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Ep2 - Win Friends & Influence Budget

Welcome back to VOICES w/ Amy Butchko SAIC's Director of Talent Acquisition Solutions. This is episode 2 or a 5 part binge-able series. We pick up the conversation with me challenging Amy on hiring company "special self-inflicted needs" when it comes to technology and yes I just used air quotes - enjoy!


- Imploding your hiring process

- Engineering a new apply process

- Marketing infused nurturing and hiring

- CROs are people too... and they have budget :)

BINGE all 5 episodes with Amy

Amy (0s):

What I didn't know is that, you know, we were going to be able to quadruple our applicant flow and not really increase our advertising budget.


The struggle is real voices. We hear them every day. Some voices like mine are smooth and comforting, while on the other hand, the Chad and Cheese podcast is like listening to a Nickelback album, you'd rather stab yourself in the ears with an ice pick. Anyway, y'all now listening to Voices a podcast series from Chad and Cheese that features the most important and influential voices within the recruitment industry. Try not to fuck it up, boys.

Chad (45s):

Hey, it's Chad again, welcome back to Voices with Amy Butchko Director of Talent Acquisition Solutions. This is episode two of a five part binge-able series. We pick up the conversation with me, challenging Amy on hiring company, quote, unquote, "special self-inflicted needs" when it comes to technology. And yes, I just used air quotes. Enjoy. So are those special needs generally self-inflicted though? Because many companies that I've worked with over the years say, well, we do things differently and that's only because they choose to do things differently and generally it's crazy inefficient and it's stupid, but yet we do things differently.

Chad (1m 28s):

So do you think that some of those are really just self-inflicted wounds when they say they have special needs?

Amy (1m 34s):

No, I don't know.

Chad (1m 35s):


Amy (1m 36s):

So, you know, if you're going to apply to a job in let's take one of the legacy ATSs. Pick one.

Chad (1m 43s):


Amy (1m 43s):

Okay. If you want to do that, I think we all know that if you want to apply for a job on Talejo, there's not a way to do it without a username and password. Am I right?

Chad (1m 54s):

Yeah. Yeah.

Amy (1m 55s):

That is not a special need, guys.

Chad (1m 58s):

Yeah, I agree. I agree.

Amy (1m 60s):

So if I'm wanting to apply process, that's not that, and I'm using one of these legacy ATS platforms, which applicant tracking system platforms, which has a very valid need to have identity information collected a certain way. You know, I think what you're, what you're really talking about is the special need is you've got your, the compliance side of the house, super important Chad. I mean, you come from direct employers. I don't have to tell you about compliance, you can tell me about it. But then on the other side, you've got folks who just want to apply for the stinking job. Let me give you an example. So the platform that SAIC uses doesn't require a log in to make an application.

Amy (2m 42s):

And therefore it takes three to five minutes on average to get people through. And we've, we complete a huge amount of our applications. Our process is super efficient. So, you know, and guess what, I built that process. We built that process, our business decided that was what we wanted. Last night, I was at the grocery store and there was a job posting and I thought, my daughter who's, you know, looking for, she was looking for something to do this summer, in addition to what she's doing right now. And I shot her a screenshot of like the ad at the grocery store. She was like, well, how do I apply? I'm like, this is hilarious. Right? So I'm like, so I go to the grocery store's website and I found the job and I hit apply, just to see what it was like.

Amy (3m 29s):

Right? Because now I'm like, I'm all in and I want to know it's like. And it was a system not, Talejo, it was a different one. I won't call it out, but it was one of the big enterprise systems. And it was asking her for a username and password. And I thought to myself, wow. So this is what we're asking our grocery store, it was a pharmacy tech job. This is what we're asking them to do. And it's not easy. It didn't just say, give me your name, your resume, and how we can get ahold of you.

Joel (3m 57s):

So, Amy, on SAIC, I'm applying to a job and you first had, it's step one of seven. So your first is applicant agreement. It sounds like it's a contract, which is a little bit foreboding, but you're getting first name, last name, email, and mobile phone. Phone is optional and then a drop down for getting text messages, which I think is fantastic to build up. And I'm curious what your database is of mobile numbers that you can contact.

Amy (4m 26s):

It's large.

Joel (4m 27s):

It's large. Okay. We'll go with that.

Chad (4m 29s):

It's large!

Joel (4m 30s):

So if I accept step two, then I get into the prescreening stuff and then the application. So is the, is this first page, essentially your basic CRM, you're getting them in the system. You're marketing to them with this information, because I think this is an important step that people miss the sort of marketing information. Am I right? Am I right about that? Or, and how did that happen?

Chad (4m 55s):

You're right. You're right. But it's a both/and, because what you're filling out is getting you into our CRM and a skit and it's your application. It's both, we don't ask you to do it twice.

Joel (5m 4s):

Yeah. But I find it interesting that you don't say, Hey, join our talent community or, Hey, do you want to, you know, get in with the community. It's like, this is step one, give us some basic information. And then if they don't make it to step 4, 5, 6, 7, you've got them. And I think that's an important element of what you're doing.

Amy (5m 22s):

Right so they're in my talent community.

Chad (5m 23s):

You don't have to really make that distinction, right? Because the person's coming through to you, you don't have to say welcome to the talent community, cause they didn't come to join a talent community, they came to apply for a job.

Amy (5m 36s):


Chad (5m 37s):

And I think that's, again, this is probably something that was created by vendors. Go figure, there was a need to try to capture all those individuals who weren't, they were rejecting before they actually got through the a hundred percent of the application. But tell me about the process of re-building. Cause what you did was you imploded your current process and your tech and you built from the ground up, which is what we talk about on this show just about every damn week. I'm so happy to hear and have you on the show to actually talk about this. So what did that actually entail?

Amy (6m 17s):

The first thing that it entails is relationships. The way that a large enterprise, so I told you, 26,000 employees, it's a big enterprise, there's a lot of corporate functions. So I had to really build a bridge all the way from our executive office, you know, to get funding, you know, to be able to say, okay, this is important. You know, how to tremendous amount of support from our HR organization. Then though it was a matter of really building relationships in our IT organization and those relationships endure to this day.

Amy (6m 57s):

And it's just a tremendous partnership. But don't forget you also have to be able to bring on board your procurement folks, because these contracts are complex. Everybody has different parts of stakes in the game. Embedded within, but part of the IT office also is cyber and our cyber concerns and our concern with risk are primary. So anything that we went after had to be something that was going to have, I mean, things as deep in the weeds as, are your servers in the United States?

Chad (7m 38s):


Amy (7m 38s):

That's the kind of stuff, so Joel, when you go to our application and you're like, wow, your application, you know, this thing is really heavy on compliance language. For our applicant, Joel, that's a comfort.

Joel (7m 50s):

And I love the choices or options you give folks. So when I can upload a resume, you actually have integration with Indeed and LinkedIn and I think a few others.

Amy (7m 59s):


Joel (7m 60s):

That was really smart cause most people are just like, Hey, upload your word doc. So give them options is great. I want to jump back real quick to the texting thing. Do you use texting as a marketing tool as well as an outreach or interviewing tool? I like talk about texts. Cause I think that's an important part of a recruiting today.

Chad (8m 21s):

The experience.

Amy (8m 23s):

Yeah. And so text is, you know, one of those things that I felt like we were probably a little late to the game on it. And the reason is because, you know, it felt like a lot of, you know, the fancier, you know, consumer brands were already doing stuff like that. But, you know, for a brand like ours, we were, had to be real, real careful to make sure that we're using it the right way. And so the primary mechanisms that we use text for today are one-to-one outreach, which can include some scheduling, we don't have a scheduling mechanism. Our calendars are, you know, again, this kind of gets into where you end up having to touch systems that are very, very close to the firewall.

Joel (9m 10s):

So meaning your recruiters, when your recruiters are looking through candidates, they have an option to message them through your system?

Amy (9m 18s):

Yeah, exactly.

Joel (9m 19s):

What else?

Amy (9m 20s):

You know, we had just started right before the pandemic to do a lot of inbound text, you know, to attract people at events and get their resumes and engage them that way. We had just done an event at BEYA, the Black Engineer of the Year Awards event and then of course the pandemic happened. You know, but we had pretty much figured it out and you know, so we use a lot of inbound, but that's going to become much more of a thing once it's not a pandemic and people are actually out and about, and they can see the signs. So you're right. So I think you have to, you know, as we're moving forward, we have to think about inbound, but then, you know, from an outbound perspective for our candidate pool, you know, and this is also something that's going to be unique to our business, my business, is, you know, our candidates, especially the ones that are difficult to find, they're going to be the ones with the super duper security clearances, you know, your top secret TSSCI folks with even more credentials than that, you know, we're not going to blast, we're not going to put them on blast because there's only a couple of them who do all of the things that they do.

Amy (10m 41s):

Like, you know, it's like, if you think we're in a niche within a niche, within a niche, they're really, and they don't want to be found. So you gotta be real careful how you deploy text that way, because it's not just a matter of, Hey, I got, you know, 5,000 veterans that I can go and text to do this job. It's like, you know, there's a subset of those and we'll go from them and use text that way.

Joel (11m 7s):

So texting as well as, I guess let's get into chatbots a little bit. But so there's a real trend toward automation where instead of a one-on-one, there's an automated one-on-one message to them, they come back and that's totally automated. Is that based on your audience, something you won't do or don't want to do? Is automation in the plans in terms of texting or mobile apply?

Amy (11m 29s):

Automation is on the roadmap and it will be deployed very selectively, among audiences. So there is a group within my team that is working on automation. We've got some RPA, robotic process automation projects in play, but they are very selective. You know, if I were ever employed in an enterprise that could do volume, I would use the heck out of it.

Chad (11m 60s):


Amy (12m 0s):

But you know, the 26,000 people that work for us are all really different people. Like it, there are, I mean, I would hate, I wouldn't even call them buckets, I call them bowls of people. I mean, they're just there, the skills are pretty specialized by and large. And so to get into automation, like, yeah, we're looking at it, but I don't want to break anything either.

Chad (12m 27s):

Okay. So in getting this done, you went to the CRO, were you looking to try to win friends and influence people for more budgets? What was that whole, what was the reasoning behind that other than to show them that one of the reasons why we have issues getting people in the door is because of this piece of shit tech that we have? Why did you do it?

Amy (12m 52s):

To increase candidate flow and improve candidate experience.

Chad (12m 56s):

Okay. Was it budget though? Were you trying to win budget from them and show them how bad this thing was?

Amy (13m 2s):

I was.

Chad (13m 3s):


Amy (13m 3s):

I was. Well, I was also trying to get them to understand that they were making an investment in something that was terrible.

Chad (13m 10s):


Amy (13m 11s):

And you know, so like you're spending money over here and this is not a little amount of money. Like it's a lot, it's hundreds of thousands of dollars, no matter what you buy in this, in this environment, once you get to the enterprise level.

Chad (13m 25s):


Amy (13m 25s):

So you're talking about big bucks and you're going to have to spend these big bucks to make, you know, to get a compliance system. You're going to have to get, you know, you're gonna to have to do it. So what we were looking to do is say, okay, if you're going to spend this money, we think we can help the company do this more efficiently, we think we can help you do it more effectively, and we think that we can make a lot of impact with getting a lot more candidates through the door. I used to, at the time I was a department of one. So that's also changed a lot because my department is much larger now, but you know, as a department of one, you know, I would get these messages.

Amy (14m 8s):

Why am I not getting any candidates? Why am I not getting applicants? And, you know, and I would, you know, I would just feel like the pressure, just, you know, like the constricting around my neck. And I mean, like, I don't know? You know, I go into the system and I'd be like, wow, well, you know, the system, blah, blah, blah. And, you know, and the jobs didn't get posted and nobody can find it. And, you know, and there's no answer. And the vendor has been acquired three times and we don't know where they are. So, you know, so, so it became like this whole just swirl of bad customer service, of things going wrong at the wrong time and still making an investment that was far disproportionate.

Amy (14m 50s):

And then also on the other side, so remember, when you're trying to get applicants, you can, you know, one of the answers is to throw money at it, right.

Chad (14m 59s):

That's what companies do and have been doing for decades. And then they throw money at them and then they they push them into a shitty process and those people, they don't finish, or they just keep applying over and over and over. So you've pretty much paid for that candidate, like six times over.

Amy (15m 18s):

Yes. Yeah. It's a leaky vessel. Right? And so what we were trying, what, what the pitch was was that we can fix this leaky vessel if we find the right system. And once we patch up this leaky vessel, you know, one of the other things that's that's happened, that's a very tangible outcome that I didn't know about. I mean, I knew we were going to be able to, you know, plug the holes and get more applicants into the bucket. I knew that. What I didn't know is that, you know, we were going to be able to quadruple our applicant flow and not really increase our advertising budget, at all.

Chad (15m 57s):

That's been amazing right?

Amy (15m 58s):

Static for years, like my whole tenure. Yep. We'll just keep doing the same thing that's working, it's working for us. You know, and now we're able to be a lot more strategic because we know that, you know, when folks are coming to us as applicants, we know that they're going to have a reasonable experience getting in the door. Now what we're working on and where you actually put people through some training this year with the talent board to help us with trying to improve our candidate experience from apply forward. You know, so we're working on that stuff, but that's not system stuff, that's a lot of people's stuff along with the system stuff. But, when you go back and look at the system stuff, the return on investment has been so clear that, you know, now one of the cool things is, is that when somebody from my team or I goes to one of our partners around the corporation, we have a fair amount of credibility, you know, because nobody's looking at talent acquisition going, why can't you bring us candidates?

Amy (16m 57s):

And, you know, because even though candidates are, you know, it is now a very tight market. People are looking for work. And if you are looking for work and you're interested in us as an enterprise, you know, we're going to get you into our process.

Joel (17m 13s):

Let's dig into that a little bit, Amy. So getting people in the system, I think you've, you've done really well on. And now one of the things that we hear a lot about, particularly in the high-frequency hiring, is ghosting. Talk about how you guys combat that. Is it different when you're having, you know, it sounds like you have a lot of highly educated folks, unique folks, you're trying to recruit. So how does ghosting impact you and how do you solve that problem?

Amy (17m 42s):

That's a good question. Unfortunately, we probably don't get it right all the time. And it is something that we work at every day. So how do we do that? Well, one of the things that happened, Joel, was when you take your system, and now you, I already told you that we're putting about four times more people through that system as applicants, right? We still have about the same number of recruiters. So ha ha! Now I've got a little bit of a problem, right? Because now I've got to make sure that four times as many applicants are getting the white glove treatment, if at all possible. And so what we've done is take the approach of, as I said, you know, we're working with the talent board.

Amy (18m 24s):

We've gotten some training, we have automated some parts of the process where we can, you know, there are some business constraints. So yes, Chad, there are some special things about highly cleared hiring that you just can't.

Chad (18m 39s):

Oh yeah. I totally get that.

Amy (18m 44s):

So, what we're doing is we're kind of trying to dial into different parts of the process. One of the things we learned really early after we kind of realized that there are parts of our process that are a black hole, is that we needed to have a mechanism for our no thank yous that was more than, you know, peace out, we're not interested. And so now what we do is if you're not a fit, so Joel, if you did actually apply to a job, when you went through the process just now, and you are not selected, you will get some type of a message that says, thank you for your application, you weren't selected for this, but here's some resources that might help you next time to prepare for a virtual interview, to work on your resume, to practice, you know, practice fielding <inaudible>.

Joel (19m 35s):

I was too concerned about automatically becoming CEO that I didn't want to finish the process. Yeah. I don't want that kind of responsibility.

Amy (19m 42s):

Well, they didn't, you weren't selected at Monster.

Joel (19m 46s):

What? Oh yeah. Or Chad, Chad brought me down on that one. I could have easily lifted myself to that title, but anyway, I digress and I interrupted you. I apologize, Amy, please go on.

Amy (19m 58s):

That's ok. No, I actually, so yeah. So did I think, I mean, that was really, that's how one of the things that we're doing is we're just, we're going through the process and we're taking each chunk of it and systematically. Right, you know, so I'm branded as the quote unquote "solutions team," but you know, when you look at how we're actually going through and doing this stuff, it's systematically.

Chad (20m 21s):

Keep on binging. Episode three with Amy is ready and available. And if you're not already subscribed, look for the Chad and Cheese, wherever you listen to podcasts and hit that subscribe or follow button.


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