Over 11,000 subscribers tune into Hung Lee's Recruiting Brainfood every week. To say the dude knows his shit is an understatement, and Chad & Cheese explore a wide variety of topics with this snarky Brit.
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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.
Joel: I don't know why it took us so long, but believe it or not, Hung Lee, ladies and gentlemen is-
Chad: Hung Lee!
Joel: ... is finally a guest on the show.
Joel: Hung Lee, welcome man. Some of our listeners do not know you.
Hung Lee: What?
Joel: I'm going to quickly introduce you as the CEO of Workshape.io or as Chad likes to say, "Workshapio," and probably more well-known by our listeners for your curation of Recruiting Brainfood, the weekly email that goes out. Hung, welcome. Good to have you here.
Hung Lee: Finally. Guys, let me just say it's a massive honor for me to attend this show. It feels like it's a milestone. And it's definitely on my calendar. It's something that I'm going to frame. This is a big moment for me. Thank you very much for having me.
Chad: You can tell that he's a Brit, because he's saying all this stuff and you can hear behind he's like, "I can't wait to get over this fucking podcast for god's sake."
Joel: Yeah, we have a bad habit of getting guests that sound way smarter than us. We need to ...
Chad: Which is not hard.
Joel: We need to downgrade our audience or our guests for sure. We couldn't downgrade our audience anymore. But our guests need to be taken down a notch or two. So Hung, what did we miss in the intro? What do we need to know about you that we don't already?
Hung Lee: You know what? I'm so focused these days on doing those two projects. It's hard for me to fill in the gaps really. I mean maybe you guys are probably very familiar with it yourself when you do something media related you give so much out, it can be a bit consuming. So when people say, "What do you do in your spare time?" I'm thinking, "I have some fish. What else do I do? I like hanging out now and again if I see my friends." But yeah, it's an all-consuming thing to be one of these people that is trying to support the community and push the marble forward for one, you know?
Chad: Yeah, but he's HR's most eligible bachelor. That's one of the things that he's leaving out there. Yes, he is working hard.
Joel: And as we've determined before the show, with a name like Hung, if you don't bring it, there's going to be a lot of disappointment, so maybe there's a reason he's still single.
Hung Lee: Can I just credit you guys? It's like two minutes, less than three minutes in and you already got that one in. So I just want to say well done.
Chad: Joel has been waiting at least a year. When he first came out with that joke, he's like, "Holy shit." He's had that thing holstered, man.
Joel: It took a long time to get our schedules to sync to have you on the show. So yes, I have been waiting for a while.
Joel: Let's talk about Recruiting Brainfood for a second. Why did you do it? What's the process? You have advertisers. Just sort of give us the lay of the land and what you do with the Brainfood product.
Hung Lee: So I mean the genesis of Recruiting Brainfood is really ... I mean I personally found it very difficult to find great content online. I mean there's a lot of stuff out there, a lot of quality content. But there's also so much that's trash.
Chad: Junk, yeah.
Hung Lee: That is was very difficult for me to really ... Where is the good stuff? Where is the consistent good stuff? And I just started collecting links as people do. You bookmark them. You put them into pockets or whatever it might be to consume it at a later date. And it just occurred to me, "You know what? If I started sharing this list to people, maybe other people can get piggyback off the work I'm doing and they can get some of the good stuff that way as well." So Brainfood really started off as a way for me to try and improve the signal to noise ratio if you like, using startup speak, and to make the internet a little smaller for myself. The internet got so big that it was unmanageable. So I wanted to try and shrink it down into a more manageable size. And that's what Recruitment Brainfood, that was the start of the newsletter. It's basically an attempt to make it smaller.
Joel: So that sounds really warm and fuzzy. But there is certainly some interest where you're building your personal brand and you're also getting the Workshape.io product out there. That certainly had something to do with it, right?
Hung Lee: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I mean there's another ... What I find is that most things that you do tend to have value in multiple areas, right? So when you do anything public, I wasn't unaware of the fact that, hey, listen, if it does turn into something then maybe this will be a nice in balance strategy for me in some way. We of course in Europe have the GDPR thing happening. Last year I think it was. And Brainfood started two years ago. So I had a little bit, a look around the corner in thinking maybe I need to really get consent from the people I'm emailing. And one of the ideas was, hey, if I was able to launch a newsletter then maybe I'll be able to email these folks without needing to bother too much or be too worried about the GDPR side of things.
Hung Lee: So for sure there was multiple reasons for doing it, but primarily it was for personal consumption was the first thing. And all of those later things just started coming in as the newsletter got a big more popular.
Chad: Well, then it started to snowball, right? And now you have a series of lists that you have available to the public as well. So talk a little bit about that.
Joel: So how big is your list, Hung?
Hung Lee: So I think Joel has this size thing going on, doesn't he?
Joel: I have issues.
Hung Lee: Yeah. That's okay. We can talk about that later.
Chad: He's overcompensating as usual.
Joel: Because size does matter when we're talking about email lists.
Hung Lee: That's it. So the email list in terms of subscribers I think it's something like 10,600 or so right now. So not mega massive. I think lots of people are into the hundreds of thousands and so on. But I think we've got a good bunch of people who seem to be reading it, who seem to be very into the idea of the Brainfood. And yeah, they seem to be engaged. So that's growing and growing well, so I'm very happy with that.
Chad: You have lists around conferences and other lists too, right, that you guys ... I mean it's like a crowdsourcing type of curation that's happening right now. That I mean has really grown and exploded lately as well, right?
Hung Lee: You know one thing that I really learned value on is if you've got a network, you've got to put the network to use. I think a lot of people don't really ask for help in a public way. I mean today's a great example. I got an email from a subscriber who said ... who had a problem about, hey, listen, Hung. What are the things that employers are looking for when they're recruiting for a head of talent. She was going for a job there. And I twas thinking, "You know what? I could give this person advice, unqualified advice, I may add because I'm just one guy. I'm giving her one perspective." What she should have done and what I recommended her to do was to publicly ask for that information, get multiple inputs, multiple sources of opinion, which I think she's going to do.
Hung Lee: So for me I default to asking a lot of people. I rarely ask one person for advice because that person's only going to give me their angle and even though I might respect them in terms of what they know, it's only going to be one narrow view of the world. But if I stick it out more broadly, then I'm going to get multiple perspectives. And then hopefully you'll be able to make a better decision as a result of that.
Joel: So we talked about some of the positives for your business, but I'm sure taking time away from the startup is challenging as well. Talk about some of the things that ... the challenge that you have balancing Brainfood versus Workshape.io and how you kind of maneuver that obstacle course.
Hung Lee: Yeah. I think realistically you have to change your business plan. You have to change acquisition strategy. You have to do all of those things when you try to ride both of these horses. So to put this into plain language, basically with Workshape one of the big things that costs time was obviously a customer acquisition. You've got a go in and sell to customers. You've got to go and pitch to them and demo and do all of those things. Labor intensive work which I found you could not do that with Brainfood running alongside.
Hung Lee: So what I've done with Brainfood is basically always put a link back to Workshape so that as the audience on the newsletter grows, I'm actually getting in bound customers signing into the product and they're converting through that means. So the discovery of customers has changed. I had to change the pricing on it, so obviously I have to drop that down because I'm no longer doing the high touch sales but I'm hoping that that will compensate by higher volume and lower customer acquisition cost.
Joel: Interesting. So let's talk about Workshape.io. A lot of people I think just know you for the Brainfood newsletter. Tell you about your start up.
Hung Lee: So Workshape is basically a matching product that helps companies recruit software engineers. Our main idea behind this was that we felt that the problem in hiring tech people wasn't the discovery issue. People are getting easier to find these days. Lots of data out there. Lots of great tooling out there to help you identify the person. But the person has stopped listening to us, right? They don't want to talk to recruiters, especially if you're a technical person with a high demand skillset. The last person you want to interact with seems to be someone who's pitching you by email or whatever it might be.
Hung Lee: So what we wanted to do with Workshape is basically to create an environment where engineers could discover a new job opportunities but be insulated from all of that over-recruitment messaging that they're getting from more public places. We knew that Linkedin was problematic for software people. We knew any place that really had an open database where you could search for candidates was going to be noisy for those guys. So we wanted to create a low noise, high signal environment for software engineers to conduct job discovery.
Hung Lee: And basically what this means, guys, is there's no search and no ads on Workshape. It's a matching product. We basically take information about what the engineer wants. We visualize that in terms of time or the tasks which we then display as a work shape and we match that directly with an organization that has a compatible job. And the idea is if we're going to remove a lot of that ad and apply mechanic, hopefully we can just connect people together that should naturally have a conversation and then we as a platform will get out of the way and let those two folks have a conversation.
Chad: So I watched a video that you put together. I mean it was a really short video and it was cool, because it showed just how easily somebody could come in, create their own work shape.
Hung Lee: Sixty seconds, man. That was our target. We wanted to get someone through the flow in 60 seconds.
Chad: That's awesome.
Hung Lee: Yeah, an engineer's not going to spend time filling out forms, right? So one of the main things that's problematic when you're doing a matching product is the amount of information you collect is directly associated with how accurate your match can be. But then you have another problem because the more you ask for that information the less people are going to complete it, particularly if you're highly skilled, in demand. So what we wanted to do was really find a way in which we could get the engineer to give the information that we wanted which is how do you want to focus your time as a software engineer and do it in 60 seconds or less. And that's where the work shape idea came from. The idea of not doing it text based at all. We're kind of anti-text generally. We think that the description of what someone wants to do can be done visually with a kind of focused distribution. And yeah, that's one of the probably the best innovations of the product I would say.
Chad: Let's take a look at, backing up a little bit, and the bigger picture, because you talk about matching ... This is a way cool way to actually match. It's really creating, as you call it and you named it work shape, against the actually work shape that company's looking for for a specific job. Now backing up and matching, who else is doing matching in a very interesting or cool way out in the industry today?
Hung Lee: You know what? I think we're all trying to do ... There's a lot of companies trying to do this type of play. I think that most of them are trying to do it algorithmically in the sense of they're trying to pass a lot of text. So this is one thing that I think we did very well to avoid where you're trying to interpret what this person is meaning when they've put together these words on this resume. And then try and figure out whether that matches to a job description which again is a lot of text that you need to figure out what this person means. And this is why text-based matching services have generally never been successful because of course words are naturally ambiguous. If I say product manager to you, that may mean one thing to one company. It may mean something very different to another company.
Chad: Well, I mean what you're saying really is job descriptions such. So and they're all text-based. So trying to work off of data that such, garbage in, garbage out. Is that what I'm getting?
Hung Lee: That's exactly where it is. And it's not garbage, man, because we need ambiguity to have conversation. I mean if I knew everything about you 100% transparently, probably we would not be friends, Chad.
Chad: Somebody's been looking at my Facebook profile or something. I don't know.
Hung Lee: Yeah. I mean the reason why we have relationships is because we need a little bit of doubt to say, "Oh, maybe he didn't really mean that. I'll give this person a little bit of slack, because maybe my interpretation is wrong." And that ambiguity is the fluidity which gives society the ability to succeed. But when it comes to being, to matching people to opportunities, text is problematic because we're using text words in different ways. And for us one of our solutions was simply trying to dodge the words completely. We're not going to try to get smarter at NLP or whatever and have a huge teams of data scientists trying to figure out what people mean when they write in things. We're just going to say, "You know what? You've got your text-based document there. You keep it where it is. We're going to get you into our system and you're going to tell us with the focus distribution what it is you prefer to do. Here are the 10 things that are more or less universal software engineering activities. What would you prefer to do more of or less than?" And they simply with a drag and drop interface, they'd tell us that. And that gives us some quantified data which we can then accurately match to an employer that has designed a job along exactly the same parameters.
Joel: As you know, last year Microsoft dropped a good chunk of change on GitHub. GitHub is kind of your sweet spot. What are your thoughts on GitHub, Linkedin, Microsoft, where that whole thing is going and how impactful will it be on the industry?
Hung Lee: I think it's absolutely seismic. I mean Microsoft obviously want to own the workspace I think. And one of the things I'm very impressed by with Microsoft is the sort of recovery from a point where they were ... I wouldn't say they were never [inaudible 00:18:07] because they've always made a huge of money. But there was a period of time where they were kind of ... People stopped talking about Microsoft as being irrelevant as a shape of the future when all you were doing was using their documentation software, the OfficeSuite and what have you. But they've really understood I think that work is changing. And the purchases they've made I think are all about trying to position themselves to be the infrastructure provider for the future of work.
Joel: So I'm predicting that they'll acquire Upwork this year. Will you agree or disagree with that prediction?
Hung Lee: I'm not going to stake my sort of hat on it. But I think that would be a smart purchase. And I agree with you in terms of that's where they're going. They understand that the shape of the company will change which is why they're moving strategically away from the desktop. You look at Linkedin for instance, that's providing a social layer of data on top of the OfficeSuite. You're looking at Microsoft Azure. That's providing cloud services. Again, take it out of the company. It's sort of facility. You're looking at GitHub which is opensource collaboration across companies. They've even had attempts to buy ... Not attempts. They bought it. They just haven't executed properly. And there's stuff like Skype, Yammer, and those types of collaboration tools. And it's all about I think trying to understand, you know what? Human beings will work together in future. But they may not work together in the same company in the same way. And Microsoft want to be the player to be the organization that you have to interface with at least one of their products to get anything done. So yeah, I'm very impressed by what they're doing for sure.
Chad: They haven't been able to really make some of those big acquisitions happen. What makes you think that they're going to be able to take these other big acquisitions and make them become fluid within kind of like a workspace ecosystem.
Hung Lee: I think the leadership has a lot to do with it.
Chad: The execution.
Hung Lee: Yeah, well, the ... I mean this is not me to hammer down on Steve Ballmer and those type of folks. But Steve Ballmer basically was a sales guy.
Joel: He still is.
Hung Lee: Yeah. He wanted to hammer out sales, what was making money at the time. It was the OfficeSuite. That type of stuff. And he didn't really have the technical DNA I think to handle a rapidly changing environment. You want a sales guy CEO when you've got a mature market and the market's going to basically stay similar for a period of time, because then he can optimize your business and he can make you super efficient. But right now you've got Satya Nadella there. He's a tech guy. He's aggressively repositioned the business. And I think he is exactly the right sort of set of hands really on the wheel right now for this type of company.
Chad: Let's do a hard pivot and then as we're talking about Microsoft and the leadership in I believe some amazing acquisitions. And I believe that the prospect of the acquisition of Upwork or what have you and then now let's look at Google, because they're doing business in an entirely different way just like Google does, right? As you see what they're doing with Cloud Talent Solution, with Google for Jobs, obviously the Hire by Google I think is what they're calling it now. The Hire by Google product. What do you see happening there from the standpoint ... because it seems much more elementary. I mean not that they're doing it wrong. But it seems much more elementary on the Google side than it does the Microsoft side. Am I missing something?
Hung Lee: No, that's expected though. That's how they make products. I mean if you look at Google's most successful products, they were all little side products that different engineers decided, "Hey, listen. Let's go and do it." Gmail was probably one of their main products that are widely used. That was definitely emerged out of a hack bot. So I think now Google Hire by Google emerged from that as well. So this is how Google does product development. And I think that they'll test it as a startup and then they're obviously not a startup they're DNA is still startup I think. They'll test it in terms of what the users do. And then they'll double down if it works.
Joel: What are your thoughts on Google for Jobs initiative?
Hung Lee: Well, I think because Google controls sort of the access to the internet to a large degree it's going to have a huge impact on how we advertise jobs. It's a clean shot at Indeed. It's pretty clear that ... Let's pull back just a little bit. But if you think that Google's original mission was to organize the world's information and make it the one-stop shop where you would find what you were looking for, you'd recognize that of the last five years or so that stopped happening. You've found many aggregators doing what Google did because Google didn't do it anymore. Example, Indeed for jobs. You would not go on Google and start searching for jobs necessarily because you'd know that Indeed actually had a much better, a much more organized inventory there. You're looking at booking a flight. You don't go on Google necessarily. You go on something like Skyscanner or a product like that. Again another aggregator that focus on an industry and basically said, "We're going to deliver you more accurate information than Google can." And there's all kinds of examples where that's occurred.
Hung Lee: So I think what Google has done with Google for Jobs and Indeed with their new travel service and all the rest of it is really think, "Okay. We need to take back some of this mind share about us being the one place that is the start and finish of discovery." And I think they've looked at Indeed and thought, "Right, we're going to try and kill them." And that's what Google for Jobs is.
Joel: So this is a great segue. So let's talk about Indeed and their sort of place in this new world. And I'll throw in ZipRecruiter if you want to talk about sort of what I think is satire of what the big boys in the job search space. Where do they fall into this new era?
Hung Lee: Firstly I love Indeed because they're one of the most aggressive companies I've ever seen, right?
Chad: If you say aggressive equals assholes, then yes, I agree 100%.
Hung Lee: No, no. They weren't assholes. They're actually very nice people. And-
Chad: Have you seen some of these policies they've rolled out and how they're crunching the market? I mean yeah, is it bad business, we'll find out, right? Are they making a shit ton of cash? Yeah, they're making a shit ton of cash. But is this short term, longterm, man, I don't know, man. I just don't ... I believe relationships build things and these guys aren't building relationships.
Hung Lee: No, but Chad there's no rule book when it comes to business, man. It's not about playing nice. And Indeed came in with an offering. And the job boards, it was very clear I think really from the beginning that Indeed at one point was going to kill them.
Chad: They didn't see it though. That was the fun part.
Hung Lee: I think they were in willful denial, because they saw the short term traffic. They got the big dopamine hit from all of that and they weren't able to do anything about it. So basically I've no problem with Indeed's aggressive, some might say, anti-competitive policies. I think that's how you run the business so you make the money they have. They've also doubled down I think with a lot of purchasing themselves these days, buying interesting bits of software. They've hired a lot of ...
Hung Lee: Yeah, they've hired a lot of people as well to work on their own internal products. And in fact in the last 12 months or so they've just been rolling out new innovative products into recruiting marketplace almost every month it seems. So I think they're really looking for what's going to happen if Google for Jobs does succeed in becoming, retaking the spot as the aggregator for job discovery. But I think Indeed will do it. They'll find a way to do it. Whether they stay as an aggregated type of business, I don't know. Whether they move into more of a potentially as an ATS type product, why not?
Chad: Do you see that more as an acquisition versus build? Do you think they actually have time to build what they need to get away from the big business of ... And also the dopamine that they're hitting themselves with every day versus that next level pivot?
Hung Lee: Okay. I'm going to give you an answer that you as a podcast hosts don't like. But the answer is I don't know. The answer is I don't know. I really don't know how they would do it. But I think they will because they've got ... Again you look at the DNA of the business. They spotted an opportunity that no one else saw. But they went ahead and did it in about 10 years. Ridiculous how quickly they became the sizes that they are. And right now they're diversifying with lots of different product developments.
Joel: What are your thoughts on the Glassdoor acquisition?
Hung Lee: So I've got a problem generally with review sites. And this is not specific to Glassdoor. It's just that I don't believe that you can trust the data, right? In the sense that we are in the fake news era, folks. We understand that people say things that aren't true. So when you have the review site that's anonymized, that people are given rankings and all the rest of it, I feel a little bit uncomfortable with it because I do wonder whether who appears top may not be necessarily right. It's simply the organization that's managed to gain that system a little bit to get there. And you're saying quite profound things into the market to say, "You know what? That's ranked number one. And that's ranked number 50." When in fact it's that natural justice, so to speak, but hey, Glassdoor themselves have been great as a business because they've managed to parlay the review concept into a major business and a major player in recruitment space.
Hung Lee: I don't really have a strong opinion what it means for them to be part of a bigger company to be honest to you. But yeah, like I say, I'm not sure review sites ... Whenever I see someone trying to pitch me a review site or say, "Hey, what you think of this," I have to say I'm against it. I think it's potentially libelous. And not a great way for the buyer to do due diligence I would say.
Chad: Yeah. And we are in the era of data and anonymized data. GDPR are making sure that everything is transparent, making sure that the user can control their own data on the candidate side. I mean how's that going to happen on the review side? Anyway I totally get where you're coming from what about Zip? So we threw Zip in there. Where do you think their line is versus kind of like the rest of the field, because they're doing business differently. Don't you think?
Hung Lee: Yeah, I mean they've really been an up and coming ... I think Zip have actually
been one of the sponsors of Brainfood recently as well. So yeah, they're a really interesting-
Chad: Sons of bitches!
Hung Lee: Does that mean I can't say things about them?
Chad: Oh, no, go ahead, please. Go ahead. That's awesome.
Hung Lee: But again the ad space is super interesting because it's obviously still a place where companies spend most of their money. It's quite amazing that that's the case, right? Because the rhetoric at the operational level is, oh, we don't advertise the jobs. We do all of this innovative stuff and et cetera, et cetera.
Hung Lee: Well, they do matching. They do direct sourcing. They do all kinds of amazing wiz bang stuff.
Chad: But I mean they've hired a shit ton of developers to do R&D and pretty much in Israel a good amount of it's around the matching piece, the AI trying to understand what the hell, just like we're talking about earlier on the text side of that house, what does that resume mean against this requisition?
Hung Lee: And a company like Zip and in fact all of these aggregated type of businesses do have just an enormous dataset from which they should be able to develop a much more efficient algorithms to do that matching. So it really depends on how deep they can pull that information out. I mean again in Europe you're going to have all kinds of consent issues you've got to worry about and all those types of things. So I think what might be the case is that you'll end up having very different technology products in different legislative environments and they'll emerge and they may in fact be quite separate. So in the US for instance you might see these matching products that are based on non-consent driven data collection. But I don't think you can make that product in Europe anymore. And you can't sell that product in Europe any more. So Europe will do something else and it will service its market in a different way. And we're kind of moving now towards they call it the splinternet, the idea that ... Have you heard of this term?
Hung Lee: Okay. The splinternet, it's splintering. It's no longer a case where we can think of a global, a unified system where you'll have these titanic organizations that just go smoothly across all of these countries. But in fact you'll start getting loyal players will be maybe as big as you're going to get, because it's going to be local laws to say, "Hey, listen. You can't do that here. Or if you do do it from elsewhere, you can't sell it here." And that even goes all the way to the top.
Chad: We're at HireConf late last year, and I mean just because of GDPR I mean they killed 29 million profiles.
Joel: HiringSolved. HireConf, the conference for HiringSolved. Yes.
Chad: That's it, my bad.
Hung Lee: No doubt. It's difficult because as an individual I've got one view of it and obviously as a vendor and as someone who thinks data is obviously important, I've got another view of it. So I'm very conflicted about where all of this lies. What is important to realize I think is on the spectrum of who cares about data, these probably going to be three major players in terms of where the legislature boundaries are. On the one side you're going to have ... On the one extreme you're going to have the EU which is going to be super protective of the consumer rights and super protective of data privacy. On the other extreme you've got China who literally don't give a fuck. They're just going to take every single thing by default they're going to have your information. And then in the middle, you're going to have the US which probably has a sort of a looser idea behind it. They're going to try and do the right thing, but hey, listen, we're running a business. You'll probably find different products in different technology companies emerging from those three sides and they won't be able to sell to each other.
Joel: So if the internet is splintering and we're sort of seeing these, I don't know, little fiefdoms per country, do you think that recruiting is on a similar track? Is a recruiter in the US going to be vastly different than a recruiter in the UK or Germany and will they use different services and different skillsets? What do you see with that?
Hung Lee: Yeah, it already is, Joel. And I think that that's simply going to be exacerbated by the drift of these technology ecosystems. I mean I had a friend of mine, I'm meeting them later tonight actually. These guys I wouldn't ... They're high volume email messages, right? So I wouldn't call them spammers per say. But I think they're good dudes that know how to send a good email. But they said, "Hey, listen. We stopped doing that in Germany because every time we do that we get a response not from the person we send it to. We get a response from their legal team. Right?"
Chad: It's a new day my friend. It is a new day.
Hung Lee: And they said another thing. They said, "Hey, listen. We also stopped doing it in the Netherlands because we don't get the response from the legal team, but we get the response from the person we emailed, but they're very irate and we have to spend the next half hour explaining why we're going to delete their data and never ever email them again. But we do send it to the UK guys, because you know what? You guys are okay dealing with spam."
Hung Lee: So I think that was kind a very local example of, "Okay, you're going to have to have really localized strategies to do business and localized strategies to do recruiting." But I think that's always been the case, right? I mean you can't ... It's not the same dog that we're trying to ... Dog that you skin? You don't skin dogs. You skin cats. What I'm trying to ...
Chad: I don't know that I'd skin any of them. So when you take a look at the landscape just in the UK, let's just say your side of the pond. What startups out there are really interesting to you?
Hung Lee: I think that we have had a wave of innovation that is now starting to go mainstream. And actually the most interesting thing for me is not necessarily the new shiny toys, but actually which toys are getting implemented. And one thing I think is is definitely happening is gone into the mainstream already is the deployment of chatbots into corporate businesses. I'd be very surprised if by the end of this year, companies haven't employed something of this type and already using it. I think this type of technology where you're trying to change one of the very persistent problems in recruiting which is this information gap that candidates have. Chatbots have proven I think the business case that this is the technology you should be using and that to deal with that particular problem. And then you're going to see that adoption I think will radically change how companies think about things like candidate experience and onboarding and all those types of things.
Chad: So do you think a lot of that has to do with really process though? Because I mean chatbots can help really candidates. They can help recruiters. And they can be a part of like kind of almost like RPA to an extent, right?
Hung Lee: Right.
Chad: I mean that's really I would say baseline. You're looking at RPA. And then there might be some learning in there, what have you. Do you think it's because chatbots are easier to understand when you break it down to the process and say, "Look, from all these different tasks that you're currently doing, this technology, this chatbot, quote unquote chatbot, will actually take all that away and you won't have to deal with it unless somebody wants to talk to an actual human being."
Hung Lee: Yeah, I mean ultimately I'm a big fan of single use products anyway, man. I think the idea of having a single system does everything for you has always been kind of a fool's vision of innovation and a lazy person's vision of innovation really. It's like some robot butler's going to take care of your life. That doesn't happen.
Chad: Joel is waiting for that right now.
Joel: Right after the sex robots.
Hung Lee: I'm not even going to comment on that. The sort of what I see as practical as basically single use tools that can help you get faster at one thing that you have to do. And what chatbots I think can definitely do is do things like candidate updates and respond 24 by 7 and not leave the candidate when they're asking for questions that are easily answered by ... because the information is, what's the word, objective, right? So you're not making judgment calls necessarily and getting that to data out there. So I guess the ...
Hung Lee: One of the really interesting things is that we thought initially that individuals might want to speak to a human being over a chatbot. But the evidence increasingly suggests that's not the case and in fact it's the opposite, that people would prefer to deal with a chatbot in the first instance, particularly when they're just about discovering the job or discovering that company. Because you're just in information collection mode there, and you just need factual information right here and now. How much are you paying? Can you sponsor a visa? Do you need a degree for me to apply? All of that information can be provided because it's objective. No bot is making a judgment call there. And as a candidate, I can absolutely understand why I would like to extract that information through a bot rather than a human being simply because it's more efficient. Like I don't have to invest any social capital to get that information.
Joel: So let's talk about automation for a little bit and maybe the future of sourcing because I think a lot of the things automation brings are supportive of the end of sourcing or many parts of sourcing. Chad and I talk a lot about HiQ's legal battle with Linkedin and GDPR. I mean at some point the trend seems to be that the people are going to win and that their data is going to be protected and that sort of thing. So what does sourcing look like in five years? What are sort of your thoughts on the death of sourcing?
Hung Lee: I think it's going to die, yeah. I think if you studied the history of sourcing. It started off as being a subset of recruiting, right? Everyone did a bit of sourcing. But you also did client relationship management. You did BD. You did admin. You did all of that stuff. But then when the social web started to emerge and all of this data started to explode around us, you started to get figures that called themselves sourcers and not recruiters whose primary activity was basically to go into the internet and extra human capital information as a specialist skill. And typically they might hand that information off to someone else who would do the out ... or they would be kind of providing a list building type service to say, "Hey, listen. I've just mapped the candidate, the candidate landscape that you're looking for. Here are the people you need to speak to." So sourcing kind of split from recruitment, but I think it needs to now go back into recruitment.
Chad: Do you see it happening in a market like this though? I mean I think these types of markets, so in the US I mean we're under 4% unemployment. So one of the reasons why that happens is because it is so hard to find individuals in the first place. You have to really double down and really have a team that's focused on something like that. But when the market flips, then you can kind of go back to how you did business before. Do you think the market really chooses what happens? Or do you just think it was just a natural evolution because humans are lazy as shit?
Hung Lee: Well, I don't know if humans are lazy. But I think efficiency's another word for laziness, right? Like we want to do more with less. That's the nature of what we are as a species. And it's what we are as a business as well. So I think when I say sourcing dead, of course, it isn't. But is it going to be the most important skill that a recruiter has? I think probably not going forward. If you think of what the primary skills of what the sourcer has, it is a person that is able to interact with an inefficient system to pull out information from it.
Joel: And on that note, Hung, thanks for joining us today. For those who want to connect with you or learn more, where should they go?
Hung Lee: So I'm kind of, probably Twitter's a good place or @HungLee would be a good place to do some messaging to me if you want to do that. Linkedin I think I'm maxed out on connections, so no longer the right place to do. Sign up for the newsletter. You know recruitingbrainfood.com. I email out every day, sort of every week should I say. And I'm on it as an email. So if you want to get in touch with me that way, you can do it through that channel as well.
Chad: Since we didn't have you on in 2018, we need to double up in 2019. So here in a few months, maybe six months or so, I think we should start to reach out to listeners and ask them what they want to know from Hung Lee. So we're going to get stupid Joel and Chad questions.
Joel: Screw the listeners. Hey, we're going to be in London this year, Hung. Hopefully, you're there as well and we can have a pint or two and really do it right.
Hung Lee: When are you guys in town so I can make sure I'm not here?
Hung Lee: RecFest? Unfortunately I am here because I'm hosting one of the stages. So yeah, I'd love to see you guys and it'd be great to have a pint with you for sure.
Joel: Awesome. Maybe a little live podcast is in the future.