Make Work Better for Recruiters by Helping Them Work Better

Greenhouse CEO Daniel Chait talks about technology, upskilling and "recruiter experience"

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer October 21, 2019
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​Talent acquisition is evolving, responding to the forces of economic changes, new technologies and innovative practices.

SHRM Online recently spoke with Daniel Chait, the CEO and co-founder of Greenhouse, one of the fastest-growing recruiting software providers. Chait discussed the importance of streamlining the recruiter experience, how hiring will change in the next recession and what recruiters need to learn to stay relevant.

SHRM Online: "Employee experience" is the buzz phrase of the year. Employers are doing their best to make the application process as painless and quick as shopping online. Do you think there needs to be more focus on recruiter experience?

Chait: It's true—HR is now in the experience business. The idea of providing a better candidate experience is, of course, a big deal. But I think offering a better experience to your recruiting team, your hiring managers and your candidates is all one and the same. Because talent acquisition is more elevated now as a priority for companies, it means that recruiters need to spend more time doing things that make a difference. Every time they have to click another button or shuffle another piece of paperwork or fill in another form, that's time they are not spending thinking about how to impress the next candidate, partner with a hiring manager to correctly define a role, diversify a search, decide on who should be doing the interviews. If they are too busy fooling around with technology, that's less time to wow candidates or go have coffee with future leads. Companies need to be thinking about how to streamline recruiters' work to let them focus on the stuff that matters.

SHRM Online: How will hiring—and recruiters' jobs—change when we go into a recession?

Chait: Hiring will be affected by whether the recession is just a dip and nothing really changes or something more serious, which is when things get bleak. In 2001 through 2002 and 2007 through 2008, jobs dried up in many sectors. Companies get afraid and stop investing. But smart companies see opportunity. During a recession, talent is on sale. Companies may make acquisitions, go on hiring sprees and expand at the same time that other companies are too afraid to act or don't have the resources. Winners and losers come out of recessions. And it will depend on sector and geography. For example, the nursing sector will continue to be like gangbusters no matter what happens, because health care will continue to grow.

Today, the issue is "How do we find people?" In an environment where there is more labor available, companies end up going through more transformations, whether it's reskilling or changing lines of business or finding ways to become more efficient.

SHRM Online: What do recruiters need to reskill in to keep up?

Chait: Storytelling is becoming much more important, answering "Why should I work at your organization?" Today's talent has a lot more choices. They have a lot more information than they used to and a lot more power over their job search. Recruiters must be able to tell a story about why their company is a good fit.

Then there's the consulting component. Recruiters need to be consulting at a strategic level, partnering with the teams they are hiring for, getting inside their heads, picking their brains about open roles. Then they can advise them on finding the right person. Historically recruiters have been treated like order takers.

Recruiting operations is a rising field. Tech stacks [for talent acquisition] are exploding—just  like you see in sales and marketing operations, stapling the systems together and getting them to work, figuring out what the data is and the flow between them, running the reports, holding it all together.

We're seeing talent acquisition operations teams among our customers getting supersophisticated. That's new. The idea that talent acquisition has its own tech stack and processes that they are designing and experiences they are trying to deliver requires that operations show up in a way that I haven't seen before.

SHRM Online: Recruiting technology has been a game changer. But why has time-to-fill not decreased? How can the technology be better used?

Chait: Time-to-fill has come down a bit in certain sectors over the last year or two, but you're right, overall it hasn't really moved much. Candidates are applying for more jobs than ever before because it's so easy. Candidates will apply for dozens of jobs because it's just pushing a button, and employers have to wade through all those applications. The labor supply is short. People may have an idea of what they're looking for, and it may take longer to find that person because there's a lot of competition for talent.

As for the technology, we're at a scale now where we are able to start seeing patterns and measure impact among our customers in a way we weren't able to earlier. We're starting to uncover day-to-day behaviors that can move the needle on recruiting efficiencies.

For example, when a company creates a job, how thoroughly are they designing an interview score card, and do they actually collect that data through the process? Some companies open a job, interview a bunch of candidates and make a hire without collecting any score cards. Other companies open a job, customize the whole score card based on a hiring plan and collect data from candidates from every stage of the hiring process. At the end, they've got lots of data. The difference between those companies that are able to make a hire quickly and more accurately versus those that are not is tremendous.

From our point of view, how can we get more companies to hire smarter? If customers are just using our product as an ATS [applicant tracking system], we're not doing what we're supposed to. If customers are not using our product to do things like fill score cards, we don't feel like we're successful.

SHRM Online: What excites you most about the changes you're seeing in the way organizations recruit and hire?

Chait: The fact that the C-suite is waking up to the notion that talent is a priority. It's been talked about, but I think the business leaders are showing up now. We started putting on workshops for C-suite leaders on what their role is in hiring. When we launched the workshops, we didn't know whether anyone would show up. We've completed sessions with over 100 executives. They're coming in at 7 a.m. to learn what their role is in building the company's talent base and how to partner with talent acquisition—how to tell the company's story [in a way] that gets people excited to work there. How to build a strong culture and lead a culture of hiring. And they are excited about it. I think that's new.

I did a tour of duty as an HR/TA [talent acquisition] leader, so I felt that reality. When you're leading a business and you have the confidence to hire the right person every time, that is the ultimate business superpower. I don't care if you're better at sales and marketing and manufacturing than me, if I can out-hire you, I win.

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