Steven Bartel is the cofounder and CEO of Gem and an experienced expert in recruiting, sourcing and customer relationship management technology. Bartel began his career as an early engineer at Dropbox, where he led multiple engineering teams and spent a majority of his time involved with the recruiting process.
As a software engineer, he brought a beginner’s mind to the recruitment process. Bartel recognized that, unlike sales and marketing efforts, recruiting teams did not have a one-stop source to track and manage the overwhelming amount of work that’s involved with the recruiting process, including what occurs before an applicant even applies for a position.
Recruiting seems easy. Most people think that a recruiter calls a candidate, shares a job description, and before long, the applicant is interviewing and on their way toward getting a job offer. The reality is far different. Search professionals spend an inordinate amount of time and effort chasing after potential candidates. A recruiter scours LinkedIn profiles, taps into their network for leads and initiates cold reach out to people who look like they may be a good fit for the job.
The process is time consuming. More often than not, people don’t get back to a recruiter. They may say that they’re interested, but later ghost the recruiter. Sometimes, they’re not hiding from the search professional, it’s just that they’re busy with their current job or juggling multiple interviews with other firms.
Without a data-driven, organized approach, it’s incredibly hard for recruiters to keep track of all of the people they’ve contacted and remember who is highly interested and those who are lukewarm about the job offering.
Bartel leveraged the experience learned about sourcing and recruiting candidates to found Gem, an all-in-one recruiting platform. Gem is used by a large number of high-profile clients, including Slack, Lyft, Pinterest, Robinhood, Cisco and Dropbox.
The platform enables talent acquisition teams to find, engage and nurture top talent. It works alongside LinkedIn, Gmail, Outlook and applicant tracking systems to help source candidates, build lists of people to reach out to, find email addresses and automate follow-ups. Gem saves time, doubles response rates, and gives visibility into what’s working. Gem also enables recruiting teams to find, engage and nurture the most valuable talent.
Teams use Gem to collaborate on candidates, discover best practices and never reach out to the same person twice. Managers unlock visibility into their team’s pipeline because every touchpoint is automatically tracked, and everything syncs to your applicant tracking system.
Gem surveyed over 500 seasoned talent acquisition professionals, who shared, in their own words, about their top priorities, pain points and action plans for recruiting this year.
- Data-driven recruiting becomes the competitive advantage
- Continued commitment to (and challenges of) diversity hiring
- A growing focus on employer branding and candidate experience
Bartel said about the importance of data, “Recruiting teams are becoming more and more sophisticated: utilizing data throughout the hiring funnel, finding new ways to source under-represented talent, improving their employer brand and thinking of talent acquisition as a long-term, multi-channel strategy. Given how fierce the war for talent is right now, high-performing teams that are experimenting and honing their skill sets in these areas will have a massive advantage over the long run.”
Takeaways For Job Seekers
- For knowledge workers, it’s a candidate’s market. You have more options–and more power–than ever before. Think of the interview process as both a chance for the company to get to know you and for you to get to know the company. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions about the company’s approach to things, like diversity, what resources they offer in support of employee mental health, how they think about work/life balance and more.
- If you are a member of an underrepresented group, consider spending time on sites, platforms and organizations within your community, as recruiters become more savvy and look for talent in those places.
- Pay attention to your experience as a candidate. A company that puts thought into its interview process and treats you well when you are interviewing is likely to be a good place to work. A company that makes you jump through unreasonable hoops, leaves you hanging or isn’t transparent about its interview process should make you proceed with caution.
“Knowledge workers have a lot of power right now and can afford to be selective about where they want to work. Don’t be afraid to treat the hiring process as an opportunity to interview the company and not just the other way around. You should dig into the things that are important to you, whether that’s flexible work, a well-thought out [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging] program or mental health benefits,” Bartel advised job seekers.
Talent acquisition professionals see diversity hiring as both the biggest trend and key challenge, regardless of the role or company size. Nearly 80% of talent professionals ranked “diversity hiring” as the most important trend in the recruiting industry for 2022.
To initiate best practices, survey respondents said that they have overhauled their interview. This included unconscious-bias training, establishing better metrics, candidate tracking, reviewing the sources of finding applicants and ensuring that recruiters and talent acquisition professionals are fairly engaging with women and people of color.
‘What Is The Biggest Trend For 2022?’ Responses
- Talent sourcing: 64%
- Fully embracing remote/flex/hybrid work: 63%
- More data-driven recruitment practices: 62%
- Hiring for soft skills and potential/rethinking role requirements: 42%
- Pay transparency: 34%
For those not familiar with the term “funnel,” it’s the progression from the reach out to a prospect all the way through the interview and offer stage. Candidates enter at the top of the funnel through multiple sources. At the bottom, they accept an offer you have extended for them to join your company.
The biggest barrier to improving diversity in the workplace is finding and attracting underrepresented talent. The survey reflected that many talent leaders cited inaccurate or incomplete data about how candidates identified. For instance, one respondent summed it up this way: “Top of funnel is where I’d love to see the biggest increase in diversity, but that requires talent professionals to make assumptions about a candidate. It’s hard to gauge how diverse your candidate funnel is without knowing how they self-identify.”
Others said that they were trying to curb their overreliance on LinkedIn, as well as expanding their sourcing tools toward job boards, platforms and organizations where historically underrepresented and/or marginalized talent hangs out. A handful reported they had dedicated diversity recruiting and sourcing teams in place.
A challenge to improving diversity in hiring is moving underrepresented group (URG) candidates through the funnel once they’re in it. Talent leaders who are tracking the data attributed these drop offs in their hiring funnels either to bias in their processes or to the number of opportunities URG talent has access to right now, making it more difficult to close them even when they are at the offer stage or near to it.
Remote Work And Large Enterprises
Remote work is an advantage for smaller organizations. Smaller companies were three times as likely to report that they decided to go fully remote since the start of the pandemic, and are also less likely to say that their business will eventually expect new hires back in an office at least part time. Leadership across the board say remote hiring has helped improve diversity in their organizations because of the expanded talent pool they were able to access.
Large enterprises are more likely to have formal goals and to track funnel data. Talent leaders at enterprise organizations are somewhat more likely to say their team has a formal diversity hiring initiative or diversity goals in place than talent leaders at smaller companies. Recruiters and sourcers at bigger companies were 14% more likely to say that they track diversity through the hiring funnel.
Importance Of Employer Branding
Companies are now thinking about their employer brand. Nearly 30% of enterprise talent leaders say a weak employer brand is currently impacting their ability to hit hiring goals. Across the board, respondents said that talent leaders (69%) say that employer branding is the top place they’ll be investing their budgets this year.
Since potential job seekers are no longer locked into only working at a company within commuting distance, they now have lots of options. Companies are recognizing this change and understand the need to differentiate themselves as great places to work. As one respondent summed it up: “Candidates have the power now. Convincing people to work for us is key. Pay, culture, word of mouth, benefits [and] work-life balance will all be critical. We need to prove how we’re better to work for than any other company even though we can’t always offer the highest pay. Non-monetary perks will be more important than ever.”
Data Is Key
The importance of data to the recruiting function is growing. Around 73% of enterprise talent leaders said data would be critical to staying competitive, as the evolving landscape due to Covid-19 continues to unfold. “More data-driven recruitment practices” was ranked as the 4th most important trend for our respondents in aggregate.
In general, larger enterprise companies are more likely to track key performance indicators (a quantifiable measure of performance over time for a specific objective) than smaller organizations are, but the biggest discrepancy is in diversity: 59% of enterprise organizations track diversity, while only 44% of smaller organizations do. But regardless of company size, a vast majority of companies are realizing they need to be more data driven, especially in areas like understanding the diversity mix of their hiring pipelines.
With $148 million in funding, led by ICONIQ, Greylock and Accel, and a $1.2 billion valuation, Gem has become one of the fastest-growing SaaS companies at its scale. It’s made Y Combinator’s “Top Companies” list and was recognized as a great place for career growth and diversity by Comparably.