Tim Sackett has basically been bred on talent acquisition. He might be the closest thing to royalty that the industry has, he comes with years of knowledge handed down from his mother who started her own business. With thousands of followers and an impressive readership, it’s no wonder people tune in every week to him and what he’s got to say about recruitment and the HR space.
Hey Tim, what’s up. Where are you right now?
Michigan, so I pretty much feel as cold as can be.
Ouch. So, let’s dive into all things talent acquisition. What’s the most common HR or recruitment question you get asked?
Well you know I write a lot about HR and ATS systems, so I’m always asked what ATS people should get.
And what do you tell them?
Well it depends on so many factors. Your company, what’s it like, what market, I mean there’s loads of things I would have to go through to even make that recommendation. But it just shows how unsophisticated HR knowledge is, especially on the talent acquisition side, and how confusing all the tech is. What’s laughable is that most of those questions are coming from corporate TA people.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in recruitment in the past, and what do you think your biggest challenge is going to be?
I think in my 20+ years in the industry, it’s always been performance managing recruiters in terms of activity. People say we can’t find talent, but talent has never been easy to find, and actually, with job boards and LinkedIn and sourcing technology, talent has never been easier to find. Getting in touch with them is the hardest it has ever been, so that comes back to your recruiters having to source through different funnels and how we measure that.
If LinkedIn turned off the lights what would recruiters do?
Well you’re hoping they’ve built up their database pretty well so that they could go back and actually ask for referrals. Once upon a time we had physical files of resumes.
I’m showing my age but I do remember that.
Yeah, we used to have plastic folders full of engineers and other job titles. I would call them all and ask for referrals and then tell my manager I didn’t have any. Her response was always, call them again. Eventually you would get someone who would give you a name, which I think is the future of sourcing. I mean, we have all this tech and AI, but the only real differentiator is your ability to go out and have people give you information that is not publically known which seems super old school, but in fact the future. The best talent is always going to want to talk to someone who is real.
What skills do modern day recruiters need?
I think networking is critical. Being able to get people to respond to you.
If you could call bullshit on one myth recruitment myth, what would it be?
That there is no talent. In the history of recruitment, right now today, it’s never been easier to find talent.
Why do you think recruitment has such a bad reputation and how do we fix it?
Well it’s a sales cycle and the bad rep comes from bad sales people. Like I can’t stand going to buy a car because they’re the worst sales people in the world. I think in the large recruitment firms, the billion dollar giants, they really understand that it’s a sales cycle and so they’ve turned recruiters into sales people. Those people sales people might treat people really bad, but they make the company a ton of money so their company things, ‘gosh, Tim is making us loads of money, we need more Tims.’ The candidates hate Tim, but you can’t tell the staffing leader that because Tim is making money and that viscous cycle is happening across the recruiting world in a really big way.
Status updates, blogs, groups, podcasts, books – what’s the next channel for communicating within the industry?
I think short range video is something that TA and HR are lagging in so we’re slow to the game. YouTube and Facebook have basically said that engagement is hundreds of times higher in video content than any other kind, yet we still insist on jamming written content down the throats of candidates instead of bridging the gap. We have to get comfortable with actually producing short range video. The companies that find out how to get there faster and can sit in front of a hiring manager with in iPhone and get the manager to explain the job in 90 seconds then go back in some quick editing app and throw it up on a site in 60 minutes, that company wins.
People talk a lot about video CVs, but if you had a recruiter in your team and you asked them what they’d done for the last hour and a half and they said they’d watched two candidate videos, is that going to create a profitable business?
I think a resume with a video component is profitable. You still want the whole thing, but with a short 90 second video of the candidate to convey personality etc. For example, I had a chief nursing officer search on, working with the CEO of a large health system. I sent him three amazing candidates. I mean, they were perfect, exactly what he wanted, and he said no to them all. The CEO said the resumes were crap and to start the search again. I knew they weren’t, so I went back and took a video of all three of those candidates. Asked them the same exact two or three questions and then sent the videos with no names to the CEO. He replied that he loved them and wanted to interview all three candidates. It just shows you the strength of a video and how powerful it can be.
I think people get put off with video because of the editing needed.
But it doesn’t even have to be overly produced. I mean you and I could jump on Skype right now, and I have a programme that would record us side by side. You can then send that off or upload a link. Hiring managers just want to know that the person is real and they can communicate, that’s all.
Recruitment or talent acquisition?
I couldn’t care less.
Who has influenced you most in your career?
Well my mom stated a company I run. She started it 25 years ago and hired me out of college to come in and work as a recruiter and work my way up until I became an executive.
Wow, it’s in your blood.
Yeah, she started it when I was nine. I remember sitting on her bed and she paid me ten cents to stuff envelopes of skills check lists to send out to candidates. She was a single mom so she would interview candidates late at night and I’d be sent to bed with a TV, no volume and making money stuffing envelopes and that’s how I started in the staffing world.
Yeah, but then she fired me.
Ha, how come?
I was super pushy in telling her it was time to retire, and she was like no, you need to go get a real job, so I went and worked for a corporate account acquisition for eight years and came back when she said, it’s time now, I think you understood, and it’s the best thing she ever did.
So, she’s a pretty big influence then.
Yeah, she taught me how to recruit, but also taught me that I didn’t know everything. When I got into the corporate side of talent acquisition for ten years, coming back to staffing gave me a completely different vision of what staffing should be because I knew what it felt like on the corporate side. So it was super helpful in hindsight, but shitty when it happened.
What influencers do you follow now?
Kris Dunn really helped me get into the TA space in terms of writing and blogging and I still think he’s one of the smartest guys I know in talent acquisition and recruiting. In terms of TA text base, William Tincup is brilliant. I love having conversations with him. And then Laurie Ruettimann has been a champion so those are the people I rely on the most in terms of keeping me I the space and they’ve been great advocates for me.
What does recruitment in 2021 look like?
For me it’s sourcing technology. Right now sourcing tech is better than 99% of sourcers working in companies. Last year SourceCom did a competition where they took five of the best sourcers against sourcing engines, and it took the technology about three seconds to find what the sourcers found in 24 hours. Use the technology and the reality is you don’t need sourcers anymore. What I’ll need is how people find referrals and get information that isn’t online for the technology to find.
What new piece of tech have you added to your work day that you love?
I’ve got really involved in automated messaging. Email just doesn’t cut it and phone calls don’t do enough, but we get a higher response rate from SMS. I needed to do it more than one-on-one. I wanted to mass text 100 engineers in a way that seems personal for them, so we are using text recruit. There’s a bunch of them coming out within the industry and it still amazes me that more people haven’t figure out how to leverage messaging for better response raters.
For more information or to read more of Tim Sackett, we recommend visiting his website and following him on Twitter: