The Unseen Value Of Recruiting Partnerships With Michael Bates

Posted on July 18, 2023 by Bailey Crumpton. Tagged: BWB Recruiting, For Candidates, BWBacon, For Clients, Staffing & Recruiting

Up next in our Team Feature Series, we spoke with our newest team member and Chief Operating Officer, Michael Bates, to learn more about his journey in staffing and what he wishes our clients knew about recruiting partnerships. A powerhouse of technical recruiting in Colorado and the greater Western region, Bates was most recently with international recruiting firm, Hays, before finding a new path… one with more bacon, of course.

From Humble Beginnings To Regional Growth

When asked about the origins of his career in staffing, Bates shares that like most people in the staffing industry, he fell into it. After connecting with an individual at TEKSystems while living in California, Bates was convinced to pivot his career away from the insurance business and join an entirely new industry as a recruiter.

While his entry into staffing may have come with some initial hesitation, Bates says, “I had a lot of initial support and mentorship in the role. If not for that guidance and investment, I may not have stuck with it. I always knew that I enjoyed making connections and that networking came naturally to me. Once I figured out how to connect the candidate and client dots, things really started to click for me.”

After ten years, Bates joined Beacon Hill, another national staffing player that was expanding its geography out West where he was tapped to open business operations in Denver. After opening the doors, he led one of the fastest growing offices in the company’s history. Bates continues, “then, Hays came calling. The opportunity to join the 5th largest staffing company in the globe as one of a handful of US leaders was too compelling to pass up. The role was a regional one overseeing our West Region, and it afforded me the chance to increase my competencies in areas outside of Technology, including Construction & Property, Accounting & Finance, Operations, and HR and compete in some of the biggest opportunity markets in the country.”

In expanding Hays’ western presence, Bates felt his time there was a way of broadening his scope of capabilities under staffing and recruitment. He adds, “I had the distinct pleasure and fortune of being a part of and overseeing teams that have overperformed and have had some really awesome accomplishments in terms of impact to the community we served.”

How did you ultimately connect with BWBacon?

“I moved to Denver thirteen years ago, and in making that transition with TEKSystems, I started to figure out who the local players were,” Bates hints at his introduction to the infamous BWB team. “I was supporting Vail Resorts as my first foray into the travel, leisure, and hospitality sector, and they quickly went from being a hot prospect to being my top account,” he says, reflecting on Vail Resorts’ immense expansion.

BWB Dave-MikeEmphasizing he is proud of the work his team did to support Vail over the years, Bates also shares that BWBacon was one of three competitors at the time, and according to legend, competition was steep. Back then, John Lilley was the Vice President of Digital Applications and responsible for EpicMix, and told Bates he needed to know Dave Bacon at BWBacon Group.

Bates chuckles and continues, “[Lilley] said, ‘you’ve just got to know him, you are very similar people in that you bring the same level of intensity, energy, and excitement to the work that you do, and you’re both great brand ambassadors for Vail,’ and so, that was my first introduction to BWBacon.”

Flash forward to 2023, and Bates knew he wanted his next step to be making a big impact at a smaller organization like BWB, noting, “I've admired Dave from afar, and the business that he's built over the last twenty-two years, so I wanted to get involved in some way.”

“In the short time that I’ve known Dave, I’ve felt inspired by his vision for what he wants the company to become. I think you’ve got to harness that energy in the right directions; we need to eliminate the distractions, be laser-focused on service and relationships, be clear on our company identity, and go for broke,” he adds, shedding light on his decision to join the team earlier this year.

The Value Of Partnership

As an experienced recruiting professional, Bates is no stranger to educating customers on the value of a recruiting partnership when scaling your team. We asked what he might say to those who have a misconception of what we do and how we help companies grow, and he replies,

The value that we create through a partnership is finding the most qualified, not the first available. You are paying us not to qualify candidates, but to disqualify candidates.”

Bates also feels there are a lot of assumptions out there floating around, including misunderstandings about how the market looks to attract candidates and how much staffing partners bring to the table. Referring to recent tech layoffs in Silicon Valley, New York, and in other major metropolitan areas, Bates explains, “the sentiment is, ‘I don't need recruiters or a staffing partner because I can post my job and have my pick of the litter,’ but what I’d like our clients to understand is that the value needs to shift from having a partner help you attract talent, to now, having to vet the talent that's out there. I am trying to educate my customers that vetting is the most critical component to the value we can create through a partnership right now.”

Hypothetically speaking about companies posting jobs online, Bates says, “they’re going to get 250 applicants which feels like a great response, but 95% (or greater) of those candidates are misaligned in terms of skill set and fit for the role and organization. The responsibility then falls back on a partner like us to prescreen and identify people that are a great match versus just someone who's available.”

Retaining Talent In A Tricky Market

Let’s talk about the best way to approach hiring in 2023. We ask Bates what advice he would give companies that are growing their teams, and he jumps in quickly, saying, “it has a lot to do with identity and making sure they understand who they are as a business. From there, the company should create an employee value proposition, or EVP, which is a compelling set of reasons a job seeker would choose your organization.  It comes down to business objectives, company culture, career advancement, earning potential, and engaging work and people.”

He hits the nail on the head that ultimately, in the art of recruiting, it comes down to the reasons why someone would choose working for one business over another. This sentiment also plays into retention. Bates feels that when it comes to retaining staff, “attracting the right talent to your organization is only half the battle. The key is retention and doing the right things to create a work environment where staff feel like their work matters and they are appreciated, engaged, challenged, heard, and where they can learn and grow.”  He explains further,

If you can get that all right, you’ll have a team of highly productive folks who are committed to the collective company goals and take pride in the organization and being a part of it.”

We pressed further on what defines the 'right things' for Bates and he responds, “open communication, a culture where feedback is encouraged and acted upon, and where ideas are celebrated.  Giving everyone, regardless of title and tenure, a voice and a platform to speak, be heard, and impact positive change.”

Looking For Lessons + Building Enduring Motivation

So, what really motivates Michael Bates when it comes to recruiting and staffing today? He shares that throughout his career, the biggest reward is the impact we can make with clients and candidates.  “When [a client] comes back to you and says something like, your partnership was the reason we were able to build a world-class team, or the hires that we made through you have transformed our culture, or hiring your people elevated our technical environment, those are some of the scenarios that remind me of why I do what I do.” Or reversely, impacting a candidate who he has helped place, Bates adds,

By providing advice, guidance, and advocacy for a candidate as they embark on the daunting task of changing jobs, we have the opportunity to positively impact someone's professional trajectory for the better. Ultimately, the goal of helping a candidate through their job search is to bring them options that could help them advance their career, get a pay raise, gain skills to increase their marketability, or work for a company that has a purpose."

And that, ladies and gentleman, is the very core of recruiting that motivates us all. We could not wrap up this interview without asking Bates which BWBacon value best represents him, and he hardly hesitates before answering, “I like 'look for lessons.' I’m a lifelong student and I’m always looking for ways to learn and grow as a person and a professional.  I have an old saying that either you win, or you learn. I can say with certainty that I’ve learned far more from my failures than my moments of triumph.  By valuing the insights gained and the personal growth achieved, we can appreciate the journey and derive fulfillment from the progress made, regardless of the outcome.”

Sharing that the value is not just professional, but also personal, Bates perfectly ties up our time together, saying, “’Look for lessons’ can be applied to business and life in general. As a young boy, my dad always impressed upon me the importance of learning and personal development. Now, as a dad myself, history repeats itself and I do the same with my daughter. I’m constantly looking for opportunities to teach her and to learn from her life experiences. Learning is a journey and one that is never complete.  You either win, or you learn.”

Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!