LaRocque, Ready for a Fight
George LaRocque with HRwins.com recently published a job seeker survey. Chad had a lot of problems with it.
So we did a podcast.
Here it goes ... enjoy this Uncommon EXCLUSIVE.
PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION sponsored by:
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Chad: A lot.
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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.
Chad: It's George.
Joel: Let's get ready to rumble. Everybody, welcome to the Chad Cheese podcast. I'm Joel Cheeseman.
Chad: And I'm Chad Sowash.
Joel: On today's show, we're talking to George LaRocque.
Joel: George, hello, and tell us a little bit about yourself before we rip into you?
George: Hey guys, well I think it's good to be here. I'm George LaRocque, I'm the analyst, I publish everything over at HR Wins, and so I cover the HR technology marketplace pretty much full-spectrum.
Joel: Thanks for being here George. Now, you're here for a specific reason. On last week's show Chad and I, specifically Chad, had some issues with your recent survey. So, before we get into the issues, defend your survey. Tell us what you did, why you did it, some of the findings that you had, and then we'll just discuss it like gentlemen.
Chad: Well, no, no, no. Before we go there, I would like to specifically thank George for coming on the show. To have balls enough to come on the show. In most cases, what happens? You hear a little whining, bullshit here and there, and then nobody ever comes on the show.
Joel: Or silence.
Chad: They're hiding in the fetal position like fucking art from the CEO of DICE. So, George says, "Fuck that, I'm going to go smack those guys in the face." And that's what I'm talking about.
Joel: Big balls, George. Thanks for all that. Now, let's get it on.
George: Is this where you play the outro? Because that all sounds good to me, let's just end it right there. That's good.
Joel: Not getting off that easy, George.
George: So yeah, the way this came about, it's independent work. There's no sponsor, no clients in the work, and that's important to say right up front. What was happening is I was hearing some things a lot, which, I saw that ... The last straw was when a vendor sent something out and it said, "73% of job searches start on Google." And I went, "Really? Is that a thing? Is that real? Is that real, 73-"
Chad: Did he source it at all?
George: No, of course not. But, there is this ... I'm not saying everybody thinks 73% of job searches start on Google, and I have a lot of respect for Google and what they're doing in the industry right now, but I was just looking at it and saying, "I'm not sure that Google, at this point, has had that kind of impact on where people start, or what people are using." So, I wanted to test it.
George: I put together a really simple survey and I asked, "What do you use? Where do you start? What gave you the most relevant results, and the most irrelevant results? And, here's the thing: I was very thoughtful with all of my surveys around the kind of sample that I use. Now, it's independent work, which means I paid for it. So, would I have liked to have had a bigger sample size? Of course. And a lot of my work has a bigger sample size, but it also has a sponsor or an underwriter. But in this case, statistically speaking, I'm far above the minimum sample size to shine a light on this topic, and that's really what I'm doing. This isn't a verdict, I'm shining a light on this issue and saying, "Let's talk about this."
George: So, it's a provocative headline, yes, and that's to get us to read it.
Chad: Shame, and it got us to talk about it.
Joel: You paid a company to do the survey, is that what you're saying?
George: Yeah. In this case, well, I wrote the survey and in this case I used a Survey Monkey's audience product, so I paid for the panel, and I set up the demographic as 18 years old to 65 years old, which is generally considered the working ages. We throttled it against census data, so I have geographically and generationally what looks like the US market in that age group, and then in order to ... the screening question is, "Have you conducted an online job search in the last 12 months?" So, all of the responses are complete. Meaning, the 540 answered all of the questions, and they all conducted a search in the last 12 months.
Joel: Do you know how many went out before you got to that 500 or so?
George: Yeah, I want to say it was like 800. It was just under 800 or just over. It was about 800.
Joel: So a blast of 800, over half of those folks have done a job search in the last 12 months?
George: In this case, yeah.
Chad: That's a hell of a target, by Survey Monkey. My big question was, I didn't really have a problem with survey size, from the standpoint. My big problem was, analytics platforms are everywhere. Real data is everywhere. Why are we surveying stupid fucking humans?
Joel: By the way, George, are you done talking about the survey? Because I wanted to give you ... I wanted to give you like a full platform to go through the whole thing. If you're done, we can go at it, but I want to make sure you feel like you've had time to talk about it.
George: I'm starting to understand who the good cop is and who the bad cop is on this.
George: So, I appreciate that. I appreciate that, Joel. So, just to reinforce my point, I'm not sure if you got past the headline and the charts, but if you got down to the analyst insights-
George: The first sentence is, "For employers, these data points shouldn't cause a knee jerk reaction on your ad spend."
Chad: But they're going to.
George: And I talk about what they should be looking for.
Chad: But George, they're going to because-
Joel: I mean, they're humans anyway. So, my big question is, and I totally get it, and it's like having the attorney sentence that's in there, "You can't sue me because I said this." At the end of the day, I totally get it, but this is a survey. I mean, come on man, there are plenty of people that you can tap in to who have aggregate data, source data. I mean, I can call probably four or five right now and start talking about putting together an awesome survey that is backed by data, not by stupid humans.
George: Well we can disagree on whether surveys are valuable or not, but sharing aggregate data and publishing, it is not as easy as that. Like, that sounds good and I certainly have clients, and there are vendors that aren't clients, that are happy to share a view to their data. Now, will they let me go publish that data? Not usually. But, I would say this: I think you don't like the answer that I gave, which is generally that Indeed wasn't impacted as greatly as we thought it was. That's generally what the survey says. Now there's also the Talent Board just put out and they say this ... And they saw you guys, or heard you, beat up on me. And they said, "Hey," they said, "Hey George, we've got like 100,000 folks who just answered what are they using in their job search, it looks a lot like my chart." And it looks, in fact it's worse for Google because they lump Google in with other search engines, and they're further down on the list.
George: So I think it ... what this says is that, yeah, they've had an impact, they can have a much bigger impact. I'd love a bigger sample size, but I think we all kind of know, like if you, anecdotally, if you go ask everybody that you bump into for the next month that's conducting a job search, just asking whether they use Google or not, they're going to say ... I bet most of them will say, "I didn't even know Google did that. I didn't know Google had a jobs interface." People are unaware of it. They haven't marketed it to the consumer.
Joel: Aside from that Superbowl ad they just ran.
Chad: For veterans.
George: That's a good point. That's a good point.
Joel: That might change.
George: It could, yeah. I would say on the veterans side, it was a good start, to roll into it, right?
Joel: But how many families have a veteran in the family? I thought it was a pretty genius marketing move because you look like you care about veterans, and I'm sure they do, but people who watched it like, "Wow, they have something cool for vets. I bet I could do a search on Google now for jobs," or, "Hey, someone's a vet in family. I'm going to tell them about this thing at Google that helps them search for jobs." Like, I thought it was a really good marketing strategy, from that standpoint.
George: I agree, and so Joel, you don't ... You clearly don't think that people are stupid like Chad does. Chad has established that all humans-
Chad: Not all.
George: Are dumb. You think they would make the leap from veterans to jobs. And I agree with you, I think it was a beautiful branding.
Joel: I'm pretty sure Chad's a cyborg. So, the fact that he's so anti-people makes a lot of sense. But, I wasn't as angry about the survey as he was. He has some very passionate opinions. I have some questions about the survey, for insight from you. Which, I guess we'll take a little break from angry Chad. I was curious why there was no Facebook or Craigslist in the survey. Was that an "other," or was it even included in the options? Was the question an open-ended answer, or did they have options? You know, "Choose A for Indeed. Choose B for Google. Choose C for ... "
Joel: I'm like, how did that happen? Because I was kind of surprised Craigslist and/or Facebook weren't represented.
George: The options are what you see in the results. So, "Other," was an open text field, and ... I want to go back and look, but I think Craigslist came up a couple of times under "Other." I got a lot ... There wasn't anything statistically that I could hang a hat on. There were some niche job boards, like maybe one or two people use plumber jobs and things that are super niche. A few people were like, "I used Indeed and nothing else." A few people said, "I used LinkedIn and nothing else." Things like that, but nothing that was overwhelming, but those were the options. Now, I don't consider Facebook a job board, or a job search site, but I get why they may-
Joel: I mean-
George: Be valuable here, and Craigslist though, yeah. I put ZipRecruiter in, and I think the segment that Zip goes after ... I will be carrying this forward, and I think it's a good point. I think Craigslist is a great ad and-
Joel: Mark Zuckerberg came out pretty recently saying that one out of five users use their marketplace, which includes jobs. It includes buying and selling stuff as well, but with as many people as use Facebook, one out of five is a lot of people, so I would have been curious in maybe future surveys you can add Facebook because I'd be interested to see if that's on the list. And, I hear a lot of sales people, from vendors, a lot of companies are talking about posting jobs on Facebook, or how to get on Facebook, so that's just my two cents on future surveys that you might do.
George: Yeah, that's good input. And just for the sake of the conversation, the Talent Board data included Facebook. They called out Facebook on its own, and it was ... It didn't perform ... It came below what is it? One, two, four, six ... Seventh on the list, seventh or eighth, underneath CareerBuilder and Monster. But it's up there at 16.8%, so it's definitely viable.
Joel: Yeah, that's no slouch, right?
Chad: So we just, actually earlier today, got off a pod with Josh Wright who is an economist at iCIMS. So iCIMS is actually looking at leveraging their data in a much better way to, in some cases help the BLS, but also to help their clients. So I think when you were talking about, "Yeah there's aggregate data and it's hard to get around," I think ... Times are changing and we need to take a look at being able to create market differentiators for many of these platforms. And the data is available and it's there. So yes. I don't believe ... and this comes back from my days in working with RecruitSoft. Before it was Taleo, and we actually were testing some of our clients at direct employers. Most of the drop downs information that they received, which is pretty much like a survey when you're going through the application process versus the actual referral codes that we received; Totally off. Totally bullshit. So, it's just like, I don't trust human beings to be able to do the drop down, the pick, and even remember where they ate last, for goodness sakes.
Chad: Give me hard data. And, I believe ... I believe that there are companies that are out there that are RPOs, that are stacking companies, there are obviously the iCIMS of the world, the CRMs and whatnot, that want to really differentiate in the market. You could prospectively help them do that, and to it with hard, real, data.
Joel: Chad, do you think George's survey is just totally worthless?
Chad: I am not a fan of using human engagement when it comes to this type of thing, when you know you have hard data. I mean, that's the big difference. If you want to poll people on their favorite pizza, yes, because I can't find that information anywhere unless I go ahead and mine their Facebook or some shit like that. But, at the end of the day, if you can go get the data, go get the fucking data.
George: Yeah, but you're ... You're awfully emotional about this, so let me just calm you down a little bit. That data's really valuable-
Chad: I like being able to provide good, solid evidence when people are making the choice, because companies don't do that now, they do it off of what the recruiters are telling them feels good, and it's all bullshit.
George: But ... Let me point out two things. First off, I agree. I come out of the industry, and you know my history, both on the practitioner side and the vendor side. I've seen a lot of this data; I can validate that when candidates go through the hiring process, they usually get their source wrong. I don't know, it's some very large percentage of the time. Now, but here's the deal. I'm not asking them, "What did you use to get that job?"
George: The way our market works, let's ... You like Google. I go to Google, I run a search, Google gives me the job on every, single place it's located in the results, and then I pick one to drill in, and I identify ... a lot of times I go right back to Indeed, that's not in the Google interface but it's down in the top results, so I could end up on Indeed. And then, if I apply through Indeed, or Monster, or whoever, I think I found the job on Indeed because I don't associate that to Google. But I'm asking, what did you use and where did you start? It's a little different.
George: The other thing is, how is that aggregate data if it's based on those humans identifying their source? I know you're saying there's also the passively collected data now. It's ... I just don't think ... I hear you, and I would love to pull together some aggregate data and really do some of that work, but I'm not sure that ... in my experience, most of these platforms, they also have a hard time getting it right. I don't think it's all pristine.
Chad: There is nothing that's perfect, I agree 100%. But, I would say the data on those platforms is much better than asking any monkey on the street.
George: Yeah, okay.
Joel: I'm going to put Chad in time out for a second. I'm going to ask a couple of questions about the survey that I hope are insightful and not aggressive at all. You mention in the survey that you were surprised that ZipRecruiter was so low, and I would agree with that particularly with all the advertisement that they do. What are your thoughts on why they came up so short this survey?
George: Well, I'd be curious to know your thoughts, because you've spent a lot more time in the job board ecosystem/industry out there than I do. It was a reaction of surprise based on the fact that they've spent so much on advertising, and anecdotally, as I'm out doing ... and this was not a big enough sample size, but I've done these ... No, I'm talking about these round tables that I do where anecdotally employers are saying, "You know, ZipRecruiter is actually doing a good job for me lately." And so I expected that to be reflected in the results. I thought that may be the surprise, like, "Look at them." And maybe this is them trending. Continuing this work would start to show a trend line, and I'm curious about that. So, in my gut I feel like based on what I've heard, they're probably doing a little better than the numbers suggest, but you know, I wouldn't ... I didn't write that because I, this will make Chad happy, I didn't have data. I just had some feelings.
Joel: I mean, my only guess would be that they brand themselves as, sort of, an hourly retail, restaurant service, and maybe the people that were surveyed that weren't in that demographic that would think about going to ZipRecruiter, but I know they're getting more into enterprise and more into jobs that we think about, so as this thing goes on I assume Zip will improve in terms of the number.
Chad: I just see the model being different, don't you guys?
George: Maybe. I don't know if, in the ... outside of our bubble where we know so much about these brands, and so much about what they do, when I've, again, anecdotally as I ask people what they're using, Indeed comes up a lot. Indeed comes up a lot. And these aren't active job seekers, these are people who, "Yeah, I went and looked on Indeed. I was curious, so I went and looked on Indeed." That's the definition of a passive job seeker, if there is one. If there is a passive job seeker is what I'm saying.
George: I think Indeed has a hell of a brand, that Google helped them build.
George: And I think Zip-
Joel: He's being generous. Or conservative.
George: Yeah, on their backs, on their backs. Yeah, I get it. But Zip is, my sense is they're improving. When I hear their ads now, on satellite radio every 10 minutes, it's about employers and about technology, and about matching, and I've got to think that's going to break through to, potentially, a more sophisticated buyer.
Joel: So last question, we'll get into some of the money news and what's going on there. You were, partly for click bait, and getting attention, but you were fairly tough on Google as a job resource. And, I would throw in there as Devil's advocate,
Indeed's been around for 15 years, Google Jobs less than two. Or, let's just call it two?
Joel: They have the least relevant job results. I tend to think it's going to get a lot better pretty quickly because they're Google. Although you were sort of rough on them in the survey, would you at least admit, "Yeah, for a two year old solution, they're pretty good." Or no?
George: They have the Google brand, which is not a job search brand. And I think, so they, by doing anything focused on this space, they have had a ... The impact they've had, even if you were to say the survey was gospel, which, I say it's a point in time I'm shining a light on, a data point right now, but that being said, if they focus and are committed to improving their experience, and if they spend money on marketing this thing beyond the brand piece we saw in the Superbowl, but really, really consistent marketing; Yeah. There's a question that the tables will tilt, because they're Google. Yes. No question.
Joel: I mean, for me, and I've been a Google guy for a long time, and doing SEO and whatnot, and their MO is not really to advertise unless it's something huge, like Android phone or something really significant. So, to me, for them to drop a Superbowl ad on searching a job says that they're serious. It says that, to me, too, in five, six, seven, ten years, in this survey, they're going to come out a lot better than they are today.
Chad: Yeah. Well, they also have to take a look at their brand because it's getting demolished in Europe, and then the actual lawsuits that are happening here, I think one was just dropped by the federal government. So, there's that whole brand rejuvenation that has to happen, not to mention kind of reaching down and making everybody feel good. I mean, helping veterans get jobs, who's not going to be happy about that? Obviously the veterans are, but everybody's going to be happy about that, so I mean it's a good play from a PR standpoint. Not to mention, as you'd said before, to try to lightly roll out Google for jobs. "Hey, you can find a job here, too."
George: Yeah, I don't disagree with any of that, and I love what they did for veterans, and the message overall. They've got a big brand issue right now, and so many ... They had the employee walkout that happened, there's all sorts of ... The privacy stuff, all of that. Testifying in front of congress, all that stuff. They need people believing that Google cares, and jobs is, overall, is a good way, if they can be more effective in connecting people to jobs, for both the people who do advertise on Google, the employers, and the consumers. That's a great thing. I hope they do more. I hope they do more. But, there have been some of these bigger companies, like Salesforce has been rattling their saber all around our space for years, have little impacts, nothing happens. They disappoint me.
Joel: George, you got kind of mad there for a second. Disappointment in Salesforce. I can't wait til Slack introduces job postings and you can get excited.
George: Yeah, Slack's ... they're going to go public now. I'm ... They've got like tens of millions of active users. They're really interesting and one of the ecosystems HR tech needs to be more tied in to. There's a lot that's tied in there now, but that's where people work. A lot of people.
Joel: And Chad and I would agree with you on that.
Joel: Hey, we agree on something, everybody. That's cool.
George: Yeah, all right.
Joel: Let's talk about money.
Joel: So, a billion dollars you said? More money flowing in. Is it going to continue? When's the recession going to hit so I can sell all my shares in Slack after they go public? What are you seeing, and what do you have to report?
George: So, money. In 2018, we saw just over four billion in VC in 2018. That's almost four times as much as we saw in 2017. Or, that I saw. That I'm able to track, and I don't know the better list. It's an incredible amount of money, and the big standout, just like it was last year, but even more so this year, are the job boards. Job boards, marketplaces. They saw, it was like 960 million, which is almost as much as we did in 2017 across all the categories in HR tech.
George: Yeah, just crazy. Crazy. And, it's everything. It's the niche boards, it's small investments in niche boards, and it's big investments in, like, contingent workforces place, and providing additional services. So, that's the standout. The others are kind of predictable, like around the payroll market, and in other areas, platforms and such, but the job board stuff is nuts. And, Zip was one of them. 156 million went to Zip, and then there's a Chinese job board, who, they call themselves the LinkedIn of China, in my mind, 200 million.
Joel: What niches are you seeing that are heating up? We've talked about, obviously, marijuana heating up in the job board space, but what other segments or locations, industries, are you seeing getting a lot of attention?
George: You had an opportunity there to talked about like firing up, the cannabis market firing up, and you just ... You blew that.
Joel: You see what I did there? Yeah.
George: So, I'm seeing stuff across the board. A lot of focus though on, I don't know if it's a niche, but the what we used to call blue collar, 'non-white collar' is the term now. So I've seen a lot of that. I continue to see any freelancer, or gig, or contingent play gets ... seems like if you can hit one of those buzz words, and call yourself a marketplace, somebody's going to write you a check and see how far you can go.
Joel: Throw some AI and data in there.
Chad: Bot chain them.
Joel: Bot chain, crypto. Yeah. Hey, Ultimate Software, you saw I'm sure, just went ... was public, went private, and sold for $11 billion. What do you think that means for the HR tech competitors out there?
George: I was on their analyst call yesterday, and they can't say much. It's, "business as usual," and in a lot of ways it will be. The one thing they said that struck me, though, is their motivation for doing this was to get out of the quarterly microscope that Wall Street brings, and to be able to make investments in their R and D, and in their go to market that were better for customers long term, and might not appease Wall Street with a short term lens. So, that would say, if that's accurate, if ... I would say that it means you'll start to see them come out with more innovative stuff faster. So, they're doing a lot with AI, and predictive analytics, and things in that whole space; and I think you'd see more of that hit the roadmap faster. I think you'll see them get into the global market, potentially, more aggressively. Nothing about the deal smells bad to me. This private equity firm also has Chronos in their portfolio, and Chronos also went from public to private, years ago.
George: Chronos continues to execute, and the founder's still there, and they're ... It seems, from the outside looking in, it looks like to have been a good move for them, so I would guess it's a patient source of capital, and we'll probably see ultimate ... be a little bit more competitive in the enterprise against Work Day, which is where they've been headed for a while.
Chad: So, much different than the Apollo acquisition that we saw with CareerBuilder, because they've obviously been working much differently.
Joel: Any other IPOs on the horizon that might surprise us, George?
George: I don't have any IPOs, but I will tell you-
Joel: Any guesses?
George: Any guesses? Nope. But, here's what I do have for you. Watch your PR feed for about five or six new acquisitions and private equity deals, I would say, happening rapid fire, in our space very soon. I can't get into who, but you're going to see a-
Joel: We want data here, George.
Chad: Damn it George.
George: I know, but I can't ... I've been sworn to secrecy, and-
Joel: You could have at least thrown out an iCIMS or Entelo, with a guess of who'd go public, but you've got nothing, huh?
George: On the public front? Well, iCIMS just got, they just had their PE deal last year.
Joel: Was is ZipRecruiter? They're going to go public soon, right?
George: Yeah, maybe. I don't know. I'm not seeing this.
Joel: With the amount of money they've got, what else are they going to do?
George: I mean, they just got it. They just got it.
Chad: So you've got to give them time, Joel. You've got to give them time.
Joel: I didn't say in the next 30 days. I was just kind of like, "Hey."
Chad: You and your instant gratification, Joel.
George: Oh, you want-
Joel: I'm just going to have to nail my predictions, again, for another year. Basically.
George: When you asked me about predictions about who's going to go public, I thought you meant, watch like, in the next, what, like 12 to 24 months? Sure, I think you hit on a couple of good players that could end up ... Who else is there that isn't already public that's got a platform play, that's 100 million in revenue or more? Is there ... You might see some of these middle-market vendors like on the HR side like the Namelys or someone, get from where they are today, in the next two years, and make a play like a Gusto, or someone like Gusto or Namely or some like that, but yeah, I don't see anybody imminent. Sorry.
Joel: That's okay. I ask the questions, you give the answers. That's how this show works. Any thoughts on Dice? They weren't in your survey, either. Were they in the "Other" category?
George: They didn't come up.
Chad: Imagine that. Dice not coming up anymore.
Joel: Shocking, because they suck.
Joel: Sorry, that was live look at their innovation lab. Some new tech they've come up with.
Joel: I think that's all we've got, George. We appreciate your time, man. Thanks for defending your shit, coming on the show like a big boy, and putting up with us.
George: Well, hey, thanks for having me here. It's always fun, and I'm always happy to stand next to my work and talk about it.
Joel: So, if listeners want to know more about you, where should they go? What should they read?
George: Go to HRWins.com and you'll see all the latest reports right there, and an easy way to jump in by category and get to anything that interests you about HR tech, or investment in HR tech.
Chad: We love you George.
Joel: Thanks, George.
Chad: We out.
George: Love you guys.
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