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EP 2: Megan Bowen, COO - Refine Labs

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:00  

Hey everyone, this is James Mackay. Welcome to the Talent Acquisition trends & Strategy podcast powered by the minds at SecureVision. This podcast explores the TA trends that are changing the industry. Let's go!


Hi, welcome to episode two of Talent Acquisition trends and strategy today. I'm here with Meghan Bowen. Megan, thanks for joining us!


Megan Bowen  0:18  

Thanks for having me, James, excited to be here and jump into the conversation today.


James Mackey  0:22  

Absolutely. And would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?


Megan Bowen  0:26  

Definitely. So you guys were just asking where I was from. So I was born and raised in Southern California, but I've lived in New York since I was 19. And grew up in the New York City startup scene.


So I kind of came up in account management and customer success, and ended up building out those teams at a couple of cool companies like ZocDoc, Grubhub, and Seamless. Eventually expanded and became COO at a company called Managed by Q. We were acquired by WeWork, which was kind of cool until it wasn't like there's a Hulu documentary or something. And then I took a different job at another food tech company named Platterz, but the pandemic hit and it was negatively impacted.


But it kind of made my way to teaming up with Chris to build Refine Labs. And that's where I've been ever since. We are a demand acceleration firm partnering with B2B companies. And we have been able to bootstrap and grow a business pretty quickly. We teamed up in the summer of 2020 and there were six of us. And now we're almost at 100 People with a plan to hire 100 more this year. So all things talent related has been a huge focus of mine since the summer of 2020. 


And it's interesting with everything else going on in the world with the transition to remote work and the great resignation, and all of these other kinds of external factors at play. So kind of really rethinking how to attract talent, how to retain talent, how to create what I call a talent destination, instead of a place to work. These are all things that have been really top of mind for me for the last couple of years as I've been on this journey.


James Mackey  2:13  

That's really cool. And just to speak something before we jump into it. So we've actually worked with, I think, a lot of the same companies, and we've never actually had the chance to interact directly. 


But our first client at SecureVision was GrubHub. Do you know Jen Lupton? 


Megan Bowen  2:31  

Yes, Jen was the Head of Sales. And I was the Head of Account Management for the division. So we worked very closely for four years. I think she's a Head of Sales at Signal AI now, she's awesome. And she and I built out the corporate team there.


James Mackey  2:48  

So cool. So I think back to 2016. Jen was one of my first clients and Grubhub was our first customer. And actually in a few months, we worked out an exclusive contract with them to be their sole vendor for B2B SaaS sales hiring.


So we did that for a year or two. And then when Nick left and went to WeWork, he pulled us along with him there too. And so WeWork was our second client. And we did a tonne of hiring for them all through North America. And I had a great experience working with that team. And it's a shame we didn't have a chance to officially work together. But I'm glad we have a chance to talk now. 


Megan Bowen  3:25  

Definitely! It's a small world. Nick, he's literally my favorite boss that I ever had. He is incredible. 


James Mackey  3:33  

Absolutely. So one of the first things we have to talk about today is just creating really powerful employer brands. And I'd love to get your thoughts on that, specifically for growth-stage products, SaaS companies that maybe want to do more here, but don't know exactly where to start. 


What are some actionable tips that you have for them in terms of how they can really start to build a strong employer brand? 


Megan Bowen  3:58  

It's funny when I really first started posting content on LinkedIn, it was early 2019. I was at Managed by Q. And my CEO was giving me a hard time because I was having challenges recruiting people fast enough for our fast-growing, SaaS company. 


And so I thought, okay, let me get creative here. And so I was like, Okay, how can I start, like leveraging LinkedIn to try to get in front of the people I, you know, want to hire and try to like, you know, I achieve these recruiting targets and goals that I have. 


And so that was the first time we're kind of a lot of the traditional recruiting practices just weren't really working, right? So I was trying to get creative and think What else could I do? And so at the beginning, I just said, I just want to start connecting with people and like putting out content that expresses my point of view about leadership, challenges we're facing, and what we're building here. 


So the thought process was, that I just need to start building a reputation and talking about the things that I'm doing so that I can attract people that are interested in solving the problems that I'm solving or that have a similar way of thinking about, leadership and want to join my team and that sort of thing. 


So that was, really the first part was like, start to connect with people and leverage different social media platforms and start to communicate and build a reputation and messages that are going to attract the type of people that you want to work with. And so that was really like the first attempt at doing it. And frankly, that's really the simplest place to start, right? 


And when you think about building an employer brand, it's really all about how can you create and curate content that represents what you're like to work with, what your company is, like the types of roles, and then how can you start distributing that content where potential people that you want to hire spend their time. So it can be that simple, right? So there's, you know, ways to like actually connect with people, whether it's text content or video content, you can start to get really creative, but you can break it down and keep it really simple. 


Go to where the people that you want to hire, spend their time, and start investing in the creation and distribution of relevant content, to start building awareness. So we can go into some more, but like, I tried to keep stuff simple, like, if you only did that you would get a lot farther than if you don't do that today.


James Mackey  6:33  

That's something that we're seeing as well. And we're also in a growth phase here at SecureVision, we've actually grown about 100%, over the past three months. So it's moving pretty fast for us. And we're forecasting about five hires a month from now to the end of the year. And these are internal hires, for our own team. And right now, about half the hires we're doing are from individuals that are engaging with my content on LinkedIn. So that's been an incredible source. 


I have been posting a lot of content on social media, but I'm also monitoring who's engaging with it, and who's viewing my profile. And whenever we have somebody that could be relevant for one of our open roles engaged with my content, I am shooting them a message saying, Hey, just wanted to see if you'd be interested, this is the open role. 


At that point, they are already pretty familiar with me and how I operate, and my philosophy on business. And they might do a little bit more digging on our careers page, or check us out on Glassdoor. And then usually they'll follow up. And we usually have a very high hit rate, with interviews from this model. I mean, it's well over half the people. I mean, honestly, I can only think of a few times that somebody didn't get back to me when I reached out to I mean, if that I mean, maybe two or three times, but most people get back and the vast majority of them will end up interviewing with our team. 


And the conversion there is incredibly high. If we get somebody in our funnel, and they're great at what they do, and we can help them grow professionally, it's a good fit for everyone involved, we usually can kick the hire across. So it's been an incredible source, for talent acquisition, specifically, in real hiring outcomes. It's been a huge source of hires for us thus far.


Megan Bowen  8:15  

Yeah, that's incredible. Congratulations on the growth! 


I think you made a point that's worth reinforcing, which is, that your outbound messages are working, because people are already familiar with you and your content and what you stand for. And I think that's key to really getting a strong response rate and conversion rate as a result. 


Another initiative we did that kind of took it to the next level was partnering with a company called Before you Apply. 


And we worked with them to basically create a page for a very particular type of role at the company that we're kind of always recruiting for. They were great, they came in, and they actually interviewed people on our team that were in the role and doing the job, and partnered with us to create an entire, pretty robust landing page with videos and information and resources and links. And it has acted almost like a repository of really important key content and information that people want to know. 


So we send prospective candidates there before they even engage in the interview process. And it really allows them to decide, is like, Do I even want to go through an interview process right? And so we really we lay everything out on the table from salary to having people in the role explain what the day to day is, like talk about the challenges, the good parts, you know, The Good, the bad, and the ugly. And so that's another way you can kind of level up the content creation and it's a great concept, right?


It's like giving them all this information before they apply. So basically at the point with which someone is actually entering an interview process, they already know a lot of information, and they've self-qualified in many ways. And then, therefore, you have a pretty good likelihood at that point that it's probably going to be a good fit. And so that's another great tactic that I would encourage people to consider. 


And today in a candidate's market, that's what people want, right? People want to know what they're getting into before, they're going to commit to an entire interview process or all of that. So kind of giving people all of that upfront has been very effective for us.


James Mackey  10:33  

That's actually very similar to what we do as well, at SecureVision, we actually have 20 plus videos on our website. And I definitely 100% agree with you that that is critical. 


And it's something that we recommend, and we actually give playbooks to all of our clients as well, just on how we want them to build out their careers page and make sure they understand that it's a live page that constantly needs to be worked on. And you shouldn't just have it sit there, you have to push it out, and make sure that people are actually viewing it and engaging with it, and iterate from that point forward. 


But I think one of the biggest missed opportunities on the market right now is that most companies are not investing in producing assets for candidates. And again, I see the careers page is a central hub if you will, but what we recommend is that all of the content that's produced for the careers page is also dropped into essentially like a Google Drive folder that everybody in the company has access to, and they can pull from and post on social media. 


Because again, it's like if you just have it on the careers page, or like a landing page, but people may not find it or know where to go. So we really try to get our clients to push out that information as well. And then obviously drop any landing page links and outbound sourcing messages that are sent to candidates to put them on JDs. Just do everything you can to get that content out there. And video content, as you said, is just so critical. 


I think the other mistake and if I'm curious about your thoughts, have you seen this too, I think some companies make the mistake of putting too much emphasis on content produced by executives on the cruise page, specifically, and videos on the cruise page. Because at the end of the day, people considering our businesses ultimately want to hear from future peers. And as you said, they want to actually understand the specific challenges of the role and what onboarding is like, and what to expect in the first 30 days. And what does the growth potential look like? And how is success measured? And all of those things. 


So I'm curious to get your thoughts on the emphasis on pure generated content versus executive content. That's something that you've seen to be more effective, rather than just having only executive content on the podcast, or excuse me on the first page?


Megan Bowen  12:43  

I think both are critical. People are looking to get different types of information from those different types of people. Right? When you think about executive or leadership roles, I think that the focus of that content needs to be a little bit more aspirational, right? Here's the vision, this is why we're doing what we're doing. Here's the mission, getting people jazzed and pumped and excited about the future, right? 


And then when you think about the, you know, the potential peer, someone who's doing the role day to day, for that audience, they want to know what to expect, what if I actually get this job, right? And so that content is a little bit more tactical and practical so that they feel like they're not going to be bait and switch, and they have a good sense of what they might be getting into. 


So I think both types of content are key, I think they're achieving different goals. And the reality is when a candidate is assessing whether a role and company is a good fit, they kind of want both of those things, right? They want a vision and a mission that they can get excited about and that they can get behind. But they also want to make sure that the practicalities of the day-to-day job are going to fit with their goals and their needs. 


Another thing that we actually just brought on is a Director of Employer Branding. And so up until this point, myself, Chris or others, people at our company have invested time in building the employer brand. But this is another tactical thing. I actually wish I did this way earlier. And I think more and more companies should be investing in a dedicated role for this effort. 


I'm so excited to have Jason Jones with us now. He's done this at great companies in the past. And his whole focus is to completely revamp our careers page, right? Create more content with the team, find new and innovative, and creative ways to get that content out to people. And so again, I wish I did this before but another tactical takeaway for people I think more and more like a senior level, employer branding role should be something that's on your roadmap if you need to hire a lot of people to support your company price,


James Mackey  15:01  

A lot of companies completely miss the mark on that. And that's the last thing I'll say about it. Because I know there are a couple of other things we want to talk about too. But I think companies, in general, will underestimate the importance of branding, just branding, just showing up professionally online, making sure that the website looks really good. I think that a lot of companies missed the mark on just the importance of just general branding, employer branding, and having specialists or experts on their team to do these things. 


So it's incredible that your team is already doing that. And still at the level of scale that you're starting. I mean, I know you said you want to get started earlier. But there are a lot of companies that are twice, three times refining lab size that don't have this function built out yet. So that's pretty incredible.


Megan Bowen  15:43  

Definitely, I'm excited to see where we're able to go with it. And, I agree. And I think it's never too late, like as soon as you can do this at any time. Right.


James Mackey  15:52  

Right. Absolutely. So the other thing that we wanted to talk about was the concept of talent destination. And I was hoping you could share a little bit of insight there.

Megan Bowen  16:00  

The concept of a talent destination is, I think, because of everything that has gone on in the world in the last few years, it's already forced pretty significant changes to what work used to be like, right?  So we kind of went from this in-person world to this remote world, right? 


And it has also created a sense of people wanting to really reevaluate, like, what do I want? Is my current job serving my needs and goals and making me happy and getting me to where I want to go, or is it a source of toxicity in my life, right, that I want to get away from? And so everything about work is really changing right before our eyes. 


And so, as I was thinking about what I wanted to do, and building Refine Labs. My goal in helping build this company is to build a company that I want to work at, right? And that high performing, ambitious people want to work at, so that I can kind of help create the conditions for people to do the best work of their life. 

And so I wanted to call it something to claim a name for it right? And so talent destination just kind of came up one day. And when you think about it, there are key ingredients from my perspective that are required. And it's rethinking a lot of the outdated notions of what building a company is like. And it's kind of embracing what the future could be. 


So it's like a place where you can show up as your true self and be accepted for who you are, right psychological safety. It's a place where you can express your true opinion and engage in respectful disagreement. It's a place that prioritizes well-being and flexibility.


And when and how I work, it doesn't matter that much anymore. It's a place that has a vision for the future. That's like a different, unique, compelling, important, exciting right place with a long-term mindset. And the unwillingness to sacrifice integrity or honesty to get ahead. A place where people are given time and space, to be creative, to try new things, to experiment, to learn, right? A place where they get feedback. And expectations are clear, and they're held accountable. And they're being challenged to grow, right? 


These are all things that people crave and want a place where they're surrounded by diverse, supremely talented, intelligent, driven people that they can learn from. You ask people, what did you love about the best place to work? Everyone will save the people, right? People want to be surrounded by great talent, a place where appreciation and recognition are common, right? I always say like the most underutilized phrase in business is thank you like a genuine Thank you. There's such a long way and not enough people say that. And in a place that ultimately knowing if I join this talent destination, I'm going to have an experience for however long it is where I do the best work of my life. And I become a better person, a better leader, and a better practitioner, in my area of expertise. 


And so I think it's sort of this assertion of like, don't just think about building a company, like if you want to attract top talent, you have to build a talent estimation.


James Mackey  19:31  

I think it's interesting because a lot of times leaders will ask, Well, how do we figure out what to focus on or what matters? And so did you ask your employees? Because if you just ask them, they'll tell you. They have plenty of feedback, I guarantee it. 


And that's something that we actually do quite often as we ask, we're asking candidates, we're asking employees for their feedback. We'll send out certain surveys, we'll do it at meetings. We'll do 1on1. We're constantly asking how we can optimize your experience to help you get the most out of life professionally and personally. 


I mean, your people will tell you exactly what they need and what they want. If you cultivate an environment where they understand that it matters to you as a leadership team, right,? So I think you have to have that trust in place for sure. But, I think that companies need to, generally speaking, do a better job of optimizing toward employee experience. 


I mean, for me, I look at a high level, I see business as creating great experiences and outcomes for clients and employees. That's literally what I spend all day every day, focusing on how I can create incredible experiences for these two groups. 


And I think you just have to have companies do a better job optimizing toward that. I think a lot of companies spend particularly early days of scale, they're very focused on revenue, product, and engineering motions. And I think the people and talent functions kind of fall by the wayside or fall behind. Right? And then they kind of hit this point where those functions are in complete atrophy. And they're trying to play catch up and figure out what to do. 


The best place to start is just to talk to your employees, sit down and try to make sure you have that trust in place, where they can share that feedback. And then you just have to work really hard on implementing, obviously, it's a lot easier to ask and collect feedback than it is to sometimes implement. Sometimes you need structural changes. For instance, if one of your values is to have a really good work-life balance, or for people to not have to work over 40,45 hours a week, then you need to make sure that you have the right structure in place at scale, to ensure that people have the capacity to not work too long hours too often, and also are empowered to take the PTO. That, that you're giving them. Even if it's like three, or four weeks.


I think for most companies, there needs to be a much better feedback loop and implementation loop from leadership to employees to ensure that great experiences are being created. At least that's something I'm seeing on my side of SecureVision, not only internally, it's something that we prioritize, but something we are constantly pushing for our clients to do more of it almost doesn't matter how much they're doing, we're always pushing them to do this more because we know it's going to have a positive impact on our business.

Megan Bowen  22:17  

Absolutely. And it's really interesting from my experience is if you actually focus first on creating the right conditions for your team, right, the employee experience, and then prioritize how you're going to make your customer successful by delivering those outcomes, the revenue, the retention, the growth, all of those are simply byproducts of doing those two things correctly. 


Unfortunately, I think most people are hyper-focused on revenue growth or product development at the expense of those other things. They think the focus on that is going to be what gets them to that outcome, but it almost has the reverse effect. And so I truly believe that like and I kind of have this like an equation that I like to talk about, which is like people success is what equals customer success is what equals company's success. And as you think about decision making if you use that lens, you'll make different decisions than if, revenue or growth is your first priority for example,


James Mackey  23:22  

I couldn't agree with that more. I mean, that is just spot on. And that's how we operate the business as well. If you just take care of your people, and you create great experiences for them, then they're going to take care of the customers. And a natural symptom of that is going to be growth. And you can never lose sight of that. 


I think that sometimes companies are, as you said, just so focused on revenue growth that they do. And they ultimately miss out on a lot of the growth that they're after because they're not investing and attracting and retaining the top talent for their own team that's going to impact ultimately every function. Is going to impact revenue and product and engineering, because they're not able to get the best-fit people to drive those functions and ultimately take advantage of the potential scale.


Megan Bowen  24:06  

Yeah, absolutely. I think the root cause of this is a short-term mindset. People get months and quarters. And, I empathize with a lot of founders, who, especially if they've raised money, and have certain goals to hit by, it's a tough position to be in. But I think that's really the root cause is not enough people willing to embrace a longer-term mindset and do things the right way from the beginning.


So hopefully, we'll start to see a shift there, especially with everything going on in the world. But we have a little bit of a way to go.


James Mackey  24:42  

I think that the most successful companies this year are going to be the companies that do have that people-first culture that emphasizes people's experiences that listen to feedback implemented and optimize the business and are really willing to invest some cash and make sure that you're building out the right function. As the people function to support people. 


I mean, to me, the companies that are going to scale the most this year are going to really embody that mentality. And I think it's kind of proof that your team is doing so well in scaling so rapidly, I think probably this has been a big part to do with it.


Megan Bowen  25:16  

Yeah. And I think, unfortunately, pretty much every company says their people first, right? Like he says that they aren't, and people or companies are recognizing that that's becoming important. And it's really interesting. I'll speak with people who may say, Well, everything sounds really good. But is it really like that internally, right?


And I think a lot of people, unfortunately, have been burned, where on the outside, it can appear as if things are a certain way. But then when they get somewhere, they're not. And so I think the execution piece is critical. I think, unfortunately, you need to be savvy in your interview process to really uncover any red or yellow flags that may exist. And frankly, like, we don't, we're not perfect, either.


To your point, you know, we do quarterly engagement surveys. And last year, in one quarter, we got a lot of feedback, and the team was feeling really overworked. And that was a signal for us. And we looked into things and realized we needed to actually segment our customers and reallocate clients across the team based on the customer segment that they fell in, because not every customer is the same. And we were kind of treating them as such, right? 


And to your point, that feedback ended up inspiring, like pretty significant structural changes in how we segmented customers, how we assigned our accounts, and how we load balanced capacity. And it took about three months for us to fix all those things, right? Like that stuff is hard and doesn't happen overnight.


But when we're able to take the feedback, transparently share that feedback, tell them, we heard them, here's the action plan, executed it, and kept people updated each month, even when there was a period of time where people were still really, really busy. They're like, okay, this is being fixed, right, there's the light at the end of the tunnel. And so even when you have all the intentions to do things, right, you can get in a position where things, you know, need attention or need to be fixed. And the key is to just recognize it, and communicate and take action.


James Mackey  27:25  

Yeah, 100%. I mean, because when you scale, ultimately any process that you build is going to hit a breaking point at scale. And you're going to have to rebuild. 


And the great thing about what you just said, too, is that when you allow the team to be part of the solution, that's something that they can really take pride in, and be proud of. They can really be proud of being part of so I love that. 


And you're right, it's hard work. It can be brutally hard when you're scaling, and you're a hyper-growth, and you need to make these changes, but it's so worth it. Right? It's so worth it. And it's just positions, the company, and the team for the next phase of growth. So, in my opinion, it is necessary to get the best results for it. 


Megan Bowen  28:05  

I was just going to add because I think the other piece of that, that I think is worth calling out is we had created an environment where people felt comfortable saying,  I'm feeling you know that I might get a little burnt out, or I'm feeling overworked, I'm not able to handle everything on our plate. 


And I think how we chose to respond to that is what reinforced the culture of it is okay to bring that up. And so the other piece that I encourage people to think about is, when's the last time that anyone on your team shared constructive feedback about the work environment? And you might be doing surveys, but people might not be telling you that something's wrong. And it doesn't necessarily mean everything's okay. 


So the key here is trying to, you know, when people give me feedback like that, the first thing out of my mouth is, thank you for telling me. Like, this probably sucks, this thing is probably hard for me to hear, right? You're probably nervous or not thrilled that you have to share this feedback with me. 


But I want to immediately express appreciation, and then continue the dialogue to help truly understand what's wrong and what needs to change. So anyway, I just wanted to call that out. Because I think people like oh, we do surveys, everyone's happy. But if you're not creating that environment for people, to be honest, you might not even know that you have a problem.


James Mackey  29:36  

I think every executive and hiring manager needs to hear what you just said. Because I think that's a huge part of it. I'll be honest, there are points earlier in the days running SecureVision where I didn't make that mistake. I just assumed, oh, if there's a problem, somebody will bring it to me. 


And you have to earn that type of culture and environment to cultivate that level of trust. And that's something that I have learned over the years and now we have and I really value. But it's not something that you can just assume is going to be the case, you, you almost always have to have a, you have to build a culture where people feel like they can trust you and come to you about these things. 


And also, you have to just occasionally just dig in, right? And look at people's calendars and look at their day-to-day and look at their capacity planning and try to get a pulse on how much they're really taking on and, and you have to dig sometimes just to be sure that people are in fact, okay. And show them that you really care. I think I think that's huge. 


And I think that the last point that we had to talk about today was talking about designing candidate first interviews, pre-onboarding, experience onboarding experience. I know you're passionate about that. And that's kind of the world you're living in now. 


And just to bring a little bit more even focus that in a little bit more, I would love to talk about how to do that in hyper-growth, for growth stage organizations. Because that really works get hard, right, and you have to have the process down because you're moving so fast that if you don't have a scalable, repeatable process, things really can start to slip. 


So I'd love to get your thoughts on how to go about doing this, maybe the top initiatives that companies should focus on when thinking about creating a really good candidate first interview process onboarding process for their growth stage company.


Megan Bowen  31:21  

Yes, definitely. And so you know, a big part of my background is customer success. And I've spent a lot of time across many different companies really mapping out in defining a customer journey, that really, truly defines the touch points, what happens, and then you design your systems, your process, your team, to cultivate that journey that you want your customer to go on. 


And so I took all those principles and applied them to the employee experience. And so you should map out your employee journey, everything from before they apply to the application and interview process to right before they start. And when they start. 


And so many times people are just, oh, we need to interview people, let's design an interview process so that we know we vetted everything that we need without thinking about what the experience will be like for them, right? Oh, we just need to get them started. Get them all their stuff, overwhelm them with information so they can be immediately productive, right, and not think about, what is this person's experience going to be like joining a company remotely? Right? And what is their first week going to be like? And how are you going to integrate them into the team and make them feel like they belong? 


And so I think people have gotten to the point where they acknowledge that they need to be more customer-centric, and think about the customer journey. And it's like literally taking all those same principles and applying them to the employee journey. 


The other piece of it is, unfortunately, I think a lot of companies optimize for what they want, and what they need. And don't think about what the prospective employee wants or needs, or what experience is going to matter for them. And so it's shifting that mindset. It's using some of those tools that are so popular in customer success and leveraging them within this new context. 


And honestly, nothing that we do is that sophisticated or that crazy. But we just do the basic things really well. We design a  transparent, fast, candidate-first interview process. Anytime someone accepts an offer, we start to send them fun things like our Spotify company playlist and our culture playbook, so they can start to get excited about, you know, joining the company, we send them a welcome kit and a computer and give them some money to like spruce up their home office. 


The first week is really optimized, not for how quickly I can make them productive, but how I can make them feel so that by the end of the first week, they're like, Man, I'm so glad I'm here. This was the right place, right? Like, that's what you have to optimize for it first. And then once they get there, then they're poised to make an impact. And they're going to be driving that. And so it's just being empathetic and kind of leveraging some of those tactics to get there. 


James Mackey  34:29  

I think it's a short-sighted thing that you brought up earlier, companies get to focus on short-term outcomes. And for us, for instance, when we really started to get better at employee experience and hone in and optimize toward it, we started asking the question a lot, what would happen to our business if we believed that experience mattered just as much as the outcomes we produce? 


And we just started optimizing toward experience as opposed to optimizing toward outcomes because ultimately experiences are going to lead to the outcome, right, but just putting that emphasis on experience and obsessing on that, and how do we create great experiences at every stage for candidates and employees? And I think that one thing to keep in mind to what we started to notice is that when we really started to optimize toward candidate experience at the, you know, essentially top of the funnel, right when people are interviewing with us, and moving toward offer stage, we were getting the feedback, wow, this has been a really great candidate experience like this, you know, this has been different. And I'm really excited. And candidates will proactively offer up that feedback when it's the case. 


So my advice to leaders in companies is if you're not hearing that feedback from candidates, keep pushing, and keep working on optimizing that process because the reality is that most companies do not put an emphasis on candidate experience. And so if you do, you will stand out. And you're gonna hear about it. I mean, I'm sure it has been your experience. Have you heard that from candidates?


Megan Bowen  35:52  

We hear that from most of our candidates. And what makes me the proudest actually is we hear it from candidates who don't make it through to the offer stage either. And even though they didn't get that far, they say that it was a good experience, we do our best in as many cases as possible to provide feedback on why the decision was the way that it was. 


But for me, if a candidate is not given an offer, and they still give that feedback, it really validates to me that I and the team are kind of on the right track.

James Mackey  36:27  

Absolutely. One structural question that helps companies with scale. When do you think a growth stage company should bring on an ops leader? Because I think that, that's a big part of it as well. I think companies underestimate how important ops can be early in the process of scale. 


And for instance, we brought on a VP of Ops, when we were probably 15,20 employees. We did it early because we wanted to create great experiences across the board and make sure we had the right process in place to scale. 


So I'm curious if that's along the lines of when you would say go for it if it'd be around 30 employees, or what when would you say is the right time to bring in an ops leader to help create these experiences and processes?


Megan Bowen 37:04

I mean, I gotta give it to Chris, because he brought me in when there were like six of them when he knew it was going to be critical for the success. And I do think because he prioritizes that. And from basically the beginning, we were able to start thinking about these things in this way, I think that it's contributed to how quickly we've been able to grow. 


So I would say as soon as possible. And, once we were at a point where we could invest in more executive leadership, we then focused on the people team. And so I think it was a strategy now that we've done that we're now continuing to build out a lot of customer enablement, functions and, bring in more leadership for customer success and customer operations. But it follows that formula, the right people, then customers, and the company.


James Mackey 37:57

Absolutely, I think the issue is if you don't bring in ops and people functions early enough in scale, then you can ultimately hit a ceiling where you have to pause, hit the brakes, and then retroactively figure it out. And then you really miss an opportunity to continue to grow and add more value to more people. 


I can keep talking to you about this for hours. I think philosophically, we align on a lot of this. So this has been a tonne of fun. And it just keeps going. But I know we're coming up on time here.So I just wanted to say thank you so much for joining me today. I'd love to do this again. Sometimes this has been a blast.


Megan Bowen  38:31  

Yeah, absolutely. I love this topic. And this was a great conversation. We'd love to find another opportunity to get together again.


James Mackey  38:39  

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

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