TA WEEK: Sr. Global D&I Technical Sourcer Jacob Rivas

Jacob RivasSr. Global Technical Talent Sourcer - Diversity and Inclusion (D&I)

We are live at Talent Acquisition Week with another incredible guest, Jacob Rivas. Jacob is a Senior D&I Talent Sourcer and is here to share his knowledge about recruitment with us today. In this episode, you will hear all about his talks at Talent Acquisition Week, the response he is getting, how he got into D&I, what makes him different from other talent recruiters, how he communicates with candidates, and how to approach subject lines. Jacob also explains how things have changed for him since leaving Box. Finally, he shares the most amazing career advice he has ever received with us. So to hear all about D&I recruitment and why you should not be afraid to fail, tune in now!

Episode Transcript

Rob Stevenson 0:05
Welcome to talk down to me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the front lines of modern recruitment.

Speaker 2 0:12
We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life. We want to understand how they make decisions where they’re willing to take risks and what it looks like when they

Rob Stevenson 0:21
fail. No holds barred completely off the cuff interviews with directors of recruitment VPs of global talent CHR OHS and everyone in between

Speaker 3 0:31
once I went through the classes and the trainings and got the certifications through diversity and inclusion, I still felt like something was missing.

Speaker 4 0:39
Talent Acquisition. It’s a fantastic career, you are trusted by the organization. You get to work with the C suite and the security at the front desk and everybody in between and everybody knows you.

Rob Stevenson 0:52
I’m your host, Rob Stevenson. And you’re about to hear the best in the biz. talk down to me. Recording with me now again, from the floor of TA week is senior DNI recruiter at Jacob Rivas. Jacob Welcome to the show. How the heck are you?

Jacob Rivas 1:06
Hey, I’m doing pretty good. Thanks for having me.

Rob Stevenson 1:08
You have brought the house down twice now, with your speaking sessions. Tell me about them. How did they go? They looked great. From the outside. How did you feel up there?

Jacob Rivas 1:16
I thought they went pretty well. It was great to see the room filled up. You always have imposter syndrome. You never know if what you’re saying. For all, you know, people could roll their eyes and say I already know that you’re just wasting our time. But it was great. After the session, people were coming up asking questions, I’m going to be meeting with some other companies to give them consulting and teach their team some of the things that I’ve been working on. I also had a panel of DNI and one thing I like to do is relate to people give you actionable steps, the way I learned is through give me the items that you’re going to be doing so that way I can go back and replicate it.

Rob Stevenson 1:50
You must have done something right? If people are asking you to come train their team, right? Do you know what that’s gonna look like? Like what specifically they’re asking for?

Jacob Rivas 1:57
Yes. And no people want DNI, but they don’t know what that entails. And just like my presentation, I start from the basics, hey, you got to learn booleans. Here’s the order of operations, you’re going to want to use Google X ray. After I walk them through all the LinkedIn filters. That’s when we can dive into the lists that I’ve created where I have stack ranked people based off the US Census, say for instance, Latin X surnames from the highest population, down to about 1000 people down, you can put your billions into Google or into LinkedIn recruiter. Now you have targeted searches for people within DNI.

Rob Stevenson 2:35
Yeah, it’s fantastic. These are the kinds of strategies that I guess when you roll your sleeves up, like okay, how do we generate names of folks? How do we find these individuals? These are the kind of things you’ve got, but I suppose yeah,

Jacob Rivas 2:46
yeah, I started from the ground up. When I was brought onto box. I didn’t even know I was the DNI sorcerer until my third day, the team I was speaking with was with the director and the VP. They mentioned the role, and I wasn’t about to sit there and say, What are you talking about? I told you, Oh, all right. DNI, you got it. I went back to the team and ask them, What are we doing for DNI? What do you have so far? And they said, We don’t know. And they look? Exactly. And they looked at me and said, What do you know, I said, I don’t know, when they said, Go find out and come back. I figured, if I want to keep my job, I’m gonna need to figure this out. I read books, I searched all over Google, I found some really cool resources with custom search engines, different Boolean tools. I started asking other people what they had, I found some cool sites like justice maps.org, you can get a lot of different aspects from a heat map based off the US Census, when you’re diving into that you can start to get an idea of where diversity could possibly be. And you can dive into that with some of your searches to see what what’s out there.

Rob Stevenson 3:47
Yeah, it makes sense. It’s so frustrating, though, that you were just kind of told voluntold to do the DNI sourcing? Clearly you like, had no aspersions about it, you wanted to do it. But was that always the plan for you? And it was not communicated? Or did they just assume you’re gonna do it? Because you’re not white?

Jacob Rivas 4:06
That’s a great question. I was at an agency. And I was trying to find ways for us to differentiate ourselves from everybody else. It was a woman owned, woman operated boutique firm. And just like every other agency, what did we do different, we might be faster and find better candidates, but really what differentiates us and I realized diversity is the new area to go. And if you’re intentional, you can make a big impact not for the companies that you’re recruiting for, but also internally. It wasn’t quite working out with the vision of the company and where I wanted to go with that. And so when I spoke with Fox originally, on my interviews, I just mentioned that I was interested in DNI and I, I was just starting, I just was fortunate enough for them to say we’d liked what you said, Let’s do more of it.

Rob Stevenson 4:52
So then you were busy inventing all of these diversity sourcing techniques, right? And then also doing outreach I mentioned where you kind of a full stack recruiter at that time.

Jacob Rivas 5:00
Yes, I wasn’t a full stack recruiter, I was just sourcing, I would do screen candidates, but they gave me the option. They said, you just want to source you want to screen. I told them, I want to keep on speaking into candidates, I want to see what’s out there. That’s how I’m going to know how to do my searches. When I was doing all of my research for diversity, I realized that I have to stand out from the crowd when it comes to engaging with candidates. I had started recruiting in December 2020. I was brought on to box September 2021. And from all of my research, everything I learned, I was asking other people, what are you doing? What are your successes? What are you finding that’s not working? What are you learning out there from candidates? I was doing my outreach using Jim and my one year anniversary, I received gems top 10 in the world wrangler award that is for the highest response rates, coupled up with email to

Rob Stevenson 5:51
was subject lines, or what do you think wasn’t helping you stand up?

Jacob Rivas 5:55
It’s how I approach people. Candidates are people not product a lot of the times they are just the name on the list, and we just burn insurance through resumes. And a lot of people reach out the same way. Yeah, I found your profile, you look like you might be a fit for this. Here’s the job opportunity. One message I had a lot of success with was around the time layoffs were happening in June of last year, layoffs were happening the economy, everyone was expecting it to just completely crumble. They were hiring freezes offers being rescinded. Our response rates dropped to about 2% across the board and every vertical within Vox and I sat there and thought maybe it was a fluke, what I did get my award. I was getting nervous. I went back to the drawing board. And I put together this message. And I started it with Hey, how’s it going? I know it’s scary out there right now. All these things are happening, the layoffs economy. I’m nervous too. Although I do have some information that might put your nerves at ease. The CEO had just released this long email to us saying that box had been profitable for the last five quarters. And I included that because I wanted to give them something that’s relatable. Everyone was thinking, why am I going to leave? If I have a sure thing? Why am I going to want to jump ship if while I take that risk, I don’t know how this company is doing. If I go somewhere, they might be next to go under. And from that the next section I put us they know we’re profitable for what our next steps, I included a small portion, I just spoke to them saying headcount are increasing. We’re still innovating. We have the budget to keep on moving forward, and we have a product we want to get in front of customers. The last section that I had was a quote from the CFO, he had just released a quote on LinkedIn. And it was perfect. I just took that quote. And I said, here’s some insight from our CFO on how we’re doing, then I finished the message with if you’re open to having a casual exploratory chat or learn more about the role, I’d love to connect. Here’s my calendar, and I left it at that it caught like wildfire, response rates went up across the board, not just for my roles before everyone else’s, we were back at 30% response rate or email outreach. And if you noticed, I didn’t say what role this was for. I didn’t pitch them anything. I just wanted to talk to them like a person like how you and I are speaking out.

Rob Stevenson 8:13
Do you remember what it was that the CFO said that you copied and pasted?

Jacob Rivas 8:17
It was more data, it was just saying, we have a roadmap that we’re working on, based off the projections from these numbers of our historical data, we’re looking to move forward in this, we have a lot of things in the pipeline that we’re working on, it was a good chunk that I included, this message was meant for staff and managers for software engineering. That’s why there was so much detail. Other people on the team, they parsed it down, they took even that quote out and they still took the same format, they modified it if they were in sales, they’re in marketing, they’re in HR.

Rob Stevenson 8:49
When I think about how much I’m told about the company, I’m being pitched in a recruiting email, it’s usually like one and a half two sentences. And it’s always the same thing. It’s like this is an exciting company in a growing space with proven financials. And it’s just words, there’s no numbers, there’s no data, there’s no insight and nuance. And I’m just supposed to, like believe it, or even sillier. I’m supposed to be excited by it. Yeah, it just does not differentiate and it doesn’t tell me anything, I need to make a decision or even explore making a decision, right? There’s just no, no nuance. So is that still part of your process? I mean, there was that was a particular moment in time, right of uncertainty. Do you still have that same outreach, where it’s like, we’re going to throw some actual numbers and insight about the company at you right off the bat?

Jacob Rivas 9:34
Not so much anymore. I’m at a different brand now at a different company. They are a company who has been around for 60 years now. The thing is, though, they don’t have the brand recognition in regards to the tech world or even just modern brands. I came in with that same approach. It did not work. People would add me on LinkedIn just because I had the name box on my profile. Now that’s not the case. It is dry desert people aren’t adding me anymore. because I don’t have that brand recognition, I had to go back to the drawing board again. When I speak with candidates, I started asking them, what is it that they don’t like right now? What don’t they like with their role? What don’t they like with the market? And what’s going on? I would take that. And instead of saying, Hey, I have this pen, it’s shiny. When you hold it, you’ll look sexy. It’s like, We all tell people what we want to hear. We don’t speak to them and listen, for all, you know, you could have just asked, Are you in the market for a pen? than I could have said, Yes. Then you asked me, What are you looking for? And I tell you, I just want one that writes. And that right there, now we have each other’s attention, because you were treating me like a person, not a product that you were just trying to shove all this information down my throat.

Rob Stevenson 10:46
Yeah, I don’t care if you want a pen or not, I’m going to sell one to you. And if you don’t want it, I’m going to convince you you’re wrong, an awful, awful way to approach interaction.

Jacob Rivas 10:54
Yeah, absolutely. And like what you mentioned about companies, when people do provide insight on a company, I was saying, yesterday, I go cross eyed when I get all of these outreaches that people are sending to me, and they’re giving me all this information about the company. And it’s boring. The second I started reading that I go, I don’t even care about this, give me something that’s tangible. Gathering all that insight from all the people I’ve speaking with. Now, I have a nuance I start speaking about the roles about conceptually, what is the impact on the business, who they’re going to be partnering with? What does the visibility for this role mean for your growth? What does this mean for you in the long term, that’s what people want to know now, because they might be working in the moment. But everything’s happening. They want job security, they want to know what’s happening, three steps ahead of them, not what’s right in front of them.

Rob Stevenson 11:43
It’s a fine line, you don’t want to throw so much information at people that their eyes glaze over. Like, you should not just be attaching the latest like investor call, you know, they have duck. But also I’m curious, you know, when you moved away from boxing, you didn’t have the cachet of that brand, you know, helping your emails get opened? How did your approach changed? Was it back to like better subject lines, or just learning more about individuals as opposed to trying to sell them on the company?

Jacob Rivas 12:08
I had to change my subject lines before I used to put box 100% remote engineer or 100% remote leadership, because then at that point, they think, oh, leadership, what does this mean? Yeah. Is it a senior as a manager? Opportunity, a new opportunity? Yeah. And if you’re at a legacy brand, they go, I don’t care what the leveling is. And I started getting creative. There’s one rule I’m working on. It’s a scholar role. It’s not really a popular technology. And I was speaking to someone and they made a joke about back in the day got milk. I thought, Oh, I’m just gonna got Scala. Yeah, people started responding. And I started to reformulate how my subject lines where we’re looking for innovative engineers to join our team, we need someone who’s going to make an impact join our team, as a senior engineer. A lot of times, I don’t necessarily put the leveling because then I might exclude people because there’s so fixed on leveling, but this roll, it’s very specific. In my messaging, I’ve started to put just a couple lines about, like I mentioned, what the prospect means for them, there is going to be future growth, they have an impact on the roadmap, they can have visibility going straight to the CEO, little blurbs, I’m keeping it a lot shorter, a lot more simple, straight to the point, and I’m starting to get traction.

Rob Stevenson 13:24
When you say adding the level can be exclusive is that because you might send it to someone for whom the level was below them?

Jacob Rivas 13:30
They think it’d be below them. Everyone’s leveling title is so different at every company, a senior one place could be a staff at another and our head of Yeah, exactly. And box, they didn’t have architecture principle, it was staff. And a lot of people would get really fixated on that and say, I’m a principal, I’m not a staff, engineer,

Rob Stevenson 13:49
staff engineer sounds like an entry level position.

Jacob Rivas 13:52
Yep. It’s an entry level leadership position, essentially, because you have senior and they’re, they’re still in the trenches, where when you get staff, you now you’re starting to be conceptually make a technical impact. A lot of people, they’re torn between the two.

Rob Stevenson 14:05
So when you pull out some of those things, like okay, this is your connection to the CEO, this is who you report to let’s take leveling off. Is this about just having had conversations and learning what people care about? Because you kind of at a certain point, you have to make some generalizations like can you really customize every single subject line to every single person you’re approaching?

Jacob Rivas 14:23
If you make the subject or the message by putting yourself in their shoes, speaking to them like a human, you can speak to a lot of people that way. People are going to have different interests and different likes, but there is going to be a general bubble that we all communicate with. I go with that approach. Once we start communicating, then I take a more targeted approach because some people will ask me, Well, why my profile? Because they’re testing me. Yeah, and I can feel pretty Yeah, exactly. Prove to me I’m not just a template. Yes, exactly that taking that moment because of how the message was presented. I’m able to riff off of that and start asking them questions and you really turn it around. And I mentioned some of their work experience and start asking them, what is it you’re looking to do next? Now you have them talking, and you just sit there and listen and take notes. At that point. You have them.

Rob Stevenson 15:15
Jacob, this is all really great practical stuff, I can see why people are clamoring to have you trained their teams, anyone coming in to help them. Before I let you go, I would love for you to share what the best career advice you ever received is,

Jacob Rivas 15:28
it’s two part. The first part is fail fast, fail hard. learn from those mistakes, and don’t be afraid to make a mistake. The second was from a professor in college, he said, Go get fired, get fired multiple times, it’ll be the best thing that ever happens to you. It’s true. I’m not going to say how many times I’ve been fired or laid off or any of the above, but it builds resilience. You get grit, you have to change your perspective on life, just everyday life and also how you approach your work.

Rob Stevenson 15:56
That is fantastic advice, Jacob. This has been a delight chatting with you, man. Thanks so much for doing this with me.

Jacob Rivas 16:00
Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Rob Stevenson 16:04
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