The Myths About HR and Negotiating Better | No BS Job Search Advice Radio

EP 2141 There are many myths about the role of HR in hiring that former corporate HR Business Partner, Daniel Space (dan_from_HR on TikTok), and I discuss in this interview. Among the things we discuss is getting offers increased and “out of range” negotiating.

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00:00
So, my guest today is Daniel Space. Daniel started in HR in 2003 with American Express and from there moved from benefits to the HR business partner role and he has worked for companies like Web MD, Electronic Arts and Spotify, before leaving the corporate world in January of 2020, to open a consultancy. In Fall 2020, he started producing content on Tick tock, Dan from HR relates to job search, and has become addicted to helping people understand all the common misconceptions and bad info about job search, interviews, and especially compensation I'm going to add in their negotiation. Dan, welcome.

00:49
Thank you so much for having me. Thank you for that. Welcome, Jeff.

00:53
By the way, I love your fashion sense, red socks.

01:03
I have no sports affiliations. I just like to wear this for the pure confused comments that I get, especially from Uber drivers.

01:11
Super, so, we're going to be talking about some of the myths that exists about HR. We're going to talk about negotiating and a couple of other things related to how firms hire. So, let's start off with some of those myths that people have about the hiring process. If you were thinking of some of the important bits, where should we start? Stupid Myth number one.

01:38
The over importance that people claim networking because networking is very essential, but it has to be done the right way. I see so many content creators say, oh, networking is the key to everything. But if you don't have like that HR recruiting experience, then all you're doing is sending cold emails to people that will never respond to you.

01:59
How should people be networking in order to get results if the cold messages don't work?

02:06
So, the most effective way I've always found to network is you go for the long game. The perfect example I had was that someone reached out to me after I had closed one of my wrecks, an HR generalist. She had just started out in her career and said, hey, even though I know I didn't get this job, do you mind if I can talk to you about your career, about HR, about the field, and we had three or four different sessions over zoom. We had coffee chats, she was absolutely lovely, very delightful, we always spoke about me and HR. At no point did you ever grab a job. What happened was I started to become her champion for her. So, anytime I saw an open wall in my network, I would think of her, I would forward her, I would boost her up. That's how you network, you have people doing work for you on their behalf versus you reaching out saying, hey, I'm candidate number 1100, who wants a job? Please hire me.

02:58
The question I have is, how long from the time she gets turned down and she reaches out to you post rejection and goes, I want to find out more about what you do, you're so handsome, I want to understand the differences and the jerseys and all the other stuff. How long did it take before you start to champion her within the organisation?

03:24
It took three months I would say. The first time I remember when I looked on LinkedIn. I saw one of my networks had posted saying hey, I'm looking for an entry level HR specialist. Does anyone know someone, and I was like, oh, I have the perfect person.

03:37
Get that one, folks. What he's saying is informational interviews work and if you're thinking like in dating, you go out on one date and it always works and there's romance, no. If what you do is you focus on the other person and learn about them, develop the relationship with them so, this way they want to go to bat for you and yes, it takes a little bit of time but so what.

04:06
You build great relationships along the way.

04:09
Exactly right, whether it's on this job search or the next for job searches, it becomes relationships that wind up profiting everyone. I love this one because it does advocate for networking. People have this goofy idea that it's hi, hire me, introduce me to this guy.

04:35
There's this common trend right now on Tick Tock which when all the job search influencers, I call them who don't have any experience in HR or recruiting, who are just essentially repeating advice that sounds good and right now the common one is go to LinkedIn, go to a company you want filter by education and there's your network but I have people on my network saying, why are all these college students reaching out to me like from school I graduated 18 years ago saying that we should be connected somehow. That's not how you network.

05:06
It's the alleged influencers who claim knowledge. It's one thing if you're two years, you're in school, you're reaching a person two years ahead of you. So, how'd you get that job? What was it like for you? That's one thing, 18 years?

05:27
Yeah, why is this person reaching out to me?

05:31
It is funny. What's another one of those goofy myths that you've run into?

05:39
I think is maybe less of a myth and let me know if I can change topics a little bit here. But I absolutely agree with the recruiting process that sucks, I find that totally useless. I have two, which is the need for cover letters and the requirement for thank you notes post interview as a metric of candidacy and those I take more onto companies, but I normally tell people like, don't send a cover letter, don't send thank you notes.

06:06
What don't you like about cover letters?

06:09
So, the original thought of the cover letter was that it introduced the candidate’s application, it added a little bit of a personal touch. So, there was a point where it was pretty necessary, but because of how we've moved and especially with ATS and with LinkedIn, you have a resume, you have a LinkedIn profile, you have the introduction, why do you need another thing, just saying all the same things. In addition, you have to fill out, one hour application is going to tear everything apart anyway. So, the idea of writing this extra piece of homework that virtually no recruiter ever reads, anyone that uses an ATS, you have 7000 applicants, recruiters are not looking at cover letters. I see people like painstakingly making cover letters, and I see other people tapping in on that and trying to sell them cover letter templates saying this is the perfect cover letter template. This is how I got my job at Google. I'm like, you're liars.

06:57
It's so funny. I just wanted a poll on LinkedIn in the last week on cover letter. So, I asked hiring managers, what do you think, do you want a cover letter? Yes, no, I really don't care. On first clients, yes and no, we're very close. But two-point difference between them. But we add in the I don't care so that people don't want cover letters. It was a trick move on my part to find out when you had that in, it was like 65% of firms don't want cover alerts. The one place I like cover letters with the ATS is a little trick to fool the ATS, you make the cover letter page one. If you use the format of the T letter, and that is flush left, skills and requirements, flush, right, how long and how recently, and this is page one of the resumes, the cover letters of the applicant tracking system says, hey, he's got all the keywords.

08:03
Yes. When you're using a cover letter to help make sure your ATS gets ranked higher. I'm okay with that, it's more of just the blanket requirement and one of the downsides. I'm sure you know this that anytime you give job search advice, it is impossible to share your opinion without disclaiming it. I'm speaking about medium to large corporations I am well aware and anytime I talk about cover letters on either my Tick Tock or I make things generally its academia, education is like, no, we need cover letters, they are essential. I'm talking about medium to large corporations. I still think they're dumb. But I can't speak to those because I don't have industry experience.

08:38
One thing I'll say, but I come from the day when they covered the resume. Remember in olden days, there was word processing, there were typewriters. No one could constantly retype the resume to make it fit the specific job as they saw. So, the cover letter was the thing that customized the resume. I didn't have a chance to include this and thus, it stapled on top of the resume. So, it covered it.

09:14
Yeah, I had no idea. When I entered the job market, it was definitely thing, but you sent it first when you faxed it. So, definitely, I bought the fax machine. That was the first things, the cover letter and then the two-page resume.

09:28
Folks, I'm not going to explain to you what a fax machine is. You can look at look it up on Wikipedia. He's talking old guy stuff. So, I know there's at least one more. There's a second if you talked about in terms of cover letters, what was the second one that you brought up, thank you notes. What do you think is wrong with thank you notes?

09:58
So, the way the way they do it and the way I think about it is, again, the thank you note to me started when you interviewed with three people, it was like you spoke to the recruiter, you spoke to the hiring manager, you maybe have one peer interview, and they spoke to the department head. Sending a thank you note was like a nice reminder. But it was also when you had a really smaller candidate pool. But the idea of expecting every candidate to write 17 thank you notes, because we just keep expanding the interview process, you have to be the head of department peers, the person's contractor, the favourite hot dog vendor, the Secretary once spoke like, you have to talk to everyone in the company. You have college students who are learning from their very out of touch academic institutions. There are very outdated career centers, you have to send a thank you note, they're literally just sending 20 thank you notes to every single person they meet. Most of the people that I know, we feel awkward getting them, it's like we're not reading them, we're not paying attention to them. So, the idea of ever calling a candidacy, and debating whether or not they're going to be a good fit for hire on whether or not they wrote a thank you note, to me means that you should not be a hiring manager.

11:03
I wonder sometimes, because I've sometimes advised people, not very often but if it's down to the water, and you're on the final. So, you've spoken to the poohbah in charge of fill in the blank. I know everyone has a metric about offers rejections, offers in turn, and acceptances. If there is any question about you in the competition, I just viewed as one last sales opportunity, where you illustrate some of the points that relate to why you think you can do the job, express your interest, and your route. In this way, if there's a tie, and they have any doubt, they want to go to the one that they can cause.

11:46
I think under those circumstances, I can agree. I would probably easily say 10,000 panel assignments of just okay, which candidate are we selecting? I've never had one where someone's like, we're going with this one, because he sent a good thank you. But instead, what I could say, what I could see in that regard is like if you're down to the wire, and you send a thank you note, but you use that as an opportunity to push something that you know doing a strategic thank you note, that's good.

12:11
Excellent, you are doing it right. Because you're the guy on the other side that helps other people confirm some of the thinking about what to do, what not to do. So, let's start talking about the hiring process. Start looking at the offer phase.

12:36
Very exciting.

12:39
What's going on behind the scenes when the message is coming through the third-party recruiter to the candidate, we're going to make them an offer, what's going on behind there, how the number is derived? What goes into this thinking about what the number is?

13:02
Oh, so, this isn't my favourite myth to bust, it's so funny because I have to try to convince people and I have to consistently tell them, I don't work for a company, I have literally no reason to lie to you. I swear, as the person who approves every offer, and I'm the one you are negotiating with, hrbps typically have to sign off on any out-of-range exceptions.

13:25
I want to timeout that. What is an out-of-range exception?

13:32
So, I would say again, here's the disclaimers, but most medium to large companies, anyone that utilizes a scientific model for compensation, we have the full range, which is like the minimum to the maximum for how much we're going to pay for that role and then we have what we call a target range that we generally want all employees to fit within the target range. It's typically what we would call like between point 80 to typically 1.05, or what we call the comp ratio, which I know I just introduced a new term. I'm not sure if you're familiar with it, but it's really important terms, though.

13:59
Gotcha! So, the comp ratio is the formulaic way that a firm says we want to box the number.

14:08
No, not quite. It's a way to describe where you are in relationship what the ranges mastery level is, essentially the maximum general pays that you're going to get for that role.

14:20
This point 80, how does that reflect knowledge or experience versus the 1.05? How does that get measured in order to determine where the offer comes out?

14:38
So, one of the things that we look at, especially during the first phone screen when the recruiter asks, what are you thinking about compensation wise, and you give them a range. One of the things that we'll look at especially during the interview is how your skills, how your experience matches up, because we build arrange to account for differences. We put up a social media coordinator, someone with three years of experience working at a big tech company is going to have a very different skill set than someone with six months in a nonprofit. So, those two roles might be expected to do the same thing. But they're going to do it at different levels. So, we account for that range to build for that. So, the person with the nonprofit may be at like the point .80 to .85, the more experienced social media person may come in at .90 to .95. We typically do not like to make offers close to one, because the company is taking a chance on you, we have no idea how you're going to perform. So, we're essentially just calling it like an investment role. The problem is, if you get too close to one, that means that you're not going to be eligible for further increases, because what was the other thing that we try to do is protect internal equity, which candidates do not care about at all, until they're an employee ad if that becomes their favourite thing to complain about?

15:46
People complain? You must be kidding! Employee complaint!

15:53
Never, everyone's so happy.

15:57
Because everyone operates like family, like in the Christmas movies, that kind of thing. So, now we're looking at figuring out where the person is on this range of possibilities based upon skill level, how they interview and projected performance wants, or what kind of learning is based upon using your example, three years of social media, expectations are they walk in, and they're rocking and rolling right away, someone was six months at a nonprofit doing social media, a little bit different expectation, so, we got to curve it downward for them. So, the offers are bound to be made, and they say, a little bit less than what I'm looking for. Now, we're looking at how do we move the number up since it doesn't quite fit the formula?

17:01
Yes. So, this ties back into what I think was my favourite myth buster. No one believes me or they're starting to believe me, that one of the positives to HR business partners, one of the things that we all share, and that we all value is that after the financial crash of 2008, when the hrbp model first really started to become so vital, was working with leaders to do away with what we would call potentially negative business practices, like a manager getting a bonus if they spent less than their departments still allocation headcount. So, by removing things like that, we started to see was that if you pay people really well, they'll actually perform really well. So, everyone thinks HR wants to underpay people, but we love spending the company's money and we love the idea of a candidate being excited. So, a lot of us actually like the idea of giving a candidate more than they want. If we can't want to do that, because they're actually the party busters, two, it's too far out of range, or three potentially introduces like an internal inequity issue.

17:59
Gotcha. I'm going to back up for a second just in case people are not familiar with the role. What does an HR business partner do?

18:07
Oh, sure. So, an HR business partner is essentially someone who partners directly with the business as a talent consultant. So, instead of just being White Tower HR, sitting in the high Castle in the office, occasionally coming down to issue policies, they're just frontlines working with an assigned business unit on their leadership team. They're competent enough to speak on the business side, but they're purely viewing things as relates to a talent perspective. So, they're doing things like creating strategies for org design, they're the guardians of the compensation strategy. They're the ones that build the performance management systems, and essentially just build all of the people related strategies, and really focus on up levelling the management so that the managers are then giving the employees a really great working experience.

18:53
In this situation where that offer has been made, and the person goes aside to complain about it like I'm not sure I want to do it at that price. How do you persuade people to up the numbers since it looked good in the formula?

19:13
First, there's so much bad advice, and I constantly tell people on Tick Tock if someone has not worked within staffing within HR, within recruiting, or as a hiring manager, why would you take their advice for compensation negotiation, you may get like that once in a lifetime, hey, here's what I did once which is a completely unverifiable anecdote that has no ability verified, where if you talk to HR people like this is our job data, we're not inherently skilled or talented at this, this isn't our natural born gift. This is just our job every frickin day. So, when I hear people give compensation advice, I'm like, why would you do that? What doesn't make sense? So, the first thing is just to realise that most companies have no interest in low balling employees and that the full budget of you as a headcount can be anywhere between one to three times your salary because of all of the additional costs that the company is going to pay. So, it's not trying to save an extra 10 grand and trying to screw you over. The way I negotiate, the way I always try to really encourage people to negotiate is don't focus on anything from glass door, don't talk about that you've done your research, we know you don't have access to this information, companies pay millions of dollars for this market data, you don't have it. So, we know you don't.

20:28
You mean it’s not available on Glassdoor for free? It's incredible.

20:34
I don't have nothing against people who say that because we do such a horrible job of informing people. I come from a place of privilege because this is my job. But the sheer amount of people that are like, well, I went on Glassdoor, and they said I should make this and I'm like, oh, god, what does that have to do with us, that's again, totally unfair, unverifiable data. But the key to negotiation is to talk about your value. So, if you talk about, I want, if you talk about, I was looking for, if you talk about, I deserve, it generally will weaken your argument, if you say, here's the value I'm going to bring, that is generally the thing that will get me to approve an offer. The best way to do that is actually referred to the interview, because now you're losing. One of the best negotiations that I think we approved 75,000 more, because he was able to articulate from the interview, an exact replica of a situation that we had asked, that we were trying to solve for. He had the exact experience and how he was going to solve it. I'm like, oh my God, yeah, this is a clear-cut decision, get him in.

21:31
How do you persuade the people on the other side, the people you were serving as an hrbp?

21:37
Oh, I am essentially the gate, hiring managers will teach me on this. Of course, it doesn't refer to all of them. But once they decide on an offer, they don't care. They're just like, whatever, pay them whatever they want. So, I'm generally the no person. So, if someone can get me to say, yes, it's typically only the department head, which will approve it, they'll almost always by the side with the manager anyway. So, I'm like the opposition. So, when they get me to sign up, I thought, yes.

22:03
Interesting. So, this guy is one of the SLB.

22:10
Keeping you from getting your paycheck.

22:14
Lots of you out there. I call it gatekeepers, and SLB's!

22:22
Gate keeping your money!

22:25
So, what I'm hearing you say is along the way, wherever possible, it's critical to demonstrate value for this particular role. No one cares about what they've done. You care about what they've done that matters for this particular role to accomplish the focus of this job and get the return on investment that the organisation wants.

22:54
Absolutely. One of my favourite things is if a candidate gives a range, and our range is actually higher, and they're saying, okay, I would. So, there was a case of one of the companies I'm consulting with. I'd love to do this; I never make recruiting calls to offer jobs. But this time I wanted to because I've worked on it so much. The range he gave was 80 to 120, our range for the role was 120 to 150 and we made an offer at 140. I tell him like HR is not against you, we love spending the company's money. We just want to make sure it's fair, we have to make sure it's against a range, you have to make sure there's a business case to it, we love that.

23:05
What I also heard you say, is that the real enemy in here. Are you counting people?

23:48
I would honestly have to say the real enemy are people that are giving job search advice, without any knowledge of how it works. I've had to talk three people down from the ledge because they use really bad negotiation advice, one of which was told to always aim for 30% above the range that you gave, because if the company wants to make you an offer, they'll pay top dollar and I'm like, no. Thank you for wasting everyone's time, do not do that.

24:18
What kind of poison was that person being handed?

24:21
Oh my god, and they paid for it. That was the worst part.

24:24
Really?

24:25
Yes, no one is regulating this. So, as far as I know, I'm one of the first hrbps sort of leave corporate and deal with the public and offer services. The number of times where people have referred me to either verify someone's authenticity and I'm like, they have no experience in HR and I'll sometimes go under cover and buy their service and I'm like, oh my god, are you kidding me? Don't do this. This is terrible.

24:51
I want you to buy my service. Don't worry about that, you can check with me. I've got good advice.

24:59
How do people come up with this?

25:02
it's almost like they went to the offshore recruiters who had left offshore recruiting and got stupid advice.

25:13
There's so much of it.

25:15
Unfortunately, true. What happened when we covered what we really shouldn’t? What will be the effects?

25:21
One of the things as it relates to pay, one of the biggest frustrations that people have, I think there are two things. One is that we as people tend to align and almost our value relates to our personal ego to a salary. So, the number of times where I see posts on LinkedIn or I see Tick Tock comments, or occasionally just even talking to employees at all levels, is they weren't going to pay me my value, or they were underpaying me. When you work on the other side, it there's no personal, there's no personal attack to this, the company's not undervaluing you, this is just what they're valuing the position or it could be that the company really values you, but this is just how much they budgeted, or they can't give any more on this role. So, one of the things I always encourage you just remove any kind of personal attack from it, versus just if a company does not meet your salary expectations, it's not personal, just say thank you for the offer. This is not quite what I've had in mind. If you're with a company for a few years, and you feel like you're starting to trend below market, then you either have the conversation or you take advantage of the market shifting of 20% increase, just taking advantage of a market. The other big thing is realizing there's five different factors that impact compensation, most people are familiar with that title, location, industry, job family, but there's a hidden one that I feel like not a lot of people know of which is job family to industry alignment. So, if you work for an industry that places a high value on that job, family, that's where the money is. I feel like a lot of people miss that.

26:45
When you say job family, what do you mean by that term?

26:50
So, we call job families are people who are overarching business-like sales, finance, marketing, engineering, data, HR, IT.

26:58
Gotcha! I just want to make sure the audience understood because you and I do, but we're having a good time with one another, but we're here to inform other people.

27:07
Good point, yes!

27:11
Daniel, this is fabulous. How can people find out more about you and the work that you do?

27:16
Oh, so, if you're on tik tok, and please do not be afraid if you're old like me, Tick Tock is the place to be right now, everyone is on it. There's so much amazing content, there is someone I'm following who does sync reviews and restaurants and that's amazing. So, I post content Dan from HR, a lot of just personal questions and answers. Then I opened up a website, www.denverhr.com, I normally will post blogs about job search and your questions about it, as well as offer some of my services.

27:47
Super Dan from HR. Thank you. This has been fabulous and folks, we'll be back soon with more. I’m Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. Hope you enjoyed today's show. If you did and you're watching on YouTube, click the like button, do something that lets people know was worthwhile, leave a comment, subscribe to my channel jobsearchtv.com, you'll get notified whenever I release new stuff. I also want to mention if you're interested in one-on-one coaching, or just have questions at my website, you can schedule time for a free discovery call or schedule time for coaching. I've got 1000s of blog posts, you can watch listen to a read that help you find work more quickly. But it's not customized for you which is what I try and do to streamline those 11,000 plus posts down to something that's relatable specifically for you and connect with me on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/thebiggamehunter. I got my new book out by the way. The right answers to tough interview questions is available on Amazon's paperback and Kindle book and it pairs very nicely with my book called the ultimate job interview framework. Hope you have a terrific day and most importantly, be great. Take care!

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ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER

JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2100 episodes.

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