Listen in to the China, Networking and ATS episode of The Candidate Experience Podcast hosted by Chuck Solomon at the link above or wherever you enjoy podcasts. A transcription of this interview is available below.
Together with his guest, Chuck who is on the team at LineHire, discuss the good, bad and ugly of the candidate journey. With emphasis on helping companies by improving their employer brand. Hiring Managers should pay special attention to my guest’s suggestions on how to go about building their teams. He also offers job candidates advice on how to go about finding their next great job opportunity. Here’s a hint, it’s doesn’t include applying online.
Chuck Solomon 0:00
Hello, this is Chuck Solomon and welcome to the Candidate Experience Podcast, where we focus on the job candidate journey from apply to onboard and the space in between. Let’s get started.
Chuck Solomon 0:00
Hey everyone. Today on our episode of The Candidate Experience Podcast we have Jerel Bonner with Corralling Chaos. I don’t think I’ve ever said this to you before, but I love the name. So welcome, Jerel.
Jerel Bonner 0:17
Thank you, Chuck. We were running at about a 99.99% approval rate on the name. We’ve only had one person tell us they didn’t get it.
Chuck Solomon 0:27
Awesome. I think it’s a it’s a I think it’s a very catchy, very catchy name. So, um, thanks. You’re welcome. tell people about you yourself personally, as well as a little bit about what you do at Corralling Chaos.
Jerel Bonner 0:44
Okay, sure. So, I’m a bit of a maverick in the workforce because I’ve actually been working as an independent entrepreneur since 2002 after the.com bust. I had a 25 year career in IT and as the.com bust I went off to China for 14 years. After I came back from China and learning how to do management, consulting and leadership development. I started Corralling Chaos with Ted Benson, who’s my managing partner as well. Managing corralling chaos is all about helping companies understand that they’re only market differentiator today is the human potential of their workforce. And we’re here to help them understand that to lower that cost. They need to retain people longer and develop those people. Because when those people stay longer, they can really cut their costs of recruiting. And we want people to work and happy environments that are sustainable and can go past five or six years.
Chuck Solomon 1:42
I heard you say cutting recruiting cost. I hear that from from my clients all the time. They’re always trying to find a way of cutting recruiting costs. So that’s good to hear China, I, you know, tell me, you know, how many years were you were in China? Well, I was in China for 14 years.
Jerel Bonner 2:00
I lived in three different cities. I got my first taste of management consultant in the HR space, working for a training and development company at a Shanghai where I opened up their satellite office in Nanjing. And I ran that office for about two and a half years we did business English and seminars, training programs for everything about how to write great business letters, how to write project, how to manage teams, how to run meetings, things like that.
Chuck Solomon 2:30
Gotcha. What was that like? The like, you are an American working in China where there are lots of other English speakers there or did you have to pick up Mandarin Chinese? How did that work?
Jerel Bonner 2:41
So so we deliver in the corporate training job we deliver the most of the material was basically to help the Chinese workforce speak better English. And then as I went into the management consulting practice, and I started my own world company in China called sharpening axes. We were focused on helping senior executives work with global teams. And again, I was never about teaching English. But everything was done in English for multinationals. Because at the end of the day, the international teams couldn’t speak Chinese. So the Chinese had to understand how to communicate their messages in English to their international.English I charged for the business thinking, gotcha. I’m assuming you picked up some Chinese along the way. Yes, I’m pretty fluent. I can sit in a conversation and understand 80 to 85% of the of the Chinese. And I can read and write Chinese as well.
Chuck Solomon 3:38
Well, that’s a lot more than I can or probably most of our users can as well. So yeah, I think I’m maxed out at Niihau.
Jerel Bonner 3:49
So there you go.
Chuck Solomon 3:52
Awesome. So interesting, international as well as US based experience there. Awesome. I am, I’m betting That you have had a bad experience at some point in your career in the, in the hiring your own personal hiring process, do you? Can you share a little bit about that?
Jerel Bonner 4:12
Yeah, sure. So that I’ve had more than my share. I’ll just focus on one right. There was a company, a French company that was looking to expand its training and development catalog workshop business in China. They had a small program in Beijing with one of the one of the most famous Chinese universities which is called running gotcha, which is Reading University. And they were sending over financial advisors to learn to France to teach them international business. And then they had another small business component in Shanghai teaching people international finance as well. And they wanted to expand their catalog business into China in Beijing, Shanghai and some of the surrounding cities around those things and they had customers like Siemens, Bosch, all the big, you know, German and international French companies Suez all these big, you know, American International European companies they wanted they were already customers in Europe and they wanted to say, hey, how can we sell to their, their Chinese operations as well. So they were recruiting me. And for about eight months, I went to a couple of meetings where I’m at the head of China several times. And he kept dragging me along. At this point, I really didn’t have anything on the radar. And so, so they were recruiting me to be the general manager of China to expand this footprint, and they were dragging me along they asked me for reports they asked me for business plans and, and, you know, put together a budget and I did all that. I met the senior Chinese guy a couple of times, and chasing him was just a nightmare. I couldn’t get him to call me back. I couldn’t get him to confirm what was going on. We would have meetings once a once or twice a month. And he really just struck me along. And it was really becoming frustrating because this was in the summer of 2008. I put together the plan, I had talked to the international business development manager, and I also talked to the CEO. And in August of 2008, these folks have said to me, we don’t understand why he has not extended an offer yet. So I was like, really? And they’re like, Yeah, he told us he was going to offer make an offer to you. And then in September, late September 2008. They he called me down to Shanghai to meet the CEO. I met the CEO for an hour and a half. And the CEO sends me all this all sounds great. That’s all looks good. You know, we want Want you to do this? What’s the next step? And I looked at the CEO and I looked at the head of China, and I said, You guys got to put a contract on the table, you have to extend an offer. And the CEO, the CEO said, Oh, no problem, we can do that. We’re ready to go, you know, we need to do this and we’re ready to go. And, as everybody knows, October 2008, was, you know, the GFC, as they call it in China, the great financial crisis. And they disappeared. That goes to me, right, and they never got back to me. And they even stiffed me $200 for my expenses to go to Shanghai for the interview. Yeah, so it was a pretty much you know, after the crisis hit, you know, everything slammed to a halt and of course, they weren’t going to hire me So, so that so that was my worst recent recruiting process.
Chuck Solomon 7:52
You might, you might actually have the worst worst of all the guests I’ve had I asked my all my guests is sort of same question. And you’re bad experience a you might have. I don’t know, what might we might do some voting on this who has the worst experience? But I think that’s pretty high. Eight months. Yeah, eight months being at eight months being strung along. Did they? Um, I think I heard you say you had to put together some plans to actually make you do actually some work. Okay.
Jerel Bonner 8:24
So I actually put together, you know, a go to market strategy, target city target profiles, and the budget for what it would cost to make that happen.
Chuck Solomon 8:33
You didn’t get paid for that either.
Jerel Bonner 8:35
I did not get a to that.
Chuck Solomon 8:38
Yeah. But I figured as much if they stick it on the $200. And travel reimbursement they probably stiffed you on that. Well, I guess. Yeah. I mean, market conditions globally at that time are what they are, were on so but, you know, what could they have, you know, give us a couple of have examples of things that this company could have done differently with you to really improve that candidate experience. Regardless of you know, they can’t change, no one can change the global economics and stuff. But what could they have done better?
Jerel Bonner 9:17
What they could have done better is the team could have had a meeting where the two people that said he should have made me an offer, we’re actually on the phone with him and me all saying to him, the decision maker, when are you going to extend an offer to this guy because the International Business Development Director was like, we need to get this program going, we need to build up our Chinese operation. And the CEO was like, I got the budget, you know, you asked for money for this guy’s salary. So what’s, what’s the holdup here. So that’s what they could have done better. So just so that people know I tend not to go through applicant tracking systems. So I tend to seek out these kind of business deals and these kind of employment opportunities through The channels I don’t. And so you know, people need to do their home work. This guy was referred to me through somebody in my network, I take, actually I take more responsibility and what I should have done differently. What I should have done is I should have done so much of the work and I really should work harder at it getting my my sharpening axes business off the ground faster in China than waiting for these people to make a decision. However, you know, when you evaluate an opportunity, you got to look at the upside potential and I looked at the upside potential and knew that if they didn’t make an offer, and it didn’t come through, I’d have to start my China operations in China business anyhow. So that’s where it kind of way.
Chuck Solomon 10:43
Thanks for sharing that I appreciate you sharing what was obviously a pretty poor candidate experience. My hope with this podcast is really that companies do some self reflection and listen into your experience periods and the experiences that are shared by some of my other guests and and realize that companies really realized that perhaps eight months or even three months is just simply way too long a period of time to to make a job candidate go through start to finish. And also maybe look at the number of interviews they’re making candidates go through as well. 10-12. I’ve even heard of 14 plus interviews, candidates having to go through that probably those are you probably too long as well. In fact, if you explore what, what Google has done, and they readily share this information, they’ve already analyzed the correct number of interviews. They certainly have a large volume volume of data to go through. And they Google says it four interviews is the ideal number to in order to make a hiring decision. Once you get past four. There’s that law of diminishing returns but my main problem I keep hearing, not just from you Jerel, but I heard this from a number of candidates is that really, there seems to be a lack of a process in place. So what I mean by that is that I think the candidate should really know going in from the very beginning that typically, this is how long the process takes. This is typically how many interviews and who you typically will be interviewing for, for this role. I think having a process in place like that, just lets candidate know, you know, really upfront what they’re in for.
You said, you know, generally apply through ATS tell and this would be more for candidates that are looking and listening in right now. You know, what, you know, what are your steps or processes with, you know, not following through sort of a traditional applying through a career portal going through ATS what how do you do that or how did you do that? Then, would you do that now? What how what would you suggest?
Jerel Bonner 13:04
Okay, great question, Chuck. So basically, the application tracking system is designed to keep people out. Depending on who you talk to you, I’ve heard things from HR managers and say they use the application tracking system for the EEOC compliance. That’s equal employment opportunity compliance. So they can always go in and say, Look, we got all these resumes from all these various people and stuff. So I’ll just let me Let’s start with a high level thing. A couple of you. I’m a really big fan of lots of podcasts. And one podcast I heard. They had a forum and some guy who actually wrote on the forum back in 2011. In one year, this guy submitted 700 plus applications online. He got 14 responses saying thank you for applying. He got three interviews for three different jobs. And one, one position went on way and he got an offer. So you think you got to fill out 700 online application to get one offer. That’s just a huge waste of time. Sure. So what I share with candidates especially people that are really good and really can justify that they are high potentials are top performers. What you would top performers do is they don’t go looking for work work fine. So I know I’ve talked to I’ve coached several general managers in China. So I need to find the job I say, you don’t find General Manager jobs General Manager jobs find you. So if you take the position of I’ve got to, what I really recommend both candidates do is target six companies that they want to work for, know the division they want to work in, in which is in their location, and then find the name the job title of the hiring manager that they would want to work for. So and live this is rankings total strength for the job seeker. I can find a company, I can find who’s in my city. And I can find out if the hiring manager is in my city or not in my city. And then what they need to do is what LinkedIn lets you do is at the end of the day, the hiring manager works with HR to make an offer. the hiring manager and his team says, Who do we want to extend an offer to and then HR on the half of the hiring manager makes the offer. What I tell people is your challenge is to find the hiring manager before he has an opening. build a relationship with that person through LinkedIn, and other networking events or face to face networking events, and convince that person that you have the skills that so that they want to interview you when a position opens up in their department. When that position opens up in their department. Then they just tell HR, hey, in addition to the people in the application tracking system, bring in Thomas bring in Sarah bring in Rosie, and then wrote the then has is the top seed because she’s already spent six months building relationship with the hiring manager. And so she’s got the quickest path to getting a yes and an offer. And she’s it’s basically Rosie’s job, not to blow up the interviewing process so that she doesn’t get the offer. So that you can find the hiring manager and you can build relationships with these people. You have six to eight hiring managers, that you have strong relationships with the key companies you want to work for and be employed by because you like their culture, then somebody in a one year period will have an opening for you, especially in today’s market.
Chuck Solomon 16:45
Right. What I think I hear you’re saying is it’s really on the candidate side of things. It’s really about self promotion or self marketing and networking.
Jerel Bonner 16:58
Chuck Solomon 17:00
Yeah, yeah, I heard a statistic. Believe it was five, less than 5% of jobs are filled coming through the career site and the applicant tracking system. I’m not sure how accurate that is. But seems like a pretty low number and your number of several hundred applications for that gentleman to get one job is worse than worse than. Five 5% in his case,
Jerel Bonner 17:30
Right. So you’re spot on Chuck, I’ve seen numbers that say, you know, anywhere between 60 to set 65% of employee of hires come through the referral system, or through people they know it’s not, you know, it’s the hidden the hidden job market. It’s not going through the application tracking system, unless you’re IBM, right. IBM, Oracle, Cisco, you know, they got 10s of thousands so they can get three or four people out of their application tracking system. them and hope it works. But I don’t think anybody that I can tell you in the last 10, you know, 20 years of my career, most of the employment offers I got was through my network and not applying to application tracking systems. In fact, I can tell you 75% of the last four I had, I had four jobs in the last 20 years. 75% of them was through my network.
Chuck Solomon 18:27
Well, yeah, I just heard from one of my clients on Friday, I believe, who said, they have a position and they have 150 resumes out there. They put the job out there on their career portal, and it advertised it in a couple of different job sites, and 150. And I said, Well, that’s great. And my client said, No, it’s not great. I don’t have time to go through 150 resumes, to find that, essentially that needle in the haystack. So that’s one of the things that that I try to do for my clients is help sort of sharpen the saw, if you will, on making sure they’re attracting the best candidates in the first place. So it’s better in my opinion. And I think a lot of my clients opinions that they’d rather look at maybe five, perhaps 10 candidates that are well qualified, but they’re not going to spend the time or they’re going to spend very little time on looking through 150 resumes because they, they just don’t have the time.
Jerel Bonner 19:33
Right. So it’s funny you say that because I in China, I knew a company that we had created a tool for getting people to apply for positions through the mobile devices because mobile so hot, and eager, and they ran a pilot program with L’Oreal for a management training program and they put it out on this mobile platform. And in China, they always say we never get enough Well, this one management training program at 75 positions they were looking to fill they had 35,000 applicants right and then they whittle that down and then from the 35,000 they whittle down the top 500 interview the top 500 to select 75 I was like you and yet some Chinese HR people will go 35,000 applicants not enough not enough You know, so anyhow that that some people just get silly with that number.
Chuck Solomon 20:40
Yeah, you You got me beat on on the 150 by by a lot for sure. Other any, any things that you know you would say or you know, things that you would like to see improved in terms of the know what companies can do with candidate experience to improve it?
Jerel Bonner 21:00
Yeah, so what companies can do is actually put the hiring responsibilities on the hiring manager, not the HR team. So HR might be responsible for making sure the shelves are stocked. But at the end of the day, it’s the hiring manager that is responsible for filling positions. One of the caveats and stories I like to tell my audience is, if I’m a manager of a software team, and I got 20, slots and 16 are filled in four are open, and if I still hit my numbers and deliverables on that those projects, and my team gets a bonus, do I share my bonus with HR? Because I’m short four people NO, right? I’d say well, my team delivered we got our bonuses and I’m distributing the bonuses, but yet every time hiring managers don’t have their full of headcount full and they don’t have all their teams in their positions filled if they Miss their targets, the first thing they do is they throw HR under the bus. And that’s wrong. I mean, if I’m a manager of 20 people and I got four positions open, I need to make sure I can fill those positions as fast as possible. And when they throw HR under the bus, you know, they’re basically saying, I don’t know how to hire. And so and if you have a team that doesn’t hiring managers need to learn how to hire, they need to learn how to have a bench of people that they can call on. So earlier in the in the chat, we talked about a find six to 10 managers and and you know, build relationships with them. Sure. On the opposite side, hiring managers should have five, six people that they know that as soon as they have an opening, they can pick up the phone and go, these three, I got an opening, we’ve been talking for six months, got an opening, I want you to come in and apply. And I’m going to make sure that HR puts you into my interviewing schedule with maybe three people from the application tracking system and that’s an eight and hiring that Just don’t do that hiring manager sit there and go, where’s my 20 resumes that I need to build? You know, like you said earlier, Chuck, I got 150 resumes for a position, I’m going to send 20 to the hiring manager and have the hiring manager pick out, you know, six that he’s, we should phone screen. That’s totally wrong. You know, HR needs to tell hiring people, we take care of promoting the brand. So there’s position candidates available when you need them. Your job is to make sure that you have candidates you know about and, you know, and want to work for us and want to work for you. Because, you know, you can be a great company like Red Hat, but I’m sure not every Red Hat manager is awesome.
Chuck Solomon 23:44
Jerel Bonner 23:44
I wouldn’t want to work for a general manager at Red Hat. I mean, it’s just that way, right? So, you know, everybody, every hiring manager needs to be responsible for placing people getting people in as fast as possible. And they they need to realize they own that. Not HR.
Chuck Solomon 24:01
Jerel, I love how you, you went full circle here on me. You went from, you know, talking about candidates in their search for a new job should be having relations with the 5 6 7 hiring managers, then you brought it all the way around and put it back on the hiring manager and said they need to be having conversations with those candidates as well. I love that perspective and appreciate that. Thanks for sharing that.
Jerel Bonner 24:31
You’re welcome Chuck.
Chuck Solomon 24:32
Sure. We’re, we’re wrapped up here but Jerel, tell tell listeners how they can find you.
Jerel Bonner 24:40
Sure, they can find me on LinkedIn Jerel Bonner, and there’s some Chinese characters next to my Chinese name so you can find me there. Or you can go to the company website CorrallingChaos.com, and that’s c o r e a ll i n g chaos c h a o s and you know We’re really we have a lot of learning material. In fact, I have a set of program, web videos on our website about the employee value proposition. And I talked a little bit more about the talent bench, which is how the hiring managers have talent benches. We have all kinds of papers about how to stay ahead of the field and be a learning an agile, individual and learning agile employer so that they can find us there. Again, we’re pretty lucky Chuck because you know, at the beginning of the podcast, you said, Hey, great name. If you type in corralling chaos on LinkedIn, we are the only company that shows up if you Google us we’re the only company that shows up.
Chuck Solomon 25:41
That’s good branding. Thanks. Yeah. Thanks, Jared. Appreciate your time.
Jerel Bonner 25:47
Thank you, Chuck, and look forward to running into at some of our other upcoming networking events.
Chuck Solomon 25:52
Likewise, likewise, take care.