent
  • $40,000 to less than $50,000: 20 percent
  • $50,000 and higher: 27 percent


So, basically, 75 percent of new grads will actually make less than $50,000. That actually seems more realistic to me. Fifty percent will make under $40,000, which makes even more sense. I hear from engineering and IT grads who are expecting $65,000+, accounting grads expecting $55,000+, and health care professionals expecting $50,000+. And these are for undergraduate degrees!

Which kids are getting the under $40,000? Those with majors like business, marketing, human resources, education, social sciences, and liberal arts; basically, the majority of college students. For some reason, it’s still hard to talk kids into going into a profession where people are actually hiring. But, the economics of it will always level this out.

I’ll hire at least 4-5 entry-level recruiters this year in my company, fresh out of school, with various degrees, all of whom will make at least $45,000 in their first year. Probably $55-65K their second year. Yet, not one of them will have a degree in recruiting because no college offers a degree in recruiting. Yet, employers around the world are begging for recruiting talent.

With $50,000 being this magic salary number for new grads, you may be wondering where that number came from. You can probably guess: The average cost of one year of college is currently running $24,000-$32,000 (depending whether it is public or private).

How do you sell an education that is going to run $100,000+ for four years? You make students believe the average starting salary will be $50,000+! It’s not reality, but when you only give high school students three options upon leaving — college, military or prison — most are going to choose college and massive debt.

What did you budget for new hire entry-level grad salaries for 2016? Hit me in the comments. I want to hear what this will look like from industry to industry, and across different parts of the country.


Get more info about the latest salary trends so you can stay competitive when hiring new grads this year: Get the guide.

The Battle Between Your Recruitment and March Madness Strategies

March 16th, 2016 Comments off
Why You Should Treat Your Recruiting Like Your MM Bracket

In 1979, Michigan State University and Magic Johnson beat Indiana State and Larry Bird for the NCAA Basketball National Championship. I was 9 years old, living in Lansing, MI. My mom let me stay up past my bedtime and watch the game.

Michigan State won the game, Larry Bird cried on the bench. It was the best day of my young life. In hindsight, it might have also been the worse day of my life, because it ruined me as a Michigan State fan. At 9 years old, I figured we would just win every single year! I still feel that way today.

Last year, over 70 million people filled out NCAA March Madness brackets. Online, through office pools, at home — heck — I run my own neighborhood pool, of which a kid under the age of 12 has won three years running!  If you are like me, you put some major time and strategy into making your bracket picks. ESPN has made an industry out of Bracketology! Picking the NCAA Bracket is now big business.

This leads me to a question. What do you put more time into on an annual basis, picking your NCAA bracket, or planning your recruitment strategy?

If you’re like me, you put way more research into your March Madness bracket than you ever put into researching what your recruitment strategy should be.

Let’s break down the steps to researching your NCAA bracket:

  1. It usually starts in late February and early March when conference play is getting to the end and conference championships are starting. It’s a Tuesday at 1 a.m. and you’re up “researching” some random bracket-buster West coast game between two teams you couldn’t find on a map.
  2. By early March — and league championship tournament weekend — you’re in full watch mode, probably watching more games in a week than you’ve watched all year.
  3. You begin talking about it at the office: “Did you see that Buffalo State game last night? That kid Kramer can really shoot it.” No one has no idea who Buffalo State or Kramer is, but they’re back Googling it within 13 seconds, mad you’ve suddenly got the upper hand on this year’s pool.
  4. Championship Sunday rolls around, and you can correctly pick all four top seeds, but you also know the sixth-place Big Ten team got way underseeded at 8th in the West, and any team in the Big East after the top three got overseeded.
  5. The brackets come out on Sunday night and by Monday morning, you’ve already filled out three: your real one, your upset one, and your fan one. You will fill out at least seven more, all with various pool betting strategies depending on what part of the country you’re in. Most people will take the local home team to win it all!


All in all, you’ve put about 240 hours of research into building your bracket which will be completely destroyed after the first two days. Unlike your recruiting strategy, which you had a meeting about at the beginning of the year. You scheduled it for an hour, but didn’t have much to talk about, so it went 45 minutes. You decided to “stay the course” and do what you did last year, even though your hiring managers hate you because you can’t find them candidates.

You think they actually like you because they come to you for advice on their NCAA brackets and you always give them a couple of possible Cinderella possibilities. The reality is, they know it’s the only thing you really have researched on getting better at in the past year.

So, what have you put more time into this year, your NCAA bracket or your recruitment strategy? 


It’s worth investing time to build a recruitment strategy equipped to deliver your company the talent it needs to stay competitive. Download the guide to learn how.

The Recruiter Adoption Dilemma

February 9th, 2016 Comments off
The Recruiter Tech Adoption Dilemma

Recruiting technology is super hot right now, and it’s transforming how all organizations attract, select and hire talent. To be a recruiter today is similar to being a caveman when the wheel was invented. It’s amazing what we can do today, that we only dreamed about doing 10 years ago.

Therein lies the problem for talent acquisition leaders.

Our teams want the latest and greatest technology. We go through the budget process to get the funds to buy these great technologies. We go through all the work of selecting and implementing these great technologies. Then, we watch our teams… not use the great technologies!

Nothing kills great recruiting technology faster than the lack of user adoption by our recruiting teams. It’s the main dilemma every talent acquisition leader faces: “What if I buy the tech, and the team doesn’t use it?”

I ran talent acquisition at a 10,000-employee health system in Michigan. One of the first things my team hit me on when I arrived was the need for technology upgrades. I took a look at what we had and the amount of hiring we had before us, and agreed with my team that we needed to add some tools to the toolbox. Health care is notoriously behind the industry curve in using effective recruiting technology, and I wanted my team to be innovative.

My team was desperately pushing for a CRM-type product so they could contact more candidates, faster, easier, etc. It was expensive — almost as expensive as our ATS, but after all of our due diligence we were sure it was going to more than pay for itself, and then some.

Experienced talent acquisition leaders already know what happened next: The product started out great. Everyone was excited. A few became masters at using it, and leveraged all that it had, but most of the team soon went back to recruiting the same way they always had. Six months in, I knew we were not getting out of the technology what we needed. This is a common problem across industries when implementing new recruiting technology.

To ensure the technology investment would still be successful, we implemented three things:

  1. We developed a scorecard to measure those who were finding success with using the product. The entire team was ranked on this scorecard, and it was highlighted at a weekly staff meeting. I always asked someone on the top to give us a tip or trick they use to be successful.
  2. We gave incentive awards out to those who were most successful using the new technology. We created weekly and monthly contests to drive the behaviors that would lead to higher usage of the technology.
  3. We partnered those who were struggling using the technology with one of the top performers. It was the job of the top performer to meet at least once per week and sit with those who were struggling with the new technology and actually work with them to help them use it fully.


The next six months were completely different than the first six months. Our usage of the system more than doubled, hires outpaced our projections, and we ended up transforming how our organization was viewed by our hiring managers.

In hindsight, I walked away with some great learnings from the implementation. First, user adoption is not a one-time kick-off event. Rather, it’s an ongoing focus and training that never ends. Second, you won’t get everyone to fully adopt. Technology changes the way we work, and some people will really struggle with this change. Sometimes, those people will need to find another role.

The single biggest reason I see companies fail to use the technology they’ve purchased is because their talent acquisition leader refuses to hold their team accountable for using the product. If we truly believe we’ll be 20 percent more effective using this technology, we better be 20 percent more effective! That means you have to use the technology. That also means some folks might get uncomfortable.

If the technology makes both the organization and the recruiter better, being uncomfortable will only be a temporary thing. If, as a leader, you continue to buy technology you don’t fully use, however, you won’t be a leader for long.

Make the most of your recruitment investment: Get five more tips to drive recruiter adoption.

What Keeps the President of a Staffing Firm Up at Night?

January 25th, 2016 Comments off
What keeps the leader of a staffing firm up at night?
 I run a staffing firm. I say that like I’m introducing myself at an AA meeting.

Hi, my name is Tim, and I run a staffing firm. It’s been six days since my last placement.”

Frankly, sometimes, it feels that way.

Running any business is tough. Running a staffing agency is harder than most companies. I’ve been doing this for six years and every single night, as I lie awake in bed, I think of a thousand ways my company, HRU Technical Resources, could fail.

Thankfully, I also think of a thousand and one ways we could succeed, which allows me to get up in the morning and get back to work!

The staffing game is funny. The service we are selling to our clients is one which they have the ability to do on their own. So, for all intents and purposes, they don’t truly have to buy from us. Obviously, I’m glad that many decide not to do this on their own.

Our clients claim they want a staffing vendor who will “partner” with them, but anytime you add money into the equation of a relationship, the partnership thing can get fuzzy. In the end, staffing firms hope to find a client who, at the very least, respects the work they do for them, being that most of the work is done for free until the actual placement is made.

So, what keeps me up at night as a leader of a staffing firm?

It’s the simple equation of how much “free” work my recruiters are doing, versus how much “paid” work are they doing.

It’s an age-old issue facing staffing firms at all levels. Leaders ask, “Will my account executives be able to make enough right calls on prospects who will actually pay us for what we provide? How can we avoid corporate shoppers who are just playing around with us with no real intent on paying us?”

It sounds simple. Why don’t you just ask the client, “Hey, are you really going to pay us for doing all this work? Or at the last minute, are you going to cancel the position, find an internal candidate or find a candidate on your own?”

That conversation always goes the same. “Of course we are going to pay you! Well, unless, you know, we fill it on our own.”

When I ran corporate talent acquisition teams, I tried to avoid using staffing firms because I was unwilling to ask them to work for free. Too much free work kills most staffing companies. In fact, free work is what kills most businesses in the world, regardless of your industry.

The majority of corporate talent acquisition pros and recruiting leaders have no idea this is the issue keeping us up at night. Free work? Well, that just sounds like a bad business model! Yes. Yes, it does.

Welcome to staffing.

Start off 2016 on the right foot: Sign up for our newsletter to get the best recruiting insights delivered right to your inbox. 

5 Attributes of a Successful Staffing Agency Recruiter

January 6th, 2016 Comments off
5 Attributes of a Successful Agency Recruiter

I grew up in the staffing agency world. My mother started her agency (HRU Technical Resources) when I was 10 years old and worked in the industry before starting her company. I can distinctly remember sitting on her bed stuffing envelopes with skill assessment questionnaires for candidates. She paid me $.05 per envelope, and I thought it was a pretty sweet gig!

When I graduated college, my first job was working as a research assistant to a full desk recruiter in her agency. Pre-Internet, the position was equivalent to a modern day sourcer, minus all the cool fancy tech tools. I had a phone and stacks of resumes. For my first three weeks, I had a 100-call per day goal I had to hit. I couldn’t go home until I finished those 100 calls. That was training!

I’ve worked a total of 15 years in the staffing world, and 10 years in corporate talent acquisition. Suffice it to say, I’ve learned there’s an enormous difference in what makes an agency recruiter successful versus what makes a corporate recruiter successful.

So, what makes a successful agency recruiter? Here are five attributes I look for in my recruiters:

1. Be Rejection-Proof.

You know that guy in college who would continually ask girls out who were way out of his league? He would get turned down regularly, yet still go back and try again. Eventually, one day you see him dating a model. These folks strangely don’t understand the concept of rejection.

2. Keep a Scoreboard.

Great agency recruiters keep an internal and external scoreboard, and it’s constantly being updated. Not only will they compete against others on your staff, but their biggest competition is also the one they have with themselves each and every day.

3. Don’t Hold Grudges.

The most successful agency recruiters will still call back a candidate who no-showed on three interviews. Why? Because No. 4 could make them money. Corporate recruiters hold grudges. Agency recruiters make placements.

4. Be a Detective.

Would they be a jealous spouse? Great recruiters are detectives. They don’t believe what you tell them the first five times. They’ll question you like a jealous partner. “So you just decided to leave your last job? Really? Did you decide not to have an income?”

5. Don’t Have a Filter.

Have they no filter on asking questions? Recruiters fail when they fail to ask the right — and many times, obvious — questions. If a candidate lives two hours from the job but says it won’t be a problem, a recruiter doesn’t roll over and accept an answer at face value. Living two hours away is going to be a problem! Great recruiters have an innate ability to be persistent and ask the right, obvious questions.

Here’s the hard part. How the heck do you find these kinds of recruiters during an interview process?

These are things you shouldn’t have to teach anyone. They either have it or they don’t. The best recruiter attributes aren’t measurable with an assessment. Traditionally, hiring great recruiters has been a 50/50 crap shoot.

Most agencies have no idea how to hire a great recruiter. I know because I fail, just like the rest of you. For most of us, learning how to hire agency recruiters just happens through trial and error.

Here’s one thing that has helped me to hire great recruiters: I have them interview me, right from the get go. Let’s face it, we aren’t trying to launch the space shuttle.

My first step in the interview process is clear:

Call me and talk to me like I’m the candidate.

Sure, these candidates won’t be polished, but you instantly see if they have that “it” factor of being able to hold a conversation. You’ll learn if they are inquisitive enough to do this job.

Give it a try. It’s shocking how some people can easily do this — and how easily they’ll find lasting success over those who can’t.

Start off 2016 on the right foot: Sign up for our newsletter to get the best recruiting insights delivered right to your inbox. 

The Sackett Screen Guide for 2016: What Is Your Number, Recruiters?

December 18th, 2015 Comments off
The proliferation of screens for recruiters in 2016

There used to be a time when I only had one screen on my desk. Yes, people under 30, that did happen. The horror, I know.

I sit here reminiscing about how recruiters found candidates and filled requisitions. I mean — one screen! It was like we were Amish or something.

Those were the days before work-life balance meant not working and just doing what you wanted (dark days to be sure). Now, we work when and where we want, only held back by our Netflix queue and the amount of caffeine we can inject directly into our veins. Screens? We got screens. The question now is: How many can you handle?

Don’t fret, baby birds. I’m here to give you Sackett’s Screen Guide for 2016:

One Screen.

Let’s be serious for a second. If you have one screen, you’re either about to retire, or you’re not even trying to fill requisitions and do your job. One screen should be a new felony in the workplace. If you’re using one screen, you either get put out to pasture or get life without parole.

Two Screens.

Two screens are the new minimum. Two screens say, “Hey, look, I’m trying, but at least I’m not committing a workplace felony!” Two screens represent the entry-level newbie at the company level. Give him a break, okay? He’s fresh out of school and has only been here a week. He’ll be up to three screens before his probationary period ends.

Three Screens.

Yeah, thanks for reaching for average. That’s okay. The world needs ditch diggers, too. Three screens say that you’re trying, just not hard enough, to figure out how to put four screens on your five-foot cube desk. About 90 percent of your workers should have three screens, or someone in HR (who probably has two screens) needs to get fired.

Four Screens.

Welcome to the show, kid! Here’s where we start separating the zombies from the hustlers. Four screeners change the world. There are two types of four-screeners: Those with a cube formation, and those that keep all four in-line. Either way, they’re better than you. I find my cubers like to stand and work while the in-liners like swivel chairs.

Five Screens.

Oh, you fancy, huh? Five screens is so 2016 that it’s 2017. There’s a good chance the radiation off of five screens will reduce your overall lifespan, but who cares? You’re winning! Those last 10 adult-diaper-wearing years are awful, anyway. Just ask the one-screeners. Five screens is the new black, so HR and recruiting departments better increase their office equipment budgets for next year!

Six Screens.

Six screens is my personal favorite. I like the symmetry of it. Three on the top, three on the bottom. A warm wall of productivity is just staring right back at you. You can hide behind six screens. You can binge watch “The Walking Dead,” “Orange is the New Black” and “Homeland” all at the same time while checking email, moving a candidate through your ATS, and sourcing on CareerBuilder! Six screens shouts sexy and powerful — everything you truly want to be in HR.

Computer screens as a benchmark.

I have a feeling that for the first time, in 2016, we’ll begin seeing the number of screens as a performance metric for recruiters in many companies.

Look, Tim, we like what you’ve been doing with three screens, but come on, it’s time to step it up already!

So, I’ll ask you: what is your favorite screen configuration for 2016? Don’t even bother in the comments if you have two or less.


This month, our team is sharing ideas on how to make the most of your remaining days in 2015 and set yourself up for success in 2016. We’re discussing top trends in sourcing and recruiting techniques, predicting how successful recruiters will identify and recruit talent, and much more. Sign up for our newsletter to get the best recruiting insights delivered right to your inbox. 

3 Ways to Cut Through the Inbox and Connect with Candidates

November 20th, 2015 Comments off
3 ways to cut through the candidate inbox

I know the “kids” say email is dead, but don’t believe the hype.

Email is the primary communication vehicle in the corporate world, and it’s still the primary communication vehicle with which to connect with candidates. (Well, it’s second best to the good old telephone.)

The sales and marketing industry have almost single-handedly killed email with the unlimited junk email we receive on a daily basis. On an average weekday, I receive well over 300 emails, the majority of which are trying to sell me something.

I’ve seen every kind of pitch, and I’m still waiting for my Nigerian Prince to come through with that $37 million he promised me. He said it was destiny that brought us together. Fingers crossed!

Both corporate and agency recruiters are faced with the same dilemma: How do we get candidates to pay attention and respond to our email messages?

Here are a few tips and tricks to try to get your open and response rates higher:

Simplify your subject line. 

Studies have shown that the easier the subject line, the better chance you have of someone opening your email. I use two email subject lines to great success. The first is “Sackett.” Yes, my last name. The second line is, “Question.” Those are my two go-to subject titles, and my open rate is close to 90 percent!

Know when to send your email. The highest open and response rates for me are the following:

  • 6-7 a.m.
  • 8 p.m.
  • Weekends


It’s all a matter of volume. The highest volume of email a candidate receives is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week. Your message is competing against a lot of other messages. Most email programs have options to “send later.” Work on scheduling your emails to be sent during a time when a candidate has fewer messages to deal with, and your response rates will rise.

Send your message more than once.

Another fact is that the open and response rates increase over time the more times you send the email. That’s true. A great tip for recruiters is to “forward” an email to the candidate you already sent it to with a note like this:

Hey, Tim! Just wanted to make sure you saw this email I sent you on Monday, and it didn’t get lost in the shuffle. Can you let me know if you have interest?

While your first email has the highest chance for a reply, subsequent emails still have a chance, so it becomes additive. Bottom line: Send more follow-up emails!

Most recruiters will only send one. The best recruiters will stop after three. I know of great recruiters who won’t stop until they’ve sent 10 emails with no reply.

Finally, it never hurts to have something of interest to say in the email. 

Candidates are just like you — they hate having someone waste their time. Tell the candidate why you are contacting them, what you need from them, and offer instructions around how and when you need a response.

It never hurts to offer to split $37 million with them, too. Just make sure you’re not like my Nigerian Prince friend, and never reply with wiring instructions!

Throughout the month of November, our resident talent advisors are focused on how recognition is vital for both talent acquisition and retention — and how the right technology tools can help you move the needle. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions.

Retention Matters to Talent Acquisition Teams

November 16th, 2015 Comments off
Retention matters to talent acquisition leaders

Three things are usually off-limits when it comes to workplace conversations:

  1. Religion
  2. Politics
  3. Turnover


The first two are obvious: We don’t discuss hot topics in the workplace. But we don’t talk about the third one, turnover, because we believe we don’t have any control over it. It’s just one of those things that happens in organizational dynamics:

We’ve had turnover, and we’ll always have turnover. Now, let’s get back to talking about fun things like employment branding and candidate experience.”

Stop it! You’re better than that!

When I worked in human resources at Applebee’s, those were difficult times. The restaurant industry had massive turnover. Most companies had well over 100 percent turnover, which is a mathematical nightmare.

Applebee’s made it its mission to be the best in the industry at retaining talent. My region led the company in employee retention. We tried to have a vision and use metrics to our advantage. For every employee we could retain, it meant we had one less employee to hire and train. Turns out retention is significantly easier to do than hiring and training — and it costs less!

So, how did we do that — and how can you replicate it?

1. Use data to see if you employ someone who is in a role in high demand.

Focus on what you need to do to retain them. Check out tools like CareerBuilder’s Supply and Demand to see how easy or hard it is to recruit for a specific role in your city.

2. Understand why retention is so important.

Retention is a strategic imperative for talent acquisition teams. It was the most important thing we talked about. It became a foundational and operational priority. Retention of employees became everyone’s job — from the recruiters who sourced and screened talent to the front-line supervisors in our restaurants.

3. Make turnover and retention metrics public and visible.

I firmly believe data is essential to tackling turnover issues, and that this information should be accessible to everyone in the company. From the CEO to the line cook, we had detailed metrics visible in every Applebee’s location. We used dashboards that were updated on a daily basis. No one could hide from the truth. Retention was a measure of the health of the business.

4. Create a “save strategy.”

We developed a plan to address talented employees at risk of leaving. We also aggressively courted those amazing workers who gave notice. Our strategy had a lot of moving parts, but the biggest part was an immediate reaction to finding out why they were leaving and learning what we could do to keep them. We gave authority to first-level leaders to take the action they needed to retain employees.

Remember — retention isn’t sexy.

We don’t talk about employee turnover in our organizations because we feel we have no real control over the outcome. We think that people are just going to leave, and that it’s the natural order of organizations. We also think that this falls outside of our responsibilities as talent acquisition professionals.

Retention matters to talent acquisition leaders.

For those talent acquisition functions that are under water, retention should be your very first priority. Plug the holes in the dam first, and then worry about talent communities and candidate experience once you get the basics right. The last thing you want to do is bring more talent into an environment where they’re more likely to turnover as well.

An organization cannot move forward if you’re always replacing significant talent across all functions. Create and develop an environment where people want to stay and work and thrive, and your job as a talent acquisition professional gets easier.

Build it and they will stay. I promise you.


Learn more about workforce data and analytics that can help you with your retention efforts.


Throughout the month of November, our resident talent advisors are focused on how recognition is vital for both talent acquisition and retention — and how the right technology tools can help you move the needle. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions.

5 Fun Ways Supervisors Can Recognize Employees

November 4th, 2015 Comments off
3 fun ways front-line supervisors can recognize employees and increase morale

I’m a big fan of what the team at The Marcus Buckingham Company, or TMBC, is doing when it comes to employee engagement, particularly around front-line leaders of people.

TMBC has found that the attitudes and behaviors of front-line supervisors have the biggest impact on employee engagement and retention. We should be focusing our training and development efforts on these leaders to help us improve employee engagement and drive retention — and to prevent recruiters and staffing professionals from drowning in open requisitions.

The hard part is teaching these leaders how to show appreciation and empathy to their teams, while at the same time driving needed results for the business.

I’ll give you five ways your front-line supervisors can have fun, show appreciation and increase employee engagement and retention.

1. Teammate t-shirt of the week/month.

For $20 and 10 minutes, you can get on a custom t-shirt design site, upload a picture of the employee you want to recognize — and then wear that shirt to work. It’s quirky, creepy, and silly and fun all rolled into one. If you wear a t-shirt with a big head of an employee on it, your efforts will be remembered. The employee will feel something!

2. Bake some cookies.

Everyone loves cookies. You don’t even have to make them from scratch. Every grocery store has ready-to-bake frozen cookie dough. Buy a tube, turn on the oven, put them on a plate, and deliver them the next day to the employee. Taking that time will warm their heart, and they’ll (likely) share with the rest of the team.

3. Create a motivating team name, make it public — and have fun with it!

Jim D’Amico, head of talent acquisition at Spectrum Health, came up a great team name. He called his team “The Best Damn TA Team on the Planet” and had them paint it in big letters across the wall of their talent acquisition offices. They didn’t start out being the best TA team on the planet, but they bought into the vision and worked to get there.

4. Create friendship opportunities.

We all want a best friend at work. As a supervisor, you don’t necessarily wish to be that friend to your employees, but you can help them create friendships with each other. Think potluck lunches, after work get-togethers, or work-sponsored athletic teams. If you build it, they will come. If they come, they will build lasting relationships. Those with lasting relationships at work will be more engaged.

5. Hug it out.

Okay, maybe it’s just me, but I love a good hug. I want to work for a person who will give me a hug when I need it. Also, someone who will give me a kick in the butt when I need a kick in the butt. I need both. Empathy and motivation. That’s the job of the front-line supervisor. You might not be a hugger, but you better find a way to show you understand the struggle.

Remember, there is no secret sauce to engagement.

Front-line leaders need to be both creative and consistent in their leadership behaviors. Organizationally, we need to give our front-line leaders permission, as well as examples of what this looks like in our workplaces.

Recognition is easy and hard at the same time. If you link recognition to an overall talent acquisition and retention strategy, the payback is awesome.

Throughout the month of November, our resident talent advisors are focused on how recognition is vital for both talent acquisition and retention — and how the right technology tools can help you move the needle. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions.

Payroll Software is Sexy, Too

October 19th, 2015 Comments off
Why payroll software can be sexy

Have you been down to visit the ladies in payroll lately?

I use the word “down” because most organizations hide the payroll department in the worst real estate in any corporate office setting, and you know that’s true. The garden level sounds nice until you find out that it means the basement with no real light.

I also use the word “ladies” because, whether you want to admit this or not, roughly 90 percent of payroll associates are female. That isn’t official CareerBuilder analytical data; that’s the Tim Sackett data machine I use when I need to make up a number that seems mostly accurate.

I want to stand up for the payroll ladies. I think they have been getting a bad rap for way too long, and I want to do something about it.

Have you looked at the software the payroll department gets stuck with? It’s tough stuff. Everybody talks about flashy data and analytics. Have you heard of any big launches of new payroll software lately? No, you haven’t. Why? Because payroll software is the opposite of sexy. If payroll software were a movie star, it would be Jonah Hill or John Goodman. Solid, funny, but not able to carry a movie on its own.

Payroll software is so boring that vendors give out energy drinks before they do a demo at the annual HR Technology & Exposition. Payroll software is so boring the rep will fall asleep giving you the demo. And speaking of that rep, he’s so dull that he took the Pepsi challenge and picked Sprite.

(Your turn. You make a joke in the comments!)


See where this is going? Payroll — and the ladies who do it — get no respect. Not because they aren’t totally and completely awesome and sexy, but because the tools we give them are bringing down their level of organizational sexiness.

Want to know why Cindy in talent acquisition is drop dead gorgeous (for reasons other than her addiction to CrossFit and her insane diet)? She has sexy software to use, my friends. She uses recruitment automation and has analytics with sexy charts to back up her point of view.

What does Elaine in payroll have (I mean, besides that 12-year-old mug from ADP)? Well, Elaine is a sexy machine in disguise. She uses a system that is bulletproof and withstood Y2K. She drops thousands of checks per week, without fail, to hundreds of different banks. Then she manages two loser employees who still want a paper check.

(Who are those dudes and can they go away?)

Elaine can also handle numerous federal, state and local tax codes. She knows every combination imaginable of insurance copays and 401(k) deposits. She has this all done before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, too.

Remember CrossFit Cindy in talent acquisition? She needs 23 days to find you a payroll assistant with all of her flashy technology. I’d like to see Cindy do payroll. Elaine would eat her for breakfast.

I just wanted to let everyone know I love payroll ladies and I send some much-needed love to the payroll department. There’s nothing sexier than a function with reliable software that does exactly what it is supposed to do, every day. Payroll delivers — day in and day out — and the software can withstand a nuclear meltdown.

I think that’s sexy.

3 Ways to Act Less HR-ish

September 4th, 2015 Comments off
How to be less HR-ish and help all departments of the company

I didn’t do anything in HR for the first four weeks I worked at Applebee’s. Instead, I worked in one of their restaurants for four straight weeks. Every position. Every shift. I came in early and made pico de gallo until I thought I would vomit. I worked the dish machine during lunch and dinner rushes. I worked the line and maybe made you a perfect burger or an Oriental Chicken Rollup.

This was how Applebee’s trained their new HR pros like me who came in from outside the company. They wanted to make sure that I knew the business, and understood what a manager and employee of a restaurant went through on a daily basis. They wanted me to develop empathy. If I ever went into a restaurant and got all HR-ish on them about keeping up some arbitrary process, I would understand what they actually went through on a daily basis to try and get things done.

My favorite times at Applebee’s were always walking into a restaurant that was “on fire.” Meaning, they were going down in flames. Too many guests at one time, not enough help, everything going wrong all at once. I usually traveled with one of my peers in operations, and they would immediately just jump in and help. So, I did, too.

I can’t tell you how many dress shirts and pants I ruined working the expo line at Applebee’s during a busy lunch or dinner rush. Everything would be moving fast, and — BOOM! — would go a full ramekin of salsa down the front of me. My wife hated going to dinner with me at Applebee’s because she knew it was just a matter of time until I left the table to go help if it was needed.

When I went to work at a large health system, I would do rounds with my nursing managers. Clearly, I couldn’t help with patients, but I could observe, I could interact and I could understand a little about what their good days and their bad days were like.

In all my corporate HR jobs, I was never considered to be like the “others” in HR. I was told this constantly: “Tim, you aren’t like the last HR person we had!” Mostly, that was said in a positive way.

Here are three ways you can act less HR-ish and ruin your dress clothes:

  1. Spend time with your colleagues doing their work, not yours. It’s not about doing HR when you’re on the floor serving Diet Coke and sweet potato fries.
  2. Learn what the ops team does before you implement HR programs. Ask them to teach you what they can. Then go back and redesign your programs and processes so they’ll work better in your organization’s operations.
  3. Don’t be concerned about doing good HR work. Be concerned about helping your operations get better. Sometimes that might mean you’ll be brainstorming better ways to market or sell. Sometimes you’ll be helping guests have a better experience. It’s all important.


If you have great operations, and you develop a sense of empathy for your employees and leaders, it will be easier to have great HR.

Throughout the month of September, our resident talent advisors will be focused on offering tactical advice for human capital management professionals. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions to help take your professional game to the next level.

No Peeing in the Talent Pool

August 26th, 2015 Comments off
No peeing in the talent pool

Talent pools. Talent communities. Talent tribes.  I don’t care what you call them — just find me some talent! 

A few years ago, talent acquisition folks got all hot and heavy in regard to “talent communities”: this idea that your organization should gather similarly talented people into a social community and engage them with each other and with your own awesomeness. Conceptually, it sounds really good.

In practice, it reminds me of a community pool.

When I was a kid growing up in the city, we couldn’t wait for the public pool to open each summer. It was the only free entertainment for us Latchkey kids with no Internet. We all knew the little kids — and probably most of the big kids — were peeing in the pool. It didn’t stop us. We disassociated the small amount of pee with the large amount of water and made the decision to jump right in!

Candidates don’t make this mistake.

Candidates assume you pee in your own pool, and they don’t want to join in your urine-soaked fun. They have choices, and most will choose to swim in a pee-free pool.

What is your “pee”? It’s the lame marketing messages you send within your content. This kills your talent communities.

So, how do you fix this and get candidates interested in you? three things to consider:

  1. You may not need a talent community. What you need is a great CRM tool that can engage candidates for you, without you doing the work. Let’s face it: Most candidates don’t want to be in your pool, but they do want to know when you have openings. They are willing to hang around the pool; they just don’t want to jump in until they’re sure the water is just right. They want a talent network, not a talent pool.
  2. Start thinking about where the talent you seek is hanging offline. Yep, I love online recruiting. It’s fast, and it can be easy, but as the labor market tightens, the pool you’re trying to swim in will be packed. It’s time to find some old swimming holes. You know, the ones all the folks online are forgetting about!
  3. Surprise your audience. Think like a marketing professional. Traditional ways of attracting talent didn’t stop working; you just stopped using them and invested all your dollars into online tools. I keep joking that 2015 will be the year of the billboard in talent acquisition because they work! Ads that run in movie theaters before the show start actually work. Are they silver bullets? No. But they should be part of your strategy.


Finally, you need to leverage your employees, your retirees and your organizational alumni. Have you ever hung out with some retirees from your company? They love to talk shop. They also love to tell their family about your job openings, and advise them on how they should apply. We write them off as has-beens. In reality, they are probably your single biggest fan base, and you totally ignore them! You have hundreds of retirees who would love to recruit for you. You just need to ask them to help.

Trying to wrangle a bunch of talented people and keep them engaged — when they don’t work for you — is an exercise in futility. The content you need to create and deliver on an ongoing basis is extremely difficult to develop and maintain. Applicants and candidates want to learn more about your organization. It’s time for talent advisors to make it easy for people to swim in your company’s talent pool without worrying about what’s in the water.


Throughout the month of August, our resident talent advisors are discussing issues around the biggest recruiting issues right now and getting you ready for CareerBuilder’s Empower 2015. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions, and find out more about Empower 2015 here.

The Only Metrics That Matter In Talent Acquisition

August 10th, 2015 Comments off
the only talent acquisition metrics that matter

I get asked all the time what metrics I use — and like — in regard to measuring the effectiveness of talent acquisition.

I usually give some vague answer because it depends on so many factors. No, really, it truly does. And most talent acquisition professionals only want me to affirm what they think is important.

For example, they want me to tell them that “days to fill” is important. That measuring candidate experience is important. That hiring manager satisfaction is important. But I don’t believe any of that is important to great talent acquisition.

talent acquisition is Sales

You see, talent acquisition and recruitment is not marketing. Yes, I know, almost any vendor selling you talent acquisition tools wants you to believe that it is just like marketing. It’s not. Talent acquisition is sales, and talent acquisition leaders really don’t want to hear that.

“Sales! Yuck! I’m not in sales, Tim! I’m in the attracting talent business!”

Talent acquisition leaders need to dial in their metrics to that which matters most: filling positions. There are steps that every single organization must take to fill positions. Those are the metrics that I like!

  • How many candidates are you getting to engage in each job?
  • Of those, how many are truly qualified?
  • How many passed your assessment process?
  • Of those qualified, how many did you pass on to the hiring manager after initial screening?
  • How many interviews were requested?
  • How many of those interviewed did you offer?
  • Of those offered, how many accepted the offer and started?


Do you see the sales funnel? You should. You need a lot of resumes at the top of the funnel to get a few good candidates at the bottom.

These metrics give you so much of the data you need to run a great recruiting program, and basic ATS technologies will deliver this information to you. It makes these metrics easy to obtain and track. If you look at primary data, you will know how many candidates you need to fill the number of positions you have now. You can make an educated guess and figure out how many candidates you might need in the future to make good hires, too.

It’s about filling positions

I have worked as a leader of a large talent acquisition team. When we got down to brass tacks, my executive leadership team only cared about sales-related metrics. My team was able to find the talent we needed and get them on board. All the other metrics were for good times and bragging!

If you’re close to 100 percent hired, or have your talent acquisition program on the rails and running smoothly, you can then start to dig into metrics that tell the rest of the story: things like source of hire, cost per hire, cost per hire per source, various satisfaction scores, quality of hire, source ROI, and so on.

These are all meaningless pieces of data if you can’t fill positions.

Most talent acquisition leaders focus on subjective metrics that don’t give the organization the true data it needs to make the required number of hires to be successful. Once you get basic recruitment data in the pipeline, it’s amazing to see how all the other metrics just help you dial in and get better.

Fill your positions — then you can worry about getting pretty.

Throughout the month of August, our resident talent advisors will be discussing issues around the biggest recruiting issues right now and getting you ready for CareerBuilder’s Empower 2015. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions, and find out more about Empower 2015 here.

Unplugging From My Smartphone: Want Versus Need

July 6th, 2015 Comments off
Unplugging from my smartphone: Want versus need

I gave up my iPhone for two days just to tell you about how it felt. and let’s face it: Being without your smartphone for a couple of days isn’t a big deal. It’s just an electronic device.

Here’s how it all went down.

Day 1

I woke up on the first day of this experiment and had a baseball game to go to, and the skies didn’t look promising. “Let’s just jump on the phone and open the weather app and…oh, crap!”

So I asked, “Hey, Coop. What’s the weather going to be today?”

My youngest son is eleven, and he has an iPhone. Problem solved.

Like anything else in life, when you need information, you go and find it. So the next two days of being unplugged were pretty boring and a little tedious. It was me, taking longer than necessary to get and gather basic information, but gathering it nevertheless.

I also found myself constantly feeling for my phone that wasn’t there. For those who wear a watch or a wedding ring that you forget to put on in the morning — or at an HR conference — all day you feel it not there.

All day I felt my smartphone not “being” there.

Day 2

My wife and I had a date night. We made a quick stop at Pottery Barn. Normally, I can go and find a nice, comfortable chair while she shops. I can catch up on a baseball game.

But with no smartphone? Okay, fine, I’ll just sit here in this nice, comfortable chair and “people watch.” So this is what being super old feels like?

We checked out at Pottery Barn, and my wife had a 20 percent off coupon on her phone. Yes, we are as boring as it gets on a date night. My wife had unplugged for our date in solidarity with me, so we left the store without the purchase.

(She said that she can buy her purchase online from the desktop site at home. Oh great, now it’s like we’re Amish! )

Dinner was unusual in that I didn’t Swarmapp, Tweet or Facebook my location. Isn’t it weird when two people go out and let everyone know that they’re having dinner and eating Chang’s Spicy Chicken? Is that love? It begs the question: if you go out on a date night and you don’t check in or post a pic, did you indeed go on a date night?

Without our phones to distract us, my wife and I had to talk on our date. (Here is where the real sacrifice begins, CareerBuilder. Just kidding.) We mostly laughed at how our three sons couldn’t text or call us to ask us questions that they could probably answer on their own. We tried to teach them how to access their brains. Sometimes we fear that the smartphones have won.

We had a great dinner, however, and thought more people should try date night without smartphones.

What Did I Learn?

In the end, I survived my weekend without my mobile devices. It wasn’t hard, but it was a bit unnerving. When you are accustomed to having instant access to information, there is no turning back.

I think “unplugging” comes down to want versus need. Technology starts out as a luxury, but at some point, it becomes a requirement. As a talent advisor, I might be at a competitive disadvantage without my smartphone. Could I recruit without it? Probably, but the extra work needed to be successful would be crazy.

The technology we have available to us should make our lives easier, personally and professionally. If it doesn’t, and if you are burdened by your phone, you have the wrong technology.

Throughout the month of July, our resident talent advisors are discussing issues around work-life balance. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions around unlimited PTO, modeling good work-life behaviors as an employer, working from home, gender differences and PTO, maternity and paternity leave, and much more. 

How to Fill Your Talent Community With Brand Fanatics

June 17th, 2015 Comments off
How to Fill Your Talent Community with Brand Fanatics

Does anyone remember the Coca-Cola rugby shirt from the 1980s?

I can remember buying one during the summer between ninth and 10th grade. I wore it to the first day of school, and I felt so freaking cool. Believe me, I was going to rock the tenth grade!

I had the green Coca-Cola rugby shirt, and most were red. It meant that I was in the know: part of a select group of people who understood fashion trends in 1986. I would see some others wearing Coca-Cola shirts, and we would lock eyes and know that we were a few of the ones who truly understood 1986 fashion trends.

Unfortunately, Coca-Cola clothing was only cool for about thirty seconds. Then it was over. The modern equivalent of the Coca-Cola fad is Lily Pulitzer or Vineyard Vines. Who buys this stuff?

Pre-fabricated, inauthentic talent communities are the Coca-Cola rugby shirts of talent acquisition. They exist for people who have more money than wisdom. Busy and frustrated talent advisors hope we can instantly create a group of fans who will want to follow our every move and apply for an open position with our company. These fans will then get the opportunity they’ve always been dreaming of: to come to work for the “brand” they love.

A real talent community is about giving the true fans of your brand an outlet. It’s a place for two-way conversations; a place where you can give your fans the inside information as to what it’s really like to work there and where the brand is going in the future.

True fans are what make your talent communities work, and they love the brand beyond logos and the “hip” factor.

I do not believe talent communities are for every organization. Most organizations go for big numbers and try to inflate their talent communities, which is why most talent communities never gain any traction — and fail. You have to have real fans. Otherwise, you’re just informing a bunch of people who want a job with your company stuff about your company.

That isn’t a community. That’s just marketing.

The key to great talent communities is that you let them grow organically. Ask your craziest, most loyal employee to run the talent community. You know the type. Find employees who would tattoo your company logo on their butts if you had a tattoo artist in the lobby doing free butt tattoos. If you find those employees, give them a voice. They’re the authentic, awe-inspiring men and women who will lead a great community.

It also helps if you find a leader of your talent community who likes to wear kelly green Coca-Cola rugby shirts. I hear they are totally sweet!

Throughout the month of June, our talent advisors continue to dish out their best advice on effectively managing your talent and helping them thrive. Learn how to stay ahead of these HR trends, and take a look at why mobile recruiting isn’t for everybody.

Even Talent Management Pros Need Fans

June 5th, 2015 Comments off
Talent advisor Tim Sackett on getting employees to become your fans

I started my blog so I could make money. Not money from writing. I knew I sucked at writing. I started blogging so I could help get my name out there. I assumed that my blog would help me get more business for my staffing company.

It hasn’t exactly worked out like I hoped.

I don’t have HR people and executives beating down the door and asking me to recruit engineers, IT pros and such. (If you would like to change that, I’m always open to having a talk!) But I did get something out of this that I never expected: I have some fans.

Not a lot, but about once or twice a week I’ll get some great messages from people all over the world. Some will want to talk about a certain post. Many just say thanks. A few want advice.

Having a fan in your life is one of the greatest things ever. It’s a pretty cool feeling to have someone think so highly about what you do that they’ll send you a note just to tell you that you make a difference in their life. Having that happen on a weekly basis? Well, it is unbelievable.

HR has the ability to create fans in our organizations and beyond through honest, fair and consistent talent management practices. And we have the ability to be fans of the employees who we truly, sincerely enjoy.

Don’t just be a fan of everybody for the sake of being a naive cheerleader. Not everybody deserves fandom from you. I simply believe that you can truly become a fan of more people in your organization, and it would make their world so much better.

When we talk about the daily grind of HR and talent management, we miss the easiest ways to engage and motivate our ourselves and our employees. The great part about being a fan is that it’s easy and makes both sides feel great.

Being a fan — and becoming a fan — can be contagious in your organization. When employees see you becoming a fan of their co-workers, they become fans of HR. And employees start becoming fans of each other, too. It’s great to go to work every day when you know you have fans waiting for you!

I’m going to challenge you today. As talent advisors, go out and become a fan of someone who deserves a fan. Brag about that individual. Tell everybody why they should be fans, too.

And remember: a fan culture is a winning culture. And a winning culture allows you great leeway to do whatever you want with your talent management practices.

Throughout the month of June, Tim and our talent advisors will be dishing out their best advice on effectively managing your talent and helping them thrive. New to Talent Advisor? Sign up here to get new articles delivered to your email inbox.

What Does Candidate Relationship Management Actually Mean?

May 4th, 2015 Comments off
Happy Business Teamwork

I recently bought a new car. During the sales cycle, I visited the dealer’s website. I inquired about an individual vehicle on the website, and you can imagine what happened next.

A mountain of communication came down upon me over the next few weeks. I was inundated with email, snail mail, and phone calls. I was somewhat shocked I didn’t get someone knocking on my door, “Hey, we were just in the neighborhood driving this new car and thought you might want to take a quick look!?”

I bought the car, but the follow-up didn’t stop. I received more communications about how I liked my new car, how I liked the dealership, and things I could buy to enhance my car. I also received special offers on how I could get my friends and family discounts by just referring them.

What I just described to you? That’s CRM.

If you are in the talent acquisition function, CRM is the new acronym that has taken over the industry during the past couple of years. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, but the recruiting/tech industry turned CRM into “candidate relationship management.”

In reality, it’s the same thing. Recruiting is a sales cycle.

In recruiting, just like sales, we have a target audience. In sales, we sell a product or service. In recruiting, we sell an opportunity to come work for our organization. CRM is a system that keeps you in contact with someone who is a possible target for a sales opportunity.

In talent acquisition, a candidate relationship management system helps you find, build and keep relationships alive with potential candidates whom you might want to hire now and into the future. Just like selling a car, you can turn a dial and choose how aggressive your CRM process is, or how laid back.

The great part is that CRM allows you to both personalize and automate most of your communication. It looks and feels like you are pursuing candidates, when in reality, it is almost all being done by the CRM system.

The best CRM software will transform your talent acquisition department to be one of the best in your industry. Even the worst system will put you in the top 10% because nobody is taking full advantage of this software’s robust features.

CRM allows you to offer concierge-like services to candidates in your ATS. Have 500 applicants for a job? A strong CRM tool will tell you which ones clicked through to your site and looked around. What pages did they go to? How long did they stay? Which ones should we reach out to with a follow-up message, or maybe even a call?

The answers are in the system.

It will also tell you which candidates are already in the process of interviewing. It is helpful so you don’t accidentally send a ‘hey we like you’ message and look like an idiot! The system also will keep periodic contact with candidates, keeping them warm for you when you need to pull the string and have a hiring need.

Candidate relationship management technologies allow you to reach and keep in contact with applicants and potential candidates for your organization — all without you having to do much of anything but turn it on.

Most ATS vendors try to make you believe they do CRM, but most don’t. It’s worth your time to check out a real CRM tool and see the difference. For talent advisors, a simple demo is key. I believe the education will be invaluable to your development!

True Life: I Am a Talent Advisor and I’m Proud to Work for My Mom

April 8th, 2015 Comments off

I have had women tell me what to do for my entire life. In a way, this starts with my Mom.

My Mom is the toughest business person I know.

I was raised by a single mother who also decided to run a “staffing” company called HRU Technical Resources, the company I run now. My grandmother was my mother’s primary investor to get her off the ground.

My Mom is the toughest business person I know. She does man-business better than any man I’ve ever met. She doesn’t lean in, either. She pushes [!@#$] over. My mother doesn’t understand the idea that women make better leaders because they are more empathetic and understanding. She leads. She leads like Jack Welch leads.

Then I met my wife.

My wife is a Hall of Fame NCAA D1 athlete who beat me at racquetball the very first time she ever played the game. I was killing people at racquetball in college for months. I begged her to play me. She killed me three straight games. I left the court and tossed my racquet into a trash can. To this day, I have never played racquetball ever again.

I’ve been fortunate to have strong, powerful women in my life.

But having a strong wife and a mother who is like Jack Welch hasn’t been the easiest. Many women-owned businesses are also family businesses, and Harvard Business Review estimates that 70% of family-owned business fail or are sold by the second generation. My mother ran our staffing business very well for almost 30 years.

As the current leader, I carry pressure with me like a backpack every single day I walk into the office.

Staffing is a quirky business.

The basis of recruiting will never change.

  1. People like being pursued. People like to be wanted.
  2. When someone calls you (or sends you a smoke signal about a job), you want to hear about it.

In that way, staffing is a very simple business concept.

While Mom might not understand social recruiting, she always knew how to get someone interested in an opportunity. You have an opening. You need to go find someone to fill that opening. Simple and hard.

Staffing is no longer staffing

Staffing has developed into a formidable field of recruiters, talent acquisition professionals and talent advisors. How you sell to this industry has changed, too.

I remember the first time I ever truly impressed my Mom. I had an opportunity to speak about recruiting at the Michigan State Annual SHRM conference. My mother decided to come watch me speak, but she also told me it was a waste of time because I could have been on the phone making placements.

Mom didn’t pay to get into the conference, by the way. She just walked in, and no one questioned her. People don’t question someone who carries herself with authority.

It was a packed room, thankfully, and my mother sat in the back. I spoke to corporate HR folks about how they could be more effective talent advisors and spend less money on third-party recruiters. I gave them the plan to put us out of business, knowing how much corporate recruiters hate picking up the phone and doing actual recruiting.

It went great. I had a line of folks waiting to talk to me after and hand me their business cards!

My mother busted her butt her entire life to get in front of HR leaders. There were times when she begged for just a few minutes to talk about our company’s value proposition and why we could help. And there I was standing in front of a line of these same people as they jostled to meet me.

I could see that my mother was very impressed, although she never said it. I can also say that I’m the first man in my family to be worthy of leading a women-owned business.

That moment? It’s what I’m most proud of as a talent advisor.

Sackett and Mom

Talent Advisors Have Small Data Problems

March 16th, 2015 Comments off
Small data big data

Can we be honest with each other for a minute? There are only something like 500 talent acquisition leaders in the entire world who actually get what “big data” is — and you’re not one of them.

It’s okay. I’m not one of them, either.

The reality is 99 percent of talent advisors will never deal with big data because, by definition, it’s is a broad term for data sets so large or complex that they are difficult to process using traditional data processing applications. Excel spreadsheets are a traditional data processing application. Thousands of data points are not big data — millions, billions and trillions are.

Do you deal with data sets in the billions? No. Big data isn’t your concern, but small data is.

The question talent advisors should be asking themselves is: “How do I use small data to solve the everyday problems that I face?”

This is a question most of us should be able to answer, and we can have a positive impact on outcomes in our organizations.

I am going to give you three ways you can solve real, everyday HR and talent-related problems using small data.


Almost all organizations use assessments in today’s world. They are super cheap and easy to administer, but we still have one major problem: Our organizations aren’t fully bought into the results. This is a problem for talent advisors, and we need to change this attitude and get everyone fully invested. Data can help you do this.

True talent advisors will coach leaders and get their organizations to understand how powerful the data is behind assessments and why we should be listening to what they are saying. Millions of data points don’t lie, but your ‘gut’ lies to you every single day!


When your organization gives out a valid and reliable engagement survey, what comes back is truth.

The data is telling you something — good, bad or average. Most leaders and talent advisors hear what the data is telling them but believe they know better. You don’t. You are biased. You have been working your butt off to try and make your culture better, so you don’t want to believe what the data is telling you.

Stop that. It makes you look ignorant.

The data says you have crappy managers. You know this, but you are in charge of leadership training and you want to believe that it works. It’s not working. You need to get rid of your worst offenders. You know who they are, so make it happen.


There is a ton of small data in your talent acquisition shop. Data tells you the best source of hire, how long a job has been open, how many candidates have applied, how many candidates have interviewed, etc. Talent advisors have unlimited amounts of data in Talent Acquisition; however, if you don’t figure out what is important to measure, the data can be a major hindrance to getting something done!

I run into a ton of corporate talent advisors who are failing — but who have great data to tell them why they’re failing — but refuse to actually do something about it. The data tells you exactly why you are failing. Figure out what to measure, make a plan to solve for those failures and work your plan. Don’t have enough applicants for your positions? Work with marketing, pick up the phones, measure what your recruiters are actually doing and change the outcomes.

Everyday talent advisors don’t have big data issues, but that doesn’t make the issues they face any less important. Big or small, data is becoming a way of life for the best talent advisors. The key for great performance in human resources is to be able to quickly assess the data and use that knowledge to move your organization forward with real-world strategies, plans and activities.




6 Ways to Get Employees to Love You as a Leader

February 16th, 2015 Comments off
6 ways to be a better leader

I’ll be extremely honest. I have employees who have truly loved me as a co-worker, supervisor and peer. I’ve also had employees who flat-out hated and despised me. Want to be a leader? Both of these scenarios come with the territory.

I never set out for either one of these extremes. I always hoped that, as a leader, those employees I supervised would respect me and feel like I supported them to be successful in their positions. The rest just happens based on how you connect with employees on a personal level.

There are some things that, as a leader, you can do to get more employees loving you than hating you:

  1. During big life issues, show extreme compassion and empathy.

    HR has policies around life issues like bereavement and childbirth. They’re all written to not allow employees to take advantage. The best leaders break these policies for their people. Major life issues rarely happen, and employees judge you based on how you react to these.

  1. Make it personal.

    Truly get to know the family and happenings of your employees’ lives. Go beyond small talk. This takes time, and this takes asking multiple times. Be willing to share your personal life as well.

    Check out these 14 smart ways to invest in your talent (on a budget), straight from our talent advisors themselves.

  1. Surprise individual employees in great ways.

    I once had a single mom who worked for me. Her son was playing basketball, and she couldn’t afford to buy him the expensive shoes all the other kids were getting. This is crushing to a single mother, so I bought the shoes. I still hear from her 10 years later.

  1. Be willing to do the job below the people you supervise.

    I change light bulbs at my company. I take out the garbage. I pick up paper in the restroom. I do this so the people who report to me won’t have to. So they can focus on their jobs. A leader who serves and helps others is always welcome to meetings.

  2. Make employees’ skills so valuable that others will want them.

    This is very hard for most organizations and leaders to accept. “If I make them that valuable, they’ll leave.” Yes, they might. But most will not, because other organizations and leaders aren’t doing what you’re willing to do.

  3. Ask for help.

    Your employees are smart. They have great ideas. You don’t have to move mountains by yourself. The leaders who are loved are usually the same leaders who ask their teams for the most help. It’s easier than you think to say, “I don’t know how to solve this problem. I don’t have the answer. Do you?”


Do you see anything above that seems really hard to do? Anything you can’t actually start doing tomorrow?

Being a beloved leader doesn’t take intelligence, power or experience. It doesn’t take grand or superficial gestures. It takes a person who is willing to be human. So be a little vulnerable and check your ego at the door. Baking a cake and bringing it to work is just icing.

Throughout the month of February, the Talent Advisor Portal is featuring HR leaders who will help you learn why and how and why to invest in talent in 2015 — even on a shoestring budget. Join CareerBuilder and talent advisor Steve Browne for a can’t-miss webinar, “Wake Up! It’s 2015 — Time to Make Employee Investment a Reality,” on Thurs., Feb. 19 at 2:00 Central time. Register now.

Here’s Why 2015 is the Year of Mobile Recruiting

January 19th, 2015 Comments off
2015 is the year of mobile recruiting, and here's why

Remember 2010? Yeah, it was a tough year for talent advisors. I wasn’t hiring anyone, either.

Mobile recruiting could have been huge in 2010, but most of us didn’t need to hire employees, so it became an expense we couldn’t afford. The economy in 2015 is entirely different, though, and mobile recruiting just jumped to the top of your talent acquisition “budget priority list.”

Let me show you why you need to start caring about mobile recruiting:

  • 86 percent of active candidates use their smartphone to begin a job search.*
  • 70 percent of active candidates want to apply via mobile.*
  • 55 percent want to upload a ‘resume’ to your career site.*
    (*stats via Kelton Research)


Meanwhile, in that nice cushy corner office, you are living in an alternative universe. You haven’t put serious money into mobile recruiting probably since you last built your career site.

  • 13 percent of you believe you’ve invested enough in mobile-friendly recruiting.
  • 80 percent of you are wrong and don’t have mobile optimized career sites.
  • 82 percent of you don’t have your job posts mobilized.


We are in a period in our history where people are obsessed with their mobile devices. A recent Deloitte survey revealed that 90 percent of people check their mobile device within one hour of waking up, 50 percent of people check their phones 25 times per day and 10 percent of us do it 100+ times per day.

Candidates Need A Mobile-Friendly Experience

Delivering an exceptional mobile experience for candidates doesn’t have to be difficult, technical or expensive, but it will require you to get uncomfortable with a few things you currently believe you must do. Some of this has to do with mobile; most of it has to do with you changing behaviors that have been ingrained through a 10-year recession.

Here’s what you should be doing right now:


  1. Get your career site optimized. Pull up your job site right now. Does it look like a ‘junior’ version of your desktop site? Well, then, it’s not mobilized. It should be easy to navigate like the other mobile apps you love using. Pinterest has different versions for people who use a desktop computer and others who use a smartphone or tablet device. So should your career site.


  1. One click. Maybe two. How many licks does it take to get to the center of the Tootsie Pop? (Remember that commercial? No? I’m old.) How many clicks does it take someone to apply for a job in your company? For every click you add, you lose two candidates. It should only take one click for someone to apply to your jobs. How many does it take someone in your environment right now? Why? No, really, why!? All you need is a name and one piece of contact information to recruit someone.


  1. Get comfortable accepting profiles instead of resumes. Talent advisors get stuck believing we have to have a resume to begin recruiting someone. We don’t. Resumes are great, but I don’t need it to get started. Many organizations are now having candidates apply using a social networking profile alone. Would you do that? You better think about it.


  1. Measure you career site web traffic better. Do you know how many applicants came to via mobile versus desktop? You should! You will be surprised at the “before” and “after” once you get your website and jobs mobile-optimized. You are currently missing out on outstanding (and maybe younger) candidates via mobile.


  1. Deliver what candidates want. Do you list your benefits on your website? The dollar value of those benefits? Why not? Potential applicants, especially passive candidates, are looking for your total rewards package. Tell them. How hard is it to find your job openings? I know of one Fortune 500 site that makes someone click through four times to find their employment opportunities, which is a crime. There should be a big fat red box that screams “JOBS HERE” on the home page. Too many companies make it way too difficult for candidates to find what they want.


Mobile usage is growing exponentially. Your potential candidates want to apply to your jobs via mobile. Make it as easy as possible to capture this potential candidate pool. Go out right now and apply for your jobs via mobile, if you can, and see what this experience is like.

Mobile used to be the future. It’s no longer the future. Catch up.

Like what Tim Sackett has to say about mobile and other technology trends and HR? Don’t miss his webinar on Jan. 22 at 12 Noon Central, “Recruiting Silver Bullets for 2015.” Register now — and find out more about it here.

10 Ways Technology Can Make You a Better Talent Advisor

January 14th, 2015 Comments off
10 ways to use tech to be a better talent advisor in 2015

Let me start by telling you that technology by itself won’t make you a better HR or talent advisor. Technology will make you faster; however, if you are a bad HR leader, technology just makes you a bad HR pro faster. The trick is to add technology to your already awesome HR skills. Then you can become unstoppable.

Here are some ways you can use technology to enhance your HR and talent advisor skills:

1. Use applicant tracking. 

Spreadsheets are not your friends, and they make you look like an ancient HR professional. There are so many inexpensive systems of record and applicant tracking systems out there today. There is no reason not to use them.

2. Invest in the technology behind employee referral programs.

The only time I’ve ever seen an employee referral program work is when technology is involved in running it on an ongoing basis.

3. It’s time to upgrade.

Ten years ago, we didn’t change because the pain of having to change was too great. In 2015, technology companies know how to upgrade our systems in ways that are almost painless and extremely fast. Stop using primitive technology.

4. Use the technology you have.

Most talent advisors never fully utilize the technology they have. Make it your mission to wholly understand the capabilities of your technology and use it entirely.

5. Embrace online open enrollment.

This isn’t 2001; it’s 2015. Whether you have ten employees or 10,000 employees, your annual open enrollment should be online. If your broker says they can’t do that, you need to change brokers.

6. One or two clicks.

How many clicks does it take someone to apply to a job on your careers site? We are no longer in a recession. You don’t need a hundred filters to screen candidates. If a candidate can’t apply to your job after one or two clicks, you are losing great talent.

7. Demand accountability.

Technology gives you data. You need data to make strategic decisions. You also need data to hold people accountable to do what they supposed to be doing. Leverage the technology you have to increase accountability across your organization.

8. Own employment branding.

I am not asking you to become a marketing department. I’m asking you to have an eye of the consumer. Look at five of your competitor’s career sites. Are they better than yours? What needs to better about your site? Work with IT and your local marketing department to make that happen.

9. Tackle the candidate experience.

You don’t need to go crazy over candidate experience, but you do need to treat candidates with respect. Use technology to ensure every candidate receives a response that is appropriate for your company and the level of position. If you wonder what you should be doing, ask yourself what you would expect from an organization.

10. Don’t allow technology to be a wall between HR and employees.

You are still dealing with people. People like to see you face-to-face and get hugs. (Well, some won’t like hugs, but some will!) That email you sent with the smiley face and the winky face isn’t a hug. Use technology to eliminate most of your administrative work, and then use that extra time to connect in person with your employees.

One Last Word

I love HR technology. The options we have at our disposal are endless. The key is choosing technology that fits your organization and links with what you are trying to accomplish. Sit through as many product demonstrations as you can. They will give you such great insight to what is available and what you need and can afford.

Like what Tim Sackett has to say about technology trends and HR? Don’t miss his webinar on Jan. 22 at 12 Noon Central, “Recruiting Silver Bullets for 2015.” Register now — and find out more about it here.