The candidate experience done right with Kevin Howard

Do you treat your candidates how you would like to be treated? 

At the end of the day, every candidate is just a person. And that person behind the candidate is the most important hiring factor, even for technical roles.

Kevin Howard’s decade of experience in recruiting has taught him many important lessons, including how to use technology to streamline hiring, the right way to approach salary negotiations, and how to source the best candidates for your open positions.

Tune in (or read below) to learn the value of giving each candidate respect and attention, even if they don’t end up being the right fit for the job.

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Listen to episode 19


In the episode “The candidate experience done right,” we discuss

  • Why it’s vital to personalize and humanize the candidate experience
  • How Kevin saves time: planning his week and setting up a well-oiled interview process
  • Why building relationships and opportunities is central to candidate sourcing
  • The subject line Kevin always uses in his cold sourcing emails
  • Why you should never burn bridges with candidates that didn’t get the offer
  • Kevin’s tips for easing nerves before an interview: remember it’s just another human, read the job description thoroughly, and be prepared
  • How technology and automation have changed recruiting 
  • Why inclusion and diversity should be a part of company culture and not a hiring trend
  • Kevin’s hierarchy of most important hiring factors: 1. Cultural fit, 2. Qualifications, and 3. Career plan
  • How to stand out to recruiters on LinkedIn
  • Why Kevin is a firm believer in paying people what they’re worth, even if they ask for less

Favorite quotes

“So I've been a candidate where it's like, okay, I've interviewed. I've gotten to a certain point, and then I haven't heard anything for two months. And then you're like, ‘Well, what happened? Am I still in the running?’ Things like that. So early in my career, when I first started to feel that and got into HR, I was like, ‘I never want someone else to feel that way.’ So I'm always on top of it. I make sure my candidates know. If you get the job or not, I make sure that everyone has the best experience.” - Kevin Howard

“So I would sit in the rooms with candidates and just kind of talk to them before an interview gets started, just so I can have them be at ease because interviewing is stressful, especially for people that are not recruiters, who don't do it every day. So just breaking the ice with people, making sure they feel comfortable before they're interviewing, and making sure I'm following up with them every step of the way. That's what candidate experience is to me. And that's the importance of it.” - Kevin Howard

“Automation is where we're going in 2022. That's where we are now. And it's the only way to go really because we're busy. As recruiters, we know what the unemployment number is throughout the nation. We know what the unemployment numbers are for our prospective places, in different countries, and throughout the world. So we have to automate because with us being the human part of human resources, we only have but so many hours in a day. So we have to manage our time effectively. And automation's the key.” - Kevin Howard

“The recruiter's answer is: do they match the qualifications? What have they built? But to be honest, it's the person. Who are you? How are you? What's your communication style? How have you worked with your team? We're a smaller company. We're rapidly growing, but it's like a family. And most companies are, even regardless of the size, they're families. We're with each other virtually eight hours a day when we all were in the office, that's 40 hours a week. That's a lot of time.” - Kevin Howard

“So being completely honest, I've seen women that I personally know start with the same title as a male counterpart and make significantly less. And that's something I don't believe in at all. So when I'm talking to a candidate and they ask for a salary range or I ask, ‘What's your salary expectation?’ If we're budgeted for 150 and they're like, ‘Well, 89, 90K.’ I'm like, ‘My range is going to be 130 to 150.’ That's what I'm going to tell them.’” - Kevin Howard

Kevin Howard from TeleSign

Meet today’s guest, Kevin Howard

As the Lead Technical Recruiter for TeleSign, I get to be on the front line of the innovators! 

My favorite thing to do is to connect with passionate hard working technical professionals who love to WOW their peers as well as their external customers. I love what I do…I match the dreamers to the careers that help them reach their dreams!

Productivity resources to explore

“The Candidate Experience Done Right” full transcript

This transcript has been slightly edited for clarity and readability.

Ben (00:00):

You are listening to Get More Done, a podcast. And I'm your host, Ben Dlugiewicz. All of us at the team wanted to set up this podcast to explore productivity and talk to experts. On each episode, we'll meet with entrepreneurs, CEOs, managers, coaches, consultants, and anyone else, to have them share their insights into how they are leveraging automation, doing more with less, and helping their teams level up. We hope that through their stories, you can get more done.

Ben (00:25):

On today's episode, I caught up with Kevin Howard, the Lead Technical Recruiter with TeleSign. Having spent nearly a decade in the recruiting field, Kevin shares what makes a good candidate experience and how technology has helped him hire more people. Kevin also explains how to stand out in a crowded marketplace and what recruiters are looking for. Enjoy.

Ben (00:58):

And welcome back to the Get More Done podcast, where we talk about all things productivity and crushing of goals. On today's episode, I'm sitting down with Kevin Howard. He is the Lead Technical Recruiter with TeleSign. So Kevin, welcome to the podcast.

Kevin (01:11):

Thank you so much, Ben. I'm glad to be here. Hello everyone.

Ben (01:15):

Yes. I'm excited to talk about all things recruiting with you, and just geek out over hiring and all the good stuff.

Kevin (01:21):

Let's do it.

Ben (01:22):

We typically start these conversations with an icebreaker question. So for you, this one, what commercial jingle gets stuck in your head all the time?

Kevin (01:40):

That's a good question. Probably the Liberty Insurance commercial, where it's like, "Liberty, Liberty, Liberty."

Ben (01:45):

Liberty, Liberty.

Kevin (01:45):

"And Doug."

Ben (01:46):


Kevin (01:46):

Yeah. I don't know why, there's something about the, "and Doug," part that just gets me. So that's probably the biggest one.

Ben (01:55):

That's an earworm. I don't know if you're like me, but I also get random '80s and '90s TV show theme songs stuck in my head, like-

Kevin (02:02):

Oh, yeah.

Ben (02:02):

...the Doogie Howser theme song, or like these old classics. I'm just like, "Get out of there."

Kevin (02:07):

Yeah. I was talking to a fellow recruiter of mine, who actually used to work at TeleSign, yesterday. And we were singing old '80s and '90s cartoon theme songs. So like Darkwing Duck and DuckTales and things like that. So absolutely.

Ben (02:28):

"Ducktails, a woo-hoo." Yeah, that's a classic. Awesome. So like I said, I'm eager to dig into all things about recruiting. So I'm curious, as a recruiter, what's something that takes up the most of your time?

Kevin (02:44):

Probably emails, to be honest. As recruiters, as you know, we get a ton of emails. If it's anything from platforms like yours, where it's, "Hey, we have availability requests that are getting sent out." So we're checking that. Myself, being in a leadership position now, there are all types of meeting invites and notes I have to check and different conversations about hiring plans and things like that. And just kind of keeping up on the candidates, "Who did I talk to? Let me check in." I'm huge on candidate experience. So a lot of my candidates, they're kind of like family to me now. So it's like, I know, "Hey, did John go to prom? How did it go?" So kind of keeping up with so many different people on emails probably takes the most time. Everything else is just business as usual.

Ben (03:41):

Business as usual. And when you're working with these candidates, do you have a CRM or something you're using to keep track of all those notes, so you know the particulars? Or do you just have a mind like a steel trap and it just stays in it?

Kevin (03:53):

The mind. I was actually just talking to my dad before jumping on, and that's where we were talking about brain exercises. But I keep a lot of it on my mind. I'm old school, so I still have spreadsheets where I have everyone's information in there and little verbs of, "Okay, this is what we talked about." It's like a secret, so spoiler. Little notes and tidbits of what we talked about whenever we had our initial phone screen. But when we also had those other conversations. A lot of my candidates have my personal cell phone numbers. So I can go back to my texts and see what we were texting about, things like that. So that's kind of how I keep organized to a little bit of a stint.

Ben (04:36):

Yeah, for sure. And speak to me about maybe some processes that you have set up, that save you time. Because you said that a lot of your time sits in email, but outside of that, are there any processes that you use to save time?

Kevin (04:50):

Yeah, I've started to learn how to plan out my week. It's almost like a perfect aspect. So I always start my Mondays off strictly sourcing, unless I have something from Friday that I have to kind of reconnect on or re-sync on. My Monday, I'm strictly sourcing, checking my emails first thing in the morning. I'm sourcing all day. Tuesday and Monday night, I'm usually looking at who responded to all my messages. "Okay, let me get the resume and the ATS, and get everything scheduled for my phone screens." Tuesday, Wednesday, I'm doing my phone screens. Thursday, they're usually doing hiring manager screens. By Friday, they're typically, the next round, the technical round or they're in a panel interview. And I'm preparing to make offers by the following Monday. So then, it's emails, offers sourcing again. So that's kind of my personal process.

Kevin (05:46):

Outside of that, when I first joined TeleSign actually, I created the interview process because my interview was kind of long. And so, literally my first week I was able to implement the interview process, implement an SLA. So now globally, the hiring manager or recruiter knows exactly what step each stage is in when it comes to opening up the req to intake meetings, all the way to offer and background checks. So with setting those processes at the very beginning, now it's just a well-oiled machine.

Ben (06:21):

Yeah. That sounds really great. And it's cool that you were able to come in and make some changes right away and make things a bit more efficient. Now, you mentioned sourcing and I'm not 100% familiar with the recruiting space. I'm learning more about it all the time. So tell me a little bit about what sourcing is, and for the people that may be listening that don't know what that is, me especially.

Kevin (06:42):

I love that. I'm a sourcing guy, I'm a sourcing junkie. So sourcing is basically reaching out to people who are passively looking or who may not be looking for roles at all, and pretty much selling them on the company, selling them on the role, and building that interest. That's what most recruiters do probably 90% of their day usually. Especially as a tech recruiter, we're smaller companies, we're competing with the big guys. So the Googles, the Metas of the world, Amazon, Apple. So it's a challenge because we have to find the same level of talent. And we usually have constraints that the bigger guys don't have, like budget constraints and things like that.

Kevin (07:30):

So sourcing is really just, the way I do it I should say, is really about relationship building and building opportunity, and letting people know that: "Hey, you can go to the big guys. Everyone wants to work for Google. Everyone wants to work for Disney. However, when you're here, you're able to make more of an impact because we're smaller. So your name's attached to it." So that's really what sourcing is. Usually LinkedIn, Indeed, or ZipRecruiter. There's a public side, where you can actually apply for jobs. But then there's actually the recruiting side, where you can look through the resumes and see who applies for roles. What skills, what qualifications do they have? How does it meet? So that's what sourcing is in a nutshell.

Ben (08:20):

Nice. So you're just kind of going out and scanning for people that might be a good fit, reaching out to them to see if it's something they'd be interested in. And those are probably cold outreaches. So I mean, how do those conversations usually go? Is it like, "No, don't bother me. Leave me alone," or is it more like, "Tell me more"?

Kevin (08:37):

So it starts with the subject line, just like an email. It just starts with the subject line. How are you approaching them? I talk to a lot of recruiters, so what a lot of recruiters do, they'll say, "Hey, we have this role." That's kind of their subject line. "We have a software engineer." But as a candidate, who we've all been on the opposite side of that, applying for roles, we'll get emails like that all the time. What I do is I start with a question like, "Are you open to new full-time remote software engineer roles?" And then, as a candidate or a potential candidate's reading the subject line, they have to say it in their head. So they're like, "Are you open? Am I open to it?" And that's where I get in.

Kevin (09:23):

Because they're like, "Well, kind of." And all I need is a kind of, or that light bulb to go off like, "Well, maybe." And then I'm in. And then the body of the email, I'm like, "Hey." I take my time. So I'm looking through their profile. I don't send just a blanketed copy-paste type of message. And I say, "You have experience in Python and AWS. And I think you'll be perfect for this role because of that. These are the exact tools we use." And that's already like boom. They're like, "Oh, awesome. Well, I could just kind of come in and hit the ground running," which a lot of people want, as well as that's what a lot of hiring managers want. They want someone who is minimalist on training and they can kind of come in, learn what they have to learn, and just boom, go for it. So that's how I do it. That's my tip when it comes to sourcing.

Ben (10:13):

No, that's a great tip, to be personalized and to lead with a question, to strike the interest as saying, "Well, hey, let's take a closer look at that." That's really great. And I assume too, that maybe a majority of people might not be interested. And similar to a sales role, you just have to stack up those losses and keep hunting and keep reaching out to people. And briefly, you touched on the importance of that candidate experience, of people coming through. So tell me a little bit more about that and why that's so important.

Kevin (10:44):

For me, it's important because again, I've been on the other side of the fence. So I've been a candidate where it's like, okay, I've interviewed. I've gotten to a certain point, and then I haven't heard anything for two months. And then you're like, "Well, what happened? Am I still in the running?" Things like that. So early in my career, when I first started to feel that and got into HR, I was like, "I never want someone else to feel that way." So I'm always on top of it. I make sure my candidates know. If you get the job or not, I make sure that everyone has the best experience.

Kevin Howard Quote 1

Kevin (11:13):

So if it comes to, "Hey, this is the process." I let everyone know in my initial phone screen, before I ask them any questions, I let them know what the process is, typically how long it takes. And with creating the SLA, which I spoke on earlier, I let all my candidates know, "This is where we're going. This is the speed. And it's up to you." So I kind of pass the ball to them. "We can move as fast as you can move."

Kevin (11:41):

So with that being said, if a hiring manager says yay or nay, I let them know probably within 15, 20 minutes of me finding out. So they're aware. And I'll say, "Hey, it wasn't right at this time, but we also have 15 roles opening up next month. So I think that will be great for this based off of the feedback of this manager." And that's all you really need for candidate experience for people who don't get the job, is to be a person. Let them know. Don't send a generic email like, "Hey, you're rejected. Next."

Kevin (12:16):

Us as recruiters, we do get busy and we do get to that point sometimes where we just want to do a mass rejection email, but it's always good to do the personalized quick boom, here you go. Because kind of what my parents always say, "You never burn a bridge." So you never know when you're going to need another candidate. And they're going to be like, "Hey, Kevin gave me a great experience and I would love to work for the company he's at." And that's what it's all about.

Kevin (12:46):

I actually have an interview later on today with someone who didn't get a role back in June of 2020, and we have a new role, and she was perfect for the role. She just was too junior. So this role's a little bit more junior. I called the hiring manager like, "Hey, what do you think remember this person?" And he's like, "Absolutely, just get her on the phone. If she's still interested, let's just make an offer." So it's those types of situations, where I'm able to talk to someone I haven't talked to in two years and say, "Hey, you remember when we had this interview and everything was going good, but we decided to go elsewhere? We're back."

Kevin (13:25):

That's really how I keep the candidate experience up. I started off as a coordinator and that was the big piece of it as well, that got me in a candidate experience. I used to have to bring candidates into the interview rooms and kind of break the ice and make sure that they were comfortable and not nervous and not jittery. So I would sit in the rooms with candidates and just kind of talk to them before an interview gets started, just so I can have them be at ease because interviewing is stressful, especially for people that are not recruiters, who don't do it every day. So just breaking the ice with people, making sure they feel comfortable before they're interviewing, and making sure I'm following up with them every step of the way. That's what candidate experience is to me. And that's the importance of it.

Kevin Howard Quote 2

Ben (14:13):

Yeah, that makes total sense. And not burning the bridge, like you mentioned, but also from a brand standpoint, of saying, "We didn't ghost you. We're upholding the culture that we're about," and that's all great. And the opening act too, of warming folks up for the interview, I love that. So what kind of tips do you have for folks going into interviews, to kind of ease the nerves a little bit and have a really outstanding interview?

Kevin (14:40):

Honestly, start off by always saying, "This is another human," sitting across the desk from you. So that's always the thing. You shouldn't ever be nervous. I know that people are looking for jobs. They may have been unemployed for a year, but don't be nervous. Be yourself, be prepared to speak on your qualifications. You've done the job in the past or you're currently doing the job if you're currently employed. So you know what you do. So you just be able to speak on what you do every single day. And end of the day, again, it's just another person across the table. The same person you're talking to, you've most likely talked to the same type of person in your current or your previous company. So it's the same exact thing. You just don't work for this particular company.

Kevin (15:28):

But the nerves, just don't be nervous. Just be prepared to speak on your qualifications. And as recruiters on the recruiting side of things, we should also be able to coach and not necessarily tell candidates, "This is what they're going to ask," but let them know like, "Hey, for part of this, there might be a presentation." So kind of let candidates know this is what to expect. And if candidates know what to expect and they don't think of the nerves part of it, they should be perfectly fine for interviews. And I would say, that's the biggest thing. And also check out the job description. Right before your interview, make sure you have the job description, make sure you have your notes from the recruiter screen. The recruiter explained the role to you. So you know, "Okay, this is what they're looking for." And be prepared. That's the best thing. Preparation is key.

Ben (16:19):

Yep, be prepared, and it's another human on the other side. So it's not letting the nerves get the best of you. And you mentioned briefly about a presentation. Now, since you're in the technical side of things, are there technical assessments that folks need to do to show that they know Python or show that they know some language?

Kevin (16:39):

Yes. Especially depending on the level. I see with higher-level roles, like lead positions, principle and above, you typically don't really get coding assessments or anything like that. Because if you got to that level, they're like, "There's a good chance you know how to code." But for junior engineers or junior tech people, or mid-level, there are different tech assessments. HackerRank has a lot of tests on there that you can take on your own. But usually, in the interview, we do have specific roles that there are tests. And we send them out to candidates. We let candidates know, "Hey." Again, when we do our initial call, that's one of the steps in the interview process. "We're going to send you this HackerRank test. The questions are going to be based around Python, Docker," whatever the tech stack is. So these are the questions.

Kevin (17:36):

Everything's automation now. So we get all the information. As soon as they fill it out, we get what they answer, the percentages, the score. And then we make a decision based off of that.

Kevin (17:47):

Another thing that happens is during a panel interview, they'll do what we're doing now, and do kind of like a Zoom and do a screen share. And they'll say, "Hey, write me some code. Write me a line of code." And on a spot, they'll type up code. Because again, like I just said, they do it every day. So if you can code, then you can code. So you should be able to do it because you do it every single day.

Kevin (18:12):

So that's kind of how I've always seen tech recruiting done, is either peer programming, which is like a share screen type of resource. When everyone was going to the office, we would have a board like this, and we would actually have to write it up and read it to make sure everything was the correct way. So that's kind of how our technical assessments go. And for most of my career, that's how all the technical assessments went.

Ben (18:38):

I've heard some horror stories of some pretty gnarly ones, with building complete apps and all that.

Kevin (18:43):

Oh, yeah.

Ben (18:46):

Yeah. It depends on the company, I guess. So how have you seen the recruiting industry change over the last decade that you've been doing this?

Kevin (18:58):

This is actually my 10th year of recruiting this year. Crazy to think it. It's changed a lot. Automation has changed a whole lot. I started out in banking. And the banking industry is very legacy-based. So with that being said, a lot of recruiters I've talked to have been a little bit nervous because they're like, "Are we going to be automated out of a job?" Which I don't think we ever will because even though a lot of people call it the people ops team or the people and culture team, we're HR, we're human. So we're always going to be the human part of the HR. So I don't think we'll ever be automated out of a job.

Kevin (19:38):

But how it's changing, and directly to your question, we used to have to do full-on Boolean searches, where we have to type up this long string of qualifications, of requirements, just to find the people with that talent. And now, we have places like LinkedIn, where it builds it up for you. All you have to do is, "Who's open to work? Who's more likely to respond? What are their skills? What's their title?" Everything's built up in five or six clicks. First having to type all these different brackets and copy that and save it into a spreadsheet. That's saved a lot of time, which is what the podcast is about. So over time, that's changed and saved us a lot of time in recruiting. So new recruiters, y'all got it great.

Ben (20:28):

They don't know the old ages of doing those long algorithms and things.

Kevin (20:34):

I remember that we used to have to get paper applications, where people used to actually walk in with paper applications and you had to actually take all that information and put it into the system manually. So that's changed. And then there are tools like Canvas, when it comes to diversity hiring, where you can just find minorities, people from LGBTQ+, just different platforms now that you can just reach out to everyone worldwide and find the talent. Certain places like or Glassdoor. There wasn't a Glassdoor. You can see how companies are now.

Kevin (21:15):

You can see on public LinkedIn, you can see what company is laying off a bunch of people. So for recruiters, we can go right there and say, "Hey, so unfortunate that happened. However, come over here. We're looking for wonderful people, just like you." So just as time goes on, technology just advances and it hits our industry pretty significantly. And it just makes for a way better recruiting experience personally. But the big thing, honestly, is just the technology. Technology has really changed recruiting. For me personally, as a tech guy and a tech recruiter, it's just getting better. It's just going nothing but up from here.

Ben (21:59):

That's great to hear that technology is helping you do your job instead of taking it away, which like you said, you're the human part of the HR. So I don't think you're in any jeopardy at all, but speak just about maybe this year too. Any trends that you're seeing kind of emerge nowadays?

Kevin (22:17):

That's a good question. With trends, I want to preference it. I don't think it should be a trend and it's not a trend, but diversity, equity, and inclusion are really big for me. So what I've been seeing lately, and I've actually talked to some other companies just about this as well, is a lot of what everyone's focusing on now is diversity and inclusion, which is really good. However, I don't think it should be a trend. I think it should be something that's engraved into the culture of companies, into the culture of people overall. So that's one of the big trends that I don't think should be a trend, it should be a cultural change and shift.

Kevin (22:57):

Now, off of that, the biggest trend when it comes to diversity, when it comes to recruiting is, again, technology. There are so many different platforms that are coming out or that are currently out that are really helping automate things and helping people save time. So scheduling platforms, where they can directly attach your personal calendar. Candidates can instantly put time on your calendar to schedule. So you don't have to do those extra steps. There are so many tools. There's the HackerRanks of the world, where instead of all of our engineers stopping from what they have to do for their day-to-day job, and having the right code and, "Okay, these are where my test questions are going to be." There's a whole platform that already has that built in. All we have to do is click a button and send it. So I think the trends are just going to be continually looking at what's the new technology and working with these smaller startups, working with the big players in the, I guess, the tech space of recruiting, and continually to integrate it into our system, to make it more automated.

Kevin Howard Quote 3

Kevin (24:10):

Automation is where we're going in 2022. That's where we are now. And it's the only way to go really because we're busy. As recruiters, we know what the unemployment number is throughout the nation. We know what the unemployment numbers are for our prospective places, in different countries, and throughout the world. So we have to automate because with us being the human part of human resources, we only have but so many hours in a day. So we have to manage our time effectively. And automation's the key. It's the easiest way. So that's the biggest trend. I would say definitely diversity is a focal point in just about every company I've seen, especially on the tech side. And just automation, we have to find easier ways to take some of the, I guess, the grunt work out of our day.

Ben (25:03):

Exactly, leveraging the tools to do more. So then you can focus on just that relationship building and everything. And I love your comment about the diversity and inclusion, that it shouldn't just be a checkbox to say, "Oh, well, we did it. And we hired these people." It's like, "Pull that into the culture and make it a part." Because getting everybody a seat at the table with differing opinions and backgrounds and everything, it's all going to lift everybody up. So it's really, really awesome. What would make a good technical hire? What are you looking for? What qualities are you looking for in a technical hire?

Kevin (25:38):

That's a great question. The recruiter's answer is: do they match the qualifications? What have they built? But to be honest, it's the person. Who are you? How are you? What's your communication style? How have you worked with your team? We're a smaller company. We're rapidly growing, but it's like a family. And most companies are, even regardless of the size, they're families. We're with each other virtually eight hours a day when we all were in the office, that's 40 hours a week. That's a lot of time. I've seen my candidates, I've seen my coworkers a lot more than I've seen my own family. So how are you as a person? How do you like to work with others? Do you like to be siloed? Which is all fine if you do, but culturally may not really work too well because you have to be around people.

Kevin Howard Quote 4

Kevin (26:38):

And then outside of that, from a technical aspect, it's what's your qualifications? And what are you looking to do? What are your aspirations? I personally don't necessarily think that everyone should just get a job, want to get into the job, and stay there. You should want to say, "Okay, if I'm a software engineer, my goal is to be a senior software engineer. Or I want to be a lead." I like that. That's what gets me going because I'm that way. I'm always thinking ahead. So when candidates and tech hires are like, "Well, yeah, I've done this. I've built this. Sold this amount of money. Brought in this much revenue." That's awesome. "But I want to be this or I want to join your company because I think there's some growth opportunities and I can get to here." That's what I look for in a technical hire. I think that's what makes really good employees overall, because it shows grit. It shows determination. It shows that you're thinking ahead.

Kevin (27:39):

And as companies and as, our CEO just walked past, as a C-level executive, you're always thinking that too. Where do we go from here? What's next? How do we be innovative? So when technical people are going to help build things, that's going to help our C-level executives get to that point that they want to get to, it all makes sense and it all works out. So that's what I personally look for in a tech hire.

Ben (28:05):

That makes total sense, of making sure that it's a cultural fit first and foremost, that you're going to jive with everything going on, and that ambition to do more and coming at it from, "This may be an entry-level thing, but I see my future with your company." So it's like, "I'm going to strive for more." That makes total sense. There's a post circulating recently, I'm not sure if you saw it, about a recruiter kind of giving a lowball estimate for salary for a candidate, because that's what the candidate asked for. So I'm curious, how do you handle salary negotiations or how should recruiters be handling salary negotiation?

Kevin (28:44):

Oh, that's a great question. That's a tricky one, Ben. I don't want the recruiting role to hate me for this. I believe that everyone should be paid equally. Again, with the diversity, equity, and inclusion side of things. For example, I'll be completely honest, because I told you I'm going to be candid. So being completely honest, I've seen women that I personally know start with the same title as a male counterpart and make significantly less. And that's something I don't believe in at all. So when I'm talking to a candidate and they ask for a salary range or I ask, "What's your salary expectation?" If we're budgeted for 150 and they're like, "Well, 89, 90K." I'm like, "My range is going to be 130 to 150." That's what I'm going to tell them.

Kevin Howard Quote 5

Kevin (29:40):

So we have a buffer room for the recruiting side of things, for the budgetary side, on the hiring manager side of things. But we also at TeleSign, and actually my previous two companies, we pay in certain bands. So certain ranges, we're not going to low ball anyone because, at the end of the day, we can't really afford it in the U.S. You can't, there's all these articles and posts about inflation right now and different things going up and no one really being able to afford housing and things like that. So it just wouldn't be fair practice to this low ball, especially that low. You shouldn't have to go 70, 80K under budget for a candidate. But a lot of companies do. And it is because money's tight, but we have the budget and we have the range that we know we can find the talent. And our philosophy from all of our executives is, if the person's talented, we'll find a place for them, and we'll make sure that they feel fairly paid and equal, and that's the equality part of DNI.

Kevin (30:55):

So that's how I think. People do get lowballed a lot. It does happen a lot. And a lot of people have been out of work and they just want to get back. They don't really care what they make, but that's not really fair. So I don't personally believe in it, to be honest with you, on a personal level, as a recruiter. That's just something I'm like, "Nah, I'm going to make sure you feel good. Because if you're paid well, then you're going to be like, 'I'm going to work here forever,' and that's my job." That's a good thumbs up for me, where I'm like, "Hey, Susan's been here for five years and she's making more than what she's made. It's still under budget, but it's spot on."

Ben (31:37):

That makes total sense, of being upfront and as transparent as possible. And with the marketplace being as competitive as it is, sometimes you have to go the higher of the range just to secure the talent, like you were saying.

Kevin (31:49):

That's all in culture. Because to that point, again, we're based in L.A. and I'm fighting with Amazon. I have friends at Google. I have friends at Meta. I have friends at Amazon. And we're fighting with them all the time. Like, "Hey, how do we get this talent from these big guys who have the stock options that we don't have and things like that?" So we have to make a fair offer because it's a candidate-driven market. They can go wherever they want to go. So we have to find them.

Ben (32:22):

Yeah, absolutely. And I'm curious, how many open recs are you hiring for in a given time period? Is it just mad that you got 10 or 12 open? Or how does that work?

Kevin (32:36):

Honestly, it depends on the time of the year and it just depends on basically what's happening. Like TeleSign right now, I think the sales recruiter, he's a peer of mine, the lead sales recruiter, he has like 70 openings right now or something ridiculous, on the engineering side. So my side of the fence, we have 36 openings for this year. And then, because now I'm the lead, so now I have the hiring plan for the next three years. So we already have our roles planned out. And any given time, it just depends on the time of year. Around this summer, I'll personally have about probably around 12 recs at one time. Mike, my product recruiter, he'll probably have around 15. And then Danielle, the junior recruiter, she'll probably have right around the same, right around 8 to 10 recs. And all different levels, from junior level all the way to, like right now I'm hiring a senior security architect. It's a super high level, director level. All over the fence.

Kevin (33:52):

I've also, my previous role, actually I had like 63 recs open at one time. So I'm a fast worker. 2019, I hired-

Ben (34:09):

But you can only work so fast.

Kevin (34:10):

Yeah. In 2019, I hired 218 people by myself. So I'm a workaholic sometimes, but now it's a lot more chill, for sure.

Ben (34:24):

Yeah. I can only imagine the workload and all the moving parts that you have to keep straight. And with all of the different programs you're using, like you mentioned the ATS, the tracking systems, and all that stuff. It's probably just a lot going on.

Kevin (34:38):

It's a lot, but it's okay. Someone has to do it, might as well be me.

Ben (34:46):

Okay. So you touched on a bit when you were telling us about sourcing, that you're leveraging LinkedIn. So for candidates, what are some things that can help them get noticed if they are maybe not necessarily looking for work, but just positioning themselves for opportunities in the future?

Kevin (35:03):

Wonderful question, Ben. The big thing I've seen, especially on the public side of LinkedIn. So one, there's a public side of LinkedIn, then there's LinkedIn Recruiter. So on the public side of LinkedIn, which everyone uses, I would say to put what you do, just like a resume. You should treat LinkedIn as a resume, an online resume. So what I've seen a lot lately from candidates is they'll have their LinkedIn and they'll have all their titles and the years they worked there. That's great. But we don't know as recruiters what you did there.

Kevin (35:39):

Like the titles are the same, but I've worked places where they didn't have software engineering. They had application analyst. They're the same thing. But unless you were in that space, you would never know that.

Kevin (35:50):

So you have to put responsible for whatever, put the text that you were using. That's another big piece on the technical side of things, even for different roles like sales. You want to put in the body of your job title, you want to put your sales goals, what were the numbers you hit, what were your KPIs, what initiatives did you create. Those are the things that are going to help recruiters, because we can look at your resume and... I forgot the stat. It was like 0.9 seconds or something like that, where that's how fast we look at resumes and know if we're going to move forward or not. So with LinkedIn, it's the same thing. We have to see what you do and not just your title. So that's the first thing.

Kevin (36:40):

The second thing I would always suggest is, this is another trick I'm going to share with everyone, join LinkedIn Groups. So there are groups on LinkedIn. If you're a software engineer, if you're a recruiter, there are groups of just other like-minded people who are from all different walks of life and they're sharing things in a software engineering group, like you said, new trends, what they're working on, coding questions, all different types of things. So if we have candidates that are going to join those groups, we're also in the groups of recruiters. I'm in a bunch of software engineering groups and I'm an English major. But I'm able to kind of come in, see what they're talking about, and talk shop with them. And then, when it's time to actually make an offer or make a request like, "Hey, we're also looking for people over here. We're using the same type of tech." And that's another way I kind of get in there with candidates.

Kevin (37:34):

So I would say, join LinkedIn Groups, definitely put things in the body of your LinkedIn, under your job title. And if you are looking for roles, you can actually click a button in LinkedIn that will actually say, "Open to opportunities." And LinkedIn does a really good job at trying to hide that you are looking from your current employer and your current team. So that goes to, again, the other side of LinkedIn, to the LinkedIn recruiter side, where we can click a button and see that you're open to work and your company won't see. So for passive candidates, that's the best way of doing it.

Ben (38:08):

Yeah, that makes total sense, of just adding the additional details, and some metrics if possible, and what you're doing, clarifying the role. Joining the groups is great advice too, just to be around like-minded people, just to share and grow and build your network that way. And a great opportunity for sourcers and recruiters to kind of sit on the sidelines and do double Dutch, jump in when it makes sense.

Kevin (38:32):


Ben (38:34):

Awesome. So what do you want people to know about recruiters?

Kevin (38:40):

We are typically, I always say, introverted extroverts. So we're usually a ball of energy, but we're also pretty introverted as well, it's the weirdest dynamic, for most recruiters. But honestly, it's a great field. I can speak for all recruiters, why not? We're really focused on helping others. At the end of the day, that's what we're in it for. I personally always feel, as cheesy as this may sound like, like a superhero in certain sorts because I've been unemployed, so I know when I'm talking to someone and they just get the joy just to hear my voice from the opportunity to get a role. There's no better feeling. And I think that's what is the biggest gem and what makes the recruiters feel the best, is that.

Kevin (39:37):

For the recruiters that have a harder time just trying to keep up with all the candidates, on the candidates’ side, know that we are talking to a lot of people and we don't mean it. Because a lot of recruiters will say, "I forgot to reach out to whomever today." But we're here for you and we're here to help you get a job and help you succeed. So if you're looking, we're looking for you as well. You just have to know where to look. That's my advice.

Ben (40:10):

That's great advice. So what's next for you, other than filling 100 and some odd roles?

Kevin (40:19):

Well, definitely that. So definitely starting there. But for me honestly, it's just continuing to grow. This is my 10th year in it. November 1st actually will be my 10-year mark in recruiting. So now, I'm doing things like this, meeting you, Ben, being able to jump on the podcast, share my experience. That's where I am. I'm okay. I'm set. I love life. So I'm really big on just helping others. I have a junior recruiter now, helping her develop into a super strong technical recruiter. We have a mid-level recruiter, he's going to be a senior recruiter soon. And just kind of helping them and giving them the gems I got and doing more of this. This is what my day consists of, meetings and trying to just give knowledge, because 10 years ago, so way back, I didn't really have that. I don't think there were any recruiting podcasts that I could talk on or hear or listen to and say, "Oh, this is an industry professional I can take gems from." We would have to wait until an annual conference, like SHRM or something.

Kevin (41:32):

So this is what's next for me, just continuing to pass on my information that I have, as well as network. That's what we do as recruiters, we network. So talk to other recruiters, talk to other technical recruiters, lead recruiters, managers, and just see what's out there, see what's happening, and be able to pass it back to my team and to my manager, and help us to continue to grow as a world.

Ben (41:58):

That sounds really awesome, that mentorship that you're doing and just growing your network, really, really great to hear. So where can folks go to learn a little bit more about everything that you and the team at TeleSign are working on?

Kevin (42:08):

Yeah, so definitely go to It's We're a global cross-industry platform when it comes to digital identity, fraud, and risk. So we're doing really well. We've doubled in size since COVID. So we're continuing to grow. We just made an announcement that we're going to be going public. So that's exciting news. But for me, you could check me out on LinkedIn. It's, I'm pretty sure /in/kevinhoward412. I'm from Pittsburgh. So that's Pittsburgh's area code. You can hit me up anytime. I'm always on LinkedIn. So I would love any connections and we can just chat about anything, even if it's not job related. Open book for you guys.

Ben (43:00):

Real great. We'll be sure to put that all up on the blog post that will get published for this. So Kevin, thank you so much for the candid look at the life of recruiting and everything, and for sharing your expertise with our audience. We appreciate you being on Get More Done. Enjoy the rest of your day, have an awesome week. Good luck with going public and all that good stuff coming your way at TeleSign, and hope you have a good one.

Kevin (43:24):

Thanks, Ben. Thanks everybody.

Ben (43:25):

All right. Thanks for listening. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Get More Done. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform, to get updates of future episodes. Want to be a guest? Reach out to or visit If you or your team want to automate your scheduling, sign up for our free two-week trial at What will you do with all the time that you save?

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