"A talent community can be whatever it needs to be for what the business problem is that you're trying to solve."
"At the end of the day, what we want to do is create channels - whatever those channels may be - that are effective in helping us to build deep enough, strong enough candidate pools for the hiring managers. A lot of our hiring comes through internal candidates - that's our number one source. Our second source is through employee referrals, and we hope to continue to grow that even more through the use of TalentVine."
Welcome to a Talent Acquisition Channel special edition of TotalPicture Radio recorded at the SelectMinds 2011 Annual Client Conference in New York. Joining us is Chad Godhard, director recruiting for Sage.
Chad has over 15 years recruiting experience with technology based companies. For the past 9 years he has led a recruiting team for Sage, a world-leading provider of business management software and services to small and midsized businesses. He has developed and implemented strategic recruiting initiatives designed to improve customer satisfaction. Prior to Sage he was a contract recruiter for companies such as Lucent, WebMD, Novient, 2order.com , Intellimedia, and Homebanc. He started his career on the agency side with Aerotek and has a B.S. from the University of Maryland. He is active in the Atlanta Directors of Recruiting Roundtable and the Technology Association of Georgia Recruiting Society.
Chad Godhard Interview Transcript: TotalPicture Radio
Intro: SelectMinds provides social recruiting and community management solutions -- helping companies source talent and new business through the online connections of their current and former employees.
With SelectMinds' technology, companies can automate and scale the benefits of enterprise social networking for recruiting, branding and new business development.
For over a decade, SelectMinds has powered the corporate alumni networks and social employee referral programs of many of the world's best brands.
Welcome to a Talent Acquisition Channel special edition of TotalPicture Radio recorded at the SelectMinds 2011 Annual Client Conference in New York. Joining us is Chad Godhard, director recruiting for Sage Software.
Chad, welcome to TotalPicture Radio.
Chad: Thanks Peter, thanks for having me.
Peter: Most of us are familiar with the popular ACT content management system but that's the tip of the proverbial iceberg isn't it, at Sage. Can you give us a brief overview of your products and services?
Chad: It is actually just the tip. We've actually got over 6 million customers out there, and our products are all business management products that are geared towards small and midsize businesses. They focus on the accounting space, CRM and contact management that you mentioned with ACT. We've also got a lot of specialty products. We've got products that we gear toward the construction and real estate space, the nonprofit space, we've got a payment solutions group, a variety of different offerings that have all come to us through acquisition over the years.
Peter: And your company is based in the UK, is that right?
Chad: It's based in the UK and North American headquarters in Irvine, but we've got 13-14 other locations throughout the US and Canada.
Peter: You're based in Atlanta?
Chad: The majority of the recruiting team is based in the Atlanta office.
Peter: How many recruiters do you have working for you?
Chad: We've currently got 9 what I would kind of call production recruiters, and then there's a support team of myself. We've got a lead recruiter, sourcer, and a coordinator.
Peter: Chad, most people out there think man, recruiting must be a really easy job given the unemployment rate and the number of people out there who are looking for work, but it could be anything but easy, right?
Chad: It can be challenging. So you're right. The mass media out there would make it seem like we're 10+ percent unemployment; it should be a pretty easy job. The reality is the folks that we are targeting are employed and challenging to engage and entice to come over.
Peter: You presented at the conference here today with Jim Milton who is product strategist at SelectMinds talking about the TalentVine product. What were some of your takeaways from your presentation and the comments in your session?
Chad: I think one of the things is just how critical talent communities are going to play in the future - the role that talent communities play in the future.
Peter: How do you define a talent community?
Chad: That's one of the things that we talked about in a different session but to me, a talent community can be whatever it needs to be for what the business problem is that you're trying to solve. If you're trying to target, say, executive search is challenging and you want to build a talent community around that, then you would define it as such.
It could also be your talent community is on the other end of the spectrum and it's more of a college recruiting community or an alumni community.
There's another gentleman that talked about having a community of finalists, people that went through the interview process but didn't get chosen, but were likely to be a good fit for some other job down the road.
Peter: So you want to keep in touch with that individual, right?
Chad: Absolutely, yes. I think it would be a little bit shortsighted to think of talent community as just one thing; it really depends on what problem you're trying to solve.
Peter: Right. You hired around 800 people last year?
Peter: How do you go about doing your recruiting; do you use job boards, do you use LinkedIn, do you use executive search? How do you find the talents that you need?
Chad: All of the above. At the end of the day, what we want to do is create channels - whatever those channels may be - that are effective in helping us to build deep enough, strong enough candidate pools for the hiring managers. A lot of our hiring comes through internal candidates - that's our #1 source. Our second source is through employee referrals, and we hope to continue to grow that even more through the use of TalentVine.
We do still do use job boards for a lot of positions and they work really effectively for us in some areas. We get a lot of external referrals. We have rehires.
The channel, to me, is less important as to how effective are you at using all the channels to develop a strong candidate pool.
Peter: Let's talk about TalentVine - how long have you used the TalentVine product and what have been some of the results that you could share with us?
Chad: We're still pretty early. We launched TalentVine as part of a broader revamping of our employee referral program in October. Less than two months later, we've seen a 25% increase in the number of referrals that we're getting.
Peter: That's pretty impressive right there.
Chad: Yeah, right out of the gate, and that also coincides with the time that our employee population has shrunk due to a divestiture. You would say that the referrals per employee has increased even more than the 25%, and we've also seen results on the hiring side too; we made our first hire through a TalentVine referral last week.
Peter: That's great.
Chad: We're already starting to see some payoff, even though we're less than two months into things.
Peter: What has been the employee adoption of the TalentVine product?
Chad: It's been really strong. Our open rates for the automated emails that we send out has been extremely high; in addition to the open rates - the click through rates to actually go into the product has been high. We've had good ratios in terms of recommendations to candidates. Hopefully we'll be able to have a good ratio of candidates to hires as well, but it's a little bit too early to tell what that ratio is going to be.
Peter: Talk to me about the candidate experience. This is something you brought up in your presentation, and you were talking about Gerry Crispin's work in looking at what are considered the top 100 new companies to work for. When you look at the candidate experience within those organizations, it's pretty abysmal.
Chad: One of the things that's interesting is there are so many potential tools and resources and technologies that you can use in recruiting right now, but I do feel like if you're not getting the basics right, the results are going to be limited no matter how good the tool is.
We spent a lot of time in the last year going back to really revamp the candidate experience because we felt like if we don't have that fundamental pillar down pretty good, it doesn't matter how many candidates we're driving into our candidate pipelines because if they're not going to have a good experience, we're not going to make ours, they're not going to come back and we're going to continue to have work harder and harder and harder.
We focused on candidate experience and now we think we're in position to leverage some other things and we're positioned to be more successful as we add technologies and tools to the toolbox.
Peter: I think that's really important because you've got to get that piece of it right before any of this technology is really going to work for you.
Chad: Like I mentioned in the session, it really coincides well with Sage organizationally given we've got a lot of branding initiatives going on. The more that we can brand the Sage name to our candidates, the better off we're going to be, as well as culturally it aligns very well with Sage. Within Sage, there's a culture of extraordinary customer experience and there's a natural extension to that, I think to the candidate as well.
Peter: That's an interesting point. Anne Berkowitch in her keynote address this morning talked about the fact that employer branding is back and the companies are really concerned about it and putting resources behind making sure that their employer brand is presented in a consistent way that reflects positively on the organization.
Chad: Completely agree.
Peter: One story you told in your session was about a situation where you've heard that employees would refer someone into a company, would actually come into the building for in-person interviews and then never hear back. We hear a lot about the black hole of the ATS systems, but that's taking it to a real extreme.
Chad: Yeah, it's eye-opening when you think that a company puts the amount of resources that it does into recruiting, and you get somebody that not only goes through your applying process, but goes through your screening process and even a first round interview and might even come back into the organization again and there's just nothing but radio silence after that.
As we kind of came out of this recruiting meeting and had determined that we wanted to make candidate experience a focus, we started doing some research on candidate experience. That's the tie in to Gerry Crispin's study which was really eye-opening and we wanted to just kind of see where's the bar and we realize that the bar is not very high in a lot of cases. I do think that there will be hopefully a lot of improvement in that space as organizations figure out ways to effectively utilize all the different tools at their disposal. It's easier than ever to communicate with candidates, right?
Chad: It's just a matter of executing a good, solid communication plan.
Peter: How easy was it to implement the TalentVine platform within your network and firewall?
Chad: It's a standalone, so it's not something that sits within our network. The implementation process was pretty smooth. It's a SaaS-based model, so they're able to configure it and get you live without a lot of heavy lifting.
Peter: Do you work with specific people at SelectMinds if you have a question or something comes up, a problem, that there's somebody you can connect with?
Chad: Yes. We worked with Jim Milton initially, who really helped us sell the product, I guess. Then we worked with the implementation team. Now that we are a live customer, we worked on it with a team that helps us with the marketing of the product and all of our messaging and so forth. It's been a really positive experience. They've been good at sharing best practices and open to other ideas. So it's been real pleasant working with them.
Peter: You mentioned that when you were looking at a solution like TalentVine, you actually looked at a number of different products out there. What was it that drove you to the TalentVine solution?
Chad: There are two main things. As we had decided to re-launch the referral program, we did a lot of research on what do we want to improve upon and so forth. One of the things that we landed on - one of the major things - was figuring out how can we leverage our employees' networks, both social and professional networks, to drive referrals? Instead of just relying on people coming to our employees and saying, "Hey, how can we help get a foot in the door" and so forth, we wanted to provide our employees with a tool that would allow them to leverage their networks. So not just their friends, but their broader networks. If most people's networks are anything like mine - I've got more people in my LinkedIn network that I really truly know as a friend.
I think a lot of times with employee referral programs, comes with a connotation of let's say, friends type of network or recommendation type of network. We wanted to really not focus on either of those themes. We wanted to focus on, we want you to leverage your network to provide us leads. We'll follow up and we'll work with our hiring teams to evaluate. So we don't want to necessarily limit things to friends or even recommendations. We want prospects and leads. As we evaluated tools out there, TalentVine, we felt did that the best.
First of all, they are able to leverage Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The usability is very, very strong. That's one of the main focuses. The other key component for us was the ability to track the source as it entered into our ATS. We were able to partner with our ATS ISMs. In between ISMs and TalentVine, we were able to come up with unique URLs that would follow each job from each person. So when somebody applies through that link, it automatically populates the source data for us on the back end to net all that out. The two main components that lead us to TalentVine were the usability and then the ability to track the sources so we could actually manage the program on the back end.
Peter: How are you leveraging social networks? Are you very active on things like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?
Chad: In the last year, I'd say we've had a stronger focus there. While we use LinkedIn for a lot of search, we use Twitter and Facebook less for immediate search and more for branding purposes. But we're still, I would say kind of early to intermediate stage there.
Peter: Are you able to take a big picture look at what all of these efforts are accomplishing and somehow aggregate all these data?
Chad: Yes, and in some cases better than others. On the TalentVine side, it's very apparent. The metrics are strong. We can see how many people open the email, click through the email, how many people do they recommend, out of those people how many go into the apply process, how many people complete the apply process and down through the pipeline of interviewing and being hired. Where it gets a little bit harder to mention is how effective are Facebook or Twitter efforts have been. It's a little bit harder to measure - you can measure people that are following you and so forth, but even that sometimes it's not always easy for an employed candidate to like another employer's Facebook page, right? We're able to measure some traffic metrics but it's hard to tie that necessarily back into how many hires is that resulting in, type of thing.
Peter: TalentVine is a very easy application to use, correct? You don't have to do any training or anything. It's very intuitive. You just go on and people know what to do.
Chad: That's one of the big selling points. I think that's critical when you're rolling it out to a population of busy employees.
Peter: That are spread all over the country.
Chad: That's right. We did launch with a bunch of WebEx's on how to use the tool. It's very user-friendly. It's very obvious - click here to do this, click there to do that. It's intuitive.
Peter: What are some of your goals for 2012?
Chad: We'd like to, from an employee referral perspective, increase the amount of employee referral hires we make by 10%. So that's the goal from the implementation of TalentVine. More broadly than that, we measure customer sat strongly. So we'll continue to keep a close look at customer satisfaction both from our hiring manager side, which we've always done and just in the last 4-5 months, we've also implemented a candidate satisfaction survey as well to measure the satisfaction of candidates that come through our process to the point of interviewing but end up being turned down; we're trying to solicit their feedback on how was the process and so forth. We're already identifying areas of opportunity that we can improve.
Peter: That's great.
Chad: It's an interesting population to survey.
Peter: It is. Most people do that with people that get hired but don't do it with people who don't get hired.
Chad: A couple of years ago, we did implement a survey to measure candidate satisfaction of the people that we hired. It was a very good way to pat yourself on the back. All the feedback was very good.
Peter: You assume that it's good because they got the job.
Chad: It wasn't extremely actionable, right? So we've gone back and what was nice to know was that the people we hired like the process. We thought it would probably be more meaningful and helpful longer term to survey the people that we're turning down.
Peter: In your experience, are candidates that are hired through referrals stronger candidates and more culturally-adopted to your organization?
Chad: Yes. I think more broadly, there's a lot of studies out there that show there's better retention numbers and better quality numbers. I think we don't have any that we've done specifically towards Sage. One thing that I also think is really helpful is just the on-boarding process, when an employee referral is on-boarding and they already have a connection within the organization, it certainly helps make that process a little bit smoother and easier for the new hire.
Peter: Another thing you brought up in your session that I've heard a lot is, the issue around the drop-off rate. When people see a job req, they click on it, they end up in your ATS and five minutes later they go, "To hell with this. I'm not going to do this."
Chad: They don't end up in your ATS.
Peter: They don't end up in your ATS because they just bail out. That's a huge problem. What kinds of things are you doing to try to mitigate that?
Chad: That's a great question. That was one of the four central components to our candidate commitment that we made, is that we really wanted to do everything that we could to remove the barriers to that application process. Again, kind of benchmarking where we were against Gerry's study, they had a lot of metrics on the time it took to get through the application process.
When I started looking at that data, it was kind of eye-opening of again, it seemed like industry-wide, the bar was kind of low. We went back and again worked with ISM to eliminate the barriers as much as we could to the point where we've got our application process, so it takes less than two minutes from start to finish. We really make a point to try to remind candidates that we have put some thought into this. It is going to be easy. Don't quit now. You're almost to the finish line. It has resulted in better conversion rates, because we were seeing really eye-opening, disappointing rates of the data that we were getting from job boards and even from any sources that we were driving candidates to, to what we were actually seeing in our ATS.
There are huge gaps, and so we went back and shortened the process. All that we really require now is first name, last name, email address. We obviously give them an opportunity to put their résumé in, and almost everybody does. But we got away from all the other information that can be - even if it doesn't take a lot of time, just the appearance of it, taking a lot of time and it can be a diversion...
Peter: And cutting and pasting into this field and that field.
Chad: We've made it really easy and we've seen our conversion rates from our job boards. Coming right out of the gate with TalentVine, we were looking at conversion rates and they were amazed at how high our conversion rates were and that's because the work had already been done to simplify that.
Peter: So I've gone in, you've made it very easy for me to submit my résumé. Now what happens? Do I get an email back, saying "Thank you so much for your interest in Sage." What happens?
Chad: Yes, good question. You do get that and I would hope that most companies have that auto-response.
Peter: They don't. They don't. Look at Gerry's statistics. It's amazing.
Chad: We go a step further though. When we say that either way, you're going to hear from us, you're going to hear back from us. Ideally, we try to communicate to every candidate at least 3 times. One is the auto-response, one is when we review their background and either move them forward in the process or turn them down. Then one is when we actually fill the job.
Part of that is just good for the candidate experience. The other part of that though is really good for our branding, because again, the more times that we can communicate with the candidate and put a Sage impression in front of them, that's going to help our employee brand down the road. It's kind of a process that we've implemented that has benefits on a few different levels.
Peter: One last question. What advice could you share with organizations that are thinking about implementing TalentVine?
Chad: For folks that have already decided on TalentVine, then I think it's just a matter of establishing best practices that are going to support the engagement in how you're using TalentVine. We've put other programs in place to continue to promote the program right through different recognition programs and so forth.
Peter: I like your great big checks.
Chad: Yes, the golf checks. We present the referrers, the people that get the bonus with a great big golf check. We kind of make a bit of a deal out on the floor that they're working on. Take a picture. We make a little bit of a scene out there and bring them some recognition in that manner and then we take the picture, put it into a branded picture frame that sits on their desk, so it kind of continues to work for us down the road. It's neat and it's fun and the employees get a kick out of it too.
Peter: Chad, thank you so much for speaking with us on TotalPicture Radio.
Chad: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Peter: It's great meeting you here at the SelectMinds conference.
Chad: Thank you.
Chad Godhard is a director of recruiting at Sage. Visit Chad's feature page in the Talent Acquisition channel of TotalPicture Radio. That's totalpicture.com, where resource, links and a complete transcript of today's interview.
With SelectMinds technology, companies can recruit top talent from within their employee's social networks and from their own, private, secure employee and alumni networks. These referral-based environments drive recruitment new business development and lead to great, new hires and substantial business growth. Visit selectminds.com to learn more or call 877-276-3978 to set up a free demo today.
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About Peter Clayton
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