Behind The Brand w/ Joe Shaker Jr. -- NEXXT Exclusive

It took over a year to convince Joe Shaker, Jr., president of Shaker Recruitment Marketing to be a guest on The Chad & Cheese Podcast, but he acquiesced. The state of the recruitment ad agency is as interesting as it's ever been. From newspapers to job boards to branding to tech, and even their newest acquisition of The Arland Group. We cover all the bases.

Enjoy this Nexxt exclusive interview.


Announcer: This, the Chad and Cheese podcast, brought to you in partnership with TA Tech. TA Tech, the association for talent acquisition solutions. Visit

Chad: Okay Joel, quick question.

Joel: Yup.

Chad: What happens when your phone vibrates or you're texting or it goes off.

Joel: Dude, I pretty much check it immediately. I bet everyone listening is reaching to check their phones right now.

Chad: Yeah, I know. I call it our "Pavlovian dog reflex" of messaging.

Joel: Yeah, that's probably why text messaging has a fricking 97% open rate.

Chad: What?

Joel: Crazy high candidate response rate within the first hour alone.

Chad: Which are all great reasons why the Chad and Cheese podcast love..

Joel: Yeah.

Chad: ..Text2hire from NEXXT.

Joel: Love it.

Chad: Yup, that's right. NEXXT, with the double X. Not the triple x.

Joel: Boom chica bow wow. So if you're in town acquisition, you want true engagement and great ROI, that stands for "return on investment" folks. And because this is the Chad and Cheese podcast, you can try your first text to hire campaign for just 25% off. Boom.

Chad: So how do you get this discount you're asking yourself right now.

Joel: Tell them Chad.

Chad: It's very simple. You go to and you click on the NEXXT logo in the sponsor area.

Joel: Easy.

Chad: No long URL to remember.

Joel: Yeah.

Chad: Just go where you know. and NEXXT. With two x's.

Announcer: Hide your kids, lock the doors, you're listening to HR'S most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Chad: Welcome to another episode of the Chad and Cheese podcast. Today we have an interview with..

Joel: Yeah, that's right.

Chad: Joe Shaker Jr.

Chad: Welcome Joe. President of Shaker Recruitment Marketing and you guys, I mean, Shaker has been around for a hot minute, right? How long have you guys..tell us, give us a little background on Shaker.

Joe: I'd be happy to Chad. We have been around for a little bit. 1951 actually was when our agency started, so we're going on six decades now of recruitment marketing. Started by my grandfather. So very proud of the fact that I am third generation leading the organization. But you know, always helping organizations recruit new talent so I will believe we are one of the longest running recruitment ad agencies out there and there's early stories go back in time to, you know, Bernie Hodes and my grandfather actually having many good times touring the US helping organizations through talent acquisition or back then, recruiting. So yeah, it's been a long family history. A long tenure that we're proud to be part of the Shaker family legacy.

Joel: So third generation. Was this a voluntary job for you? Or was this sort of at gun point that you decided to be in the business?

Joe: 100% voluntary Joel. I mean I am one of 24 in the third gen. Some of the third gen obviously are joined the ranks, and have joined the agency. There's six of us actually in the third generation that are working currently at the business.

Joel: Wow.

Joe: Second gen, which is obviously my father who grew the business and his siblings are also still here. So there's a good amount of our family but we're up over a 100 employees now. So it's not just Shaker employees. With Shaker family as well as our employees, that makes up the whole entire organization.

Chad: So, there's been a lot of ups and downs over the last 60 years for goodness sakes. How in the hell has Shaker been able to hold it together for so long? We've seen so many big names go by the wayside. How have you guys been able to do it?

Joe: You know, I will say it's our founding principle that my grandfather, when he created the business, it's customer service. I know it's easy to say that but I do believe that's really how this agency was founded around his motto and my father's motto, "make a friend, make a deal". And in doing so, we do what I think it's two for. We've built strong relationships with our clients. Many of which we've had decades with. Some organizations have been with us 20, 30 years.

Joe: But we also hold those relationships I believe very strong with the media. Because that is really, at the end of the day, where the bridge between the media and our clients. And having those strong relationships both with our media friends and partners as well as their clients is what has allowed us, I believe, to not only, you know, continue to grow but stay relevant in the industry.

Joel: Historically, is you can go back to your grandfather if they were all in a room, was 2008 the hardest time? Was it 2000? I mean, what period for agencies was indeed the toughest?

Joe: Sure, I mean Joel, you hit it. I think it was your last podcast. I mean, when you blast reception right, you had a couple of things I think that kind of hit the industry, it was obviously a recession which we all know our industry is tied to. Jobs are going to go up, jobs are going to go down. And our business is going to go along with it. But I believe from an agency perspective right, you also had this change in business, right? Going from print and obviously going to online. Also changed our business at the same time at which many organizations stopped recruiting.

Joe: And so you had to figure out both, right? How do you stay relevant in the new era of talent acquisition and recruitment marketing as well as manage to do that in a time when not many employers were obviously hiring. And so that was probably, I would say, the most difficult but it was also, you know, in all fairness, probably really the first one I've had to lead through. And my father, who's done this longer than I have obviously, has led me through how he's done it in the past. And it's really staying true to the core and building those relationships and keeping our business in tact.

Joe: Because we all know it's going to come around, no venture organizations, like working out today are out there aggressivley recruiting and right now I believe, out of the recession, this is when the hardest times. I mean, it's so competitive out there. And I use the lines of one of my clients at Mcdonald's, David Fairhurst says "It's not a war for talent, it's like a workforce cliff and how difficult it's getting". So I think this is either a trying of a time to help organizations sustain, you know, effectively recruit the talent acquisition out there.

Chad: So other than the workforce cliff, which is, I mean that's big enough as it is. What has been the biggest change in the last five years? Has it been technology? Has it been the relationships? I mean, what's really been the driving force of not just Shaker but you've seen the industry overall.

Joe: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You know it's funny Chad, because a lot has changed, right?

Chad: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Joe: A lot hasn't in terms of, I believe, recruiting when you look back in confusion that exists out there. The difficulty in finding right talent, right, is what is, what's making it difficult right now.

Chad: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Joe: And so if you go in time, you know, it might have seemed easier, right? Because ultimately, there was just print. But even when it was just print, and Joel no offense, I'll have to disagree kind of with the statement on the last podcast. That wasn't easy, even when we were running newspaper across the US. You had to research, you had to find those newspapers. Both the nationals as well as the locals. What's the best data to run? What's the right circulation? The trade journals. You know, what's the creative in the ad? It was a difficult job and it was a time consuming job.

Joe: And much like it is now, is it the aggregators? Is it the job boards? In some cases, it's still running ads in local newspapers. It's still a difficult task to put together the right media mix? But I believe the biggest thing to answer the question "What has changed the most?". Is around, you know, it's a buzz word but it's one of the most important parts, "Employment branding". Historically, we used to just create pretty ads. It was aspirational. Wasn't tied to anything. That was in the 70's and the 80's. Now, we all realize the importance of messaging. You can't do false advertising because all it's going to do is lead applicants and they're going to balance and you're not going to retain any of them.

Joe: And that's what led to the explosion of employment branding. You get to that employment value proposition. And that is also, obviously, and opportunity that opened the doors for many agencies because it's obviously a service that we all provide. And I believe it's one of the most important things that our organizations have to do. As you can put together the right media mix, but if we're saying the wrong thing, what's having the right media plan going to do?

Joe: Ultimately, they're just all going to bounce and the key to this whole thing is retention.

Joel: I want to talk about talent for a second. You just made an acquisition, which we've talked about on the show..

Joe: Sure, yeah.

Joel: .. and for our listeners who haven't heard that episode, I encourage you to do so. You've gone from about a 100 to a 110ish, according to the news that I've written and read, I assume a lot of that was the hires that you've made from the Arland group. So my question is, saying that it was difficult to, you know, what publications are we in? What is creative look like? Etc. How has talent changed from the newspaper days til now, or has it at all?