Marqeta’s Stephanie Baysinger on Letting Your Recruiting Ops Team Shine

Halden Pfearsen
Halden Pfearsen
Managing Editor

11 minute read

Stephanie Baysinger wants a seat at the table for recruiting ops. Because, according to the recruiting ops expert with 12 years of field experience, that’s where those in the role will truly shine.

“My strong opinion with recruiting operations,” she told Ashby when we sat down with her, “Is that it can’t be the catch-all for your team. You need to think of your recruiting operations team as a strong strategic partner. They’re key in helping you connect dots for your overall long-term vision of what you're trying to accomplish.”

Between knowing what the long-term goals of a company are and understanding the short-term moves needed to reach them, Stephanie explained, recruiting operations pros are most effective when business founders view them as a partner. Unfortunately, that’s not always what ends up happening.

“Part of my role is to make sure that what we build will scale along with us and not break in the next stage of business growth,” she told us. “It's this constant balancing act of trying to build things when the team needed them yesterday, and then feeling comfortable with knowing what you need to solve for right now to the next level.”

But it can be hard to stick to that high-level vision when there’s always more to be done. “Every day you log into your email and see everything from, We need to redo our entire referral process to, Greenhouse has a bug today, can you fix it? And everything in between!”

Though it’s seen an explosion in numbers in recent years, recruiting operations is still a growing field, and that leaves many teams confused with what, exactly, to do with someone in that position. The end result of this has been more tangential projects, side work, and putting out fires than Stephanie would prefer.

“One of the things I’m wishing I’d see is the role of recruiting ops as the central hub of information. It’s a great spot because we work alongside our recruiters, but then we're also partners with our HR team, and with finance. The number one skillset of a recruitment operations team is the ability to anticipate needs and anticipate how an action taken now might have a trickle effect later.”

Becoming the expert

Stephanie’s advice doesn’t come from nowhere. She started in recruiting at a global consulting firm, doing high-volume, high-touch MBA recruitment to bring in new consultants.

But Stephanie says she was soon taking on more than just direct recruiting. “What I found myself doing was constantly looking for ways to improve our processes. That job taught me a lot about the importance of consistency, creating a global brand, and ensuring that any candidate that engaged with us left with both a global and local connection to the work. But what that also meant was that, as a global recruitment team, there were things that we wanted to standardize. To that end, I started stepping into an operations role to help all of our recruiters get the resources they needed so that we could create that global experience and brand in a consistent way.“

It sounds like a huge undertaking, especially outside of the confines of her actual job description, and it was. ”I was taking on a lot. I found that a lot of the problems we had stemmed from recruiter training. So I started a global recruitment training program for new hires in their first month. I would do monthly trainings to help all of our teams understand the operational rigor of the role. I could actually catch people in their first thirty days, and then follow up with them six months later and get all the best practices down at the beginning.“

Stephanie spent seven years doing this before moving on to HubSpot, where she formally pivoted into a more technical role. Though she entered HubSpot as a recruiter trainer, her role was situated within operations functions. This was perfect, because it let Stephanie build a score of programs to help train and enable HubSpot’s recruiters. She rose to a management level before making the move to Klaviyo, where she was the company’s first formal recruitment operations leader, building out her own team and her own systems.

In the course of her career, recruiting ops has gone from being a helpful add-on to a recruiting role to something that Stephanie herself is being recruited for. Most recently, Stephanie has found herself at Marqeta, where she’s the Director of Recruiting Operations. “What was exciting about this role,” she told us, “is that this was one of the first strategic leadership hires on the recruitment team, because we have a leader here who truly believes in the importance of enablement and operations.”

The recruiting dominos

That upper-level buy-in and enthusiasm is key, Stephanie says, in part because it’s not the case everywhere. “I've seen some people describe recruiting ops as, 'we have our recruiters, and our sourcing team, and our coordinations team, and then everything else goes to recruiting ops.' And that's a recipe for not having the clarity, power, and partnership of a recruiting operations function.” The role can be cloudy enough even without that attitude, Stephanie says.

On the other hand, a functional and thriving recruiting operations team is what unblocks so many of recruiting’s current problems.

“A true collaboration between so many different departments is this dance that needs to be flawlessly choreographed. You need to understand and be a really great partner to the ones determining our overall head count. But then that trickles down into so many other things. What are the strategic roles that I actually need? What budget might we have to hire new talent? What roles are we prioritizing and what's the strategy behind it? Then you start bringing in your HR business partners and your talent managers. And they're trying to help hiring managers understand how to build out an organizational structure. And then from there you're working with your systems team to make sure that there's data validity and that we're compliant. And then you have a recruitment team who gets to take those roles and actually hire incredible talent for them.”

It’s a dizzying list.

“And you can see, they all sequence,” Stephanie went on. “It's like dominos: you want them all to nicely collapse, but usually it's all trying to fall at the same time.”

Naturally, the biggest stress point is one of the earliest in that chain.

“I don't think I'm the only recruiting ops person who would wish there was a magic wand or a piece of technology that could help me manage my head count!” she said. So far, nothing has cracked that problem for her in specific, but that's just one more reason why a talented recruiting ops team is so valuable.

“Recruiting operations isn't a field that can just be put to the wayside. It's becoming a piece of a business operating plan that needs dedicated planning and rigorous rhythm, because that's how it functions best. What I've found has worked is being extremely transparent and learning from the previous quarter, as well as knowing that it's probably never going to be solved perfectly. It's just learning from the last time we did it and making the process incrementally better.”

Making improvements

In a career so busy, in a role not everyone understands yet, with endless challenges to iterate upon, Stephanie hasn’t stopped going out of her way to keep making improvements.

“I surround myself with really smart people,” Stephanie says, starting out humbly. “I about think the things that I'm currently learning in my role about building a recruitment strategy, and I think that they've had to pivot and change so much in the last couple years. What I want us to do more of is really getting to know the candidates and their decision motivators and all the different reasons why someone might want to make a change in their career. Just truly building that relationship. As we think about the future of work, the strategy should be focused on where we find incredible talent. “

And where is that? Anywhere in the world, Stephanie tells us. “Now that box has been completely opened so that it's not limited by geography. And that creates an entirely new way of strategizing how you bring talent into your company! I've worked at places where we've thought about using a pod or a hub-and-spoke model. We would hire in different regions and people could work in a hybrid way, but there was always a home base or a place for someone to go. But what’s the motivator for the employees? What do they actually want?”

What an employee wants is changing, and rapidly, just like the workplace as a concept. “Part of the strategy is to think about not just what we need right now, but what we're going to need in the next couple years. What will be the economic needs of our company? What gaps are we hoping to fill, and how do we start hiring for those things now? And how are we up-skilling and giving our current employees the opportunity to gain those skills once they're already here? Part of the strategy now is hiring for the skills you might need in the future, as well as hiring for really incredible cultural additions to your company and providing them with those resources to grow and prosper in their roles.”

The ever-changing tech systems

Recruiting ops might still be new, but Stephanie says this is the most exciting time to be here. “I'm really excited to dive more into a lot of recruitment and HR technology. I've seen that space just boom in the past decade. We started with a lot of homegrown tools, and then we found the limitations of the tools. And now, I probably get two or three emails a day from various vendors who do various things. This might become an entire strategic role on a recruiting ops team in the future, to be someone who can manage the tech and ensure that our systems are empowering our recruiters. I've just seen this space just skyrocket.”

So what’s Stephanie looking for when she’s picking out tech for her team? “UX and tools for our recruiters that are intuitive, that make their life easier. It used to be about, can I measure how much time we saved? There'd always be these ROI metrics of saved hours a week. But now the technology is more around the analytics and how the technology and the time saved can actually impact the bottom line of a company and interviewer investment.”

Stephanie even specifically mentioned some of her favorites. “Ashby has been a really strong recruiting tool. I'm being very serious! Having done a recruiting operations role, I'm finding I have no desire to reinvent the wheel anymore. When there's a tool or a piece of technology that you can plug in, that integrates really well with the other pieces like your ATS, and does some of the lift, that's the kind of thing I want. And then I get to focus more on data cleanliness and validation and not vanity metrics.”

Any tool that helps streamline Stephanie’s workflows is a good one in her book. “There's a lot that happens behind the scenes that keep the boat floating and keep us running in the right direction. And when we can automate those and find more ways to innovate, there's usually a really big conflict between time and capacity. And so I'm consistently trying to find ways to automate a lot of repeatable steps so that we can create more space for growth.”

Moving forward

Though she’s still new to Marqeta, Stephanie is an expert in what she’s doing, and she’s got big plans. When we asked her what the first thing she’d do in a new role might be, she had an answer ready to go. “It's so cliche, but I would just go on like a true listening tour. When you're misaligned on the talent that you think your hiring manager wants, or you think the business wants, that's a lot of wasted time, which is wasted money, which is wasted resources and burned out employees.”

“I would make sure that I'm really truly understanding our value proposition that we want to give to future employees,” she went on. “And I want to learn about that from the executive level, diving into old board of directors decks. What's super important for us? What kind of people do we want to work with? What kind of culture are we trying to create at this company?”

The passion she's cultivated over her career is obvious, and it's a great model for anyone interested in being a standout recruiting ops professional - or hiring one. “I want to be so embedded as such a strong partner to all of the hiring managers and to the employees at the company. I just want to be so in sync with where the company's going, going to all the town halls and looking at our CEO's two, three, five, ten year goals. And am I aligning the recruitment strategy to that?”

She paused and smiled. “That would be probably the first thing that I'd do.”

You can find Stephanie on LinkedIn.

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