INBOX INSIGHTS, June 15, 2022: Tips for Hiring Managers, The Great Reshuffling, Professional Certifications

INBOX INSIGHTS: Tips for Hiring Managers, The Great Reshuffling, Professional Certifications (6/15) :: View in browser

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Pro Tip for Hiring Managers

First, we had The Great Resignation. Now we have The Great Reshuffling. All to say that the pandemic has been a catalyst for many people to find new positions that allowed them to work remotely and still make a livable wage. Fast forward two-plus years, and people are still re-evaluating their work-life balance, pay grade, and responsibilities.

What does this mean? There are lots of great candidates out there looking for new positions. This also means that there are lots of hiring managers scrambling to make quick decisions that will impact the business.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be talking about interviewing and hiring. Today, I want to focus on the hiring manager. Specifically, how to interview candidates for roles you don’t know all that well.

As a hiring manager, you may find yourself out of your depth. You’re likely interviewing candidates will skills you don’t have. You may not even be a hiring manager or have interviewed candidates before. So let’s start there. What is a hiring manager?

A hiring manager is the “future manager” of the person that you are interviewing. Depending on the structure of your company, you may be the only person conducting interviews. Sometimes, you’ll work in concert with Human Resources to hire new team members. In larger companies, there may be whole teams that conduct many rounds of interviews.

Not all employees that act as hiring managers make good hiring managers. With so much turnover, many people who have never acted as a hiring manager are being asked to step in. Interviewing candidates and making decisions on who to hire is not easy and is its own skill set. It can be overwhelming and daunting. Candidates are putting their best foot forward, all shiny and polished. What you read on their resume is the best of what they have to offer. It can be hard to know if you’re seeing the real person in the span of 30 minutes.

So, how do you approach an interview if you aren’t used to being a hiring manager?

You cannot know everything. Let’s get that out of the way. I know it’s harsh, but it’s true. For example, I only understand about 60% of what Chris says. Does that mean I can’t manage him? Absolutely not. Here’s the secret – but first, a little background.

For about a decade, I managed engineers, database architects, epidemiologists, sales, and marketing teams. Am I an expert in all those things? Nope. So, what makes me qualified to manage and hire for those teams?

It’s all about the questions you ask. When I was in that previous role, part of my job was to advocate for those teams to the senior leadership team. I was their representative in meetings to get them what they needed. Those teams helped me understand what they were doing in a way that I could communicate on their behalf.

This is the secret. This is how you approach interviewing as a hiring manager. Let’s say I was interviewing for a data scientist role for Trust Insights. I don’t know the ins and outs of data science – so I would not know if someone was BS’ing me and throwing jargon my way.

It’s on you to dig deeper. Have the candidate explain specifics to you as if you were going to have to advocate for them to someone else. Ask them to give concrete examples of not only what they have done, but why they chose to do it that way. You need to ask questions about cost and time savings, the accuracy of outcomes, and the after actions. Don’t stop at the general experience.

For example: “You mentioned that you use machine learning to do your analysis. The senior team only cares about conversion rates on the website. Help me understand why that is the right method so that I can justify your analysis choice. They will ask me if this is the most accurate and cost-effective way to look at the data.

Another example: “On your resume, you mention that you increased website traffic by 60% with a consistent SEO strategy. I need to justify spending money on SEO to my management team. Help me understand your specific tactics so that I could do that”.

A word of caution – this is not the same as “pretend I know nothing about this and explain it”. The problem with that tactic is that it opens the door for the candidate to not tell you anything valuable. That question does not lend itself well to making good hiring decisions. Keep tying it back to advocacy on the candidate’s behalf. They need to help you, so you can help them.

This technique works for all kinds of skills and roles. The goal of this exercise is to see if the candidate understands the material or if they know a few buzzwords. The right candidate will be able to break down a complex concept into more simplistic terms. You’re still asking for examples of their work but by framing it this way you get more specifics and less noise.

Do you need support with your hiring process? Find me in our Free Slack Group Analytics for Marketers.

– Katie Robbert, CEO

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Binge Watch and Listen

In this week’s In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris discuss the value of professional certifications. What are certifications like Google Analytics IQ, Hubspot Academy, Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Skill Tests worth? Do they help you get hired? What do hiring managers think of them? Tune in to find out!

Watch/listen to this episode of In-Ear Insights here »

Last week on So What? The Marketing Analytics and Insights Live show, we looked at marketing technology like Cloudflare and how it benefits marketers. Catch the replay here »

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Data Diaries - Interesting Data We Found

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s talk about using jobs data to understand our. In the USA, there’s a dataset published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) called JOLTS, the Job Openings Labor Turnover Survey.

So what is JOLTS? In short, it’s a monthly report on what’s going on with jobs in the economy – how many job openings, how many people quit, how many people got hired. Those numbers by themselves can be helpful to understand the state of the job market, but when we start putting them together as ratios, we can more easily understand market conditions.

Why does this matter? Maybe you’re struggling to hire right now and you want to get a sense of how difficult the struggle is now compared to past periods. Or maybe you’re looking for work and want to know how good the pickings will remain. Maybe your business has exposure to labor conditions and you want to know how dramatically profitability will be impacted. All this can be answered with jobs data.

For example, let’s look at the overall market since 2000:

JOLTS Job Market Ratios, 2000-2022

What we’ve got here are two ratios. The blue line is the ratio of hires to separations. When the line is at 1.0 – the middle of the chart, people are being hired and leaving jobs (by any means) at exactly the same rate. When the blue line is below 1.0, more people are losing their jobs than gaining them. When the blue line is above 1.0, more people are being hired than losing their jobs. You can see that since 2000, there have been a few periods where the blue line is below 1.0 – in the early 2000s (the dotcom bust), the Great Recession of 2007-2010, and the start of the pandemic.

Look what’s happened since 2021, since the pandemic was brought under control somewhat by vaccines. Many of the folks who lost their jobs regained them, and the blue line has been substantially above 1.0 since. That speaks to the job market’s tightness for talent.

Now, let’s look at the orange line. The orange line represents hires to openings ratio. When the line is above 1.0, there are more hires than openings. Jobs are being filled quickly, and companies have their choice of talent, with fewer openings available to people.

Something happened around 2014. The orange line fell below 1.0 – meaning the labor market tightened for employers, and candidates found more openings and opportunities. That trend continued until the pandemic started, when for a brief period, companies re-acquired a lot of the talent they laid off – the Great Reshuffling. But look what has happened since. That orange line has dropped incredibly low, lower than it’s ever been in the last 22 years. There are so many more job openings than there are hires, speaking to the fact that it’s a job seeker’s market like it’s never been before.

If your business has exposure to tight labor conditions, this trend which started in 2014 doesn’t look like it’s changing any time soon.

Let’s take a look at a specific sector, professional services (our industry). There are 19 industries in the JOLTS data – Mining and Logging; Construction; Durable Goods Manufacturing; Nondurable Goods Manufacturing; Wholesale Trade; Retail Trade; Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities; Information; Finance and Insurance; Real Estate and Rental and Leasing; Professional and Business Services; Educational Services; Health Care and Social Assistance; Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation; Accommodation and Food Services; Other Services; Federal Government; State and Local Government Education; State and Local Government, excluding Education. Companies like Trust Insights fall in professional services. What does the same chart look like?

JOLTS Job Market Ratios for Professional Services, 2000-2022

For professional services, we see the impact of recessions a little more clearly. The dotcom bust and the Great Recession are more visible. Unlike the overall economy, professional services didn’t see as much of a great fall and rise at the start of the pandemic, and unlike the overall economy, professional services is squeezed even more tightly for labor now.

What does this mean? What do we take away from this information? Looking at the charts, we are in unprecedented territory when it comes to hiring. Employers have fewer candidates than ever to choose from, and employees have their choice of pretty much anything we want. We can nearly name our prices to employers because the field is so dry of talent – and the trend is slowing, but is not showing signs of rebounding back towards a more balanced churn rate.

The uncomfortable truth is that every employer is competing on pay as well. You will almost certainly have to pay more than you have been to attract talent, as well as offer highly competitive overall compensation (benefits).

Companies taking the long view should be investing heavily in their own talent – in finding and growing talent internally, in investing in school programs, in creating a workplace that employees genuinely want to work at for more than just a paycheck. The workplace environment is a competitive advantage in this market – and if you have folks on your team who are making your environment toxic, there’s no better time than now to coach them out. They’ll find another position easily, and your workplace will be more appealing without them.

To bridge the gap between what you need for talent and what you have right now, consider agencies and partners to fill the gap until the job market normalizes some. Based on the depth of imbalance right now and current world conditions, it could be months or even years until these ratios swing back towards 1.0. What would trigger such a change? Nothing short of a recession – a decline in demand, which will have ripple effects up the value chain. We see this in the historical data, in the dotcom bust and the Great Recession. Those were periods of time that rebooted the labor markets.

Incorporate these findings into your business strategy, your business forecasts. Use them to understand what’s happening, keep an eye on the job market, and plan ahead.

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