Are you involved in the hiring of dozens or even hundreds of employees a year? If so, you'll know that the typical sourcing tools, tactics, and strategies just don't scale. This podcast features news, tips, case studies, and interviews with the world's leading experts about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to high-volume hiring.
Not All High Volume Hiring Programs Look The Same. How Do They Differ? with Ben Gotkin of Recruiting Toolbox
Many organizations hire candidates at scale, but some of them hire for professional services, others retail associates, others for hospitality roles such as guest service workers in hotels. Few recruiting experts have the wealth of experience across different industries, sizes of organizations, and countries as today's guest: Ben Gotkin of Recruiting Toolbox. In addition to loving and knowing a lot about crab and ice hockey, Ben loves and knows a lot about all kinds of recruiting, including high volume hiring, as he's both led recruiting for and consulted with many of the world's most admired and largest employers.
Welcome To the high volume hiring podcast. I'm Steven Rothberg, the founder of college recruiter job search site at college recruiter. We believe that every student and recent grad deserves a great career. This podcast features news tips, case studies and interviews with the world's leading experts about the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to high volume hiring. Thanks for joining us. Today's guest is Ben Gotkin, who has been a principal consultant with a consultancy firm recruiting toolbox for exactly a decade today, before that some of his accomplishments included being the co-founder and executive director of the association of talent, acquisition professionals, director of talent, acquisition for married international and national recruiting director for the international accounting and consulting company RSM. Most importantly, however, we both love crab and understand that ice hockey is the one true sport. Ben, welcome to the
Speaker 3 (01:06):
Show. Thank you, Steven. Yes, crab's in hockey. That's , that's a passion for sure.
Speaker 2 (01:11):
Yeah. I mean, no matter, no matter how bad the day is, you have a, either one of those later in the day and it's all good.
Speaker 3 (01:17):
It's all good.
Speaker 2 (01:18):
so Ben, tell us a little bit about recruiting toolbox and the work that you do there.
Speaker 3 (01:22):
Thank you. Steven, and yes. So you mentioned 10 years today, so yeah, it's ironically my 10 year anniversary today that I'm speaking to you to you here. And our firm is we're not, we're not a huge firm. There's six of us at including our CEO, John blast Delica who founded the firm about 16 years ago. But we work with clients over 300 of them over the past 16 years across pretty much every industry companies, large and small domestic and global to help them recruit better. A lot of it is through training, hiring manager, training and recruiter training. All of it is very consultative and all of is very is, and all of it is custom design to fit our clients. So you know, we are a consulting firm that does a lot of training and in that we are often helping clients with their process, with their interviewing capabilities with their strategic approach. And again, pretty much we've seen pretty much how recruiting is done in every way, shape and form you can think of because of the variety of our, our client base.
Speaker 2 (02:28):
Cool. Well, and, and, and if there was a national or international hall of fame for recruiting leaders, I, I think you guys, the six of you would all have your photos up on the wall. Thank you. Yeah. so going back to some of your previous experiences, you know, you and I met I think 187 years ago, back when you were at RSM hundred
Speaker 3 (02:51):
Speaker 2 (02:51):
Remarkably, neither one of us have changed at all. Will you look exactly the same as
Speaker 3 (02:55):
We did exactly the same, right? Yeah.
Speaker 2 (02:57):
Right. Yeah. But we're well, very well preserved, kinda like Twinki. But both RSM and Marriot do in, in, in my view, just a tremendous amount of hiring each year. But the people they hire seem to me to have very different skill sets and the jobs that they're doing are really different. One of the things that I'm interested in learning from you is what similarities do you see between those, those kinds of hiring between what RSM what you were doing at RSM and what you were doing at Marriott, and then also what the differences were?
Speaker 3 (03:31):
Well, I mean, first of all, you're talking about a professional services firm versus a hospitality company. You're talking about a mid-size professional services firm versus a global hospitality company. So just in terms of scale and industry alone, there's big differences. The similarities would probably be most in college hiring in, in college recruiting piece. Cause that's when, especially if we think about volume hiring with the firm like RSM or any professional services firm, that's usually what, what the volume is outside of that at the, at the professional level, you know, you're hiring tax accountants, auditors consultants, that's a little more one off, and that would be probably similar to a Marriott for say, hiring at head for headquarters roles. So there would be a lot of similarities there. Whereas so your, your campus recruiting activity the cyclical nature of that internship programs converting interns into full-time hires very, very similar, you know, what you would typically expect in fact, even within RSM as, as you're probably sure you're aware RSM is, does it very much the same way that the big four does it in other accounting firms, they all kind of have the same model.
and Marriott did a lot of similar things like that, too. Whereas at Marriott, the high volume hiring is, was primarily in the hotels. Okay. So you know, front desk clerks cooks and waiters and housekeepers. And so that's where back when I was there 10 years ago before they acquired Starwood we were getting a million candidates a year in the, just in the United States for those hourly roles at your hotels. And so the challenge there was Marriott, very visible, very very highly respected in hospitality, you know, destination for a lot of people in hospitality. And we get a million candidates a year that now you had to get down to, you know, be very efficient in how are you getting down to actually making your selections, whereas in an RSM you're competing, you know, you you're who is a second tier firm, not the big four, but kind of that next level down, you know, you have significant significant competition at the top end, just the amount of competition for a limited number of candidates in accounting programs across the country meant you're dealing with less candidates, but it was almost kind of a, really a combination of high touch, high attention recruiting a lot of, you know, building those relationships with a lot of candidates in the front end and then, you know, maintaining those strong relationships all the way through the hiring, even though you're hiring at volume if for those college hires and, and really the focus much more on intern hiring with RSM too, because in professional services, you're typically hiring them as well.
You start 'em actually as externs, then you convert those to interns and then you convert a lot of your interns into your full-time hires.
Speaker 2 (06:33):
Yeah. So interesting. So RSM, and just to sort of paraphrase a little bit very high touch, probably very low turnover compared to the average employer, and maybe not in terms of like professional services, maybe it was, you know, average, a little bit of a battery or a little bit below average, but if you compare it to fast food, I would think RSM would have way lower turnover and Mart would be more like that fast food. I would think where the recruiting probably was lower touch, higher turnover just comparing the two organizations
Speaker 3 (07:08):
Kind of, I, I think when you look at professional services in that model, there's a reason why the higher such large numbers as interns and then as associates is actually there is turnovers. Usually once they get their CPA or once they get to manager level, they make a choice either I wanna stick in the, the partner track in this firm or in public accounting, or I decide to go off and be a manager or director of accounting or controller get on a controller, CFO track in a comp in a company. And so there is an expected amount of turnover for sure. So you're not, you know, yes, you obviously, your, your retention rates are gonna be higher than your hourly jobs, but there still is an expected amount of turnover. Whereas at a Marriott you know, one of the things that I really en appreciated about the culture there is that they, there were, yes, it was I, I don't wanna say transactional, but it was certainly you know, when you're hiring at that volume, it isn't as high touch.
and you're getting to the point where you're trying, you're trying to make the best possible decision of who's gonna be a good fit for that job in that hotel, in that situation. But also with the longer term view too, because Marriott in particular has a great intern, had a great, and still does have a gr has a great internal mobility culture. So numerous stories, many, many stories that people started off as front desk clerks, or you know, or another various hourly roles, and then moved their way up to assistant manager to manager. And now they're running a hotel.
Speaker 2 (08:40):
Speaker 3 (08:40):
Okay. And then they, then now, and then they're at headquarters or, yeah, that was very much a part of that culture. So Marriott was a bit unique, I'd say, particularly in the hourly hiring space for being really good at that.
Speaker 2 (08:52):
Yeah. It's it. And without going too far onto a tangent, I, I stayed at Marriotts a lot and I have noticed a cultural difference when you walk into the lobby and you're checking in at a Marriott at, at some other hotels, if that front desk person is overwhelmed or clearly new and just doesn't really know their job, all that well yet they run into some unusual problem. A lot of times they're kind of on their own where I can distinctly remember of a couple of occasions when I've gone into a Marriot. And clearly the person who's like the general manager who just happens to be walking by will just like jump over. And it's like, oh, let me show you how to do that. But, you know, if person higher in the organization, who's already done that job is able to do that. And so
Speaker 3 (09:36):
Well, yeah. And so if they came out of that, they had done that before. That'd be great. But also I think it was part of the culture that was driven. Again, this is 10 years ago when I was there. And I remember I saw an TV interview that had done some years before with bill Marriott, Mr. Marrit, who was a CEO, still CEO at the time. And the question was posed to him. You know, when you, when you hire people to work at your hotels, what's most important to you. And he says, you know, his response was fantastic. In my opinion, he says, I, I, I wanna hire nice people. I can't teach. Nice. I can teach him how to check somebody in. I can teach 'em how to make a bed. I can teach him how to, to make a meal.
I can't teach 'em how to be nice. So very, a lot of the interview process and the considerations were for hiring people that would deliver that great level of service as you were describing at the hotels. Cause you know, the, and the focus on the soft skills. So one of the things that helped to manage and help to drive that consideration and hiring at the, at the hourly level is that every hourly candidate in the us would receive in line with the application and an assessment that they would be that they would have to complete. And the assessments would be a, you know, you'd have a question like for a housekeeper job, for example, like you walk into a room and a guest had checked out, but they left a billfold with a, with money sitting on the dresser. What do you do?
Speaker 2 (11:03):
what, what do I do? Or what does a successful hire do? Well, what
Speaker 3 (11:09):
A, what would be our expectation there? And they had a whole team of industrial psychologists that, that validated constantly validates these assessments and making, you know, so a whole big process, but very intentional, because then that's what helped. That was kind of the first cut for recruiters then to determine, okay, who should I start to talk to? I got 500 applicants for a front desk, escort job. I'm not gonna talk, I'm not gonna review all 500, but you know, this, this, yeah, between that and the prescreening questions I would give my first slice. And then I go through the process and, you know, I feel confident that because these tests and the prescreening questions been professionally validated that it's gonna give me a good starting point to make sure I'm talking to, to people who could be successful in.
Speaker 2 (12:03):
So let's pivot to some of the work that you've been doing for exactly a decade now at recruiting toolbox clients that you've got there that are, that are doing high volume. And I, and I know you've got, you've got clients that do, you've got clients that don't but the focusing on the ones that do, because, Hey, that's what the podcast is about. What are some of the problems that your clients face and what are some of the solutions that you propose to them again, in terms of the high volume hiring clients?
Speaker 3 (12:32):
Yeah, so that covers, like for example, insurance companies with claim centers or inside sales operations, or financial services firms with call centers or manufacturing organizations or even healthcare. So I've, I've worked across all those. I've had clients in all those industries. And one of the interesting common themes is the struggle of hiring its scale yet still, you know, being able to assess what really matters to confidently assess what really matters in someone's ability to be successful in the job and be not just a good, you know, fill a short term hiring need, but also the longer term hiring need. So a couple examples of where I've seen some really interesting struggles. I had a healthcare client hospital system and yeah, it was yeah, we, we do a lot of discovery work in, in, in the work we do with clients. We, we speak to hiring managers, speak to recruiters, we get a view, we get a lot of different viewpoints into how recruiting is done.
So I was running into one particular situation where there was a, a, I think it was a, there was a part of the healthcare system is actually food service and the managers, like I don't have time to interview, you know, here's, here's what I'm looking for. Just go ahead and, and find people who, who you think can do this and, and go and make 'em an offer and get 'em on board. So the hiring managers sometimes wouldn't even interview the candidate. They, they were just looking for bodies basically. And then they were complaining about turnover.
Speaker 2 (13:52):
those are those. They, they can't possibly be connected, so there's
Speaker 3 (13:58):
Oh, a hundred percent connected. And so like, okay, if you're not even gonna interview somebody, if you're not, you know, how would you even know if this, the employees gonna be a good fit with the manager? You know, you would have no clue until unless the manager actually talked to the candidate. So I think very, and, and sometimes we see this even in in high volume hiring and call centers or, or manufacturing. So much of it is focused on, you know, do they have prior experience doing this? What are some of those hard skills when really what we know is very much long term success, performance, growth, potential you know, potential in general career potential is driven off of some, you know, being able to effectively assess you, they have the right behaviors and do they have the right motivators aligned with culture aligned with what works?
We know works well within our teams aligned with what we're looking to add in terms of diversity into our organization too. And then being intentional about how we assess that. And I, and very often volume hiring at the interview and selection stage misses that or undervalues that, you know, that that's much more about. Can they be here these hours? Can they talk on the phone? can they cook a meal or something like that, and are they gonna be, are they gonna be fine with what I wanna pay? And then that hiring decision is driven off of that, as opposed to thinking more critically around what do people, what are our most success? What are the common characteristics of our most successful people? And what do we wanna see more of?
Speaker 2 (15:33):
It sounds to me like the, the approach that you've taken with your clients is really similar, but depending upon the answers and the individual situations, whether you're hiring call center people, whether you're hiring, you know, a whole bunch of food service workers, that the questions and the tools that you use might, might differ
Speaker 3 (15:55):
Well. Well, certainly, and obviously you're going to, you know, for, for purposes of scale, you're not gonna, you know, you're the amount of CRI, you know, what, what you're gonna try to evaluate in a candidate and the amount of time and the amount of people you're gonna have to evaluate that is gonna be much, much less and much more narrow for high volume roles and low volume roles. But I think what we talk about, what I try to really reinforce with clients is that, you know, if we have concerns about turnover particularly short term turnover that means we probably missed something in the interview process. We missed important information. Okay. Motivators weren't aligned. Okay. You know, they, they made this move ultimately because because they wanted to make 50 cents more an hour and they have a, they have a history of this.
This is why, and they just keep hopping from job to job for another 50 cents an hour. Okay. Well, you know, we gotta determine is that really what we want here? and we surprised when something like that leaves in six months, because they got another job for you where they make, make another 50 cents per an hour, or are they actually motivated by other things we have to offer? Or maybe it's even, you know, gives us if, if we're seeing too much turnover related to, to pay, for example, maybe that should actually telling us something that maybe we're not paying well enough or paying competitively enough. Right. yeah. Cause, and actually, you know, Steven, that was, this is a big revelation I've had in the past couple of years because we've often talked with clients about, you know, how we, we talk about how are we selling the job and how what's the employment value proposition.
And you know, it, it is often very different for different people at different stages of their career. It's gonna be different for people in high level professional or management roles compared to entry level, high volume roles, very, very different. It's gonna be different for college graduates compared to somebody who's been out in the workforce for 20 years. So we, we need to understand, really get a clear understanding of what the key motivators are of the type of talent we're trying to hire and determine how well do we align to those things. And for particularly for more than your entry level, high volume jobs it is about the money. It is about pay it's about being able to put food on the table roof over our head. You know, do they care so much about learning and growth opportunities, some will, but, but some don't and, and that isn't necessarily, that should necessarily be held against them, you know, and every time as well, you know, and the question is, you know, if we, if we have made the decision that we're not willing, that we're not gonna pay competitively compared to other organizations in the market.
So if I'm in healthcare and I'm a hiring, I'm trying to say, hire home care people yet the Walmart down the street and the McDonald's down the street, they're paying $3 an hour more, you know, that's, that's a, that's a decision we're making as an organization. And, and ultimately I gotta make sure, yeah, I gotta have some tolerance for turnover because somebody may just leave my health, my home care job, which they probably would rather do, which they probably get more fulfillment from. But if they're gonna make three more, $3 more an hour at the Walmart down the street, that's a practical decision they gotta make
Speaker 2 (19:06):
Right. And we shouldn't be critical of people for wanting to pay their bills for wanting to FA afford medicine for wanting to be able to afford food. You know, if you're a very high income earner, you're a CEO of a big company, $3 an hour clearly means nothing to you, but for somebody at the bottom end of the wage scale, it means absolutely
Speaker 3 (19:24):
Everything, everything, everything, and the learning and development opportunities, the four, you know, the the 401k, the, you know, the other things that we often put out there is we thinking great benefits, you know, or great culture. You know, again, they're gonna, those are things we, we need to, we need to think about and, and relates to the expectations we're set, or also setting for how we're trying to value people in their motivators, how well they align. And, and should we just expect that we're gonna have a certain amount of turnover and what do we, and how can we optimize hiring the people that do have the right motivators aligned with what we're looking for? And if we get a little better results from less turnover as a result of that, then that's at least a move, you know, a path and the right direction. I just think, you know, the, the challenge, sometimes we don't, we don't assess candidates at that level. Well enough for what's re the realistic motivators and expectations of the candidates as they align to what we can offer them as an employer.
Speaker 2 (20:22):
Yeah. Perfect. Ben people wanna learn more about you recruiting, toolbox or ice hockey where do they, where do they, where, where do
Speaker 3 (20:31):
They go? Well, let's see recruiting toolbox.com would be the best place to go. We actually, one of the great things about our website is we have all sorts of free videos, podcasts downloads, blog blog there with great articles. You know, just if you're just looking just for new information to insights during just what we do and how we do it, recruiting, toolbox do dot com is the way to go. And as far as hockey goes, well, you know, it's all about the capitals to me and the great eight and Novi and his chase of the all time goal scoring records. So, you know, you could you know, just, just follow the caps in OVI, hopefully in the next couple years he's gonna do something really historic here.
Speaker 2 (21:12):
Nothing, nothing would both make me happier. And yet at the same time more sad to see GREs records fall. But no
Speaker 3 (21:20):
It's a Canadian. You, you exactly
Speaker 2 (21:23):
Thank you so much for joining us today on, on the high volume hiring podcast this is a co-production of evergreen podcasts and college recruiter. Please subscribe for free on your favorite app. Review it. Five stars are always nice and recommended to a couple people, you know, who wanna learn more about how best to hire dozens or even hundreds of people, a special thanks to our producer and engineer, Ian Douglas, I'm your host Steven Rothberg of job search site college recruiter. Each year, we help more than 7 million candidates find great new jobs. Our customers are primarily fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and other employers who hire at scale and advertise their jobs with us. You can reach me at [email protected]. Cheers.