An interview with Mark Wojcik – Recruiting Pro
By Anthony T. Eaton
I recently sat down with Mark Wojcik recruiting pro, to talk about his starting his own Talent Acquisition consulting business. We discussed what it takes to be a great recruiter and really make an impact. After a few years in sales and marketing, Mark joined TalentBridge, a recruiting & staffing firm in Charlotte, NC in 2011. Mark developed and honed his recruitment skills over nine years until he decided to create his own Talent Acquisition consulting business and apply what he had learned.
You recently made a significant change venturing out on your own after working for a firm for nine years; what made you decide to do that?
Part of what made me jump in and start my own consulting business is that I felt I had forged an excellent career; my old firm empowered me with the tools to be an expert in the recruiting and staffing industry and all things talent acquisition. But what I was missing was the return from that overexertion of my effort, really putting in the hard work, the studying, the research, the trial, and error. I was missing the feeling of really making an impact besides individual placements. I never saw myself as an entrepreneur until the idea popped into my head that I could bring value to the businesses I had been supporting over many years – bring value differently, as a true partner rather than a service and a one-time transaction.
So, you have been at it for almost a year, how has it been going?
You know the entrepreneurial life, it’s fun doing something when you’re building your own business—a little bit different, rather than “the man” telling me what to do. The business has been great. I launched a new client last week, started with them on Monday. And what’s cool about that is I’m working directly with the company’s president. You know, they see a ton of opportunity for their people and want to put in a kind of a proactive recruiting program. That is right up my alley; I’m spending a couple of weeks just getting to know their people, getting to know their business, so it’s going to be fun.
What do you think is the key to success in the recruiting arena?
It’s all about listening. I started my recruiting career in finance and accounting search back in 2011. I didn’t know accounting or finance. I knew just enough through the basic accounting 101 and 102 classes and business school—the same thing with human resources when I launched that recruiting division in 2014. I didn’t know anything about HR. The only way to learn is either to read books about it, watch videos or ask people a lot of questions… and listen.
I know for me, it has always been listening and asking questions; that is how I grew my HR career.
And doing that with hundreds and hundreds of HR professionals got me to a point where I started to grasp the content and know it as if it was my profession. This was because I had heard it, seen, and experienced it through the eyes, ears, stories of others and their experiences. If you can’t listen effectively in talent acquisition, then there’s no way you’re going to be good at servicing hiring managers or your candidates.
“We believe in forging long-lasting relationships, not transactions!”
In addition to starting your own business, you also started doing videos on LinkedIn related to recruitment and best practices. What inspired you to do that? And by the way, they are great!
Thank you! I wanted to maintain connectivity to my network in Charlotte. It started back at the beginning of COVID, when everybody was thrust into remote work and this craziness of “Okay, we’re quarantine,d and what’s the deal here?” Knowing I had a good following of HR professionals in the Charlotte area, I just started by posting self-help videos. Once I left my old firm, I continued to promote myself as an industry expert without promoting my business if that makes sense. I want to offer value to companies who don’t have the best partnership with 3rd party recruiters. Additionally, I want to enhance the skills and success rate of the company’s internal recruiters.
That makes sense. After all, recruiting and HR is all about relationships, right?
Absolutely. And I think, especially in a forum like LinkedIn, where folks are craving education or knowledge in some capacity, here’s a free tidbit of recruiting expertise.
The information you share is spot on, and you have a good delivery; how have they been received overall?
The results have been great. I just got into it to bring value, give back to folks, and maybe give them a better experience than they have had with other recruiters. People from all over the country are like, hey, this is so beneficial, thanks, keep this stuff up. The thought was I have to do this in a digestible amount of time, where people can watch it while they’re waiting on the elevator or they’re getting a cup of coffee. Under a minute is the goal.
Well, it’s working, it’s good. It is right on the mark. It’s often a piece that’s missing from internal talent acquisition. It’s that kind of education piece for hiring managers or even other recruiters in an organization.
Right! Well, it’s been fun for me, and it translates nicely into the working world when we don’t have as many opportunities for meeting folks face to face or being able to visit a new prospect.
That is cool. The whole Zoom and video thing is incredible, we get the opportunity to utilize the technology. Now, more people are doing it and feel more comfortable with it. You and I share that passion for sharing and learning from others as well. You shared that you recently talked with Daniel Allison, the Average Dude; after reading my interview with him, what did you think?
His story is inspiring, not just as a sales professional, but as a person, and he is someone I can learn from, you know, as almost a mentor. You go through tough times, but you can persevere, you can shift who you are, you can change. You’re never too far down any one path to make a shift or change your mindset or attitude and be somebody you want to be, which is, I think, inspiring.
“Setting proper expectations and delivering on our commitments are why customers trust us with their business.”
Yeah, I do too. It is about connecting with people. And you have shifted by going out on your own to start a business. For me, it’s all about stuff like this, where we can share and help each other.
Before COVID, we continually heard that there was a talent shortage. Do you think that’s true?
I think the challenge is people are looking in the wrong places. They’re immediately going after keywords matching a job description rather than looking at the fundamentals and a position’s attributes, which makes that position tick and work. Hiring managers and talent acquisition alike, getting too siloed in their view of what a good candidate looks like, and not having the creativity to think outside the box and be more flexible on the type of background that will work.
I think that’s where the talent shortage idea comes from. There’s a ton of good people out there; they just might not be applying to your position. They’re out there, you just have to go find them, and the only way to find them is to truly recruit, rather than just sit back and cross your fingers that the top candidates are going to apply to your position.
It’s also that idea of the perfect candidate, and I just don’t believe that exists. You just never know for sure what you are getting until the person starts.
Right. And we won’t even get into onboarding because that’s a whole different beast. It’s the leading up, the assessing, evaluating, and enticing good quality talent to come to your company.
Of course, once they have been hired, it is all about keeping them, reducing the turnover. In some cases, it comes down to the money, especially when it is a low-paying job, but isn’t it more than that?
It’s tough when it comes down to money, and the employee is thinking “I’m not getting a whole lot of career development out of this.” How do you inspire people or empower them to do the best they can when it is at that low level? When in their mind, it’s like, this isn’t a career; this is just a job.
You have to give employees something that they’re going to feel like they can’t get somewhere else. You have to create a kind of environment where people are like; I don’t want to give this up. You have to have something besides the financial piece to hold people to the organization. It’s engagement, and leaders play the most significant role in that. It’s the same when you are recruiting, whether it is an internal recruiting group or an external source.
Unfortunately, we don’t see a lot of that in the industry. It’s about how can I make a buck? How can I get it the way I want it most quickly? And how can I spread out those opportunities to make a buck in as many different areas as possible?
What I was finding towards the latter end of my time in my old firm was the transaction started to outweigh the relationship. I was a band-aid, so to speak, to companies’ problems, albeit not fixing their deeper problem. That just didn’t settle well with me. And instead of being a band-aid and just temporarily plugging a hole, what I’m doing now is a higher level, trying to mend the problem. It’s physical therapy for the ongoing betterment of a client’s talent acquisition process and program. It makes it a lot more fun that way, too, when you’re immersed. Absolutely.
“We coach our peers to be “in the kitchen” with their candidates & clients to offer a boutique, hands-on experience resulting long-lasting partnerships.”
What has been your approach to identifying those companies or firms with a need?
I set aside some time, at least an hour each morning, to make proactive outreach and a few targeted sales. I’m finding that so many people are respectful and appreciative of the small business and want to help out the entrepreneur and want to give them a chance, more so than the big corporate entity. People now are saying, I got the opportunity to have Mark’s undivided attention, and we’re getting a massive return out of that.
Do you have a standard approach, or is it more geared towards the specific need of this organization?
The number one most important thing in recruiting is information and the “why” behind whatever you’re doing. It’s building in a step-by-step process; I am always trying to create a roadmap with any search. As long as you have it mapped out, if there are detours, traffic jams, or something, or an accident along the way, it may take a little longer to get to your destination, but you still get there. People in talent acquisition get in trouble when they go with a wild, wild west approach of just starting to shoot from the hip. No real strategy whatsoever, just trying to take out as many targets as they can, and they run out of bullets.
For me, it’s always about who is immediately in my network that I can call and talk to you about this great position, whether they’re a fit or not, is it in this sphere of influence of this particular job? Then, plugging myself in as an expert in the space and showing people Mark’s got his hands on a good opportunity.
So what do you have in the pipeline? What’s coming up for you?
I have been doing a lot of consultations and diagnoses just spending the time with prospects to say, let me in the door. Let’s talk, let me interview you, what do you do? Walk me through every step from A to Z, help me find some inefficiencies, lost productivity, inconsistencies, and some cost-savings initiatives.
My two biggest clients have been recruiting firms. I’m helping with their process and building a roadmap for their recruiters. Many recruiting firms don’t have any training whatsoever. They just give their people a phone, the internet and say good luck.
Is there a common mistake that you see hiring managers or organizations are making?
Well, I’ll answer that in two ways. I think hiring managers make the mistake of being naive in thinking that there’s an endless supply of candidates. And that there’s an infinite supply of real quality candidates. And, if this doesn’t work out, we’ll just start over. They’re also naive, thinking this is an easy process and the candidates will be begging to join that company. There are so many opportunities out there for people, including entrepreneurship, part-time work, or fractional work. Hiring managers need to be educated about that; you can’t just sit back, kick up your feet on the desk and say, of course, people want to come work for our company, you have to show a good candidate experience.
I could not agree more; it is creating a WOW experience from the first interaction they have with your company, even if they don’t get the job. Your candidates are also your biggest salespeople; you want them to say good things. Mark, I appreciate the opportunity to sit down and talk; let’s do it again!
To learn more about Mark’s company HireLevel visit the website https://www.hireleveladvisory.com/