Advice for Employers and Recruiters

When do candidates start to care about your employer brand? It is probably later in the hiring than you think. with Bill Boorman.

Shelby Konkel AvatarShelby Konkel
November 29, 2022

Welcome back to another episode of the High Volume Hiring Podcast, the podcast that 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. 

The High Volume Hiring podcast

In this episode, host Steven Rothberg, College Recruiter’s Founder and Chief Visionary Officer, interviews Bill Boorman, a self-proclaimed recovering recruiter with 40 years of experience in the industry. He joins this episode of the High Volume Hiring podcast to share key similarities and differences between how employers hire at scale in the United States versus globally.

Bill highlights the big issue in high volume hiring: how do you reach your target audience in a timely manner? While employers might turn to employer branding to attract more applicants, Bill provides data that candidates don’t necessarily care about employer branding when applying for jobs. Instead, he recommends that hiring managers should be aware of the four criteria that job seekers frequently use while job hunting. Tune in to hear the criteria and more!

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Steven (00:13):

Welcome To the High Volume Hiring podcast. I’m Steven Rothberg, the founder of Job Search Psych College recruiter. We believe that every student in 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 Bill Borman, a recovering recruiter with 40 years of experience in the industry, who is now a strategic consultant to a number of talent acquisition technology companies, and the founder of the true UNC conferences. Bill, welcome to the show.

Bill (00:50):

Yeah, thanks for having me. Statement. Good to be here.

Steven (00:53):

Yeah, good to see you again. Um, so question for you. Um, one of the things that, that I love about watching your travels, your journeys, et cetera, is that you’ve had the opportunity to travel the world, uh, meet with employers all over the place, uh, look at technology solutions in different areas of the world. What are some of the key similarities and differences between how employers hire at scale in different parts of the world?

Bill (01:23):

Well, I think the main difference is usually in attraction because the way in which we hire is essentially the same. The cornerstones are the same. We have a good understanding of a job requirement and exactly what that needs. And usually when you’re talking about volume, um, it’s less around the specific skill base. Um, and, and more around kind of the, the history and, and things like reliability and, and fit and so on. But generally speaking, hiring is very similar. Globally, we have different problems. They just manifest in a different way locally. So the big issue at the moment is, is attraction and the way in which you might attract in, um, San Francisco might need to be quite different to the way in which you might do that in New Zealand or in, um, Lagos, Nigeria, for example. So it’s very local, but essentially you still boil it down to the same things, which is how do you reach your targets, your target audience in a timely manner?


And that’s done in all kinds of different ways. I’ve seen all kinds of different things from billboards to, it’s still in some parts of the world. Newspaper adds to, um, job board out, very specific, sophisticated people targeting and sourcing. Essentially, it’s the same thing, which is how do we reach enough of the people we need and entice enough of them to actually put their hand up and say, say, yeah, I’m interested. Sometimes they do that digitally. Sometimes they do that on the phone, sometimes they turn up somewhere and get in a queue, you know, for, for some of the, the stuff I’ve, the stuff that I’ve run. But essentially it’s the same thing. So I don’t think it’s a lot different. Um, it’s just a lot local. When you go locally, even if you go across the state and you go from state to state, you can find that what works in that market is very local. So it’s this kind of lo overriding understanding of of, of good recruitment and good hiring and what works good messaging. And then really being able to, to dig in locally and say, right, okay, what works here? And understand that what works in this city may not work in another city.

Steven (03:48):

So a big employer, like, like an Amazon that’s gonna have warehouses all over the world in leads, they’re gonna recruit very different differently than in Phoenix, Arizona.

Bill (04:01):

Absolutely. They might run a job fair, you know, it might be enough to have a job fair on a day, put it up and say, yeah, we are hiring everybody turn up. But there’s all kinds of, um, data behind that that we start to look at, like the demographics, the level of unemployment, the age of the workforce, what’s gonna appeal to them in that particular area. The way in which you’d reach them is gonna be very different. I, you know, I’m, I’m quite an old man like you, Steve, so I can remember this

Steven (04:28):

Time, <laugh>, you

Bill (04:29):

Know, we’re,

Steven (04:31):

We’re, we’re not old, we’re 29

Bill (04:33):

You before the internet. Before the internet, we used to choose local radio stations, and you make, you know, your, your cable radio, you make a decision to say, if I wanna reach a volume of people in this area, I’m gonna turn up at this place and hire on this day. On the way to do that is to go in the local, on the local radio, and you, you might make a decision to say, actually, it’s a national campaign. We’ve got enough places, so we’re gonna go on a national radio, whatever it is, and, and try and deal with that. But it’s exactly the same, even now, if you were going from Leeds, you’d say, right, how do we reach the people? Is it, you know, some, um, some regional places still have local newspapers that people read on the bus when they go home and you go,

Steven (05:18):

This, this word that you keep using new newspaper, i, i, it, it, it rings a bell.

Bill (05:24):

Not so many years ago, probably five, six years ago, people used to read local newspaper on the train or the bus commuting to work, right? So if you, that’s where your audience was, you know, and I’ve used data to hire some really sophisticated developers in Dublin, um, where we targeted bus stops outside particular Starbucks that we knew that they went to, but advertising on the bus stop. And it’s, it’s the same principle all the time. It’s where’s your audience? How do you reach them? What message will resonate with them? What will make them apply in whichever way they apply? Whether that’s hitting a button, sending you a resume, turning up to an open day, whatever it is, what’s gonna make people turn up in enough volume and be the right type of people, the right kind of quality to get to the, the number of highs that you need in, in the best time.

Steven (06:18):

Yeah. I love, I love the idea of the bus stop ads and billboards, like right outside, right outside your competitor’s place of employment. You know, especially if they’re going through some hard times or their CEOs been involved in some scandal or something like that. I open Bill,

Bill (06:35):

I will tell you just a small side story that I had been involved in. There was, um, a, a a, it wasn’t my idea originally, it was Atlassian from Australia, but I stole the idea later for a different campaign somewhere else. And they actually had a billboard on the back of Alor on the back of a truck, which they drove outside employers and it was Atlassian and they had pictures of Australia and they were driving it to up where developers were in undesirable towns. And they said, and the, and the billboard literally said, we’re coming to steal your developers.

Steven (07:07):

Wow. <laugh>.

Bill (07:08):

And it was massively successful. And I re, I’ve repeated that a few times. I’ve also repeated it with street artists in Berlin where I got ’em to go and, um, actually draw the street outside of an employer where we knew there was a lot of layoffs from some large tech startups. So same principle, where’s the people? How do you get their attention?

Steven (07:28):

Yeah. And, and the, the layoffs is definitely something that, I don’t hear that much about that anymore. Maybe there just aren’t the mass layoffs anymore. But you definitely used to hear about, you know, a manufacturing facility was shutting down and another manufacturing facility or, or warehouse or whatever, um, would start distributing flyers on cars in the parking lots and, um, ads inside the buses and stuff like that. Yeah.

Bill (07:53):

And, and that’s the thing at the moment, labor’s so sure that we’ll go anywhere that we think will work. You want truck drivers advertising the truck stop, you know, that’s, there’s just a, a normal logic that follows

Steven (08:07):

Yeah. As, as as efficient and effective as job boards can be. It’s only one sourcing tool. There’s so many more out there and, and so many of them work so much better in, in different, different industries, different occupational fields.

Bill (08:21):

Yeah. Although I, I think job boards are massively, you know, we, we’ve heard every year about the demise of job boards. We warn them, warn them every year, and they come back in different forms, stronger and more revenue and greater attribution for source of hire. Um, and I think you always need that central place, that easy way, you know, so I, I do quite a lot with schools and colleges and there’s a reality that when I say to them, how do you look for a job? They kind of go, I look on Indeed and then I look for a job, right? It it, it’s like a program. This is where the jobs are now. There’s loads of things. They’ll come to me and tell me about how terrible the experience is, why it’s not a lot of fun doing that. But there’s a reality that if this is where the jobs are, that’s where people go.


And, and I’ve seen job seeker behavior being very different digitally in the last four or five years that I’ve talked about a lot, which is that, um, generally what we are getting is high volumes of people applying without actually doing the whole thing about employer brand for attraction and stuff is a little bit of a myth. Um, in my opinion, people depending what level they’re at, they apply for every job based on certain criteria. The four criteria, um, seems to consistently be salary, um, as the number one, not necessarily as in how much money I want. Sometimes the money you are paid is an indicator whether you should bother applying, it’s too high or too low. Um, salary, location, location even now, you know, is important. Hybrid working is really hybrid. We see very little genuinely remote. You still want people within a commutable distance.


That commutable distance has gone a bit further cuz you don’t have to rock up every day in the office. Um, but it’s still got a geographical where we’d like ’em to live this kind of rough area because they are gonna have to be here some of the time. Um, so location, uh, the job title is important to people primarily on the indicator of is it worth the pain of applying? We built game with trades recruited, so the person who gets the job is the one alive at the end of the process, not the best qualified person. <laugh>.


So I think Canada, people looking at a job ad, and that could be our college recruiter anywhere feel the process is gonna be painful. So they’re not gonna invest a lot of effort. They, they’re thinking, they’re almost definitely gonna hear back and they’re probably right. They probably aren’t gonna hear back. It’s only like one or 2% of people who apply who actually do heal back. So they don’t invest a lot of time in deciding where to go. Right? So job boards are the perfect destination for saying go and have a look. You’ll probably find 7, 8, 9, 10 employers looking for something similar, apply for those 10. They actually become really engaged and look at the employer brand content once they get some kind of positive reaction. So once you apply for something recruiter, you might not even go to the, you probably won’t go to the career site.


You probably won’t go to Glassdoor. You probably won’t research, um, the employer in the way that brand heads would try and have us believe and spend our money. You need a trigger. And that trigger is usually a job ad or something that interrupts you. It’s well targeted, it’s on the money, it ticks your boxes, you apply, you don’t expect to hear again when you come back and say, well, okay, will you do a video interview or will you come in? Or This is the day, then you are all over the employee brand content and that’s when they go and study employer brand in the funnel. So I think the, the, that’s what the volume hiring is, is can we reach enough people with enough triggers to say, put their hand up and say, okay, consider me, I’m not expecting back from you again, but consider me.


And if you come back and say, yeah, and in reality at high volume, usually it’s about speed. It’s about who gets, because usually when we’re talking about high volume markets, there’s people who have a dependency to work. They don’t have the, you know, the middle class bit of saying, I have some time to consider what my next career move is. It’s, I need to be working. So whoever reaches them and makes that process as simple as possible and as less painful as possible and treats them in the right way in that process, is the person who’s probably gonna not have problems hiring. And the people who like that get away with an

Steven (13:00):

Issue. And, and when you say speed bill, just to, to make sure we’re on the same page, you’re not just talking about how many minutes does it take to complete the application, but you’re also talking about, okay, you completed the application on Monday, um, Monday the first, do you hear back on Tuesday the second, or do you hear back three weeks later? I mean, I, I keep hearing from employers that are, are hiring a whole ton of hourly people and they’re, they’re upset that they’re getting ghosted. Um, it’s like, well, how many days after the person applied,

Bill (13:34):

We ghost 98% of our applicants. We deserve to be ghosted back. We shouldn’t be upset

Steven (13:39):

That. Right? Yeah. The shoes, the shoes now on the other foot, right? The, you know, but if you ignore, if you ignore an hourly applicant, um, perhaps a high volume for two weeks and then get back to them and you wonder why they don’t respond to you, it’s because they’ve been working someplace for the last 10 days.

Bill (13:58):

Yeah. They’re at, they’re outta work. Yeah. Speed of getting into, if you can get into the process, some of the stuff I’ve worked on with nurses and in healthcare we’ve built workflows, which you have things like chess, chat bots and basic assessment. So from when you see the ad, you have your first interview, and when you have your first interview, if you are successful, you get your first shift. And that can be done in 24 hours. Right. You know, that’s done literally in subject to whatever industry is or whatever regulatory checks we have to do. Um, we are getting people to shift within 24 hours. So you see it, you’re interested, you apply, you come a lot, you do your assessment, you come in for the interview, the interview is very specific around you because of what we are looking for. And if you tick the box with that, you have shifts. And, and that’s the speed at which you in this marketplace. Um, and I’d argue any marketplace, that’s the speed and frictionless way in which we need to get people to work. You know, I’ve heard a lot about, and there’s lots of data that says it’s successful where people are getting hired without interview,

Steven (15:19):

Hiring somebody without an interview is, is I think, mind boggling to many. I question how much value that actually adds or whether we just interview people because we interview people. It’s like we always have. So we always, so we always do. But I, I can see it in some roles, especially like an executive role. But man, I mean if you’re, if you’re hiring cooks or you know, people in a warehouse, people in a retail store and they have a, they have a demonstrated history of successfully doing that kind of job. Do you, do you really need to schedule them? And for, for one interview, let alone six a, a a friend, a friend of one of, um, like your kids are at adult age, so are mine. A friend of one of my kids was being hired for like a server hostess position in a restaurant.


And it’s like, come in and meet with the manager. Great. They were expecting to meet with the manager, get an offer, start the next day. No, we’ll get back to you. So three days later, now I want you to meet with this person now I want you to meet with that person. And it’s just like, you know what? I, I don’t have, I don’t have time for this nonsense. I’ve got three other offers here. Why, why should I be trying, trying so hard with you? Um, so, um, you mentioned, um, a few minutes ago the employer branding and I, and I read, uh, that you had been involved in a study involving 9 million job applications. So it’s not like some skewed little sampling from one employer that hires 200 people a year. Um, some of the numbers in it were very consistent with what we see at college recruiter, about 10% past the initial, the initial screening stage.


So basically they’re probably qualified, um, I think it was roughly one in 200, um, ended up getting hired, which is pretty typical. Also. We see those numbers. It really depends on the role, really depends on the geographic area. That’s not that unusual. Sometimes in, in, in some roles we’re seeing 5, 6, 7, 8%, but half of 1% isn’t way out of the norm either. And what I was interested in, in, in that, I think you were kind of alluding to this a few minutes ago, is that what you found is that despite a massive investment by so many employers in building their brand and building their websites and building all this video and trying to communicate that they’re the best employer in the world, that candidates don’t really give a rip, um, at the initial phase. They, they don’t, they don’t pay attention to it. It’s like, you know, is it the right job title? Does it pay me the right amount? Is it located in the right place? If so, I’m gonna, well the to show is that if you get back to me and if you’re interested in me now, I’ll invest some time and find out what it is that you do. Why should I work with you? Is that, yeah.

Bill (18:24):

And I, I don’t think that’s, um, be similar to anything, you know, in say you, if we could consider candidates are selling themselves to some extent, you consider in the sales side of your business, you’ll get your incoming leads of people going, we’re interested and you’ll kind of filter them out between who’s a tire kicker, who’s just give us a call and you’ll rest more time in the, you’ll qualify them a bit more. Every time you have an interaction and you’ll invest more time in that prospect, the more likely it becomes okay, it’s worth investing more time. Right. And I think that’s exactly what candidates are doing. So their first thing is they’re really saying, I’m gonna apply for this job. I’m probably not gonna hear from you again. And the reality says they are actually correct. Right? The numbers say you are correct. It’s,

Steven (19:14):

It’s, it’s, it’s absolutely rational what, what they’re doing.

Bill (19:17):

Yeah. So why would I spend time investing in that? Um, now what we discovered is in terms of all kinds of things like career sites, employer brand is once the more positive affirmations they got through that process of them saying, okay, can you do a test? Can you come in, can you meet with someone? Can you do this job? The more people would then go into that employ, the more people thought about, well actually maybe I am gonna end up working here. I do need to go and find out about whether I like the culture or not. I do need to go and have a look at, uh, if this is gonna be the job now I wanna watch the day in a life video. Now it add some relevance because that might be the job I’m doing. I do wanna go to LinkedIn and look up who my colleagues might be and see where they see it, right?


So, um, what I’ve, I’ve developed with organizations that I work with is almost a reverse funnel. So you don’t need a lot of information for attraction, which is where most people spend the money. You need triggers, you need to be able to reach the right people. Very targeted that says, here’s some information. Cause it’s also always about when our people hire ready. And that an interesting work that, that I did with Adam Porter on the, on the, the product that was sold to Isems Canada, ID and everything we were building there was all about, there’s a million people in your database, but actually only a thousand of ’em are looking for a job at any one time. And all you you are really interested in is who are these thousand? Cuz in the foot race it’s whether you going through that phase every two years, three years when you might be looking for something, right?


So it’s exactly that in that we’ve got to hear people trigger it, trigger the application at the right time when they’re ready, when think both sides come together, we’re hiring, you are looking, those two events are happening together. Now you’re gonna consider my opportunity or you are considering moving whatever it is, whatever level you are at. I if I get you at the right time in that process, then as you go through that process from the moment you’ve applied to, I can start holding in the content and the information they wanna offer you based on what it is you’re applying for. So I can make it very job specific. I call it job brand over employer brand. And we have a funnel which says we give you more content access to more resources after you’ve applied rather than when we’re trying to attract you. And most organizations put most of their investment, most of their content, most of their stuff in the apply, you know, and then once you applied the money for more stuff was actually run out.


Well actually that’s when you need to nurture when you, once you’re in that, actually I might go and work there or I might, I might go for an interview there. So now I wanna find out a bit more. I wanna look around a bit more, see if I’m wasting my time with it. No, I’m not. That’s really interesting. I’m, I’m, I’m also believe there’s a bit in the candidate piece where um, they’re not prepared to emotionally arrest in that while they’re expecting to be disappointed, they don’t want to, if we think of it a relationship, any relationship really, you know, um, they don’t wanna invest too much in that relationship. Get too excited about the opportunity until someone else starts going, yeah, you’re kind of interested. We’re gonna, we at least want you to do a test. We at least want you to do a video.


We want you to come in and meet with us. We’ve now only got five people meeting with us. You know? So I think the emotional investment bit as much as the time, time is, I’m not gonna waste my time and go through load. And the one certainty, you know, I got consistently from these candidates is they said, when I pushed apply, I knew it was gonna be hard. I knew whatever I was gonna be asked to do was gonna be inconvenient or hard or time consuming and sometimes feel pointless. Yes. So I need to get more and more committed into that because I think where we end up, where people are applying for multiple jobs, this is what came outta that research. They’re applying for about four times as many jobs as they had done historically, just to feel like they got the opportunity. I think it’s still the same case now.


There’s just less people in the market. Once they hit that they’ll start selecting our employers. You know, five people come back and say, yeah, I’m interested. You go, well really I want to cut it down to three cuz I’ve only got time to go and see three or the first one that asked me to, when we’re talking about the minimum wage, low, low, low skills market, first one that says, yeah, come in and see me, and I go and see them and let’s have a real horror story. If they say to me, can you start tomorrow? That’s my job search done.

Steven (23:58):

Right? And then you’re off the market.

Bill (24:01):

I’m off the market. And then I’ll decide whether I like it or not. Once I’ve been there a little while, I’ll decide whether I like it or not. I’m not gonna believe recruiters telling me it’s great place to work, right? Because it’s kind of like, it’s like real estate agents going, yeah, then the crime might be quite high, but the security’s okay. It’s kind of that kind of thing. That’s what people feel about recruiters that we’re always gonna be positively spinning the opportunity. So it’s like, no, I just wanna go meet the people who do the job. I wanna go and speak to them, I want access to their stuff as quickly as possible. And then, then I’ll start my first year and while I’m having my first shift, I’ll go in the smoke room or the coffee room and I’ll have a chat and go, what’s it really like here? Is it cool here? Is it okay? And then I’ll start deciding that. And that’s why, you know, the content and the employment brand, the intention needs to go all the way through the hiring process, but equally all the way through the onboarding process of saying, right, we’re just gonna give you more stuff that tells you you’ve made the right choice. And that’s what I believe we need to build that funnel reversed out. We just need a little bit of information on the attraction bit and then let them push the

Steven (25:10):

Button. Yeah. No, super fascinating. And I, and I think it’ll be, this’ll be a a lot of help to a lot of employers who, who have understood that their employer brand is important, but they, um, you’re putting it, it’s important. It’s just, but, but what’s but we’ve been the conventional wisdom that I think you’re helping to dispel is that it, it comes at the, at the beginning of the process and it, and it, and it, it comes, it comes further into the process than I think most, uh, would realize. So yeah,

Bill (25:41):

You also want it very specific on job, right? You want it very, the the, I don’t wanna employ brand, I want job brand. I wanna know about, I don’t wanna necessarily wanna know too much about college recruiter, but I do wanna know about this job in college recruiter. Who are these people? Who’s this team? If I get this on my resume, how is this gonna help me get another job somewhere else?

Steven (26:01):

Oh yeah, yeah.

Bill (26:02):

In two years or three years. Right? That’s what I wanna see. Yeah.

Steven (26:05):

Even in a small organization like ours, the, the, the tech team has a different culture than the operations team, which has a different culture than the sales. We’re working with different people. The work, the type of work you’re doing is different. And, and like you say, where does it get me two years from now, five years from now, that’s gonna be, even

Bill (26:21):

If they stay with you for 10 years, like that’s, that’s how they’re selecting you. Um, but ultimately if you offer them enough opportunities, you’ve got your internal mobility, right? Um, you all get on well, they may stay, you know, they may stay. But especially when you’re looking in tech, people are looking on jobs as, what’s the problem you need me to fix? What, what do you need me to come and, and do? That’s gonna be interesting. It’s gonna educate me. It’s gonna make me look more employable. And actually when I’ve done it in 18 months, I’m gonna be looking around again and going, well, where do I go and fix something else?

Steven (26:53):

Right? And maybe that’s internal. Um, there’s another problem that you have for them, if so, awesome. And, but yeah, people don’t want to ju to top from employer to employer. If they can stay at the same employer and keep doing interesting work and getting paid well, why, why wouldn’t they? So for people who wanna, um, learn more or contact you, um, how should they do? So

Bill (27:14):

LinkedIn, Facebook, Facebook’s the primary one, but LinkedIn, Facebook, um, Twitter, I’m at Bill Borman. I’m, I’m very easy to find online or just Google me and reach me. Um, my emails are online.

Steven (27:27):

You have big footprints online

Bill (27:28):

Or just shout somewhere in a public place, shout on Facebook and says anyone I bill Wall and they’ll find me. Yes, I’m, I’m very, very easy to find, very easy to find. Um, but anywhere social. Well

Steven (27:40):

Cool. Thank you, um, so much for joining us today on the High Volume Hiring podcast. I’m your host, Stephen 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 Cheers.

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