Sprint Recruiting w/ Trent Cotton


Ever heard the concepts behind sprint recruiting? Well, we've got the guy who wrote the book on the topic, super-recruiter Trent Cotton. A sneak-peek: Sprint recruiting applies the AGILE methodology to recruiting, enabling recruiting organizations to work smarter and more efficiently. It is built upon four principles to combat the pitfalls of recruiting. And oh, sister, do the boys dig into those principles.


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Joel (0s):

Did you say revenue as a recruiter? What?


Chad (3s):

That is sexy? Any CEO or anybody hears that they're like, Oh yeah, keep talking, keep talking, Trent.


INTRO (11s):

Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.


Joel (31s):

Oh yeah. We're recording on St. Patrick's day, which means this is the most sober thing I'll be doing all day. Welcome everybody. This is Joel Cheeseman of the Chad and Cheese podcast as always joined by my cohost and Chief Chad Sowash and today we are honored to welcome Trent Cotton, VP of Talent Acquisition and Retention at Bureau Veritas group. Trent, welcome to the Chad and Cheese podcast you've been warned.


Chad (1m 1s):

Was retention originally a part of the job title, or did you just say, Hey, I need more responsibility through, so throw that retention shit on my shoulders?


Joel (1m 9s):

That's also what I get after a lot of tacos, a lot of retention.


Trent (1m 15s):

You know, the whole retention thing. I just, I like to be different. So it's actually, I think a vice president of Talent Acquisition and Talent Strategies. So I probably need to change the LinkedIn thing, but it was just kind of balls to the wall as soon as I started. So it was like update LinkedIn. Let's move on to the rest of the stuff.


Chad (1m 35s):

Okay. We'll give us a little Twitter bio about you. What did we miss color in the little color, outside the lines, if you want to fuck, this is the Chad and Cheese.


Trent (1m 45s):

All right. So I am a kind of a business person first. I just fell into the talent space. I always tell people I converted to the dark side in 2004 and spent probably the first six months working with HR professionals who said I would never make it. But the biggest difference for me, I kind of found my voice whenever I realized, Hey, I can talk the language of the client and then I can just bring in the HR stuff. So I didn't, you know, I didn't really stress that. I didn't know HR law. I didn't, well, I did because I spent a hell of a lot of time as a manager in HR for stuff that I was doing, so I knew what not to do. But, you know, I kind of took more of a consultative approach. And that was in 2004, 2005.


Trent (2m 26s):

I was a Lone Wolf, very outside of your normal HR nomenclature, caricature of what an HR person looks like. And now I'm so excited that it's kind of like 50/50. There's a lot of us that have come from the business side and we're taking a business approach to everything talent.


Joel (2m 43s):

Found your voice, Lone Wolf, your life sounds like a Hallmark special.


Trent (2m 47s):

You know, that's kind of the brand that I'm going for. You know, what I like to do is suck them in to the Hallmark and then, you know, kind of drop the rated R version on them.


Joel (2m 56s):

Then drop the Vice on them. Yeah. I like it. I like it.


Trent (2m 59s):

That's my price.


Chad (3m 0s):

Oh shit. So, so TA is really bad about creating their own fucking language. Right. So, so, so let's talk about, you're talking about coming from the business side. So when you step into a C-suite discussion, do you ever push your time to fill cost per hire metrics? Or do you automatically just kind of like spin that into how it either positively or negatively impacts the bottom line? Cause I mean, if we think about it, the C-suite gives a shit about generally one thing and that's the bottom line. Yes. They have other periphery kind of obvious obvious responsibilities, but that's where their eye is set. So how do you as a TA leader focus on that?


Trent (3m 43s):

Well, my question and believe it or not, in the interview process, one of the, one of the executives I was interviewing with asked me, so what's going to be your TA strategy whenever you come in, if you get the job? I said, what are your profit levers? What needs to be moved for you to be able to meet your goal from a revenue standpoint in 2021?


Chad (3m 59s):

Big applause.


Joel (4m 1s):

Yeah. Did you say revenue as a recruiter? What?


Chad (4m 5s):

That is sexy. any CEO or anybody hears that they're like, Oh yeah. Keep talking, keep talking Trent. Ooh. I want to hear that revenue now. Yeah.


Joel (4m 14s):

Yeah. Hallmark channel back to the hallmark channel.


Trent (4m 17s):

But you know, what's funny though, is that whenever I asked them that they said, but no, what's your, what's your TA strategy? I said, I cannot develop a strategy that's going to work unless you can answer that question. And I think it jarred him little bit, I guess, I guess a jarred him, because I had to have other interviews, but you know, whenever I, whenever I came in, you know, I didn't, I don't even know what our time to fill is. I don't care that that doesn't matter to me. What I want to know is are we filling the most critical roles? And you know, we kind of do sprint recruiting, which we can talk about a little bit later. So it changes the dynamics of the metrics. Whenever I'm doing consulting or coaching for other TA professionals.


Trent (4m 57s):

We'll talk about one as an example, I'll keep it anonymous. But they were just so incredibly proud. They positioned it as, Hey, we want to talk to you about your book. And I was like, okay, cool. If you have questions, let's get on the thing. But it was really, you know, about 20 minutes into and I'm going okay, are you trying to sell me on your version of Sprint and why it's better? Or do you really, I mean, I've got other things I could be doing? But they were touting the fact that they, with their system, they reduced the time to fill from 45 days to 32 days in a month. I said, Oh, that's fantastic. How'd you do it? And they went through their whole little thing. I said, okay, so what's your, what's your quick quit, right?


Chad (5m 32s):

It's not important. We're not talking about that. That's an entirely different discussion.


Trent (5m 36s):

Exactly. And they're like, well, we don't handle turnover. That's an HR thing I said, but we are HR. And turnover is a thing, especially if you're looking at the first year. So they said, I don't know. Well, we'll get back to you. Well, next week we hop on, and this is like after hours. And they said, okay, our quick quit rate, you wanted the 90, the 180 and then the 365. I said, yes. And I remember one of them was 42% turnover after the first six months.


Chad (6m 2s):

Ouch.


Trent (6m 3s):

And so I said, so you're selling your time to fill, right? To your clients as a win?


Chad (6m 8s):

Because that's what they got.


Trent (6m 11s):

I said, let me just break this down. I said, now my minor was statistics and finance. I'm a data nerd. You were telling your client, please give us a round of applause because 48% of the time we find the wrong person who would quit.


Audience sound effects. (6m 24s):

Boooo.


Trent (6m 26s):

Well, what do we measure? I said, you need to line them up with the goal. You know, if, if we need to hire in, you know, 16 revenue producers that have an average revenue per FTE of X amount, how often can you get them? And how long can you retain them? And to me, it was just really interesting because MTA it's like, no one wants to talk about turnover. And for me, those two go hand in hand, especially that first year. So if you going back to my weird title, whenever I'm talking to my friends, I tell people, I said, I own a candidate from the time they say hello until we send them a one year happy anniversary card.


Joel (7m 2s):

You're leading the witness here, Sprint Recruiting, what is it? Why should our audience care? Give us the four


Chad (7m 9s):

Oh one on, tell us about the book, I mean, it just came out.


Trent (7m 13s):

It did, ironically, I set a release date just because, you know, I'm a project guy, so I wanted to set a deadline. I set it for January the 25th and got everything done. Got it edited over the holidays and ended up accepting this role. And so it released my first day at Bureau Veritas. And I was like, okay, you know, why in the hell would I want to do one thing at a time? Let's just do everything all at one time. So really excited. It's actually the, the second book that I've written, the first one was the Seven Deadly Sins of HR and what makes it suck. But with, with Sprints, it goes through, yeah. I made a lot of friends with that, but it was about two years ago. I was a TA leader for a very small team supporting the tech function within the firm.


Trent (7m 58s):

And it was your traditional all the time. You know, hiring managers say, you're not finding this candidate as you're taking too long, you're not filling the roles that we need to. I go to the recruiters that are complaining about the managers. I pull up the metrics, we're hiring people. And actually I was kind of frustrated. I was, I was really looking at, okay, do I need to stay in recruiting? Because I don't know that this can be fixed. And I'm just kind of wish we had just gone through agile training. I spent a week in agile training, a week in Kanban and then a week in design thinking. And then I was listening to the book Scrum by Jeff Sutherland. And it clicked. I said, okay, there are principles here that we can apply. So the more I started thinking about it, there are four traditional pitfalls of recruiting.


Trent (8m 39s):

The first one is that everything's a priority, which means nothing is a priority. Loss of productivity, loss of efficiency. And it causes a lot of chaos. The second is that, you know, I'm a musician. So I like a rhythm, I like to hear the drum and everybody else falls in line. In most recruiting processes, there's no drum. It's just, kinda like the Lucille bowl hair on fire.


Chad (8m 58s):

Yeah. Need a good baseline, right?


Trent (9m 0s):

Yeah. Yeah. And, and it's like, you're, you know, like the Lucille ball thing where you're just kinda like stuffing chocolate everywhere. That that's what they thought behind the scenes with recruiting. Right. And then the other thing is that a lot of times we're out of touch with our clients, you know, we think that we're communicating a lot, but we're not communicating as often. And then the last thing is that the feedback loop is broken. And a lot of times, whenever I talk to TA people, they go, yeah, we have an SLA for feedback. Okay. Is it on the manager too? No, that's not in a FLA. FLAs are mutual accountability. So the four principles of Sprint counteract, those, those four pitfalls. The first one is,


Chad (9m 37s):

Wait a minute, before we get into the principles. I want to talk, those pitfalls are specifically, and those are business pitfalls because if you're managing a sales team, these are also issues. They are also issues that you've seen in like when you're starting new sales teams and there there's no rhythm that everything's a priority, et cetera, et cetera. So as reading this, it was like, Holy shit. I mean, you're bringing business principles that have been tried and true for many different aspects of the business, into recruiting.


Trent (10m 8s):

Well, and believe it or not just a quick little sidebar before we get into the principles. My daughter is graduating high school this year and it was right around the time that I was developing this process.


Joel (10m 19s):

Empty nester alert.


Trent (10m 20s):

Oh, I know. I know. I'm so excited! Not to get her out, it's just like this stage of her life. It's like seeing her become who she is and it's just, it's like, it's just freaking.