Cut & Polish

The Inaugural Gem Summit: 2020 Follow-Up

Gem recently held its first-ever Summit—a virtual conference for TA professionals to come together, share best practices and career-long learnings, network, and be inspired. Here's a recap of the day, with links to the sessions.

On November 19, Gem held its first-ever Summit—a virtual conference for talent acquisition professionals in which top recruiters from leading TA teams shared best practices and career-long learnings for sourcing, nurturing, and diversifying talent pools; and talent leaders shared how they’ve strategically helped their teams weather the storms of 2020. The sessions covered everything from how to operationalize a diversity sourcing strategy, to how to strengthen relationships with hiring managers in a world of remote hiring, to the key reports that every talent leader needs. We were honored to be joined by Deepa Subramaniam, Chief Product & Digital Officer at the ACLU, and Reid Hoffman, Partner at Greylock and Co-Founder of LinkedIn, for keynote talks. We also had the opportunity to offer product sessions, summarize some of the most exciting product features Gem shipped this year, share some details of our product roadmap for 2021, and celebrate our customers’ successes in our inaugural Top User Awards Ceremony. 

For us at Gem, Summit was a day of being inspired by our customers (who already inspire us on a day-to-day basis) and challenged in our thinking. We met so many remarkable talent acquisition professionals, who engaged with our speakers, asked insightful questions, and followed up with us afterwards. We all grew our networks. At the end of the day, many of us stayed online to do yoga, or watch comedy, or continue to talk about Gem together. We both made and strengthened some very meaningful connections; and we’re all looking forward to seeing how those relationships grow into 2021—as well as how we’ll implement the insights we came away from the event with. 

With that, we wanted to offer a recap of our keynotes, sessions, and panel—both for those of you who missed the event and are curious about how the day unfolded, and for those of you who were there and want to relive the experience:

The Current State of Talent Acquisition, with Reid Hoffman

Gem's own COO, Prathap Dendi, sat down with LinkedIn's Co-founder, Reid Hoffman, in a candid interview. Reid shared his thoughts on how the events of 2020 have impacted both individual talent teams and the recruiting industry as a whole, as well as his expectations for the future of talent acquisition. Here are a few of Reid’s insights:

  • “When you’re confronted with a crisis, how do you look at it as an opportunity? Blitzscaling isn’t just about moving fast for speed’s sake; it’s about moving faster than your competition, because frequently the first to scale is who sets the rules and norms. So the answer to this question is not: oh, let’s just take the old ways of working and update them. This crisis is causing us to ask: how do we share our mission and build trust with candidates? It’s not just about transferring our entire hiring cycle to an online format. It’s about transforming parts of the cycle. I’ve seen great talent teams recording videos and sending them to candidates, having public chats to build social trust. Use those as a basis for establishing new patterns of candidate conversation.”
  • "The future of talent recruiting depends on how well you do outbound recruiting. Outbound will be vital for blitzscaling your business."
  • “When people have surveyed soldiers—people placed in the most stressful environment possible—they find that those soldiers fight for the person next to them. This is just as important for recruiting: strengthening the relationships with those right next to you.”
  • “We’re only in the first inning here in talent acquisition. We have an incredible journey ahead of us.”

Diversity in 3D: Getting Intentional about Inclusive Sourcing 

Maisha Cannon, Manager of Global Sourcing at Procore, discussed the “3 Ds”: using data to understand where your pipeline stands, defining diversity for your org, and diversifying your approach to sourcing and outreach. Many TA teams are striving to meet diversity hiring goals right now while alternating between feeling overwhelmed and under-resourced; and Maisha helped us answer some of these questions: How do recruiters optimize their outcomes? Where can sourcers make the most impact? What role do hiring partners play in helping to achieve these goals? Here are a few of Maisha’s insights:

  • “The question to ask yourself as you evaluate each of your existing channels for sourcing underrepresented talent is: ‘Am I maximizing this resource?’”
  • “Collaboration is essential as you make discoveries and connect the dots along this journey. But connecting the dots is easier to do with real-time data. Top-of-funnel activity in Gem, for example, has allowed my sourcers to make adjustments to impact the number of qualified women who receive initial outreach. This comes from a simple awareness of what their numbers are.”
  • “What are your initial observations and questions about the data? This is why pipeline analytics, diversity analytics, outreach stats, etc. are so important: without them we can’t get to insights that help us do better recruiting.” 

How SurveyMonkey Operationalized Their Diversity Sourcing Strategy 

Becky Mohr, Senior Manager of Talent Sourcing and Executive Recruitment at SurveyMonkey, shared tips about getting buy-in for a diversity budget, baking diversity into your recruiting model, documentation, using data to optimize your diversity strategy, and more. The best part of Becky’s talk? She did this while telling SurveyMonkey’s unique story of its journey from post-and-pray to dialing in on some operational elements of diversity hiring. Here are a few of Becky’s insights:

  • “Right now, we are in a post-and-pray world when it comes to diversity hiring. Most companies have not fully operationalized a diversity strategy, because doing so would mean breaking apart processes and systems.”
  • “At SurveyMonkey, we’ve developed a ‘Diversity Framework Presentation’ that includes a 30-minute review of talent that meets the profile standards, including what percentage of the talent we see is female, and what percentage is made up of underrepresented minorities. This is a crash course for the hiring manager about the fact that keyword searching for req requirements is different from community sourcing for underrepresented talent, and that those two things take different amounts of time.”
  • “We’ve also introduced a 30-day diversity sprint for director-and-above roles—as well as roles in which the hiring manager has the time to spare—in which, for 30 days, we do not screen or source any candidates except underrepresented minorities. This is making the biggest difference for us right now.” 
  • “Our diversity sourcers are forward-looking and relationship-building, which is exactly the kind of people you want talking to candidates—especially underrepresented talent.”

The Future of Building Diverse Teams

Summit’s diversity panel was a conversation that unfolded between Aubrey Blanche (The Mathpath and Director of Equitable Design & Impact at Culture Amp), Jackye Clayton (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Strategist at SeekOut and Co-Host of the Inclusive AF Podcast), Jeremy Evans-Smith (Founder & CEO at Ascending), and Gem’s very own Head of People, Caroline Stevenson. These talent professionals shared their experiences of building diverse teams at their respective organizations, as well as insights about how recruiting is, and can become, part of a broader organizational transformational strategy. Here are some insights from that conversation:

  • “I like to look at the data first. How many underrepresented people are leaving your company right now? What does diversity look like internally? What does diversity look like in the market? What can the future look like if we add more URMs to the team? There’s data for all of that.” - Jackye 
  • “The employee lifecycle and experience is more than just being recruited and getting a foot in the door. So it’s important that the culture we have can measure up to that magic, so we can sell people on the entire process—right through their tenure with the company.” - Jeremy 
  • “When you tell someone to bring their whole selves to work, is your culture ready to accept them when they show up?” - Jackye 
  • “At Gem, we’re having the leadership team increase the diversity in their own professional networks. This way, when they make referrals for their roles, those referrals will be more diverse. Leadership is committed to making time for those coffee chats every quarter.” - Caroline 
  • “We really need to recognize how people who are in relationships with one another—which is what a corporation is—think about how those relationships have served us, and how they may no longer be serving us.” - Jeremy 

Strengthening Hiring Manager Relationships in a World of Remote Hiring

Aurora Harshner, Partner and Head of Talent at Polychain Capital, answered these important questions with best practices from her 10 years of remote hiring experience: How do you build trust with hiring managers and work with their reservations around remote hiring? What are best practices for communication and for closing candidates in a remote-first world? Here are a few of Aurora’s insights:

  • “In-between weekly syncs, it’s essential to have asynchronous communication with your hiring managers. This could be anything from Slack to a Google doc that everyone has access to—use what you already have. These are great ways to get quick feedback, rather than waiting for your next sync to get that question answered.”
  • “A great way to build trust with hiring managers—especially in this remote era—is to teach them something. Think about what obstacles they’re facing and remember that you’re the expert at solving that problem. For example, we do Boolean searches all day long; hiring managers have never had to do that. You’ll blow their mind when you teach them how to search this way… and then you’ll have their trust.”
  • “Think about how much time is going into the process of hiring folks. You really want to get it right. A work trial gives you significantly more signal—and it’s just as possible in a remote world as it is at the office.”

10 Key Reports that Every Talent Leader Needs 

As recruiting reports evolve to become much more strategic—as does the recruiting technology that produces those reports—how do talent acquisition professionals know which of the many metrics they have access to should go to which stakeholders? Caroline Stevenson, Head of People at Gem, shared the essential metrics that talent leaders should be reporting to C-levels, hiring managers, and sourcers and recruiters. Here are a few of Caroline’s insights:

  • “Talent acquisition and reporting used to be simple. You’d report on efficiency metrics like time-to-hire, cost-per-hire, number-of-hires. But those numbers are reactive: they tell you what’s happened in the past, and don’t necessarily tell you how to do better in the future. They’re also one-size-fits-all: they don’t take into account what’s unique about your company or its hiring process.”
  • “When the analytics that you report on are really rooted in the context of your broader business objectives, recruiting is no longer viewed as tactical and reactive. It becomes a strategic arm of the business.”
  • “So how do you transition from metrics to strategic reporting? Don’t fixate on the past, know your organizational goals first, remember that the best comparisons are internal, and report on the why rather than the what.” 

Strategically Engaging Passive Talent in 2020 

In this session, Brie Bastidas, Technical Recruiting Manager & Lead Technical Recruiter at Mapbox, discussed ways to engage with a variety of talent personas (including underrepresented talent), how to craft thoughtful outreach in these strange times, and how to approach a long-term nurture strategy. Here are a few of Brie’s insights:

  • “In the wake of COVID, talent is more likely to stay in their current roles even though they know they’re not as content as they can be, simply because it’s less risky. As sourcers and recruiters, the messaging tactics we used in 2019 no longer succeed at the same rates. It’s time to get creative.”
  • “Candidates are asking about diversity and inclusion initiatives and benefits, including nontraditional forms of wellness, earlier and earlier in the process now—in some cases as early as phone screens.”
  • “Be prepared to answer questions about company stability like: How likely is it that the role you’re contacting me about will be impacted long-term? How has the pandemic impacted your business performance? Has there been any restructuring of teams, or is one imminent? And sometimes even: What do your severance packages look like?”

The Benefits & Challenges of a Remote-First Hiring Environment 

In this conversation, Chauncey Brooks (Head of Sourcing at Slack) and Viet Nguyen (Customer Talent Advisory at Gem) covered everything from remote interview strategies, to averting the pitfalls of remote hiring, to the ways recruiting teams can leverage our new remote environment to their own advantage. Here are some insights from that conversation:

  • “We have an opportunity during this window to blow up all the old ways we work together. So if you normally have a one-hour meeting with the team, can it actually be a 15-minute meeting? How can we sharpen the purpose of everything we’re doing and essentially make better decisions out of that?” - Chauncey 
  • “The thing we really focused on is cutting out status meetings. What we’re always saying to our people at Slack is if you’re going to be in a meeting, you should either be making a decision, building a connection, or steering something. You shouldn’t just be going to be informed, or to inform. That’s something you can do in a channel, or in a DM.” - Chauncey 
  • “We talk a lot about recruiting data. Especially in a remote world, it’s hard to understand how hard the recruiting team is working, or how hard the sourcing team is working, from a hiring partner’s perspective. But when you’re able to use numbers to show what work is being done, it’s much easier to build trust—no matter where in the world your hiring partners are.” - Viet

A Token of Inspiration with Deepa Subramaniam

Deepa Subramaniam, Chief Product & Digital Officer at the ACLU, took us on a fascinating career journey made possible by recruiters who saw beyond traditional role definitions, her arrival at “the ultimate startup” of a presidential campaign, and her journey to recognizing the importance of diversity on a team. What followed were some fantastic insights for getting buy-in from leadership on prioritizing diversity and inclusion. Here are a few of Deepa’s insights:

  • “It’s not just lip service to say that the digital products we built on the Hillary campaign, and the collaboration that happened, was better, faster, and stronger because we had a truly diverse team. In fact, I can prove it! During the 577 days the campaign existed, we launched 55 new applications or services into production. This translates to one new app or service launched to production every 10.5 DAYS for 19 months straight!”
  • “Talent sourcers, recruiters and hiring managers: whether you realize it or not, you hold incredible capital in this conversation. You’re able to quantify through the statistics that guide your day-to-day around how current hiring funnels are performing and really paint a vivid picture of what things could look like if more energy and resources were diverted towards sourcing more diverse talent. The analytical insights you pickup through your day to day work is a goldmine—a precious asset that can be mined to tell a data-driven, compelling story regarding the reality of your organizations’ hiring practices.”
  • “Here are a few things we’ve done at the ACLU to explicitly address the challenges for our staff who have responsibilities to care for loved ones during COVID. We’ve expanded eligibility for our formal paid leave policies to include more paid leave to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed. We’ve introduced a reduced work schedule policy for caregivers that provides more pay than the schedule would normally allow. We’ve introduced a “Capacity Sharing” pilot that is specifically intended to reduce the workload of caregivers and re-balance the work across other staff, interns, consultants and volunteers. And we’ve introduced a significant caregiver reimbursement for excess caregiving expenses incurred due to the pandemic.”

If these sound-bytes interest you, we hope you’ll take the time to watch these sessions, keynotes, and the panel in full. We think you’ll come away from them as inspired as we’ve been… we know we’ll be re-watching some of them ourselves! 

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