The Breakthrough Hiring Show: Recruiting and Talent Acquisition Conversations

EP 2: Megan Bowen, COO - Refine Labs

February 18, 2022 SecureVision
The Breakthrough Hiring Show: Recruiting and Talent Acquisition Conversations
EP 2: Megan Bowen, COO - Refine Labs
Show Notes Transcript

Megan Bowen, COO at Refine Labs joins host James Mackey to discuss:

  • Building an employer brand
  • Concept of Talent Destination 
  • Designing candidate first interview, pre onboarding, and onboarding experiences

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Our host James Mackey

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James Mackey  0:00  
Hi, welcome to episode two of talent acquisition trends and strategy today I'm here with Meghan Bowen. Megan, thanks for joining us.

Megan Bowen  0:06  
Thanks for having me, James, excited to be here and jump into the conversation today.

James Mackey  0:11  
Yeah, absolutely. And would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?

Megan Bowen  0:15  
Definitely. So you guys were just asking where I was from so born and raised in Southern California, but I've lived in New York, since I was 19. And grew up in the New York City startup scene, so kind of came up in account management and customer success, and ended up building out those teams at a couple of cool companies like ZocDoc, and Grubhub. And seamless, eventually expanded my scope and became COO at a company called managed by Q. We were acquired by WeWork, which was kind of cool until it wasn't, there's a Hulu documentary or something, and took a different job at another food tech company platters, the pandemic hit. I was negatively impacted. But it kind of made my way to teaming up with Chris to build refine labs. And that's where I've been ever since. We are a demand acceleration firm partnering with b2b companies. And we have been able to bootstrap and grow a business pretty quickly, we teamed up in the summer of 2020. And there was six of us. And now we're almost at 100 People with a plan to hire 100 more this year. So all things talent related, has been a huge focus of mine since the summer of 2020. And it's interesting with everything else going on in the world with the transition to remote work and the great resignation and all of these other kind of external factors at play. So I kind of really rethinking how to attract talent, how to retain talent, how to create what I call a talent destination, instead of like a place to work. These are all things that have been really top of mind for me for the last couple of years as I've been on this journey.

James Mackey  2:01  
That's really cool. And just to speak to something before we jump into it. So we've actually worked with I think a lot of the same companies that we've never actually had the chance to interact directly. But our first client at at secure vision was Grub Hub. And it's funny that you said, you know, do you know Jen Lupton? Yes,

Megan Bowen  2:19  
yes, me and Jen were she was the head of sales. And I was the head of account management for the division. So we worked very closely for four years. I think she's a head of sales at Signal AI now that she's awesome. And her and I built built out the corporate team. There. Yeah,

James Mackey  2:37  
so cool. So I think so back in 2016. Jen was one of my first clients and Grubhub was was our first customer. And we actually in a few months, we worked out an exclusive contract with them to be their sole vendor for b2b SaaS sales hiring. And so we did that for a year or two. And then when Nick left and went to we work, he pulled us along with him there too. And so we work with our second client. And we did a ton of hiring for them all through North America. And I had a great experience working with that team. And it's a shame we didn't have a chance to officially work together. But I'm glad we have a chance to talk now. And finally really

Megan Bowen  3:14  
small world, Nick. He's literally like my favorite boss that I ever had. He is incredible. worswick Yeah,

James Mackey  3:21  
yeah, absolutely. But anyway, so So one of the first things we have to talk about today is just creating a really powerful employer brands. And I'd love to get your thoughts on that, specifically for growth stage products, SAS companies that maybe you want to do more here, but don't know exactly where to start. What are some actionable tips that you have for them in terms of how they can really start to build a strong employer brand?

Megan Bowen  3:45  
Yeah. And so it's funny when I really first started, you know, posting content on LinkedIn, it was early 2019, I was at managed by Q. And my CEO was giving me a hard time because I was having, I was having challenges recruiting people fast enough for our fast growing, you know, SAS company. And so I thought, you know, okay, let me get creative here. And so I was like, Okay, how can I start, like leveraging LinkedIn to try to get in front of the people I, you know, want to hire and try to like, you know, achieve these recruiting targets and goals that I have. And so that was the first time we're kind of a lot of the traditional recruiting practices just weren't really working, right. So I was trying to get creative and think What else could I do? And so at the at the beginning, I just said, I just want to start connecting with people and like putting out content that expresses my point of view about leadership challenges. We're facing what we're building here. And so the thought process was, I just need to start building a reputation and talking about the things that I'm doing so that I can attract people that are interested in solving the problems that I'm solving or that have a similar way of thinking about it. You know, leadership and, you know, want to join my team and that sort of thing. So that was really the first part was like, start to connect with people and leverage different social media platforms, and start to communicate and build a reputation and messages that are going to attract the type of people that you want to work with. And so that was really like the first attempt at doing it. And frankly, that's really the simplest place to start, right? And when you think about building an employer brand, it's really all about how can you create and curate content that represents what you're like to work with what your company is, like the types of roles and then how can you start distributing that content where potential people that you want to hire spend their time. So it can be that simple, right? So there's, you know, ways to like actually connect with people, whether it's text content or video content, you can start to get really creative, but you can break it down and keep it really simple. Go to where the people that you want to hire, spend their time, and start investing in creation and distribute, like distribution of relevant content, to start to build awareness. So we could go into some more, but like, I tried to keep stuff simple, like, if you only did that you would get a lot farther than if you don't do that today.

James Mackey  6:22  
Yeah, that's something that we're seeing as well. And we're also in a growth phase here at secure vision, we've actually grown about 100%, over the past three months. So it's moving pretty fast for us. And we're forecasting about five hires a month from now to the end of the year. And these are internal hires, for our own team. And right now, about half the hires we're doing are from individuals that are engaging with my content on LinkedIn. Yeah, so that's been an incredible source. And we are actually like our strategy has been, I have been posting a lot of content on social, but I'm also monitoring who's engaging with it, and who's viewing my profile. And whenever we have somebody that's could be relevant for one of our open roles engaged with my content, I am shooting them a message saying, Hey, just wanted to see if you'd be interested, this is the open roll. This is the end. At that point, they already they're pretty familiar with me and how I operate and my philosophy on business. And they might do a little bit more digging on our careers page, or check us out on Glassdoor. And then usually they'll follow up. And we usually have a very high hit rate, with with interviews from this model. I mean, it's, it's well over half the people I ping, I mean, honestly, I can only think of a few times that somebody didn't get back to me, when I reached out to I mean, if that I mean, maybe two or three times, the most people get back, and the vast majority of them will end up interviewing with our team. And the conversion there is incredibly high. You know, if we get somebody in our funnel, and they're, they're great at what they do, and they, we can help them grow professionally, it's a good fit for everyone involved, we usually can kick the hire across. So it's been an incredible source of for talent acquisition, specifically, in real hiring outcomes. It's been a huge source of hires for us thus far.

Megan Bowen  8:03  
Yeah, that's incredible. Congratulations on the growth. And definitely, and I think you made a point that's worth reinforcing, which is, your outbound messages are working, because people are already familiar with you and your content and what you stand for. And I think that's key to really getting a strong response rate and conversion rate as a result. Another initiative we did that kind of took it to the next level was partnering with a company called before you apply. And we worked with them to basically create out a page for a very particular type of role at the company that we're kind of always recruiting for. And we actually, they were great they came in, and they actually interviewed people on our team, that were actually in the role and doing the job, and partnered with us to create an entire, like, pretty robust landing page with videos and information and resources and links. And it has acted as almost like a repository of really important key content and information that people want to know. So we send prospective candidates there before they even engage in the interview process. And it really allows them to decide, is like, Do I even want to go through an interview process, right? And so we really, we lay everything out on the table from salary to having people in the role explain what the day to day is, like, talk about the challenges, the good parts, you know, The Good, the Bad, and the ugly. And so that's another way you can kind of level up the the content creation, and it's a great concept, right? It's like, give them all this information before they apply. So that basically at the point with which someone is actually entering an interview process, they already know a lot of information. They've self qualified in many ways. And then therefore, you have a pretty good likelihood at that point, then It's probably going to be a good fit. And so that's another great tactic that I would encourage people to consider. And today in the candidates market, that's what people want, right? People want to know what they're getting into before, they're going to commit to an entire interview process or all of that. So kind of giving people all of that upfront, has been very effective for us.

James Mackey  10:21  
That's actually very similar to what we do as well as secure vision, we actually have 20 plus videos on our website. And so I could I definitely 100% agree with you that that is critical. And it's something that we recommend, and we we actually give playbooks to all of our clients as well, just on how we want them to build out their careers page and making sure they understand that it's a live page that constantly needs to be worked on. And you shouldn't just have it sit there, you have to push it out, and make sure that people are actually viewing it and engaging with it, and iterate from that point forward. But I think one of the biggest missed opportunities on the market right now is that most companies are not investigating producing assets for candidates. And again, I see the careers page as a central hub, if you will. But what we recommend is that all of the content that's produced for the careers page is also dropped into essentially like a Google Drive folder that everybody in the company has access to, and they can pull from and post on social. Because again, it's like if you just have it on the careers page, or like a landing page, but you know, people may not find it or know where to go. So we really try to get our clients to push out that information as well. And then obviously drop any landing page links in outbound sourcing messages that are sent to candidates to put them on JDs. Just do everything you can to get that content out there. And video content, as you said, is just so critical. I think the other mistake, and I don't know, I'm curious, what your thoughts have you seen this too, I think some companies make the mistake of putting too much of an emphasis on content produced by executives on the cruise page, specifically, and videos on the cruise page. Because at the end of the day, people considering our businesses, they ultimately want to hear from future peers. And as you said, they want to actually understand the specific challenges of the role and what onboarding is like and what to expect in the first 30 days. And what does the growth potential look like? And how is success measured? And all of those things? So I'm curious to get your thoughts on the emphasis on peer generated content versus executive content. That's something that you've seen be more effective, rather than just having only executive content on the on the podcast, or excuse me on the careers page?

Megan Bowen  12:31  
Yeah, I think both is critical, because I think that, but I think that people are looking to get different types of information from those different types of people. Right? I think when you think about executive, or leadership roles, I think that the focus of that content needs to be a little bit more aspirational, right. Here's the vision, this is why we're doing what we're doing. Here's the mission, getting people jazzed and pumped and excited about the future, right. And then when you think about the, you know, the potential peer, someone who's doing the role day to day, for that audience, they want to know what to expect, what if I actually get this job, right. And so that content is a little bit more tactical and practical, so that they feel like they're not going to be bait and switch, and they have a good sense of what they might be getting into. So I think both types of content are key, I think they're achieving different goals. And the reality is, is when a candidate is assessing whether a role and company is a good fit, they kind of want both of those things, right? They want a vision and a mission that they can get excited about and that they can get behind. But they also want to make sure that the practicalities of the day to day job is going to fit with their goals and their needs. I think another thing that we actually just brought on as a director of employer branding. And so up until this point, myself, Chris or others, people at our company have invested time in building the employer brand. But this is another tactical thing. I actually wish I did this way earlier. And I think more and more companies should be investing in a dedicated role for this effort. And so I'm so excited to have Jason Jones with us now. He's done this at great companies in the past. And his whole focus is to like completely revamp our careers page, right? create more content with the team find new and innovative and creative ways to get that content out to people. And so again, I wish I did this before but another like tactical takeaway for people I think more and more like a, you know, senior level, employer branding role should be something that's on your roadmap if you need to hire a lot of people to support your company.

James Mackey  14:50  
A lot of companies completely missed the mark on that. And it's the last thing I'll say on it, cuz I know there's a couple other things we want to talk about too. But I think just companies in general will underestimate the importance branding, just branding, just look showing up professionally online making sure that the website looks really good. I think that a lot of companies missed the mark on just the importance of just general branding, employer branding, having specialists or experts on their team to do these things. So that's incredible that your team is already doing that. And still at the at the level of scale that you're starting. I mean, I know you said you want to get started earlier. But there's a lot of companies that are twice, three times refining lab size that don't have this function built out yet. So that's pretty incredible.

Megan Bowen  15:31  
Definitely, no, I'm excited to see where we're able to go with it. And yeah, I agree. And I think it's never too late, like as soon as you can do this at any time. Right.

James Mackey  15:40  
Right. Absolutely. So so the other thing that we wanted to talk about was the concept of talent destination, I was hoping you could share a little bit of insight there.

Megan Bowen  15:48  
Yeah. And so the, the concept of a talent destination is, I think, because of everything that has gone on in the world in the last few years. I think it has, I mean, it's already forced pretty significant changes to what work used to be like, right, so we kind of went from this in person world to this remote world, right. And it has also created a sense of people wanting to like really reevaluate, like, what do I want is my current job, you know, serving my needs and goals and making me happy and getting me to where I want to go, or is it a source of toxicity in my life, right, that I want to get away from. And so everything about work is really changing right before our eyes. And so, as I was thinking about what I wanted to do, and building refine labs, and how I wanted, you know, my goal in helping build this company is to build a company that I want to work at, right, and that high performing, ambitious people want to work at, so that I can kind of help create the conditions for people to do the best work of their life. And so I wanted to call it something to claim a name for it, right. And so talent destination just kind of came up one day. And when you think about it, there are like key ingredients from my perspective that are required. And it's it's rethinking a lot of the outdated notions of what a building a company is like. And it's kind of embracing what the future could be. So it's, you know, it's like a place where you can show up as your true self and be accepted for who you are, right? psychological safety, it's a place where you can express your true opinion and engage in respectful disagreement. It's a place that prioritizes well being and flexibility, and when and how I work, it doesn't matter that much anymore. It's a place that has a vision for the future. That's like different, unique, compelling, important, exciting right place with a long term mindset, an unwillingness to sacrifice, integrity, or honesty to get ahead. A place where people are given time and space, to be creative, to try new things to experiment to learn, right? A place where they get feedback. And expectations are clear, and they're held accountable. And they're being challenged to grow, right? These are all things that people crave and want a place where they're surrounded by diverse, like supremely talented, intelligent, driven people that they can learn from you ask people, you know, what did you love about the best place to work, everyone will save the people, right? People want to be surrounded by great talent, a place where appreciation and recognition is common, right? It's, I always say like, the most underutilized phrase in business is thank you like a genuine Thank you those such a long way. And like not enough people say that. And in a place that ultimately knowing if I join this talent destination, I'm going to have an experience for however long it is where I do the best work of my life. And I become like a better person, a better leader or a better practitioner, in my area of expertise. And so I think it's sort of this assertion of like, don't just think about building a company, like if you want to attract top talent, you have to build a talent destination.

James Mackey  19:19  
Yeah. And it's, I think it's interesting, because a lot of times, leaders will ask, Well, how do we figure out what to focus on or what matters? And it's, did you ask, did you ask your employees? Because if you just if you if you ask them, they'll tell you, they have plenty of feedback, I guarantee it. And that's something that we're actually we do quite often is we ask, we're asking candidates, we're asking employees for their feedback. We'll send out certain surveys, we'll do it on meetings. We'll we'll do it on one on ones. We're constantly asking for how can we optimize toward your experience to make this the CIO to help you get the most out of life professionally and personally? And that's really I mean, your your people will tell you exactly what they are what they need and what they want, if you if you cultivate an environment where they understand that it matters to you as a leadership team, right. So I think you have to have that trust in place for sure. But, you know, I think that companies need to, generally speaking, do a better job optimizing toward employee experience, and inquiry. Yeah, I mean, for me, I get a high level, I see business as creating great experiences and outcomes for clients and employees. That's literally what I spend all day every day focus on is how can I create incredible experiences for these two groups. And so and I think you just have to companies have to do a better job optimizing toward that, I think a lot of companies they spend, particularly in early days of scale, they're very focused on revenue, product and engineering emotions. And I think the people and talent functions kind of fall by the wayside or fall behind. Right, and then they kind of hit this point where those functions are in complete atrophy. And they're trying to play catch up and figure out what to do, I think the best place to start is just talk to your employee sit down and try to make sure you have that trust in place where they can share that feedback. And then you just have to work really hard on implementing, obviously, it's a lot easier to ask and collect feedback than it is to sometimes implement. Sometimes you need structural changes. For instance, if you if one of your values is to have a really good work life balance, or for people to not have to work over 4045 hours a week, then you need to make sure that you have the right structure in place at scale, to ensure that people have the capacity to not work too long hours too often, and also are empowered to take the PTO. That that, you know, you're giving them even if it's like three, four weeks, I think, I think that there should be a for a lot. Most companies, there needs to be a much better feedback loop and implementation loop from leadership to employees to ensure that great experiences are being created. At least that's something I'm seeing on my side of secure vision, not only internally, it's something that we prioritize, but something we are constantly pushing for our clients to do more of it almost doesn't matter how much they're doing, we're always pushing them to do this more, because we know it's going to have a positive impact on our business.

Megan Bowen  22:05  
Yeah, absolutely. And it's really interesting from my experience is if you actually focus first on creating the right conditions for your team, right the employee experience, and then prioritize how you're going to make your customer successful by delivering those outcomes, the revenue, the retention, the growth, all of those are simply byproducts of doing those two things correctly. And unfortunately, I would agree, I think most people are hyper focused on revenue growth or product development at the expense of those other things. They think the focus on that is going to be what gets them to that outcome, but it almost has the reverse effect. And so I truly believe that like and I kind of have this like equation that I like to talk about, which is like people success is what equals customer success is what equals company's success. And as you think about decision making you if you use that lens, you'll make different decisions than if, if revenue or growth is your first priority. For example,

James Mackey  23:10  
I could not agree I couldn't agree with that more. I mean, that is just that is a spot on. And that's how we we operate the business as well. If you just if you take care of your people, and you create great experiences for them, then they're going to take care of the customers. And a natural symptom of that is going to be growth. And you can never lose sight of that. And I think that sometimes companies are, as you said, just so focused on revenue growth that they do. And they ultimately I think, miss out on a lot of the growth that they're after, because they're not investing and attracting and retaining the top talent for the for their own team that's going to impact ultimately, every function, it's going to impact revenue and product and engineering, because they're not able to get the best fit people to drive those functions and ultimately take advantage of potential scale.

Megan Bowen  23:54  
Yeah, absolutely. I think the root cause of this is a short term mindset. People get months and quarters. And, you know, I empathize with a lot of founders, who, especially if they've raised money, and they have certain goals to hit by when like it's a tough position to be in. But I think that that's really the root cause is not enough people willing to embrace a more longer term mindset and do things the right way from the beginning. And so hopefully, we'll start to see a shift there, especially with everything going on in the world. But we have a we have a little bit of a ways to go for sure. Yeah,

James Mackey  24:30  
I think I think it's telling I think the most successful companies this year are going to be the companies that do have that people first culture that emphasize people experiences that listen to feedback that implemented and optimize the business and are really willing to invest some cash and making sure that you're you're building out the right functions that people functions to support people. I mean, to me, that's the companies that are going to scale the most this year are going to really embody that mentality. And I think it's kind of proof that your team is doing so well and scaling so rapidly. I think probably this as a big, big part of it a big part to do with it.

Megan Bowen  25:04  
Yeah. And I think, unfortunately, I think pretty much every company says their people first, right, like he says that they aren't and people are companies are recognizing that that's becoming important. And it's really interesting. I'll speak with people and they say, well, everything sounds really good. But is it really like that internally, right. And I think a lot of people unfortunately, have been burned, where on the outside, it can appear as if things are a certain way. But then when they get somewhere, they're not. And so I think the execution piece is critical. I think, unfortunately, you need to be, you know, savvy, in your interview process to really uncover any red or yellow flags that may exist. And frankly, like we don't, we're not perfect, either. To your point, you know, we do quarterly engagement surveys. And last year, one quarter, we got a lot of feedback, the team was feeling really overworked. And that was a signal for us. And we looked into things and realize we needed to actually segment our customers and reallocate clients across the team based on the customer segment that they fell in, because not every customer is the same. And we were kind of treating them as such, right. And to your point, that feedback ended up inspiring, like pretty significant structural changes in how we segmented customers, how we assigned out accounts, how we load balanced capacity. And it took about three months for us to fix all those things, right? Like that stuff is hard and doesn't happen overnight. But when we're able to take the feedback, transparently share that feedback, tell them, we heard them, here's the action plan, executed, it kept people updated each month, even when there was a period of time where people were still really, really busy. They're like, okay, there, this is being fixed, right, there's the light at the end of the tunnel. And so even when you have all the intentions to do things, right, you can get in a position where things, you know, need attention or need to be fixed. And the key is to just recognize it, and communicate and take action.

James Mackey  27:13  
Yeah, 100%, I mean, because when you scale, you're ultimately any process that you build is going to hit a breaking point at scale. And you're going to have to rebuild. And the great thing about what you just said, too, is that when you allow the team to be part of the solution, that's something that they can really take pride and be proud of. They can really be proud of being part of so I love that. And you're right, it's hard work. It's it's, it can be brutally hard when you're scaling, and you're in hyper growth, and you need to make these changes, but it's so worth it. Right. It's so worth it. And it just positions the company and the team for the next phase of growth. So it's, it's, in my opinion necessary to get the best results for it.

Megan Bowen  27:53  
I think the other piece of that that I think it's worth calling out is we had created an environment where people felt comfortable saying, I am feeling you know, that I might get a little burnt out, or I'm feeling overworked, I'm not able to handle everything on our plate. And I think how we chose to respond to that is what reinforced the culture of it being okay to bring that up. And so the other piece that I encourage people to think about is, when's the last time that anyone on your team shared constructive feedback about the work environment, and you might be doing surveys, but people might not be telling you that something's wrong. And it doesn't necessarily mean everything's okay. So the the key there is trying to, you know, when people when people give me feedback like that, the first thing out of my mouth is, thank you for telling me, like, this probably sucks, this thing is probably hard for me to hear, right? You're probably nervous or not thrilled that you have to share this feedback with me. But I want to immediately express appreciation, and then continue the dialogue to help truly understand what's wrong and what needs to change. So anyway, just wanted to call that out. Because I think people like oh, we do surveys, everyone's happy. But if you're not creating that environment for people, to be honest, you might not even know that you have a problem.

James Mackey  29:24  
Yeah, I think every executive and hiring manager needs to hear what you just said. Because I think that's a huge part of it. I'll be honest, there's points earlier in the days of running secure vision where I didn't make that mistake. I just assumed, oh, if there's a problem, somebody will bring it to me. And you have to earn that type of culture and environment to cultivate that level of trust. And that's something that I have learned over the years and now we have and I really value it, but it's not something that you can just assume is going to be the case. You you almost always have to have a you have to build a culture where people feel like they can trust you and can come to you about these things. And also, you have To just sometimes occasionally just dig in, right, and look at people's calendars and look at their day to day and look at their capacity planning and try to get a pulse on on how much they're really taking on and, and you have to dig sometimes just to be sure that people are in fact, okay. And show them that you really care, I think, I think that's huge. And I think that the last point that we had to talk about today was talking about designing candidate first interviews, pre onboarding, experience onboarding experience. I know you're passionate about that. And that's kind of the world you're living in now. And just to bring a little bit more even focus it in a little bit more, I would love to talk about how to do that in hyper growth, for growth stage organizations. Because that's, that's really working get hard, right, and you have to have the process down, because you're moving so fast that if you don't have a scalable, repeatable process, that things really can start to slip. So I'd love to get your thoughts on how to go about doing this, maybe the top initiatives that companies should should focus on when thinking about creating a really good candidate first interview process onboarding process for their growth stage company.

Megan Bowen  31:09  
Yeah, definitely. And so you know, a big part of my background is customer success. And I've spent a lot of a lot of time across many different companies really mapping out in defining a customer journey, right, that really, truly defines the touch points, what happens, and then you design your systems, your process your team, to, you know, cultivate that journey that you want your customer to go on. And so I took all those principles and applied it to the employee experience, right. And so you should map out your employee journey, everything from before they apply to the application and interview process to right before they start and when they start. And so, so many times people are just, oh, we need to interview people, let's like design an interview process, so that we know we vetted everything that we need without thinking about what the experience will be like for them, right? Oh, we just need to get them started. Get them all their stuff, overwhelm them with information so they can be immediately productive, right and not thinking about, what is this person's experience going to be like joining a company remotely? Right? And what is their first week going to be like? And how are you going to integrate them in the team and make them feel like they belong. And so I think people, people, I think have gotten to the point where they acknowledge that they need to be more like customer centric, and think about the customer journey. And it's like literally taking all those same principles, and applying them to the employee journey. The other piece of it is, unfortunately, I think a lot of companies optimize for what they want, and what they need. And don't think about what the prospective employee wants or needs, or what experience is going to matter for them. And so it's shifting that mindset. It's using some of those tools that are so popular in customer success and leveraging them within this new context. And honestly, like nothing that we do is like that sophisticated or that crazy. But we just do the basic things really well. We design a like transparent, fast, like candidate first interview process. Anytime someone accepts an offer, we start to send them fun things like our Spotify company playlist and our culture playbook and like, so they can start to get excited about, you know, joining the company, we send them a welcome kit and a computer and give them some money to like spruce up their home office. The first week is really optimized, not for how PERT? Like how quickly can I make them productive? But like, how can I make them feel so that by the end of the first week, they're like, Man, I'm so glad I'm here, this was the right place, right? Like, that's what you have to optimize for it first, and then once they get there, then they're like, they're, like poised to make an impact. And they're gonna be driving that. And so it's just being empathetic and kind of leveraging some of those tactics to get there.

James Mackey  34:17  
Yeah, I think I think it's a short sighted thing that you brought up earlier, companies get too focused on short term outcomes. And I think for us, for instance, when when we really started to get better at employee experience, and hone in and optimize toward it, we started asking the question a lot, what would happen to our business if we believe that experience mattered just as much as the outcomes we produce? And we just started optimizing toward experience opposed to optimizing toward outcomes because ultimately, experiences are going to lead to the outcome? Right, but just putting that emphasis on experience and obsessing on that, and how do we create great experiences at every stage for candidates and employees? And I think that one thing to keep in mind too, what do we start to notice is that when we really started To optimize toward candidate experience at the, you know, essentially top of funnel, right when people are interviewing with us, and moving toward offer stage, we were getting the feedback, wow, this has been a really great candidate experience like this, you know, this has been different. And I'm really excited. And candidates will proactively offer up that feedback when it's the case. So my advice to leaders into companies is if you're not hearing that feedback from candidates, keep pushing, and keep working on optimizing that process, because the reality is that most companies do not put an emphasis on candidate experience. And so that if you do you will stand out. And you're gonna hear about it. I mean, I'm sure has that been your experience? Have you heard that from from candidates,

Megan Bowen  35:41  
we hear that from most of our candidates, and what makes me the most proud actually is we hear it from candidates who don't make it through to the offer stage either, right? And and even though they didn't get that far, they say that it was a good experience, we do our best in as many cases as possible to provide feedback on why the decision was the way that it was. But for me, if a candidate is not given an offer, and they still give that feedback, it really validates to me that me and the team are kind of on the right track.

James Mackey  36:15  
Absolutely. And I guess one just structural question to help companies with scale. When do you think a growth stage company should bring on an ops leader? Because I think that that's a big part of it as well. I think companies underestimate how important ops can be early in the process of scale. And for instance, we brought on a VP of ops, when we were probably 1520 employees, you did it early, because we wanted to create great experiences across the board and make sure we had the right process in place to scale. So I'm curious if that's along the lines of when you would say go for it, if it'd be around 30 employees, or what when would you say is the right time to bring an ops leader to help create these experiences?

Megan Bowen  36:52  
I mean, I got to give it to Chris, because he brought me in when there was like six of them, when he knew he knew it was going to be critical for success. And I do think because he prioritize that. And from basically kind of the beginning, we were able to start thinking about these things in this way. I think that it's contributed to how quickly we've been able to grow. I would say as soon as possible. And you know, once we were at a point where we could invest in more executive leadership, we then focused on the people team. And so I think it was a strategic now that we've done that we're now continuing to build out a lot of customer enablement, functions and, you know, bring in more leadership for customer success and customer operations. But it follows that formula, right people and customers and Company.

James Mackey  37:45  
Absolutely, I think, I think the issue is if you don't bring an ops and people functions on early enough in scale, then you're you can ultimately hit like a ceiling where you have to pause, hit the brakes, and then retroactively figure it out. And then you really miss an opportunity to continue to grow and add more value to more people. So anyways, I can keep talking to you about this for hours. I think philosophically, we align on a lot of this. So this has been a ton of fun. And it just keeps going. But I know we're coming up on time here. So I just wanted to say thank you so much for joining me today. I'd love to do this again. Sometimes this has been a blast.

Megan Bowen  38:19  
Yeah, absolutely. I love this topic. And yeah, this was a great conversation. We'd love to find another opportunity to get together again.

James Mackey  38:27  
Let's do it and to everybody listening. Thank you. This has been episode two of talent acquisition trends and strategy, and we'll we'll talk to you next time.