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- Evan Sohn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Recruiter.com
As organizations and individuals are in the grip of the Great Migration, what is really going on and how could this shift in the months and years ahead?
In this episode of Digital Workplace Impact, Nancy Goebel is in conversation with CEO and Chairman of Recruiter.com, Evan Sohn. Recruiter.com delivers on-tap talent solutions that flex with an organization’s hiring needs. During their chat, Evan draws on his more than 30-year career, which has spanned e-commerce at Fortune 500 to start-up environments, to create a thought-provoking discussion.
Are we moving to a time when employers should stockpile people instead of hand sanitizer? If so, what will this mean for hiring organizations as they acquire, onboard and retain people? And, whether organizations style themselves as purely remote, hybrid or requiring a full-on return to office, how can they compete for talent? Will there be extra challenges facing digital workplace professionals?
Join Nancy and Evan for a high-energy conversation, as they talk of predictions for a shift from the employee-led job market of the pandemic to a more employer-centric market of tomorrow.
[00:00:00.070] – Evan Sohn
The interesting thing, Nancy, is that before Covid, I think we had to be all things to all people, right? I have to be, oh, I have people that want to work remote. I got to make that work. I have people that want this. I got to make that work. I have all these different factions inside of an organization and trying to do things, and I can’t get rid of Fred even though Fred wants to work remote, because I need to make it work, etc. And now I have this opportunity to say, what sort of company do I want to be?
[00:00:26.970] – Nancy Goebel
Today I had a chance to catch up with Evan Sohn, CEO of Recruiter.com. In a few moments, I hope you’ll join me in a high energy conversation with Evan as we talk about what he predicts will be a shift from the employee led job market of the Pandemic to more of an employer centric market as part of what’s normal next. The headline is that Evans says we’ll be shifting from stockpiling hand sanitizer and toilet paper to an age when employers will start actually stockpiling people. What that means is that talent acquisition, onboarding, knowledge management and retention will all be under new strain as organizations jockey for position with talent acquisition, and that’s regardless of whether they style themselves as purely remote, fully fledged hybrid, or even those driving a full on return to the office. For the Digital Workplace professional that means that you could be doubly challenged with staffing, up your teams with capable people at the same time as supporting your stakeholders with bringing in new talent and helping them get online, be productive and connected at faster intervals than ever. Evan shares a few words of advice for both sets of needs, and I’d also suggest that while you’re taking Evan’s advice on board that you have a copy of DWG’s research entitled Organizational readiness: What digital workplace teams need to know on hand as well.
[00:02:05.950] – Nancy Goebel
Check the show notes for a link to the download to this insightful piece of research from DWG’s own Director of Knowledge, Shimrit Janes. Join me now in the studio. Happy listening.
[00:02:18.240] – Nancy Goebel
So, Evan, it’s so great to have you in the Digital Workplace Impact studio for a chat today. Thanks so much for making the time and welcome.
[00:02:27.810] – Evan Sohn
Thank you so much, Nancy, for having me. And with your history of podcast, I think we’re certainly over 100, so it’s good to be in your second batch of 100 podcasts, so very excited to be part of it.
[00:02:41.780] – Nancy Goebel
And of course, I have to name check, Amy Yin and the team at OfficeTtogether for connecting us in the first. You’ve got quite a fascinating background, and I’m so happy to have a chance to get to know you as part of this conversation, as well as to share some of your insights with our listening base.
[00:03:04.910] – Evan Sohn
Thank you very much, Nancy. And for your listeners, do yourselves a favour and go on their website, the Digital Workplace Group website. You see a great timeline of their history and it really mirrors along the digital workforce history. So it’s very interesting. So really fascinating as part of the experience.
[00:03:24.380] – Nancy Goebel
Well, thanks. That’s such a nice way to start things off. And of course, you’ve had a 25 plus year career that has spanned e-commerce at Fortune 500 and startup environments. And I have to ask, just to kick things off, what puts you on a path to leading one of the world’s largest hiring networks, which of course, is Recruiter.com.
[00:03:49.120] – Evan Sohn
Thanks so much, by the way, for your audience. That was a euphemism for saying I’m old, so I really appreciate that. I started my career in 1989. I was 21 years old, so you can figure out the math. I started a company right out of school in mobile computing. So think of what the 90s look like in mobile, very different than what we see today. And we grew that company over a decade, worked with some incredible companies, incredible clients, a lot of pharmaceuticals and wireless and all these other things. Got acquired by Dunn and Bradstreet in 1998 and then went on. I was pulled out of that company by venture capital company into the security space, spent a bunch of years in the security space. Did a few transactions there in terms of being acquired, then went back into mobile, into payments, mobile payments got acquired. So we did that for a little while and then was really thinking about how to do this on the operational side for a small company. And Ironically, Recruiter.com really is a small company. We’re a startup on Nasdaq. And I got introduced by one of the investors about little over three years ago.
[00:05:04.510] – Evan Sohn
And I love expert networks. I love that whole notion of tying people together and leveraging the audience, your community, to serve a common industry in a bigger, better, faster way. And when I got to Recruiter.com, recruiter.com really was an online media company. So think of your destination site for all things recruiting. Three articles a day, a monthly magazine, three and a half million social media touchpoints, 48,000 Twitter followers. Lots and lots and lots of organic traffic, a lot of great SEO. And my thesis was, hey, look, how do we use all these recruiters to really do what they do best, which is help find talent. And instead of the recruiter being the customer, let’s make the recruiter the product, if you will, if you will, try to monetize the overall network itself. And we started really on a path of on-demand recruiting, using these recruiters as on-demand recruiters. Again, the notion is, hey, you have this great skill set in finding talent. There are companies that want to have access to this. They don’t want to do it on their own and they don’t want to pay ahead onto fees. How do we use this?
[00:06:15.900] – Evan Sohn
In a, like, Uber manner and Uber for talent acquisition. So we started that really at the end of 2020 into 21. Covid hits. I decided to be CEO. We could talk about it a little bit later in June of 21. I basically told the board, hey, when this Covid thing is over, the job economy is going to be an absolute disarray. And we’re going to be there to help put things back together again and recognize that, Gee, if we’re going to deploy recruiters on-demand, let’s give them the equivalent of a GPS for an Uber driver. So the equivalent of a GPS for a recruiter is really software. So we went out and invested millions of dollars into fantastic artificial intelligence software that helps us source and engage candidates. We have 170,000,000 profiles in the US alone in our database, growing and refreshing it on a regular basis. We have career communities, everything that’s necessary to help find talent faster. Our clients range from Fortune 100 companies to startups and law firms and old school companies really across the board. And we help these companies with their most precious asset, which is the people inside their company.
[00:07:29.800] – Evan Sohn
That was a very long winded answer to a very simple question. So sorry, Nancy. Sorry about that.
[00:07:34.120] – Nancy Goebel
No apology needed. I have to say, I’ve discovered in a matter of minutes that we are birds of a feather and of the same vintage. So we’ve ticked a couple of boxes in common right off the bat. And what you also won’t know yet is that my roots are from the HR space. So just as you were talking, I was feeling just such a connection on that level too. So I’m someone who started as an HR professional once upon a time at JPMorgan Chase, back in the old JPMorgan days when it was a much smaller company and had a real affinity for technology, and ended up standing up our first E-HR strategy, as it was termed back then, and then moved into IT in order to help transform a lot of the corporate services into digital services. And so I’m just feeling a real kinship here in terms of the journeys that we’ve undertaken and even the entrepreneurial spirit that we both share. So I’m really curious to learn more about some of your top motivators and what gets you excited about each new day at Recruiter.com.
[00:08:52.440] – Evan Sohn
So it’s a great question. We’re having a tonne of fun. The impact that we’re making, not just to ourselves, but to the companies that we work with, is just tremendous. And our overall network, our recruiter network, is now over 40,000 recruiters on our platform now Not all of them are out on assignment. We have a couple of hundred out on assignment on a regular basis. And we have customers now subscribing to our software. We have career communities. In media, we have Media Bistro, which is an award winning career community for the advertising, ad tech space. We launched a career community just for recruiters called jobs Recruiter.com. We launched one just focused on crypto. So Crypto.Recruiter.com are going to be doing a bunch of others also. The other thing that we’re finding is, to me, I love being a customer’s first phone call. I ask it all the time. That’s our goal. We want to be a customer’s first phone call. We did not invent talent acquisition, so I don’t want to say it’s a commodity, but there are lots of people in the talent acquisition space. It’s a huge, giant industry. So if you can actually be a customer’s first phone call, if you’re their adviser, if you’re there to help them solve their problems, that’s a phenomenal position to be in, and we’re seeing that every day.
[00:10:09.750] – Evan Sohn
We’re seeing clients of ours, global heads of talent or heads of talent at companies leave, go to another company and bring us in. We’re also seeing our on-demand recruiters being offered full-time positions at their clients and that’s amazing. Someone say, oh, that’s disintermediating. I’m like just the opposite. It means that the quality that we’re delivering to our clients Is so much such a high regard for the recruiters that they offer them full-time jobs, and we welcome that. So it’s very exciting to be able to really have this impact and really be at the epicentre of the job market itself.
[00:10:43.670] – Nancy Goebel
Well, I have to say that’s such a mark of credibility when your own team members, your own network is being integrated into client capabilities. Because just thinking about my own experience and the strength of the JPMorgan Chase alumni network, You’ve now got an alumni network for Recruiter.com that is now creating a groundswell effect as that base continues to grow.
[00:11:13.360] – Evan Sohn
Yes, we can only hope, right? We can only hope it could be the same quality that JPMorgan has. But, yeah, these are all seeds. It’s always fun. I’ll quote, Hannibal, what is it? Hannibal Smith from the A Team. I love it when a plan comes together. It’s just very exciting to watch the seeds that we sowed two years ago, starting to pay off investments that we made really coming true. Theories that we had early on are panning out and playing out, so it’s just very interesting to watch.
[00:11:44.780] – Nancy Goebel
And so what motivated you to join us in the podcast studio today?
[00:11:49.530] – Evan Sohn
First of all, I’d listened to some of your podcasts, and it’s a great conversation. So to me, whenever I do one of these and they go, what’s your goal? I always say my goal is to have a great conversation. I don’t know where it’s going to end up. I’m not promoting a book. I’m not promoting a video. I’m not promoting anything. It’s really more about having a conversation about really where the world is headed to, and ideally, I could learn something out of it. My profile in one of those psychological tests are steadfast, but openminded so one of those. It’s very much of an assertive but open-minded. Right. I have very strong conviction. But if you prove a point, I’m willing to learn. So I’m always learning. I’m always here to learn. Here’s someone else’s theory about something. Make it my own. Make it my own story. Build onto the overall narrative itself. The one thing that we’ve learned over these last 30 years, plus that I’ve been working, is things change all the time. I think the rate of change is what’s really happened much, much faster. And you looked at what Covid did, and Covid really just changed expedited things that were already happening.
[00:12:56.730] – Evan Sohn
They just in a very short period of time. I heard the other day we had five years of evolution in a matter of two years, or six years of evolution in two years or one year, whatever that number is. So it’s just very interesting to watch all these things really panning out. Think about it, five years ago we were talking about the efficacy of remote work, right? We were talking about, Gee, is it okay to let someone work from home once a week? That’s just not a conversation anymore. Now we’re talking the opposite. Is it effective letting someone work from remote all the time? Right? That’s the conversation. So imagine, had that not happened, the conversation would have been, Gee, something’s going to happen a little bit, a little lower, a little longer, a little longer. All these other things. And yet here we are now talking about hybrid work environments or mobile environments, et cetera. So very fascinating. A lot.
[00:13:46.580] – Nancy Goebel
Absolutely. And so I often like to launch conversations like this with one of the more provocative media headlines that’s trending in our circle. And for this episode, certainly no exception. When you stop to think about an ex-Google CEO like Eric Schmidt recently talking about his views as to why in office work is better at a time when you have so many people who have been working from home for prolonged periods of time, have reevaluated their priorities, want to be able to have that work life integration without necessarily having to commute at all or every day, it’s a trigger point for me to ask you, what is your approach to advising leading organizations, whether it’s the Amazons and Moodys of the world or Dow Jones or even some of these smaller law firms and the like, about staffing their workplaces so that they’re fit for the future?
[00:14:50.630] – Evan Sohn
It’s a great question. I think that in my opinion, the opportunity now is to figure out what you want to be when you grow up as an organization and to prioritise along the way. And I’ll give you two examples. I heard a podcast a couple of weeks ago of a CEO who was an engineer, and he actually said, I surround myself with other engineers. This goes back pre-Covid we came into the office, got our work done and went home to our families. No beer nights, no pizza parties, no socialising. We got it done and we went home. Nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with the and I’m a capitalist. Right. So there’s nothing wrong with the company deciding, what sort of company do we want to have? I got called up by newspapers when JPMorgan announced, thou shalt return to the office. Oh, they’re terrible. They’re bad. And my comment was, I don’t think so. I think J Morgan decided, what do we want to optimise for? If we want to optimise for in-person training and preparing the next generation of JPMorgan employees, and they believe that it needs to be done in person, then kudos to them.
[00:16:02.020] – Evan Sohn
Now, that might not be for everybody. So the interesting thing, Nancy, is that before, Covid I think we had to be all things to all people, right? I have to be, oh, I have people that want to work remote. I got to make that work. I have people that want this. I got to make that work.
[00:16:16.210] – Evan Sohn
I have all these different factions inside of an organization trying to do things, and I can’t get rid of Fred, even though Fred wants to work remote, because I need to make it work, et cetera. Now I have this opportunity to say, what sort of company do I want to be? And I can decide what that is. We have the Airbnb that says, work remote forever, wherever you want. We have the JPMorgan that says, thou shalt return to the office, and you’re going to have other people say, this is why it’s good. One of our clients is allowing people to work it’s three days in the office, two days home, and one month a year they can work from anywhere on the planet. All right? They’re going to be different opportunities for different companies to do different things. For us, the opportunity really is to say, wow, what a great environment that companies get to decide how they want to grow their organization, and they will attract people that actually align there. We predict that you’ll be telling your talent acquisition manager, whether that’s your in-house recruiter, your contract, recruiter, your on demand recruiter, your global head of talent.
[00:17:19.950] – Evan Sohn
Hey, look, I need Java developers that are comfortable working in a hybrid environment, or I need financial analysts that are prepared to come to work four days a week, whatever that is. And I think it’s going to add a new layer of complexity to talent acquisition. But I think companies will be better off for it because they’re going to be able to figure out who they want to attract and who they don’t want to attract. A company that says, thou shalt be in the office five days a week might not be appealing to you or Tim, our producer for the show. Right. And if it’s. Oh, you’re going to make me come in. Okay. I don’t want this job. Fine. I’ll go find someone that wants to come in five days a week. So I just think it creates this opportunity to not have to be things to all people.
[00:18:01.640] – Evan Sohn
But to really prioritise what’s most important and to execute and move on that
[00:18:06.630] – Nancy Goebel
And that level of transparency is absolutely key because just as there are different types of learners, there are different working cells. There are some people who thrive only if they’re in the office a majority of their time, and there are others that work best if they’re fully remote and then there are many shades in between. So I think that’s some sage advice that you’re offering organizations, especially at such an important time of change, helping to re-establish the type of culture that the organization aspires to is important at a time when lots of people are voting with their feet in terms of walking into different job opportunities to sync up what their needs and desires are from the world of work. So it opens up lots of conversation about what is the future of the employee experience.
[00:19:02.330] – Evan Sohn
I agree. I spent a lot of years in sales and we were always remote or most often remote. I would be rate a salesperson who is always in the office and not on the road visiting customers. So there are elements of the business that were always working outside the headquarter office and we were to turn the headquarters once a month for a couple of days, once a quarter for a little bit longer, once a year for a weekend event, et cetera. These are very common in large organizations. Look to the large consulting firms where people are always out on the field weeks at a time, not in the home office and then returning back phoning in or whatever they need to do in order to align up with the rest of the culture. So these things were happening. We started outsourcing it and Y two K. So these things were happening. We made adjustments along the way. And I think what companies are sort of adjusting with is everyone’s now doing it? You’re talking to the CEO who is in his living room or in his office at home. I remember I was with a company in Atlanta and the CEO said to me, look, I need you to move out to Atlanta.
[00:20:19.110] – Evan Sohn
Why? Because when I need you, I want to open up my door and yell, Evan, can you come in here for a minute? And if you’re not here, I’m not going to do it. I don’t think that would happen today. We’ve all figured out how to can you join my Zoom or let’s Go Skype or something else that’s going on there in order to make that actually happen.
[00:20:37.780] – Nancy Goebel
And so organizations like DWG have been able to thrive without offices for over a decade, and that’s not going to work for every organization just as we’ve established. But I’m curious as to what your thoughts are relative to building a high performance culture, and strong leadership in this age of hybrid.
[00:20:59.970] – Evan Sohn
But the good news is I struggle with it every day. I’m a people person, and I much prefer I hate the commute. I hate the notion of commuting, but I do better walking around. I like to run into people. Hey, let’s go brainstorm. Let’s pull up a whiteboard, et cetera. It’s a struggle for me, it really is. I think the time that you’re saving and commuting, you’re actually spending more time in individual conversations than you would. Hey, the four of you, can you please come into the conference room? Let’s go spend 2 hours and go solve this problem. I haven’t yet figured out how to make all that work without actually coming together. Right.
[00:21:41.370] – Evan Sohn
I don’t know what’s your longer Zoom meeting, but you get Zoom fatigue looking at someone after a long time, as opposed to in a conference room where you could order in lunch and have a working session, et cetera. We had a board meeting and a management meeting back in November, and it was incredibly productive. We were together for four or 5 hours and incredibly productive. That never would have happened online. So I think there’s time and a place for everything. I think we ourselves, we’re about 70 people in the company, and we’re figuring out what does our plan look like for the next year? Vis a vis get-togethers, employee get-togethers, company get-togethers really throughout the year. And we’re spread really throughout the country. We have people in California, Arizona, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Florida. We’re pretty spread across lots of different areas. Vancouver really across the board there. So it’s definitely not without its challenges.
[00:22:42.170] – Nancy Goebel
That’s for sure. And I’ve pulled out the notion that you have to pick the moments that matter when you come together versus the things that can get done well, remotely. And that’s just part of the nature of things nowadays. Anything else that you can think of relative to leadership qualities or insights that are important in this time of hybrid?
[00:23:09.050] – Evan Sohn
Yeah. So I started to leverage sort of my history and sales. You know, one of the best things about sales is your performance indicators, your KPIs or your objectives are incredibly clear. You have a number, go hit your number. Your number is usually a factor of how many proposals do you have out, how many qualified opportunities you’re working on, how many leads, the sales cycle, etc. Or no one’s ever asked me, how long did it take you to close that deal? Or I know you didn’t close the deal, but I know you worked really hard, really hard on it. No one really cares about time when you’re in sales. They care about the results. If you could translate those objectives for everyone else and not make them based on time and you try to turn them into what are the metrics that you’re really working towards that sort of alleviates the time based objectives. And I think as a society, we’re shifting away from time based objectives clearly with knowledge workers. This isn’t about a factory where you got to clock in and clock out. Do I really care how much time someone has spent coding?
[00:24:19.680] – Evan Sohn
Or do I just want to see the results that they’re actually delivering? And I think the clearer that we are. And so the recommendation or the guidance that I got was being very clear to everyone what their priority is and how you’re measuring them, because this way you’re not thinking about, what are they thinking about? What are they doing, what are they worrying about? You’re not seeing them every day, but you’re really looking at them for the actual metric they’re supposed to be delivering. And of course, we’re leveraging slack, we’re leveraging all the other collaboration tools that are out there today to facilitate that process.
[00:24:57.010] – Nancy Goebel
And I certainly think when you are taking more of that results oriented view of performance, organizations need to start to think about how they’re going to evolve their performance management and development capabilities in line with that.
[00:25:16.650] – Evan Sohn
[00:25:17.310] – Nancy Goebel
And that’s part of where digital workplace comes into view and the importance of making sure that those tools are readily available, regardless of where people are and are honing in on the right questions to get people to focus on the end result, as opposed to where people are sitting on any given day.
[00:25:39.170] – Evan Sohn
Yeah, that’s right. And look, I do think it’s going to make it into a colder society if Fred is not meeting his objectives, the soft objectives are no longer as material as they were pre-Covid. Oh, Fred’s great to work with. He’s so nice. He bakes cookies for everyone’s birthday. He’s always got a smile on his face. He’s so much fun. He’s the first one to run out and get coffee for everybody. He’s the last one who leaves the office at night. All the things that Fred was doing, other than actually getting his job done, you were sort of giving credit for those things. But what if you never see Fred? Right? What if Fred is actually not part of your day to day visuals and all you’re doing is measuring Fred on what he gets done? So sooner or later you’re going to say, Gee, Fred’s not getting his job done. And yeah, I’m glad he smiles on the Zoom meeting, but does it really make a difference? So I do think that from where is the world going to there’s certainly a talent shortage. So we’re really living in a very candidate centric world today, but we really predicted at the end of 21 that that’s really going to shift to being more employer centric and companies knowing that people are going to move jobs faster, they’ll be faster to move people out of their company.
[00:27:03.090] – Evan Sohn
If you’ve ever been part of an organization that was eliminating people, it’s actually very depressing. Right. You got to walk in. Where’s David? David? We let David go. David was so much fun.
[00:27:13.540] – Evan Sohn
Let’s go back to Fred.
[00:27:14.700] – Evan Sohn
Right, Fred? Fred was great. What do you mean? Fred got me coffee every Wednesday. He baked cookies. We really miss Fred. But if that’s gone, if Fred is just a square on a Zoom screen, it’s going to make companies a little bit colder and a little bit faster to react to moving people in and out of the company itself.
[00:27:34.850] – Nancy Goebel
And that’s a pretty significant shift. So in an organization such as yours, where you’re really trying to help ensure that the right people land in the right places, I think it becomes an interesting conversation for us to talk about the different types of hires, one of which is what I call mid career hires. You may have a different term for that, but essentially experienced hires. And when you put that in the context of the great resignation and the cost of hiring continues to be significant, not only in terms of bringing people on board, but inculcating them into the organization, helping them establish their networks, get desk ready and productive. So how do organizations that have historically seen attrition within the first two years for mid career hires mitigate some of those risks in this current environment? And as the shift you described to more of an employee centric environment down the line?
[00:28:42.940] – Evan Sohn
Excellent question. So a few things. Let’s double click on this. So a, let’s actually call the great resignation, the greater resignation. So 4.5 million people quit their jobs in March of 22. Seems like a crazy number, but it’s actually a million more than the 2019 average. So on average in 2019, 3.5 million people were quitting every single month. Yes, it’s 4.5 million, but it’s a million more. Now, again tremendous number. But there were always people quitting. There was always this inherent attrition. In the US, the average is around 22%, financial services, 15%, retail, 80%. So there always were people coming and going and the variety of reasons of why it’s happening, we believe it’s slowing down. It’s going to be a place with the job hopper economy, but there’s always been a movement around there. And I think what companies need to do is to sort of recognise that one of the recommendations we gave to a client is promote this role as a 24 month assignment. Hey, look, Fred, please come work for us. This is a 24 month assignment. I’m going to pay you a boatload of money for 24 months. And when that assignment is over, you can either take a different assignment at the company where you get paid another boatload of money, or you can go, leave, and you’ll have everything associated with it.
[00:30:16.330] – Evan Sohn
Everything associated with you. And I’ll ask you a question. Five years ago. Right. If you saw a – actually three years ago – a Silicon Valley software engineer that had been at four companies in twelve years, that would actually be regarded as a hot software engineer, that software engineer must be amazing. Conversely, if you saw a software engineer that was at the same company for twelve years, not a co-founder and it wasn’t Google or Airbnb or Facebook, you would probably say, there’s something wrong with that software engineer. So let’s go back to your question before. If you five years ago, saw a resume of a 30-year-old who had been at the same company for a decade, not Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley or Google or McKinsey, you would probably describe that individual as loyal, steadfast and committed. So here we are. Now we’re recording this in May of 22. So if you saw a resume of a 30-year-old who’ve been at the same company for a decade, how would you describe them?
[00:31:29.710] – Nancy Goebel
[00:31:31.750] – Evan Sohn
There you go.
[00:31:33.010] – Nancy Goebel
Someone who is fear of change.
[00:31:35.830] – Evan Sohn
Yes, fear of change. What’s happened in this period of three years that the person that was loyal, committed and steadfast three years ago is now stale, risk-averse and almost unwanted. What’s changed is that the availability of jobs is just so much greater than it was three years ago. Applying for a job when I was a kid was you found heavy stock paper to print your resume on. You typed up your cover letter, and if you were crazy and you overdid it, you applied to 20 to 30 companies and people would look at you. I can’t believe you applied to 30 companies. You must be insane. What’s applying for a job today? Click, click, click. Piece of cake. To apply for a job. What was interviewing like five years ago? Ten years ago, you bought in a business suit or whatever business attire. You took the afternoon off. You had to lie to your manager about where you’re going. It was like a whole cloak and dagger. What’s interviewing today? It’s a 15 minutes video screen. Like, who doesn’t have 15 minutes to interview? Tim probably had two interviews this morning. It’s just that simple to do.
[00:32:58.690] – Evan Sohn
So the only thing that was keeping you at your job, right? The only thing because now it’s easy to click. It’s easy to apply. It’s easy to interview. So the only thing that was keeping you was the stigma of leaving jobs too soon, right? We all had parents or grandparents that said, suck it up. You’ve only been there for two years. Suck it up. Now the four out of ten people are looking for a job are open to looking for a job. 60% of all millennials have no problem leaving a job within six months. I saw an article about three weeks ago that said that in the survey that they had on millennials, 20% or 20% to 25% would rather quit their job than work at a job they don’t like. Crazy. It’s a whole other world that we’re living in. So employers really need to adjust to those things. What do we recommend again, this is a 24 month assignment or a showing progression. And this is probably the other answer to a long-winded answer to your question, showing progression to your employees much sooner. In the old days, I would say, Look, I just gave Fred a promotion.
[00:34:09.250] – Evan Sohn
He’s not going anywhere. Not true anymore, right? There is no guarantee that Fred isn’t leaving. There’s no guarantee. So what you really want to do is have Fred not even look at other jobs. So how do I do that? I say to Fred, hey, look, here’s your first promotion. Four months from now, I want you to be doing X and Y and you’ll get another bump up in four months or six months by the end of the year, I want you to be doing these new things. I’m going to teach you how to do as well. So I’m putting up aggression in place, that I’m showing the candidate, that I’m showing my employee what the world’s going to look like for them a year from now. Not when they walk in and say, hey, I got a job offer from another company. Can you match it by then? By then It’s just too late.
[00:34:56.350] – Nancy Goebel
It comes back to the point of transparency that we talked about earlier. It’s transparency of expectation. And what the give to get is at the same time.
[00:35:06.810] – Evan Sohn
That’s right. Totally agree.
[00:35:10.080] – Nancy Goebel
So another trend that we’re starting to see is that some organizations are reducing the minimum education requirement from a four year degree to an associate’s degree. And in part, this is because of the challenge in trying to hire people and in this moment of the great resignation. And so I’m curious to see if this is a trend that you’re seeing on scale, and how does that reshape what organizations need to do with this type of hire? Early on, that may be different from onboarding, say, the mid career hire that we were talking about before.
[00:35:56.290] – Evan Sohn
We do a recruiter index every month. So since June of 2020, we have surveyed recruiters, our recruiters for their overall market sentiment, what industries are they seeing, workloads, and then candidate sentiment and some other information. So this is all from a recruiter’s perspective. So a, if you think about what roles a recruiter is working on, they’re either working on the knowledge worker roles or they’re working on high volume, lower-wage workers. Right. And for the most part, the average recruiter is working on roles that are, let’s say, in the $80,000 plus range, something along those lines, $50 to $80,000. So you could sort of see those roles. And one of the data points is we’ve actually seen the need for a college degree drop significantly over the last five months. I think 30 plus percent of the roles right now that were recruiters are working on did not require a college degree. I think the number not too long ago was like 20%. So that’s a huge shift. Huge shift in terms of and what that’s telling me is exactly what you said, Nancy, is look, I need someone with these skills. I don’t care if they went to college or not.
[00:37:14.780] – Evan Sohn
And that’s really what we’re seeing. And again, it just goes back to moving into a skills based society and less about, did I go to college, how much time am I working, et cetera? It’s less about that and really more about can you get the job done or not? Ironically, pre-pandemic, it was the highest employment levels of ex-cons. So interesting, right? I need a Java developer and I don’t care, I don’t care one bit. If you could code, you got a job. And what you’re seeing happen now is the work from anywhere construct that we’ve all been living in since Covid had started is really, really morphing to hire from anywhere. So you’re seeing many companies now offering up, oh, I can get you English speaking developers that don’t live in the US. So that trend that we started to see in the 90s with outsourcing call centres, end of the 90s with outsourcing development to support Y two K business process outsourcing in the early two thousand s. Now you’re seeing, Gee, I need a coder, I need someone to code. I can’t find someone in the US to code. So you know what? I’ll go outside the US.
[00:38:30.290] – Nancy Goebel
These are all some very significant shifts. And one of the things I’m thinking about is how do we start to translate these megatrends to the needs of the typical audience for this podcast, which is really digital workplace leaders and practitioners. And obviously they’re facing the same challenges that these wider organizations are experiencing, but I think they’re almost two layers to the challenge. So there’s certainly the notion of leveraging the digital workplace inside of an organization to help support the onboarding process, getting people productive, and having a positive experience of working within their new organization through these digital workplace capabilities. Then the other side of the equation is dealing with more attrition within the digital workplace ranks themselves. And so let’s talk a little bit about each of these things. And from your point of view, especially working in an industry where you are supporting capabilities for recruiting, leveraging AI and networks, I want to draw out some of your insights around innovation, whether it’s through the video capability side and or the AI side relative to what these digital workplace teams and leaders need to be thinking about and supporting the hiring and onboarding process. And then again from their own team development standpoint.
[00:40:19.880] – Evan Sohn
First, I think that your audience and the leaders, this is not new. We’ve always made decisions on what we’re going to do internally and what we’re going to outsource. Accounting is a good example. I don’t know if your own personal taxes, you could do it yourself or you can outsource it to somebody else. As a company, do you have your own do you do your taxes, do you have someone in house that does it, or do you have an accounting firm that does it? You’ve hired lawyers, you might have your own general counsel. But hey, if you’re doing certain transactions, you’re going to bring on outsiders to do it. Very complicated transactions and very complicated things. And you might even consider your lawyer, your accountant, an extension of your company, but you’ve outsourced it. And I think that talent acquisition is something that every company is going to be spending more money on in 22 than ever before. And so you got to brace yourselves with Gee, who’s looking after the talent acquisition, who’s my extension to help me, the business owner, address these situations. Whatever you are hiring, whatever the numbers were, you got to expect to be hiring 20% to 30% more.
[00:41:32.200] – Evan Sohn
You’re just going to have that attrition that you want to prepare for. So that’s first off, in the 90s, security was the guard at the desk that checked your ID, and now everyone is spending money on security. Now, I don’t know if your organization has a chief security officer, internet security, network security, or if you’re just outsourcing it to someone else, but we’ve all figured that out. Payroll. You could do your own payroll. You can use one of the many companies that do payroll. So we’ve already decided as companies, we’re going to focus on the things that we do best, and then we’re going to bring in outsiders and focused on outsourcing those areas that are areas that we don’t need to have a core competence in. So I think that this is yet another area for companies to say, Gee, which areas are we going to be? Which areas do we need to be having a hybrid environment? Which areas do we need to be having access to on a regular basis? And which areas do we just don’t care where they’re working from? And if we don’t care where they’re working from, then we could really hire them from anywhere.
[00:42:40.900] – Evan Sohn
They could be working anywhere on the planet, as long as they’re actually getting the work done itself. Once again, if we started our careers back when I did, we did it all, and now we’re moving away from that. I had our own data centre back in the nineties never would think of running your own data centre now, right? You’re using Amazon Web services or Microsoft Azure or something else like that. So there are certainly things that we’re already doing as companies, and I think that once again, the prioritisation now as a company is to figure out what are those key areas that we want to be able to touch and feel from a work environment, getting together, et cetera. And by the way, if getting together is expensive because you’re working remotely or in a hybrid environment and getting expensive, you almost want fewer people who you’re worried about. From a culture perspective, the benefit of outsourcing your call centre to a company is they manage that process, they handle the Gee, people are quitting and they’re hiring and they’re handling all the onboarding. They’re creating that motivation structure for their employees. You’re benefiting from it.
[00:43:48.590] – Evan Sohn
Now you’re paying a little extra for the service, but that’s a very definable environment. If you have an accounting firm that’s handling your books, you don’t really care whether what you do, obviously, but their internal politics of people coming and going is not really affecting you so much. You have a key person on the account and they are handled by a variety of people that are coming and going, and it’s their responsibility to inculcate the new people to your business environment. So I think as business owners in a digital work, really thinking about what are your current competencies and how do you ensure that you have those people around you in a more cohesive fashion.
[00:44:24.850] – Nancy Goebel
It’s a lot for everyone to think about. I know we’re getting close to the end of our time together. I guess one of the things I want to make sure that people come away with is really your core sets of advice for individuals working in and around the digital workplace arena, so that they are getting the best of their workforces, as well as the new capabilities that are out there from an AI point of view, automation point of view, integration point of view. So share with me some of your final thoughts about this group.
[00:45:05.930] – Evan Sohn
Yeah, no, I’m always trying not to plug what we do. If it’s a byproduct, then so be it. I think that as business owners in a digital work environment, what you need to be doing is consistently building your most precious asset, which are your people. So I’m not telling you something you don’t know, but what that really means today is you constantly have to be building your pipeline of people. If people in your organization are like customers in your restaurant, would you ever say, I got to stop? I have enough customers. I don’t need to be finding new customers. The answer is no. Of course, it’s a perpetual process. So I need as a business owner in a digital world, to have a constant flow of people that I’m looking for, whether that’s entry level people, mid management people, this skill set I’m constantly looking for it. One thing that our software can do is provide that consistent pipeline of qualified candidates interested in working for you. Because you don’t need to hire. You may not need to hire 100 people tomorrow, but you’re going to need to hire 100 people over the next twelve months.
[00:46:18.460] – Evan Sohn
And there’s probably four job reqs across four job requirements across those hundred people. I’m making it up. So it really means you have 25 of each that you’re hiring over the next year. You want to make sure that you have some sort of pipeline of people that are perpetually raising their hands, saying, I’m interested. I think the next thing you start talking about video and other things is you really got to expedite your hiring process. The average full time, I think in the US, pre-Covid was like 42 days, something like 45 days. That’s just too darn long. And the reason it’s too darn long is the assumption is anyone that you’re interviewing right now, you should assume are interviewing for 20 other places. So if you’re competing with 19 other firms for that person, that you’re creating the same environment that everyone else does, and all you’re competing with is on dollars, which are probably going to be pretty consistent across the other 19 companies. It’s really the person that’s going to move quickly. So you really want to expedite that overall process and leverage technology to move that candidate down the process faster.
[00:47:22.570] – Evan Sohn
So what does that mean? If you want every candidate to interview six people have two zooms where three people are showing up to each Zoom, or if they have to meet five people, try to get everyone onto one Zoom or two zooms, but record the Zoom or record the session and circulate it around. No reason to make the candidate go through that process, set expectations upfront. Hey, Mr. Candidate, it’s now Monday. Your first interviews on Tuesday. We’re going to have another one on Wednesday. We’ve recorded the one on Tuesday. We’re going to ship it around to everybody, and we’re going to have you an answer by Friday. And if the person is not right, then move on, get past it. But you really expect to move people. You hear a lot about ghosting and all these other things. If you’re trying to compete against the companies that have a much greater budget, they’re stocking up on employee right now. That’s what we’re seeing. You’re going to see numbers. The last two months of numbers have been much, much higher. And we believe it’s all artificial. We believe that companies, there’s so much backfill going on that they are stocking up on employees.
[00:48:24.200] – Evan Sohn
Why? Because when you’re a big financial institution and you have ten open head count for this one role, the hiring manager tells their boss, hey, look, do you want to hire ten knowing that three will leave within the first four months, or do I’m going to hire 13? So you end up with ten within three or four months, and the person with the purse string goes, hire 13. So you’re seeing companies stock up on employees. One of our clients said, I don’t have a hiring problem, I have an attrition problem. That’s the truth. So that’s what you’re competing against. You’re competing against companies that are saying, look, I’ll take four of those. I’ll take four of those. You’re looking for one, and you have a company that’s better financially positioned to take four that’s what you’re competing with. So moving quickly, creating a great culture, aligning up with the priorities of the candidates. Those are the things that are going to help you win.
[00:49:12.450] – Nancy Goebel
Who would have thought we would have gone from stockpiling toilet paper to people?
[00:49:16.870] – Evan Sohn
I say it all the time. Right. But we were stockpiling Purell, and now they’re stockpiling candidates. It’s fascinating to watch. But by the way, it actually makes sense, right. If money isn’t the object and I have to get my the last thing you want to say as a hiring manager is the reason I have these open seats. I have open seats. Right. Open seats is a crime. I didn’t hit my number because I couldn’t find people. What, you couldn’t find people? Now the next excuse is, well, I found people and two of them quit. Okay. So you couldn’t figure out how to keep them. Much better to say, hey, I see you’re a little bit over budget. Yeah, I know you want to be hit that number. I stocked up for an extra three knowing that three are going to quit. That’s a much better position to be. And certainly if you have the financial, if you have the financial, wherewithal to do it. And if you look at Goldman Sachs’s numbers that they reported last quarter, one of their biggest surprises in terms of added expense was in hiring and retention. Not surprised. Just not surprised.
[00:50:17.350] – Evan Sohn
We actually predicted at the end of 21 that the US economy will spend $50 billion more in 22 over 2019 in hiring employees.
[00:50:29.440] – Nancy Goebel
So therein makes the case for really reimagining your onboarding process as well as the recruiting side so that you’re in the best position to get people on board and productive citizens as quickly as possible. And then looking at the next leg of the process, which is about creating the staying power, if that’s your ultimate objective, or to quickly prune that pool of new hires, as you describe, that the possibility might need to be.
[00:51:01.590] – Evan Sohn
That’s right. Completely agree. And every company is going to do things differently. Every company will do things differently.
[00:51:09.310] – Nancy Goebel
Well, Evan, it’s hard to believe. I think we’ve hit the top of our window together. I want to thank you for taking some time to chat with me. I certainly hope that we’ll have a chance to stay connected from this point. But what a fascinating conversation. Your energy is infectious.
[00:51:26.230] – Evan Sohn
Thank you very much. Well, you set it up with really fantastic questions. Look, we’re all challenged with figuring out what the new world looks like, but I think what we can all I just blogged the other day, just because we took our masks off, things are not going back to normal. We want them to. We want to feel normal. But in the world of work, there is a new normal. And it’s not just taking off a mask and going back to the way things were, but it creates opportunities, opportunities for companies, opportunities for people. Think about the world that we’re living in now. It’s just amazing to watch a candidate prioritise work life balance. That’s beautiful. That is a beautiful thing as opposed to I’ll just pay the person more money and they’ll stay.
[00:52:12.740] – Nancy Goebel
It’s a whole new world.
[00:52:13.970] – Evan Sohn
And it’s a real challenge and I think it’s a whole new world and these conversations are forcing everyone to step it up and figure out what the new world is going to look like. So thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to really have a fantastic conversation with you, Nancy.
[00:52:30.190] – Nancy Goebel
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