DEATH MATCH: Uncommon's Teg Grenager
Uncommon.co recently faced a panel of four judges at TAtech in New Orleans for Chad & Cheese's Death Match competition pitting four start-ups against each other.
Listen now to see how it went down for them.
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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 Death Match, part three of four. This Chad and Cheese Death Match episode features Teg Grenager, CEO of Uncommon. The Death Match took place at TAtech on September 27th in New Orleans at 9:00 AM in the morning with a room full of TAtech practitioners loaded with mimosas, Bloody Marys, beer, and Chad and Cheese snack. Enjoy after a word from our sponsor. Okay, Joel, quick question.
Chad: What happens when your phone vibrates or you're texting alert goes off?
Joel: Dude, I pretty much check it immediately and I bet everyone listening is reaching to check their phones right now.
Chad: Yeah, I know, I call it our Pavlovian dog reflex to text messaging.
Joel: Yeah, that's probably why text messaging has a freaking 97% open rate.
Joel: We had a crazy high candidate response rate within the first hour alone.
Chad: Which are all great reasons why the Chad and Cheese Podcast love Text2Hire from Nexxt.
Joel: Love it.
Chad: Yeah, that's right, Nexxt, with the double X, not the triple X.
Joel: Bom chicka bow wow. So if you're in talent 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 Text2Hire campaign for just 25% off. Boom
Chad: Wow. 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 chadcheese.com and you click on the Nexxt logo in the sponsor area.
Chad: No long URL to remember, just go where you know, chadcheese.com and Nexxt with two X's.
Chad: All right, make sure you got that drink in hand. Anybody who wants a beer, if you would rather have a beer, we have beer up here at the Georgia Stage. Good morning everyone.
Peter: Good morning.
Peter: You can tell there's very few things that would bring a crowd like this out at 9:00 AM after a night on the town in New Orleans, so props to our good friends Chad and Cheese. Without further ado here's Chad and the Death Match.
Chad: Hello. Good morning, good morning. So today we're going to do our very first Death Match. So hopefully everything goes off without a hitch. If you've listened to the podcast, we do firing squad. This is kind of like an iteration, what's going to happen is we have four contestants, they're going to have two minutes to pitch. No PowerPoint presentations, they are going free falling. So no PowerPoint presentations, they are going to do two-minute pitch, and then after that the balance of their time, their 15 minutes is going to be Q&A by our American Idol judging panel. Last but not least we have CEO from Uncommon, Teg Grenager. Come on, bring it, today. There we go. Watch out, stuff is being thrown. Excellent. Last, you know you've got to really knock this out of the park after these guys, right?
Chad: He's not even paying attention. All right, there we go. Are you ready?
Teg: I am ready.
Chad: So you're from San Francisco?
Teg: Yes, sir.
Chad: What the hell are you doing with that (Cowboy) hat?
Teg: All right, how are you doing everybody? The next thing I want to say is I love text messaging, I think text messaging is very important but I'm here to talk about a completely different topic. It's a topic that nobody in this room is talking about and it's a topic that is the single most important thing to employers today. You know what that topic is? That topic is quality, a qualified candidate. The reason nobody in this room is talking about qualified candidates is that nobody in this room can deliver qualified candidates to employers. But you know who is thinking a lot about qualified candidates right now? The people not in this room. Yeah, I'm talking about those people that didn't stop by to pick up their resumes yesterday, I'm talking about Google and Facebook and LinkedIn and even ZipRecruiter and Indeed.
Teg: Those guys are not here because their heads down with their data science teams trying to figure out how to deliver qualified applicants to employers. It's scary, they're doing pretty well. But I have good news for you, my company's called Uncommon, our team of data scientists, serial entrepreneurs, we just raised $18 million and we have built a candidate matching system that is best in the industry for identifying qualified talent. So how does it work? We're the only system that shows for every candidate his side by side comparison of how that candidate stacks up to the qualifications of the position. Why is that so important? It's because recruiters love it, they love it because they understand it and they can configure it. So we've brought this core technology to market in two ways.
Teg: One, a programmatic advertising product that delivers qualified active candidates, and the other one is a database search and candidate engagement system that delivers passive qualified candidates to employers. But make no mistake, we're a data company first and we're here to provide the data-
Chad: There it is.
Teg: ... the industry so deeply needs. Thank you.
Chad: Faith Rothberg, you've got the first question.
Joel: Thanks Teg.
Teg: Thanks guys.
Faith: Just so you know, I own a job board. We do have qualified candidates, so-
Teg: I know I'm going to ruffle feathers.
Faith: ... I'm just telling you, you might have pissed off one of the judges.
Teg: I'm going to ruffle feathers, it's okay.
Faith: But, okay, it's a Death Match so we're good. My question for you though is that when you talk about matching the qualifications, one of the things that's been in our industry as a problem for many, many years and really I think that recruiters have not moved away from this yet is that they put qualifications on job postings that are pretty much worthless, unneeded, unnecessary qualifications.
Teg: Yeah, totally agree.
Faith: So many candidates but they lose many of the qualified candidates because of screening them out. In your situation, how many basically false negatives do you have? How many candidates that should be looked at are falling through the cracks?
Teg: Good, okay. We've got false positives and false negatives, so in the world of passive search and engagement, false negatives are way worse and in that world we do pretty well. I wouldn't say recruiters like 100% of our candidates, of course they don't, right? We can't do that, nobody can do that. But recruiters like more than 50% of our candidates on average and that's really pretty darn good, that beats the industry average of what recruiters generally get. On the active side, yes, you're right, we care about both false positives and false negatives, and one of the really nice things about the way our system works is that it's verifiable. So when we say that somebody is qualified, you can see side by side all the points that they match and why they're qualified.
Teg: Now I agree with you that they may not get the job ... The qualification in the job description are definitely not usually enough for a recruiter to like a candidate, so the recruiter also can put in place their own preferred qualifications behind the scenes that don't have to necessarily show up in the job description that are also used for additional filtering. So they're in control of that and when they're seeing a lot of candidates they don't like, those false positives, then they can configure the system differently because it's a qualification base system. On the false negative front, if we say someone's not qualified, we showed exactly why, "You're not qualified for this position because in the job description it says X and you don't have X." Very transparent.
Deb: I'm actually going to piggyback on Faith's question, take it a little deeper. I don't know what the stats are, maybe someone in the audience knows, but we all know that when qualifications are set out on a job posting, typically, if a man is not 100% qualified, right, there's a high percentage of them that will apply for the job whereas women tend to be sticklers for if I don't have every single one of these things, I'm not going to apply. I guess my question is, is there a little concern around gender bias and your solution?
Teg: Yeah, good point. So one of the things we do first of all is we give more information back to the candidate than any other system that I've seen. As a candidate, if they're coming through as an active candidate and actually applying to the positions or system. We actually show them where they stand, we show them, "Okay, thank you for uploading your resume, here's where we see you comparing to the qualifications of the position. Verify this for us, is it really true you don't have the skill or is it really true that you do have these skills or this experience whatever it is?" That gives the candidate a chance to see where they stand and I think helps to put people of different levels over and under reporting onto the same playing field.
Teg: The second thing which I think is really cool that actually helps with this kind of gender difference is that we don't go through and look at the skills based on the keywords in the resume, we actually go and look at the job roles and companies as persons worked in and we actually predict skills that we think you probably have given that background. So there's patterns in the kind of skills people have in different position, so we're trying to surface for them, "Hey, you might not have mentioned that you have great experience with Mongo but we know that Mongo is used at that company, is it true that you have Mongo experience?" We're actually giving a chance for them to claim the skills that they might not have thought of putting forward which is just cool.
Joel: Let's talk about your pricing model for a little bit, your pay-per-click
Teg: I didn't say anything about pricing.
Joel: Well, we're going to bring it up. I've interviewed you a few times. Companies are still trying, a lot of companies are still trying to get their head around pay-per-click. It seems to me a little bit like you're shooting yourself in the foot in trying to reeducate the market on what your pricing model is. How are you tackling that challenge?
Teg: Yeah, fair enough. We did launch with a CPQA, cost per qualified applicant, I know many of you have looked at CPQA and try in some cases optimize the CPQA. We put our money where our mouth is when we launched and we delivered candidates on a CPQA basis. In other words, you only paid for qualified applicant. We're actually changing the pricing model now because we're finding the data is useful in more context like the passive search and the active search and so on and it was a little limited. We are still optimizing to a CPQA, so I think most people in this room are trying to shift from CPC to maybe CPA. I believe the long-term destination for all of us is CPQA because that's the only thing that the employer cares about, that's the only time when the employer receives value.
Teg: I'm not currently pricing on that, we price on a per-see basis at the moment so we have it's negotiable but a couple hundred bucks a month per-see per recruiter and opened certain number of positions. You can do active sourcing, you can do passive sourcing, all qualified applicants. 15 minutes is actually a long time.
Joel: I am actually still trying to absorb a little bit of what you said in regard to ... In regard to the candidate's skillsets, you're right about getting qualified candidates as far as pricing goes but you're not going far enough down the stream because I definitely think it's going to get to cost per hire. But for right now, how are you actually able to say they truly have those skills and that there's qualified? Like qualified can be subjective, so how do you know that and is it objective based on what?
Teg: Totally, great question. First of all, you think about the different pricing models you can have on the value spectrum, the least value you can give is someone's click. That's like the far end, if someone clicked and they didn't apply, there's very little intent there and so on. You can have a CPC, you can have a CPA, and on the far end you can have a cost per hire, that's obviously the best. Our entire industry ought to be organized around trying to decrease the cost per hire and if everybody in the industry were actually paid only based on hire, a lot of stuff would be cleaned up. We would all be changing the way our businesses operate, we'd be looking for quality way back further in the pipeline or in the funnel, much, much earlier in the funnel.
Teg: But if you wait and try to optimize, if you try to take an algorithm and try to select candidates, select job boards, select language in your job description, do all this optimization based on a cost per hire, it's very, very difficult. Because hires happen one in many hundred candidates or sometimes one in many thousand clicks, you actually get a hire. I don't know if any of you have studied any statistics or data science, but when you try to lead a pattern into that, it's very, very hard. Even though that's the goal and that's the true north for all of us, we've chosen something which is still very useful signal, it's this qualified application. It's much more frequent, the data is much denser, so we're much better able to optimize. We can for example easily optimize the job boards in our plan or easily optimize the CPC bits that we're sending off to job boards based on the qualified applicant.
Teg: Because it's something that we're getting that signal all the time, there's much, much more frequent signal. We wait until we get a cost per hire, how am I supposed to know? Should I only spend on the job board that produced my one hire? That doesn't make any sense. The qualified opting, you said how do I know that it's objective? Agreed, I'm no guarantee that this person is going to be liked by the recruiter or by the hiring manager, all I'm doing is the first rough cut. The reason why that's valuable is that there's so many unqualified candidates in the stream today. Yes, job boards are all working on trying to improve the quality of their applicants, but if you think from an employer perspective and you talk to employers, their experience of a recruiter today doing active advertising is that they're getting 90% applicants that don't even meet the basic qualifications of the position.
Teg: People that don't have the right educational background, haven't worked in the right industry or haven't worked in the right roles. I'm not trying to go and find you your candidate to hire, I'm just trying to weed out all the folks that at the moment are pure noise that you really shouldn't have to even look at. That's like to me a very rough cut but a very valuable and useful rough cut in the industry.
Faith: I work with a lot of clients who are Fortune 500, who have never spent the time to overhaul their job postings because of compliance, legal, etc. And so there are job postings out there that are two sentences long or they have titles that are nonstandard nomenclature, they're titles that only they understand internally. How would you address that as their vendor partner?
Teg: Good, so first of all, I don't have a product ... I'll be very clear about what pieces we have and don't have. So we have a vision, we have a great product to do programmatic advertising today. I don't have a system to optimize job descriptions, but one of the cool things about measuring qualified applications is that it provides a good signal that you could use to optimize job descriptions. We see as you do massive differences between a well constructed job description and a poorly constructed job description. You can have a 10X difference in the click rate, conversion rate, and also on the qualification rate. For example, what the job post, the way it was advertised when you first saw on the job where it doesn't match actually the details when you go and read it, you get a pretty low qualification rate.
Teg: People don't read very carefully and they click apply and it turns out they don't have any qualifications. I think it's a cool direction, we don't do it at the moment. One thing I do want to mention though is for job boards, because I know this room have a lot of job boards in it, we haven't productized it yet but it's the kind of conversation that I am interested in having and I think can be really valuable for many of you is to use our APIs to go and actually check the qualification. Again, this is the rough cut, meeting the basic qualifications for the position, the qualification of each candidate to each position before you pass that candidate onto an employer. I know many of you have QPR at the end of every quarter or at the end of every year and you're looking to skip renewals from your clients. You often have this meeting with surprise while saying, "Well, we really love you guys, you did a great CPA, you did a great CPC for us but we didn't make any hires or we only made two hires, or whatever it is."
Teg: It's like this big surprise like, "I thought I was sending in good stuff, I was really trying, my team was really trying and we didn't apparently send you enough good stuff." Now I'm getting optimize off the plan, I just wasted a lot of my time and a lot of my team's time and money. One thing that I want to try out with some of you, is a very new thing for us, would be for those of you who are interested to be able to hit simple API and actually pull back from your database the positions that this candidate is actually qualified for, or the other way around, if you have a position to pull out the candidates in your database that you should email about this position. The candidates that would actually be qualified for this position and you have both APIs.
Joel: $18 million in investment, congratulations. How are you investing that money and does your vision require more money down the road?
Teg: We're buying a lot of yellow notebooks and we're putting them on all of chairs. Okay, no, the money all goes to pay for staff and we obviously have a team that's really heavy on software engineers and data science. That's the right answer but it's true, I don't actually have a single salesperson right now. I have a contract salesperson and I have myself. So, yeah, the money is being spent to build out core technology and what else can I say? Bring great products to market. Oh, more money? Yeah, we're going to raise a Series B. Yeah, definitely. I don't think we're going to get to enough profitability on a Series A so I'm hoping we can go and show our investors the traction we've had with this model so far and we'll raise a Series B in 2019.
Joel: Thank you and where can our audience find out more about you?
Teg: Yes, thank you very much, www.uncommon.co, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, it's C-O at the end.
Joel: Thanks Teg and thanks Uncommon. Thank you.
Chad: Good job. Good job. Hey, I want to thank all the contestants.
Peter: Okay, let's hear it for the Chad and Cheese Death Match.
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