S5 E23 | Recruiting Community: Marcus Thorpe & Transparency in Recruiting

Hoyt connects with Marcus Thorpe to talk about what transparency means in today's world of recruitment.

S5 E23 | Recruiting Community: Marcus Thorpe & Transparency in Recruiting

Hoyt connects with Marcus Thorpe to talk about what transparency means in today's world of recruitment.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 
Would it be the Marquise?

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 0:01
Marquise will be French way? Yes. But I think I think I think we say the Marquess is the anglicized version of it. Yes.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:12
And the fourth Are you truly the fourth or you just

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 0:15
No no, just seemed like a fun number to pick on three looks like ieeeee..

Gerry Crispin, CXR 0:24
Six makes you Henry of whatever.

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 0:26
It’s not exactly what I’ve got beheaded wive upstairs somewhere.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:30
It’s not that What about the eighth?

Gerry Crispin, CXR 0:35
Henry the Eighth, but he added six wives.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:38
That what it was. Sorry, I’m not good at math.

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 0:41
That’s why this is history, I think but But history. Ancient history in the States is what happened 133 years ago, right. So the scale the scale is a little bit different sometimes.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:53
Marcus, we don’t even we don’t even count what happened in January as real history. So don’t don’t worry about it. It’ll be fine in the states.

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 1:00
Well, my dad used to joke when we live in states when I was a kid was international news as what happened in the next door city. Jersey City compared to Manhattan basically is international news.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 1:16
Right? Why do I care about that? That’s across the Hudson.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:21
That’s right. It’s not even real news. Anyway, it’s not even real. Alright, you guys ready to do this? Here we go.

Announcer 1:30
Welcome to the CXR channel, our premier podcast for Talent Acquisition and Talent Management listen in as the CXR community discusses a wide range of topics focused on attracting, engaging and retaining the best talent. We’re glad you’re here.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:00
All right, everybody. Welcome to another edition of the CXR podcast. If you are new to us, this is well, this edition is mostly live. We’re doing a slight pre-recording, you could call it a delay. I’m coming at you live from a slightly different location. So we’re going to do a little recording, put it out there. So there won’t be any live chat today. But you are welcome to comment on anywhere that you may be watching this, you can see that cxr.works/podcast Or you might see it on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or even YouTube. So you can add your comments there, share your profile, we’ll be sure to connect with you. I’m excited about today’s show, not just because I’m in a different location, but we’ve got a guest who I think has been on the show before. But we’re going to talk about a fun topic of transparency. But let me ask you, Marcus, how are you today?

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 2:42
I’m very well indeed. Thanks for asking, Chris. We don’t have quite we don’t have quite the weather you have in your background there. But it’s it’s not bad for our sort of summer standards when we have some sunshine coming at me, shall we say?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:54
That’s great. I’m actually sitting I’m sitting in the middle of a patio in the jungle in Costa Rica.

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 3:02
Oh, wow. Nice.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 3:05
And then I’m gonna let’s pull in from the greenroom all the way from New Jersey. Mr. Gerry Crispin.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 3:12
Nice to be here. I’m the only one in the United States. That’s okay. I’m trying to be in between you two.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 3:18
When we go big we go big we go home apparently. So Marcus is for those who may not know you, or know about you. Your your x two sigma x Google X Amazon. Current ThoughtWorks you want to give us kind of a little bit of a sort of an escalator pitch about who is Marcus? And why we’re gonna listen to you today.

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 3:38
Yeah, sure. Um, hopefully Listen to me, because I’m not talking complete nonsense. But yeah, I’ve been in technical recruitment my entire professional career, which is 20 plus years, I think you stopped counting it. 20 years, right. So 20 plus years. I’ve worked for some of those companies. I’ve also a little bit of time at places like Skype and Twitter. But yeah, what I do is these days is run teams to scale hiring the best technical talent around the planet, essentially. So whether I’m New Jersey based or Manchester based, it’s about identifying scalable, repeatable processes to identify best of breed technical talent globally.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 4:26
Great and you’ve got we’ve known you for quite a while and we just really enjoyed the time with you. But you got a topic we’re going to talk about today is transparency within recruiting, and nobody sets this up better than our own Gerry because we got a lot of material wasn’t expecting to do an intro but we we’ve been doing a little bit of work with various leaders in the space plus on the on the corporate side and on the on the vendor side. around the topic of transparency in this interest and this you know, increased focus on transparent It’s in a couple of different levels. Gerry, do you want to kind of set the stage before we kind of open up a conversation around that?

Gerry Crispin, CXR 5:05
Yeah, I think I think one of the key issues that is the choke point, if we really look at the choke point in recruiting today, it has to do with access to information and the willingness of employers really the system to provide us with, with a transparency about what’s going on, either in an organization or in an industry or in the marketplace. And some of it, some of it is accessible within many different companies, but but often isn’t curated in a way that’s useful for the recruiter, or the candidate, or the hiring manager, et cetera, in a way that that helps us understand what’s going on. And so transparency is a key issue. I know that at least at some point, Chris can talk a little bit about a survey that we’ve done and different areas of transparency. But my area of interest and fascination is just as this whole host of concern about what we know about pay internal in organizations and company issues around compression, and so on that that are really, truly impacting really how we’re doing our hiring. And now candidates are demanding a great deal more information, states in the United States are passing laws about pay transparency. And yet we don’t have an industry voice that says, here’s, here’s the baseline of what we should be doing from a practice point of view. And that’s, I think what we’re trying to work on is how do we get agreement, you know, in our industry to have a voice about what are the basic levels of transparency that we really need in order to move forward in the 21st century?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 6:59
So Marcus, is there an area when we talk about transparency within recruiting? Is there an area that sort of stands out for you specifically? I mean, Gerry, obviously feels very passionate about a couple of different areas, but pay most most prominently? Is there, one that sort of stands out to you when you hear that term transparency within recruitment?

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 7:18
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s about the relationship between a recruiter and the candidate, right, it’s about being able to be setting expectations up front of the limits of those expectations, you know, to build a relationship, you know, it’s not just about a numbers game, it’s about relationship building. And the best recruiters on the planet are the ones who at the end of a three-six week process, will have a great rapport with a candidate and be able to understand whether the offer presented is going to be accepted or denied, you know, before before sharing those numbers. And then if a candidate is unsuccessful, it’s also having that level of relationship to be able to give them some meaningful feedback about you missed in these areas. If you’d like to come back, having addressed some of these areas, and we’d love to have another conversation and hire you in the future. That to me is transparency. And some companies, including one of the larger retail companies from my from my CV and resume, having a very deliberate policy, which is in there every every signature sent out to a candidate, which is we will not give you feedback, please do not offend us and you by asking. And you know, I think that’s fundamentally wrong, right? I think we need to be more proactive. And if customer candidates are going to invest time and effort talking to us, which we’re begging them to do, we also have to be diligent enough to give them something meaningful to work on. If they’re not successful.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 8:50
You could argue that is a level of transparency, don’t ask me.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 8:57
It is but I love your positioning of it as a relationship between the recruiter and the candidate or between the employer and the candidate that’s fronted by the recruiter in some instances, and potentially the hiring manager as well. So I, I love that issue. Because then, you know, you can start talking about what does the recruiter need, in terms of their knowledge about the job or the environment or the you know what the person’s getting into, that they need to be able to share with the candidate. And in my experience, by the way, world class recruiters don’t care what the rules are inside of a corporation. They’re going to tell the candidate what they believe, is the right thing for them to know in order for them to make the best decision for themselves. But that’s, that’s a narrow band of really good quality recruiters.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 9:52
Look, gentlemen, I agree with you completely. But for the sake of argument for the sake of education, I’m going to ask you where It has transparency end from a recruiter standpoint, like just how much feedback is too much feedback, or how much transparency into the process is too much, when is it detrimental to the process or to the candidate, if ever?

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 10:14
Well, talking to two individuals who typically live in litigious us, I think the answer is too much is when your legal team tells you it’s too much. That’s definitely been the case. And a couple places I’ve worked in the past, because you end up going down a route, which potentially might lead to litigation, as in, I was not hired for reasons that I don’t agree with. But bottom line is, is, you know, if you are diligent about making sure that any debrief, any decision at the end of the process contains a discussion around candidate X passed because of these reasons, or was not quite successful, because of these reasons, you should have enough to be able to pass on something meaningful and meaty for them to work on in the future. There, you know, there’s always a danger, that with a non technical recruiter, when talking to a technical candidate, that you can get lost in this sort of spiral of, I don’t, I’m not as technical as you, and therefore I can’t really, if you push back, I don’t know what to respond to. But then good recruiters ask the right questions, as they do at the start of a process of a candidate to qualify a candidate. Hopefully, they’re asking the right questions of hiring managers and the business to be able to relate back in some companies, it’s done by the hiring manager for this very reason, because they’re able to talk turkey, if you will, when it comes to the sort of technical knowledge, because there’ll be they would have been working on the same technical team together. But in many, it’s, it’s the who, who would have the recruiter to deliver that. And they have to be comfortable with delivering the right message from the debrief, and from what’s been shared with them previously.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 11:57
Yeah, Gerry, do you feel the same way Is it is it just to the point of litigiousness, to the, to the point of risk mitigation that we we stop?

Gerry Crispin, CXR 12:04
Well, I think it’s, I would define, this in terms of work for me, in terms of whether or not the lawyer in my company is telling me what I have to do, or, or helping me to defend, what I know is the right thing to do. And that’s there’s a big difference there. There are a number of us in our history of recruiting, who may have gotten sued, and won, because we did the right thing, even though it created a little bit of a hassle internal to the organization. And obviously, lawyers always want to reduce risk, what we want to do, obviously, is create reward opportunities, and engage, you know, our brand, if you will. And so, so this, this issue of where to end, I do think is an important one, because there are a number of companies that lack quality information to be able to give feedback. So part of it is cleaning their data, and having a system systematic, and intentionally systematic approach to how they collect information on which the selection decision is made. And until you can do that you really can’t give feedback. Because you’ve got random, you know, random information and gut feel that’s gone into the selection, and nobody can define any of that shit. But that’s not recruiting. That to me is some kind of random way that that people get into jobs. But it’s not it’s not a profession of recruiting. And so I yeah, I’m I’m a fan of the fact that you’ve got to get your foundation in order, so that you have the ability to be transparent about it, and your legal system can then defend what you’re doing.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:04
Yeah, but it seems to me, Gerry, you’re also talking about and I don’t disagree with you, but you’re also talking about a level of proficiency with a recruiter. So educating a recruiter on how to turn down a candidate. Even if you’re going to do it with a little more than you’re just not the most qualified.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 14:18
We’re in the 21st century, let’s upskill recruiters with a whole new set.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 14:23
Well, we’re also in an era where we have like remedial level recruiters who are getting paid big bucks in this, you know, super hiring phase that we all just went through and now leaders are struggling with Oh my oh my god, do I really have these recruiters that I’m just not really sure what’s happening in the space,

Gerry Crispin, CXR 14:40
We get needed to clean up our profession. For sure.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 14:43
For sure, you know, that’s a piece of it.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 14:45
And and we need to be able to make it clear to candidates out there that companies that in fact are doing that. And and we need to call out those that aren’t Yep, just saying.

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 15:02
I mean, I think I think it all comes down to objectivity versus subjectivity of hiring decisions, right? So part of the problem is, is, unless your interviewer who’s taking diligent notes, Google standard was it needs to hear almost a verbatim copy of what has been asked responded to in my qualification of that answer, that might be taking a little bit far. But until you have that level of detail in terms of your feedback, versus a couple of tick marks, and thumbs down, which doesn’t really help us very much, it’s very hard to get that level of objectivity of decision. And without the objectivity, you can’t share anything meaningful in terms of feedback. So it’s a balance, right? Because the same time if I’m doing this during my entire interview with you, over zoom, which is what we’re using these days, you know, the report that I’m building you as a cab with you as a candidate is again, negligible. And so you may not listen to the feedback, I’ll give you afterwards anyway, because you don’t know who I am from animal you’ve seen as the cost of my board boarding head. I do.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 16:07
As long as you’re with a big company. Think right, because I think it does come back, sorry Gerry,  it does come back to I hate to use the word proficiency again, but maybe just that that level of expertise or even compassion that to Gerry’s point earlier, a good a really good recruiter inherently asks, like, we know how to have a rapport with the candidate, whether it’s on Zoom, or whether way back in the day, some of us remember it was just on a phone call. Right? So I do think it does come back to that a lot of times,

Gerry Crispin, CXR 16:41
I do think it takes time, though, for most recruiters to learn on their own, how to do that in an authentic way. That that actually empowers the candidate to move on, when when we’re rejecting them. That’s not a simple competency. We don’t teach that in any way, shape, or form. So it is, it is a kind of narrow focus at the high end. But we need in the future, to think about what is it that that recruiters are going to need and their ability to reject candidates with quality data that allows for them to extend their brand, to those that aren’t going to come on board is is I think an important future competency that we should be assessing, before we even hire a recruiter. And so those are some of the issues that I think are going to be important. The feedback is is probably the the most powerful value add, if you will, in recruiting that we can offer. There are other areas of transparency about the truth of the job itself. We know what is within this job description, that in fact, you’re going to use or need on a regular basis, what is real versus what what is, what is likable, if you will, what is going to be critical to your success. What is your what is your boss’s management style versus yours, in terms of what you need the degree to which we can tell the truth about the environment that you’re coming into, that increases the success as somebody who can do the job, but may not actually do it well, given the misalignment, if you will, to who they are versus the environment that is not used in selection as often as it might be. So there’s this transparency of conversation, that that builds that relationship that Marcus is talking about, that really requires an a deeper understanding of the job. And what it requires beyond, you know, skills, knowledge and experience that we need to upskill recruiters around if we’re going to have that level of transparency. And then of course, you know, just the issue of pay. on a global basis, we have all these different laws being passed in European countries in states in the United States, about what we are supposed to do in relation to compensation to deal with equal pay for equal work. That fundamentally, I’m not sure we’ve really had a great, great set of conversations with our recruiters about how to do this well, versus simply complying with these legal laws versus how to how to make the best of this in an appropriate way. How do we understand most recruiters don’t understand how jobs and job offers are put together from a value point of view on a market basis on a responsibility basis, etcetera, may need to know more about that so that they can explain that candidates? Well,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 20:01
So let me ask a loaded question. Because I think almost between the three of us, we’ve probably got 100 years of recruiting experience right now. We’ve probably got 100 years of recruiting experience. So I’ll ask a loaded question. That may be its own show on its own, but like, how did we get here to be in a place in a profession where transparency? is such an obstacle, such a hurdle for us to get around? Why is it so difficult for the recruiting industry?

Gerry Crispin, CXR 20:41
Given that most of that 100 years is mine,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 20:45
I knew you were gonna do it anyway.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 20:51
You know, but a lot of it was the same. I will tell you that the history of recruiting really did not bode well for for candidates, it had to do, the basic role of recruiting was to assume that there’s an unlimited supply of candidates. And fundamentally, you roll them into a line, you make your choices, get rid of the line, and then start over again, with the next job. And most things, so most of the practices did not really spend much time, you know, illuminating anything about the candidate, because we weren’t concerned about their decision, we were concerned about whether we thought they could do the job and then sell them on doing it for us. And, and fundamentally, that that kind of attitude is slow to change, and continues today. And we still don’t have a good set of theory and practice, about what the decision process is, or should be for a candidate who can do the job, but has to now decide whether that work is fundamentally aligned to the job, the job to their aspirations for a career and their career in relation to their stage of life today. And more and more candidates are concerned about blending, if you will, their work, their career aspirations and their life stage, so that they they obviously can get a lot of things done. And that’s what a lot of the conversation these days is about.

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 22:40
I wonder about incentives right. I think akin to what I’m hearing from Gerry, recruiters aren’t incentivized on. Most recruiters are not incentivized on candidate experience, they don’t have a net promoter score dedicated to their success. It’s all about bums and seats, and how happy is my hiring manager that I feel thirty to raise requirements in the last quarter, not about the quality of the hire necessarily, we don’t do a very good job of being able to articulate quality of hire. And maybe we need to sort of double incentivize rehires, you know, if we’re talking about giving meaningful feedback to allow people to reapply six months from now, 12 months from now, still be interested because the level of their candidate experience was sufficiently positive that they want to talk to us in the future, maybe we need to re incentivize in some way, maybe we need to apply that net promoter score, maybe we need to find a way to say you get double points for a hire that previously didn’t quite make it, but you’re able to, to keep them in the loop, you know, point them in the right direction, and then make sure that they were reengaged later. But I think the the way that the data that we use to measure recruiters today may not lend itself very well, to applying the optimal candidate experience each time and make sure that quality of hire is is is paramount.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 24:01
I think that’s a great point. Because we don’t have a metric, I mean, people obviously behave in relation to what they’re being measured on. And that’s just a basic fundamental, you know, rule. And so if we have a metric that deals with some aspect of what we’re calling, or have been calling candidate experience, and I think we may need to pivot towards a perception of fairness that the process I went through, I thought was fair, even though I did not get the job can empower me to want to return when I have what I’ve gotten this feedback, you know, set so that I feel I’m more competitive for a future job, that kind of thing. And I don’t know the answers to that. But I do think we need to really think more deeply about some of those and start building and experimenting with other kinds of measures of that that have to do with the perception have the attitude and behavior of the candidate. And that whether you call it candidate experience or perception of fairness or something else, we’re not capturing that we’re maybe giving feedback. But are we getting feedback that allows us to better understand the impact that we have those people that we did not hire, for example, as well as those that we hire, who may no longer be engaged?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 25:26
Well, and Gerry, I think the last couple of years, especially with the candies and your work with them, you have been sort of playing that tune of perceived fairness that were that has bubbled up and all of that research that that they do, that’s fantastic over the CandE’s. And I think a lot of that, that that feeling of fairness is about the feedback, I really think it is about the conversation and and a level of transparency, maybe not fully transparent, but an increased level of transparency, that that goes an awfully long way towards that.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 25:54
Feeling heard.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 25:55

Gerry Crispin, CXR 25:56
I think one of the problems that I think we see is that people then say, well, we don’t have we can invest in the time, energy and effort to do all of that for all those people who have applied. But I don’t think it’s the same for the person who gave us their resume, if you will, or filled an application out. But we didn’t go forward with there’s some level of feedback that they they might be able to get that could be automated in a variety of different ways. I do think that if you get to, to one of the four or five people that were seen by a hiring manager, however, who the hiring manager says, Boy, if if the person who, who we just made the offer to does not accept it? Absolutely, this is the number two person you can make an offer to them automatically. That person, I want to keep really warm long term. Because fundamentally, I can sell that in a variety of different ways within the organization. That’s a whole different level of, if you will, feedback and engagement around transparency, that I don’t think we really built solid practices around. And that’s an opportunity.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 27:12
I would agree with that. Marcus, look, if you haven’t listened to the last few shows, and of course you have, you’re probably one of our five subscribers, I want to ask you, the question, we’re revving revving up the show with and that is, if you were gonna write a book, on the topic of transparency within recruiting such a topic, if you’re gonna write a book, what would the title of that book be?

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 27:40
I mean, I think honestly, from a leading a team perspective, it’s something around No Ghosting, Please. You know, it’s, I don’t think there is a worst practice within recruiting that gives us a worse name than to invest all the time and energy and enthusiasm in the world talking to a candidate. And then at the end of the process, because you’re not quite sure what you’re going to say to them. And because you’re a little bit uncomfortable, because you’ve promised them these, this wonderful world that we have to offer here, that you, you know that you sort of disappear. And almost by osmosis, you expect them to understand they’ve been rejected, or even worse, the first they hear about it is when they get the candidate survey, telling them they’ve been rejected from the process. You know, I think that’s the that’s the fundamental bit is, you know, I mentioned at the start, it’s all about relationship building. What better ways to destroy your relationship than by refusing to engage with somebody who invested time and energy? Yes, there’s a line in the process where it’s probably not scalable, if you’ve got 1000 applicants a month to send everyone to have a conversation with everybody. But if they entered the process and had a physical conversation with somebody within your company, I think you have a fundamental right to pick up the phone and reject them over the phone.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 28:55
I love it. And then all right, and the follow up question we’re doing for everybody is who gets the first signed copy of it? And what do you write in there?

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 29:04
Wow, okay. I didn’t know this question. So it doesn’t make it a bit more difficult. Who is the first signed copy of it? I gotta say it’s probably someone like, very early days. Learning about the importance of candidate experience. There’s probably a couple of people from that but you know, in terms of maintaining that sort of relationship and that sort of fundamental quality of quality of candidate experience above all others. I’m afraid Gerry as to get the first copy of you’re perpetuating this argument. I’ve heard it at points in my career. I definitely beat the drum when I can. I think it’s fundamental to our candidates to get some level of feedback. They tell us it loud and clear and in the in the when we ask them The surveys on the candidate experience. But honestly, I think Gerry is clearly an advocate of this and needs to be beating the drum more. So if I can take on that mantle at some point, so be it.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 30:16
Well, Marcus, hang around, I’m going to shove you over the greenroom for a little bit. But first, thank you so much. for your time today, we know you’re super busy. And we appreciate you dialing in from all the way across the water, regardless of how many numbers or letters are after your name.

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 30:29

Chris Hoyt, CXR 30:31
All right, good stuff. Let’s put everybody over there in the green room really quickly, I just want to share we’ve got some stuff that’s coming up June 15. We’ve got our EMEA q2 community meeting. And that’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s your chance to build a network and discuss regional challenges and discuss key tech resources with the media teams and the members within CXR. We also have a CXR workshop coming up, that is how to lead a design thinking session, we’re going to teach you how to do that. And then also coming up on June 21, I’ll share this woman has been a saint, she is Christine Brown, and she is the recipient of this year CXR Foundation Scholarship. And the reason she has been a saint is not only because she’s awesome, and we selected her to be that recipient, but we’ve rescheduled her three times so we’re really appreciative of her flexibility in the schedule there. So with that, I’m gonna encourage everybody head out to cxr.works/events you can see everything else that’s coming up cxr.works/podcast So you can go ahead and subscribe and like and join one of those other five people that are with us every week when you do this on Tuesdays and until then we’ll see everybody next time thank you so much

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