It's Josh Zywien, Smashfly's VP of Marketing #chatbots

On this exclusive, the boys interview Smashfly's VP of Marketing, Josh Zywien (pronounced "zwayne") to cover a broad spectrum of topics, including Zywien's opinion on chatbots, how job boards are doing in Google's World and the next big thing.



Disability Solutions helps companies strengthen their workforce and broaden their market reach by hiring talent in the disability community.

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

Joel: Chad, why do recruiters spend money on unqualified or uninterested candidates?

Chad: Dude, I don't know. Because they're recruiters? What in the hell are you talking about in the first place?

Joel: All right. Stay with me here. PPC campaigns mean you're paying per click, and the person who clicks could be qualified or unqualified. You don't know, and you're still gonna pay for that click.

Chad: Hell, man, a subscription model is even worse, because you're paying for all of the candidates, not necessarily qualified ones.

Joel: Bingo. So the answer is current pricing models suck. Duh. So what if you handed over cash for only interested and qualified candidates? And I'm talking about candidates that are actually qualified, the ones that meet all of your job requirements from years in the industry to specific skills.

Chad: I gotcha. Now you're talking about Uncommon.

Joel: Bingo. Uncommon is where the model does not suck.

Chad: Uncommon is simple. You set your monthly budget, and Uncommon only charges you when you get an interested applicant that meets or exceeds your job requirements.

Joel: That's U-N-C-O-M-M-O-N dot C-O.


Announcer: Hide your kids. Lock the doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman 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: Yeah!

Joel: Yo, yo, yo. It's an Uncommon exclusive.

Chad: That's right. Got Chad and Cheese. This week, guess what guys? We're talking to Josh Zywien, VP of Marketing from SmashFly.

Joel: Don't call him Bruce.

Chad: Don't call him Bruce Zywien. JZ.

Joel: Wayne's World.

Chad: Call him JZ. That's what his friends call him.

Joel: Excellent.

Chad: We might not be friends yet, but too bad. I'm calling you JZ. VP of Marketing from Smashfly. Welcome JZ.

Joel: What's up, Josh?

Chad: Okay, so give us a little bit about JZ. You haven't always been at Smashfly. What actually brought you to this point in your career? How did you make it to this pinnacle?

Joel: How'd you get lucky enough to be in the employment industry?

JZ: I've got a really screwed up, meandering path to here. I actually was a journalism major in college and had dreams of being a Sports Illustrated writer. I wanted to be Rick Reilly basically. So, I got into that industry and found out really quickly that it pays nothing and that the industry itself was just in a total nosedive. And tried to get out of that as quickly as possible. Ended up going to work for CBS in a worse job as a copywriter for a radio station.

JZ: So, you talk about picking two absolutely dead industries. I was excellent at that. And then just decided after that we oddly enough and totally serendipitous we found out my wife was pregnant with twins, and we were living in Boston at the time. And Boston's not a great place if you have two little kids and two working parents. You basically just sacrifice one salary for ...

Joel: It's never really a great place.

JZ: No, no. That's true. We actually ended up ... As stupid as this sounds, we both ended up quitting our jobs. My wife was an attorney and moving from Boston to the Detroit area where she was from. And rather than work for CBS out in Michigan I started my own company as a freelance writer at first.

JZ: Somehow that progressed into me helping a venture capital firm called OpenView build out its content marketing machine. And this is way back in 2010 before that was a big thing, which led me down the path of marketing and long story short, Smashfly was one of the companies that OpenView had invested in. They were looking to hire a marketer on their team, had asked me if I knew anybody, and ended up raising my hand and that's how I fell into this to be honest with you.

Joel: Yeah, I know somebody, me.

JZ: Right, exactly, exactly. Now, whether that was smart or not you can debate.

Chad: I guess we'll find out. Well, for the future CMO of Smashfly. I want to say it's probably pretty good.

JZ: Oh, you hear that, Thom. Make sure Thom Hennessy hears that.

Joel: Now, my question is, as a marketing guy would you have named any company Smashfly? Was Smashcockroach taken at the time?

JZ: Yeah, and honestly, I think still in a closet somewhere at Smashfly HQ, there's some fly swatters that we would send out to the customers. And it's ...

Sound Effect: Boo!

Chad: Okay, I'm not on board with the fly swatters, but ...

JZ: Yeah, nobody was on board with that.

Chad: I'm on board with it. I can smell both of those pretty easily. Joel, he's got to have something simplistic, like Indeed or something.

Joel: Yeah, because fly is so complicated. For those who don't know Smashfly, Josh, give us the elevator pitch on what you guys do.

JZ: Yeah, so Smashfly started originally as, came out of really the need to have a job distribution tool way back to seven, eight years ago. Evolved in a recruitment marketing platform. That wasn't a thing when we were founded, but it's a thing now obviously.

JZ: I think it's trending more toward the core system being the CRM, so Smashfly is obviously really hangs its hat and its anchor on the CRM, but we build career sites for companies, power the back end with a content management system. We have an events module. Obviously, Emerson, which I think we're going to be talking about. That's our recruitment assistant.

JZ: It's really everything that a company needs to market its opportunities to talent ahead of an opening ahead of a need. So, you can build pipelines and build up talent pools that you can go from or pull from instead of just relying on job boards and a horrible ATS application process.

Chad: So, from job distribution to CRM to RMP to chatbot, having chatbots. There's a lot of evolution that's happening. But you guys actually just switched CEOs here what in the last six, eight months or so. Have you seen, and obviously you're going to say something incredibly good because Thom's listening. But what was the big difference between the vision of old versus the new vision with Thom and crew?

JZ: Yeah, so I think it's ... And you can call BS on this, but it's a true story. Mike Hennessy was our founder and came from Brass Ring, was the chief architect over there before he founded Smashfly. And Mike is truly an innovator, an idea guy who's great at seeing a hole in a market or a need that could be filled in going and building that thing.

JZ: I think what Mike recognized, and I think he said this in a press release that we issued at the time, and Mike's still active with the business. But he recognized that there's a point at which the idea guy needs to pass the baton to somebody who's much more operationally minded and can take the business and scale it, and that's really Thom's background.

JZ: So, Thom doesn't come from the industry but has worked for two companies, one that IPO'ed and one that was acquired right before he joined Smashfly actually. Vista Partners I believe who just invested in iCIMS.

Chad: Within this short amount of time, what is being the one big difference between having Thom as a CEO and the new vision of Smashfly?

JZ: Yeah, so I think it's no secret that our market has matured quite a bit, and it's a lot more competitive. There's a lot more companies that are both focused on recruitment marketing and CRM specifically. But there's a lot of fringe technologies as well that I think create some confusion in the market. So, there needs to be a very clear go-to-market plan for how we're going to continue to develop the platform but for what niche we're going to carve out and where we're going to focus our time and effort.

JZ: Thom has a very strong technology background as well, so when you talk about the two different maturity phases for a business when you're just playing around with an idea, and you're trying to test that idea and see if there's a market for it. There's a l