October 12, 2021

A Data-Driven Approach to HR with Erin Turnmeyer


Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

Episode Highlights

Subscribe to the Talent Insights podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, (recommended for Android users), Amazon Music, or Spotify. Watch us on YouTube—and don’t forget to rate us!

You may not know this, but recruiters aren’t really HR people. We just pretend to be on the internet. So when we want to go deep on pressing issues, we call on some actual experts.

Erin Turnmeyer is the VP of People at Civis Analytics. Not only is she up to date on the issues, but she has a data-driven approach. And a snarky demeanor which we of course love.

She and James discussed a few pressing issues:

1. What causes alignment challenges between HR and hiring managers? And how can it fix to improve hiring?

2. How can you take a data-driven approach to diversity hiring?

3. Is HR’s opportunity to get ‘a seat at the table’ closing?

Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

Episode Transcript

Welcome everyone to the talent insights podcast brought to you by Hirewell and Careerwell. Today I’m joined by the VP of people at Civis analytics and someone who routinely cracks me to F up. Everyone please welcome Erin Turnmeyer. I always give people the option because I hate doing like long drawn that intros. Would you like to introduce yourself further or was that sufficient? It’s totally fine. I’m good. I’m a weirdo. And I don’t like posting people to my LinkedIn. Like please God don’t. So, I guess a couple things.

Two things, one is that you and I met through- I always like to give Sales Assembly a shout out because they’re helping me line up a few guests for the show and they didn’t introduce us per se, but we, I guess we officially met in one of their forums. So we know each other. We know each other from online and LinkedIn, but then we actually got to interact with each other in the Sales Assembly HR forum. Which is funny

because it’s basically you running the forum and me making a few snarky jokes and everyone else listening. That’s basically the entire forum. I’d just like to throw out the controversial thoughts and then see if anybody bites. Be really- what’s going on in that forum. Let’s see if anyone else wants to be a troublemaker.

But yeah. So anybody out there if you are like- Sales Assembly is an organization I have to recommend and they do have forums and everything for marketers and HR people, everyone else involved in sales. Anyways, thank you to those guys. Secondly, I was excited to have you on because you’re what I call a real HR person.

I pretend to be one, I play one on TV. Well I mean, I pretend to be one. So like myself and Jeff and everyone we have on the show, we’re recruiters, which a lot of people don’t realize recruiting and HR, not the same thing. We kind of plan the same space. We know a little bit of the same terms, some familiar with the challenges, but I don’t actually do

HR work. And from what you’re telling me, it sounds like you don’t either, but that’s not- HR is like knowing a little bit of law to keep people mostly out of trouble, trying to make sure that we’re as fair as possible to everyone. But fun fact, I have no HR degrees. I’m not even sure I’m certified.

But I was an analyst for most of my career and moved into the talent management space. So I come to HR from like, let’s have numbers, let’s have data. Let’s look at it from less of a warm fuzzies and more of the- that’s my question. Wait, if you’re not coming here from a dataset, what is the other standpoint?

What do you have in the charter? I don’t- it’s not an approach of like everyone needs to like everybody. No, it’s more about how do we make sure that companies accomplish their goals by holding them accountable? So, yeah. I like it. Crazy concept. Running popular. So you and I talked before this, we talked a couple of weeks ago now. And everyone a heads up,

I think there’s three topics we want to talk about if we have time. I don’t know when your next appointment is here. But one, and this is an issue that I honestly think this is the biggest issue, biggest solvable issue in hiring. And not recruiting but actual hiring is like recruitment alignment with hiring managers.

And I think that- what I mean by that is I think there’s a lot of people who obsess about to hire more. We just need more, a bigger top of the funnel. We need more candidates, we need more this and that yet it takes them forever to actually set up interviews, get people through the interview process and people fall out of their funnel constantly.

And a lot of that has to do with the factors that the disconnect between the people interfacing with the candidate and the people actually, I don’t want to say driving the process, but like the hiring manager is responsible for actually figuring out who they’re going to hire. If there is low hanging fruit of something you can fix quickly, I hypothetically that would be it. But it seems to be hard to shift for some reason,

I don’t why. Well, I think part of that is you’re looking at it from a recruiting perspective, which is like come on y’all, you’re the hiring manager. Just go through my candidates. And yes, they should just go through their candidates. I’m not disagreeing with you at all but the hiring managers have a gazillion jobs.

So they’re hiring managers because someone quit and because someone quit there’s more work to be spread around and because there’s more work to be spread around, I’m too busy to do anything with hiring because I’m just trying to get the things done. And so the problem being that because they’re trying to get tomorrow’s tasks done, they’re making next week’s tasks even harder because they’re not getting to the hiring.

So it’s part of the problem with understanding that strategically you’ve got to focus on the hiring to make all this pain go away of the immediacy of someone leaving. But that’s hard because I want to solve the problem of today, today and worry about tomorrow’s problem tomorrow. The problem is with hiring managers don’t put hiring upfront,

it just pushes the problem down the road. In addition, because they’re going so slow your recruiters of all these candidates that have not found jobs elsewhere. You had to start all over. So now it is all harder and then they look at recruiting and go, what’s wrong with all the candidates you gave me?

They’re not accepting our offer. Well, no because they’d been in the pipeline too long, so.

Have the empathy to understand like that’s what’s going on. And so I feel really bad for hiring managers in that sense, like you have that role because you have that vacancy open. And that’s what’s making your life hard. So it’s sort of like needing to put your cap on and going, okay my life’s hard but let’s solve this problem so that I don’t have this reoccurring issue.

And then you want to get really nerdy about it? I think it’s also like a seniority and business maturity thing on both sides. From the recruiting side because I guess I’m saying it’s under the guise of like companies that are growing quickly,

maybe it’s their first time really having a big hiring binge, right? Because when I think about companies that kick ass at hiring, they don’t have these problems. They’ve got senior recruiting staff, they’ve got knowledgeable hiring managers and shit just works better, right. The amount of times I’ve talked to a company and it’s their first hiring push, they’re like, okay we finally need to get someone internally running our recruiting. Their idea is well, we don’t have that many positions yet. So let’s get a junior recruiter, someone who could just help us get us started right? Now, and this is not me taking a dump on people who are early in their career in recruiting, but it’s just a matter of there’s a certain level of business maturity and comfortability- not business maturity- comfortability in terms of like influencing a process.

So if you’re a junior recruiter in your early to mid twenties and your first or second job, and you’ve got someone who’s you’re told is in charge of like, they’re the hiring manager, you don’t report to them but they’re more senior than you.

You’re probably going to just do whatever they tell you- ‘because you don’t have any managing authority over them nor can you- and they might be the problem, right? And they might not know what they’re doing either, so yeah. And then you got a junior recruiter, they can’t be like, okay listen here’s the issue.

My people have been waiting for you for three weeks. Most of them have found jobs so we have to get moving. They can try to nicely say that but then there’s people that can’t hear it. So how can you get the right level of recruiter that can say, let’s be blunt. Let’s look at the numbers, let’s talk about it

and let’s see what the problem is. And if your first hire is- and I’m imagining a lot of companies that are like, say this was maybe five years ago- I’m going to get my junior tech workers. Well, cool. You’ve now got a 24 year old fighting with the director of engineering. No way, like it’s just not, they’re not going to be able to win.

And so someone that also understands and sees that pattern of behavior that says like, “Hey, we understand what’s going on with hiring managers. We understand all these things and I appreciate that tension. They can talk to that tension to make sure the conversation is explored. I think you’re completely correct.

But then there’s the other side, right? There’s hiring managers that might be, it might be age older, right? They’re not in their first job per se but it might be their first hiring manager job. This is where I was going to get a little bit nerdy with you. So first time managers, they have a lot. There’s a lot to take in and HR doesn’t do them any favors by here’s like the thousands of things you have to remember, but “welcome to management.” But most people are wired in our brains to get serotonin for doing our checklists,

right? So I have my things I need to do. I’m going to go through my checklist. I’ll get that happy drive. Thanks for the benefits. I’ll keep on going. So when you’re a manager now you no longer have that concrete tasks. It is not a check the box exercise to hire anybody to go through the process. It’s too long.

And so I would rather to get that serotonin rush, solve my hands on keyboard and go and solve that problem, then deal with the recruiting funnel and trying to think strategically because I know I can solve the hands on keyboard issue, whatever it is rather than thinking strategically. So it’s a matter of also training our hiring managers to think

what you have to do now is solve that long-term problem so that you can manage that, it’s going back, we’re going to having a circular issue, but because we’re human our brains are wired that way. So that takes some management education as well too, right? It’s not just do better. It’s that reminder of this task is also something that is important

and we’ll solve it long term and they’re just not used to it. So it’s an education piece. And above that, I think what’s also fuels that issue is that a lot of the, I’ve seen a lot of times senior leadership above these hiring managers, they’re looking for someone their ideal is that okay let’s hire someone who’s both hands-on and can do management. I mean- We can do it. We can do two people’s jobs well and they’ll be very happy about it, right? I don’t know if I need a true manager yet. So give me someone who’s, let’s get someone in the role who’s still hands on but can move into that. And then they never really get an opportunity to move into that because- I think from a business leader standpoint at some point you need to come to conclusion that you need to add a little over head.

What it is. It’s going to be costly, but if you want to get it done right, you have to have someone who’s actually manager, managing things, taking care of this stuff, not doing hands on work. It’s the problem as old as time. I think almost every company or at one point at the very least has dealt with this problem.

So are you a subject matter expert? You don’t suddenly become amazing manager because you’ve gotten senior enough that there’s nowhere else to go but management. That’s part of the problem is making that choice and transitioning to thinking like a manager is just so hard because we are hiring you to be a manager for people that go down that path because you’re so technically correct.

Congratulations for being awesome. Stop doing it. Yeah. And that’s like telling HR stop like caring about equitable process just tomorrow. Just stop caring. You can’t, you’re a human being. You were wired and rewarded for this behavior. Now stop. Care about something else. And so like, we just all have to appreciate that this tension exists.

Otherwise you’re just yelling into the void, fix it. It’s not fixable. It’s let’s be aware of it, let’s just solve it and move forward. I agree. I still come back to the first thing I was saying is that it always seems to me at least, that the companies that seem to be the best in hiring of the ones who are at least aware and acknowledge these things better than others.

But anyways, let’s move on. I think this is a good, good chat. Let’s make an awkward transition here. Let’s talk about diversity, recruiting.

What was interesting to me is that we kinda talked, when we talked beforehand, you guys and Civis specifically does a lot in the space and you’re an analytics company, so it makes a lot of sense right. We actually have a partner organization that we work with, Holistic, which does something similar that you guys do,

right. How do you approach diversity recruiting and what’s your data focused approach? Because I think that this is something that I know very, very few companies take the approach this way.

So, I mean the quick hot take on this is who you are and what you measure. So, I think we were in one of those chats earlier where I was like, yeah, do better as a metric. It’s not a metric. So we at Civis are holding ourselves accountable as a company and at the recruiter level to take diversity recruiting as a priority and for us, and this can look different for everyone.

But for us, what we have decided to do is use the bureau of labor and statistics as a requirement, as a statistical source. So what we’ve said is we want to measure against the pipeline of available candidates. This is a little bit nerdy. So what that means is bureau of labor and statistics takes the amount of people that have degrees and education, skills and knowledge and says this is what the population looks like for software engineering, recruiters, HR professionals.

You can look this up and it’s all available data. And so what we have said, we are going to match or beat the pipeline in every demographic that they measure, which they measure by race and by gender. And we’re going to hold ourselves accountable for that. So what does that look like? We match ours with- sorry, I’m looking at my screen- the all computer and math pipeline because we’re software and engineering company.

So if the pipeline says that, for example 25.8% of the populace is female, then we should at the very minimum, when we recruit 25.8% of our hires should be female. We do way better than that. Right now we’re currently at 47%. But making sure that we’re held accountable, we show these stats twice a year to our employees.

Each recruiter is measured against this. Now, let’s pause. Not every hire is going to be diverse and that’s okay. White dude’s got to work. They’re 60% of the populace of the working populace in the United States. So let’s just keep that in mind. It’s not about each individual hire. Some hires are going to be really hard.

We’ve all in the community have been talking about the institutionalization of sexism, racism, et cetera. We know that there’s issues with STEM and the pipeline, that’s fine. Not every hire, especially in the more executive you get is going to be super easy. But what we have said is

over all of your hires, this is what it needs to look like. On top of that, we hold ourselves accountable to the Rooney rule- and not the fake one. So this the Rooney rule- Steelers fan here so I actually know what the Rooney rule is but continue- is that we have a diverse candidate in our final three when we bring them on site for interview, which is our final interview round.

And it’s not throwing someone in it last minute to check the box. We, as a company have made a decision that we will wait to see all of the candidates, so we will slow our process to make it a priority. They have to meet the bar of that final interview. You can’t just be like, and we’re going to interview this person just to check the box.

There’s like a gazillion people that will hold you accountable if you do that. So while we did talk earlier about speeding up the process with some of our hiring managers and making it a priority, this is in conflict with that. But we also have decided as a company to hold ourselves accountable and are seeing the results of it.

When you say slow it down, like how much? I don’t know if you have metrics around how, like some of the harder hires, like how much has it slowed down? If your average time to fill is 45 to 60 days, is this 90? Is this 120? Is it six months or? It’s hard to give you a statistic in that because we’ve been focusing on it for two years, but actually before I started,

we’re doing some different things. But because we have being doing it for two years, it’s not- our data’s too old on how much longer we have slowed down. Got it. Okay. Most of our roles we don’t have to though because we’ve made it a priority, our it’s part of our recruiters process to source and- you’re getting more on the front end, the top of the funnels.

Okay. If you were a new recruiter just starting out, it would slow you way down. But since it’s part of our process, it’s keeping it going. What’s your team and recruit- so what are they doing? I know you’re not a recruiter yourself, but do you have oversight into recruiters? Like the ones who have been there for awhile that are like, what kind of things they’re doing to source candidates-

diverse candidates? They’re reaching out to them.

Are they going to different sources? I don’t know if they’re doing anything differently than just going, like going a Boolean search and LinkedIn recruiter and spamming everyone that shows up. I mean, yes there’s that. And I don’t think they spam. I do know that our recruiters are very good about trying to make us personalize the message as possible and really trying to connect with the candidate.

I’m really blessed with a team that does try to make sure that every person feels special, that doesn’t get the blanket “Hello, you’re one of 300 people I’m emailing today. I got the wrong name on the salutation.” I’ve gotten a few of those I’m sure, in my LinkedIn inbox where it’s like, “Hi Eric, you’d be great for this role.”

No, like come on. Don’t do that. We do use LinkedIn, we use Hired, especially for tech. We use Valance, which is an African-American executive platform. And we’re trying to make sure that we are in our search terms, like trying to get women who tech, that’s a conference. Are we looking at people that are attending that.

So we have a very long and advanced search string, trying to pick up as much as possible. Interesting, okay. That’s what I was looking for. Well, yeah. You can go and search by like HBCUs and HSIs and sorry- historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic serving institutions. More acronyms please. We love acronyms on a podcast.

But those lists are available and there’s a way that sort of narrow down the field so you don’t feel so overwhelmed trying to figure out the right way to do it. We try to use what’s already out there and just make sure that we use the information that is out there to our best advantage.

Okay. So question for you, and this is going to help me prep for the show I’m doing tomorrow with Jeff Smith. I’ve also wondered this, right? Because you talked about, with the way you guys do the Rooney rule, people have to match the actual requirements, right? As opposed to, you’re not just going to find someone who doesn’t match, you say you consider them but you’re going to consider people who actually do. Do you ever wonder, where’s the line between requirements that are necessary versus the one that are just, they’re kind of bullshit requirements that are unnecessarily whittling things down and where do you draw the line?

Like the degree one? Yeah. I mean you could easily say that, because my take is this and this is not to get completely- I mean I think it’s related. You continue to stack requirements- when I say you I mean like HR or whoever they’re hiring people are, the people- they continue to stack requirements until the pipeline or the amount of resumes on the desk get whittled down to like a manageable amount.

Regardless if those extra requirements they stacked on actually makes sense. So where’s the line though, right? Is there a way you can determine, okay, this is a real requirement we need for the job to get done, versus just the bullshit one we’re using to thin the herd and maybe you’re losing out on the best people.

We ask that question. So there’s no-

I didn’t think this was going to be an easy one. There’s also one refreshing all of your job descriptions. So if you’re just copy and pasting, people don’t even remember why that’s on there. So like come on, let’s narrow those down. Then having that conversation with a hiring manager or like what are the things that you’re not writing down?

One of my recruiters, I love it when they recruit for this, our own team is super fun because then you really examine the process and like oh, writing for HR is fun. But when you say like, okay, what’s not written in there? I want someone that can prove that they can, that I can give them a task and they’ll just go do it.

We explain it once and they’ve got it. That’s not going to be on a resume. The only way you’re going to get that key job requirement for me to say yes to someone it’s by talking to them. So for most jobs that you have actually quite a large pool, it’s just figuring out what are the unspoken things that the hiring manager isn’t telling you to narrow it down, but it shouldn’t be narrowed down by whether or not

you have a degree in HR or you have a degree in engineering. I mean, I think we limit our engineering pools greatly by the degree requirement, especially today. There’s no reason for it in today’s age. Yeah. I mean, you can’t possibly do HR without having an HR degree, right? Not at all. All right. Let’s move on to one last one here.

So HR, a seat at the table. And this is one that we kind of discussed. There’s been a lot going on in the last 18 months. A lot of things in the HR realm and it seemed- I remember two years ago, three years ago, it seemed like there was that rallying cry for HR people really demanding

they wanted a seat at the table, right. And they wanted to be heard and they wanted to be part of kind of bigger decisions. And then last year you got the combo of you got the pandemic, which is still ongoing and the return to work policies. We had everything that happened with George Floyd and everything there.

And diversity inclusion became the biggest hot button issue in all of HR. How do you think it’s going in terms of HR claiming their seat at the table? I think it’s going. All of us, when we said we wanted a seat at the table, this is what we meant, right? 2020, 2021 we were here for it. It was exciting. I think it’s going well. What I am fearful of is that I think that there are a lot of HRs who don’t realize that the door is closing.

So you know COVID’s not over, it will eventually. And we will eventually return to work and whatever the new permanent is going to be for each company. And we have a moment in time that we can be defining the future of the way we’re going to work, which is a big deal. But I think that there’s a lot of people that are afraid to step out and not follow everyone else and are going to accidentally abdicate their voice and their seat at the table.

Because they’re going to say, we’re going to wait and see what Google does, LinkedIn, Amazon, Apple. Well, those are huge companies. Huge! As we found out recently, some of them are making terrible decisions that don’t know what the hell they’re doing either. So it’s like- why are you passing on your decision-making with someone else?

I mean there are data points, there’s some great thinkers. Let’s like pull all of their knowledge and you know, that’s great. But when in the moment of time can you say, this is the way our company should work? And every company is different. And instead of waiting, make a decision, stop watching and saying, “Oh, I’m going to wait and see what happens and take the safest bet” because we’ve never had this opportunity

and we won’t again. We’re not going to have another, “What does the future of work look like” conversation in 10 years or 15 years, it hasn’t happened since the industrial revolution?

I don’t know. And so I think people that aren’t- it’s harder if you don’t have a practice voice at the table to like really be able to speak up but people are eliciting, but if you’re not talking and participating, it’s going to go away and then we’re going to fight again. So that’s what I’m thinking.

I think they have it, but a lot of people might lose it. Not to say this in the most condescending way possible, but do you think that so many HR people were used to just being, doing admin work and taking orders for so long that when the opportunity came up they just didn’t know, didn’t know what they were, like didn’t know how to do it.

Yep. Actually, I don’t think that that’s condescending. I think you have to have a practice leadership place and there’s a difference between HR managing, which I think a lot of people and they try to part- it’s not necessarily even the people, it’s the way the department was structured within a company.

They’re like “Go manage this function” and to learn leadership and being willing to say an unpopular thing and push people a little bit or nudge them hard to say “This is important and we’re going to make decisions. We’re going to have metrics. We’re going to hold ourselves accountable. We’re going to try a new thing and experiment over here and practice that leadership practice that getting buy in.”

They haven’t had a lot of practice. And so that’s hard if you don’t have a lot of practice to know what will work and won’t work, you’re going to stumble a lot. My fear is that as a profession, that stumbling is going to cause people to go, oh, nevermind. It’s easier to sit over here, but then they can’t fight for the things that like diversity, equity and inclusion.

It’s the chicken or the egg. I’m just saying like, choose to be the chicken. Yeah. I would say too. So I mean, to make this more actionable, I think if you’re looking at the things that are here now, if you’re an HR, your two big issues are 1. are you yourself personally driving things in terms of what return to work should look like and the future work should look like?

And 2. are you turning what you’re doing with diversity and inclusion into a real thing versus just a marketing term that’s being used, right? And if the answer is no or no, 1. you need to look examine yourself and ask what I can do more. And the other one, if you want to and you’re getting shut down,

maybe you’re at the wrong company. Just throwing that out there. Maybe you need to go to another company that actually is going to value that because that’s the thing, is there are going to be no matter what, there’s always companies out there that, whatever the leadership says goes. They’re not actually open to anything.

And I still like to put this through the lens of you gotta fight the battles you can win. Maybe? Have an opinion about vaccine mandate. Have one. I mean, I know everyone’s reading for example, and we might talk about this another time, but I know everyone’s waiting to hear more about Biden’s EO and what’s the actual guidelines?

But if we learned anything from last year, they rolled out the- wasn’t Biden, but they rolled out FFCRA, which is about how we do leave regarding COVID people that get sick and how do you do leave in HR? And then they’re like, you have two days to implement it. And if you weren’t thinking about it and thinking about how you might do it while waiting, you were caught completely flat-footed and then it became a crisis.

Let’s not let it become a crisis. We can guess a lot of things. Let’s try to get ahead of the curve and show your company that you’ve got it. We know what we’re going to do. Have an opinion about hybrid work versus not hybrid work.

We’re doing remote first. So like we’re going to have offices, but everyone’s by default remote. That means something differently than we’ll wait and see. So I just- don’t be a waiter because you’re just going to get caught dealing with all the fires rather than trying to make sure they don’t start in the first place.

Well said. Ourselves, we don’t actually have an HR person. It’s just another fake HR people like me. So we’re just like, you know what? I kind of like staying home. I think we’re all going to be remote. This office is expensive. Screw that. We’re canceling. We have a WeWork now. It’s great.

I’ve got nothing else. Anything else you want to chat about? I’m sure we can do this again sometime. So hope everyone out there enjoyed this. ???? Anyways, until next time. Erin, thanks for attending and everyone out there, thanks for tuning into the talent insights podcast. Part of the talent insights series, which is always available for replay at talentinsights.hirewell.com as well as YouTube, Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify and Amazon. Everyone out there,

see you soon.

More from Talent Insights

Episode 29
Liz and Shania launch the debut episode of their latest three part series, exploring everything related to Hirewell as we transition into a...

Episode 21
Matt and Kierra welcome Skylar Pak as the guest on this week’s episode of Cracking The Career Code. Skylar, a member of the...

Episode 28
 As Hirewell has rebranded as a “Talent Solutions Partner,” Liz and Shania draw parallels to the rebranding journey undertaken by the Kardashians, shifting...

Episode 35
In this episode, Dan and Louie kick the show off with one final recap of the Super Bowl.  In addition, they point out...

Episode 27
Liz and Shania love the Super Bowl commercials, and a standout this year was the “DunKings” commercial that Dunkin’ Donuts put out. As...

Episode 20
In this episode of Cracking The Career Code, Matt and Kierra delve into effective strategies for managing your job search. Recognizing that job...

Our Shows

Our Latest Blog