Author Archives: ECA Admin

Formulas work on numbers — not people

Formulas bring us a certain type of comfort, a surprise-less sense of certainty. But the reality is that formulas like 2+2 = 4 work on numbers, but not on people. The recruitment industry just somehow hasn’t caught up to it yet.

“It’s a numbers game” ….No. It isn’t.

Here at Sage, our entire team of recruiters has worked for various recruitment companies, yet the one constant in our previous roles was the ubiquitous presence of formulas:

Scheduling a minimum of 3 interviews per day for a week = 1 placement
Calling non-stop from 9am to 11am during a week = minimum 1 client meeting
Send 50 emails per day = 5 positive responses

Submit 6 people per role = 1 placement

But what kind of calls are these? Who are these interviews with? Is this mass mail/spam? Do you know what makes a candidate/client unique? But really, do you? Did you take the time to research their websites, Githubs, Twitters? Did you though?

Truth is, recruiters, clients, and candidates alike are all unique individuals and a formula towards success is a simplistic and short-sighted solution.

Value-based metrics Vs. Activity-based metrics

Old school sales and recruitment practices revolve around the idea that if you try something enough, something will stick… eventually. This old school style is activity-based, where managers will expect you to make a certain number of calls, set a number amount of interviews, or send a specific amount of candidates to guarantee success.

Sage does things differently. We focus on the value our recruiters bring to the table at the end of the day. We have goals and yes, they are focused on placements and yes, we have guidelines focused on personalization, but how we ultimately achieve success depends on the individual’s style, personality, way of learning, and everything else that makes us unique.

Making a Connection

Our industry has a problematic lack of human connection. We are in a people-focused industry, working with people with a plethora of experiences, personalities, and backgrounds; which is exactly why embracing this uniqueness will be the only way to guarantee success.

What works for one recruiter will not work for the next
What works for one candidate will not work for the next
What works for one client will not work for the next (templates and spammy emails don’t work either — surprise, surprise).

When sending an email, calling someone, or conducting an interview… Make it count. It is not about how many calls you make, but rather the content of that call that makes the difference. If you are sending out six candidates to an interview, and know only one of them can get the job, why waste everyone else’s time? Send one candidate, get him or her hired, and focus on the quality over quantity. Even if it takes a bit longer to find this individual, both your client and your candidate will respect you for it — believe me.

Recruitment is not a numbers game, it’s a human-driven business that demands personalization and a critical eye, not a formula.

Persistence Pays Off

From a young age, I always wanted to be a teacher. It was what I was comfortable with, I had the experience and the education, but it didn’t pan out due to lack of openings and budget cuts. I’m sure that I’m not the only person who has found herself in an unexpected field; it happens all the time. When I found myself second-guessing my desire to teach, I asked my Dad what he thought I would be good at. Without skipping a beat, he said, “sales”. *

…Fast forward a couple years: I find myself in the recruitment industry. Recruitment can get a bad rep, but it also has many redeeming qualities that keep me here. Both companies I have worked for have helped so many exciting organizations to find amazing talent and have helped people find jobs — why would we ever get a bad rep, we’re doing amazing work! 🙂 My most memorable stories involve people who have been struggling with their job search, or companies that desperately need someone quickly. That’s where we come in.

Of course, there is always room for improvement. How can we ensure we get the right candidates answering us? We need to be persistent. We need to push back. But there’s a fine line between being tough in defense of what’s right and being too harsh, which is something I struggle with constantly. Finding the line between helpful and pushy is the key to success; you need to know when to push candidates to take risks and when to back down. In order to do this, you need to truly know your candidates — and your clients.

I sometimes find it difficult to be persistent with people. I always find a way to get over that feeling, but still question, how many times are you allowed to reach out to someone? Some ways that I overcome my concerns are by doing extensive research on each person’s background to ensure I am bringing something valuable to the table. I also realize that in those 10 + calls a day from recruiters, I have done the best job finding something relevant and appealing to them. I have taken the time to research their backgrounds, interests, and projects they have done. In the end, they appreciate my call (even if they are not looking!) and we build a relationship. While it’s not an easy job, it is rewarding. Like I said, why would we ever get a bad rep, we’re doing amazing work!

So how many times IS too many to follow up? If I can connect with someone, being persistent is easy. I consistently follow up with people 4–5 times, in an effort to make that connection. One day in my office, I asked a candidate what motivated him to come meet with me. He said, “Well, you kept emailing me”. He was not on the market or looking, but I built a relationship and was sure I would find him something when he was ready. Fast forward two months from then: I found him a job he loves and he is happier than ever.

Persistence, not pushy. There is a fine, but very important, line between the two.

As I approach my first complete year in recruitment, I have quickly learned that being persistent, following up, and pushing back is a vital part to being a good sales person — as long as you’re doing it in the right way.

*I guess my thought out arguments for eating dessert before dinner has paid off!

Start-ups with Enterprise Resources

I have been told far too many times by so many people that working for a start-up means long hours, low pay, and poor benefits. Importantly, I’m told that the resources are not there and you won’t get the training and professional development, conferences and education that you would get at a larger company.

I am the founder of a start-up recruitment company focused on helping start -ups to grow their technical teams. I have a good understanding of what it takes to succeed at a start-up, and a deep understanding of the culture, benefits, perks, and professional development that is offered at start-ups. I wholly disagree with the aforementioned statements and intend on telling you why these people are wrong.

I will start with my own company, and will remind people that we are hiring (not to sound too obvious ;-)).

First, we pay over market rate salaries and offer bonuses quarterly and annually. We offer very strong benefits the first day you start, 100% company paid. We offer more resources than most enterprise agencies, including Linkedin Recruiter Professional, Linkedin and Indeed job slots, Salesforce database, and a Connectifier Social Tool. We offer professional development that includes weekly training by a Director of Technology, extensive and ongoing recruitment training, Linkedin recruitment training, Harvard Computer Science Course, and even Training in HTML, CSS and JavaScript! In addition, we offer meet up groups and conferences / seminars where applicable.

We offer work-life balance in that, while you work (sometimes) long hours, you get to work from home from time to time and we even offer unlimited vacation. Oh yes, we offer catered food, Friday (and other day) drinks (we have a beer keg), and meals out at least twice a month. Finally, with apple equipment (including laptop for work from home) and a beautiful newly renovated office in the heart of downtown, you cannot go wrong.

Ok now that’s enough marketing, let’s talk about Toronto’s Technology start-ups.

A typical start-up company (that we work with, anyways) has anywhere from 10–50 million in series ‘A’ funding and a board of investors breathing down their necks pushing growth. Growth is at the forefront and founders are being pushed to hire a lot of talent, fast. Since they are heavily funded and the push for growth is coming from VC’s, they have the money to compete with enterprise corporations.

It’s inevitable that start-ups will start offering more, which is exactly what we have seen in the market over the past 5 years. We work with nearly two-dozen start-ups and every one of them offers competitive pay, bonuses or stock options, education and professional development (two of my candidate have started their Masters’, paid by my client), work-life balance (one even sends people home if they are still working at 6pm!), top of the line software and equipment, and offices that will take your breath away. About half of them offer catered food and work from home. I consistently hear from my candidates that they could not have acquired the same level of knowledge they have acquired at our start-up clients in any other organization. If you’re sitting next to the CTO, you will likely learn more than if the CTO is in another country. Enough said.

No wonder why companies like IBM are now competing with start-ups, breaking their company into small “start-up like” sections, and offering more and more perks. The question is, will talent gear towards start ups that have the resources of enterprise, or enterprise that acts like a start-up?

Two points.

First, we operate in a similar way to our clients because we don’t want to just know our client’s business; we want to ‘be’ our clients business.

Second, start up’s that are well funded can offer you the same level of ‘perks and incentives’ than enterprise, however you get to work at a start-up, which is much more awesome.

What will you choose?

Thanks for reading. For more information on Sage Recruiting please check out our website —

Building a Technology Culture

I am the founder of a recruitment organization and most of my clients are technical managers of start-ups and small businesses. The positions we work on are highly technical and complex. The expectation is that we bring technically savvy candidates to the table, every time. Recruiters are not expected to be technical, and very few have any knowledge or understanding of technology. That means that the person who is interviewing you for your next job, holds your livelihood in their hands, has little ability to assess your qualifications.

While keyword searching is the norm, it’s simply not effective. When you’re in a niche industry like Software, strong applicants are few and far between. The system is broken. I have decided to disrupt this industry.

I have written previously about ensuring that our organization treats everyone fairly, avoids mass mail completely, and is responsive and caring to everyone we meet. That is the first step, but it simply cannot be the last.

Having a technology culture means that you have a team of individuals who are passionate about technology. They seek the answers to complex questions on their own, they go the extra mile to understand new innovations, and they are constantly learning, growing and adapting. A technology culture is the constant search for new information and a deep understanding of past, current, and future trends.

Building a technology culture with non-technical people seems impossible, but it’s really not. It’s not easy, but my father taught me that anything worth doing in life is hard. The question is not whether or not to do this; the question is how.

The first step is the hardest; building a culture of ‘sales’ people that are passionate about technology. How you do this will stay my secret for now, but I promise to write about it in the near future 😉

The second step is implementing an ongoing process for education. This must be malleable, requires experts in the field, communication and influence by your team, and a good ability to use my favorite resource, Google. This is where it gets hard, but again, not impossible. We have explored a number of solutions for this. First and foremost, understanding what software is. Starting with the basics the way that our candidates did in first year computer science, or their initial stages of learning development, wherever they achieved this knowledge. Beyond writing a comprehensive 40 page (and growing) technical manual, we have built interactive sessions that go on weekly and indefinitely to ensure an actual understanding of this complex material. With the help of a Technology Leader, we have achieved a knowledge base that allows us to have conversations that shock candidates.

The third step: Advanced training was the next challenge. The first thing we implemented were weekly “tech talks”, discussing new technologies, processes and methodologies. Each of us spends 15 minutes on Monday morning training each other. This builds a community, and really is a strong factor towards attaining a “tech culture”. These talks are built to keep ourselves informed about what the challenges our developers are facing with new technologies like Apache Spark or Google Go, why a client would choose native over hybrid, and what Agile really means.

The fourth step, but certainly not the final, is learning to code. So many online resources are available, but you can also learn web technologies at Bitmaker or Lighthouse, Ladies learning code (for now, as we are all women). The success of this education is yet to be seen, but rest assured it will be blogged soon. (One of my recruiters has built an entire food blog online using html and CSS, and it’s going live soon!)

Once you get to this point, interviews start to change.

The level of questions we ask takes some candidates aback, but most embrace it and respect us for it. This method does not find you the best talent; you still have to search for it! However, it’s how you avoid sending candidates that simply do not know what they say they do, and avoid wasting everyone’s time. There is a job for every person, and for every person a job. It’s about matching candidates and companies up seamlessly, and for this you need to know the intricacies of your industry. That’s why I am building a tech culture.

Please check out our website for more information:

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