Good to Know

Ways of Seeing Recruitment

HRsmart Customers Just Took Another Hit

Follow the bouncing ball. In 2005, Monster agrees to be a reseller for an ATS called HRsmart. Over time, as the market shifts and other tools (Indeed, LinkedIn) outmaneuver Monster, it decides to roll itself out as a product company that also happened to have a deep candidate database, and a job board. They bought several companies, and began offering career site hosting, nominal job distribution, etc. They kept HRsmart at part of that offering, but did not acquire the technology

*(As an aside, the ATS is a super important tool to not control it as part of your tech-offering stack, if you’re offering a full stack solution for sale…)

Monster sells its solution to a number of companies.

In 2015, HRsmart is acquired by Deltek, a poor-man’s, wanna be Oracle.

You remember them, from the movies, right..?

They decide that since Oracle has an ATS, they need one too. Support and development at HRsmart stops almost immediately. ATS begins to go down for clients, sometimes for days on end.

In 2016, Monster is acquired by Randstad, which has its own set of tools, as well as investments in numerous recruiting tech start-ups. Including some which could compete with Monster’s tech stack – so, is the tech at Monster being sunsetted, merged, or what..?

This week, HRsmart drops the ball with at least a dozen clients. Jobs do not post, and applying is turned off, as they announce that Deltek is being acquired by Roper Technologies. And if you use HRsmart, and think things were bad under Deltek? Just you wait. This ride’s gonna get all sorts of bumpy for you.

Here’s the thing – this is where it helps to be able to “dial a friend”. If any company that bought HRsmart over the past few years had asked for our advisement, they would not be in the boat they’re in now.

It’s that simple. HireClix Consulting Services (we’re calling it “Sherpa”) is designed to help avoid just these types of problems. We have spent years getting to know the technology in our space – who’s doing what, where, what’s the innovation, what’s breaking, who integrates with who & how, who simply cannot be implemented, and on and on. Our depths and breadth of knowledge in talent acquisition technology comes from years of working within the space. We install, rip out, reinstall, fine tune, etc, ATSs, live within their CRM, marketing platforms, sourcing tools. Manage our clients’ tool selection processes.  Partner with the investment space, providing guidance to HC tech investors. Test products and help with design for vendors.

And, because of all of that – we don’t build products. Not ever. Any consulting firm that tries to offer advice on what tool to buy, when they build a tool like that… is pretty suspect. Our guidance is agnostic – client driven, and knowledge informed. We can get you to the top of your next mountain.

Meantime, if you’re reading this, and you’re using Monster’s technology, call us. Asap. It’s free – we’d like to help, since the site dropping, and acquisition, cannot be fun to be dealing with. Just email, or call: 617-851-7277.

Heineken’s New Recruitment Advertising: The (Oh, So Very) Bitter in the Sweet

Last week, I was shown the new Heineken recruitment campaign site for Go Places.

It was, and I’m sorry for using this word, amazeballs. (I am really sorry for using that word, actually, but… it was). I believe I called it “genius” on Facebook. Showed it around. Loved it. Choose your own adventure, on steroids. Stylish, cool, fun steroids.

It’s almost perfect.

And then… god, and then it is terrible. Awful. Like meeting the person of your dreams, greatest first date ever, only to get invited in for a coffee at the end, to discover they live with their parents, 35 cats, a flock of pigeons, two of their exes, and their spouse. And then being told that they’d like to talk to you about “Our lord and savior, Cthulhu” (okay, that last bit might be hysterical).5b1d071c622d3bb26b6c26a80d80534e.jpg

Here’s the thing: Heineken invested a year-and-a-half, and a ton of money on this. It’s clearly a work of love. Their employment branding and recruitment marketing teams deserve huge praise.

But. No, they don’t. Not yet. See… they take that experience, one where at the end you are delighted to apply for a job (seriously: I wanted to apply, just for the sheer fun of it all), and tank it. Kill it. Stick a knife in it’s back, whilst forcing strychnine down its throat, all while laughing and shouting “Tricked ya! There is not true joy in life! Taste the pain!”

It’s the ultimate example of the front of the house not checking in with the back of the house. This is the mullet of recruitment marketing.

The pain? The pain in question is called HRSmart – its from Monster, and it’s part of their tacked together recruiting “technology”. They take you, the consumer of jobs, freshly pumped full of love and joy, from this:


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To this:

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Yup. It says there are two accounting jobs in California. Until you hit search – hey, where’d the jobs go? And why aren’t you matching me to the info I just gave you? And why is this getting so hard, so fast??

Right. I get it. They need to get your info, collect it, and all the rest. It’s an application process. We expect to have a bit of this. But… this? Wait – I have to create a profile before I can apply?? This is terrible!!

Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 6.26.09 PM.png

Because: HRSmart. Potentially the _worst_ possible option. A career site notorious for going down and dark. That forces candidates through so many hoops, and lags, and lost data, that the apply drop-off is one of the highest in the industry.

But… it’s even worse: the entire premise of “The Interview” is that they’re assessing you, in a very, very fun way. Heck, at the end, they say “We think you’re true character is [Investigator/ Innovator/ etc]”. They say they think they know some potential types of roles for people like you. That’s great! Fun! ‘Click here, and we’ll show you a bunch of potential fits,’ it implies.

But… no. Nope. Everything you just did, that fun work, the choosing and laughing and feeling hip stuff? A complete and utter waste of your time. None of it transferred. The campaign site, with all its data, can’t work to the freaking ATS. Here’s the conversation the marketing site and the ATS have at this point:

“Hey, this is Martin, he’s so super excited to apply, and we told him he could do it with his LinkedIn profile – wait, he can’t use his LinkedIn profile to apply? Oh, he kind of can, but it’s really not clear, and he really can’t, in the end, because that option fails all the time? Huh. Well, we lied to him, but.. well, never mind. We think he’s an Instigator! You know, that career category, and if he just tells you some basic stuff about his background, you’ll match him to – wait, what? No matching? What do you mean, you have no idea what I’m talking about?? Wait – who am I? You don’t know?? Didn’t employment brand talk to Operations about this, and get – he, where’d you go?? Shit – your entire site just went down again!! Goddamit, I’m gonna start pointing them to Sam Adams. Maybe they’ll listen….”

Heinken: why……?????? This was so full of win. And then full of fail. So sweet. And then so, so bitter….

Such the mullet. Next time, shoot me a note, or get in touch with HireClix. We’d be more than happy to help you get into a more modern style…





Proud Spammers…

I’m doing something meta here. Just got spammed by a recruiting agency that’s clearly too fond of Constant Contact, and clearly doesn’t care to do research. So, writing them back, but via social. Because it was a social media job. So: meta. Right? Is that how it works? I have no idea. Anyways: bit of a rant, with some blue language. Just ‘cuz.

Since they decided it was okay to spam me by name, I feel like it’s okay to mention them by name. Since, you know: fairness.

Dear Entech Network Solutions:

Nope. I am not a social media strategist. Nor am I receptive to what is clearly a mass-mailing. Call me arrogant, call me an individual, or – crazy as this sounds – call me freaking human. Nobody appreciates random recruiter spam (no one – no one, at all). We all hate it. And, it doesn’t work – in fact, the more you do it, the more people come to hate recruiters, and the more likely it is they will refuse to engage with them.

In other words: you are spamming yourself, and so many recruiters who actually give a fuck, out of business.

Here’s the damned spam:

Hi Martin,
I wanted to check in with you and see if you are open to new job opportunities! We currently have a client in New York City with an opening for a Social Media Strategist. We also have other similar opportunities for the same client in Austin, TX and San Francisco, CA.
The ideal candidate would have a strong paid social media background. They should also be heavily client facing and be a key player in the clients’ social strategy to optimize performance marketing across all social channels.
To find out more about this positions click below:
If this is not the right fit or time for you, we are offering a $500 referral payout bonus if the candidate you connect us with gets hired by our client. Please pass this message along as I would love the opportunity to partner with you.
I hope to catch up with you soon!

Blah. Bleck. Had to get that off my chest. If you’re reading this, and you’re not in recruiting, just know that not all of us are like this. Many of us love helping match people and jobs, it’s why we do it. We give a crap, in other words. But… clearly, not all of us do.

Also, Entech? The mid-90s called. They want their web site back.

*Update: I did email the recruiter back directly, and asked her to think about focusing on quality, as opposed to playing the numbers game (I may have said “this spray and pray approach doesn’t work”). Her response? “Spray and pray serves us well”. So… I guess they’re… proud of it..? FML

LinkedIn & Those Fake Profiles – the Dangers of Bad Data

When I first joined LinkedIn, I was running recruitment for a competing recruitment product company (and, btw, if you’re on LinkedIn, and you’re not in recruitment or sales/ marketing? You’re the product). It was a good platform, different approach from my employers, and I wanted to check it out.

I was delighted back then. Seemed to make sense, lots of data, people kept adding to their profile, so the data got richer and richer. Recruiters worked out ways to look for job-search signals: a change of photo, sudden flurry of recommendations, job descriptions and titles getting more filled out (and, yes, if we find you interesting, we track those moves you make – there are even tools that automate that for us). It was good.

Moving along, LinkedIn has grown – rapidly. Deep, broad data-set. Global in nature. A mobile offering (which needs help, I’ll admit, but it’s not as bad as the people who like to kick it around claim). On and on.

With that growth, however, has come a growing number of clearly fake profiles. Set up by hackers and scammers, they have become relentless of late in their connection requests, to the point where I get scammer connection requests daily.

Check out Nabya. She just sent me the connection request that triggered this little note. She seems legit, right? Not a stock model photo. College listed, has some endorsements, connected to three of my connections, etc. Since I’m hyper sensitive lately, I do Google reverse image searches on every connection request I get from someone I don’t know. Guess what? Two pages of results – multiple LinkedIn, Google+, etc sites that use the same picture. All with different names.

This points to fake data in the LinkedIn data set – and, based on the volume of connection requests, points to a rapid rise in this fake data.

This issue here, for me, is that LinkedIn relies a lot on their numbers to sell products. One of their strongest claims when pitching to recruiting leaders is: “We have 130 million users in the US. The US working population is 200 million.” They leave it there, but the implication is that over half the working population is on LinkedIn.

But… is it? There isn’t hard data on this yet (it’s being worked on – and I know a few people who are on projects to work this out), but conservative estimates are putting the number at 15% minimum. The highest I’ve heard are 40% fake.

That’s nuts. Now, I’m not saying this % is the same region-by-region, since at least half the fake requests I get are from Asia Pac (so, the recent LinkedIn claim that they have 100m members in Asia Pac is hugely suspect). But, even if it’s just 15% of the US number, that’s significant.

The next piece is about engagement – or, to be frank, disengagement. It’s easy to set up a LinkedIn profile. The real issue is one of engagement. If you’re reading this, decent chance you work in recruiting, sales, or marketing. Why? Because engineers, auditors, nurses, CEOs, etc don’t really engage much with LinkedIn on a regular basis. In fact, according to the PEW Research Center, 46% of LinkedIn users log in less than once a week, whereas 70% of Facebook users log in daily. That’s huge. If you happen to watch Silicon Valley (if you don’t, it’s so worth watching), you’ll be familiar with the critical importance of daily average users – basically, if that’s a low number, than you’re doing something wrong…


And, not to beat on this too much, but that percent of disengagement is highest with engineers – I talk to a lot of them, and by and large they ignore LinkedIn & LinkedIn inmails, unless they’re actively looking for a job. If they’re passive, it ain’t happening. They talk ruefully about “LinkedIn recruiter spam”, and how they just have LinkedIn emails directing to their email spam folder. A lot of them are so sick of the service, they’re deleting their accounts.

The danger, to me – and this is selfish – lies in how hugely reliant the recruitment industry has become on LinkedIn, and it’s pricey Recruiter seats. The company has done an exceptional job selling and marketing itself to executives, That “we have X number of users” line I mentioned earlier? It’s catnip to CEO’s – they essentially insist their recruiting department fork over large percents (like, say, 50%) of their tight budgets to LinkedIn. The down-the-line impact is that there’s a lot less budget for tools that actually work for finding engineers, etc (Stack Overflow, Entelo, HiringSolved, etc etc). And, a lot of recruiters think “hey, if I send out 50 inmails a day, and look at 200 profiles, then I’m doing my job”, so it becomes a crutch – one that gets in the way of them actually doing their real job: getting top talent hired as fast as possible.

Beyond that, there’s the very real security risk. Hackers are generally very smart – and they know how to use social engineering. LinkedIn is ideal for that. Create a real enough presence on the site, with multiple “real” profiles, and target high-value individuals with connection requests. Then, start asking for expertise, and create a connection. And then take it deeper and deeper, until you have enough data from your target (email address, personal info, etc etc) that you can gain access to their employer and its systems. Dell’s cyber security team recently uncovered a hacking attempt by an Iranian group using false profiles, as one example. This isn’t, of course, limited to LinkedIn (all social networks face this challenge), but it’s increasingly becoming their social network of choice for activity like this.

End of the day, and this rant, it comes down to this: LinkedIn needs to clean their data up, and it’s not even that challenging. I mean – there are over 200 fake profiles on LinkedIn that use the word “douche” as part of their name. They could pay a couple of interns to sit there for a week, get creative, and get to cleaning, and it would be a big step forward. I suspect the issue is – and I’ll admit I’m cynical – that they know this would damage their numbers, and that hurts sales in the short term. Long term, this is now Microsofts’s issue. Wonder if anyone asked Bill Gates to see how many profiles he has on the site…

Monster, Randstad, and… What’s That About HRSmart?


It’s entirely possible you heard the news. Possible. Certainly, if you work in the recruiting industry, it’s definitely possible. Maybe even highly so.

Anyways: Randstad (big giant Dutch recruitment process outsourcing company) bought (former) big giant US job board company Monster.

Which is interesting.

This acquisition may benefit Randstad – the integrations are going to be fascinating – and there’s nothing wrong with that. If they really keep the Monster brand intact, it’s going to be tough long-term (and I don’t see them doing that). So, if it’s not to create an entire separate product company, and it’s me at Randstad, I’m doing this for a simple reason.

Growth, through (a modest) diversification.

The RPOs have had several years of growth in the EU and Asia-Pac, but were more stagnant in the States and Latin America. They’ll likely slow in the EU (political and economic instability may hinder job growth), but continue to scale in Asia-Pac, as hiring by scale vs quality is still more the need for many of the larger manufacturers. The larger RPOs have been retooling internal processes lately, seeking innovations in models, technology, offerings, etc. On the technology side alone, many, if not all, of them are dealing with legacy contracts from clients, have to work with disparate ATS’s due to their client base, often don’t do CRM internally, etc. Because of this, they don’t have the ability to get a strong handle on source tracking, SEO, etc etc, because their data is in multiple places.

Ranstad’s move makes sense, in this context. If they want to rip out a number of internal, hodgepodge systems, and replace them with something new, unified, and efficient (not to mention being able to provide this suite, at a cost, as a service to clients), then they have two options: build from the ground up, or buy an existing stack and adapt it.

My money’s on the latter. To buttress, consider this: the Ranstad Investment Fund that invest only in TA/ recruitment start-ups. Some of them, you know. They also have a really smart team.

Here’s why I think it adds up. First, Randstad is buying a stack that has some tested technology across most of the recruitment cycle. I say most of, for a reason. There are a couple important gaps.

Roughly, define the recruitment process as starting with “we need to hire someone” to end with “they started”. It’s everything in that gap. Monster’s tools hit at pieces of that process (sometimes over and over) – they’ve got workforce planning tools to get the job opened, advertising and research tools to find people, a CRM to keep track of leads, a career site hosting product for you, and an applicant tracking system (ATS) so you can track people as they apply and move through your process. The issue is… not all of it works well, or necessarily together. There are still issues with integration across the tools. The CRM is a challenge, to say the least. And – strangely – the ATS and career site hosting offerings aren’t even Monster-owned products.

That’s right: two of, one could easily argue, the most important parts of the overall hiring process, are not Monster. They’re HRSmart, owned by  . HRSmart no longer works very well (source tracking is minimal-to-nothing, career site occasionally goes offline for hours – sometimes an entire day, etc). We’ve been urging Monster to work on the issues, but… well, not their product. And the products owners are Deltek, which is simply a private equity backed acquisition play that is not investing in development. So they’re not gonna fix it.

I see a possible future. If Randstad completes their acquisition, they’ll have some holes to fill in the offering stack. Notably, ATS and career site. Randstad invests in recruitment technology, and there’s an opinion out there that it’s simply as a way to test and potentially acquire technology firms. One of their investments is a platform called gr8people: a career-site product, ats, and CRM all in one.

Again, if I’m doing strategy at Randstad, I’m sliding those products into the stack, and shoving HRSmart out. Heck, I’m looking at my entire portfolio, and saying “can we really step up, and offer a working ERP that focuses purely on TA? It makes sense, right? You get your own internal ERP running, since it can track the vast majority of your product cycle; can offer a full stack to your clients; and get all that anonymized data in one spot, finally, where you can begin to build data models.

Here’s the rub for you, the HRSmart user: this doesn’t happen tomorrow. You’re still stuck with a platform that’s frustrating, and not going to get any better due to the integration. You may get access to the Randstad stack at some point, but it’s going to come with costs (higher fees, unlikely you’ll be able to just buy career site hosting & ATS, pressure to go RPO).

If it’s me, and now I’m just me, the guy who used to run Talent Acquisition at a few places, and thinks about this stuff way too much, I’m going to want to hear about options if I’m an HRSmart customer. Heck, I may just want to hear about options because I don’t like my current platform. If only for safety, to make sure what I’m doing makes sense (there are a loooot of options out there right now).

Can I Help?

Since I’ve been there, and feel your pain, I’d love to make an offer (paying it forward, since I’ve been given similar help in my time).

Call me. Well, or e-mail me for times, and we’ll set something up. A half-hour chat, about where you’re at, and what are your options. I’ll pontificate, probably, but mostly there will be good advice, and probably some laughs. A shared war story. Or two.

Here’s the info:
Phone: 617-488-9444

HireClix Strategic Consulting Services Launches

So, first off: let me say that working at HireClix is like working with a bunch of people you love, all of whom just want to make recruitment marketing better.

Wait: it’s not like that. It is that.original

Recruitment marketing thunder-buddies for life.

Thing is, we decided it was time to start talking more publicly about the new group we’re setting up. We’re gearing it around the idea of being a Sherpa for our talent acquisition clients, helping them find the top of whatever mountain they’re climbing, silent partners who know the best paths, and tools, to help them succeed. We’re playing with names for the new group (Sherpa is in the lead, but Recruity McRuitface, and Tequilla Cobra are strong contenders – that may tell you a bit about our culture, too: very boring, and buttoned up…).

We’ll offer a number of service, and more to come.

The Strategic Consulting Services will include…

  • Talent Acquisition Architecture & Design
  • Recruiting Systems Review and Selection
  • Recruiting Process Transformation
  • Applicant Tracking System Audit & Optimization
  • Recruitment Marketing Audit & Assessment
  • Customized Strategic Services

Meantime, we just issued a press release. I’m blatantly using my blog’s SEO to give it additional life. I’d be thrilled if you shared it around. And, if you happen to work for, say the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, or – heck – the National Enquirer, feel free to republish (btw, if you’re with the latter publication, yes, that was Elvis, and no, Bigfoot was not drunk at my New Years Party – that was the Yeti, because: sherpas).

Coming soon to a LinkedIn log-in near you…

“Thank you for attempting to log in to LinkedIn. From now on, you’ll need to log in via your Office 365 account. Don’t have Office 365? Lucky you, we’re happy to help you set up an account. Just click this link, disavow any association with Google for Work, install Window on your Mac if that’s what you’re using, and have your credit card ready.
(If you’re on a Chrome Book, just punch yourself in the face).
Have a great day, and enjoy OfficeIn 365!”

RecruiterMoe: The Goofball Awakens.


…a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum. Wait… hang on, scroll past the picture.


Right then. The thing is, I’m in recruiting, and I get to conferences. A few weeks ago, at the Indeed Interactive conference, Jessica Miller-Merrell, and I got to talking at the bar, as people do. We were talking about all sorts of stuff (as people do). Our backgrounds came up – how we got to be where we are in our careers at that point in time. As I was talking about things, she said “You know, I don’t think a lot of people know how deep your background in the industry goes – you need to fix that. You should definitely write about it.”

I said I would. But I didn’t mean it. Or at least I didn’t think I did. I’ve made the same promise before, about writing in general – Jeff Newman is probably pissed about it, in his affable way. My college advisor gave up years ago.

I suspect my mom has given up, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. And that’s a two-way street, Mother!

(This guy hasn’t given up. But he’s a hopeless romantic.)

ANY-who. Then, this thread showed up on Facebook. I’d link to it, but you may not be able to read it. Here’s a screen grab, just to give a sense:

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There were many sincere responses. People opened up about loving to help people. About bringing real change to an industry that has a bad (and, frankly, oft deserved)  bad reputation. Improving the candidate experience. Changing lives. Changing how business is done.

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And I, one of the industries awkward court jesters (there’s always at least one), wrote this:

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I mean, it was kinda true.

But I felt bad. Flip, flippant, too cool for school.

Plus I’d promised to write about it.

AND, legitimate work reason: I need to sell my skills now. Because I am now a Consultant. That’s right: capital. Freaking. C. Baby. At a real company – a cool one, at that.

So… here it is: the story of RecruiterMoe (erm, that’s me – by way of starters: Moe was a childhood nickname from my godmother, I am a recruiter, and that Twitter handle happened be very available for some shocking reason…). Not the whole damn thing, mind you – I aim to leave a little mystery. So just the first chapters fleshed out, how I went from “Shit. I majored in writing poetry??” To somehow becoming someone who knows things people are willing to pay to gain access to. Holder of secrets and pathfinder of sorts. I’ll close with a sales pitch. Because: Consultant.

A genuine industry sherpa. Who woulda thunk?

Chapter 1: Zero Dark Recruity

College was interesting. Tucked away in the far far north of the States. Lots of characters, time spent in the deep woods. Then wrapping up in London and Europe. I bumbled around for a few years – argued with Franciscan monks about God. Moved to the South for a girl. Ran a bookstore. Things got Tennessee Williams level complex in my love life. Ran my ass back up to the North in a GTI that was a souped up and way too fast… I loved that car.

Tried my hand at publishing. The GTI and I parted ways at some point. Blown clutch, and trying to fund a business booking rock and hip hop acts around Boston made for a hard choice. Possible I should have chosen the car, possible not. Got to hang with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Perry Farrell, and this guy who called himself Moby. Almost got into a fist fight with the lead singer from the Lemonheads. Fun times, but bills to pay…

So… soon, I’m looking for a job.  I have a stutter & talk way way way too fast.

I went looking. In the newspaper. That’s right: I. Am. Old. Monster was just emerging from under a router in an HR companies server room (I am not making that up) at that point. Newspapers had all the jobs.

I found an ad. It did make me laugh. And I found CPS – this client focused, ethical, old-school recruiting agency. Decided to use the word fiduciary in round 2 of my interviews, just to see if I could, because I thought it was funny.

They made me an offer. I think it was because the branch director was an obsessive reader of great books, and hated TV. We got to talking about books in the interview.

About that speech impediment? Making a living at full commission, on the phone (so: voice only) made a ton of sense.

Seriously: I wanted to force myself to talk slower. Fear of not eating, and being evicted, seemed like decent motivators to me at the time. Plus if I did it right: money. I was sick of eating ramen noodles, and praying I didn’t get sick, since, hey who needs health insurance, amiright? (Thanks for not being President yet, Obama… could have used your help). Over the next 5 years, I was trained in a few things:

  • Service, to clients and to candidates, is a granted privilege (that’s the company motto)
    • Screw that up, by being dishonest or cutting corners, and you’re don’t deserve to be a recruiter
      • I thought that was how all recruiters felt (I was, sadly, very wrong)
  • Mistakes happen – just own them when they do
  • Money isn’t the most important thing, but it helps pay bills – just don’t make it everything
  • Talk slower… No, Martin: slower
    • I had a girlfriend who hated how I talked to her when I was on the phone from work “You talk so normal.”
      • I knew I’d won something at that point
  • I also convinced them that using e-mail was okay. And that the Internet, and e-commerce companies, were okay to do business with.

Chapter 2: Internet and Ecommerce Companies Are Not Always Good to Do Business With (Or: what they hell is that sound? It sounds like something popped… like a million VC-backed companies crying out in anguish all at once, and then… nothing)

2001-2005 quite literally sucked at a business level. On a personal level, I got married and became a dad. Took a lot of the suckage out of things, and replaced it with this blissful exhaustion. My wife was generally freaked out at the roller coaster a full commission recruiter’s income becomes when the economy is in free-fall. I left CPS and took an outside sales job selling agendas and 7-Habits curriculum to school districts that were watching their budgets get slashed every minute. Managed to increase the territories sales – I am not sure how I did this. I drove a fantastic old brown Legacy wagon named Midge.

One day, I saw my future, and… no.

Chapter 3: Once More, Into the Breach

I missed the hell out of recruiting. I’d been so good at it. It was fun, I got to meet new people, learn about all kinds of businesses, and I could support a family. Decided to go back in.

I wanted to try out corporate – no idea why, aside from a vague feeling that being a hired gun gets tiring. And I was curious. On the agency side of the world, corporate recruitment gets ridiculed. I wanted to find out if all the snide comments were true.

But then I got to thinking that there was no company in the world that would hire me into corporate, with the economy still shaky, what with me having been out of the game for a few years. So I went and talked to a bunch of agencies, found one that seemed promising, and took a desk.

I didn’t like it. The thing at CPS was all about ethics and service. That we checked references thoroughly on candidates before submitting them, verified college degrees, all of it. If we found out something bad, we did not submit them. Period. We could call and talk through the issue with the client, if the candidate had a strong enough background and whatever we’d uncovered seemed potentially reasonable, but it was never to be done as a sell. Our job was to protect our clients, not make money and run. And that went to candidates, too – bad clients who didn’t treat their people well were verboten. The idea was that behaving this way, paying it forward, would come back as a benefit – a long game. You’d hear from clients, as well as candidates, quite often “You people at CPS are just different from any other recruiters I’ve ever worked with – you seem like real people.”

It was naive of me to think that was the norm. Turns out, most agencies will tell their people: “If you find a bad reference, bury that shit and find a good one. Tell the candidate to never bring it up. Also, you found out they lied about their degree? Only submit them to clients you know don’t do degree verification. Get the placement.”

I really didn’t like it. I couldn’t do it, and decided to leave.

At the same time, I was reading this new (to me) site, called ERE. Lots of great info on recruiting, trends, etc etc. People who seemed to believe in recruiting as a calling. A way of doing good, while making a living. Cool stuff. One day, while reading it, I saw an ad for a company called ZoomInfo. I liked their tech, and got a demo. I was also in the habit (still am) of checking out interesting companies for fun. I’d recently written Big Ass Fans a fan letter (yeah, pun intended), and gotten a bag of swag as a thank you. I was thinking about doing the same with ZoomInfo, when I realized they were 1 goddam mile from my house.

1 mile. So, I went to their career site. They were looking for someone to run corporate recruiting! I’d never done that before. But, I figured, at one point I’d never ridden a bike. Or kissed a girl. There’s always a first time, right?

You know what I did? I wrote the Mother of all Cover Letters. It was beautiful. I wish I still had it (this was pre-Cloud, and it’s likely on a hard drive in some dusty corner). Bryan Burdick, who I suspect is a genius, was the new COO there. He loves good writing, and he appreciates a great cover letter.

He hired me. It was time for me to hang my guns up, and ride out of town.


Chapter 4: Goodbye Shane, and Hello Sheriff

To tell you the truth, Bryan’s brilliant. I also suspect he’s insane. He’d just hired a guy whose entire recruiting experience consisted of working on the agency side, recruiting actuaries and accountants, to build internal recruiting at a fast-growing internet start-up. Not only that, but the CEO had the classic engineering-CEO disdain of HR. So, it was up to our controller and me to be HR. Bear in mind: I’d only been in an HR department once, years earlier, and it was to get yelled at.

Have you met me? There is no way I should ride shot-gun on an HR department. I mean, when they told me they were thinking about doing sexual harassment training, I quipped “There’s a class for that? I thought that stuff just comes naturally to some people.”

We were hiring software engineers – and not just web-devs, but experts in natural language processing, AI-driven, big-data search. Before those skills were at least relatively common in the software community. In a location that was nowhere near Cambridge or Boston. In an office park in a remote corner of a suburb. The subway did not, and will never, go there. Hell, the nearest bus stop was blocks away. And they wanted shiny kids from MIT.

We were also hiring marketers. Sales reps. Product managers. Executives.

Oh, and, over 4 years, maybe 3 accountants.

Like the GTA sheriff above, I decided to get scrappy (no, I didn’t shoot anybody – thought about it, but didn’t go for it). Since I was a department of one, I needed to use tools, I figured, to increase my destructive power – err, reach. So, I decided an ATS was a good idea.

(Btw, day 1 on the job? Nobody was expecting me. My boss wasn’t in yet. My desk was covered in a layer of dust, the light didn’t work, and the IT guys – who I rapidly came to love – had no idea I was starting, so hadn’t set up my desktop yet. Also: I had a used desktop. Not a laptop.

One of the first things I created was an onboarding plan).

I knew jack-shit about corporate. About software. About, hell: Excel.

When the Director of Core Dev said “We need to create some reqs,” my first thought was “Wrecks? I know about getting wrecked. Maybe he wants to go binge drinking?”

Luckily I knew how to fake it, and figure it out fast. Plus – turns out, not knowing what I was doing was an advantage. I didn’t know any better. Figured what I was doing was normal.

So… I found an ATS. Shopped around, did bake-offs. In the end, Colin Kingsbury had a solid one called HRMDirect that fit our needs. So I learned how to implement an ATS. Which meant not sleeping for a while, but: learning experience. We were a startup, figured that’s how we did it.

There were a lot of reqs. That’s right: I’d figured out what the word meant (thanks you Google). Hell, I’d gone and created a req-approval process that included service-level-agreements with the hiring managers, all done paperless. So I was sourcing. Prepping candidates. Scheduling interviews. Checking references. Making offers. Assessing, and training, interviewers on interviewing. Created an offer letter doc and process. Full-boat recruiting.

And… I was doing content marketing. Without any clue, I was doing inbound marketing before HubSpot was even a blip. It wasn’t genius. It was just me assuming “This makes sense, this will make my life easier, I’m assuming everyone else is doing this because it makes sense. I have so many reqs. Holy shit I need more candidates! Whadda ya mean you want a weekly dashboard for the exec team – aaargh….” Finding a way to multiply myself mattered. I was encouraging our employees to blog (this was 2006 – blogging was this random new thing – I know, I know… amazing how quickly things age…) Getting their names out there, tied back into our career site. Creating thought leadership everywhere we could that candidates we wanted might see it. Set up a blog on my side, too – the one you’re reading.

It seemed pretty clear that a blog that was all just reposted jobs would be.. boring. Like a radio station that was all ads – not content. So I decided to make mine about career advice, with the occasional post about ZoomInfo (like, every 5 or 6). I found a widget that could pull in freshly published jobs into a sidebar on the blog, from our carer site.

We set up an employee referral program, and worked with Marketing to create buzz (proud to say that at its peak, we were over 60% employee referrals).

Oh: and the career site got rebuilt. That was fun. Learned about A/B testing. Site maps. Created a voice for our employment brand in the process. It doesn’t look the same anymore – I still think mine was better.

And job postings… I had fun there.

Rock Stars: that may be my fault. Not sure. All I know is, I was up one night, late, and needed a generic description. I didn’t want to miss great people once I’d pulled them into the site, just because they didn’t see an opening. So… I was watching the show 6 Feet Under. One of the characters called the other “You’re such a rock star!”

It seemed cool at the time. Different. I wrote a description called “General Rock Stars”. It got blogged a bunch as a great example of how to do a job description. Next thing I knew…

Look: I never called anyone a ninja. Or guru. But, rock stars is something I caused, or at least helped accelerate: mea culpe. I just liked the line in the show…

Along the years,  I kept trying on hats: designed & project managed a physical expansion of our headquarters; stepped into product marketing when we laid off our recruitment product marketing team; did some of the aforementioned HR stuff; worked a booth at conferences with our sales team; gave some talks to recruiting teams, helping schlep our products. Wrote copy (I’m fond of the summary I wrote here). It kind of goes on from there…

End of the day, I took an offer for a package, when the company shrank in 2010 – and it was perfect timing. I’d done a ton. Learned a lot. Had fun, got tired, did it again. But it was time.

Chapter 5: And This is Where I Start to Leave You

Look, you’re read a lot. If you’re still here (hi Mom). So thanks. I promise this starts to wind down.

After ZoomInfo, I kept going. Started my own business – Talent MatchUp – helping with talent products, career site10854309_10153497996663852_8805996799951196523_o design, branding, sourcer training.

Realized I was faking it. Went to Paris. Did a bunch of thinking on bridges.

Paris was fun. And it gave me time to think about consulting. I knew I enjoyed it, and that I had information, and leadership, to offer, but that I wasn’t fully baked yet.

Chapter 6: PreBirth of the Cool Consultant

Here’s some advice: If you’re hiring a consultant, make sure they’ve actually done your job (or something equivalent) before. If they haven’t led TA, built a department, hired & fired… if they haven’t implemented an ATS that they then had to live with, haven’t built and run processes that – you guessed it – they had to live with… how can they help you do that? Consultants who haven’t taken arrows, spears, and blows to the head as a result of their decisions cannot help you avoid those types of injuries. They lack the nuanced information that comes with doing the job. That’s what I realized in Paris.

To get to that point, where I could feel legitimate in my advising, I focused my company on being a mini-RPO for one major client, who I could get to know well, and advise, and prepped myself to go back inside. Joined, and then as head of global TA scaled a company from under 100 employees to close to 450, helped lead their international expansion, lived part time abroad, built teams & managed them. Then went to PwC. Learned about massive corporate, about matrixed environments. About OFCCP compliance – and what it’s like to live in that environment, and the subtle ways to work there. Helped them transform their recruitment technologies.

I built skills, in other words. Because, I wanted to be able to give advice that came from actual experience. Advice that would help, and create value – because as I’d learned several chapters back, that’s the long-game. Not spending 6 months at a client, hand them a deck with high-level buzzwords and bill them 6-figures (that happens, and people let it happen).

Chapter 7: C for Consultant (or: Bring the Noise, Bring the Pitch)

hireclix black logo.pngHireClix. Hire. Freaking. Clix.

We’re building something bold. Funky. Fresh. The team here is brilliant – I’ve used them as a vendor in the past, and the contrast with the TMP’s of the world is shocking. Service matters to me, as does expertise – if that’s not clear already. This team lives and breaths those attributes. They’ve built on that, and the client list is scaling rapidly – Fortune firms are moving over, and others are trying to end contracts to do the same. They know how to help companies improve recruiting technology efficiences, are service consultants for some of the leading ATS & CRM platforms, build creative, etc. It’s a solid offering. With my joining, we’re setting up a service that will provide practitioners with real world advice and guidance around talent acquisition, particularly technology. How to gauge its effectiveness. How to untangle the spaghetti mess of legacy systems. What tools to invest in towards the future, and what the future looks like. How to get their purchases approved.

Need to write an RFP? We’ve got real-world experience there. Want to do a pilot, and measure it? Done that over and over. Need a perspective on why you didn’t select the tool the Managing Director’s wife’s cousin built that “He’s sure we’ll want to use – oh, and he told me that he’s in talks with all of our competitors”. Lived that, can help you be ready with docs, decks, whatever you need for air cover. Heck, you can even make us the scapegoat – that’s our job. We will help you look amazing.

So… yeah. This was supposed to be acres shorter. Became a bit of a ramble, wound up with a sales pitch (hey, I’m excited, okay?). You can reach me here:

I’ll leave you with this. Complete non-sequitor, but he is America’s finest actor.

Pimpin’ the Group

Well, hello there. How you doin’? Cool, cool… so here’s the thing: I have this little group, over on the Facebok, and it’s kinda cool. If you’re into the whole “talent acquisition/ HR tech sexy” kinda thing.

It’s not everyone’s cuppa tea. Or joe. Or, whiskey…

But it might be yours. The whiskey, that is. Also the group, but… have you tried this yet? Because it is delicious:
Any-hoo, bit early for that. But you should try some.

The group’s the thing, to paraphrase. This group, specifically: Talent Product Plays. We’re a bunch of misfits, scoundrels, and near-do-wells (along with some actual, genuine geniuses), who share a passion for talent acquisition & product. We’re a bit selective about who we accept in, since we want to keep the conversation focused, so it’s a great group to talk within.

Come check us out – if you’re game – and shoot an invite. Nobody bites (or, admits to it publicly) , and it’s a phenomenal group to network within. Also there’s whiskey. Sorta.

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