Mode Director of People & Talent Bailey Douglass

Bailey DouglassDirector of People & Talent

Mode’s Director of People & Talent Bailey Douglass explains the company’s commitment to equal pay, how to reel in overzealous hiring managers, and why Sales Recruiting is harder than Tech Recruiting.

Episode Transcript

00:00 Rob Stevenson: Hello podcast land! Rob Stevenson here once more, perched atop of the mast head of your favorite recruiting podcast, surging forward with undaunted resolution across the vast, open, oceanic expanse of talent acquisition, where I shall again endeavor to fill your earbuds with the most deliciously actionable recruiting insights and occasionally make ill-conceived nautical metaphors. If this is your first time tuning in, I’ll give you the quick rundown. Every week, I’m going to be bringing in my favorite people in the recruitment space; Directors of talent, VPs of HR, you name it, I’ll get them in here, and they are all going to do primarily one thing.


00:38 RS: Talk Talent To Me. And today’s episode features a friend of mine, the Director of People Ops and Talent at Mode, Bailey Douglass. And Bailey has built a rock-solid hiring process over there, one that has eliminated salary negotiation in the interest of equal pay, one that reels in overzealous hiring managers in the interest of sticking to a repeatable, reliable process, and one that has seen a really impressive offer acceptance rate. So Bailey walks me through how Mode has accomplished all this, plus the messaging you can use when it comes to hiring manager diplomacy. And then, did you know that sales recruitment is harder than tech recruitment? Well, Bailey did, and she told me all about why. So this is a really good one, full of strategies and ideas and hot takes that you can take back to your own organization. So without further ado, I give you Mode’s Director of People Ops and Talent, Bailey Douglass.


02:11 RS: Alright, Mode’s Director of People Operations, Bailey Douglass, is in the house. Bailey, how are you?

02:16 Bailey Douglass: Great, how are you?

02:17 RS: Great, thank you for asking. How is everything going?

02:20 BD: Really well! Mode’s growing super fast, and we’re looking to add a lot of people over the next few months and even year, building the recruiting team, hiring really across the board in a lot of new roles and just focusing on planning for next year.

02:39 RS: Got it. A bunch of recruiting hires you have to make?

02:42 BD: Lots of recruiting hires I have to make. Yeah, hit me up recruiters, if you’re interested. It’s a great collaborative group of hiring managers, and you get to work for me.

02:52 RS: What kind of roles are they gonna have to fill?

02:55 BD: Across the board. So we think about hiring recruiters as something where we want people to be able to contribute in whatever comes at them. We have a head count plan, we plan to stick to the head count plan, but changes happen. Attrition at a company at Series B is average of 25% a year. Fortunately, we have not been there, but you can’t really predict exactly where that’s coming from. We have engagement surveys and things like that, but you really don’t know. Ours is lower, but you never know when that’s gonna happen next. So I’ve been changing my approach and hiring much more for recruiters who are gonna be generalists.

03:38 RS: Okay, as opposed to being like, “Oh, you’ve hired engineers before. Great, you can come do that here.” You want someone who can sort of hammer on a bunch of different roles?

03:47 BD: Yeah, I think it’s ridiculous to hire people based on who they’ve hired in the past. I tell our hiring managers, they have to hire for outcomes, not for background, anyway, so I wouldn’t just look at what people have done in the past when I was hiring, anyway. But yeah, I need to see that a recruiter is able to understand what our product is, it’s a more technical product, and can speak generally to what you would do in the job for any role that we have open. So sales, understanding how sales compensation works. What does a account executive do versus an account manager? What does enterprise mean? Things like that. It’s not about having that information and knowledge coming in, it’s more about being able to synthesize it and figure it out quickly.

04:35 RS: Right, and be adaptable.

04:37 BD: Yeah, and it’s the same thing with the more engineering side of things. I don’t care if you… I think there’s a negotiation conversation to be had that might be better if you have a really strong grasp of the market, if you have some experience in tech recruiting, but I think it’s ridiculous to imagine that learning what a software engineering front-end framework is, is something that you can’t do in two weeks.

05:00 RS: Right, yeah. It’s like you’re uniquely qualified to hire for that role because you spent that two weeks doing it.

05:06 BD: Right. I can spend two weeks with you, and you’ll be just as good, it’ll be fine.

05:11 RS: And then I can be a “tech recruiter.”

05:12 BD: Yeah, exactly, yeah. I should sell that. [chuckle] But yeah, I think that training good people and I would even hire for some of the recruiting slots we have open. I wouldn’t wanna hire a team of recruiters who all came from sales or something client-facing, but I’m pretty flexible on background. I don’t think it’s rocket science.

05:32 RS: Have you always preferred your recruiters to be adaptable and more generalist or was there a time when you were like, “No, they have to be specialized?”

05:39 BD: I think I came up and honestly it was started probably from the advice of some of my mentors. Initially, when I started hiring a team, I was a little bit more focused on making sure that I had someone who was a tech expert, someone who was gonna be happy with sales roles all the time, things like that, and I think it was to our detriment. Not because those recruiters wouldn’t have been strong in the other areas, but because they came in really passionate about those spaces and weren’t happy working on roles that were outside of those. And at… Mode’s a 65, 70-person company. At a company like ours, the priorities are constantly changing, and I need the team to be willing to be flexible and to have, not only have a good attitude and be a team player, but to be really excited about those other roles. Because if you’re not excited about it, candidates can tell.

06:29 RS: Yeah.

06:30 BD: Yeah. And I think if you look at the recruiter we have, we have a lead recruiter, Megan, who’s just been absolutely phenomenal in the year and a half she’s been at the company.

06:39 RS: Shout out to Megan.

06:40 BD: Yeah, great work Megan. Hope she’s listening. Megan joined as non-tech and did a lot of marketing hiring, initially. And our product is technical, so those were a little bit more technical people, and then we started having needs on the product side, design. She slid into that, and now she’s… In the last couple of months, she’s hired senior and principal level dev ops engineers, directors of engineering, a lot of really senior design products, as well as those go-to-market people that she was initially reaching out to and, I think, hired her for her intelligence and great attitude, and candidates love her. That’s what you want.

07:25 RS: Right. And I suppose recruiters should be thinking in those terms, as they develop in their careers as well, right? ‘Cause you wanna be able to go into a job interview and say, “Yeah, I’ve hired for X, Y, Z roles across the board,” and not just, “Oh, you don’t have engineering hires this quarter,” or you’re like, that I’m not useful to you if I’m just a tech recruiter, even though it’s a weird scenario if you wouldn’t be hiring engineers. But my point is that, as you grow in your career, you wanna be able to point to, “Yes, I’ve hired for every arm of the business.” Or especially if you’re gonna be a leader of recruiters, right?

07:57 BD: Yeah. So I don’t know that all hiring managers are like, I’ll say as enlightened as I am on this point. I don’t really care if they’ve done it before, as long as they’ve done something that shows me they can do it. I think there are definitely people who are looking for that kind of experience. I think it’s more like getting really strong experience in whatever you’re doing and having ownership, being able to really own the relationship with hiring managers, actually decide with them how the process is gonna go, what the candidate experience is, what the evaluation is and being a business partner that matters. I think that, again, it’s the same frameworks that you’re applying in terms of judgment for sales, for any of it. And those negotiation conversations are hard. Right now, there’s a premium on tech recruiting in the Bay Area, I think the tides are probably gonna change there and sales is gonna be a little bit more challenging, especially as the focus goes to human things as opposed to sourcing. But I think breadth is good, being smart and adaptable and being able to really advise people is better.

09:03 RS: Right, right. So earlier, you said that you coach hiring managers to hire for outcomes, not backgrounds. So presumably, you’re following that advice in your recruiting hunt. So you wouldn’t be like, “Tell me about that time when a candidate did this.” If background isn’t as important to you, how are you assessing people to see if they can do, be adaptable and do the job at hand?

09:24 BD: Well, I think behavioral interview questions are still the way to go. I just don’t think it’s like, “Hey, you did this on your resume. This looks exactly right.” I just think like…

09:33 RS: Good enough. Yeah.

09:34 BD: Smart people can apply the same frameworks to a job in sales. Tell me about a hard conversation you had, tell me about a deal you lost, something like that. It doesn’t have to be sales, it can be anything where you’re trying to convince someone to do something. But the idea that it’s like taking a job versus buying a car, actually doesn’t necessarily matter that much, especially if you’re talking about buying that car in a way that’s highly technical and professional, right?

10:03 RS: Yeah, yeah. You’ve predicted the shift to sales recruiting being more difficult, because we are seeing all these automation tools come out on the market. And so these sourcing… Servicing candidates is no longer like… At SourceCon, every year, there’s usually a session that’s like, “Sourcing techniques of yesteryear.” And someone will say, “Oh, I remember when we had to figure out what the desk phone number was for a company, and we just called down the line.” And now, that’s not a reality for anyone, calling people, ambushing them at work. And so, sourcing…

10:34 BD: Hopefully. [chuckle]

10:35 RS: Right, hopefully, yeah. Sourcing has come a long way and will continue to benefit from automated technologies, but what will never be automated is someone’s ability to sit down and have a conversation about compensation, sell an opportunity, objection handle, right, like…

10:52 BD: Yeah. Oh, and building trust, that’s the biggest thing. From that first call, the recruiter needs to make the candidate think, “This is a person who cares about me, who wants me to end up in the right place and who’s gonna be an ally for me in the process.”

11:06 RS: How do you do that?

11:07 BD: Salespeople won’t ever believe that recruiters are doing that.

11:09 RS: Oh, right. [chuckle]

11:10 BD: But that’s… Which is one of the reasons that it gets harder. But yeah, how do you do that? I think by actually feeling that way, and wanting to help the person. Like I intentionally don’t compensate our team based on number of hires per recruiter, because you don’t wanna incentivize people to just push people through the pipeline. You wanna incentivize people to find someone who is gonna be a great fit in your company, and to bring them in, and demonstrate to them, “This is the story, this is your story at this company, at Mode.”

11:41 RS: Right.

11:43 BD: Yeah, but I think there’s just authenticity there. There’s also just… So we don’t negotiate compensation, we have straight, flat compensation for every role, and we talk about that in the first call. And that actually, I think, builds a lot of trust because some people don’t believe us.

12:04 RS: Right.

12:04 BD: And that’s a thing. But it’s actually becoming more and more, I think we’ve learned how to talk about it better, so it becomes easier.

12:10 RS: Is the messaging like, we have done a lot of market research on what is the competitive offer, and we’re comfortable in saying, “This is the offer,” and it’s not… I’m sorry, I should have just asked you what the messaging is instead of guessing.

12:21 BD: Yeah. That’s not the messaging at all, that’s wrong.


12:24 BD: No, our messaging… We do try to come in around 75th percentile for the, whatever the role is. How we’ve come up with that data and figure it out depends on the role, because some of the data out there isn’t super clean.

12:39 RS: Sure.

12:40 BD: But no, what we say is, Mode has a really inclusive culture, we have a team that’s 45% female, where half the leadership team is women, where we have 30% underrepresented… Actually that’s wrong, we have 30% people of color, they’re not all underrepresented, it’s 15% underrepresented people, and the way that we did that is by building a culture of inclusion and fairness, and the only way to be fair is by treating everyone the same. People who are underrepresented are much less likely to negotiate their compensation, and so what you end up in that situation is where all the white men in the company make more than everyone else.

13:16 RS: Because they ask for it.

13:17 BD: ‘Cause they ask for it. And we aren’t comfortable being that company, and so we have levels with equity and salary set at each time. We review compensation generally, actually more than twice a year, just because the market is so volatile right now.

13:33 RS: Sure, yeah.

13:35 BD: But at least twice a year, we make sure that the team is in a good place for it, and then offers that we have come from where you fit with the existing team, and you can feel comfortable that the person who’s doing your same job is sitting across the table from you, and who’s demographically different, has the same compensation as you do. And we don’t have open compensation, we probably would if we had started with it, but you can’t switch to it. And I’ve heard some horror stories, but if our systems got hacked, and someone found out what everyone makes, I don’t think anyone would be shocked, and I don’t think anyone would be horrified by it. We’ve had our engagement surveys, our perception of fairness internally is our highest score every single time.

14:20 RS: That’s great.

14:20 BD: Yeah, and it’s connected, and that’s building trust from the first call.

14:24 RS: Of course. Yeah, I love that. I like to say that recruiters have this opportunity to correct a generational rift in compensation where, in situations where underrepresented people don’t negotiate up, or they were low-balled in their first job, and they’re negotiating, so even if they do ask for more, they’re still operating from a lower foundation. The trouble with saying that, it’s up to recruiters to say to candidates, “Hey, I don’t care what you made before, this is what we’re offering,” or to be like, “You can negotiate, there’s wiggle room here, go for it.” That still relies on them to do that. It’s much better, I think, to have it come from the top down and be organizational, “This is a precedent we are setting, this is not up to the recruiters to have to do this. This is a commitment we’re making at an organizational level.”

15:13 BD: Yeah, and one of the reasons that started early on, is that there was an engineer I was working with, back when I was still recruiting a lot, and she told me what her compensation expectations were, and I was like, “Never tell anyone that again.” Actually, you should be asking for maybe 30 grand more, like a big difference. And she’d joined the team and hopefully will… And feels great about Mode in that way. But I was in a position where I was on the leadership team and in charge of her compensation planning for the organization, and knew that I could say that. Some random recruiter who’s at a more junior level isn’t gonna have that unless it comes from the top, and that was what we wanted to make sure we were sticking with.

16:00 RS: Yeah, yeah, definitely. And yeah, as you say, I know the answer. The question was, how do you build trust? And then if you say that, “Look, this is… ” The messaging is who this is, making sure that everyone has the best chance to get the compensation they deserve. That’s like, “Alright, so they’re not gonna try and screw me in this negotiation, it’s not me versus them.” It’s not like, “Oh, this person could… They’re trying to close me for five grand less.” And then they can be like, “Oh, that’s a huge win, I could save my department five grand.” What does that matter?

16:34 BD: Yeah. Also, if you’re trying to close down for five grand less, they’ll find out that they should have been making five grand more, and then they’ll leave, and that’ll be more expensive.

16:43 RS: Exactly.

16:44 BD: By a lot. Attrition’s bad, you don’t want it.

16:47 RS: Yeah, that’s the thing with comp, people know now what they’re worth. They know what their friends who have… They know what their peers make. They know what people at their companies are making. You can get away with underpaying them for a little bit, but it’s gonna be more expensive.

17:00 BD: Yeah, and it’s just unethical. Who wants to be that person? I’m really not interested in being a person whose achievement this week was…

17:07 RS: Underpaying someone. [laughter]

17:08 BD: Especially ’cause it’s usually people who are underrepresented. No, we don’t…

17:13 RS: Be on the right side of history, pay people what they deserve, come on.

17:16 BD: Right.

17:16 RS: Hopefully, this isn’t a debate, hopefully people are out there nodding their heads, like, “Yeah, obviously.”

17:23 BD: I don’t think that’s the case.

17:24 RS: Is that too optimistic of me?

17:25 BD: I think it’s pretty optimistic, but there’s a wide range… There’s a lot of really great people, leaders who are doing it the right way. I don’t know that it’s prevalent at this point. I went to a SHRM HR Certification Training recently where I was really blown away.

17:42 RS: I’m sorry.

17:43 BD: Yeah, it was… Yeah, I…

17:44 RS: Perhaps you did something terrible in a previous life, and so you wound up at a SHRM Certification Training. [chuckle]

17:48 BD: It was three days I’ll never have back, but it was actually really eye-opening. It was not mostly people in tech, and I think tech is ahead in a lot of ways.

17:57 RS: Sure.

17:58 BD: We are in a unique position where we can really lead in this area. There’s a ton of revenue and funding for our companies, and so we’re able to be pioneers. But yeah, you can tell because every recruiter, not every recruiter, but everywhere I look, on my forums and Slack Channels, and all of that stuff. You see people asking, “Hey, what are you doing about this California law where you’re not allowed to ask for compensation anymore?” And you saw that more in January when it came into effect. But that says to me that you were asking for it before, so obviously that’s actually not how people are doing it. They’re not tinkering on what people are worth in the market, they’re just asking what they’re at right now, and trying to get a 10% increase.

18:42 RS: That dot is so obvious for me to connect where if, “Oh, what are you doing to get around this law?” It’s like, the law was put into place because of people like you doing what you wish you could do, right? We’re not affected by it, because we didn’t ask, we pay people what they deserve.

18:58 BD: Yeah, buy some Radford data. Don’t learn from your candidates what the market is, it’s definitely available. This is not a… Shouldn’t be a hard thing.

19:07 RS: What other things did you hear at this SHRM training?

19:10 BD: Oh man, I don’t wanna come down too hard on SHRM, but there was a lot about avoiding… There was a lot of anti-union sentiment, which… It was not an employee-friendly room. We try really hard at Mode to be very focused on how to make our employee experience as good as possible. Sometimes that means having hard conversations, sometimes that does mean you let people go, but you do it in a way that’s empathic and thoughtful, and where you’re putting people in performance plans, and hoping that they’re gonna get through it and trying to be clear, and build documentation that’s to help the employee be successful, as opposed to building a case so that you can defend it in court.

19:52 RS: Yeah. That is upsetting to hear, but I guess not surprising. It’s a question I’ve wanted to explore for a long time, which is, “Is HR your friend as an employee of the company?”

20:03 BD: Yeah.

20:04 RS: And I guess the answer is…

20:05 BD: Sometimes.

20:06 RS: At some companies, and if they’re not, then you shouldn’t work there.

20:09 BD: Yeah, the one thing is, I have… You and I, I think, and probably a lot of people listening the podcast, are really privileged in that we’re able to choose where we work and to say, “Hey, I wanna work in companies that treat people this way, I wanna be a person who does that.” I think the thing that’s really hard is that a lot of people, especially people with skills that aren’t as marketable now, just don’t have that option. They don’t work at a place that’s like that.

20:41 RS: It’s not as easy to say, “Don’t work there.”

20:42 BD: Yeah, as a recruiter, you should not be working anywhere where the hiring managers don’t do exactly what you say immediately, and where people aren’t filling out their score cards and people are throwing in extra steps and surprise problems. The market’s too hot, you can make a lot of money anywhere, go somewhere where they’ll do what you tell them to. But for a lot of people in other industries, that’s not a choice you have.

21:08 RS: Yeah. And so you met these people. You met these people who are not your friend, as HR, right?

21:15 BD: Yeah, lot of them. In particular, the perspective of the class, the people in the class were fine and well-intentioned people at various points in their career and various levels of cynicism. I think the actual thing that was surprising to me was the instructor on the curriculum and how much the conversation was around…

21:39 RS: Cover your ass.

21:39 BD: Protecting instead of empowering. Yeah.

21:43 RS: That’s an important shift then, right?

21:46 BD: Yeah, it is.

21:46 RS: You and the other people leaders have an opportunity to be at the crest of that wave.

21:50 BD: Yeah, it’s true.

21:51 RS: Speaking of having hiring managers do whatever you want, seamless segue. [laughter] I wanted to hear about your experience retraining hiring managers if they’re unruly, if they’re uncooperative. How’s that been over at Mode?

22:09 BD: Yeah. So Mode, our hiring managers are wonderful, and…

22:12 RS: Disclaimer, asterisk. [laughter]

22:15 BD: And especially… No. I came in, I’ve been here for almost three and a half years. And when I came in, it was early enough that…

22:25 RS: Long enough to do two podcasts with me, that’s a long time. [laughter]

22:29 BD: It is, right, all at Mode. In recruiting years that’s like, it’s like 100. I came in early enough that they were definitely on board with doing what I wanted. A lot of them are first-time managers, we kind of built the system, and so that was great. As we’ve grown, bringing new people in, people have thoughts on how they’ve done things in the past. I think there’s a lot of companies that they’ll come from where, either they’re able to really run a process in whatever way they want. So not have structured interviewing, have a super-secret pass track for referral candidates, things like that, or just want to do it on their own because they haven’t built up trust with recruiting as a business partner. It’s an order taker and hopefully, sometimes they’ll give you some candidates that they’ve sourced. And a lot of the time, you’ll be completely on your own, and it’s like, you just have to make sure they send the offer letter and all of that. And there is an adjustment, those are different problems, but there’s ways to… Again, it’s about building trust in different things.

23:37 BD: So there’s formal training, that’s a thing, you should have documentation of how everything happens. Great, no one will ever look at it, but it’s good to have because you can be like, “As it says in the documentation… ” [laughter] when you’re having a conversation about it. More than that, it’s taking searches that were successful for other hiring managers and pointing to that and saying, “Look, we did this.”

23:58 RS: Okay.

24:00 BD: It’s also, there’s some education to be done, and… ‘Cause no one wants to be the person whose process only helps you hire white guys who went to Dartmouth. Maybe you do wanna be that person, but you don’t want people to think you’re that person. So there’s also a little bit of education here in like, hey, the reason we’re doing this is that, point to a study that talks about job descriptions, point to the outcomes that you’ll see when you’re changing the process, and some unconscious bias research. There’s so many academic papers at this point that you can point to where you’re like, “Look, an expert says this,” and make the reasons clear behind it, and then you have to deliver. You have to… And the delivery can be tricky because, at a company like ours, every hiring manager has a lot of roles, they all think they’re P0. Not everyone gets sourcing support at Mode right now. Not all of our hiring managers, and we have… We’re hiring recruiters. Once we hire all those recruiters, all the hiring managers will love us, but right now, you have to say, “Hey, we’re not gonna do it how you want, and you have to wait in line,” and that’s really tricky.

25:03 RS: Take a number, yeah.

25:04 BD: Yeah, so putting it in the context with the whole business really matters. I have to jump in front of the angry train sometimes on this for the recruiting team, ’cause it’s not their job to tell hiring managers where they are on the priority list. They can remind them, but that’s gotta be… It’s a business decision that has to be at the leadership level, so it needs to be a leadership team communication. It’s just the first rack, it’s always the first one. And then once you’re like “Okay, this is your moment, we’re doing it, it’s turned on the faucet’s coming, clear your calendar,” they see how it works and they’re like, “Oh, okay, this is great,” and then they become advocates for it in the organization. But setting expectations really, really clearly and giving consistent updates, and meeting with these managers even when they don’t have open rec so that they know how everything else is going, is just so important. And some of… We have a couple who were eager beavers, wanted to do it on their own at Mode, and came in really ready to just like, “Oh, it’s okay. You don’t need to phone screen them.” Well… “I’ll handle it,” super well-intentioned.

26:11 RS: Right, which is like, “Great, love your enthusiasm, but… ”

26:13 BD: Right. And they were frustrated with me when I said no, ’cause they wanted to have the people working for them. But their experience working with our recruiting team was positive enough that now, they’re the big advocates in the organization, and that’s great. That’s really, really important. If you mess up, if you do a bad job the first time you’re hiring for a new hiring manager, they’ll never do what you want them to do ever again.

26:36 RS: Right.

26:37 BD: Terrible. You don’t want that.

26:39 RS: So, in the event that someone goes rogue or there’s, they wanna be a hero and they’re like, “No, no, no, I can handle the phone screen,” how do you reel that in a little bit?

26:47 BD: Well, this is the reason that I like Greenhouse more than Lever, because there’s access controls. That’s actually a real thing. I think it’s harder at companies that have products that are really transparent to hiring managers and give hiring managers all the information. I think saying to hiring managers, “Hey, we’re protecting you from this information because we want to make sure that you’re staying unbiased,” is a pretty strong message. And it’s written in our values on our website, but considering our biases is really important. So that’s a thing you can point to directly.

27:17 RS: Right.

27:17 BD: But I think saying, “Hey, we’ve done this before,” and actually, in terms of the close, it’s really important to build that relationship, just like we were talking about earlier, with recruiters and the candidates so that we can help close them. They’ll be like, “Oh, I can close them,” and you’re like, “Yeah, but do you really want your first interaction with your new direct report to be telling them how much money they’re worth? Is that the situation that you want? Why don’t you let us have the unpleasant conversation and you can just come in and be like, ‘Hey I’m so excited that you’re here, let’s get you rolling.'”

27:49 RS: Their biggest advocate, their champion.

27:51 BD: Yeah.

27:51 RS: And rooting for them along the way, as opposed to having the more… Some of the harder conversations.

27:57 BD: Yeah. And the hiring manager is gonna be involved in closing. There’s conversations that happen after there’s an offer. There’s clarifying the role and expectations, there’s talking through compensation plans for salespeople, there’s explaining what the vision is, what is the next couple… For hiring them for a specific team, what are those teams’ next few projects. And there’s always additional questions, and the hiring manager is the perfect person for that. Go to lunch, go to coffee. At this point, you’ve given them an offer. I don’t care what you do, as long… There’s not gonna be… This is the moment for rapport building. You don’t need to be a structured interviewer when you’re closing.

28:31 RS: Right.

28:32 BD: Yeah, letting them do that. And again, our close rate’s really high, and I think pointing to the fact that our recruiters are able to get us the candidates that we want and have them in the door, starting within a month. That’s a pretty strong sign that we should be doing it the way we are.

28:49 RS: That it works. Then, yeah, and you should let us do our thing here.

28:52 BD: Yeah.

28:53 RS: And also, I think it’s so important to point out like, “Do you want that first conversation to be about money?” and the, “Oh, I didn’t think of that.” Like, “Yeah, I did, and I have this whole process.”

29:03 BD: Right.

29:04 RS: You’re probably a little more diplomatic about it, but…

29:07 BD: I really should be. Sometimes I come in hot. But yeah, exactly.

29:14 RS: No, it’s good. I wouldn’t have you any other way, especially on a podcast.

29:18 BD: Hot takes.

29:19 RS: Hot takes on Lever versus Greenhouse, I love it.

29:21 BD: Oh, man. Yeah. We actually had Lever when I joined Mode, and I… That was a condition of joining. ‘Cause I said that it was a philosophical difference in how we approach it, and I actually have seen that at companies that have Lever versus Greenhouse. Lever just lends itself to more hiring manager involvement, and that’s okay. All the things I’m saying work really well for us. If you don’t have the resources… I know a couple of companies in Silicon Valley that have very few recruiters and really lean hard on hiring managers to do it. Those companies are fairly homogenous from a statistical visible diversity perspective, but I get why you would do that. I think Lever’s a better tool for that. I just think that, again, I have no interest in working at a company where the goal is to just get butts in seats as fast as possible.

30:09 RS: Yeah, yeah. Like you said, a philosophical difference. And, yeah, recruiters, maybe they’re listening to this and they’re thinking, “I want my hiring manager to be as involved as possible. If they tell me, ‘Can I take this phone screen?’ I go, ‘Fuck yeah.'”

30:20 BD: Yeah, totally. Yeah, I mean, and especially, again, if there’s bandwidth issues, there’s lots of reasons. I think historically, recruiters have been hired a lot for sourcing and Boolean search strategy, and those recruiters are not gonna shine on the phone. They’re not really relationship builders. Maybe the hiring manager is better. People managers usually are good with people, ideally.

30:45 RS: I should hope so, yeah.

30:48 BD: Yeah. They’ll probably be charismatic and delightful. And if the recruiter isn’t, I would say, then you’re a sourcer. But, fine.

30:57 RS: Right. Again, what does your organization need? What works for your team? And you have this process that you’ve built that precludes hiring managers from being overinvolved, it sounds like.

31:05 BD: Yeah. And they’re in the debrief, they make the decision. My team runs it, so they can really listen and think. But they’re meeting with these candidates multiple times, they’re very involved, but they’re not owning the process, because otherwise… You need a neutral third party to keep it honest.

31:23 RS: Right, right. What are some of the other risks of hiring managers doing too much?

31:27 BD: Sometimes they will flake. Candidate experience can be bad. That’s a big thing. You have to get back to them in a timely manner, things like that.

31:38 RS: And then you’re emailing someone to send an email instead of just sending the email.

31:41 BD: Yeah. And you’re doing it more slowly, things like that. The lack of structure is, I think, a really big one. They also have other jobs. And I’m not just recruiting, I’m people ops, and I want my managers to be… There’s a whole journey that I’m responsible for at Mode that’s from the first touch from a Mode recruiter, all the way to that person being alum, and I want that whole experience to be really good. And if your manager’s on the phone with people who don’t work at the company constantly, and they’re recruiting the whole time… With that said, those managers had better be going to parties and networking events that are the right ones for their thing. They’ve gotta be looking actively. They should be getting on podcasts, they should be talking at conferences, they should be doing what they need to do to hire for the team, and they should be looking for referrals in their network. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Do these things. But if they’re spending all that time doing mechanical recruiter work, first of all, recruiters make less than most of the hiring managers, even though I think the market for recruiters is really strong.

32:45 BD: [32:46] ____ versus a recruiter, you’re looking at three years of experience versus sometimes 15. Yeah, there’s a compensation difference here. Also, it’s just like, if you have… Some of our managers have seven direct reports. You wanna be having a great one-on-one every week, where you’re prepared, and you’re giving actionable feedback, and you’re being thoughtful about their career development, and you’re talking through what their last project was and how they can grow to the next point. And from a retention perspective, that matters so much and, again, stops us from having to recruit more, and it makes the employee stay and be engaged. Managers also, at a company like Mode, I know I have a team, I still do IT work. There’s just so many things that you need to be doing, and we literally pay the recruiting team to recruit. So, let’s do that.

33:34 RS: Go do your job, yeah.

33:35 BD: Yeah.

33:36 RS: Well, as we approach optimal podcast length, quick reminder that Bailey Douglass is hiring recruiters. So if you like the sound of hiring managers, not being overinvolved, if you want your boss, Bailey, to go tell them what time it is if they do get too involved, and if you wanna work at Mode and be Bailey’s best friend, you should find her on LinkedIn or wherever, and send that application over.

34:01 BD: Yeah.

34:02 RS: Bailey, this has been really great. I love hearing you talk about Mode’s compensation strategy and just everything. I know I say that every episode, but this time, I actually meant it. Actually, this could have kept going. Yeah, I would love to have you back in. This was a blast. Round two for us was a sterling success, I should say. And so, at this point, I have to say thank you so much for being here with me. I’m really glad I got to sit here and chat with you.

34:25 BD: Cool, thanks. Yeah, this was super fun.

34:28 RS: And to all of you out there in podcast land, I’ve been Rob Stevenson, Bailey Douglass has been Bailey Douglass, and you’ve all been amazing, wonderful, beautiful, panda bear, cutie, talent acquisition darlings. Have a spectacular week, and happy hunting.


34:50 RS: Talk Talent To Me is brought to you by Hired, a double opt-in global marketplace connecting the best-fit active talent to the most exciting recruiting organizations. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you find your next great hire, head to and we’ll get started.