On this episode of 'Inbound & Down,' host Jon Sasala talks to Jason Azocar (Founder) and Megan Prescott (Director of Client Services) at HubSearch.
You may remember them as our sponsor of last season's HubSpot Miniseries. HubSearch is a recruiting firm dedicated to the HubSpot ecosystem. Jason, Megan and Jon discussed recruiting best practices, what recruiting is like for agencies and how they specifically recruit with HubSpot in mind.
Do you have questions about recruiting? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the episode transcript below.
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This is Brian Halligan and you're listening to Inbound & Down from Morey Creative Studios.
SL: Welcome to Inbound & Down: The Art and Science of Inbound Marketing with Jon Sasala, President of Morey Creative Studios. Hey, it's Sage here. Today's guest might be a little familiar to you. Jason Azocar, Founder and Megan Prescott, Director of Client Services, of HubSearch.
You may remember them as our sponsor of last season's HubSpot miniseries. HubSearch is a recruiting firm dedicated to the HubSpot ecosystem. Jason, Megan and Jon discussed recruiting best practices, what recruiting is like for agencies and how they specifically recruit with HubSpot in mind. Alright. Here's Jon with Jason and Megan.
Jon Sasala: Yes. Joining us today. We have Jason Azocar and Megan Prescott, both from HubSearch. I really appreciate you taking the time out to spend time with us on Inbound & Down. Diving right in, I was thinking, maybe I'd give you an opportunity just to tell our audience about HubSearch and exactly what you guys do over there.
Jason Azocar: Sure. I love it. Thanks. So, first of all, thanks so much for having us on. We've been—we've been massive fans of the show for a long time. Getting to sponsor last season was a blast and getting to actually be on it is even more fun. So, the genesis story of HubSearch is a fun one that we love to talk about. And we're still a newer business, right? I mean, we had our very first placed candidate started in October of 2019.
So, for all intents and purposes, this brand is not much older than a year. And so much has happened that last year. It's pretty amazing to look back. This thing all started when Megan and I teamed up about a year and a half ago, and frankly, our original idea had nothing to do with HubSearch. When we originally teamed up, we had this idea we were going to become essentially a technology executive search firm and the model was going to be based on the way that in-house talent acquisition teams deliver for their organizations and applying that model toward the agency model and sort of creating a hybrid.
My background is not traditional recruiting agency, not traditional staffing. I spent a whole bunch of years in-house at growing software organizations, building in-house teams. I was really early at Wayfair, which was really cool. I was the first recruiter at Wayfair in 2009. Then of course, I got the chance to lead technology recruiting for HubSpot for a number of years, which of course I'll come back to.
JA: But really the idea is, how does an organization that is scaling use recruiting as a competitive advantage? How does acquiring great talent become one of the things that propels an organization to success, and how do we take that and apply it in a way that allows us to deliver for a bunch of organizations, not just our own?
So, when Megan and I first teamed up, we had this idea of taking that type of approach and applying it to an agency model. And what we realized really quickly was that even though we knew our approach was very different and we knew the way that we were going to deliver was unique in the space, it was really hard to message that stuff. Essentially, we didn't have a niche. To the eyes of the world we were just another recruiting company. And the idea for HubSearch was a total experiment.
I think in the way that some many other companies that have become successful have been based on a couple of guesses of what the market needs. We said, 'Hey, maybe we can apply this thing to an incredibly niche audience and maybe that audience is the HubSpot ecosystem, right?' Maybe the fact that I recruited at HubSpot built teams for HubSpot for years would be a really impactful part of our narrative. And we said, 'Let's try it! Let's experiment with it.'
So, we launched the brand HubSearch and originally, when we launched, we were exclusively working with agency partners. Our first tagline was—Megan, correct me if I'm wrong here—I think it was something like "built for partners."
Megan Prescott: Yep.
JA: When we went to INBOUND, the last in-person INBOUND, we had t-shirts that said built for partners because our whole thing was, we're going to be hyper, hyper niche. We're only going to work with agency partners and help HubSpot partners grow their teams. And we found service market fit more quickly than most. I mean, the response to what we were doing was pretty overwhelming.
I mean, again and again, and again, we heard agency founders saying, 'I can't believe no one has done this already. Thank God you're doing this. Wait, and you recruited at HubSpot. This seems like a no-brainer, fantastic.' So very quickly the snowball started rolling and it wasn't too far into that journey that we opened up the service offering to HubSpot customers. And really it was because we heard over and over from our agency clients, 'Hey, can you help one of our clients hire because they're desperately in need of a great marketer to join their team who knows HubSpot, for example.'
And we said, well sure, of course we can. So really our niche is as long as HubSpot is a piece of software that powers your business, we can help you build your teams
JS: Being that, you know, you're focusing on HubSpot specialists and HubSpot users, that is a niche that is kind of challenging to fill, you know, not everybody out there can just step in and figure out the software. It's super easy coming in and not needing that six months of like learning and training and getting certified really does.
JS: Yeah, it really does provide value.
JA: Yeah, it's interesting because we see a really interesting spectrum of searches. Of course, the thing we see over and over and over is, 'I need an amazing digital marketer who knows HubSpot,' and the dozens of different that searches can come in, but ultimately, we apply great recruiting tactics toward whatever a growing agency may need.
So, we see some really interesting searches. We've done an awful lot with front end developers, UI/UX, design, content creation. We just placed a head of growth with one of the elite partners. So as long as you're under the umbrella of HubSpot ecosystem, we can recruit on whatever you may need, but again, our bread and butter of course is, 'We need somebody unbelievable who knows the HubSpot platform inside and out.'
JS: Yeah. And as you're working through what your business model is, as you're pivoting and trying to define your place in the market, obviously your experience at HubSpot really does help craft that. How did you and Megan come to work together? Megan, how were you introduced to Jason and did you come from the HubSpot ecosystem as well?
MP: That's a great question. I did not come from the HubSpot ecosystem. However, when I was in college, I did hear about HubSpot through my marketing program and being part of the AMA as well. Long story short though, I come from a sales world with startups in a corporate background. The last seven, eight years of my life was starting off going door to door, business to business, commission only selling Quill paper products. From there I grew and realized that I really want to kind of put the pedal to the metal and see what sales is really all about.
I came from an atmosphere my entire life around sales which led me to working with larger physical therapy clinics in a larger opportunity for the last six years, where solely it was focused on account management—of course, client relations—but also identifying areas where the business can grow as well. So about six years into that career, I really was jonsing. I wanted to get back to a startup atmosphere. I wanted to be more of the lead voice, you know, as opposed to submitting a ticket and then sitting down with leadership and then waiting two months for it to get approved.
I'm impatient and also, I really was just wanting to go ahead and work with forward thinking leaders as well. So, I actually was working with Bridget, who is Jason's wife. She was working in the marketing department, I was in the sales position. We had recently gone to out to Chicago for a trade show that I was spearheading from the sales side and Bridget was spearheading from the marketing side and we clicked. And then about a year later, I realized this is not my final home. I definitely want to see what else is out there. And I reached out and she said, 'I think I know the right person for you to talk to with your background. Let me introduce you to Jason, my husband,' and really, it's been history ever since.
JS: And I think I saw on your website that Bridget is also on the staff, is that right?
JA: Bridget heads up our recruiting efforts.
JS: So, is that employees one, two and three that I'm looking at here right now?
JA: You got it.
JS: Okay. And in the year or so that you guys have been doing this, how have you grown since then?
JA: So, we just hit our seventh employee.
JS: Oh, wow. So even amid all of this COVID strife, you guys have been able to hunker down and find growth.
JA: Absolutely. I mean, I'm the first to admit that COVID was scary at the beginning. Right? I mean, we got off to an incredibly, incredibly fast start, but I'll give you some numbers to kind of exemplify this thing. Like as a team, we came into 2020 with, I think it was 16 unique searches on our board. Right? Which is a substantial amount of activity for a five person team. We saw that go to three searches in March.
JA: So, it was terrifying. I mean, we got into a point where companies were absolutely hitting the panic button across the board and the first thing to pause is hiring. If companies aren't hiring, that's not good for us. For us that's our primary value add. So early COVID—when I say early COVID, I'm talking about March into April and a little bit into May—It was scary. We saw an awful lot of organizations that do similar things to us go out of business.
Fortunately for us, our target audience is a bit insulated from this. You know, you guys probably get this where it's like marketing budgets reduced generally, but all of those dollars were now funneled to digital. Any money that was earmarked for travel events, trade shows, of course, that stuff's not happening, right? So, everybody's doubling down in digital, which is great for our client base, which are almost exclusively digital agencies.
So even though there was an awful lot of turmoil, it wasn't nearly as bad for our client spaces as it could have been and we've seen this incredible resurgence of growth in our base over the last several months. I mean, we're busier than we ever have been by far.
JS: And being that a few months into launching, a few months into kind of getting your legs underneath you—being that you had that pause and that moment to take a look back, did that also give you an opportunity to kind of look at your systems and processes and whatever data you had learned to that point and say, 'Hey, now's a good time to pivot. We don't have a substantial amount of new searches on the site. Maybe it's time to focus on the technology.' Which also brings me to the question, are you guys really a ground and pound type staffing service or is this really a technology driven?
JA: I am so glad you asked because we, full candor, if someone described us as a staffing agency, that's nails on a chalkboard to me, it just, it's such a different business model. And let me tell you—nothing against staffing agencies, they very much have their place—but that is not what we do.
When I think of a staffing firm, I'm thinking super high volume, very sort of commodity style operations, very low customization, very low engagement in the business. It's, 'Here's a bunch of resumes that we found on Monster Career Builder, Indeed. Do you want to interview or hire any of these people?' Staffing agencies generally exist to add volume to the top of the hiring funnel and that's about it. And we designed our offering and our process to be as far to the other end of the spectrum as humanly possible.
We tell clients as we're getting ready to launch a search all the time, like this is going to feel like you now have an amazing recruiting and talent acquisition team attached to your business. That's what it's going to feel like. We just have so much more value than, 'Here's a bunch of resumes. What do you think?'
You know, Megan runs the process day in, day out. So, I'll let her talk about what the process actually is, but it's very much designed for us to do all of the heavy lifting. We tell our clients all the time, 'You literally just need to show up at the interviews that we booked for you. Beyond that we're going to handle everything.'
MP: Absolutely. I mean, the software sounds great, but at the end of the day, we really pride ourselves on personalization. You know, every single partner we work with is completely customized and personalized based on their needs. And also, what's important to them when it comes to company culture and that person too but also, I mean, our recruiters are killer. We spend a ton of time, not only getting to know your business and being able to pitch your business as if I'm sitting right next to you, but also just understanding day-to-day, understanding your clients, understanding the growth opportunity and taking it an extension further and understanding what makes this person a perfect culture fit at this business as well. Because at the end of the day, as much as we say, culture is important, every company is still a little bit different on what they look forward to.
So, it's really at the end of the day, just being completely different and invested within our candidates to where, if someone calls and says, ;Hey, I have a question on the resume,' we can dive right in and can tell you about that conversation as well, opposed to what Jason mentioned, 'You know, here's a bunch of resumes. Take a look, let me know what you're interested in.' We actually put those candidates directly on our client's calendars for interviews as well. That's how far we get them out.
JA: At the beginning of each search, we tell our clients the same thing. 'You're not going to have to talk to more than four or five people.' If we get to seven, eight, nine, we miss something. We need to recalibrate. It essentially never happens though. The whole point of this thing is all the heavy lifting is on us, right? We are doing the first interview. Throughout the discovery process we get to know our clients so, so well that it's not a resume exchange. It's, we interviewed this person. He or she's incredible. You're going to love them for these reasons and you're talking to them on Thursday at 3:00 PM. Just literally, we just need you to show up to the interview and get us fast feedback.
In the exact same way you would expect your in-house recruiter to deliver for you. And the other thing that dramatically separates us from a traditional staffing firm is we're not dealing with applicants. Very, very rarely do we represent candidates who are not working currently or even actively in a search. We tell our clients all the time, 'You should be able to find those people.'
And I know that we're going to talk a little bit about inbound recruiting and how to go out and actually find people who are looking for positions. That should fill a bunch of roles that you as a growing company need, but definitely isn't going to fill them all. There are an awful lot of incredibly talented people who are doing cool work, probably making good money for an interesting company who are never going to click the apply button on your careers page. That's our target audience on the recruiting side. Our job is to go find super, super passive talents and convince them that we've found something more compelling for their long-term career goals than what they're doing now. And then walk them step by step, by step all the way through our clients in every process.
JS: So, I want to dig into that just for a second here. My father who's, you know, 60, 65 years now used to refer to that as a head hunter. Is that what this is? You're going out and you're finding the best fit candidate, even if that person's not looking for work.
JA: Bingo. Yeah. I mean, honestly exactly right. And you asked me earlier if it was more based on sort of the way that you recruit for technologists and that's exactly what this thing is. I'll use HubSpot as the example. HubSpot was searching for the top 1% of software engineers on the planet, right? These are never people who are going to go click apply on a careers page, and you still have to find ways and strategies and tools to go discover who they are, where they are and how to get them to engage with your employer brand. We've taken the best of those incredibly complex talent discovery strategies and applied them to this space and to our clients.
JS: So, if you look at the talent that you have when you're looking to fill a position, it's not a significant amount of applicants that are sitting on your site, just hoping that something appropriate pops up. What breakdown would you say of people that come to you and say, 'Hey, I'm looking for work, please find me something,' versus people you go out and profile yourselves?
JA: Oh man, it's probably 98% passive. I mean, we for the first time in our history, we actually put up a paid ad on LinkedIn that talks about landing your dream job. Just to have some inbound because we thought, 'Hey, we probably should have some inbound,' that just happened a month ago.
One of the things we tell our clients all the time, we will never repost your job. Any agency that's going to repost your position and try to charge you a fee because they got an applicant before you did, that's not what you need. If someone's going to click the apply button, better it be on your site and do all the things to publicize, highlight, and draw attention to your employer brand so you're getting those types of people directly, but there's an awful lot of exceptionally talented people who are never going to click apply.
JS: So that answers my supply and demand question. But I want to kind of focus on something that might be an issue. If a significant segment of the clients that you're servicing, the companies that come to you are agencies. These are agencies that are employing the top talent when you're going out there and you're finding people to place. I imagine there could be an opportunity where you're maybe pulling talent away from other agencies and have you guys come across that yet?
JA: We most certainly have, and it's a reality in our space. In many cases, our clients will come to us and be very, very specific on where they'd like to see this talent from. And that's stuff that we bake into our search strategy and, you know, full candor in a lot of cases, an agency will come to us and say, I want to see this person come from another HubSpot agency. It's just the nature of the business.
We take our non-solicit agreements extremely seriously. We baked that language into all of our agreements that we will never recruit from an organization that we have a relationship with, but at the end of the day, there's an awful lot of agencies out there. And there's something like 2,500 partner agencies in the HubSpot space, in the US and many, many, many thousands of other, very good marketing agencies that happened to not be a HubSpot partner. There's an awful lot of talent out there.
JS: Yeah. And you do also have a, kind of a breakdown between HubSpot solutions partners that you're servicing and businesses that are just leveraging the HubSpot software? What type of breakdown would you say percentage wise are agencies you're supporting versus just actual independent HubSpot users?
JA: Yeah, also a good question and also dramatically weighted on the HubSpot agency side. So, we, really the companies, the HubSpot customers that we've worked, with have essentially all come through our previous agency relationships. It's almost always been a pass through, right? Our agency clients saying, 'Hey, our customer badly needs some help.'
And it's a really interesting program that we've built, this strategic partnership model where we see that effort in many ways deepens the relationship between marketing agency and their customer. It puts them even more—highlights them in a position of trusted advisor. But also, we see that—I'll use Morey as the example—you guys may have a client where let's say, you're dealing directly with the CEO and that person can maybe give you an hour a week. That's probably not enough to really effectively maximize the amount of really cool strategy and execution that you're bringing to the table. So, in a lot of cases, what we hear is, 'Please help our client find a marketing coordinator, a marketing manager, basically the person who can be our counterparts, that this client gets the very best return on investment from this relationship that we have.'
JS: Yeah. We do see that firsthand that, you know, the relationships we have with companies, when they have a point person, when they have a marketing manager, somebody who's, our go-to, we are wildly more successful. And that person having HubSpot experience is certainly a plus, but I could certainly see a future where individual businesses that are finding success on HubSpot, not an agency, not managing a bunch of different verticals, but one company saying we want to grow and being able to find talent out there that already understands the platform that you're built on, it's hard to do.
I know as an agency, when I'm looking for talent out there, these other career services don't actually have a lot of HubSpot designated people. It's something that I'm shocked at because it seems like it's such a prevalent piece of software out there and so many people are leveraging it, but it's not something that's present out there. So, you really have carved out a great niche for yourself.
JA: Well, I appreciate that. And I think you hit the nail on the head. I think we do see that it's just lower volume, but that actually gives us the capability to add some really cool value back to our client base, because what we just find ourselves at this really interesting center point of this ecosystem.
Where, in a number of cases, we've engaged with a HubSpot customer, helped them through a search, and it's become very clear that they badly need to be working with a HubSpot agency. And we've actually been able to make that introduction in reverse. We'll help you find this person you need in house, but you really should also be working with an agency and here are a couple that we love based on what industry you're in, what size you're at, you know, what your needs are.
JS: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And I'm sure the partners, the companies, the agencies that you're working with really greatly appreciate that. It really kind of reflects how you do identify as part of their team. You know, you are there, one of them, one of the staffers.
Going back to the talent that people are looking for, can you guys talk about the types of roles that you're filling? I know Jason and earlier on, you had mentioned a couple of different examples, but where do you find that HubSearch is really placing the best types of positions either on the content side, on the developer side? Like, what do you find?
JA: It really runs the gamut. I'd say the volume, the highest volume of our searches is either in account and relationship management and ownership and or strategy and or execution. But I think that it's kind of the core pod. The core marketing pod is where we see most of our searches. Digital or marketing strategists, we actually refer to that in house as like our core search because that person, that really strong marketer, who's savvy enough to interact with clients and build strategy and pull the levers in HubSpot, that's the thing we're always working on. There are a dozen variations that can come and that's essentially the search that is our bread and butter that we're running for a number of clients at all times.
JS: Knowing that HubSpot itself is so fluid and constantly expanding to new places, finding a lot of success doubling down on maybe their sales tools, you know, really trying to increase utilization of their service tools, etc. Do you expect that that's going to start shifting and say, 'Wow, a lot of these inbound sales teams are what people are starting to look for, so, we need to start looking for talent in that space.'
JA: Yeah. We try never to be surprised, but you make a great point. I mean, the HubSpot product itself is evolving so quickly. There are a bunch of really cool, interesting things. Like I'll give you an example from the last several months, you know, HubSpot put out the new customizable template, new CMS.
So, for the first time, this summer, late this summer, we're having companies come to us and say, we really need a front-end developer who knows HubL for instance. Which just literally, wasn't a thing a year ago. So, there's always fun, new twists, new wrinkles that we get to go explore and deliver on.
JS: So how granular do you guys get with the way you organize talent? Is it looking at certifications that an individual has, is it looking at things like understands HubL understands CMS, you know, how do you segment and organize?
JA: I think Megan summed this up perfectly before where she said everything is custom built for us. Really, the way that we operate our process in terms of candidate management is really the only cookie cutter thing because we've developed it over the last year and it works incredibly well and it's very specific, but every search is completely different.
Every time we engage with either a new client or an existing client, who has got a new need, they're coming to us with a laundry list of preferences, a handful of requirements, a bunch of preferences, some vision for what this person brings to the table day one, what they will learn in short order and what they can deliver for the business. We custom build everything as we go.
JS: Why don't we actually go through that? Megan, would you mind taking us through a use case, like an example of what customer comes to you and says, 'This is what I need and how do you go about fulfilling it?' Maybe the amount of time that it takes to fulfill, you know, what does an engagement look like?
MP: Yeah, absolutely. So typically, we start our engagement off with a 30-minute discovery call, really understanding what the opportunity is, timeframe expectations, just to make sure everything falls in line. After that makes sense, we actually have a one-hour launch call, that's what Jason referred to earlier. We come to that launch call with Jason and I, of course, and then our recruiting team and we seriously have maybe 30, 40, sometimes 50 questions and really organize it through understanding company culture.
Who are you? Who are your clients? So, we can a 100% confidently talk about your company as if we were standing again or sitting right next to you. Then we really dive deep into the team. Understanding, whose team is this person joining? Who's their manager? What's their management style? What is their growth opportunity? How do we talk about what their career can look like in three to five years as well?
So really identifying again, this is someone who's looking for a forever home, not just somewhere for the next few years, and then jump somewhere else this is an investment too. And then we really dive into the day to day, you know, understanding, what are they going to be doing in HubSpot every single day? Is it, you know, extensive workflows, landing pages, marketing automation? Is it the custom dashboards? Really, truly understanding what that HubSpot checklist goes through and then refining the process.
And this is a lot of fun for us too, because this is where we can really implement a lot of our consultative services too. Through COVID there's a silver lining that we identified—a lot of different areas that sometimes our partners need help on whether that was working remotely, you know, should we utilize Slack? What's Zoom? How do we use that? To even just understanding, 'Hey, I haven't interviewed in almost two years. Can you give me a crash course on do's and don'ts on interviewing, or can you take a look at our process and help us identify? Are we on the right track with what other agencies are doing as well?'
So, we really help refine that. And then after that, we're off to the races. We meet as a team, we do a debrief meeting to really understand, are we great and competent on pitching the company? Do we know who the profile is? Does everyone feel like we're on the same page to go ahead and jump into the search immediately and then from there, our recruiters work wonders, right?
That's where they're coming up with the custom sourcing. We have really nice messaging, compelling messaging, reaching out to those candidates as well, and then interviewing on your behalf. I mean, those interviews are anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, multiple interviews, really deep diving into this person, again, because we're invested to make sure that this is the right fit for you.
And to what Jason mentioned earlier, our partners should not have to talk to any more than four or five candidates. And you should confidently know that not only do you have one amazing person, but you have multiple amazing professionals to choose from, as opposed to saying, 'I'm not even sure if this person knows HubSpot,' these people know HubSpot, and they're ready to go on day one.
And that's really what sets us apart too, is that we hear so often from partners that they don't have a 30, 60, 90-day plan to get this person ramped up. I need a subject matter expert, who's comfortable talking to ownership on the phone, who can day through the weeds as well, and be able to come out with a resolution on day one.
JS: So, you said that these are your recruiters who are going out there. How big is the recruiter team at this point?
MP: We have two senior recruiters.
JS: Okay. So, your senior recruiters, they're sitting down, they're trying to fill a position. I just have this scenario in my head where they love a candidate so much and they're like, this person I know is perfect skill-wise culturally is going to fit right in that they just want to make the offer right there on behalf of the company. But ultimately, it's going to be up to that client to make the decision.
You then have a few people kind of in your pipeline of, wow. We know when we do have another opportunity similar to this, we've got a few people that are waiting. Those might've been people that are already employed, not necessarily urgently looking for work, but you're starting to grow that database of talent that's out there. Is that database of talent somewhere that's publicly accessible. Do people ever go to HubSearch and say, let me look through who's out there. Are there profiles of people out there that companies can look through?
MP: There is not, there is not. And you know, there's a lot of staffing companies out there that will say, alright, let's take a look at their website and there's a laundry list of positions and the job descriptions don't really make a lot of sense, all the same thing. Again, we do not want to be like that, right? Again, we take pride in a lot of the customization that we work on to.
Now, as we get bigger and we have more brand awareness—it's funny because the last, I'd say probably the last four months, Jason, you could probably agree with this—our brand awareness has become even more strong. Where we actually have, you know, account managers, strategists, higher level positions, reach out to us and say, 'This is extremely compelling what you guys are doing. Tell me more. Maybe there's an opportunity for us to work together, or I can make an introduction to my leadership team,' because at the end of the day, finding HubSpot positions and finding HubSpot talent is not easy.
JA: And also, just the idea of having sort of like a HubSearch sponsored job board is sort of exactly the idea that we want to evolve away from, right? The idea is we're going to curate this thing so highly for you that of course our primary value add is get somebody incredible on your team but one of the ancillary values is it's not going to take you all that much time as an agency founder, let's say, right? I mean, we talk an awful lot about the four to five interviews, but also one of the other numbers that we're really proud of is how quickly we deliver.
We tell all of our clients as we launch a new search this is not a two- or three-month process. You should absolutely expect who signed offer letter in 30 days or less, right? Are there some situations where it may be slightly longer if you need to senior developer, executive leadership? Of course, but generally we're closing searches. We're getting offers and signed offer letters in about 30 days.
JS: So, I absolutely see the value of your service and the role that you play. I'll be perfectly candid here. I thought you guys have been around for far longer than just the year, a year and few months because there's something that you guys bring. There's just a general aura around the HubSearch brand of positivity and good will and it just seems like you've been here for much longer.
And I now see that this is not a really heavily technology driven thing, where your algorithm is just making everything so easy, and that's why it's so fast. This is really a lot of love and care that you put into the relationships that you develop with companies because you want to do right by them and you're helping people, as you say, find their dream job, right? You're helping do something good in the world that making people, even if it is leaving one comfortable position to another one in furthering their career. You're doing great things to help a company grow and to help individuals grow. Can either of you speak to the positive impact that you're having in this community?
JA: Sure. And I think that we—I liked the way you put it. Is there some point in the future where technology puts us out of business? Honestly, probably not. This is such a relationship and personal conversation-based business that we are sort of insulated from like advancements in technology.
Some brilliant developer writes some really cool algorithm, it's going to be really hard for that algorithm to talk somebody through their career planning, what they really want to accomplish for their own goals for their family in the future, and then guide them to the company that best fulfills that vision. I think one of the things that you touched on is so absolutely central to our mission.
When we first talked about what is our mission as an organization, I think it would have been really easy for us to talk about it just as becoming the go-to recruiting organization for HubSpot partner agencies and customers and stopping there. Right? You know, fortunately that's just not the way we operate.
We knew from day one that in order to be successful at this thing, part of our mission had to also be guiding incredible people toward their dream jobs and helping them achieve and those two sentences combined are essentially our mission. We take so much care and so much pride on both sides of the house.
On the client side we're not just trying to fill positions. If at the end of a search, we haven't created an enthusiastic promoter we've missed the ball and exactly the same on the other side. If we work with a candidate all the way through the process, we help them find an incredible position and they're not screaming from the rooftops like, hey network, I just landed my dream job and it was the easiest thing to do possible because I had this group of, of professional recruiters and talent acquisition pros in my corner. Again, we missed the ball. Like that's our goal.
JS: I love it. Okay. So, something I wanted people to take away from this conversation. I want some tactical things that maybe we can deliver.
So, Megan let's run through some do's and don'ts of recruiting. What advice would you give to people who are out there either trying to do this themselves or things that you've kind of learned along your path?
MP: Absolutely. One, I think everyone should always have a good recruiter in their pocket. That was something that I learned. I was lucky enough to have Bridget and the extension of Bridget in my pocket, knowing that once you get to that point in your career that you're ready to move forward, or the fact that you kind of think about it for years to come. wWe can all admit that, right? Is this my home, being this forever?
You should always have someone to go to, especially who knows the space, people who care about you as well, and quite frankly won't waste your time. And that goes back to what Jason had mentioned. In terms of really interviewing, it's all about being prepared. So, I would definitely want to go over just some simple do's and don'ts on not only just interviewing, but also partners as well.
Because candidate experience is just as important as the opposite side of everyone going through it. So, it sounds silly, but I think there's four key areas that everyone should be prepared to and invested in when they're ready to start interviewing.
The first one is just knowing your audience. Have a true understanding of what's the opportunity? Who's the business is, right? Look at someone's resume on the other side, understand what they're doing on a day to day or what type of industry they come from. Understand who you're going to be spending the next 30 minutes to an hour with, right? Everyone's time is valuable. Connect with them on LinkedIn, take a look at their profile on the website. Maybe they love dogs. Maybe they love football and cooking. Really find that ice breaker and that commonality, especially in a world right now where most interviews are always virtual, right? It's, a different feel at first, opposed to shaking someone's hand and walking around with them too.
Also, questions, have questions prepared. And this does go along the line of knowing your audience, but if you're interviewing with director of sales acquisition, a group interview, or the CEO, have questions ready specifically for that person and dive in not only just the day to day, ask the person, you know, what excites you? What are you passionate about? What keeps you here? Understanding this is a good culture fit because culture expands outside of the typical work hours. It's past that too.
Also, I always prepare my candidates and also our partners to dive into numbers. Bring a brand book to your interview, be yourself, but also be able to talk through a big client win and exemplify your best work, address challenges, address big wins, address your resolution, really paint that picture of the entire journey and really, truly understand that 'I can do this. I'm up for this challenge as well.'
And the last point would just be your authentic self. Sometimes people get really nervous about interviews or maybe they dread interviews, or we've heard many times of, 'Hey Meg and Jason, I need a crash course on interviewing. I feel like I'm not really good at it.' Be yourself, it's okay to laugh and have an ice breaker and, you know, make fun of someone's hair. Maybe not that, but you know what I mean? So know the team. Get to know everyone too, because again, culture is important.
You know, you want to make sure that you can be yourself. You can make fun of, 'Oh, my hair looks terrible. I've got dry shampoo in it. Or I need a haircut,' and not feel like, am I being weird? Can I not be myself? Just be yourself through the interview and have fun. This is a fun, fun thing to have the opportunity to interview, to meet, to network that your company grow. It's really a fun, fun thing.
JS: When you say, bring your authentic self too, if you are, you know, self-deprecating and make fun of yourself, that's who you're going to be in six months and in a year in six months, like be yourself. Because if you feel like that might talk them out of hiring you, maybe you didn't want to be there anyway. So, I think that's okay.
But I think a lot of the advice that you're giving there applies to both sides of that conversation, being comfortable, having questions prepared, applies to the person who's hiring and who's looking to be hired. Would you say as far as any don'ts, do you see any things that people either after a hire look back and say, 'I really wish I would've focused more on these things or in an interview says I just finished that conversation and I spoke about my company the entire time, didn't learn a single thing about the person.' What are some don'ts that you see?
MP: That's a really great question and we've had that conversation with partners too. 'I think I rambled on for the first 20 minutes about our business and our success.' I like to think, go into your interviews as if this person is on your level. Don't look down on anyone. Don't be intimidated by anyone, be respectful and have a little bit of an agenda. You know, our partners say that we'd like to understand a little bit more about our candidate’s background, and then we dive into specific scenarios and then we go into a Q&A, right? So really keep it where the conversation is natural and it's flowing and it's a two-sided conversation, not just a one.
JS: Yeah, I love it. So, before we wrap up, something, that's kind of on my mind and something that we see arise up part-time talent, or you know, we have a specific project where we need to expand our team temporarily. From the conversation that we've had today it sounds like that's probably not the type of work that you're doing. You're not really placing people just for project based work or part-time work, but am I wrong? Are there people that come to you and say, I just need somebody to produce 15 blog posts or something like?
JA: We get asked all the time and we always direct those question in a different way. Let me tell you what I mean by that. We are, hyper-focused on full-time hiring for a whole bunch of reasons. Not the least of which is that's what our entire process is designed to deliver, right?
People who want to be at a growing organization for years and years to come. But also, the other side of it is, we're really candid about when should you work with us and when shouldn't you, when should you be able to make a hire on your own that doesn't have a fee attached to it. That really is just—the only cost is the time you put into it.
If you just need a contractor or somebody to knock out some project specific work, get on Upwork, get on Fiverr, right? I mean, granted, it's going to take you a couple of hours. There is some decent talent out there. And if you can be conscientious enough to say, 'Okay, I know what I'm looking for. I have a real clear sense of what this person needs to deliver,' you shouldn't to pay anything more than like the Upwork fee there.
That should be absolutely something you can knock out on your own. So, we don't touch contract. We actually also don't do contract to hire, frankly. I personally think it's a totally antiquated way to hire that sense. Kind of weird mixed messages to candidates. Especially in our world where our whole thing is, we're working somebody through an exit of their current position, almost impossible to then say, 'Oh, by the way, there's a three-month trial period of this next opportunity.' It just doesn't quite align like the contract to hire thing is something we don't do.
Our entire focus is when a client comes to us or a potential customer, client comes to us and says, 'I need somebody amazing who can be a cornerstone within my organization for years to come and this person has a very specific set of skills.' That's the perfect time to engage with us. Like when this person is super unlikely to apply on their own, that's the gap that we fill.
JS: That makes sense. Okay. So, as we wrap up here, if you were speaking to, let's say a company looking to use recruiting services. What's one thing that you would say, 'Okay, companies, you need to recognize, this is the difference between a recruiting service and a service like HubSearch?' We'll start with Jason. What would you say?
JA: So, there's a bunch of different ways that could go with that answer. I think the biggest differentiator for us is the amount of ownership that we have and partnership that we have through the process. Again, right, traditional recruiting agencies, they're going to show you a bunch of resumes and say, 'Hey, what do you want to do? Top of the funnel volume? Engage if you want, pass if you want, completely up to you.'
We're going to take this thing substantially further than that. We're literally going to attach ourselves to your business like this. You are essentially going to have an in-house talent acquisition team working for you on this search, all the way from ideation, through 90 days, post start date and beyond.
It's very much designed to be as hands-on, as involved, as engaged as we can possibly get. Because again, like we talked about a little bit earlier, it's like, of course the person in the seat is our primary value add. To find somebody amazing. But, we always find ways to add additional value. Smooth and streamline the interview process. Building case studies for the interviews all the time we hear like, 'Hey, we don't have a case study. Should we? What would that even look like? How do we know we're vetting and evaluating candidates effectively?'
We love adding that type of value. 'What's a great onboarding plan? How do we build a 30, 60, 90-day plan? 'All of those items are things that we love to help build because our clients almost never have a head of talent, a chief people officer, they probably don't even have an HR person. So, this idea of really being good at talent management, talent optimization is pretty foreign to a lot of these agencies is a really cool way for us to add value.
JS: So that actually kind of stopped me in my tracks there. What does an onboarding plan look like? You actually take it further there than just, okay. We found the talent. We're going to get them set up. Okay, good to go. We're done.
JA: I'm so glad you asked. So, having a really well thought out and thoughtful onboarding plan is absolutely critical to protecting your investment in your person in your talent and making sure they're set up for success. Hopefully many people listening haven’t had this experience of getting a new job, you get there on day one, and you feel like they're surprised you're at your desk or in your seat. Your, calendar doesn't have any invites. You can't log into your email.
It sounds like basic stuff, but it happens all the time. Your a new hire will never be more excited or more engaged on their first day, right? They have made this dramatic life change away from what they've known. The team they've known, the position they've known to go pursue something that they know is a better fit for them long-term. You have to capitalize on that enthusiasm immediately. And so much of that is how do you get somebody from zero to a hundred miles an hour over their first 30, 60, 90 days?
And that's—when we talk about an onboarding plan, it's all about how do you really effectively get somebody up to speed in the role as quickly as you can but just as importantly, feeling engaged with the culture and the social fabric of the organization.
JS: I feel like that is a true differentiator right there. And a great representation of how you guys are exceptional of the clients and agencies that you're working with. How many of them actually take advantage of that type of a service?
JA: Actually, all because it's sort of a requirement. Whether somebody wants to take advantage of it or not, we're going to build an onboarding plan. We're essentially going to—based on everything we learned about this candidate throughout all of the interactions that we've had—here is what we would strongly suggest that you guys do as you get this person onboarded and integrated into the team.
Can we make anybody follow the plan? Of course not. And of course, meant to be suggestive only, but the idea is like, here's a bunch of best practices that are very specifically tied to what we know about your new hire. You're going to want to pay attention to this thing and at least incorporate most of this stuff into the way you help this person get up to up to speed.
JS: So, the inbound marketer in me is immediately thinking, did you guys build the new talent onboarding playbook free for people to download at hubsearch.com is that, you know, the type of like inbound content, you guys are producing.
JA: That is sort of the entire idea behind our blog.
JA: Breaking that massive content space into digestible chunks. Essentially, how do you use talent acquisition as a competitive advantage? What are all the things you should be doing to make sure that your people love what they do are engaged in the work, stay for a whole bunch of years..
That stuff is really important. You know, getting a new hire into the seat is really hard, but that's just step one. Frankly, maybe the harder part is that person highly engaged, excited about the work, constantly evolving as a professional for years to come.
The retention piece, everyone talks about culture. We all know that culture is incredibly important, but not a lot of people talk about why. Culture is important for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is culture equals retention. Right? If you've got a great culture, you are much more likely to keep your people, okay.
JS: So, there's our first action item. Everybody go and find the HubSearch blog to learn more about how we can be onboarding talent, better finding and making people really, you know, find the right careers for themselves.
So, Megan, what about you when you're talking to a company, what is the difference between HubSearch and other typical recruiting services?
MP: Absolutely. To add to what Jason had mentioned, it's definitely our relationship portion of it and as we were stating before, it's very easy to find someone incredible who we can go ahead and start on your team as well, but we take it a step further. We will help you build a 30, 60, 90-day plan.
What's also really fun that we're starting to hear more about too, is, you know, that person that we may have hired about a year ago, we're ready to start building their team now. Now we want a strategist underneath them. We need a content writer. How do we start to think about that as well?
So not only are we invested with finding the right person, but we're invested in the business, to understand organizational charts and identify areas of gaps in talent as well, to help where—maybe it's content in social media and some different aspects to where a partner thinks they might need, you know, an intern for this or a strategist.
We can actually help them think and understand what's out in the market to better understand who a better fit would be for them too. But also, the consulting piece is just key. I can't tell you how many partners just don't think about recruiting and consulting at the same time because of that staffing reputation there. That just goes back to, we're not transactional whatsoever.
I mean, I have partners call me sometimes at eight o'clock at night and say, 'I just want to debrief about that interview. You know, can I just pitch to you how I talked about this current project and everything.' It's not just relationship behind the screen. It's a relationship beyond that as well. I mean, we're very close knit with our clients to really help them understand.
We even have clients reaching out saying, 'All right, we're going to be ready for a Q1 hire. Let's start talking and have that conversation going so we can start planning ahead for the rest of the quarter too.' Again, not just finding that key player for you, but it's being a key partner for you for the future.
JS: Okay. Before we wrap up, is there anything else that you guys feel our audience should know about HubSearch and your services?
JA: Sure. I think we've talked to an awful lot about what differentiates us, the way we operate, the way we deliver, how critically important our mission is. The one thing I'd love to mention is that we thought it was really, really important to include protection on the backend, in the form of a guarantee. In practice, the way that operates is anytime we make a placement, a client hires through HubSearch, that person is fully protected for 60 days.
So, if anything happens, if that person chooses to leave for any reason, or if that person is asked to leave for any reason, it's a full refund situation. We're actually putting whatever our placement fee was back in the mail and we restart our search. Which is very, very different than again, other recruiting organizations where it's this sliding scale and to get some percentage of the fee back if, at the very least, we're not talking about somebody performing in an exceptional fashion through 60 days.
We want to take our part of the ownership there. Really, what the protection is, for somebody who's really, really an exceptional interviewer, but can't actually execute squeaking through our interviews and squeaking through our client interviews. And it's only happened a couple of times in our existence. I think our current status, 98% and change of our placements are still with our organization through the life span of job search. But even though it's so incredibly rare, it's an important thing to have.
JS: Yeah. Beautiful guys. This has been incredible. Anywhere that you'd like to point people online to find you or to learn more about HubSearch?
JA: Yeah. Check, out our website. We revamped the entire thing a few months ago. So, we're really, really proud of our new web presence. So, check out hubsearch.com. Our blog space is called the HubStar, which we thought was fun and creative. So, check it out. There's actually some really cool downloadable templates there as well. There's a performance plan template, a 30, 60, 90-day planning template, onboarding checklist. The whole point is a bunch of stuff that anybody can download and use in this sort of talent space.
JS: Okay and Megan, anywhere you'd like to point people to find you online?
MP: Definitely the website, however I can be found on LinkedIn as well.
JS: Okay, perfect.
JA: And if really what you want is puppy pictures, check out our Instagram page because there's an awful lot of dog pics up.
JS: Wonderful. Okay guys, thanks so much for joining us and we'll talk again soon.
JA: Thanks Jon.
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