People throw around the word ‘influencer’ all the time these days. Honestly, it gets tiring and I’ve started to wonder if anyone really is an influencer, or even if they know what that means. Because how do you truly leverage your influence on someone, to either get them to do what you want, or to make a change in their own lives. That’s a big ask. It’s not easy. Which is why sitting down with Jennifer McClure, someone who’s made it her life’s work to understand that ever elusive ‘influence,’ was like taking a refreshing gulp and finally made so much sense to me.
Jennifer is a prominent speaker and business advisor. She has spoken at over 350 conferences and helped countless business leaders create positive, lasting change in their organizations through embracing the future of work. You can read more about Jennifer here.
Jamie: What’s the most common recruitment related question you get asked?
Jennifer: It’s usually around the hiring manager, and how to get them to respond or give recruiters the information they need. You know that has always been difficult.
Jamie: I know too well.
Jennifer: Right. So sometimes you have to challenge part of the recruitment process to find what the hiring manager is looking for, and then get them to be a part of the process so they don’t slow things down or they aren’t missing out on good candidates. Whenever I talk to recruiters, it’s always around the frustration with the hiring manager.
Jamie: Of course, recruiters are constantly running against the clock.
Jennifer: Well once you find a good candidate it’s hard to get on a hiring managers schedule, you have to move fast. You can’t schedule interviews for two week’s time because the chances are you’re going to lose that person.
Jamie: Do you think hiring managers struggle to manage it all? They’re dealing with multiple recruiters as well as managing their own time.
Jennifer: Yeah well you know how it is. Every stakeholder has their own priorities and while they’re important, they’re no more important than anyone else’s. They have a singular focus while the recruiter is juggling multiple roles, and they’ve got a better understanding of how fast you need to move in today’s market.
Jamie: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve personally faced in recruitment, and what do you think will be the big challenge in the future?
Jennifer: It’s always been about volume for me, and how to get a big funnel of candidates that are relevant. It doesn’t matter how you advertise a job, whether it’s on your website or a job board, there’s usually a big chunk of people who aren’t qualified or just not right for many reasons. How do you efficiently and effectively narrow that down? I think in future that’s still a challenge, because while technology is great, how do you ensure that it’s not weeding out people that would have been right because of keyword matches. Perhaps they needed that human element to understand how they might fit for the role in other ways.
Jamie: What’s your worst recruitment horror story?
Jennifer: Wow, I haven’t thought about that for a while. The one that immediately comes to mind is when we were trying to relocate a candidate. It was an international sales position and we were in the meeting finalizing everything. She had loads of questions and we kept going back and forth, but ultimately, we were able to agree on an offer and it was all in writing. Then, she showed up on the first day and told me that instead of us giving her money towards the relocation, she told us she didn’t intend to relocate at all and she’d like the money personally, so she could use it for her travel expenses back and forth.
Jamie: I shouldn’t laugh, but that’s insane.
Jennifer: Honestly, I really couldn’t believe it after all the discussions we had about how important it was for her to be there.
Jamie: If LinkedIn turned off the lights tomorrow, where would recruiters and HR departments find their candidates?
Jennifer: I think it would be dark times for a lot of recruiters. There would be a lot of people out of business because they don’t have the curiosity to figure out how to find candidates beyond LinkedIn. The world would be quiet. But the truth is, people have always been found, especially now everyone has some kind of online presence, it might just be harder to find them, at least initially.
Jamie: As an influencer yourself, who has influenced you the most in your career, and what influencer do you follow closely?
Jennifer: It’s probably a real mix of people I’ve met along the way. That’s people I’ve worked with and people I’ve hired. In the recruiting space, I would say people like Tim Sacket. He does a good job of re-evaluating a lot of HR technologies out there. His audience of HR recruiters aren’t as savvy, so he really helps them understand HR technology better and how they can acquire it and become aware of the tools out there.
Jamie: Is it talent acquisition or recruiting?
Jennifer: Good question. Ultimately, it’s recruiting, which is proactive. Going out to identify people and telling them the story of your company and the opportunity and then convincing them whether they are active or passive, and making a match, not just for them, but for your company. Acquisition to me sounds like going out and finding the talent, whereas recruiting is the whole process. It’s you saying, we’re going to go on this journey together, versus the recruiters who hire people and never know if they’re still working there, or if they got fired, if they were a good fit etc. Which is unfortunate because I think the opportunity to get better as a recruiter is by understanding what happens after the sale.
Jamie: Why do you think the recruitment industry has a poor perception and how do we fix it?
Jennifer: I think lots of reasons, but for the most part, it’s treating people like transactions. And like I said, that’s the job they’ve been given. Their company has basically said, this is a boiler room, get on the phone, make some calls, schedule interviews and close the people we tell you to. And do it ten or twelve times a day. That’s why they’ve got a bad reputation. It hasn’t been a priority to respond to people or build relationships because they’re not being rewarded on that, and that leaves a bad taste in people mouths because of how they’ve been treated in the process. They don’t feel human.
Jamie: What about job boards? With ever increasing pricing structures, do you believe they bring a good return on your investment?
Jennifer: I think if you’re doing a lot of high buying hiring for particular positions, like a call center where you’re hiring reps or hourly positions, then job boards are still where people are looking for opportunities. If you’re looking for leadership roles with more specific skill sets, I think job boards for a long time haven’t been the most effective place.
Jamie: What does recruitment look like in five years’ time?
Jennifer: I think we’ll see a lot of change because there’s so much technology available, but we get used to it more and more. We’re seeing it swing back towards the human interaction, so now people want it personalized like their Amazon or Facebook pages. They want to be able to interact on their own terms and to feel valued as a human. So not just in recruiting, but in HR and leadership in general, how do we maximize the use of technology with the tools that are available to us. How do we add that humanness into the process and treat people like people and make them feel valued for who they are, not just what we’ve been able to identify about them.
Jamie: What are your three favoruite recruiting or business tools that you couldn’t do without?
Jennifer: The internet in general. If we go back to the days of filing cabinets and paper, I don’t know how some companies would be able to cope. Skype too. Video platform lets us communicate with the people that we are interested in. And Calendly. It saves so much back and forth and has been a lifesaver for me.