Want to win with millennial candidates? Check out this fluff-free approach to hiring awesome Gen Y talent.
Trevor Longino has been in the marketing game for over 17 years.
He’s helped launch 5 startups to star status, and much of it has been baptism by fire. “At my first big job after school, I was initially hired as a copywriter. About 9 months later I was VP of Marketing and not because I was remotely qualified, but because they needed someone to do it. I spent the first 6 months doing everything wrong,” says Trevor.
Today, as the CMO of tech startup Unito.io, Trevor’s pretty good at getting things right. He’s helped Unito grow a team of 9 to a team of 25, almost tripling its original size in less than 2 years. If you come from the fast-paced, competitive world of tech startups, you know just how big a win that is — especially, when your entire workforce is made up of millennials.
Unito.io helps productive teams align tasks using their favorite productivity tools, even when their definitions of “favorite” look very different. If your marketers love Trello and your developers love Github, don’t fret. Unito syncs and automates tasks in across project management tools to keep everybody happy. 🙌
Their mission may not be the sexiest, but anyone who’s ever lead a project can tell you, it’s pretty damn important. We sat down with Trevor to find out how he recruits rockstar millennial talent, without cutting corners.
What was your recruitment process like in the pre-Breezy days?
Unito is very process-driven. Our CEO has a background in product and he’s all about building a repeatable process, rather than doing anything one-off. So we’ve always used Breezy.
What really makes Breezy attractive to us is that it gives you a visual representation of what the hiring steps are. It’s customisable and we love being able to see where your candidates are, what communications you have, collect notes from everyone the company, and engage in all your email and communication from one central place.
Previously, I would do interviews where I would give all the people in the interview a piece of paper with a score, then copy that to an Excel spreadsheet. I’d also be working from a calendar, using email to track the communication — it was all over the place. The simplicity of Breezy is super elegant.
We’ve been fortunate in that we’ve recruited a lot of great talent. We have one of the best teams in the city. The process we have is a big part of that and the tool that we use to execute that process makes it simpler logistically and reduces that overhead, so that’s why we’re pretty big fans of Breezy.
Why is it important for your company to create an awesome experience for candidates?
It’s pretty rare that we end up talking to a candidate who decides to go with some other offer.
The reason we keep getting the candidates we want is that we work really hard, both at selling them on what the company is and what the vision is, and on working with them to expose them to what it means to work in a startup so that they’re not put off by the informality of it and the pace at which we move. What we end up with is people who love the idea of what we do.
The key to an awesome experience for candidates is communication and clarity. We don’t want people to wonder what their status is. We email every single person who applied with either a yes or a no, particularly at the start of the process where 75% of the applications are crap. In Breezy, you can look at that applicant’s card information and just pull it over and it automatically sends out your reply. Having that level of touch means that even if people don’t get hired it’s like, “Wow, thanks at least for telling me because most folks don’t.” It gives you some kind of reputation in the community.
Once we find someone we like as an applicant the very first thing we do is ask, “Why do you want to come work for us? What makes this place interesting?” After that, I’ll screen their answer and decide if I want to talk to them. If it’s a yes, I tell them what the next step is and how long it’s going to take so they understand immediately that this is going to be a respectful and responsive process.
To simply know what’s going on is empowering for people. Every time you’re hiring, there’s a big power imbalance. I really love to be able to give them visibility into what’s happening so that they can reclaim some of that power and the dignity that goes with it.
What are the recruitment and hiring workflows where you see teams using Breezy?
We start with getting all applicants and referrals into Breezy and grab their LinkedIn profile info.
The next step is to ask them the question about why they want to work here, unless it’s a referral in which case if we like them they go straight to phone screen.
The phone screen is about 15–20 minutes and every department does it differently. The way I do it is to talk about the company and what I need out of this particular position and then I will ask the applicant questions about them. I try to let them know about why the company’s great, that we won Founder’s Institute’s 2017 award for best Canadian startup and various other awards,, so they know we’re a good place to work.
Then I show them an actual problem we’re facing in our business and ask them to send me a quick email about how they’d solve it. We’re able to do this because before we even post the job in Breezy, we use Asana to write down the AORs for every role. This way they have a 100% understanding of what the responsibilities are.
Now the candidate understands that our culture is one where there’s a clear process in place. The second interview has 2–3 people so it looks like a traditional panel but we don’t ask traditional questions. For example, our CEO’s favorite question is, “What’s your biggest fuck up?” Because we all know the “greatest weakness” question is bullshit and we want to get the candidate out of the classic interview mindset as fast as we can.
We lead with honesty and give people and understanding of who they’ll be working with, which gives them a chance to be honest, too.
How much time would you say Breezy saves you overall?
We probably do 15–20 interviews for every given role, using Breezy combined with Calendly makes it possible to just schedule it. No more, “Are you free Friday? Not really. How about Tuesday?” and all that tedious back and forth.
Being able to message people more quickly when we have to evaluate them is also a big one. We get about 200 applications for every open position, but 75% of those are probably people we won’t to talk to. Breezy saves us 1–2 minutes of replying to each one individually which would definitely add up.
Then on posting of course, it takes about half an hour to get a job ad posted and that’s if you haven’t forgotten your password and login info for the job board and all that. The amount of time you save on the combination of those things is pretty big.
What other metrics do you use to track your recruitment efficiency? How do you know Breezy is doing its job?
The main one is time to hire. We use that to track the overall efficiency.
Then we track interviews to see how we’re progressing as we go through the interview process. We want to see how many of those were good. We want to make sure the people we’re bringing in are people who could actually do the job. Out of all those 200 applications we’ll probably get 10–15 to first interview.
Overall, we’re probably at about 6 weeks time to hire, depending on the role.
What are your favorite insider tricks and tips for engaging candidates?
In the work environment, what people want is an interesting job.
Unito is a backend tool for collaboration, not a video game company that sells itself. So you have to immediately engage the candidate’s mind in thinking about what the role is and really sell them on it.
They get autonomy to solve problems and a well-defined role with no growth limits. We want to get them immediately thinking about how they would do this job to the point that they go home at night and think about what they can do in this role, how they can make this problem better.
When you do that, you get a candidate who’s excited about the role instead of just saying, “Tell me about yourself” which is a topic that’s not at all new to them.
Do you have any personal passions or side projects most people might not know about?
I play the banjo and ukulele. If you look at any of our videos and hear the ukulele in the background, that’s me.
When you have a startup and a child, free time is scarce. Playing banjo and ukulele forces you to disengage your brain which is nice.