Podcast

Talent Talk: Recruiting in a Tight Labor Market with Katy Ditchfield

Talent Talk: Recruiting in a Tight Labor Market with Katy Ditchfield Sprockets

Check out our fourth podcast episode of Talent Talk with our guest, Katy Ditchfield who discusses the challenges and solutions she has seen come to light while trying to recruit and hire in a tight labor market. Katy is the head of HR at Equiscript, which improves people’s access to healthcare.


 

Chad | Sprockets:
Hi, good afternoon and welcome to another episode of Talent Talk. My name is Chad Troutman, the Chief Marketing Officer here at Sprockets. And with me today, I have Katy Ditchfield from Equiscript. She is the Head of HR there and we’ll be talking to us about how to recruit and hire employees in a tight job market, which we most certainly are in. Before we dive into that topic, I’d like Katie to tell us a little bit more about herself and her career thus far.

Katy | Equiscript:
Sure. So I actually did not start out in HR, but kind of moved to it organically. I was working for a company and just started telling people and friends about it because I liked it so much and the culture was great and then a position opened up in HR and, um, it was a natural transition for me and I really do feel like it is where I belong. Um, it’s a good match for my personality and skill set.

Chad | Sprockets:
Perfect. Perfect. Um, so that Johnson & Johnson. With Equiscript, what does the day to day look like for you now?

Katy | Equiscript:
Definitely. So we are a cause-based company. Our cause is to improve access to health care in the communities we serve. And that’s a very rewarding position in of itself. Um, we do rewarding work and it’s exciting. We say it’s a win, win, win. Uh, we are a win for the patients because we provide pharmacy solutions to them. One for the health care community centers that we partner with because we actually give money back to the community health centers and then a win for us because it’s an opportunity for us to make money servicing the patients and the communities.

Chad | Sprockets:
That’s perfect. And that is, it was a great business to be a part of, and I know that’s what so many people are seeking out that are job seekers, even in the tight markets, places where they feel fulfilled and they can believe in the mission.

Katy | Equiscript:
For every new patient we serve, we give $2 back to Oneworld Health, which is a nonprofit that we support. And we’ve been able to give more than $10,000 over the last three years in a row. So it is, we’re rewarding our employees and some of our providers go on a mission trip to either Nicaragua or Costa Rica. Um, and, you know, it’s exciting to be able to expand access to those communities as well.

Chad | Sprockets:
That’s great. That sounds like a good place to be for sure. Um, now with that though, thinking about the topic today, what barriers are you seeing that people are facing when trying to hire folks in a tight job market or just in general, what are some of the struggles that you’re seeing? And then we can get into a little bit more about how we’re combating those struggles. I know that we’re like 3.9% unemployment. I’ve heard a lot about this, we actually had a previous episode with a Katherine from Visiture talking about she’s doubling down on offers, trying to get people to come and work for them. So it’s very tough even for the tech sector that’s so popular.

Katy | Equiscript:
Um, definitely, it’s not easy. I would say one of the challenges for Equiscript is we hire hard and because we hire hard, our hiring process takes longer than, you know, a typical hiring process. We do assessments and we do reference checks and, you know, we do a thorough recruitment process and there’s many steps and sometimes people get job offers in that process and that can be frustrating because we’re not able to move quick enough due to scheduling or the assessment or reference checks and things like that. So that can certainly be a challenge for us, anytime, but especially in a tight market where people are getting other offers quicker.

Chad | Sprockets:
Yeah, that’s gotta be difficult because you want to hire carefully and make sure you get the right person, but it kind of stings to lose out on them just because it’s taking a little bit of time to go through the due diligence, if you will, that you should take. Have you given any thought to or has it even been a problem? Has it held you guys back from like having roles open too long?

Katy | Equiscript:
I mean, it is a challenge. We have, um, eight spots in one department right now that we would love to fill, but we also don’t want to make sacrifices and fill them with the wrong people. So, um, you know, we definitely are behind in hiring, but we’ve hired almost 50 people this year so far. So we are, we’re hiring a lot of people. But we would like to hire some more.

Chad | Sprockets:
Have you seen a reduction in the number of people that actually apply for jobs?

Katy | Equiscript:
Yes, specifically in the bilingual space. Um, we are having a hard time getting applicants. That is a challenge for us. So we provide prescription services to a lot of Spanish speaking patients and that’s something that’s been a challenge for us. We also like to hire pharmacy techs and if we do searches on LinkedIn and Indeed, the same three people will come up and we’ve already interviewed them several times. So that is a challenge for us. Finding people. We’ve actually started training people and giving them the Pharm Tech certification on the job to kind of combat that. Um, but finding bilingual candidates is more challenging for us.

Chad | Sprockets:
That seems like a good approach from the sourcing side. We’ve heard this from a lot of our clients as well. Uh, especially in the hourly worker space. Depending on Metro, we’ve got some that they, they get like 300 applicants a week. Some they’re getting three per job sort of thing and are struggling to get that. So just, it’s really maybe market dependent or location dependent more than anything else. But with that, the on the job training part is an interesting way to combat everything. It’s like, let’s get a candidate that maybe doesn’t check all of the hard skill boxes now and get them trained up on the job. But we have that person and we’re investing in them now. So I’m in, you guys are seeing good results from that I’d take it?

Katy | Equiscript:
We have, we are in our second class right now of pharmacy tech students that are employees of Equiscript. We just started it this year.

Chad | Sprockets:
On the bilingual side. Are you considering anything to actually do courses on that side as well? Uh, or is that it? Maybe a little bit more of a taller task.

Katy | Equiscript:
You know, we thought about doing some of the language, um, things as an extracurricular activity. I can’t think of the name of it. What’s it called? The technology.

Chad | Sprockets:
Rosetta Stone.

Katy | Equiscript:
Um, so we thought about doing Rosetta Stone, but we really felt like people, um, that are bilingual or Spanish speaking, they need to have it as something they’re fluent in because they’re going to be speaking about pharmacy or drug names and things like that. And they, they can be hard for an English person or English speaking person to pronounce. So, um, we found that it’s more effective with people that have experienced speaking in Spanish, but we do think it’s, um, beneficial to bring on some of that just for the culture of the company and teach people how a script works. A basic script about how to contact someone that speaks Spanish. So let me put you on hold and put you in touch with someone that speaks Spanish, some basic Spanish. Um, but as far as fluency goes, that’s probably more of a challenge.

Chad | Sprockets:
Yeah, makes sense. Especially on that script side, you wouldn’t want anything lost in translation, I would imagine when it’s coming to how drugs mix and things.

Katy | Equiscript:
And we have contracts with our health care providers in our pharmacies. And so we have to use specific language. So we do have some scripts that we use that are in Spanish, but teaching people Spanish in general is something that we haven’t gotten to yet.

Chad | Sprockets:
Okay. So then, we haven’t had a lot of our clients, you know, talking about bilingual workers as much, but that’s also not the space that we’re playing in, but I would be interested in knowing, is it the same sourcing as every other candidate or are you going to different places to source bilingual candidates?

Katy | Equiscript:
I mean, we’re getting into the nitty gritty and we have an office that we just opened in Salt Lake City and we’re trying to hire a lot of Spanish speaking people there. And we are connecting with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and, um, you know, even going to churches and, uh, that have Spanish mass and you know, um, advertising in their church programs, uh, you know, everything we can think of to get bilingual applicants. We’re ready for them.

Chad | Sprockets:
That is one thing that I have not heard yet when it comes to recruiting – is being in the church bulletin. Yeah. But that makes a lot of good sense. You know, as the marketing adage goes, fish where the fish are, and that makes a lot of sense to me. So that’s good advice for anybody that’s listening that needs to recruit bilingual individuals? So then, on the hiring side, you talked about y’alls processes, you’re looking at more hard skills, so it takes a lot of, you know, it takes a long time to go through that. What are the folks at, and I hate to phrase it this way, but I guess this is kind of the case though, the ones that you’re losing candidates to, are they doing anything different? Have they sped up their process or they’re cutting things out? Are they doing different tactics? Like what or what have you seen or heard?

Katy | Equiscript:
Really, I would say in Salt Lake City specifically, they’re not used to doing assessments. Candidates are like, oh, I’m not a rocket scientist. Why do you want me to do this? Like, you know, that kind of thing. Um, so it’s a different culture there specifically. Um, and so we, we change our process a little bit instead of giving people an assessment right after a phone interview or bringing men to let them get a feel for our culture and want to be a part of the company before sending them the assessment. So it puts more work on us. We’re seeing more candidates before they get that assessment, but it’s getting more people to take the assessment.

Chad | Sprockets:
Yea, that makes sense. I mean, before making them do more work, kind of have them bought in and make sure that they want to want to do things so that, that flipping the process makes sense to me. Just thinking in the HR community in general and outside of like Equiscript, I’m gonna throw some scenarios at you then you, I know you might not have been in and I’ll help guide along the way. Cause I most certainly have been in, I’m thinking about like the restaurant space and hospitality and retail and things like that because a lot of our workforce is most certainly on the medical side and a large percentage of our workforce is in that retail and hospitality and all that. Uh, and those folks are really having a major sourcing issue in terms of getting anybody to apply. Like there’s so many jobs on the marketplace. So, uh, it would be fun to, uh, you know, Kinda talk about what are some kind of like your church bulletin scenario, what are some creative ways that retail and hospitality might be able to attract candidates their way? Um, so again, I know it’s going to bring you out your comfort zone for a second, but what are you thinking there?

Katy | Equiscript:
Um, you know, providing good benefits. I think people really want benefits. Um, one of the things Equiscript has is we have an open PTO plan, which is something that a lot of people are attracted to. I think a lot of people in the hospitality and retail space probably don’t get the benefits that people in corporate America do. So I think being an employer of choice by being generous and putting the employees’ work life balance first and foremost would be good. Staff flexibility and scheduling. You know, when I go to the grocery store I hear the cashier complain about how she has to work at night and during the weekends and things like that. So if you could work on scheduling things like that to help make that employee’s life more fulfilled.

Chad | Sprockets:
Yeah and I 100% can agree with that. Scheduling on all sides in that industry is big. Like, you know, cause there are, there are shifts that are better if you’re a server. Right? I’m like, yes, I’d like to work Friday night and Saturday night and now do I wish I could go do something else. Sure. But I like the tips on those nights. I’m going to turn a lot more tables. Uh, is there any, just if you were to leave folks with one piece of advice, like, Hey, if you’re dealing with this tight job market on the recruiting side and on this hiring side, here’s some things to be thinking about that might, might make life a little easier on you.

Katy | Equiscript:
As far as recruitment goes, I think having a good brand and a good Glassdoor rating, I’m doing some of these best places to work surveys and things like that. So you stand out as an employer of choice. Um, I also think it’s really important to do your due diligence when you’re hiring and not just, um, make a bad hire because the cost of a bad hire increases your turnover, reduces your culture, and it really does impact the ability of you to be able to recruit new talent and keep the talent that you have. So, um, I think it’s a balance.

Chad | Sprockets:
Yeah, I definitely agree there in a couple of things that I heard that, uh, you know, would want to put out there, it’s like talking about glass door. Um, from a marketing standpoint, some of the advice that I would give a, you know, thinking about brand and Glassdoor being that outward brand for you outside of just your core brands. We do this in marketing all the time, is ask our customers for reviews. I know I, I have never been asked any company that’s been with while I’m there and being a successful employee to go to glass door and actually fill out something. So yeah, just making that ask of your employees is a good thing. Like, Hey, if you would, I would appreciate if you’d go to Glassdoor and give us a review instead of waiting until somebody has been let go. And then those, those are, you know, there’s plenty of people that leave on their own.

Chad | Sprockets:
But then there are a lot of folks that, you know, as I say, the people that leave reviews are typically the ones that are disgruntled, uh, be it on Yelp, be it on glass door, that kind of stuff. So there’s some there. And then on the, the, the hiring side, uh, the hiring managers, I love when folks come on and tell us to be choosy. Um, and not to compromise things. Cause that’s what I believe the, the, the turnover side of things, you can either choose to throw a body at something or you can throw the right body at it and they stay there longer. So, uh, I think the, the, the advice is spot on Katie, and, uh, I know that I appreciate it and I appreciate, uh, a lot of the expertise that you brought to the podcast today. Uh, with that said, uh, we’ll conclude our silent talk episode for today and we’ll be back with you shortly with another episode from another, a knowledgeable person just like Katie here, but until then, take care.

Talent Talk: Managing Hiring Sprees with Katharine Corona

Talent Talk: Managing Hiring Sprees with Katharine Corona Sprockets

Check out our third podcast episode of Talent Talk with our guest, Katharine Corona, who discusses the challenges and solutions she has managed during hiring sprees and growth periods at a company. Katharine is the Head of Human Resources at Visiture, a Charleston-based eCommerce Marketing Agency.


Chad | Sprockets:
Good morning and thank you for joining us with another episode of Talent Talk. Uh, today we have Katharine Corona in from Visiture, uh, she is the Head of Human Resources there and is going to talk to us a little bit more about, uh, how to manage, uh, hiring sprees or managed situations where you have a lot of applicants coming in for a particular position or you have a lot of different positions to fill all at once. So Katharine, good morning and thank you for joining us. I’d love to learn a little bit more about you and let our audience hear a little bit more about your experience first before we start diving into the topic.

Katharine | Visiture:
Sure. I am the Head of HR for Visiture. Like you said, it’s a wonderful company downtown Charleston on King Street. I’ve been in HR for almost 20 years, which seems kind of incredible, but it’s wonderful. And I got my start actually in agency recruiting, which was more on the hourly healthcare side of things. For the past eight years, I’ve been in more startup recruiting for a few different software companies and now for Visiture, which is an eCommerce digital marketing agency.

Chad | Sprockets:
Nice. The company that you’re with now is, as I said earlier, near and dear to my heart from a marketing standpoint. I think it’s a very interesting product, so I’d love to learn more about that at another time. But for today, definitely want to get some of your experience there. I definitely know our audience wants to hear a little bit more about your experience in regards to anytime that you’ve been involved with having a lot of applicants and we, we have clients that run into this, especially in the hospitality space. Sure. Um, that gets a high number of applicants when it said, especially seasonal. So we’ve got a place called Max Seafood out of Cape Cod and, of course, that’s very seasonal. The Cape is always a very seasonal business. But we also have a lot of folks that have multiple positions to hire all at the same time. And usually, it’s either the owner handling things or a hiring manager, they don’t always have the benefit of having somebody like yourself to help manage the process. So would love to just start picking your brain about tips, tricks, advice for anybody that’s finding themselves in those situations.

Katharine | Visiture:
Yeah. Happy to help.

Chad | Sprockets:
Alright, what are your thoughts around getting a ton of applicants for a particular position? Um, what should the hiring process look like, to manage that effectively?

Katharine | Visiture:
Well, the first thing is to make sure you’re hiring for the right position. Okay. Now you got to understand what are you trying to solve with that hire. Sometimes people get ahead of themselves and just want to throw bodies at a problem. But really you want to understand what’s the need we’re trying to fill first. Once you have a clear idea of what you want, why you want it, when you want it, then you kind of post it or start, you know, referring people to it. But when you start getting, you know, 20, 50, 100 people applying just to one job and you have 10 jobs, that’s a lot of applicants coming in. So identifying what’s the critical thing out of those 10 jobs, what are the three top ones you want to fill first and then start from there. So for me, I live by my calendar.

Katharine | Visiture:
I really physically will block off 8 AM to 10 AM focusing just on this one job, 10 AM to 12 PM focusing just on this one job. And I have to go through each applicant, each resume, all of that. But if you put it off, you just get buried in it. So you want to touch it every single day if you can. If you don’t have someone in-house helping you, that’s going to be a lot of work for the CEO or the owner to do it. But the most critical thing is to get the right person in the door. So having a system, whether it’s your calendar or whether it’s two days of the week where you’re just focused on recruiting, you’ve got to do it every single day or every single week to make sure you’re staying on top of those candidates coming in.

Chad | Sprockets:
And would you advise against or for the scenarios where, you know, you open up the job, you figured out, okay, this is exactly what I’m looking for. You’ve opened up the job and reviewing applications kind of at the end of the day as they come in and in batches or doing it kind of all at once. What are the pros and cons there?

Katharine | Visiture:
That’s a personal thing for sure. There are certain days when I like to do it first thing in the morning while I’m really fresh and I can really read through every cover letter and resume with a fine-tooth comb and really dig in. If I can’t do that, then I’ll put it off until the next day when I know I can. Because you don’t want to be screening resumes and candidates when you’re already fried. You want to be able to give these people your attention, they’re trying to work for you and get a job. So it’s really important that you kind of give everyone as much time as you can, even on paper, before you even talk to them to make sure you want to spend the time getting them through your interview process. So I’ve done it both ways, where I touch it every now and then, but I’ve found for me, I’ve got to have it on my calendar blocked off so it does not get neglected. I’m really like it’s an unmovable thing. It’s a lot for me. It’s a meeting that I don’t double book. Yeah. So like 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM whatever it is. Like you can’t talk to me then because I’m really focusing on recruiting right now.

Chad | Sprockets:
That makes good sense. I would think from that scenario, doing it in a big batch, you’re in the same kind of frame of mind and kind of giving everybody maybe a more fair shake. I could see myself doing it, onesy twosy and my mood could even affect things like, oh, I’ve had a long day. Like I’m not really paying attention as much. Things like that.

Katharine | Visiture:
If you’re not in the mood, it’s not going to go well. Like I don’t want to talk to anyone right now. Look at this. It’s not going to go well. So do it when you know you’re fresh. When you know you can be uninterrupted for a couple of hours and just knock it out. But if you do it just new as they come in, you’re going to kind of have ADD, you’re not gonna be able to focus as well on each single application that I just, I recommend blocking it off and only doing that at one time.

Chad | Sprockets:
Okay. Um, and I’m not gonna say that this is a good practice, but I’ll ask the question. Okay. Is there anything that you do to kind of, maybe I’ll put it in the category of like instant weed outs, like the help to bring that application pool down from a hundred to something that you’ll be thoughtful about. So what are some of those tactics that you take to help weed out? I know that might be position-specific but going to lay some examples out.

Katharine | Visiture:
It is, it is specific to a certain role, but across the board, there are general guidelines that I expect every single person who applies to Visiture to adhere to. Okay. Number one is did you read the posting? Did you actually read the job you’re applying for? Because I’m pretty clear about what we’re asking for: the requirements, the expectations, even the soft skills. These are kind of baked into the job description. So it clearly says so. If you’re interested, apply with this as your subject line and mention one or two things about yourself or with a cover letter. And people who apply and don’t have anything in the subject line. Do not have a cover letter, misspelled my name, apply for the wrong job. If you already have open, there’s an automatic rule outs. They didn’t take the time to read it seriously, which means to me they don’t really want this job. People who do their homework, who do their research, who find some little nugget they can pull from the website, just tell me and show me, hey, I did research you and I really want to work there. They go automatically to the top of my list. Perfect. Yeah. Typos still matter. Attention to detail. All of that stuff matters a lot before you even possibly get a phone call.

Chad | Sprockets:
And that’s it. So funny. This is going to be the fourth or fifth podcast at this point that I’ve heard something that really leans into showing that you care and being conscientious as one of those major areas where it can make or break you at any stage. In-person, on paper, or whatever the case may be. And I know it falls under the cliché of, you can only make a good impression once, so you’ve got one chance at it or put your best foot forward, all that fun stuff.

Katharine | Visiture:
But that’s true for a reason. And that cliché, it’s true. Your first impression, make it a really good one, and take the time to do it right.

Chad | Sprockets:
Absolutely. And that goes across the board with all types of jobs from hourly workers to c-suite, you’re all doing that in some way. And it’s such an easy thing to control as an applicant. And it’s an easy thing to use to weed out as somebody, as a hiring manager. So I think that makes good sense. I had another one in there. I love your thoughts on this because this happened to me multiple times in my career. Uh, being in a company that does have multiple positions open, seeing the same applicant apply for multiple jobs, how does that make you feel?

Katharine | Visiture:
That’s a red flag. That means they don’t know what they want. It’s really obvious when someone is running away from something or running towards something in a job. So you can tell that usually by a cover letter or by their tone and their emails. And I’m trying to get your attention if someone’s already coming across as, no, I’m desperate to be there. We want eager – but not desperate. So you want someone to in your mind, very fine line. Yeah. So you want to understand, you know, why do you want to come to Visiture, you know, for example, why us and not any other marketing agency? Like, why are you coming to us? And that sounds kind of, I don’t know how it sounds, but it’s true. Like you want someone who really wants to be only at your company, not just any old company who does a similar service. Why do you want to come here?

Chad | Sprockets:
And one that’s important when we think about the time invested not only in hiring, but in the employee, once they’re onboarded, like no matter what your experience was beforehand during the onboarding process, you’re going to learn more about how we do it here, how you apply your knowledge here. So there’s a lot of training involved and you don’t want to lose somebody because they’re not committed to your establishment. So, no, it makes good sense. And that’s the way I’ve always felt about it. But I’ve never directly asked somebody on that talent acquisition side. Like, how, how should I take this? I never took it as they’re really eager. I took it more as what you said, uh, that they didn’t really know. They are just like, Hey, I’m just trying to get a job.

And I would say that there was, there was one person that I did hire that did conduct themselves like when I had a couple of marketing positions open. They applied for a few. I spoke with them and Connor had the skill sets for something more specific that I did need. So I did hire him. Um, and he did a great job, but he didn’t stay. And that was one of those things. Then, he saw the next shiny object and then was gone. He did good work. He fit the skillset. But I kind of knew that going in. It’s like, you could be a flight risk, and he was.

Katharine | Visiture:
On the flip side, there’s one person that’s, you mentioned that that came to mind where there’s one person who has been trying to work at Visiture for a very long time. His interest is sincere. It’s keen. And I haven’t had a role for him yet, but as soon as I do have one open up, I’m going to go straight to that guy. His emails and his communication have been great from the very get-go. Just really want to be there. Like I really love what you’re doing. I love the team. So far that I’ve met with just informally, he kind of set it up as an informational interview and the past eight months he’s still been hanging onto his current job, but he’s like, I want to be with you guys. Yeah, that’s a different way to me. It’s not a red flag. I just like that this guy’s dying to be here and as soon as I get a job that fits his skills, I’m going to call him up.

Chad | Sprockets:
Absolutely. Opportunistic hire for sure. And I mean, right. And you don’t have to worry about sourcing at that point. It makes your life a little easier.

Katharine | Visiture:
Right. I can’t wait to have that job. Exactly. That guy.

Chad | Sprockets:
I’ve been fortunate enough to be in those positions as well. Yet a lot of that has been typically internal hires for me though, like somebody wanting to come, come over from the customer success side or move up from, you know, what it was always our farm league, the SDR role, I mean it, which is a great way to break into software companies. But uh, then also a place where the folks like us can see talents, see that potential and then move them in different places. Yeah. Um, well that’s really interesting. Um, now for me thinking about, um, these multiple positions, uh, and the priority there and um, cause that was something you mentioned at the beginning and let’s say we had 10 job openings. Yeah. How do you prioritize? So talk to us a little bit more about what factors go into your prioritization now. I’ll have a few more questions after that. Just being in that position as well. But ultimately what kind of, helps you stack rank?

Katharine | Visiture:
Absolutely, and I do. That’s exactly what I do. I stack rank them. Um, so if I have, if I have more than say, seven jobs open at one time, which is frequent, I have that a lot. Wow. Um, I have, I prioritize based on what’s most critical in terms of there’s no one doing that job right now and no one can cover the slack while I try to find somebody. That it’s a new head versus just an additional head, that’s a different kind of hire. Um, let’s say, you know, we just launched a new service line, and no one’s able to really act as a CSM for it or client to test manager for it. That’s going to be a critical hire because we have deals that are closing that need to be handled by that person. But that’s going to trump, you know, take rank over an additional um, SDR when you already have a team of them in place.

Katharine | Visiture:
Also, the other piece of that is whatever hire takes the longest to find. There are certain roles that just take you exponentially more weeks, months even defined versus my other roles. So on the tech side, you know, it’s really, really, really hard to find someone. You have a senior developer with eight years of this and this, you know, very, very specific skill set with this one platform that no one else has, that role will take a lot longer to fill. That’s going to be a priority as well. That’s based on how hard the role is to fill, meaning how long does it take, and then is it a new role that no one’s filling so no one else can cover for me while I find it, it always took the top two spots from there, it’s going to be the business need for it. Is there a true case for that? Like, do we really need this role right now? If it’s not imminent, we can’t do business without this role in the next few months. That gets up there too. If it’s kind of like, that’s nice to have, we could really have an extra person helping out the marketing team that might get a little pushback.

Chad | Sprockets:
No, that makes perfect sense. Cause I definitely have been in an area before with being over sales and marketing teams and being in high growth organizations where, fortunately, we were marketing-led and then sales fulfilled. I was the head of demand generation. We would have the scenarios with our talent team where it’s like, I’m of course as a hiring manager, we’re going to be sitting for all of my positions to be number one. Just like somebody coming in from customer success with, “Hey, we’ve got way more accounts per CSM than is safe.” We’re going to, you know, increase churn, all that kind of good stuff. I’ve been in other scenarios where the talent team doesn’t speak the same way that you’re speaking this morning, where it is about the prioritization is what I got in first. But it is more what does the business need? Like what is going to stop us from writing business? What is going to compromise the integrity of our customer service? So on and so forth. And that I think is the best way to look at it. Whereas other organizations I’ve seen that kind of muscling in of, well I’m more senior and I need this and I’m pushing this in and that doesn’t seem like a good way to do it.

Katharine | Visiture:
It’s not. And I encourage anyone who is in talent acquisition to push back on that. If everyone’s going to be in a line at your door saying “my job, my job, my job”, they all want their jobs filled yesterday. Yeah. That’s kind of like, take a number and I’ll get to it. That doesn’t work either. It’s really, you know, understanding why you’re hiring when you need it. And is it a business need or is it nice to have. And I want every person who works in talent acquisition to ask those questions and not be scared to push back on someone saying, do we really need that right now? What’s going to happen if we don’t fill it in two months? What would happen if we don’t have it in six months? Is there anyone else who can help you with that until I can get to it? That’s valid. Because you want to spend the time getting the right people in the door. You don’t want to hire fast. That’s a big mistake. You do not want to hire fast. You want to hire carefully.

Chad | Sprockets:
Yeah, I love that. Don’t want to hire fast. Want to hire carefully. Yeah. And that is so important because of course, they’re not my side of the table here with what Sprockets does, and for the shameless plug real quick, what we’re doing is trying to reduce employee turnover and reduced time to hire. But the way that we’re doing it is by helping you understand what you know, what are your best people comprised of from a personality standpoint, not a hard skill standpoint. Um, so soft skills and then benchmarking all applicants as they come in. With that, it is about hiring carefully, not hiring fast. We want to make sure it’s who matches the culture for your business matches what job needs and on something that you can’t check off on a piece of paper, that sort of stuff.

What we’re finding is those that are going through that process and using that system to have that extra data point to go, okay, this is how much these people match. The folks that are already in and that haven’t left, that are top performers that are doing well like that want to be here. Um, and that’s, that’s been something good for our clients. Of course, they feel like this is a safe hire. You know, this is somebody I can feel good about. They’re going to stick with me, be an engaged employee, all that kind of good stuff.

Katharine | Visiture:
It’s always a risk when you hire anyone. Even if you go through an incredible vetting process, which we do, there’s still kind of always that like, oh gosh, please work out the way I want you to work out. Yeah. And you’ll know in the first, really the first 30 days you’ll know that’s a good fit. But to have that extra boost of confidence that you guys are getting through this is really, really nice.

Chad | Sprockets:
It is. Over my career, I’ve had the opportunity to hire everything from hourly workers to being involved in c-suite level positions being hired. It’s one of those things that I believe now and I’ll take it, I’ll take it for a second beyond interviewing. I think people in general are pretty good at hiding crazy for a little while. So, and I mean, anybody can kind of keep that in an interview and I also believe some people are just really good at interviews. You get done and you’re like, I really enjoyed my time with that person. Yeah, well that’s great. And maybe you would enjoy having a drink with them, but are they right for your business? Do you want to work with him? And how much was that their authentic self?

And it’s tough. The resume you have to even be worried about – is this an authentic level for the person? So I love any sort of behavioral questions that help that I think make it tougher to hide the crazy or tougher to hide the personality. I shouldn’t just keep saying crazy. That’s me. More joking than anything else. But yeah, just hiding like you know, it’s like, because anybody can say yes, of course I’m a great team player. I love collaboration. You know the best ideas float to the top kind of thing. And then ask them a few behavioral questions and start to hear like maybe that’s not entirely true, that’s what you can say, but maybe that’s not how you act.

Katharine | Visiture:
Right. Give me an example of that. Tell me about a time when you actually, you know, did that in reality.

Chad | Sprockets:
Exactly, exactly. And then yeah, like you said, the first 30 days you’ll find that out. And I mean that’s the tough part though. You want to avoid anybody leaving within that 30 day point. You’re like, wow, we messed up. Right. That’s the worst. They’ve gotten a bunch of free lunches out of you and that kind of thing and then now it’s time to leave again. That’s like a higher smart, fire fast. I think the fire fast part is interesting as well to kind of go into that part of the conversation. I know we’re talking about having a lot of positions, having a lot of applicants and we think about speed on that side and it’s like I need a body, I literally need a cook or I literally need a CSM right now.

But I’m not always thinking about the folks that, you know, I think there’s always some rejiggering going on in the stack ranking of a team of employees once they’re in, but not enough of the rotation and out of the bottom kind of thing. And like bringing not additional heads in, but kind of refreshing teams. And being okay with getting rid of a bottom performer that is adequate. But tell me what your thoughts are on this. Cause I did this with my SDRs and then definitely did this with a, whenever I had like content teams that were bigger, um, is some more entry-level positions. I always felt like I had one to two rock stars, a couple of middle of the road B players, and then folks that were about to be on a get-well plan or something.

Chad | Sprockets:
And they were hitting their goals or almost hitting their goals or not enough to where it’s like, oh, I need to get rid of you. You’re not completely failing but you’re not as good as everybody else. So I started to actually let those folks go, let the bottom go to then make room to add new, to try to find that next rockstar. Cause I was also always having them pushed out at the top. If they were really good, they’ll go, they’ll either go somewhere else or they’re gonna move up. I’m going to give them more responsibilities. So when you think about firing fast, um, what are your, I guess my thought was like you don’t have to be a failure to be fired, you know, so how do you feel?

Katharine | Visiture:
Yeah, no, I’m with you there. Okay. I think it takes a little while to know if someone’s not A or B level, if you will. And you do. The thing is you don’t want everyone to be rock stars. Like I believe in actually having a pretty diverse team of skillset, personalities, ability, but you want to have strong A players. Yes, you want to have a lot of B players, but it would be at, it’s, I mean the workhorses people roll up their sleeves are not scared of we’ll just do whatever it takes. You want a lot of those people and yet they’re going to be the ones who want to move up as well. I guess tricky when you’re smaller integral because everyone wants to come in and move up pretty quickly and you’ve got to scale it in a way that makes sense where you can make room up top but not have it be all top-heavy and no one at the bottom.

So it takes time to kind of grow the company. Yeah. For the ones who come in and just are either getting it, you know, fast enough or they’re not really into it. And you can tell again from the first 30, 60, 90 days if someone’s really invested in wanting to learn and being very proactive. If they’re not, I always encourage my managers to get ahead of that pretty quickly. So I’ll do a 30, 60, 90-day check-in myself and have the managers do it as well as to make sure, hey, is this what you thought the role was going to be? Is this what we sold to you? Are you doing what you expected? And if not, let’s go ahead and try to course correct now before it becomes a problem. Okay. You can’t course correct, then that’s when you want to go ahead and have that conversation a little earlier of like, hey, before you get here for like six months, maybe this isn’t the right place.

Katharine | Visiture:
Like are you happy here? Do you want to be here? Like what are you not getting here? Cause usually if someone’s not performing well, they’re probably not very happy. Like it’s hard to come to your job when you know that you’re stuck, yet that’s really hard to be like, oh, I’m not performing well. Like I’m not getting it. Like go ahead and talk about those things. It’s not bad to say I’m not getting it. I’d rather someone would come to me and say, I don’t know what I’m doing. Like, help me. Yes, great. Okay, let’s, let’s figure it out together. And if you can’t figure it out, then you want to say, Hey, you know what? I’m so sorry, we did our best. But to help you transition out gracefully.

Chad | Sprockets:
Yeah. No. And I think that’s a great perspective that um, yeah, that should be taken on things. Uh, the 30, 60, 90 days is big. And again, across all positions just to check-in. We hire somebody. We sold each other, we both believe in it and then we hit the ground, and then it becomes, we’ve got to do work. And it’s like, yes we do, but we are still kind of in that process of hiring, even if the paperwork had already been signed. Yes. So I think that’s a great message. Um, and something that doesn’t happen enough. I think a lot of hiring managers come in and it’s like, finally, I’ve got somebody sitting in that chair. That means work is getting done. So that means I don’t have to worry about anything.

Katharine | Visiture:
Oh, right. That’s such a huge mistake a lot of people make where it’s like, great, we filled that role now that’s done. It’s not, that’s just the first step. So just like the interview process, you know, you put your best face forward, you do all of that, you get the job, great, well done. And then the real fun starts. We actually have to do the job. So it’s like, okay, those first 90 days, that’s really a working interview still. Like, you know, proving that we made the right decision by hiring you.

Chad | Sprockets:
Absolutely. Yeah. That’s good advice. For anybody listening on both sides of the table, the interviewer and interviewee, the interview is not over. I guess you could take it at any point. You’re only as popular as your success kind of thing. Are you doing a good job? But particularly in those 90 days, that’s where, you know, the course correction can happen. Um, and then also for hiring managers, not to be afraid to fire. I think folks are, especially in an economy right now with a low unemployment rate. I think people might even be in, I’m projecting here scared to fire, you know, I know I’ve been in markets before where I had trouble recruiting say SDRs. Which is a tough role to begin with. Um, cold calling is not necessarily what everybody wants to do. Um, it is really hard, but it’s a great place to start and expand your skill set, so on and so forth. Um, but I had a lot of trouble in a particular marketplace hiring there. Um, and this was in Providence, Rhode Island. So many people went to Boston. So I was just struggling to hire, so then I also struggled with wanting to let people go. It’s like, well, like my breaking even, and I honestly would, there was a couple that I’d have been just fine. It wouldn’t have killed our operating plan. It wouldn’t have killed like my numbers or something like that. But I got, I got into this too scared to fire. Yep. And, uh, so, but your advice is I’d be quite the opposite. It sounds like it would be right. Be bolder in that area.

Katharine | Visiture:
Yeah. Don’t be scared to do it. I mean, it’s going to hurt you in the long run if you have someone who’s not really helping you move forward.

Chad | Sprockets:
Absolutely. Okay. Well, just checking in on our time here. I know we’re getting closer to the end of our podcast, but wanted to just kind of be open here in terms of any advice, knowing that the folks that are listening right now are hiring a lot of applicants, have multiple positions, have the same struggles that honestly every company has when it comes to hiring. Any general advice that you want to give out to anybody listening right now? Like, hey, or just commiserate even for a moment? Like it’s going to be okay. I promise. Don’t be alarmed. But, uh, knowing that we have again, clients that are like, I just, I need somebody dependable and I need them right now. Um, any advice for them? Just in terms of managing their own process and managing their own expectations, but then also knowing when they’ve got what they’re looking for? Um, any thoughts there?

Katharine | Visiture:
Yeah, so I mean really, again, figuring out who you want and why. I get a really clear, even an image in your head of like, what’s the ideal candidate and try your best and not sway from that. Because you get nervous. You get scared of like, oh shoot, I’m not going to hit my deadline. We’re gonna miss our numbers. We’re going to have Yada, Yada, Yada, Yada, Yada. Try not to do a knee-jerk hire where it’s like they’re good enough. Sure, let’s do it. Or good. No, like I’m telling you, like train them on the floor. Right, right. That’s, that will not work in the long run. So just take a deep breath, slow down, hire carefully, hire smart, make sure the entire team is bought into that hire. Like, don’t let one person make a decision about who to hire either. So you want to have as many people, I mean not 15 people, but you want to have anyone who’s going to work very closely with that person.

Katharine | Visiture:
You want their say as well in terms of “do I want to work with that person and why”? You want to have a little bit of input from everybody who’s going to be very close with that person. But again, make sure it’s, you understand who, what and why and then try our best to take it slowly, carefully do your due diligence, do your background checks, you know, talk to people who worked with that person. Don’t go based on just your gut instinct of like they’re really nice, they’re really easy to talk to. They must be a good person. I have a great feeling about them. Yeah, they’re gonna work out. They seem great that that could be true. But just take your time to make sure you talked to anybody else you can, just to get a little bit more insight and tell about how they really performed when things got tight. Like how would they handle stress when you had no help? How did they step up or step out if you want to be able to get a sense of their actual past performance, because that’s usually a good indicator of what they’re going to do for you as well.

Chad | Sprockets:
That makes good sense to ask those kinds of questions. What do you do under stress? I know that I haven’t asked the question in all of my interviews and haven’t been asked in the interviews that I’ve been on the other side of the table. So, uh, that’s very, that’s really smart because stresses in every position, there’s nobody that gets to avoid that. Or if there is a job like that, I’d love to know what it is. I can only imagine as being a tour guide here in Charleston. That’s my retirement plan. As far as things go, Katharine, it has been fantastic to get the chance to sit down and talk with you. This was a lot of good information for the folks that I know, right now need that. They’re out there, you know, nuts. They are struggling with hiring, is probably a little extreme. It’s not an easy thing to do. Um, but you provided a lot of great insight today that people can take away. So I appreciate that. I hope to have you on again very soon cause this was very helpful for me as well and I’m sure for everybody else. So thank you again for joining Talent Talk. Hope you enjoyed today’s episode and we’ll see you for the next one soon.

Talent Talk: Women in Tech with Nina Magnesson

Talent Talk: Women in Tech with Nina Magnesson Sprockets

Check out our second podcast episode of Talent Talk with our guest, Nina Magnesson, who discusses what it’s like for women in tech and how people can work together to build a better future for minorities in the workplace. Nina is the Executive Director for Charleston Women in Tech, a Charleston-based group that empowers women in the workplace and those who are interested in gaining new knowledge.


 

Sarah | Sprockets
Hi. Welcome back to Talent Talk with Sprockets. This is Sarah. And today we have Nina Magnusson who is the Executive Director of Charleston Women in Tech. Welcome Nina. Let’s start out by telling our listeners about your role as Executive Director. Tell us what that entails.

Nina | CHS Women in Tech:
I’ve only recently joined trust in women in tech in that capacity. And at this moment it’s a matter of. Creating a way that we can leverage the over 25 members that we have through our original Meetup group to help advocate for women working in technology.

Sarah | Sprockets:
Wow. Yeah, that’s a large following.

Nina | CHS Women in Tech:
It is a large following and everyday people continue to join me. We haven’t marketed. We never have. It’s just a genuine need. We connect support and prepare women of all ages for careers in technology. And I liken it to let’s say you know what your skillset is you know you graduated from school whether it’s associates to you for your masters. You have those skills know how to do what you do but we are here to help you get to do what you do for a long time. As everyone knows women have been a minority in the tech industry. Still to this day, 74 percent of girls express a desire for a career in STEM fields but only 18 percent of computer science bachelors have. Are from major universities. So yeah.

So we see that there’s a discrepancy between the number of women who would like to be in tech and the number of them actually jumping. There are lots of reasons for that and we are trying to help mitigate and try to make it a more level playing field for women so that they can succeed.

Sarah | Sprockets:
Yes, that’s definitely so important. So how did you get involved when you said this group isn’t marketed. How did you find out about it?

Nina | CHS Women in Tech:
Well this group started actually with the Charleston Digital Corridor and Carolyn Finch who was at that time working for the city of Charleston and the Digital Corridor was running the code camp school there at the digital board where she was running all the curriculum and so she started to sing there were lots and lots of guys who were taking classes and teaching classes and just a few a handful of women that she would come across and so one day she said let’s get together just the women and talk about what it’s like and what you’re doing and you know that was 2014. And ever since then we’ve had I think we’ve had at least one gathering per quarter since then we’ve also had to mention mentorship programs cycle through we’re about to launch another one obvious thing which we’re very excited about which is really you know that is one of the major ways that we can leverage our membership is that we have this amazing pool of knowledge and experience. And so we want to connect all women who have that experience with women so that they can help them you know they can aspire upwards and also reach backward and help others to attain their goals especially if they can let them know things they wish they hadn’t known yet or how to how to accomplish things with her and also learn how to overcome some barriers particularly if they’re the only woman on the team.
So you know what that’s like so inviting my girlfriend Carolyn Finch and myself and a few other women who are engineers I believe Valerie Sessions is the chair of computer science and trust in some university in general where you used to be the senior V.P. for engineering at SNAP. But she’s now in Seattle and I believe Peggy Frazier who’s V.P. of H.R. at blackboard.
At the time we got together and just started to have meetups that had topics relevant to people who needed to connect support and is there a specific person for the mentorships that you tend to attract and who necessarily qualifies as a mentor versus a mentee. That’s a very good question because it’s not necessarily along age lines because right now lots of women are beginning to start their tech careers as a second so they may be in their 50s so they might have a mentor who’s been doing this for 15 years but generally it’s women who are just starting in their career. We’ll find a mentor who has maybe a 20 year veteran in their particular field that they’re interested in. But we had a young woman last night. We did a workshop last night for remote workers because the remote working workforce is exploding and there are lots of women working in technology from home here in Charleston and they also need advocacy they need to feel supported and they need to be here. So last night we had an amazing workshop. And he ran into a young woman who had participated in one of our original mentoring workshops and now she said she just graduated from college. She. Didn’t know where to start. And now I believe it’s about three years later she’s working for Johnson and Johnson. So you actually like design. Yes. And she’s thriving. And she says she still connects with her mentor.

Sarah | Sprockets:
That’s wonderful to hear. Right. Yeah. It’s so important for women to uplift other women. So going into you I know we talked about the community of women in tech. But when these women go out into the workforce what do you think companies should know. How they can help support these women and make them feel welcome if they’re a minority on their team?

Nina | CHS Women in Tech:
It’s a very good question. There are lots of ways that people can be aware for example and I believe it’s across many different cultural lines not just between male and female. If your team has a way of making sure that that is the woman she may or may not be included in social gatherings after work where work is discussed. So be aware that it may happen and that it’s discouraging for a woman. There are subtle ways that women can learn so conscious deliberate listening. Part of the team leaders is been working I don’t think anyone expects men to walk on eggshells. That’s the point. But I do think it’s incumbent on H R. Professionals. To help facilitate a safe work environment without people feeling like they need to be on the defensive. Yeah. Women also. Can work too. I mean we all have our different ways of thinking and they may not be the same way necessarily so.

And that also is a difference from human to human or individual to individual. So but there are lots of communication skills on both sides that could be examined and potentially across the aisle. We have to make sure of that because I don’t think anybody wakes up in the morning and says I’m going to make sure that we just clued in discount woman on our team. I think most of our biases are at this point. Most of them are unconscious but I think we all need to learn how to make those work habits. That’s great.

Sarah | Sprockets:
What advice you have for women we’ll be entering or want to get into the tech field but may have reservations about it?

Nina | CHS Women in Tech:
Well first of all I would join trusted women. That’s the first thing. And so much of technology has to do with an aptitude for learning because the tech industry changes daily and there’s no having arrived. It continues to evolve. It continues to change and so we’re always in a state of being teachable. All right. So I think joining like trusted women in tech which is great to connect with other women to learn what worked and what and that’s why we exist so that we can make sure that those connections are happening. If you are you can just mildly interested in tech.
There’s an amazing new website now that the South Carolina Department numbers department of intervention just launched called SC codes.

So if you’re interested at all in software engineering you can go online and start teaching yourself. And they have mentors through a software program platform as well. As Senator S.C. code Scott o r g. And then I joined Charleston women in tech and then I would also you know there’s so much information on podcasts. Blogs learn and absorb everything. And also I would suggest going to the events. Tech events happening you show up you don’t have to have credentials you don’t have to have anything but an interest in what they’re talking about. No one will look at you and say why are you here or who do you think you are. Or you know there’s no way you’ll ever be able to do this. Because that landscape is changing. Tech doesn’t look like an all-male all-white male youthful it is now much more diverse and could stand to be even more diverse. And we trust women in tech also working towards that I work for a company also called Boomtown which is a real estate software technology platform where real estate brokers nationwide and. And we have a fabulous space on the upper peninsula that we use for community outreach. And one of the things we want to do there is hold a demo palooza. With the National Society of Black Engineers and trust in women in tech. Well, we are having. 20 different stem or professionals scientists technologists. Come and demonstrate some stem technology for the kids and are now adding more.

Thank you. Yes. We’re very excited. October 12th. And people are jumping in. Left and Right. Hardly. Finish the sentence which I’ve read in the paper because a lot of enthusiasm around STEM and want to make sure that the kids realize that STEM is a vital exciting fun wonderful thing to get interested in. When you’re young now when you first are in school and also there are some really great careers in technology that our region is going to be looking for a lot of workforces that do not possess the skills that are jobs. So we especially want students to jump into the STEM professions because we need those skills and teaching to keep our economy going. So there’s a lot riding on getting stem to places where kids may or may not know that they have a potential career path.

Sarah | Sprockets:
Thank you for that, Nina. I just want to backtrack a little bit now. I know you talked about those who are going up through high school and college now who may be interested in the tech industry. What do you think is most important for them to get their first job. Is it being crowding fortifications? Is it internships? What should they know how to prepare for life after college?

Nina | CHS Women in Tech:
That’s a very good question and it’s one that we are all still trying to articulate it particularly for me across the board. Software engineers and But junior level positions are sometimes difficult to come by because. I like to liken it to what you learn from your master. All of the techniques and all the skills and then you have to go on your path. And that’s where you start. All right. So growing software innovative software companies want people them on the road learned soft skills and then lots of sophisticated details that they don’t get to do. So it’s really difficult sometimes for students who just graduated from the computer science department to get their first new developer job because there’s so much that they can’t teach in school. We’re trying to remedy that with more apprenticeships and internships because there are some things you learn just watching teams and dynamics and problem-solving on the fly and really learning how to learn on the spot is a big plus for people we love working in technology sometimes problems come up that you simply have never encountered before and you find yourself having to figure it out on the spot. So. I am hoping that in the future we will get support from the state and also maybe even some federal funding creating internships and apprenticeships where they don’t see this technology because a lot of times scaling companies that are not enormous with Global Arts are. They may be successful but they’re still all hands on deck. Everyone who’s working here is running uphill. They don’t have time to take an intern into what they’re doing showing them what we do. So we actually need an employee to advocate for creating a role for tech companies whose specific job you know whether it’s an HR person or a deaf person.

Sarah | Sprockets:
Thank you. I know your passion for this and helping those who come after you. So Nina as we wrap up today, are there any last pieces of advice you want to give to the Spurs.

Nina | CHS Women in Tech:
Well like I said it’s important to just find out. Look online for the roles that you think you might be interested in and what it takes to become qualified in that particular career and then don’t be afraid to ask for help if you find somebody on LinkedIn has your job that you see that they’ve done for years and years not out of the realm of good manners to reach out to them and say I would love to learn more about what you do that. I actually did that before I moved to Charleston and reached out on LinkedIn to Rachel Hutchison who is the corporate social responsibility director. She’s called something different. But at that time that’s what she was. And I reached out to her on the business. How did you get to be you? And so she took about 45 minutes on me. She had never met before and we had friends in common but not close friends. She talked to me about how family. She did. There now seven years later and I’m doing what she did. So don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to join us.

Sarah | Sprockets:
Thank you for joining us again. That was Nina Magnuson executive director of Charleston women in tech. See you on the next episode.

Talent Talk: Career Readiness with Cameron Sorsby

Talent Talk: Career Readiness with Cameron Sorsby Sprockets

Check out our second podcast episode of Talent Talk with our guest, Cameron Sorsby with Praxis discusses the different paths to career readiness with CMO of Sprockets, Chad Troutman. Cameron is from Praxis, which prides itself as an alternative to college for people to get real-world experience in the field they are interested in.


 

Chad | Sprockets:
Welcome to another edition of Talent Talk, glad that you could join us today for our podcast. This episode will feature Cameron Sorsby from Praxis. And he is the COO there and he’s going to talk to us about the importance of soft skills and not a college degree. So with that, I’m going to turn things over to Cameron for a moment so he can introduce himself and tell you a little bit about himself from his experience.

Cameron | Praxis:
Thanks Chad. I appreciate it. Uh, really excited to chat with you today. And just a little bit more about myself. I’ve been working for Praxis for the last five years. I’ve kind of seen it at its very early stages of doing about a dozen participants a year to growing it over where we’re consistently serving a hundred plus participants that are apprenticeship candidates and we place them in growing startups all over for the last five years. And it’s been not only a really fun ride, but also really interesting too to learn everything we have about, uh, both the kind of higher education, career development, uh, landscape as, as young people, you know, really start their lives as well as, you know, what are those, you know, major talent pain points on the company side as well. So it’s been a really interesting and an awesome experience so far.

Chad | Sprockets:
Ah, it sounds like it. And just for everybody on the line, can you talk to us a little bit about Praxis and why it’s formed up, what its mission is and what you guys do?

Cameron | Praxis:
Yeah, absolutely. So Praxis is a 12-month startup apprenticeship program and our founder started the program, like I said, about five years ago. And based off of his experience, you know, he kind of saw pain points and gaps on both sides of the market. He was working a lot with really very talented, driven young people through various education programs and organizations. And he just saw this trend of, you know, as more time went by, you know, these very driven, talented young people were dissatisfied with their college experience, both, um, because of, you know, the high costs that continue to go upward, but even more importantly, they just found themselves bored in the classroom. And, you know, they’re eager to get their careers off the ground and they just, more and more people kind of started to feel like college wasn’t serving their interests or preparing them for the career and connecting them with their initial career opportunities.

Cameron | Praxis:
We saw that side and then on the hiring side, he was also doing a lot of fundraising and meeting a lot of successful entrepreneurs. And, you know, especially, you know, even right around the ‘08 recession, you know, they’re telling them like, I’m still looking to hire all the time. The problem isn’t, you know, position openings. The problem is it is just incredibly difficult to find good, good talent, as we all know if you’ve ever been involved in the hiring process and, um, you know, we kind of took those two pain points and you know, I think we kind of went through the process early on and kind of continue to still do. We’re always fine tuning the program and I think the main question is like, what is the ideal transition to professional life for someone that clearly has a lot of potential but lacks the experience and context for their early career landscape and what does it take to help growing companies build out those entry level teams? That’s kinda how we’ve designed the program over time, answering know those two, those two questions.

Chad | Sprockets:
Absolutely. And now, so you’ve kind of already hit on something that I wanted to talk about, which was looking at if today’s topic is really focused in on the importance of soft skills and not a college degree. I wanted to start with thinking about what you’ve seen, what your experience has been like with the shift from focusing on the college degree of soft skills. What have you kind of seen out there, what’s happening? Because I know as an outside observer who did go, I mean, I went to college, uh, was a glutton for punishment. I went three times and got multiple degrees and for me it has served me well. I’ve seen plenty of other folks that it hasn’t. But, I’ve had a lot more experiences here recently of, uh, even one of my favorite mentors, Chris Brewbaker, his youngest son is graduated from high school and is going to do a year internship on a Dev team out in San Jose and not going straight into college. And then consider that, consider if he wants to go. Chris and I were of course both like, wow, that’s really awesome. That sounds like a good idea. And if we could go back, we would do the same thing. Save for, uh, what Chris said. He was like, I just feel like my son’s about to miss out on the four best years of his life. You know, we know what that really means is that the four best years of like sitting in a classroom is the social aspect of things. Uh, which does play into soft skills. I know for sure. But anyway, going back to the topic at hand, uh, thinking, I know that’s an experience I’ve had. What are you, what are you seeing out there? What is not just the need, but what are the people saying? What is pushing people to move away from college and go to soft skills and how are they doing it?

Cameron | Praxis:
Yeah, I think there’s a lot of associated but a little bit different points on this topic. Obviously it’s a big kind of PR kind of broad topic. But, um, the main thing that I’ve taken away from my experience with Praxis, you know, working on it for five years now is the typical process and kind of some of the trends I’ve seen are every six months to a year there are more and more people, both young people who are in the position of, you know, figuring out what they’re going to do after high school, as well as parents that are trying to help their young adults, you know, figure this out as well, that are questioning, you know, what is the value of my college x, you know, of pursuing a college experience. Whereas, you know, I’m 28 and when I was at that point, graduating high school, you know, I think probably 99% of my graduating class ended up in college. And it really just, even as far as back as 10 years ago, it wasn’t something that was questioned very much, like what is the best path after high school? And, and every year since I’ve been working on practice, more and more people are just, you know, approaching the college decision, uh, logically and with a little bit of skepticism and, and whether you decide to pursue a college education, uh, I think it’s the most important thing is you actually go through a thorough decision making process on whether that is the best choice for you. Because as we all know, it, it’s a very costly decision, not just financially, but more importantly in time you’re committing, you know, the average length to graduation now is over five years and you’re committing that much of your life to college. I think the best thing that people can do is to actually sit down and really think about it thoroughly, do their research and think through whether it’s the best decision for them. And I think there’s a couple different reasons why people are thinking through that a little bit more. As more time goes on, one is as it becomes more and more costly, you know, obviously it’s going to make you question that a little bit more as the price rises. I think the landscape of what, you know, young adult options are after high school is changing and it’s growing. Uh, you know, not just ourselves with practice as a program, but, with the spread of information through technology and internet, like there’s way more you can do on your own to prepare yourself for a career than there ever has been before. So you don’t need to go to these singular large institutions to get ready. Uh, and there’s a lot of other kind of alternative programs and different paths that you can take. The more competition that you can have in the higher education space, the better off everyone will be. And, you know, best case scenario that forces colleges to step up their game and to change with the time. So to keep up. I think it’s clear that the higher education spaces, it’s very bloated, uh, between both private and public universities and everything.

Chad | Sprockets:
Yeah, I can agree with all of that. And honestly solid reasons to really consider the college degree in that pathway or even like where, where you put it at if you delay it or anything like that versus other sides of things. And, you know, I, and just to justify the thinking about it even more and being choosy about where you start your career. Cause College you could look at, or any program like Praxis that is an apprenticeship and, you know, could technical colleges or technical schools, uh, or the beginning of your career, you’re in training if you will. So really putting a lot more thought into your career before jumping in and spending money on it is a good thing.

Cameron | Praxis:
I wanna put attention back on something you mentioned with, with a friend of yours, you know, his kid has decided to do the year-long internship after high school. I think that is the exact right approach. This really makes up our mission is that in order like every young person wants, every person you want to find, you want to eventually kind of discover a career that makes you come alive and figure out what is going to be more than just a nine to five job for you or for if, you know, you want to kind of keep your passions outside of your professional experience like Howard, you’re going to balance those things out. How can you set up the life that you ultimately want to live. And our number one thing is the only way you can pursue that is to start getting work experience as soon as possible. And that’s what our program is built around is getting you to the point where all right, you have a lot of promise and potential and we’re going to get you to the point where you are ready enough to go into a company on day one and start creating value for them. You’re not going to be completely lost, but it’s through that six month apprenticeship as part of the program that you’re going to take the major first steps and figuring out one you do like to do, where your strengths lie. And even more importantly, what you don’t like to do, what your weaknesses are, what are the things that you absolutely hate and you can start checking those things off so you’d never have to do them again within reason. And you know, throughout your career and especially in those kind of, you know, that first vital five years, that should all be about one, figuring out, getting closer to what you do want to do and what you don’t want to do and start building a valuable skillset so you can, you can be a valuable commodity. On the labor market and kind of pursue your path. So if I had one thing that I wish everybody would do, it would be get work experience as, as soon as possible. Start as young as you can.

Chad | Sprockets:
Absolutely. And I definitely agree with that side of things and I saw a lot of counterparts. So I grew up in the hospitality space and I grew up doing odd jobs as well to try to break free of just working over at the restaurant and things and got some good work experience myself and then kind of found my voice. And I felt like during the summer while I was doing all that, I had a lot of counterparts that were doing like community college, like classes and doing more academic stuff. So I definitely think that that brought a wealth of knowledge. And maybe, you know, maybe not, uh, not their way. So, but going back to skills though, one, I want to go back into that a little bit because the technical skills, once you figured out what you want to do or around the area of what you want to do, I’m of the belief that you’ve got that on the job training. They’re going to show you how they want you to do the job or you’re going to get the certifications that you can, you have the technical ability to do the job. What I’ve noticed across my career, uh, from hiring everybody from a line cook to helping out in the hiring process with c-suite individuals like a CEO for a large tech company. I’ve always heard somebody in the interview, I feel I feel this about that person. This person seems, you know, like they are like x.

And what I’ve always, what I always hear is more, this is their personality or this is what I think we can, we can work with this person. Or they have thse soft skills, uh, about them. They seem like a good communicator and all that. With your program and the folks that have gone through it and your experience of those skills, the non-technical skills, what are the ones that seem to be helping folks get career ready, um, to, to, to be, uh, you know, outstanding in the apprenticeship itself. What are, what are some of those qualities that they can focus on that you’re not going to get necessarily from an academic course nor from a technical course, but one that is more, again, on you, your personality in yourself, skills, what’s resonated market.

Cameron | Praxis:
Yeah, so we, we focus primarily on placing people into entry level non-technical roles. So sales, customer service, customer success, marketing, uh, you know, Jack of all trades types that are going to go to do a little bit of everything on a smaller team perhaps. And, and there’s, there’s definitely a few things that are, are crucial, uh, that, that kind of, if you look at it as like an 80, 20, uh, value propositions that are, that are going to be the most important. And, uh, I think, you know, there’s a few that some are easier to define, some are more like, you know, x factors and we can talk about that too. But, um, I think one having above average, very solid, uh, verbal and written communication is probably right off the bat. The most important thing if, if I’m looking at one of our, you know, applicants for our program, I need to know that you have the basics down and we’re going to help you, you know, get trained up to become a really strong professional communicator. But they’re just things you need to have right off the bat. And, you know, and in, in the, how they translate into the workplace are, you know, everything from being able to write, um, simple, concise, efficient emails to, to both your, your teammates, your colleagues and most importantly customers, um, and be able to, to speak with people clearly. Um, you know, and, and that’s, uh, kind of carries into the second thing we always look for is the more experience you have dealing with customers, the better off you’re going to be. And that’s why I think that’s one of the big reasons why it’s, it’s important to get, you know, work experience as early on as possible. Cause you, you know, there’s reasons why we place people in these kind of entry level non-technical is because you don’t need to have a lot of specific hard skills yet.And if you can come in and, uh, you know, build relationships with customers and prospective customers on the sales side, then you’re going to be able to, you know, create enough value that the business can, can justify keeping you on. And that first, you know, six to 12 months and then from there you can really start to explore, uh, you know, where, where your sweet spot is over time, but you gotta be able to provide that kind of upfront value. And, more than anything, I think it comes down to communication and you know, on top of that, you know, just being able to deal with customers appropriately, exhibit good judgment, knowing when to handle something yourself and knowing when, okay, I’m not sure what to do. I need to ask the best person on my team, uh, for them to kind of help me out here. And so I can learn. And then, and then finally, I, you know, I could, I could go on for days with this stuff, but the last thing, uh, I’ll say is being able to, to learn new things quickly. Um, and that goes everything from, all right, you have one type of customer interaction and you hadn’t, hadn’t experienced that before, but now that you’ve gone through that experience, maybe, maybe you didn’t handle it perfectly, but you’re learning from that and the next time it comes up, you’re going to be greatly improved from it. Um, and then also like, you know, being able to, you know, identify opportunities, you know, maybe your company doesn’t have a fully built out marketing team. Maybe they just have that one, a head of marketing and you can switch over from your customer service, day to day activities. And if you can identify ways you can start helping out the marketing team, uh, that’s incredibly valuable to, and really it comes down to being able to think like an owner. And, and I think all these things roll up into are you someone that can, can take initiative, um, and, and work really hard and, and what we kind of call that out practices, uh, forward to, are you going to be someone that kind of leans into your work experience? Not just do the bare minimum but, but really go above and beyond the call of duty.

Chad | Sprockets:
Absolutely. And now I love all of those. And, uh, one that I, I’ve always hired for or a skill that I’ve always hired for that, uh, is a piece of, a lot of what you said is critical thinking skills. Um, my, my belief is if somebody has been taught to be a solid, critical thinker that given enough time, honestly I think they can do anything. Um, but, uh, if they’ve got those skills, I can put them in a place to where I, I’m able to build trust a lot quicker with them because I, I feel as if, okay, is there going to break down this problem? Make wise decisions as you said, no win when to handle it themselves and no one to ask for help. So on and so forth. A know how to handle customer situations, um, in, in with the critical thinking skills. Uh, I believe they’re important because there are just going to be times where you have to think on your feet and you don’t have any help. And those are the individuals that shine brighter in those moments than those that, um, are very linear minded. Ah, don’t be, you know, kind of need like, you know, black and white. I hadn’t come across this situation before. What do I do?

Cameron | Praxis:
You don’t, you don’t want the employee that you need to, um, you know, kind of mapped out every, every 15 minutes of their day. And you know, it’s obviously early on you’re going to give them more structure, but what you’re looking for is that person that can develop into someone that can really own, own their contributions and think on their feet, like you said, and not think, you know, the, the really important thing about, you know, being able to identify those critical thinking abilities and on the hiring side and to, uh, develop them on your own side as an employee is you absolutely need to have a bare minimum. Uh, you know, you got to get above a certain floor that you’re starting with. But if you can go above that, that’s when I’m looking at a young employee and saying, all right, this person has potential, not just to be, you know, a solid entry level individual contributor, but someone that can really grow into more responsibility, uh, for my team and, and then I’m going to invest in them and, uh, and their professional growth, you know, over time. And, and that’s when it gets really fun from, from a managing standpoint. Um, and you know, those are the kinds of the gems that, that we try to hand deliver to companies for sure.

Chad | Sprockets:
Absolutely. And I think there’s a lot of them out there, a lot more of them out there than what we probably even think or just haven’t been nurtured properly.

Cameron | Praxis:
It’s so hard to tell from the hiring side, you know, who has that ability and who doesn’t because you know what, look at the typical hiring process that, yeah, your top, top of the funnel, you know, submit a resume, maybe answer a couple questions about yourself and, and resumes just don’t tell you enough upfront about a candidate. And especially if you’re doing a lot of hiring, you’re, you’re having, you know, you’re getting hundreds if not thousands of resumes per job, those things. And just incredibly, it’s an incredibly inefficient way to kind of identify those hidden gems. And, and I think, um, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of, you know, different approaches, um, that can be taken on the hiring side. One of, one of the things that I’ve been really excited about, something that, you know, we emphasize try to work with our hiring partners on, but I’ve also seen a lot of, a lot of companies are doing this on their own. They’re naturally kind of figuring out is to make the application process, uh, project-based as much as possible, like try to replicate what would it be like to actually work with this person on a daily basis as opposed to, you know, relying on what their formal credentials might be.

Chad | Sprockets:
Yeah, I couldn’t agree with that more. Um, that’s one of those things like for me, the, uh, uh, that’s the point in the hiring process usually now, once I’ve already skinnied it down to three or four individuals that I like to do is like let’s do, let’s do a project that doesn’t benefit the organization, you know, but one is that one that I can start to learn a little bit about you and, and asking questions even though even when it’s not project based, asking questions that make them talk to me, one of my most hated questions is tell me about a time where you exercised good judgment or were in a situation where, and like these are ones where candidates can be prepared and, and I think that’s great and all, but I’d rather give you a question that is more of a real world scenario of I have, I, you know, I have a need for a marketing manager who’s going to be nested in the customer success team, which you’re going to be handling all of their priorities as it relates to marketing.

But then leveling them up to me and telling me, you know, where our team’s resources should be deployed for content, so on and so forth. How are you going to prioritize the customer success, a work and then B, how are you going to communicate to me that something that they’re number one should be the entire marketing team’s number one. Because by the way, I have another one of you nested in the channel team, the sales team, the tech team. So all of them have a number one as well. How do you, how do you communicate? Why Yours? What are the points you bring up that yours should be number one and you get ’em, you get some great answers and you get some dud answers to that one. And, and I don’t think it’s just the, I mean, you know, a previous experience that dictates it because what I find is then they start asking questions. The good ones will ask questions along the way to figure things out. And then I’d get an idea of how their brain works. I get an idea of what their critical thinking skills are. So, yeah, there’s, there’s definitely great things to do there that, uh, in my belief is that the current hiring process is broken. Um, I, and, and I am a part of the problem. Um, I am an individual 100%.

Cameron | Praxis:
You got to tell me it’s broken for a reason. It’s a very challenging, you know, process. And, um, you know, I, I think obviously the companies that we love working with are the ones that you don’t have to have all the answers. Obviously if you do, then you probably don’t necessarily need our services. But you know, if you’re taking a more proactive approach, trying to figure things out, trying to test new things first, you know, the company that, you know, just kind of leaves it to there, you know, more bureaucratic HR system and it’s like, all right, this is how we, you know, hiring processes are done. We’re going to follow the letter of the law and, you know, just kind of a rolled the dice to see what we get. Yep.

Chad | Sprockets:
We’ve been doing it for decades, you know, we’re still here. Right. You know, that kind of stuff. And I just don’t, it it, it’s, uh, and I felt guilty in the process because, uh, you know, I’ve, uh, especially on the marketing side of the House, um, marketing and sales, um, but particularly on marketing positions, I get hundreds of applications.

Cameron | Praxis:
Right. Everybody wants to do marketing until they realize what marketing entails.

Chad | Sprockets:
Yeah. The, well that I could go on for that for a few days as well. So, uh, um, I, I’ve been lucky enough to grow up on a, the traditional marketing side as well as the digital marketing side. So I was right there in a nice little sweet spot. So, uh, it’s always funny whenever somebody that wants to be in marketing but they don’t want to do trade shows or something like that. It’s like, Hey, inbound digital marketing is great, but there’s, you know, there are other ways to reach our customers. I don’t know if you realize back in the nineties and eighties, we did it this other way too.

Cameron | Praxis:
Right. The, that’s funny you say that. I always tell our participants that are starting the program early on, we kind of help them figure out like, all right, what are, you know, it’s going to take you to your lifetime to really figure out what the best kind of career setup is for you. But you know, we want to help you figure out like what are the two or three best options to start with and we’re going to dial in in a little bit. And, and we, you know, I think young people, especially they, they’re naturally attracted to marketing, they associate with creative work and you know, influencing people’s behavior, which is great. And, and I tell them, you know, if you’re going the best marketers, they loved sales first and foremost. Cause that’s, that’s all marketing is and sales ads at scale and, and, uh, if you’re not willing to, to jump into, you know, an early sales role, then the chances of you being a great fit on the marketing team are, are splinting slim to none in my, in my experience.

Chad | Sprockets:
Well, I mean yeah, that’s why I’ve almost taken myself, I’d taken to saying demand generation cause then it’s a good all encompassing thing cause yeah, my content writers all the way up new, okay, your skillset is his technical, but your, your, your purpose here is most certainly uh, going to be to help this company grow and to grow. We had to close business. Um, and so everything you do is actually an activity that’s going to influence real world dollars. So the, the folks on my team that were bought on, bought into that were ridiculously successful and then highlighted with inside the company, those that didn’t, uh, struggled because they couldn’t, uh, their work didn’t connect to the bottom line and it didn’t have the same impact, uh, and didn’t get the same focus. Nobody was really excited about it as like, that’s really cool that you got x amount of likes on some post, but what did it bring in? And those that can show that, uh, that technical side and show like what your work produced or the ones that they, they definitely stand out. But I know I’m, I, I’m getting on my soap box about marketing there and getting into that side.

Cameron | Praxis:
I mean, it’s great. It’s not there. There’s pretty much no unique cases with, with all of, you know, this talent development and identify identification stuff. Like everyone has very similar experiences and, um, you know, Talon especially, it’s really interesting just kind of landscape. It’s, it’s human, you know, you’re dealing with kind of the essential of human nature. Like how do people go about their, their professional life. So it’s interesting.

Chad | Sprockets:
It really is. Um, uh, but, uh, going, going into things I want to do a, I want to cover two more topics real quick with you and one is, uh, love to get a few more of your thoughts about the future of hiring entry level employees. Um, because that’s a, you know, what most folks are looking for. Um, otherwise they’re hiring internally and it’s kind of a different process. And then too, outside of hiring, you know, the future of hiring entry level employees and how that might change, uh, uh, also getting just a, some advice to the people that are on the side of the table where they’re actually in charge of hiring way. If you had a moment to talk to that hiring manager, what kind of advice would you give to them and regards to hiring entry level employees?

Cameron | Praxis:
Sure. Yeah. I think there’s, I think the entry level hiring kind of problem. It, it boils down to, uh, again, like a two, two sided issue. Companies don’t know what, what are the most valuable signals to look for in candidates and, and young young professionals do not know what are the most important things to signal to a hiring team. Um, you know, on the, on the candidates side, you know, think about a 21 year old that really lacks a lot of career context cause they just don’t have a lot of experience and, and they’ve been in a formal education environment for their entire life. And you know, they’ve, they’ve basically been told that, you know, if you take these steps and you know, get to the point in your life where you have that college degree, you will get a job, people will want to hire you.

And so they’re, they’re kind of going through that, you know, career prep, career readiness experience, very passively. They’re just telling their, just doing what people are telling them to do. And you know, that whole structure is based off of, you know, can you sit in a classroom, you know, follow the, uh, the directions of, of the professor, of the teacher and, you know, be able to get, uh, you know, A’s and B’s essentially. And as we all know, like your work isn’t judged on, on A’s, on, on a grade system. It’s, how much value can you create for me as an, as an owner. And so they, they just lack complete context of what would be valuable to a company. Um, and they’re not really thinking of it from a perspective of, okay, if I’m interested in working for Sprockets, they have this position on their team that I’m interested in, you know, say a customer success position where you’re going to be pretty much managing customer accounts and in helping them solve their problems and, and making sure they have a great experience with us.

Um, you know, they’re not thinking through like, okay, what are the skills needed for that role and how do I prove to send to you up front that, that I have them and I have the potential to, to pursue this job they’re thinking of, here’s a list of credentials that everybody’s telling me I need for these entry level roles, including things including the hiring company. And as long as I have these, if I send enough resumes out, you know, I’ll, I’ll get, I’ll get my dream job and as long as I just, you know, get to x amount of resumes submitted, I’ll be, I’ll be good to go. Um, and then on the hiring side, you know, I think, uh, the job description is just as counterproductive as the typical resume is. It does not tell you anything about what it will be like to be in this position.

It doesn’t describe for the audience of entry-level candidates that don’t have a lot of context for what it tastes like succeed in a given role and what it would be like a, you’re not going to any more than what you currently know by, you know, bullet points like, you know, 20 sales calls a day. I need you to, um, you know, it exhibit great customer, you know, keep our customers happy essentially. And you know, these, especially these marketing positions, I see a lot of entry level postings where, you know, we need you to be, um, you know, familiar with these, these tools and to be able to um, you know, be analytically driven. Like what is, what does that mean to someone that hasn’t had that experience yet? And then the second part of it is not only does it not provide great context and help the kind of candidate like imagine like, all right, you know, hey, maybe, maybe you were, you know, a camp counselor and you’ve had to, you know, exhibit great leadership with other counselors and uh, you know, get, get kids to, to listen to you and take your lead and you know, those strong communication skills like, you know, showing them like how those things could potentially actually translate to be very good and a certain entry level position.

But people, companies do not treat their hiring process as a sales process. And that’s what it is. At the end of the day. I, you need to be showing these entry level candidates what they’re getting out of it, why they should be excited to work for you over the other companies that are, that are seeking their, their services. Um, so those, I think those are kind of the two big things. But I think at the end of the day, companies, again, it’s a very passive process of alright we’re going to rely on, you know, formal education credentials to qualify our top of the funnel instead of really taking a proactive approach to, you know, how can we actively identify someone that’s going to be great on the phones with our customers, can, can think critically through, you know, cannot just do the job day to day but can improve those processes and really think about like what those skills look like and, and then how to identify one.

And that’s what I’m really, that’s why I think Sprockets is really cool because it helps companies. I’m going to give you guys a little shout out here. It helps companies actually starts thinking from a, you know, who is successful in this type of role and how can we find more of them? And then I think the second step of that process, something I’m really passionate about is how do we, how do we find that person? What do they look like right now, and how can we help them reveal themselves to us and, you know, obviously, be attracted to working with our team.

Chad | Sprockets:
Well, I definitely, uh, of course not only appreciate the insights, but in particularly, uh, appreciate the plug, um, for Cynthia in there and, uh, uh, is most certainly why I got into, into this. I think, uh, you know, we’re both in these, in our respective positions because, uh, we’ve recognized some things that need improvement, uh, from the education standpoint to be job ready. Uh, practice is most certainly noticed that there’s still work to be done there. And from my side, um, you know, I, again, getting a lot of applicants on the marketing side and then also being in the restaurant space, um, you know, seeing people, like a lot of folks start out, you know, while they’re in college or while they’re in high school or whatever else, or it’s a career, um, in, in either hospitality or retail. And I’ve seen just along the way, uh, a system that lacks, uh, any sense of like, balance or fairness.

Um, and then honestly like, uh, you know, one of the things that I have been, um, a complicit in is not actually, I mean, if we want to put a lot of value on a resume and I do believe a resume has, has value. I know I have not thoughtfully reviewed every single resume that’s come across my desk, which means I have not been thoughtful about every candidate that’s come across my desk, which is unfair. And that is, uh, quite frankly a failure, a failure on my part because I can miss out on that diamond in the rough kind of thing that maybe doesn’t have the exact word on their resume that was looking for, or something else or somebody that was in an interview that is somebody that maybe isn’t as gregarious as I am. So they don’t seemingly aren’t as like outward going and [inaudible] or something like that and don’t have what I mean is and leaning into is not having a great interview.

And I think on both sides of the table right now with the apprenticeship that they go through with you guys. And then on our side, our ability to dive deeper into somebody, you know, well one your best people skillset and then benchmark everybody, uh, coming in against that a profile we’re giving folks, uh, we’re giving, I think folks across the board, a fair shake in the, uh, in the hiring process and in the market that they can, their, their experience coming in entry level means something. And so does their personality and their soft skills. It means more than just, well, did you get a piece of parchment from a four-year university? Um, so I love this.

Cameron | Praxis:
So there, there are two things I think are kind of specific action items I would give hiring managers. Um, one related to resumes. There’s a reason why you don’t look at every resume because even if you look at all of them, the resumes are not going to be able to help you discover that hidden gem is going to be other things that you find out about that person that are going to actually reveal it if they’re kind of that hidden gem type. And in that, you know, if you’re just sticking with resumes then you know, maybe that’s a reason for emphasizing, you know, more candidates getting through like the screen call process or, or whatnot. But my big recommendation there is instead of making the first step of your hiring process some type of, you know, typical resume submission, it’s to start with some type of project based assignments.

Companies are scared off by this a little bit, for one particular reason. But if you start your process with, hey, let’s take a basic sales hire entry level, you can do an assignment where, all right, here’s a word doc, first thing you do is in your own words, describe who our target customer is. And then the second thing is, you know, create a spreadsheet of 20 potential leads and find their contact information. Third thing is, you know, draft what you think the first cold email in a sequence should be. And then you know, you can have some, a fourth thing of like, you know, kind of explain why you picked that target customer, that target prospect and why you, you know, pick these 20 on your spreadsheet and you know, you can give them more guidance. So it’s clear what to do and everything.

But that basic process, it’s at minimum it’s going to show you who’s actually willing to put in the work as opposed to, you know, having everybody just send generic resumes out to hundreds of different opportunities. And your company might be one of them. So it’s gonna make that top of the funnel more efficient. And I think that’s the start of really finding people that have the combination of work ethic, critical thinking ability and an initiative that you really want for those entry level non-tech roles. And then the second thing is kind of a broader, I’m, I’m really interested in seeing companies kind of take a more trial based approach to their entry level hiring. And obviously that’s how, that’s why our apprenticeship is set up as like the way I described as a companies is the six month trial period. You know, you’re, you’re not, you’re not hiring that full time salary candidate quite yet because it’s, it’s kind of 50, 50 with entry level hires.

So we’re gonna allow you to, to take on an apprentice at a little bit below market price that you’d be paying and you’re going to actually get to work with them for six months. And if they proved to be valuable, you can hire them on a more permanent basis. Um, but this would also include things like, I think, you know, all the, all of our early hires that practices, they’ve, they’ve worked for us on a, you know, anywhere from a freelance temporary position or, or straight up doing free work for us cause they’re just so excited about what we’re doing early on. And those have been where all of our best hires have come from and, and there’s really no way to replicate what it’s like to work with someone. So the more you can reduce the risk and, and, uh, increase the reward, uh, and that type of experience, I think the better off companies will be. And that’s why I think everything from, you know, apprenticeship programs to, to freelance to project based, you know, uh, assignments early on in the hiring processes is really the way to go. And, you know, the, the best companies that invest in their talent development, I think are on the right track with those things.

Chad | Sprockets:
Yeah, that makes good sense Cameron. And, uh, I definitely appreciate those insights and I’m sure that our audience has as well. Um, but with that said, I’ll go ahead and wrap us up for this time. I Know Cameron, that I’m gonna want to have you on again, cause there’s a lot more for us to explore here. So I hope, hope we can do that in the near future. Um, but absolutely. We’ll go, we’ll get you on here soon. For today, uh, we’ll sign off here at talent talk and, uh, we’ll see you for the next episode and hope everybody has a great day.

Talent Talk: Interview Tips from Laura Camacho

Talent Talk: Interview Tips from Laura Camacho Sprockets

Check out our first podcast episode of Talent Talk with our guest, Dr. Laura Camacho on interview tips for both sides of the table. She is from the Mixonian Institute, which focuses on helping people with their communication skills.


Chad | Sprockets:

Hi, welcome to Talent Talk. Today we’re with Laura Camacho with The Mixonian. She’s going to talk to us a little bit about assessing people during interviews, particularly about body language and all that kind of fun stuff. But first I’m gonna let her introduce herself and tell us a little bit more about what you do.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Thanks, it’s great to be here. I’m a big fan of Sprockets from a while back. I really appreciate what y’all are doing to help people make better hires and uh, yeah, as I was born in Hamptons, South Carolina, so I’m native from the Lowcountry, grew up in uh, Atlanta. But I had some experiences that really shaped my personality and why I would start, you know, a company devoted to communication skills training. And one of the factors was I was a terrible communicator. I was the little nerd, the, the one who got A’s and thought she was, you know, so smart. And then I got out of school and so I’ll have the c students who are like making a lot more money than I was as a college professor. So I was like, what’s wrong with this picture? And then also I got to live in Latin America.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

I got to live in Caracas, Venezuela. And as you know, there’s this stereotypical aspect of Latin America that people, they are very warm and friendly, but it’s actually true. And when you have economies that are based on relationships more than our economy here, even though we’re moving in that direction, I got to see that you had to have good interpersonal skills just to get that driver’s license or to get a telephone, even to get certain groceries. And so I got to see people, you know, in action with these incredible communication skills and our personal skills, the ability to be charming, to establish rapport. And then, you know, fast forward a number of years I was tired of academia. I wanted to get out in the real world. I also had been through Rocco’s experience as a facilitator for the seven habits of highly effective people, Stephen Covey’s program.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

So that had also planted the seeds of professional development in my mind and all that mashed together and comes out in the institute, which is really devoted for and to helping people communicate better, but especially introverts. That’s really where my heart is because I understand that introverted brain. Yeah. So that’s, that’s kind of in a nutshell, uh, how I got started and, and you know, I have a PhD. My dissertation was all about Hugo Chavez. You know, he was the father of the 21st century, socialism that he brought to Venezuela. And I, as I watched the country decline, decline, decline, and yet he was still so popular. And even today he is revered as a demigod or a god, even in a country that he basically destroyed. It’s, you know, why he, people thought he cared about them. He was a great storyteller. And so, you know, communication can, that skill can be used for good and it can be used for not good too. So all of those things have made me obsessed, crazy obsessed, with becoming a better communicator for those who are naturally quiet. You know? And then you’ve got, because all other things being equal, the more talkative person is going to have more influence, be more persuasive, and the quieter person is going to be doing the work.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

That’s really interesting and that’s a wonderful way to really see it in action. By then it kind of going out of your comfort zone going into Latin America and then yes, I’ve enforced, that’s what I’ve heard the same about the culture there. It is very much yet it is interpersonal, you have to be having a certain flavor, if you will, uh, to get things done. And like Eddie, you have to be able to cooperate.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Right. Any time the government like takes it for more services in an economy, price stops being a factor. So what becomes the factor of who gets driver’s licenses? Who gets, uh, to buy chicken this week or who gets to get their kids in a certain school? It becomes, you know, who you know and having those good relationships. So that, and just the thing that totally floored me over for just one example. Of course, this was before the Internet. I moved there and we’re living in this beautiful apartment that was owned by one of the ministers of the government. And we didn’t have a telephone, but because remember this was before cell phones, and I would go to the phone office and they would say, you know, like crazy lady, we just don’t have any phone numbers. And I’m like, this doesn’t make sense. Anyway, two months later, a neighbor moves in the same floor and I see the phone company. They’re installing his telephone – and why? Because he had better connections than we did. So I saw with my own eyes, and then here I am living in a foreign country. Can’t even have a telephone because I didn’t have the right connections. So that’s funny. But yeah.

 

Chad | Sprockets:    Well that’d be interesting. I want to explore that a little bit more here in a little bit. Uh, and definitely, uh, bring it back to, you know, talking about assessing,

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Right, right.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Because, uh, it is, uh, when you see these skillsets and we’re, I know we’re believers in it everyday here, since you have that, uh, you have to dive beneath the surface. So there are a lot of things that you need to go below the surface of a resume  -beyond what you see. With somebody being gregarious, maybe in an interview. So I’m with that though. You’ve got a lot of experience of course, in assessing folks in the interview process and kind of going beyond the resume. So when we look at things through that lens, what are, you know, for the folks listening who are going to be hiring managers from things like quick service restaurants all the way to tech companies that are trying to hire engineers. And you talk about, uh, introverted individuals. In my experience, a lot of the software engineers that I’ve worked with are a lot different during the interview process than say sales folks are. So when you have those extremes, um, you know, what are you looking for across the board? Uh, just to kinda even, I’ll put them all on the equal playing field. Cause you were evaluating them all similar in a similar fashion, something different for each one.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Right. Putting down for this through the same process. And of course one thing has to be really clear on what kind of person that you want. What kind of skills do they need to have, what are the non-negotiables, what are the negotiables? Um, because uh, you know, like even in the soft skills and world, there’s a lot of different soft skills out there and we all know that you can have, you know, be technically like the perfect candidate, but if that person is difficult to work with, that’s gonna drag down that whole team. And that, I mean, I just hear of these cases over and over so, you know, let’s break it down a little bit. First of all, you have to realize that the interview is a performance, you know, and some people are good at performing and some people are not as good.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

So, you know, just going off of an interview is, um, is really not allowing anybody to see that candidate as, as they really are. Because that’s just the ability – some people get so nervous before interviews and I mean I was the one that froze up. And here’s a classic mistake that introverts make. Anne Cuddy in her book, Presence, really highlights this. So the introvert brain is going to have a job interview and that person is thinking, how can I prove that I’m competent? You know, I’m really want, I want Chad to know that I have all those qualifications and I can do a great job. So I think of stories and anecdotes to, to show you how competent I am. But the thing is that decision is going to be made partly on an emotional level. And if I’m not friendly and if I don’t seem like a, you know, team player, easy to work with, I’m gonna blow the interview here.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

They’re going to say, well she, you know, she’s checked all the boxes, but I didn’t have a good feeling about her and that’s how introverts can sabotage themselves. And if the interviewer isn’t cognizant of, well, maybe I need to help this person kind of warm up a little bit, or maybe I need to, uh, simulate a semi-situation rather than just rely on, on the interview. So that, so that’s one thing to be aware of. And then, you know, also there’s so many people, I mean, I knew the case where they hired somebody who just think he’s a great interviewer, great on paper and it turns out all of the qualifications were fraudulent. So, yeah. Okay. Yeah, it’s really tricky today. And haven’t, would you agree that the, the whole process of hiring has become much slower and more costly because of these, um, the costs of making a mistake? Right.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Yeah, I would absolutely agree. And I think, uh, yeah, just in my hiring experience, uh, a lot of it being on the software side of things. So I’ve run the gambit of marketing, sales, customer success or you know, and then c suite level folks that have been involved in the hiring process and every one of them. It’s amazing that, uh, I’ve seen hiring processes now be as long as what it is to get somebody in c suite. It’s a little like this. Please don’t see that. I’m like, wow. And I guess maybe, maybe it’s good to agonize over every decision, but one of the things that you just said that, uh, was across all of those different, uh, job positions was somebody only said, um, I didn’t get a good feeling or I did get a good feeling, right? It was, it was amazing to me.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

It was like, so we did, you know, you had these projects, we’d have individuals do that were staged and you’re looking at resumes and all that. But one of the things I never saw is a rarely did people call references or, and I’ve never been a part of anybody actually calling the school and asking, did you get the diploma? You know, kind of thing. So the resume, I think people already in the interview process treated as, okay, this is a piece of paper. We generally believe that’s true right now we’re just talking can you provide these examples that we need to be, um, you know, to be able to believe that you are a good candidate.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

And you don’t want to go into it thinking, oh this person love liar and B, there’s a, and it costs money to, to check things when you just have to be aware. And then what the one of the things that we’re doing every applicant. Exactly. Well that’s true. And then so what, so one of the things that companies are doing to kind of mitigate this, the risk of hiring is they’re having, you know, the person be interviewed by everybody in the company or interviewed by five or seven people and said you’ve got so many different impressions, so many, so much time involved, and then multiply that times the number of candidates. It really is a, it’s just an expensive process. There’s a lot on the line and we’re trying every, you know, the whole, everybody in the industry is trying to make it better, but it’s definitely tricky to assess.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Yeah. To your point, hiring teams are getting bigger. And I always noticed the bigger the hiring team, the less I enjoyed the process. And the less like fruitful it usually was.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Yes, you’re like a cog and then machine like you’re being sausage processed.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Exactly. Exactly. But, uh, and I also like, well when we got to debriefs, it’s like, okay, let’s get the whole team together. What were all of our impression, right, it’s always let’s get our impressions, not what did we see on piece of paper, but what were impressions and what I felt like I got was about 10 perspectives of the same person and we’re all saying interview and you get these 10 different perspectives. I felt this way about them and I felt this way and it’s still that same person that we all saw. So only one of us is actually right or maybe two. So I like the smaller teams where it’s one or two people that deep dive and get a full perspective on the person. Um, instead of just one little sliver of like, oh, I only assessed them on this one skill set. And it’s very difficult.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

But, but there’s another point to what you’re saying about the big team. So say, say 12 people assess the candidate. Well, and any company of those 12 people, three are going to be much more persuasive and influential than the other ones. So even though everybody talked to them, you know, it’s going to be really, oh, well what did John Think? Or what did Susan think? I’m going to go with what she said. So you know, there’s this like, are we all looking for that magic bullet? And there you have I think calling references. It’s absolutely indispensable.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

And it’s basic, but yeah, it’s something that people don’t do.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Right well, because they think, well, even if I had a bad experience, um, that they’re not gonna let, somebody might not share that. But here’s where the body language comes in. You can tell, just a pause or a lack of enthusiasm or choosing, when you see someone choosing their words carefully, that’s at least a yellow flag to look deeper into it.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Yeah. Because they are getting to choose their references. Yeah. But even those I have, because I’ve been put down on a reference before where I’m like, you know, that’s okay. Yes, I’ll give you a reference. But I wouldn’t say it was as glowing as somebody else said hey was somebody that I felt stronger about giving a reference to. So they were probably moments in that if somebody was reading my language, you know, or paying my word choice and be like, Huh, I don’t know if this guy’s as enthusiastic about the other day as maybe we would like him to be.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Exactly. Then another thing is that let’s, let’s say that, um, I put you down for a reference. I mean you’re going to refer me and you’re like, you would feel super comfortable referring me for certain jobs but not other jobs. I mean we are not all great at everything. It’s so important to know what you’re good at, to know what your strengths are, to know what kind of environment. Like I personally value autonomy. So I have always done well in jobs where they say, Laura, this is your job. Go and run with it and do it. But if somebody is like, well, you know, if it’s a very detailed process like being an assistant in a surgery for example, I would, you know, not be good at a level, I should never be near a knife and a human person.

So yeah, you would not give me a good reference for being a surgeon’s assistant, but you know, even more seriously you might’ve, you might’ve had a good experience with somebody and referred them, you know, they’re good for certain things but not for other things. And the same like, like we were talking about, um, you know, assessing a person’s soft skills and, and what an interesting trend I’m seeing is that which soft skills people are looking for is changing. Okay. And you have to think about like what are soft skills. Well there’s communication. You can say attitude, team player. Um, curiosity though was a new one. Like curiosity. Like at the end, if you look at Jeff Bezos’ letter to the stockholders in 2019, he wrote that in April, and he talks about wanting to find builders and explorers. So to me that’s an interesting light and new way to look at the soft skills, which is really kind of an attitude and instead of grit and a curiosity, how do you quantify that?

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Right, exactly, exactly. How do you call like a, at a previous company, grit was one of our core values or something. And it’s like, well how do you quantify like, I know what it means to me as a Southerner. And with shrimp. It was like, I think y’all are missing an S one the core values.

I mean the other in all seriousness is like grinding it out and things and that can, you know, I always felt like is good. And then also toxic, which is another whole other topic on the hiring side is like, hey, like is it good to have something like, like grit on all you, I mean, as one of your core values? Does that, like does that mean you had to always stay late or quantifying what it means? But, um, uh, for a moment, uh, let’s go on the other side of the table, uh, for the actual person to be interviewed. Um, when you’re, uh, when you’re looking at them, what are you looking for them to do, body language wise, to give you a good feeling about some of these? Like when we’re thinking about builders and curiosity and, and then honestly just link the, the basic stuff that you need.

If we were going, uh, and looking at an employee, for me the number one thing is dependability. Can I depend on you? That’s why I’m hiring you. I have a job for you to do that. I need kids. So, um, and we get that a lot. Our clients is like, um, I just need more dependable people with comments and follow instructions. It’s like, okay, well how do you, how do you probe for that? And then on the other side of the table, how do you display that, you know, so what are some of your thoughts there?

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Well, I, this is a key thing though. We look for people that are, and again, this is a double edged sword. If you look for people who are not so tense, because if they prepare, they shouldn’t be tense. But nevertheless, they can be a very, uh, that one of the five recognized psychological traits from the American Psychological Association is conscientiousness. Okay. So that’s the quality that you’re looking for as far as being responsible is conscientiousness. So a conscientious person can be appear to be nervous cause they’re so conscientious, they’re afraid they’re gonna love it. Fair enough. Yeah. So I mean, I always coach candidates on preparing, preparing, preparing. What are you searching the person they’re going to talk to you. Because on Linkedin you can find out so much and you can even stop people on Facebook without their knowing.

Do they have a cat? Do they have a dog, where’d they go to college? So anytime if you’re a candidate, if you just studied the company more, that preparation does produce confidence and, and being relaxed. So I think actually studying the company is a big thing for, uh, uh, an introvert or highly conscientious, as nervous and kind of person to come across as more relaxed. That’s, that’s definitely something to do. And also to practice, you know, even if you’re not hiring somebody to help you, but just get a friend or your dad or an uncle or somebody to practice with you because those things will, they’re where the, the effect will be small but powerful. You’ll just come across with a little bit more of an edge if you’d have rehearsed the question, even if the questions are totally different, you’ve rehearsed that thinking on your feet, which is another thing that introverts don’t do as well.

We were much better at, you know, preparing, which is why I have my notes for my own interview here. But preparing always gives you an edge. I think that’s the most important thing. And uh, you know, having your hands out where people can see them is good. Eye contact is of course good and, you know, acting enthusiastic. But even if you’re not at like “Rah Rah” kind of person, you know, being uh, showing some kind of enthusiasm for the job. And again, to me by far is what kind of research have you done? And then in that research, what questions do you have because you can tell from the candidate what kind of questions he or she is asking. That tells you a lot more about the person. And the ones who don’t have any questions. I mean that to me would be a red flag.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

The one question that, uh, that I get that I see why it’s important and uh, I didn’t always aggravation because like with, with, with questions, I think they need to be good questions about like the job.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Oh yeah. Where’s my first vacation? Yeah, those are interesting ones.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Well, one that he and I, and I think it’s, it’s, it’s put out there in a good way, but then it always comes off. Now to me, I’ve just, I guess I’ve heard some new tenses generic and not really thoughtful is like, you know, tell me about the company culture. And it’s like, oh yeah. I was like, okay, I think that’s important to try to fit in. You want to like the place and things like that. But um, you know, one could be cynical and be like, well, on both sides we’re selling each other, right. I could tell you anything about our culture just like you could tell me anything.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

But, um, uh, it’s very interesting. I would almost like those questions. Like that culture question would be like, I’m looking for XYZvexactly. Is your place, like, would you, would you agree with that statement?

But, um, yeah, the question board is definitely always been big to me in interviews where one of the things that you just hit on that struck me was the conscientious point. Um, I think that’s one of those things that I could say goes across all of the jobs I’ve ever hired for, uh, from like, uh, I used to work professionally for the boy scouts. I was hiring kid kids for camp sat, right. You know, hiring adults or like a higher level Jones, uh, later on in my career here. Um, but that, that’s a common thread I always noticed when somebody came in put together, they take their time. Like you know, either if it was like a corporate thing, uh, suits pressed, that kind of stuff. But then also like when I was hiring in restaurants showing up, like actually shirt tucked in and on time.

Those are, and I know those aren’t body language say sort of things, but they are most certainly uh, there’s conscientious things that you’re talking about is like, okay, this person cares if they cared at this stage. It logically follows that they should continue to care for a little bit into the job, until maybe we messed that up on our end. There’s only so much you can do at that stage.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

We’re talking about body language and the, as we know, the, the whole hiring process is changing, has become more, digitalize more steps that are online. And that brings up an important topic of digital body language. Now, digital body language is a concept that comes from digital marketing. Like how do people behave? Where did they click to buy, that kind of thing. But his comment is bleeding out into the hiring world and the business world because your digital body language is what do your emails look like before even read it? Like do you have white space? How long does it take you to answer an email? That’s another big one. Do you use emojis or not? Are Your, do you have a lot of typos? Um, all of those things create an impression of a person without talking to them. Even without reading the, I mean reading it of course we give you like what kind of words the person uses and how they’re using them, but also looking at their digital body language. You are making judgments about that person. Just from reading how they wrote their email. Like did they say hi Chad or did they say hey, that’s a very small thing. But that tells a lot about the conscientiousness of the person and how aware they are about how they’re coming across.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

I haven’t yet. I wasn’t even thinking about that. I mean, and of course I’ve been involved in that, with email exchange of course, like setting up phone screens and everything. And always like for me, phone screens are uh, have always been not as enjoyable as an in person interview – you get more signals that yes, I can play off of the body language of course and how you’re receiving things. But then the emails I always felt good about it cause I can take my time, be thoughtful, probably agonized way more than in other stages. But mine always looked very formal, look like a letter I guess. Like I started writing email when emails were really more just coming out when everybody’s email open rate was 100% because it was like male. But, um, anyway I miss the good old days in the morning I guess then where it wasn’t 100% but um, but yeah it looks like a, it looks like a letter and then I’ve gotten a, and I’ve had to take it into context is um, you know a lot of my staff when I was working in this company called Upserve in Boston, uh, was in their twenties, like 22, 23, 24 and it wasn’t like that.

It wasn’t as formal and I kind of shift my thinking a little bit because I was like okay you’re writing like you’re writing a letter right? This is not always it. Email is handled by everybody else a little bit more. But it still kind of, I’ll be honest, it had the, it had like at least a bias on my part where I was like “I kind of wish you would have been a little bit more formal cause it’s kind of more of a formal process”.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

And then now they’re even texting the digital body language now includes texting. And it’s also like what do you choose, because there’s different channels you could call, you can have an in-person meeting, all of them have different dynamics and what channel do you choose? And it as is always the more signals you get. Like an email has more signal quality than a text and a face to face has more signals than a phone call. So the more signal is going to, it’s going to give you a better opportunity to get to know the person and then people get robbed. So all, you know, all of those things give a given impression. But wouldn’t you rather hire someone whose emails are maybe a little stiff and formal or ones that have typos and that are those kind of slapped together. But then if you’re hiring a sales person, you know that, you know, your gregarious charisma, uh, may not translate into really good emails. So yeah. What the, what do you, what’s important to you? You’re not going to get it all in a person.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

And that’s the thing with hiring. Everybody knows it’s like dating I’ll always sit here and say stating, then that means it’s going to be a relationship. Right. And no relationship is 100% perfect. So I guess I know 100% perfect. Um, so yeah, I’ve always had to have that sliding scale between like, what am I willing to train up on versus what, uh, what am I willing to sacrifice here and there, so totally understand that side. One of the big things I’ve taken away from this is now, not only the conscientious side, but in the digital footprint of things. Cause we all have it. And it’s interesting like, you know, uh, across any position you could technically at least just look up the public facing side of their Facebook account.

I get some sense of what’s going on there and like, whether that’s right or wrong, that’s for somebody else. I think a, what I’ve heard more and more of the individuals that, uh, hire that, uh, you know, I mean, I, I was on Facebook when it was still, you had to be in college to even get it and you had a college or to be invited. So I was an early adopter, but I wouldn’t say I’m a pervasive user. And then, uh, now talking with a lot of, uh, individuals that are in their twenties, uh, the, the prevailing thought is like, look, I, I just live my life. Like everything is out there for everybody to see. That’s what I miss. The expectations, I guess I don’t feel too bad about looking at the footprint is that like, if that’s the common notion, like okay, everybody could see it.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

At least somebody’s LinkedIn profile. If it’s for a white collar job, I mean at least that. And you know, taking the trouble to have a, a professional photograph that’s not 20 years old.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Not one of you in a wedding, I see that a lot. Cruise. Yeah.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

But uh, yeah, you know, they go right. Done. Right? But then if you’re looking for an entry level person, you’re not going to be expecting, you know, a super high level professional shot. Um, maybe, but if you take the trouble to do that, then that’s a way to stand out as, as a candidate. So those are things, you know, the digital, your digital communication in a way reflects your in-person communication. But what skills do you need? And here’s another funny way, those, the Inter, the offline and offline interact with each other. So, you know, there’s a quality of people rambling. Like they just go on and on and on and on and um, studies show that people who ramble are not good writers because the act of writing, especially like, you know, English Essay, what are you going to say? What are your three points?

Say them and conclude it. That’s a skill. Yeah. And if you didn’t get that skill doesn’t mean you can’t learn it. You know, all of these skills can be learned. But a person who doesn’t write well, doesn’t organize their thoughts as well. They just say it. And what, what are you looking for? Do you need someone who is more organized in their thinking? Get a writing sample. Okay. So that’s another way that you can see that something about the person outside of the interview space. Just, you know, having them write. Now, if you can train writing skills and maybe don’t even need them for certain jobs, uh, but that, that’s something that gives you a peak into how the person thinks, the way they write.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

No, that makes good and that makes good sense. Yeah.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

This is English teachers of the world – we have so much impact on our how people, uh, interview later on in life. So, and I just want, I want to get a point, point that out.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

No, that makes complete sense. And that goes back to the whole gregarious guy in an interview. It’s like, well let’s cut through with them and say you look at a lot of job descriptions when it’s a, you know, an executive level job, then it is, you know, good written and oral communications. It’s so common on a job description, it might as well be other duties as assigned. But nobody ever really asked me. Like, so, you know, I’ve got a degree in journalism and in marketing and all that. I’ve never had a single instance where I’ve been asked for a writing sample.

Now that I’ve heard you say it, it makes complete sense to me if I’m dealing with the position, whether requires writing or not, if I want to get a sense of if they organized now and are they able to like be targeted with money? Let me read something that they’ve written.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Exactly. But if you’ve seen somebody make cold call, maybe it doesn’t matter. You know, did they have the courage and the grit to just get out there and talk to people they don’t know. You know? So it really, I think, I think a lot of our hiring would be better if people put more thought into the job description and what kind of, you know, on the very front end that, what are we looking for?

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Yeah. Describe, describe the person. A lot of times I see attempts to describe “this is what we’re looking for”. It doesn’t describe like, if you could imagine the perfect person that’s not just a set of bullet points. Now I’m like just thinking about the disconnect you hear in interviews, a lot of the pain, a lot of phrasing of I feel, I feel, I feel, but you don’t see anything about emotion or personality in the actual job description. That’s what you should disconnect.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Right? It is. And that’s because we don’t want to admit that we make decisions emotionally. No. And do you learn in advertising? But decisions are made on emotion, but we justify them with logic. It’s true. We don’t like to admit it because we like to think that we’re rational human beings and there is some rational, uh, aspect to our making decisions. But the emotion is definitely usually driving the bus somewhere.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Well, yeah. And, and like, uh, when you’re looking at candidates, I mean, I think it’s easy to check boxes on a piece of paper or skills, I should say. Yes. Do you have any certifications? Have you done this? Have you had previous experience in the restaurant? Whatever the case is. But between the ears is the tough part, and we say that a lot though. It’s like, oh, you know, their head wasn’t in it. You know, again, we just don’t have it between the ears. Right, right. They’re not feeling good today. It’s just not right today. And that’s, yeah, I mean they are, emotions are the mental side of things and that has a huge effect on it. But I feel like I’m beginning in the interview process not being assessed as much. So even with what you’ve given us today, these little things of like, and again, I keep, I’m going to keep going back to the conscientious side cause I think it’s a common denominator across a position you hire for – is like how does that person present everything about themselves?

Right? It’s almost a, you know, showing up with some respect to one of the positions. I showed up to a job interview before for a software company, a lot of like marketing folks are in dark jeans and in a button down kind of thing in a sport coat. And I showed up in a suit. In a suit and not in jeans and a tee shirt, which is apparently how the the other director showed up before me and I was just like, why would you ever wear a t-shirt and jeans? And it wasn’t that they weren’t qualified on the paper side. The interviewer let me know that the last interview they had, they were not very impressed with that by comparison just by the way I was dressed and I was just like, well this is off to a great start.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Yes it is true. That’s a good point. Dressing, dressing up, even dressing above the level of what you see. Even like with public speaking, if you’re going to speak to group of tech people and they’re all in jeans, but you show respect for the audience when you dress up and you show respect for the company when you dress up a little bit too that, so that’s a, that’s a great point. You don’t have to match, you have to show respect. And that takes a certain level of self-awareness that you have is that maybe, you know, how can I show my best self? How can I show that I valued this person’s time? All of those are just little signals that you’re communicating apart from what you’re saying and what’s on your resume. And, and is important, you know, for candidates to know that the technical aspects of their job can be as, that’s pretty much like you said, some of the certifications. And so the, the real question in the interview process is fit. Does this person fit in? And it has to be, you know, a two way street. And so the candidate also should know what he or she is looking for. What kind of place, what kind of opportunity, you know. And like you said, it’s a relationship. It’s never going to be perfect, but you know, do we have enough of a shared objective, a shared a view that we can work together?

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Absolutely. Um, and that is, um, you looking up any SHRM statistics and all that kind of fun stuff. And talking about, um, millennials coming through the workforce and then, you know, your, your gen a Gen Z coming up and they’re full and yet when they’re available for the workforce now, um, it, that is the big motivating factor. And they’re willing to actually take less money – and take less salary – for a place they feel good and like believe in the mission right there. And that’s one of that, going back to that culture question comes up so much, um, for sure, but a, I think a culture is not a, you know, a ping pong table and beer in the fridge. I mean everything, all the toys, all the toys. And um, and then rarely did I ever get a chance to use it

What was interesting is though the folks that did well at the organization were individuals that, uh, fit the personality type too, and I’ll put it for this particular spot to survive there. Because it was like, yeah, we like aged a lot there. So it was like very, very high pace. Like any you would see we had like individuals that come from a corporate setting that come into that environment and wash out pretty fast because they weren’t used to the work load, that kind of stuff. And then it was, it was like in decisions being made very quickly and a lot of change. It’s like this isn’t super tanker, it’s something that’s [inaudible]. So I had to hire for that and trying to fit to that. Are you able to be in a situation where you know you can deal with change very easily? That’s a tough thing to ask for from a behavioral question. So yeah, the shameless plug for me here is like one of the reasons why I’m a big believer in Sprockets and joined this organization is it gives me, as an interviewer, the ability to see somebody as a person, right? And they kind of know a little more than just what they’re presenting. Kind of dive a little deeper on them and go, okay, this is where I’ve gone. And whether I got assigned to hiring them or not, at least I know where I stand with them.

And on the other sides of them, I’d love to be able to show, I’d love it for Sprockets to be on the other side for the candidate to know about the company’s DNA. Right. And like do it. Like will I fit right on the other side, right in line. Maybe I don’t want to continue with the interview, which will be an interesting world to live in. Right. You know, actually already done some assessments on you.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Right. And I don’t think I’ll fit here. There’s some really high flying tech companies that were working a hundred hours a week is, you know, if you’re an executive and you may, there may be times in your career where you are willing to do that and times that you’re not. So the other, end it. And yet it’s, I’m thinking of companies that would look great on your resume, but it’s not for nothing. You know, they, the, the expectation is there and they may have ping pong tables and chefs out the Wazoo. But this because you’re never going home.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

And you need know that. Right.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Exactly. It would probably be great experience for a lot of people at certain times of their lives, but not always. Yeah.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

So one of the things I think about then, um, you know, getting kind of getting here towards the end is a thing about like, again, if we keep coming back to field and, and we buy and it’s, it’s just kind of a known analogy that’s interviews like dating.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Yes. Oh yes.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

What kind of things would you say if you just took a moment here to think about on both sides of the table, what are some, what are some questions that are good to ask to get that sense of feel? I know this a little broad cause I’m not asking you one thing specifically in particular like conscientiousness. Okay. But what are some examples of some interview questions that you’ve asked and that you propose to the other side of the table to ask to really get to know each other.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Okay. Well what, um, I like to ask questions to, to start off with. I like to ask what are you excited about in your life right now? Like what? So you can see like, oh, have a new puppy or I just ran a marathon or I’m so glad I’m not at this other company anymore. But asking, you know, what is the person excited about? But it’s also, it shifts their brain to think about something positive, which is going to relax them a little bit. So that’s my go to question and networking job interviews. What are you excited about these days or what’s something that’s really good that’s happened to you in the last month or year to help to, to like frame the question to for them to share something positive in their life that’s going to imagine what that thing is and the way they tell you and just the fact that you’re having them.

Thinking about something positive is lowering the tension. So that’s, that’s a good warm up question. And then what does success look like for you? Like what, you know, and that’s not a necessarily like a, an interview question. It’s the life question or here’s another variation of that. And this is the hard one though, but it for a certain level executive, you might want to consider it and it would be “Chad, if you and I were to meet a year from now and we were having coffee and I asked you, um, you know, how was your year? How over the last 12 months been for you? And you said it was the best ever. What would need to happen for that to be true?” And so that’s not getting at your technical abilities is not getting at necessarily your suitability for any job, but it’s letting you share what’s important to you.

What are you looking for in life? Well, what kind of person are you? That’s what does, that’s the kind of questions I like to ask. They’re not, you know, on the, usually the, usually you get like a hundred quiet gym. Okay. You’re going to ask any of these a hundred approved questions, but they’re questions that let you know what kind of person you have that you’re talking to. And I, that’s the kind of question I like to ask. Yeah. So those are, those are some of my goatees but just to think or even, you know, what’s your favorite movie? Wasn’t good movie you’ve seen, was it, do you read, I’m talking about things that are, it’s not the answer, it’s how they answered that. Tell me about a time where you showed leadership. I mean that’s just so rehearsed. Or what is the, that are the, tell me about yourself question, you know, that’s, um, I mean, is this an accepted question? It’s not my favorite because of, I feel agonized just asking that because I know that on the other side, like what do you want me to write? What do you want me to tell you? I was born, I weighed seven pounds, eight ounces. Too broad. But, uh, getting to, you know, what is important to that person, if you know what’s important to a person, that tells you a lot about the person. Like if they tell you, oh, well what I’m really excited about is, um, I’m going to have a hair transplant. I don’t know, maybe if it’s for a TV anchor position and they’re going to be in front of the camera, that might be like something to be excited about. Otherwise you might, you know, might not, might not be relatable.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Yeah. I mean it’s a, yeah, it’s a good area to just show yourself on for sure. And because, and I’ve asked questions similar to that, but not at the beginning. And I like what you’re talking about into the sense of relaxing the candidate. Um, I’ve always asked to be in, what do you like to do for fun? Um, and the reason for that is like, I always wanted to know, not only to, to relate, uh, but more so than anything. Uh, I always know like workable, workable, consumer cycling. Um, and I always like to know what somebody likes to do to tell them to go do that. Like go take Friday off and go do XYZ and whatever your thing is. Or ask them, what have you done this recently? Right. Something you enjoy, typically it’s something that relaxes you. And if your realized individually, you’ve got to come to work, relax.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Yeah. And you’re gonna just be able to bring your best. That’s what we want. So I think that’s really is a good approach to, to getting at what’s important to the other person.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Why didn’t have the benefit of getting to, to get all these insights before I started to interview. But yeah, I definitely appreciate what you shared with us today. And I would definintely love to have you on in the future to talk. Tell us a little bit. Yeah, absolutely. That’d be great. Yeah.

 

Laura | Mixonian:

I love having an audience. My kids are just sick of hearing about it.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

Thank you. Yeah, sure. Um, yeah, absolutely. Laura. And uh, you know, just kind of signing out. Like, is there any other like, words for the audience that you want to talk to them about with the interviews or anything that they need to know today?

 

Laura | Mixonian:

Well, to really think about what you want, you know, I think that both from the candidate, what kind of employee or executive, what do you want and what kind of job do you want? But you know, I said it, there’s something called the power than tension. And if you get, if you take the time to be clear on what you want, you’re going to get a lot closer to actually getting it. So that’s what I would say.

 

Chad | Sprockets:

No, that makes good sense. I’m very clear on things that also makes it easier to assess them cause you know exactly what you’re looking for. You’re not going into the interview kind of haphazard. Right. Yeah. That’s great stuff. Well, I thank everybody on the line for joining us with a talent talk today. Hope you enjoyed it. And uh, we will be with you soon for another episode. Take care.