SmartRecruiters Blog

What Is Impossible? Experimenting in HR with Sandi Lurie

Sandi Lurie, Sr. Director of Global Recruiting for the digital experiment platform Optimizely – knows, when it comes to recruiting, sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error.

When Sandi Lurie started out as a recruiter she was turned down three times before getting the job she wanted. Call it ‘having a vision’ or just sheer stubbornness, but she knew what she wanted and kept at it. Today, she expects the same from the recruiters she works with.

And now, after more than 25 years in TA, she’s not as green with her errors but she certainly hasn’t backed off the ‘try until you succeed approach.’ She’s just taken her experiments to a new level.

As Sr. Director of Global Recruiting, Sandi walks the walk of her company by continuously experimenting with her own practice.

February 26-27 she brings what she’s learned working with Optimizely – the startup who has made a name for itself enhancing the consumer experience of digital products – Hiring Success 19 – Americas, in San Francisco! Register now!

Find out what happens when you replace guesswork with evidence-based results and learn why it hurts business success to view HR as timid.

If you could go back to your first job and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be?

I would tell myself that your best learnings will come from the mistakes you made.

Speaking of mistakes, we heard finding your first recruiting job was pretty rough, tell us about it.

My first agency recruiting job was given to me by Joan Castelli… after she turned me down three times. Each time she said no, she would invite me to check back with her in the future. I continued to follow up and after three months she finally made me the offer.

Later, she told me that it was my tenacity that made her give me a chance even though I was so green. I ended up working for her for five years and looking back she is my biggest professional influence.

How has that experience informed your job?

When I’m interviewing recruiters or talking to aspiring recruiters, I look for that same tenacity and persistence. You won’t be as successful or enjoy the work you do every day unless you want it bad enough to be turned down three times.

What does the concept of Hiring Success mean to you?

Who we hire, has a direct impact on the quality of the product we create and our ability to sell it. So, to me, Hiring Success is synonymous with business success. One doesn’t exist without the other.

What is one overlooked aspect of recruiting?

Recruitment is key to bringing in talent, relying only on inbound applications and employee referrals won’t scale your company. Having a team of recruiters that are only good at managing the hiring process won’t get you the top talent needed to be successful.  Recruiters need to be great salespeople, know how to hunt and evaluate great talent and understand how to close the best candidates.

Do you think experimentation is underused in recruiting? Why do you think that is?

Yes! We are gaining great insights just looking at the analytics around quit rates on our site. It is helping us create our new careers page and recruitment marketing work.  I don’t think it’s been easy or a priority for companies to build experiments into their career sites. I am lucky to work at Optimizely where our platform makes it easy to create and measure experiments in real time.

Does the fact that you work in HR for experimentation company change the way you do your job? In other words, how do you practice what your company preaches?

Working at Optimizely has allowed me to expand my thinking of what is possible. It has enhanced my job as I can quickly gauge if something is working or not and make quick changes. We are just scratching the surface of the different types of experiments and what we can measure.  Whenever someone has a new idea, the culture says “Let’s run an experiment” it’s very freeing and allows us to keep trying new things.

What is an experiment you have run in your department, what did you learn and how have you changed?

We just kicked off an experiment on conversion rates through each part of our careers site.  We are creating multi-variations to be tested and will use this data on a rebrand we are working on to launch later in Q1.  We have learned that our site is too long and are working to keep everything up top and easier to navigate.

What is the role of technology in recruiting?

I am going to start with an old-school answer that says, picking up the phone or walking to someone’s desk overrules technology every time. We have gotten to a place where we don’t leave our desks or have the live conversations that are critical to building relationships and creating a real business partnership.  Having said that, technology is key. We are constantly evaluating new tools and resources to make us successful.  Whether it’s a new sourcing site, using SR as a sourcing tool, running experiments on our careers page, something to build our diversity pipeline or getting survey data to improve candidate experience we need to stay up to date and leverage the tools to make our jobs.

HR is often thought of as a timid branch of business, do you agree with this perception?

I don’t’ agree. The coaching that comes out of HR to all levels of the business has a direct impact on their results. There are companies that don’t leverage that opportunity but I think it’s incumbent on the leaders to keep HR at the C level.  Where it is timid is when HR acts as a business partner to the Executive Team, not the company.

How do we keep recruiting human and personal in the digital age?

It’s all about personal relationships. If you only work via digital means, you lose your ability to influence in a meaningful way. You are managing a process along. If you want to be thought of as a strategic partner you have to learn how to speak up in meetings, offer your opinions when making hiring decisions and build trust with the business.  I have a rule with the team that if you are about to reply to a reply on an email you have to pick up the phone and call or walk to the person’s desk to have a real conversation. This also applies to an email that can’t be read without scrolling down on your computer or phone.

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