In this episode of The Headcount People, talent acquisition expert Amanda Gregg shares her insights on headcount management and the importance of a unified data source for recruitment success. She discusses how hiring managers and recruiters play a vital role in ensuring accurate information for a reliable single source of truth.

Key Highlights:

  • Building a robust tech stack with sourcing tools and ATS enhances productivity and efficiency.
  • Gathering compensation data facilitates informed decisions and better alignment with finance.
  • Understanding key performance indicators (KPIs) fosters collaboration with finance and other stakeholders.
  • The dynamic tech landscape and remote work environment have rekindled the focus on company missions and culture.

Amanda's engaging discussion offers valuable takeaways for talent acquisition professionals seeking innovative approaches to navigate the evolving job market.

Recruiting has emerged as a key business partner, and good people will always find a home. The possibilities are endless, and innovation will flourish even in challenging times.
–Amanda Gregg

Tune in for a wealth of knowledge and a glimpse into the future of talent acquisition.


00:00 - Amanda Gregg’s🔥Hottest Tip

02:07 - Tell us about your background in TA and current role at Second Front Systems

03:30 - How do you contribute to strategy discussions?

06:52 - What is the ultimate goal of a hiring strategy?

07:47 - How is your team structured and what does that look like?

09:37 - What does your hiring plan look like?

13:05 - What is the evaluation process for the roles and what is the timeline for it?

14:38 - Why is headcount management important?

17:27 - How do you do headcount planning?

19:47 - Can you explain cross-education among teams in practical terms?

25:14 - How can managers ensure a reliable single source of truth for all involved in hiring?

28:50 - What's the best tech stack for talent acquisition?

33:10 - How are you currently creating your hiring plan? Are you using spreadsheets or another tool?

35:49 - How do you effectively collaborate with the CFO and what role do KPIs and metrics play in this?

43:32 - What gives you optimism about the future of talent acquisition and scaling for larger companies in that market?

[00:00:00] Amanda Gregg: This market is very, very different where it's more about understanding what your needs are and being very strategic about what do you need, and not just about what you need today, but what do you, you need six months from now? And that really involves understanding what are the companies. Bigger goals

[00:00:27] Charlie Schrier: we're the headcount people. Our podcast [00:00:30] talks about all things headcount management, and our guests are the masters. If you're in charge of planning, managing, or reporting on headcount and headcount spend, we'll help you crack the code on this delicate dance by giving you strategies and tools and masters themselves.

[00:00:46] Make sure. Sure to subscribe and follow for every new episode right when it drops. Here's your host, Shar Macia.

[00:00:59] Welcome everyone [00:01:00] to the Headcount People Podcast. My name is Charlie Schreyer. You probably were expecting to see Tushar here, but I took the reins from Tushar today as the host of the Headcount People podcast. Amanda and I have worked on a few different projects in the past, so it made sense for me to jump in and and do the hosting for the headcount.

[00:01:18] People today we're really excited to have, uh, talent acquisition. Specialist, expert, guru, whatever you want to call her on the Headcount People Podcast. And it's Amanda Greg. She's the Talent [00:01:30] Acquisition Manager at Second Front Systems. Amanda, welcome. Thanks so much for being with us today. 

[00:01:35] Amanda Gregg: Awesome. Really excited to be here.

[00:01:37] Thank you so much for having me. Excited to talk about talent acquisition and headcount planning. 

[00:01:42] Charlie Schrier: Yeah, let's do it. Let's do it. So before we jump into to the meat of the, the conversation, it would be great to hear a little bit about, you know, your role today, the company that you're at, second front systems, what some of your key initiatives are, maybe what your team looks like.

[00:01:58] I know it's a little bit earlier [00:02:00] stage than your normal. Startup. So yeah, just tell us a little bit about what you're doing today at at second front. 

[00:02:05] Amanda Gregg: Yeah, so I am the first dedicated recruiter, talent acquisition person at Second Front Systems. I've been here just about three months now, so still very new in my role.

[00:02:15] As you mentioned, it's the first series, a company that I've been at. I have about 15 years experience in high growth tech startups with a few larger company stints along the way. But this is my first series A. So while I love the chaos and I, I [00:02:30] love it here, it definitely. You, you really see the difference when you get into series B in terms of what kind of structures and systems have been in place.

[00:02:37] And when you're in a Series A, a lot of those things are in the forming stage, which is really exciting to get to be here. And part of the discussion around everything from performance management to sourcing tools to headcount planning versus. Even stepping in at a Series B, not being the first recruiter on the ground, often a lot of those have already sort of been in motion and get to come [00:03:00] in and influence them, but to get to be part of the forming stage is really exciting.

[00:03:04] Charlie Schrier: Absolutely. And so as you are exploring a lot of that formation and, and performance and tools and all of those kinds of things, who, who are you collaborating with as that part of the organization and, and how do you see your role as being the guide or being the supporter, or how do you fit into some of those bigger conversations as you're forming the strategy?

[00:03:26] For a lot of, you know, the talent acquisition 

[00:03:29] Amanda Gregg: pieces, [00:03:30] Yeah, so I think in it, it's internally I work really closely with our director of operations, our C O O, our C F O, and then all of the business, you know, all of both from C-level, you know, to to to next level down all of the teams as they're sort of putting their, their strategies in together in terms of hiring.

[00:03:48] Whereas prior to me being here, our director of operations, with some help from a recruiting or from a PeopleOps coordinator, just sort of. Were constantly in [00:04:00] reactive mode, so they weren't able to really proactively go out there and recruit. They were, weren't really able to provide the right guidance for managers and, and folks to think about strategically what they needed.

[00:04:10] And so it's fun getting to. Push back and have people pause and really think a little bit more strategically about what they need going forward, but balance that with the need to still go fast because we closed our series A in at the end of 2022, which was really an exciting time to close when a lot of companies were really [00:04:30] struggling to get favorable funding.

[00:04:31] And so we still, there's still some urgency and some need to hire so that we can keep the momentum going and it's. In this stage for my career, it feels a balance of knowing how to ask the right questions while still having the flexibility to like move forward. So I've told a lot of, of, a lot of my hiring managers, they get a pass where I'm, I'm moving forward and, and pushing people through without the.

[00:04:57] The structure built out the way I want it to be long-term [00:05:00] because of where we're at and, but, but that they should not expect that this is the way it's going to be going forever. So a lot of it is just expectation setting, understanding what we need to do in this moment right now, knowing that that's not what the end goal is gonna be.

[00:05:14] You know, six months, a year, a year and a half. From now, and I also rely really heavily, I've got a couple of Slack network groups that I'm on, former teams that I've been on. There's one network that a former Coinbase and Airbnb recruiter started that is got a lot of early stage [00:05:30] recruiters from a lot of different companies.

[00:05:31] Some I've worked with, some I haven't. And that's been a great private network where people just will throw questions out there and it's a great place for me to brainstorm with people who are in my field that I don't get to work with, you know, day to day in my role. 

[00:05:45] Charlie Schrier: Love that. And, and I, so there's a few things that you talked about that I really, that I really love and, and in our previous events and conversations, you've done a lot of the same thing where the, the first thing is that I wanna mention is those Slack groups.

[00:05:57] If you wouldn't mind sharing those, we can maybe, we'll, [00:06:00] we'll circle up on this afterwards and we can put those in some of the comments. Uh, for the podcast afterwards for, for resources for our audience. But the one thing that you mentioned that I thought was really great was just around expectation setting.

[00:06:10] And I feel like that's such an important piece of the puzzle, especially whether you're growing or whether you're scaling back or whether you're just pausing on hiring altogether, that understanding the expectations of, you know, your role as well as the finance roles. What are the hi hiring managers.

[00:06:25] Just having that clear understanding and, and expectation setting [00:06:30] across the board is such an important piece that I think. Can sometimes get lost, especially when you're sitting on Zoom calls all day long and you just kind of want to get to the next thing and get things done and check the boxes. It's very easy to kind of lose sight of what are we really trying to achieve with our hiring strategy?

[00:06:46] And not so much just let's get people through the door, or let's do you know, whatever sort of initiative 

[00:06:51] Amanda Gregg: we have. Change management. I, I feel like that is a term that just keeps coming up. Whether you're rolling out new tech, whether you're implementing new [00:07:00] process, it's, it's a soft skill that is so critical and I think often gets overlooked.

[00:07:07] I think we have high expectations that people in tech are adaptable and can pick up new technologies, which is absolutely true. If you're working in a high growth tech environment, you can pick up new technologies. But setting expectations around, timelines around kinda acknowledging like we're gonna be doing things differently and, and, you know, sometimes you just need to hear that messaging multiple times [00:07:30] before it sticks.

[00:07:31] Charlie Schrier: Sure. Sure. And we'll, we'll talk much more about that as it relates to headcount management. So I want to just quickly bring us back to your team. If, do you have a team right now? Are you, you know, a solo artist? How, how would, how is your team structured and like, what does that look like at at, 

[00:07:46] Amanda Gregg: at this point, I.

[00:07:47] So I am a solo artist. I do have a really phenomenal people ops coordinator, so she can jump in and help me with some scheduling stuff, which is glorious. But otherwise, I'm doing everything tech, talent [00:08:00] acquisition, as well as some of our like HR initiatives as well. So rolling out things like lattice or performance management, employee engagement tool.

[00:08:08] So there's a, it's fun 'cause I'm getting to wear a lot of hats, but I'm the only person doing recruiting. So in the three months since I've joined, probably heard about. A dozen people, both kind of a, a combination of intern conversions. We are in the defense tech space, which is really interesting and different.

[00:08:26] So we've got access to this really wonderful pool of interns called Skill [00:08:30] Bridge interns that are transitioning out of active military duty to get exposure to the private sector. So we've converted a handful of those, but then also wanting to bring in. Other talent from the private sector as well to, to mix with sort of that strong veteran community that we have here.

[00:08:44] So, you know, going out and sourcing for the first time where the team really hasn't had the capacity to do that. Building out more structured interview processes that haven't, haven't really existed in the past. Built out interview training, you know, building question banks. So it's, it's. Putting in a lot of [00:09:00] infrastructure that will help us scale.

[00:09:02] And, you know, again, trying to get executive leadership and, you know, the IC managers to also buy into this process and, and kind of change their ways of working. And overall it's been really well received. I think people are, Excited to have some structure where there, once what, you know, what was not any structure.

[00:09:21] Charlie Schrier: Yeah, definitely. And, and as you're, so you talked about, you've hired around, you've brought on around 12 new folks this year. What does your hiring plan, if you [00:09:30] can share overall, kind of look like maybe, you know, for the rest of this year and maybe going forward if you have that thought out so far? Yeah.

[00:09:38] We're 

[00:09:38] Amanda Gregg: actually in the middle of looking at what the second half of the year looks like right now. So our C F O actually joined just a few weeks before I did, and so it was great that we joined around the same time. We were able to connect directly early on saying, okay, we wanna work together on this. I wanna make sure finance, you know, that, that we're speaking the same language.

[00:09:58] So, You know, durvis are, are [00:10:00] CFOs in the same process of building out a lot of infrastructure for the finance org and, you know, getting control on burn and, and making sure that we're going to make the most of our, our series A. So it's, you know, we are both very much aligned on. Having right now, having weekly syncs on what current headcount is open, making sure I'm looping them in.

[00:10:21] If, you know, we've scoped a role for a level three, it's looking more like we were gonna hire a four or five. You know, again, early stage you [00:10:30] have the flexibility to do that. I think as you get later, it's, it's so critical in headcount planning that you really understand the levels you're hiring for and why, because.

[00:10:40] Two level ones are, are gonna cost very, you know, it's a very different cost than bringing in a senior manager. And so, you know, right now we're also building out kind of the infrastructure about what our career frameworks look like. So we've got comp tools, we've got Carta, you know, we've got kind of access to the tools that a lot of people in the industry have.

[00:10:56] So I think Comp, while was [00:11:00] bananas in 2020 or 2021 during the boom, I think it's leveled down a little bit. We, there's a lot of great access out there, especially also with all the pay transparency laws. So it's about really understanding, you know, what level you're hiring for. At our size. Those things tend to, to, I think, fluxx a little bit more than when you're later stage and you can really like lock in.

[00:11:20] But I think all of the, like having a good understanding and make sure that, making sure that finance and talent both speak that same language when it comes to, it's not [00:11:30] just about the number of heads you're hiring for, it's about. You know what, what level we're hiring for are, are we really looking for ics?

[00:11:38] Can we hire people that are really early in career that are generally gonna cost a little bit less, but then the managers are gonna need more bandwidth to get them onboarded? What does our onboarding program look like? All of these things, like part of the same, you know, people, ecosystem. 

[00:11:55] Charlie Schrier: Yeah, definitely.

[00:11:55] Absolutely. There's, there's so much more to a hiring plan as you've alluded to, [00:12:00] than just, we're gonna hire a hundred people. Right? And I think that is the type of value that talent leaders need to be able to bring, and HR leaders to a certain extent as well. But talent is really where a lot of that knowledge and understanding and operational under like execution kind of sits in.

[00:12:17] In other words, that. A hiring manager kind of has a certain number of, you know, they have the objectives they need to hit, they understand this is how many people I need to get there. And I think it's that, that's where I, I imagine that [00:12:30] you feel your role is to come in and be able to understand some of the sequencing, the compensation, planning.

[00:12:35] How are you gonna actually be able to evaluate these different roles? What is, you know, what does a timeline, you know, really look like, et cetera, et cetera. And to think about it from that holistic perspective as well as your own team. And, and I know right now you're, you're, you're running solo, but. In the past, you've managed, you know, recruiters and, and talent acquisition teams and how you plan out how you'll actually execute against that plan based on the leveling and based on the sequencing [00:13:00] and based on, you know, what regions and, and areas they're gonna be in, and all of those kinds of 

[00:13:05] Amanda Gregg: things.

[00:13:06] In. In my last role, I was managing a team of seven, so I had a recruiting ops person, and then we had six IC recruiters across technical and non-technical roles. And that was a time I joined and we doubled the org from a hundred to 200 in six months. And so in that role, headcount planning was, you know, imperative because I had six [00:13:30] recruiters who were, you know, firing on all cylinders and.

[00:13:33] Anytime you made a pivot to a role, when you have that much headcount you're working on, can really throw off your ability to hit headcount targets. And I think this market is very, very different where it's more about understanding what your needs are and being very smart. And I think this is gonna continue being very strategic about, because everyone has limited head.

[00:13:55] Headcount, what do you need? And, you know, thinking not just about what you [00:14:00] need today, but what do you, you need six months from now? And that really involves understanding what are the company's bigger goals. So like, what are the bigger product priorities and, and how does headcount impact that? Whereas I think, you know, we go back to 2021.

[00:14:14] It was really like, hire as much as you can, as fast as you can. You know, the, the money was swung and it was, it was great, but it was also really chaotic and frankly exhausting for recruiters. 

[00:14:26] Charlie Schrier: I imagine so, I imagine so, so you started to allude to this a little bit and, and [00:14:30] so let's get to, you know, the, the, the meat of what we want to talk about today, which is headcount management.

[00:14:36] Why is headcount management important? 

[00:14:40] Amanda Gregg: Account management is important because it allow, if, if a company doesn't have a good handle on, especially a small early stage company, have a good handle on who's doing what kind of across the organization or where the gaps are, you're never gonna be able to execute against bigger business priorities.

[00:14:58] So of course this all, you know, [00:15:00] all of the people function comes into play here When you think about performance management and you know how you're running your review cycle and. And, and you know, leveling frameworks and all of those things. But again, if you've got those things styled in, then you really can leverage good headcount planning to fill in those gaps in, in ways that are really efficient.

[00:15:20] And I. The constant dance between finance and recruiting, right? Recruiting always wants to hire, wants to be in growth mode and finances, [00:15:30] especially in today's market, really thinking actively about, okay, how can we work smarter, not harder? How can we do more with less? And so, you know, it's that, that dance, that balancing act.

[00:15:40] And I think if you've got finance and recruiting on the same page and understanding all the different variables that go into play, and this involves both. I think recruiting, getting educated on finance. One of the, the, actually we just had our C F O come talk to our operations team about, you know, some of the, the big finance [00:16:00] milestones and metrics that we're looking to hit.

[00:16:01] And I think edu if, if finance really can educate your talent acquisition team, it allows them a, to grow their own, you know, their own career. And trajectories and like widen their knowledge base. But I think it creates a little bit less tension between the two words because again, we're all moving towards the same goal.

[00:16:18] And I think same thing is educating, making sure finance is aware of what's happening in the talent market, right? So understanding that, you know, during certain times, you know, right now there's a lot of great talent on [00:16:30] the market and, and companies have a little bit more flexibility and a little bit more, you know, there's, there's.

[00:16:36] We don't have to move quite as quickly as we were in the past 'cause candidates were gonna get snapped up really fast. But also making sure that that finance knows about different trends in the market. If you know, again, during like the e-commerce boom with C O V I D, you know, a lot of market marketing folks, beca, you know, their salary ranges started to go up and that was a big shift in the market.

[00:16:56] Same thing with recruiting during sort of the 2021 boom. [00:17:00] And finance isn't always gonna stay current on those. Because they, they're not really integral to their day-to-day, but they ultimately are, 'cause headcount is always the biggest, you know, budget line item. So I think it's like having that, you know, curiosity and interest in, in wanting to understand where both sides are coming from.

[00:17:18] And that means educating yourself and learning to kind of speak different languages. Can you 

[00:17:23] Charlie Schrier: tell us basically, how do you do headcount planning? 

[00:17:28] Amanda Gregg: I think headcount planning is really a [00:17:30] combination of top down and bottoms up. So it for us starts with a spreadsheet and kind of getting an understanding from each of the managers what it is that they're looking for, what they think they need to accomplish their KPIs for, for, for us, the second half of the years, kind of how we're doing it now, and then going up to executives and, and making sure that they're in line with that everybody.

[00:17:53] Always asks for more headcount than they're gonna get. And so it's kind of a combination between those two things. And then finance, [00:18:00] I think realistically pushing back based on things like revenue targets and, and customer goals, especially, you know, in a series A where we've set very lofty goals in terms of the number of apps that we're looking to acquire.

[00:18:12] So it's really that mix of top down and bottoms up. And from there, the, the spreadsheet is born for what we're gonna be working on for the second half of the year, and then, We have, you know, weekly syncs. That means that we may need to edit things. So occasionally, you know, [00:18:30] Actually, for example, just recently we had two partnerships rules approved.

[00:18:34] We wanted to sequence them, so hire the higher level one first, and then the more junior candidate. Ultimately, after we made the higher level candidate headcount, he was, the person we hired was a little more seasoned and then what we were initially budgeting for, so we decided to cut the lower. Level role to save that, to save some budget, but also make sure that the team was getting what they really needed in that moment.

[00:18:54] So it's, it's a truly iterative process, but you're sort of working from that spreadsheet as, as the [00:19:00] source of truth, but you're just updating it on a regular basis. 

[00:19:06] Charlie Schrier: And, and so you've already started talking a little bit about what best practices look like as it relates to finance and talent and making sure that there's really close alignment.

[00:19:18] And I think, you know, some of the things that you talked about were really just about being able to cross educate across the different teams. What does that look like in, in practice? Like where, where have you seen that done really [00:19:30] well and what is the cadence and, and what's the communications, you know, channel and, and style that you've seen where things that you were able to share really, you know, hit home for the C F O or the, the leader in finance and vice versa for, for, for that person to you and your team.

[00:19:47] Yeah, 

[00:19:48] Amanda Gregg: great question. And I think some of it, first, there has to be the interest there, and I think, again, like curiosity is key and I, I've seen it on a lot of companies becoming a, a, a very common value for companies, which I, I really [00:20:00] appreciate. I think. Some of it, it's a mix of async and live, you know, you've gotta have the right tools in place.

[00:20:07] In, frankly, in my past experience, it's almost always been like an Excel or, you know, a G Sheet is, is in the status quo. And so you've, you know, you've got a populated, you can run some great automations with your, you know, applicant tracking system to pull in as roles, get filled and populate data. A tool like, oh, team Ohana is, you know, exactly.

[00:20:29] Needed, I think [00:20:30] in this market as things change really dramatically, and it allows for things to be a lot more centralized and a little bit more user friendly than than a a g Sheet, but typically what I have found best is I. I think this is one of the things that, like a live meeting is, is really necessary for.

[00:20:46] So what I found in my last company, in this one is there's just a weekly meeting with finance. You've got an agenda, right? I think no meeting is, is worth it if you don't have an agenda going into it. And whether that's depending on, you know, for our size and stage it, it is really [00:21:00] more about going through line by line in each role and like where we're at, how close we are to filling it, what our projected start date is.

[00:21:05] 'cause those are the numbers that finance really needs. It doesn't cost them anything until there's a role. Until there is, you know, a person in that seat and, and, and payroll's getting kicked in versus on the recruiting side, it's all the, that, everything leading up to that is, is our work. And so it's really about, you know, giving them current updates and then also it's a chance for recruiting to, to kind of articulate what, what they're seeing in the [00:21:30] market is, you know, I think back to my time at Postscript and for whatever reason we were hiring for a head of demand gen and it was, it seemed like a role that everybody was hiring for in the market.

[00:21:43] And these people were, you know, where they were, they just weren't moving. Their compensation was going up, up, up from where it had been a couple of years ago. So even the comp data we had and. Option, impact. All of those tools that are out there was a little bit outdated. And so it's having those meetings [00:22:00] and, and then getting to reset expectations with financing.

[00:22:03] Hey, we had scoped this budget for the role. I have spoken to six candidates and we are 20% below what every single one of them said. And yes, that's a small data set, but for certain roles you're only gonna have small data sets. And so it allows for that dialogue and then, you know, finance to do all they need to do in their budget planning and then for recruiting to either understand.

[00:22:26] Hey, we need to either re-scope the role because we don't have the [00:22:30] budget, and you know, then, then recruiting can go off and work with the hiring manager and the team, you know, the hiring team to make sure that they're resetting their expectations or they say, you know, finances, okay, we're gonna increase this budget.

[00:22:41] And it just, it just allows for no surprises. And so I think those weekly conversations, and they can just be 15 minutes. Sometimes it's, you know, or sometimes you cancel it, you have a Slack channel and it's, Hey, everything's tracking. Nothing new to report. Everything's, you know, on track for what we've discussed and, you know, you [00:23:00] save everybody 15, 30, you know, 30 minutes.

[00:23:01] So I think it's about really having just a developing, whether it's async live, For the, the finance and recruiting teams to find that right cadence. And I think keeping that meeting small is also really critical. So those are the types of meetings I would not pull my entire recruiting team into. I would make sure I'm, I'm cascading that information down.

[00:23:23] 'cause I think part of a recruiting leader is growing other recruiters to learn why those conversations are important. But you don't wanna have [00:23:30] too many cooks in that kitchen for that analogy because, It, it will just, it, it will block you to getting, you know, to, to a realistic outcome. So you wanna make sure that the stakeholders who are the decision makers are the ones that are in the room.

[00:23:45] A lot to unpack 

[00:23:46] Charlie Schrier: there. Yeah. Sorry. That was a lot. That's okay. It's, it's good. It it, but I think what you've done in, in a way is started to, you know, share just how bulky and. [00:24:00] Spiky headcount management can sometimes be, and you've also talked a lot about how there's, you know, there's meetings, there's conversations, there's sharing.

[00:24:09] You, you both have to be working from a single source of truth that both of you can trust. And so I think where, where my head started to go was, how do you make sure that that single source of truth that you're looking at is. Pulling in the right pieces of information and, and in, in, in my mind I'm thinking about, you know, where do the [00:24:30] hiring managers come into all of this, if at all.

[00:24:33] Where do other, you know, individual recruiters, as you said, kind of come into this, if you're leading this meeting and not bringing all the cooks in the kitchen? I. When you go into that meeting, you gotta make sure that you have your ducks in a row and that your team has made their proper updates around where things are in the funnel.

[00:24:49] And and finance has to do the same, especially as it relates to current employees, so that you're starting to pull together current and and future that is in pipeline. And then also understanding what are some of the approved roles that are [00:25:00] out there in the future that the hiring managers maybe are still interested in, in where we stand with those.

[00:25:04] So it's a long-winded question, but yeah. How, how do you see hiring managers fitting in and making sure that that single source of truth is something that you all can trust? Yeah, 

[00:25:15] Amanda Gregg: I, I mean, I think the, the reality is, and again, team Mohan really plays into this is. Tooling has gone so much better in the TA landscape over the last like five to 10 years.

[00:25:27] Even the ATSs, and I know, you know, [00:25:30] greenhouse and Lover are sort of like the top two for, for startups. I know Ashby is like very new to the market and picking up traction really quickly as well. So part of it is data cleanliness and I think, you know, this is one of the harder things in my career as a recruiter.

[00:25:46] It's the, the most painful part is, you know, Making sure that like when, you know, when I was just in a pure IC recruiter role is making sure to carve out the time weekly for that. Data cleanse, make sure your candidates are all up to [00:26:00] date. Make sure everyone's in the right stage so that the reporting that sits on top of that, whether it's talent, wall, ashby, whatever tools you're using that you, that as, especially if you're lead leading a large team like I was in my last role, that I can pull a report out of, you know, greenhouse talent, wall lever, whatever system I'm using, and no.

[00:26:22] What, you know, what recruiter is working on, what, what is a status update? And so I think, you know, those are, it's, those are really critical [00:26:30] pieces and you have to, that comes into the, you know, the, the talent leadership pieces. You know, making sure that you have a team that's accountable for, you know, what they're working on, and making sure, you know, whether it's an evergreen role of CSS reps that you're, you know, lather, rinse, repeat, filling a ton up, or it's, you know, head of demand gen, that's a, you know, very.

[00:26:51] Tight market hard to fill, where the, the pipeline's gonna be a lot smaller. So really just making sure your recruiters have accurate data. And then I think [00:27:00] being able to pull a report to share with finance or the executive team from whatever data sources you're using, and distill it down so that they're just getting what they want out of it.

[00:27:10] Because they don't care. They want funnel metrics, but like, they don't, they're not interested in looking at like specific, you know, Profiles or interview feedback. You know, they wanna know why or why is only 20% getting from, you know, onsite to offer. Like, why is our, why is our pass through rate [00:27:30] solo? And those, you know, that, that facil, those facilitate much different.

[00:27:33] Really valuable conversations with hiring managers and with executive leaders. So that's very much something that I think is helpful for finance to know because some of those pass through rates directly impact like how quickly you can fill certain roles. If they're hiring for their own roles, they need to understand those things.

[00:27:51] But that's, to me, falls a little more squarely into like pure talent acquisition, that there are things that have evolved and gotten so much better over the last couple of 

[00:27:59] Charlie Schrier: years. [00:28:00] Yeah, and, and I want to come back to some of those KPIs as well, because you started to mention some of those and how those.

[00:28:06] Interplay with what finance is doing and with what hiring managers are doing and how all of that rolls up to the executive suite, which is an awesome conversation that I do wanna come back to. So I've got a note to come back to that. But you also mentioned tools, and I think now is an interesting time to talk a little bit about.

[00:28:24] Now, at least in the podcast time, it, it's an interesting time to talk about tools and what tools [00:28:30] you're using right now, and maybe in your own current role, things are really fresh and so you're figuring out what tools are even out there still and, and what's changed maybe since the last, you know, role you were in.

[00:28:42] But at the same time, what do you see kind of as a best in class tech stack for, you know, head of talent acquisition like yourself? I. 

[00:28:50] Amanda Gregg: Yeah, I think you have to have a good sourcing tool. Unfortunately, you know, LinkedIn is still kind of the, the, the name of the game. I know that that [00:29:00] gem, and there's been a lot of other ones out there.

[00:29:02] I had a LinkedIn seat when I joined. I'm happy with that. It's, you know, what I'm, what I'm comfortable with, what I'm familiar with. I think the a t s capabilities, again, have gotten so much better. I'm using Lover now. I actually really like it for our size and stage. It's got some good scheduling capabilities built in.

[00:29:19] It saves me and our coordinator a lot of time. I've also had great success with Greenhouse. I've had been in Greenhouse in multiple other places, and so those are my two probably [00:29:30] most common experiences right now. Again, heard a lot about Ashby, seen a demo of it, but haven't gotten to be in, in there too much.

[00:29:37] And then from there, that's all I have at the moment with in my current role. At second Front, at my last role, we also had good time for scheduling, which was a really outstanding tool, especially when you've got a lot of complex scheduling and you don't have a coordinator and it's great for remote. I think they've.

[00:29:54] They've done some great building of, of capabilities for, you know, multi-day scheduling [00:30:00] and, you know, dealing with lots of time zones and giving candidates the ability to reschedule things on their own. So very like user-friendly. And then we used talent, well when I was at Postscript for our, for our like data tool on top.

[00:30:12] And it was really great. Again, for the size and stage it was, we were post series. They had just closed their series C when I, or not just, but I had rolled off after their series C, and so we had about 220 people. My team unfortunately, had gotten slashed before. I was also impacted in that role, but when we were at [00:30:30] our peak and I had six different recruiters, it was a really great tool for me to be able to.

[00:30:34] Look at and pull each of them out and see exactly like what their passthrough rates were, what kind of volume they were looking at. And so I think part of it is a lot of the tools do a lot of the same things. It's about setting them up and what I'm realizing now as I'm coming in to Lever, already having been set up, it's about.

[00:30:52] Harboring out the time to go back and clean it up and make sure that it's set up the way that is going to help us scale [00:31:00] going forward. And that is usable. So, you know, setting up tags so that we can actually revisit candidates, making sure we're capturing comp data in there. That's a really critical piece I think, especially to be able to share with finances, collecting comp data in, in real time.

[00:31:14] And I think candidates. Being a lot more open about sharing compensation. There's a lot of laws that have been passed that now we are, you know, posting compensation bans. And I actually really appreciate how far we've come in those conversations because I do think it, it helps us keep, uh, [00:31:30] keep a hand on the pulse of like what's happening in real time in the market, which it is shifting, but also we can then feed that data directly back to finance to provide that, that data that they want.

[00:31:41] When we're, we're, when we're saying, hey, We need to increase the salary by 20%. They're not just gonna take that at its word, right? Like we've gotta be able to provide the data. So, so yeah. So I think it's about having the right A T Ss a good sourcing tool. And then I think from there it's about size and stage.

[00:31:56] So scheduling, I think the. Recruiting operations has [00:32:00] done a lot to automate what you used to need recruiting coordinators or sourcers to do. I think now a phenomenal recruiting operations person can fill a lot of those gaps in and is critical with the, I would say like when you talk about people in the room, a good recruiting ops person is gonna be really critical to all those headcount planning because they may not have.

[00:32:22] Spots like strategically around why we should do certain things or kind of the pulse on what's happening in the market. But [00:32:30] what they will do is help you build a lot of efficiencies and make sure that like finance is getting the data that they want from, you know, from your a t s. 

[00:32:38] Charlie Schrier: Right. And, and that was.

[00:32:39] Gonna be part of my next question, which is finance. Are they using kind of specific, if we're we're thinking about headcount planning, headcount management as a whole, is finance using an fp and a tool as part of that process, or are they primarily relying on spreadsheets for their forecasting? And, and, and then same goes for the, the hiring plan question.

[00:32:57] How, how are you building that hiring plan? Is it in [00:33:00] spreadsheets? Is it in a different tool? So we've heard from other folks that they do different things in monday.com. How are, how are you building out your actual like plan and. And the forecast. 

[00:33:11] Amanda Gregg: So when, well, this is way back when, but when, when I was at Asana, and that was my first kind of foray into Jason headcount planning.

[00:33:17] We used Asana for everything because it's, it's, you know, it's a project management tool. When I was at Nike and had very little insight into it, it was all in, everything was in Workday. And then more recently, the [00:33:30] last two roles that I've been, the last three roles that I've been in, it's all been spreadsheets.

[00:33:33] So. Mm-hmm. So even if, even if finance is using a different tool for like fp and a. The, the data that we're sharing has always been in an in, in an Excel sheet, right? Or a, 

[00:33:45] Charlie Schrier: or a Google sheet. It, it's not uncommon. I mean, it's, it's, it's probably the most effective tool, you know, up to this point that you would be able to do those kinds of things as far as collaboration, make sure that the data is there and then you would, I imagine [00:34:00] you would have multiple people updating different spreadsheets and potentially making different copies for different hiring managers and starting to work through things that way.

[00:34:09] Amanda Gregg: Yeah. You know, I would say hiring managers typically, In my experience, haven't gotten so granularly involved beyond what their roles are. So really, like a good a t s is gonna, you're gonna be able to get everything, you know, pull the reports you need from that. You shouldn't need to mess with the, like, source of tree spreadsheets to share with, to share with hiring managers.

[00:34:29] [00:34:30] Maybe like at the executive level if they wanna see. You know, if your c t o wants to see everything that's, you know, open in the product design end org and, and sort of like what, what expected time to hire could be. But for the most part, hiring managers should be, be able to work pretty eff effectively in like, I.

[00:34:46] The dashboards tool or in, in the a t s itself. 

[00:34:52] Charlie Schrier: So I want to come back now to that conversation that I tabled earlier, which is really around KPIs and metrics that you're able to use to more [00:35:00] effectively communicate with your partners in finance, your partners that are, you know, hiring managers and department leaders.

[00:35:07] Maybe let's start with just finance, and you talked a little bit about this already, so maybe there will be a little bit of overlap in in the answer, but maybe you could work in this time how KPIs fit into that conversation. Like what are some best practices for talent acquisition leaders to more effectively work with A C F O or head of fp and a?

[00:35:28] You talked about the great [00:35:30] relationship that you've already started to build with your current C F O. That's fantastic. You know, you had a slight edge because you both started around the same time. It's earlier stage, there's not as many people, but even at some of your previous roles, like what have you seen work as far as how to work best with the C F O and how do, how do KPIs and metrics funnel into that, that discussion?

[00:35:50] Amanda Gregg: Yeah, so great question and I think different answers depending on different parts of the org, right? So when you've got sort of your growth or go to market side, typically [00:36:00] you're. Your chief revenue officer, whom whomever is kind of overseeing that org, is gonna have their metrics very dialed in right around, you know, every B D R is gonna be, you know, generate this much revenue.

[00:36:12] Every sales person is gonna hit this, this many sales targets. So in revenue generating rules, and I think it's generally easier and, and can make a stronger argument because also those, you know, you have non-performers, you've got the metrics really clear like. They're not hitting their sales [00:36:30] targets or they're not hitting their, you know, if it's like a, you know, s e o role role, they're not hitting certain, certain metrics.

[00:36:36] So I think those are like very ratio focused. And what is helpful about that is the company will set a revenue target for the year, and you work backwards and assume you need so many enterprise sales reps. You need so many, you know, Sales develop sales development reps, and so you can kind of get those ratios and work with finance and you know, Sometimes things wobble a little bit or [00:37:00] if the, if, if there's a dramatic change in the revenue targets, then that's gonna, that's gonna really impact what headcount is.

[00:37:07] But I think in general that's a little bit more straightforward 'cause it's very clearly numbers driven. And, and I think that there's just more alignment across the board that like, Revenue generating roles and engineers typically have more flex for headcount than a cost center, like recruiting or, you know, it, or just any, any roles that is, are essentially more like [00:37:30] internally facing HR that are there that tend to be cost centers.

[00:37:33] So I think that's pretty straightforward. Engineering, I think, in a lot of ways, or, or product design and engineering also fairly straightforward is, you know, they have hopefully the, the product roadmap built out for. Whether it's quarter to quarter or for the, the full year, they understand, you know, what milestones they're hitting for, you know, shipping a new product fit, shipping new features, and, and in theory, your engineering leadership sort of has built out like, okay [00:38:00] for, you know, I.

[00:38:01] Every feature, you know, it roughly requires a product manager, you know, a pod of however many engineers, and so you can kind of plan ahead knowing if you're gonna be building new features or if you're gonna be sunsetting others. And so you. That's, I think engineering really understands, okay, by the end of the year for us to be able to ship, you know, x number of new, new project products or features, we're gonna need to double the size of our engineering headcount.

[00:38:28] And so, again, you've got this, [00:38:30] you've got these like ratios that are sort of understood and built in. If you, if you're gonna change those, if you're going through a big reorg, which often happens in earlier stage, Companies. I think it's very helpful for both recruiting and finance to be sort of part of that dialogue to understand what those changes might look like, so that we know, oh, actually we're gonna do a new engineering structure.

[00:38:51] And so we we're, you know, because we're sunsetting a product and so, you know, this, many of engineers are just gonna be shifted over to this, you know, to this new team. Part of this is just [00:39:00] really when you're, your recruiting teams and leaders are really embedded with the company themselves. And this is something that for me, over my career of, you know, Almost 20 years now.

[00:39:10] You just learn with listening, curiosity, asking right questions, understanding how business works, which is, you know, I wanna pass that information down to recruiters that are working with me. I think it also, it comes from having mentors and leaders and executives who want to spend the time educating people on these things.

[00:39:29] [00:39:30] Like I said, you know, our C F O came and talked to us about key metrics and how we're tracking, you know, and, and, and learning that stuff is really, really important and that helps with understanding what kinds of. Pivots or changes might come up even if, you know, you know, the goal for the year is to hit 20 million in revenue and have 10 paying customers, or I, I'm just like making up numbers as I go, but like understanding all of the things that go into those KPIs, all of the human things that [00:40:00] go into those KPIs, because then if, if you know, metrics change or if you aren't able to raise that round of funding, you counted it on, you know that that ultimately is gonna impact headcount.

[00:40:13] Charlie Schrier: Definitely. And, and I think like the, if I, the, the two things that I really heard come out in that answer were on the front end context around why is the plan look the way that it does? And, and how are we using the revenue numbers and the objectives of the [00:40:30] organization to create a headcount plan that makes sense for being able to achieve the goals of the company.

[00:40:36] Right? And then on the, on, on the second part of it, I. This probably flows both ways for finance to talent and talent back to finance, which is that it's very important to understand what the outcomes are of the work that you, the day-to-day work that you're doing. The day-to-day work may feel like it's something that you're doing in a silo, but really it has lots of downstream [00:41:00] implications.

[00:41:00] That spreadsheet that you're updating has a lot of downstream implications to being able to, you know, forecast the runway of the organization and, and vice versa. For the finance person that, you know, that question that you're asking about, Start date or about compensation has a lot of downstream effects to the way that the, the talent team is actually going and executing against that.

[00:41:23] So those were the two things that I heard really come out as context on the front end, but then an understanding of what happens downstream [00:41:30] as well. And that's how you can really get aligned much more closely with your finance partners. 

[00:41:34] Amanda Gregg: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I think the, one of the other shifts that I have seen during my time in tech was when I joined tech.

[00:41:44] Early on, mission focus was so critical and you know, people were taking pay cuts to go work in tech startups and it was considered, I mean, when I started at Palantir it was so risky and, and people were, you know, tech wasn't really a thing yet. Like high growth tech wasn't really a thing. It was [00:42:00] really, really risky.

[00:42:01] And then somewhere along the way that. Over the last 15 years that's kind of been lost a little bit. And I think people were more motivated by, you know, for a while when we were all in office it was, you know, the shiny new. Pinging pong tables or like, you know, whatever it was in the perks. And it became this kind of war for, for perks and benefits.

[00:42:21] And then covid hit and, and things changed really wildly, but then, but the economy kept, kept picking up and people took jobs just because the money [00:42:30] was insane and you couldn't turn, couldn't turn that down. 'cause every, everybody just couldn't. It was, you know, everyone was too big to fail. There was too much money.

[00:42:38] And then everything's changed. And I've really seen this shift back to people being a lot more focused on the, who they're working with, the what they're working towards, the, you know, the mission, the people, the culture. And I'm really pleased to see us go back, back to that because, you know, startups are a risk.

[00:42:55] And I think that somewhere along the line that was forgotten. 

[00:42:59] Charlie Schrier: [00:43:00] Absolutely. And, and it's a great, it's a great connective tissue to a question I wanted to ask you, which is obviously that the, the, the, the world is very different as you just described, than it was a year ago, two years ago. And, but there's reason for optimism, I think, and I think you just shared a little bit of that, but what, what gives you optimism about, You know, the future for talent acquisition, but also for, you know, larger in, you know, the, the companies that are trying to scale in that [00:43:30] market.

[00:43:30] What gives you optimism? 

[00:43:32] Amanda Gregg: I think there's a lot. I think, well, a, in, in terms of recruiting over the last several years, recruiting has really, you know, has really gaining traction as being a really business critical function. And I think for a long time, recruiting was. Paper pushers and order takers and, and not looked at as partners in the business.

[00:43:51] And so I love that over the last several years, like recruiting has really immersed as a partner, a key business partner. I think if you look back to the [00:44:00] 2008, 2009 downturn, out of that came, you know, life and game changing technologies in a lot of places, that's where the Ubers and the Lyfts and the DoorDash is, which literally have changed the way we all kind of live day to day.

[00:44:15] And so I'm. Excited that it's, it's hard and there's a lot of people that are, have been impacted and I, and I feel for the, for a lot of those individuals, but I think good people will always find a home. And I think what's [00:44:30] likely gonna come out of this downturn is other. Game changing technology that will change the way that we live and work.

[00:44:39] And so I think that that's exciting. And I mean, look at a, like chat, G P T and ai, like, I mean, the possibilities are, are, are endless. And you know, it's been a minute since I've worked for a company that has a mission that I'm truly passionate about and, you know, second front I think is doing amazing things and, and really needed things.

[00:44:57] And so I, I am excited to see what comes [00:45:00] out of that. 

[00:45:01] Charlie Schrier: Fantastic. That's great. Well, Have absolutely enjoyed listening and, and learning from you today, and I, and I'm sure that our audience will feel the same way. It's been a great conversation. Amanda, thank you so much for your time. Thanks for joining the Headcount people.

[00:45:14] Amanda Gregg: Absolutely happy to be here and look forward to hopefully more conversations in the future.

About the guests

Amanda Gregg
Talent Acquisition Manager
Amanda Gregg, an experienced recruiting and people leader in tech startups, played key roles at Palantir, Asana, and Airbnb. After navigating detours during COVID, she's now excited to contribute her expertise to Second Front Systems in Portland, bridging the gap between technology and government.

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