In this episode of the Sales Hacker Podcast, we have Hakim Myers, Business Recruiter at Nextdoor, where he recruits for people, finance, and legal functions for startups. Join us for a revealing conversation on sales and talent from the perspective of a recruiter in an executive search firm.
If you missed episode #179, check it out here: Cultural Insight on Operating a Regional Office with Paula Shannon
What You’ll Learn
- How to convince people to work for your company
- Why attrition and retention matter so much right now
- The talent search in the startup environment
- Powerful benefits that employers need to offer
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Show Agenda and Timestamps
- About Hakim Myers & Nextdoor [2:00]
- Key lessons from a business recruiter [8:30]
- The hardest job market in a decade [10:20]
- The startup environment & powerful employee benefits [12:25]
- People analytics: What employees want [15:45]
- The biggest talent challenge for companies [20:08]
- Sam’s Corner [21:36]
Show Introduction [00:10]
Sam Jacobs: Today on the show we’ve got Hakim Myers, a recruiter for Nextdoor. He’s going to talk to us about why sales is so similar to recruiting, steps to make sure that you’re positioning yourself the right way, and ways for employers to improve their benefits package and be a great place to work.
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About Hakim Myers & Nextdoor [2:00]
Sam Jacobs: Hakim is a business recruiter for Nextdoor. He recruits for people, finance, and legal functions, and he’s been in startup land since 2013. He’s going to bring an interesting perspective on sales from a recruiter in an executive search firm. Hakim, welcome to the show.
We like to start with your baseball card. It’s really just a way for us to understand you, your job and the company that you work for. So give us your full job description.
Hakim Myers: Thanks for having me Sam. It’s a pleasure to be here today.
I work with different stakeholders or business leaders to get an understanding of what’s going on within their team so we can hire. We’ve continued to grow and continue to scale to get an idea of the new roles that pop up as the business evolves itself.
Nextdoor is a hyper-local place where you can get an understanding of who your neighbors are. It’s been an interesting year, coming out of COVID. I’ve heard a ton of stories about people becoming closer to their communities through our app, and I like being a part of that.
I love the people aspect of my job, getting to understand what people like, what’s going to continue to make them happy. When you’re able to get someone into a job that they’re truly happy with, there’s no bigger joy, at least for me, because we’re all spending so much time at work. It’s literally 90% of what we all do whether we want to admit it or not.
Key lessons from a business recruiter [8:30]
Sam Jacobs: What are some of the key lessons and insights that you have about being an excellent recruiter, convincing people to come work at a company? What are your secrets?
Hakim Myers: There’re a ton of similarities between recruiting and sales, and the one that I’ll speak to right away is you don’t want to burn any bridges. You want to make sure you’re managing and understanding the relationships and the front end work that is done in sales, the discovery phase and planning. In recruiting, you’re building out your pipeline six months in advance.
The connections that you’re making today will be the jobs that you fill six to nine months down the line. It’s been true my entire career.
Sam Jacobs: How does your mindset shift? Are you always representing the employer versus the employee? Do you ever find yourself arguing or advocating on behalf of the employee back to the company that you’re working for?
Hakim Myers: When working with different candidates and also working for the company, you have to be a resource on both sides. My job is to bring in the best talent, and that talent has to come in happy and find a sustainable career within the company. I’m understanding their needs and what’s going to make them happy in taking that next step. You definitely have to negotiate both sides.
The hardest job market in a decade [10:20]
Sam Jacobs: What’s your perspective on the job market and on compensation?
Hakim Myers: What’s really interesting right now is that the demand is so high. People and leadership are really taking the time to value talent and how that’s going to make their company successful in the long run. People speak a lot more about retention and attrition and how data could potentially affect those different two subjects. There’s definitely a lot more time spent understanding why people could potentially affect your bottom line.
Sam Jacobs: Have employment terms changed? There’s a specific term that I’m interested in because I’ve been fired so often — pre-negotiated severance. That’s a really tricky thing. Have you seen any evolution in typical terms?
Hakim Myers: I haven’t seen terms around severance change. That’s probably dependent from company to company. Being in a position to negotiate a severance is a position of power to be in. Most employees don’t understand that that’s potentially an option, going into a company or taking a job knowing that you could negotiate that on the front. Conversations like this where someone hears this and educates themself on that is very valuable.
The startup environment & powerful employee benefits [12:25]
Hakim Myers: When I started at The Word Doctors, at this time there were no startups. I never heard of the term. I wouldn’t have even considered taking on a role at a startup just because the resources were at such a minimum.
When I joined Mimeo in 2013, startups were such a big thing, especially in New York. Companies like Buzzfeed and ZocDoc were popping up all around. You heard of the great advantages, perks that were given at these companies. That was the pull at that time. What you see now is the companies in the startup realm are more well rounded.
Their benefit packages trend to the advantage of the employee. They’ve taken the time to understand what’s it going to take to keep good talent around, because there are so many good startups, especially in New York and San Francisco. It’s a competitive environment. I’ve seen a ton of the same faces moving from company to company, and looking to leverage different lines of experience to continue propelling to that next company.I think we’ll continue to see as different startups evolve.
Sam Jacobs: What are some of your favorite benefits? If employers want to improve their benefits package and make their company a great place to work, what goes in there?
Hakim Myers: Do a survey and understand what your employees really want. At Nextdoor this year we decided to do a 401K match. That’s a huge difference when you’re looking at specific data points of moving up employee happiness. Those things go a long way when you’re looking at employee retention. Things that are popping up that I feel are buzzing, I would say the 401k matching, different infertility programs, giving employees the opportunity to take on those benefits.
Sam Jacobs: Employers are paying for IVF?
Hakim Myers: Exactly. Do the survey, and see what really matters to your employees and you may be surprised by what you find.
People analytics: What employees want [15:45]
Sam Jacobs: What goes into people analytics?
Hakim Myers: Attrition and retention. You want to understand why you’ve had a 30% rate of people leaving on the engineering side, or why 20% of your New York staff has decided to get up and leave. Understanding of why things flow the way that they do, and being able to present that to leadership, give them an understanding of how they can forecast and build out over time.
Companies are getting an opportunity to scale at very fast rates. We see companies going from 500 to 5,000. Being able to speak to leadership on the best areas to grow is where I come in and be a resource from a people analytic standpoint.
Sam Jacobs: In the interview process, how do you figure out if people are a cultural fit?
Hakim Myers: I have been very fortunate that people are open and honest and take the time to give me an understanding of how to make them happy, what they need to get along with their manager, or what type of team environment they need to be successful in. I’m continuously getting a better understanding of how I’m assessing talent, what bias I come across over the last year or so in speaking to different candidates or different industries, and making sure that I hone in on those and be assessing in an open minded way.
The biggest talent challenge for companies [20:08]
Hakim Myers: Hiring stakeholders are open to experience getting people through the door rather than needing to have a specific degree or a pedigree, or coming from X school. We look to make sure we’re bringing a diverse group of candidates on our end. We have to continue to challenge high managers on things, if we’re looking at college education, challenge them to look at other backgrounds or other industries as we continue to grow and scale out our company.
The biggest challenge will be keeping talent because there are so many opportunities available right now. The recruiting market will continue putting you into a situation to grow and scale your company. No one is going to stop the dollar from getting that person. There are a lot of hungry companies, hungry CEOs out there who want to bring in the best talent. They’re not going to be limited by resources to get that talent.
Sam Jacobs: If folks want to reach out to you, what’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Hakim Myers: Shoot me a message via LinkedIn. If you’re not able to get me from there, you can also shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sam’s Corner [21:36]
Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, Sam’s corner. Great conversation with Hakim Myers. He didn’t tell you this, but his building lost power during Hurricane Henri and he was doing that podcast from his car. He is a trooper and we really appreciate him taking the time to be our guest on the show.
The thing I would point out from this conversation is employees, prospects, recruits, candidates, human beings, whatever you want to call all of us that work for other people, we’ve never had more power than we have right now. Companies are scrambling to find the best talent, so make sure that you take advantage of this opportunity.
If you’re a candidate, here’s my suggestion. Use your power to negotiate for pre-negotiated severance. Now, if you’re a salesperson or an SDR, that’s not going to happen. But if you’re interviewing for an executive position, remember everything is negotiable. You can ask for anything you want. It doesn’t mean they’ll give it to you, it doesn’t mean they won’t get annoyed, but you can ask for it.
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