Jim Stroud Talks Automation, Ethics & Paranoia

It's THE recruiting and sourcing legend Jimmy Stroud. He's seen it and done it all people.

On this UNCOMMON exclusive, the boys cover everything from automation, the future of sourcing and why he doesn't want Google to know what he's up to... Wait did someone say DuckDuckGo? And we tackle the question of "Recruiter Ethics" posed to us by our main man Roy Mauer over at SHRM.

Grab a tinfoil hat and enjoy this most excellent episode.


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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 & Cheese Podcast.

Chad: It's Jim Stroud.

Jim: Hello.

Joel: It's the tinfoil hat edition of The Chad & Cheese Podcast.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: As we were talking before the show, our good buddy Jim Stroud. I don't even know what title you like now, Jim, but everyone probably knows you that's listening, or they should.

Jim: You have a small audience.

Joel: Give us just a quick intro of you and we'll get into the paranoia that we've talked about before the show.

Jim: Yes, you can call me a consultant these days. I have been in sourcing and recruiting for two decades working for such companies as Google, Microsoft, Siemens, and a host of startup companies. Until quite recently, I was the head of sourcing and recruiting strategy for Randstad Sourceright, now consulting for my favorite clients.

Joel: Your Twitter handle and your new podcast.

Jim: Sure, my Twitter handle, I have two. One is @jimstroud. There I tweet about, excuse me, HR and job search issues. There is my other Twitter which is @jimstroudshow, where I talk about my podcast, which is The Jim Stroud Podcast, because I couldn't think of anything else to call it. There, I talk about future issues, like my latest show was on barcoding the homeless.

Chad: What?

Joel: What was that about? Was that like the microchipping of employees that we talk about?

Jim: No, no, no. It's not as insidious. Okay, so there's this company in the UK. They're dealing with the homeless problem in a very unique way. They are giving QR codes to homeless people. They are wearables. They are not tattoos, which is coming out.

Chad: Not yet, yes, yes.

Jim: Not yet.

Joel: Yeah.

Jim: So they're getting these barcodes, and if someone says, "Hey, brother, can you spare a dime?" You can say, "Oh, dude, I don't have any money." They can say, "Well, you know what? Download this app and scan this QR code and you can send me a dollar or $5 or $10. Whatever you so desire, and when you look me up on this app, it will show you not only my face and name to verify if you're talking to the right person but also will give you a brief history of how I became homeless."

Joel: See, I think this would be a great recruiting strategy for salespeople. So you can see ... You take the best homeless people that getting the most money, and you turn them into salespeople. Genius.

Chad: Now, panhandling's not easy, that's for damn sure, right?

Joel: Hell, yeah. You gotta sell your ass off if you're gonna make some money on the streets.

Jim: It is true. It is true. When I was researching this, what was more interesting to me was not only the fact of what it was happening, but all the comments people were giving in response to it. I thought some of the comments were like, they went from, gosh. They went from rude to snarky to just mildly sympathetic. Some, and they reminded me so much of The Chad & Cheese Show.

Chad: Mildly sympathetic.

Joel: Mildly sympathetic. That's good.

Jim: One person said, "It's a trap. If you try to scan it with your phone, then the homeless person will just snatch your phone and run."

Chad: It's a trap.

Jim: That's a Chad comment.

Chad: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a trap. They're gonna take your shit.

Joel: So then, can they use that QR code to go into Starbucks or wherever and get a muffin? Is that how that works?

Jim: No, how it works is, okay. Once you're in the program, there are a few things you can do with the money, right? They have a good Samaritan or somebody on the backend who's actually monitoring how the money is used. So you can use it, and these are some of the uses that they cited. They don't cite all of them. They only cited a couple of them in articles I read. One was for a passport, because if you're homeless, you need a passport.

Chad: What the fuck.

Jim: Obviously.

Joel: What? Get out of our country, homeless person.

Chad: On the Euro side, right?

Jim: Yeah, and then the other example they gave was to collect money for a deposit on a rental space. So if you collect enough money through panhandling, you can have enough money to rent your own apartment, which gives the question of how you pay for it the rest of the year once you have your first and second month down.

Joel: Those sound like serious milestones.

Jim: Yeah.

Joel: Can I just get a cup of coffee? Like damn.

Jim: It was kind of weird. Kind of weird.

Joel: I gotta save up for an apartment?

Jim: So I gave, out of my pocket, I said, you know what? It did not address a problem to me. Kind of like, okay, so you're enabling someone to give money to stay on the street another day, since you're not really helping them. So I cited this site called Kiva.

Chad: Nope.

Jim: Have you heard of it? K-I-V-A? All right, it's, yeah, K-I-V-A.org. What it does is it allows you to do microlending. So let's say you have a lemonade stand and you want some money to buy some lemons. Well, someone can loan you as low as $25, and then once you make your lemonade money, you give back, I think $25.75 or something like that. You get a little kickback.

Jim: So I said, why don't you have the app do something like that where you help somebody to start a business. Even something small, like shining shoes in the subway station. You buy them shoe polish, or maybe you donate business advice or you donate clothes or if they're trustworthy enough, maybe give them temporary office space somewhere. So you can help them get on their feet, start a business to get them off the street, and then eventually hire other people. So that was my input into that whole thing on my podcast.

Joel: Well, these are all problems way too big for us to handle, I think, on this show. So why don't we rotate to recruiting.

Chad: I sent over a little piece that we talked about last week revolving around. It was Entelo's recruiting automation trends reports focusing on recruiters, what they're doing, what they're not doing, and then also, you can talk about the paranoia that's baked in, too. Maybe why they're not doing some of this shit.

Jim: I did not read, let me see. I know I seen that, because I saw it. I added it to my Twitter queue. I didn't read that specifically. Give me a couple of examples from that.

Joel: Well, the thing that struck me was phone, or email, sorry, is still the number one way that recruiters contact people. Phone and text were number two. Now, they didn't separate phone or text. I tend to think phone is probably lower than we think or at least trending lower. Then you get into InMail, which is like 13%, which is pretty low. So I guess, what are your thoughts on best ways for a recruiter to contact a person? What are your most successful ways? What do you think of the findings?

Jim: I think email is probably the most successful way. When I speak with sources, recruiters, that seems to work for them. Also look at it from a consumer side. People who always, when they're surveyed about what platform they want to be contacted by when speaking to companies, email is always at the top. I'm noticing though, from our previous conversation, you asked me about robocalls. Maybe that is factored in the Entelo report. I don't know. I haven't read it just yet, but I know that some companies will use robocalls to reach out to talk to people. I haven't experienced a recruitment robocall yet that I know of, which is really, really good. Basically when I get robocalls, it's some kind of political speech or something like that.

Joel: Let me give you some numbers about robocalls that came out recently from MarketWatch. Okay, so "US phones are inundated," this is from the story, "with 26.3 billion robocalls last year, which was a 46% increase over the 18 billion spam calls placed in 2017. The tech to make such calls has become easy and cheap to access, so more robocallers are jumping into the fray. The junk calls are driving people to avoid the phone altogether. With 52% of cell phone calls going unanswered. Mobile carriers AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile and Sprint have pledged to implement a security protocol within the next year to help weed out some of this spam." But it definitely is a problem and I gotta think it's affecting recruiters' abilities to call people.

Jim: I'd imagine so, and I also imagine it would damage a company's brand. If someone's calling me all the time that's a robocall, I'm gonna start thinking negative about that company.

Chad: Well, many times, they don't say what the company-

Joel: They don't reveal who they are.

Chad: Yeah, they don't reveal who they are. They're just calling in saying, "Hey, we have this great offer."

Joel: "Manage your student loan."

Chad: "Great offer," or whatever it is, and so from my standpoint as Joel was talking about earlier, I'll notice that calls are coming in from a local area code and they're just-

Joel: Spoofing.

Chad: Yeah, spoofing the area code, so I mean, I don't answer any call anymore unless it's already in my phone and it can pop up a name.

Jim: You know what I see on my phone? Maybe it's just part of that, because I don't answer the phone, but if I get a spam call, presumably a spam call on my phone, I see scam likely. So it lets me think that Apple is monitoring or someone is monitoring all of the scam or spam calls and put them into a system so that even when someone calls my phone, it says scam likely, or sorry. Do you guys see that on your phones?

Joel: No.

Chad: Nuh uh. No, I don't.

Joel: Are you an Android-

Jim: No, I have an iPhone.

Joel: Yeah, I have an iPhone too. My wife has an app that will basically filter robocalls so she doesn't get them, and the service answers the calls and tries to keep them on the line as long as possible and annoys them. So there are incredible business opportunities with this problem, but it definitely is a problem. She was getting robocalled a lot.

Chad: Now, is she paying for the service?

Joel: Yep. Yep. It's like 3.99 a month and it's well worth it.

Chad: Dude, that's like, yeah, no shit. That's almost like McAfee, right? You have to get McAfee or Norton, obviously, and it had always been said that they were the ones creating a lot of these viruses to ensure that you had to have some type of protection. So it's almost like-

Jim: Protection racket.

Chad: Exactly, it's a protection racket, man. You fell for the protection racket.

Jim: Wow. You know what a cheaper way to get around that might've been to go to the site, this other site's lacking. But one is called whocalledme.com. If you do a search on DuckDuckGo which is my preferred search engine.

Joel: I wonder why. Privacy.

Jim: Privacy, man. So you put in who called me on DuckDuckGo, and you'll see a bunch of these kind of sites where you can do reverse lookups on these robocallers-

Joel: Does it work with spoof numbers?

Jim: I don't know. I don't know. I just know that when people get a number, they won't be able to use the same number on you twice. They're using these IP things, I forget what they're called, but at least if they used the same number in the past, you'll be able to see who they are and leave a comment saying, "This guy's a spammer" or whatever.

Joel: Mark my words, SMS is next.

Chad: Yeah, no shit. Well that being said, 39% of recruiters rank emails as their preferred outreach method, and knowing that text and maybe in some cases, you have their email address, but you don't have their phone number. But text works so much better. Why aren't we kind of starting to gravitate toward text in this case?

Jim: I think, isn't that when someone sends you a text, there's a charge on your phone depending on what kind of service plan you're on?

Joel: I mean, that's pretty rare these days.

Jim: Is it?

Joel: Yeah.

Jim: I always thought that in the beginning when texts first started catching on, I always thought that was the reason why recruiters hadn't done texting en masse like they do email. When you send an email, it doesn't cost anything to the end user. But if you send a text to someone and it affects their bill, they're really not gonna like you. So I thought that was the reason why recruiters sort of stay away from it in the beginning, but they're doing it more so now because you're not charged so much now.

Joel: Do you use text in your recruiting?

Jim: Yes, but people have opted in to receive those. So different systems that they use, when you gather their information, they join a talent community and you have a little box there say, hey, would you like to be contacted by text for opportunities? And they hit a little checkbox, then you're gold. But if you don't have that and you see their phone number and you decide to try a text anyway, then no.

Jim: Then I think for some recruiters, it may backfire on them, because they don't have a system that allows people to opt in to receive texts, and you decide that they come from your phone, that can backfire you back and they could tell all their friends, "Hey, everybody, this person's spamming me. Why don't we all get together and spam him as one."

Chad: Well that's, I think that's why it's incredibly important why you use a canvas platform or text recruit or something like that where it is happening through a formalized platform where you can gather all of the information, number one, and you can have kind of like those opt ins in place automatically. Again, it'd be much easier to do a blast, let's say, for individuals with Java background as opposed to just everybody on your list, and then throwing a bunch of irrelevant bullshit at them.

Joel: Chad and Cheese sponsor Nexxt, with two Xs was really smart back in the day to ask resumes being posted if they wanted to receive texts or were they open to that, so they have like 10 years head start on most people with getting permission to send texts to candidates.

Chad: I have 8 million or something like that.

Joel: It's a lot, yeah.

Chad: Yeah. I have a shit ton.

Jim: I saw in real life, spotted in the wild, I saw this process that I thought made a lot of sense. Hardee's, there's a Hardee's down the street from my house, and they have on their sign, text 1123 to Hardee's if you want to work here.

Chad: Yeah, shortcut-

Jim: I'm paraphrasing their sign, but that's what it was. So when you text that number, it'll send you back a message saying, hey, would you like to receive notifications of new jobs here at Hardee's? Yes or no? So I'm giving them permission, and then they are texting, presumably, people within a certain geographic area. So a new job comes up, there's an opening, it's gonna text all those people in that area. They respond. It's a wonderful thing. So I see that being awesome for people who work in retail, who work in fast food restaurants, and they want people who are close because based on past experience, if someone works near the mall or near these fast food places, then they stay longer, because it's convenient for them to work.

Joel: Where are you with chatbots right now, Jim?

Jim: Oh, I like chatbots. I do. I do.

Chad: I like me a chatbot.

Jim: Chatbots are wonderful.

Joel: I like chatbots.

Jim: I want to be a chatbot when I grow up. I like it because if nothing else, it gives job seekers a feeling of connection or a feeling of closure depending on how the chatbot comes into play. A lot of times, job seekers, they snip their resume into a black hole, never to be heard of again, but at least with a chatbot, you have the illusion that you are getting somewhere in the process.

Joel: Yeah.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: Because to me, the Hardee's example is great, but I think where it would be better as opposed to just saying, hey, I'm opting in for sort of messages about openings that texting in actually started a conversation. Like what's your name? Do you have a driver's license? Are you over 18? You can start screening people and having a conversation through chatbots, or in this case, sort of an SMS chat. Then you really get engaged candidate as well as you're building a solid brand, because people are like, holy crap. They really care. They're really asking me questions.

Joel: Then you could potentially even take that to, if they pass the prescreening, that you could actually set up interviews and get those people in front of a human being.

Chad: They have platforms that are doing that now on the high volume side of the house, right?

Joel: Yep. Yeah.

Chad: So Jobalign, Talentify, I mean, there are platforms that are doing that now, so I agree. Take it past just the collection of the information and start the engagement right there.

Jim: And take it even a step further. If I am talking to a chatbot right now about

an opportunity, and I'm going through the screening questions and I'm hitting every button for them, then why not just send a message to a recruiter in real time, saying, "Hey, I got a live one right now who's doing all the screening questions, and would you like to talk to them because I'm talking to them right now," the robot says. "They're hitting all of your requirements." Then the chatbot, then I tell the chatbot yeah, then the chatbot tells the job seeker, "Hey, you want to talk to a recruiter? Here's the link. Schedule something."

Chad: So how do we get recruiters to engage and embrace these new types of technologies? I mean to be able to really be confident, because again, the survey actually said 75% of recruiters lack confidence in their ability to leverage these new recruiting tools?

Jim: Adapt or die.

Chad: Adapt.

Jim: That's all I can say on that, because that is the future. It's not even the future. It's more like 15 minutes into the future. More like five minutes into the future. It is quickly becoming the standard. You will have to become Tony Stark. I don't think it's a situation where the robots are gonna take over and kick you out because there's some things that humans will always do, but you're gonna have to be Tony Stark to know how to talk to your Jarvis to do things, because all your competitors will be doing the same thing. If you can't-

War Games: Shall we play a game?

Jim: If you can't keep up, you gonna fall behind.

Chad: That's right.

Joel: Jim, you have a, I think one of our first interviews with you, you talked about the two kinds of recruiters, sort of the farmers and the hunters.

Jim: Yeah.

Joel: I think it was the phone answerers. Whatever it was, and you have an interesting perspective on that. Talk about that again and how having a chatbot that prescreens people is going to expedite the people who have manually picked up a phone and said, are you over 18? Do you have a driver's license? They become pretty obsolete in that new world.

Jim: To an extent, yes. Just basic questions. I can see chatbots doing that for sure. I don't see them replacing recruiters though, because recruiters can hear the different nuances in somebody's voice. They can ask more probing questions. They can say, why do you say that? Or their spidey sense could kick in. They can ask additional questions or probe deeper, and you can't get that with a chatbot. You can get those basic prescreening questions though that'll make the recruiter's life easier. So I do like that.

Jim: I think a lot of these tools will make recruiters, for better or worse, better on the phone, because if you have these chatbots who can say, prescreen people and you're talking to your desired audience, then all I really need to do is just focus on building relationships with the candidate and then further on with the hiring manager. It gives me more time to talk to the hiring manager and get that warm and fuzzy with them.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: So what kind of recruiters are in most jeopardy?

Jim: The ones that are not really strong with maybe emotional intelligence. I think sometimes people prefer email, not just because it's more efficient, but because they don't want to talk with people if they don't have to. If you do a search on DuckDuckGo for ... for millennials losing interpersonal skills, you'll see a lot of research and articles about how the machines have taken over and how they prefer spending time with machines and games rather than engaging people, losing the art of looking somebody in the face and talking to them straight in their eye, or building up a conversation. So I think that that's one reason that email is so preferred by a lot of recruiters, not just for the efficiency], but also because they don't want to actually pick up the phone and talk to someone.

Jim: So someone who can be empathetic, someone who has all of the emotional intelligence soft skills, someone who can problem solve. That kind of thing. Those people will be in high demand.

Chad: So here's the thing, especially the people being in high demand because there's already a lot of pressure in recruiting as it is. Roy Maurer actually reached out from SHRM, the famed journalist over at SHRM, and he wanted us to actually talk about do recruiters need a code of ethics? We're talking about right now, right, as pressure starts to mount. So Steve Bates wrote this article, and he started off with "Low level recruiting jobs can be among the toughest in HR. Practitioners are under extreme pressure to fill client positions. That pressure can tempt recruiters to make some less than ethical choices." As we start to see the market squeeze even more, do we see that we need a code of ethics even more now, or maybe in the next five minutes as you were saying than we did in the past?

Feffer: Asshole.

Jim: You know what? Okay, this is a little bit of a rant for me, because I wrote this article, no I reposted it in 2014. I think I originally wrote it in 2012.

Joel: We love rants. Rant away.

Jim: The first article I wrote was called Resumes Are People Too, where I talk about ethics from a job seeker perspective. Then I wrote one called, A Great Idea That Never Happened, which was licensed recruiters, how it would be great if recruiters had licenses, but it won't happen.

Chad: Oh, SHRM would love that, man. They could certify recruiters and make a shit ton of cash.

Joel: Money, money, money.

Jim: Some people who see this issue and have actually taken actual steps in trying to make it happen, like ATAP, the Association of-

Chad: Talent Acquisition Professionals.

Joel: Talent Acquisition Professionals, yeah.

Jim: Yeah, okay. So they have a professional code of recruiting integrity, which is really cool. I think there area a couple of other people out there who was doing it. Even if SHRM decided to do it, there'll be something, but the problem with it I think is that you can't really penalize someone if they don't subscribe to the code of ethics, right?

Chad: Yep.