9 Recruiting Tips From Stacy Zapar That You Can Start Using Right Now

November 27, 2017

You’re reading this because you want “actionable, practical tips that you can take home and implement right away.” That’s exactly what Stacy Zapar promises at the start of her super-popular “Stacy’s Secret Sauce 2.0” talk at Talent Connect 2017—and she delivers.

After 20 years recruiting, she’s learned what works, what doesn’t, and how to get the most out of her day. Ranging from simple time management tactics, to sophisticated sourcing strategies, to hiring manager mind-melds, Stacy shared 18 super useful tips, tricks, and hacks for recruiters.

And they’re all things that you can start doing immediately to be more efficient, effective, and successful in your recruiting efforts.

Read on for her first nine tips, and stay tuned for the rest.

1. Calendar chunking: Block time on your calendar for dedicated tasks to stay focused, get more done and take control of your time

As a recruiter, your calendar is probably insane. You’ve always got a dozen different things happening at once—and every time you shift gears, it takes extra time to get back on track.

That’s why Stacy recommends grouping your tasks together into manageable chunks on your daily calendar. “I like to chunk my calendar because it helps keep me organized and efficient,” she says. She dedicates the first two hours of her day to sourcing—there’s never any meetings between 7am and 9am.

Sourcing is often the first thing that gets pushed off, but chunking it first allows you to stay focused in a distraction-free time slot. She also schedules her hiring manager meetings at the end of the day. Stacy says that another benefit of that is “if I have to meet with my hiring managers in the afternoon, that morning I can say, ‘Wait, which meetings do I not have resumes for? Better hurry up and source for those.’”

You should chunk your calendar to align with your own biorhythms and preferences—if you feel more social in the morning, schedule all your meetings then. The order isn’t as important as the chunking itself. “Try to take control of your calendar and block time,” Stacy advises.

2. Do Not Disturb: turn off notifications and only respond to emails at the top of the hour

As another super-simple efficiency tip, Stacy highly recommends your turn off notifications on your smartphone. It’s way too easy to get distracted, and we all do it all the time. You’ve probably started responding to an email on your phone while you were in the middle of writing another one on your desktop. “This is not a good way to be focused and get stuff done in our day,” she says.

“All day long, you’re getting little notifications and distractors that are taking your eye off the ball,” Stacy continues. “Really, the trick of a good recruiter isn’t that we’re smarter or better—we get just 12 hours of work out of an 8 hour day.”  

You don’t need to turn all notifications off, but turn off all the unnecessary app notifications on your phone like Facebook or Words With Friends—you’ll be shocked at how many notifications are on by default.

The same idea holds true for email. Stacy only checks her emails at the top of every hour, making sure that there’s nothing urgent. “Everyone knows I’m going to see their message, but I’m not going to respond to everything in real-time,” she says. “Because you know what? I’ve got to prioritize… I find that I get a lot more done when I’m not a slave to my email.” Block time in the morning, mid-day or afternoon to respond to those emails you read but didn’t respond to right away.

3. Killer intakes: Ask the hard questions to be able to sell the job (not just screen for it)

You already know that intake meetings are super important—an in-depth intake that leaves you crystal clear on the assignment leads to success. You want to get the most out of them.

Recruiters will often focus on the requirements that they use to screen out the wrong candidates. But that’s not enough. “Don’t just learn how to weed out,” Stacy says. We’re not just interviewing active jobseekers; we’re spending most of our efforts sourcing passive candidates who may not be looking to change jobs right now. “We need to know enough to not only screen out, but also to sell the role once we get them on the phone.”

These are the questions that Stacy asks in her intake meetings:

With a hat-tip to Lou Adler, one of her favorite questions is “why would someone who’s in the top 20% of their field want this job? Why would they leave XYZ company to come here?”

She also loves asking the hiring manager, “how would your team members describe your management style?” If you ask about their managing style straight-up, they may only highlight the positives. Asking about their team’s perspective makes them much more balanced in their assessment. “All of the sudden, it’s like Wonder Woman’s magic lasso and you get the real answer,” she says.

4. Jiminy Cricket: Bring resumes to your intake and have them review a few of them out loud

You should never leave an intake meeting feeling fuzzy about the req. Here’s a great tip to get even more insights: bring a few resumes and listen to the hiring manager review them out loud.

At the end of the intake, just say “Here are a few resumes that I think might look good based on what we discussed,” and pull out a few that you sourced ahead of time, based on the initial job spec. Then ask them to read through them and narrate their thought process out loud.

As you play Jiminy Cricket, sitting on their shoulder as they suss out candidates, you’ll learn all sorts of new things. The hiring manager might reveal preferences or turn-offs that didn’t come out during the intake meeting, such as important skills or software that aren’t on the spec, their own personal pickiness about schools, their sensitivity to job-hopping, etc. “Some of the things that they say out loud will be super insightful,” Stacy says. “Plus, you’ll really impress your hiring manager if you show up with some resumes right off the bat.”

5. Driving referrals: Don’t ask people who they know—tell them who they know

“Employee referrals, by their very nature, are somewhat reactive,” says Stacy. “I don’t like to be in reactive mode… I like to drive and effect outcomes.” Being proactive about referrals makes a big difference. Here’s how Stacy drives referrals with a 90% response rate.

After your first intake meeting, attend the hiring team’s next staff meeting and introduce yourself. Explain how you’ll all be working together on this hire, and remind them how it’s in their interest to pitch in—the sooner you make the hire, the sooner everyone can stop picking up the extra slack for the missing employee.

From there, you can ask—specifically—who’s the best salesperson/engineer/whatever they know. But that’s still reactive. The next step is to connect with them on LinkedIn and go searching through their 1st level connections for people they know in the target role.

Get a handful of promising connections and ask the team hiring member for super-quick feedback: just a quick thumbs-up or thumbs-down for each one.

Then you simply reach out to the approved connections (mentioning the hiring teamm member you both know)—or better yet, have the hiring team member reach out. Your response rate will shoot way up.

6. Tree ring sourcing: start by targeting your perfect (and nearby) candidate, then work your way out

While there are different ways to source, Stacy prefers going after her pie in the sky, ideal candidates first. “I have ANDs everywhere in my Boolean string,” she says, “even for the skills that desired, not required.”

That gives you a nice, manageable list, usually just a small handful of candidates. All of which are a perfect match for the role (and the role is also a perfect match for them). If you don’t get enough promising results from that batch, you can start steadily working your way out. “I’ll slowly expand my tree rings and put some ORs in there,” Stacy says. But go slowly so you don’t lower the bar too quickly.

She also recommends applying the same method, but with the candidate's physical location. Start by searching within 10 miles of the office, then slowly expand your radius.

The reason is simple: if you find a great candidate who lives five minutes away and currently commutes an hour each way to work every day, your job will be way more tempting. “You just turned a very passive candidate into somebody who wants to talk to you,” Stacy says. “They just got two hours back in their day to spend with their kids and family.”

7. The perfect outreach: your first messages should be brief, personalized, and non-salesy

Stacy helpfully outlines the best practices to effectively engage out to candidates.

First, make sure it’s not too long. Not only will most of it go unread, but it looks like a template. No one’s going to believe you wrote a 10-paragraph essay just for them. “The shorter it is, the more it looks like you wrote them a personal note intended just for them,” Stacy says. “That’s what they want.”

Next, personalize it a bit—just a quick mention of something they wrote, shared, or worked on will suffice.

And of course, don’t use words like “ATS”, “req”, “perm”, or “spec.” Avoid recruiting jargon: they may have no idea what it means and it doesn’t help you build rapport. Speak like a human, and infuse your own personality in it, smileys and all. “It’s a lot harder to ignore a real person than some recruiter bot,” Stacy says.

Don’t frame the message around “your” opening, or your needs, or your req: emphasize what’s in it for them. Position the opportunity as a great next step in their career path—make it about them, not you.

And remember, in that initial outreach message, the goal is just to get them to respond. You don’t need to push too hard or sell them on the job or company just yet. “You don’t know what they want yet until you talk to them,” Stacy says. “Once you get them on the phone, then you can start talking specifics and dangling some carrots when you know what their motivators are.”

8. The Three-Step: increase your response rate by following up twice

If at first you don’t get a response, try, try again. Stacy uses this three-step process:

At the first message, Stacy might get about a 45% response rate.

After a couple days, follow up with a quick update that says something like, “Hey, the hiring team is still interested in chatting with you. We’ve started moving forward with interviews and I’d hate for you to miss the bus. Do you have a few minutes to chat this week?” By creating that urgency, Stacy’s response rate rises to about 65% at this point.

Finally, after a few more days without a response, just send a quick thank-you note. Stacy sends a little note saying something like, “Hey, sounds like now’s not a good time, I totally get it. Let’s stay in touch down the road, thank you so much.’”

Now that the candidate feels that the opportunity may have passed them by, Stacy’s response rate jumps to about 85% (!!!).

9. Self scheduling: automate scheduling with an online calendar tool

Here’s another time-saving tip: use an online calendar tool that shows people your availability and allows them to schedule a time that works for them.

That way you don’t spend hours or days going back and forth scheduling interviews. Stacy wakes up and already has a handful of phone interviews on her calendar that required no effort whatsoever. She recommends scheduling tools like YouCanBook.Me, Calendly, ScheduleOnce, Mixmax (some are free, some are paid).

And using tools like these allow you to focus your time on more strategic, rapport-building tasks. “I like to automate tasks that are manual,” says Stacy. Invest time and effort on activities that are more strategic and rapport-building, like sourcing, phone interviews, hiring manager calls and keeping candidates warm.

Phew! Stacy knows her stuff. And this is just half of the knowledge bombs she dropped at Talent Connect 2017. Watch the full video at below and stay tuned for the final nine steps in an upcoming post!

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