Jobvite CEO Dan Finnigan
We're not worthy! We're not worthy!
Since taking over the reigns at Jobvite a decade ago after running HotJobs, Dan Finnigan has been a strong voice and leader in the recruitment tech space. Most recently, Jobvite swung for the fences, raising $200 million and acquiring Canvas, Rolepoint and Talemetry to help round-out a full marketing suite for customers. In this interview, Chad & Cheese get the lowdown on the deal and discuss a variety of timely topics.
This Nexxt exclusive is a must-listen.
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Announcer: Hide your kids, lock the doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinion, and loads of snark. Buckle up, boys and girls. It's time for the Chad and Cheese Podcast.
Joel: All right, all right, all right. We're back again. Guys, super special treat today. We're joined by Jobvite's CEO Dan Finnigan. Dan, welcome to the show.
Dan: Thank you very much. It's good to be here.
Joel: Dan is CEO of Jobvite, like I mentioned. What else would you like us to know about you, besides the fact that the highlights of your career were interviewing with me once when you started at Jobvite and then another time when you were-
Joel: ... ruling the world at HotJobs?
Dan: Well, after just hearing your intro music, I think my future highlight would be having my band play "Fight for Your Right to Party" live for your blog post one time.
Chad: Yeah, yeah, we could do that. We could do an event, Dan, 'cause we're doing a ton of events now, and we don't just do a presentation on stage. We actually do entertainment while we're on stage. Having the band bring us on would be kick ass.
Joel: By the way, Dan has the most epic beard in the industry. It's sad that we have to do this on audio only, because it is impressive.
Dan: As good as yours?
Joel: Oh, way better.
Dan: Oh wow. Thank you.
Joel: It's got that salt and pepper leadership quality that mine just doesn't have.
Dan: Oh, it's coming, Joel. It's coming.
Joel: Well, Dan, thanks for joining us. Man, we had some big news coming out of your world last month. Tell us about that and how that transpired.
Dan: Well, the argue for quite some time has been that the history of recruiting software has been overly focused on in-applicant tracking, what happens after someone applies for a job, and that a lot of innovation has been going on for some years now and our disciplines with sales and marketings around how to build prospects and databases and communicate and engage with prospects before they ever become an opportunity. And we felt that recruiting was gonna go through the same change, and that's why years ago, we launched Jobvite Engage to help recruiters and companies build their own database of prospects and become less dependent on my old world of advertising.
Dan: The fact is that the opportunity in this economy and given what's happened in the marketplace to focus on applicant tracking, given the needs companies have, was so great that it was, I felt, a challenge to continue to invest in innovation in these other areas. And I felt there was a window of opportunity for a company like Jobvite to seize the moment and really put a stake in the ground to be a platform and recruiting, as we say, that helps engage with candidates from the first look on your employment brand to the first day on the job. And when we started looking at the landscape, we saw companies like Telemetry crushing it, helping large enterprise companies build campaigns and provide a better candidate experience.
Dan: We've always been very proud of Jobvite about creating the ability to share jobs on social networks to drive employee referrals. But then there was this company Rolepoint that was doing a better job than us. And then finally, I always joke that my son, who just graduated from college and he's working in San Francisco as a computer programmer, would never in his life communicate with a company or a recruiter via email. He would only text.
Joel: Or phone. Or audio.
Dan: Exactly. And so what are we doing? Jobvite was the first ATS to ever integrate into email and calendaring via Microsoft Outlook 10 years ago, and now we're living in an era where the candidates don't even use email. And so we decided to seize that moment and pull these companies together and we're really excited.
Chad: Talking about putting the band together, right? If you just stick with that metaphor. That's a big, big job. K1 comes, you get K1 at the door, and then you start pulling Canvas, Rolepoint, and Telemetry together all at once. How long did something like that take?
Dan: Well, you gotta seize the moment when you have it, and it's not as if we, for example with Canvas, we had developed a relationship with them. We had already launched a version of Canvas last year and had great success with it. We certainly, and with Jobvite Engage have been competing with Telemetry and others for quite some time and new about their strengths and we had customers coming to Jobvite saying, "Hey, look, I like your employee referral product, but we needed to do more and therefore we want you to integrate with Rolepoint."
Dan: So based on that, and our experiences in the marketplace with these companies, we went to K1 and said, "Here's an opportunity. And we could be the first platform that provides the best candidate experience, the best recruiter experience, the best hiring manager experience from first look, not only for the first day on the job, but with Telemetry and Rolepoint to the next promotion because of internal mobility, the capabilities that they have." And K1, this is what they do for a living. They only invest in SAF software companies. They've been one of the fastest growing investors in this area. They've seen this movie before, they've seen what's going on in sales and marketing. And they wanted to, just like us, apply those principles in the area of recruiting and talent acquisition.
Dan: And the funny thing is is when I started taking to them about Canvas, about Rolepoint, they said, "Ah, we've already talked to all those companies." What most impressed me about K1 is that they've been doing their homework and researching for about two years.
Chad: Okay, okay. So from a brand standpoint, all three of these companies have their respective brands in those markets. Are they going to stay separate? Are you going to roll them up underneath the Jobvite umbrella and create Jobvite's Canvas version and Telemetry, etc., etc.?
Dan: Yeah, good question. We're definitely one company. We've come together as one team. We had wonderful meetings. It all happened over the holidays. It all came together over the holidays, and we hit New Year's Day running. And we're all excited about the ideas that have come out of our meetings to date. Immediately, we're almost complete with many of the integrations that are taking place through our APIs. Obviously we like any Jobvite customer to utilize any of these three other wonderful products. I know Telemetry is already working with Rolepoint to offer their capabilities to Telemetry customers, and a lot of exciting things are happening there.
Dan: But obviously the real opportunity here is what we could build together. And we're already thinking about those priorities. This is going to be one integrated platform and we're gonna be focused on use cases for recruiters, use cases for candidates, as well as for hiring managers that, as I said, cross the entire value chain of recruiting from first look to first promotion. And we're gonna be one company, and the other thing I'll say is that we've been really pleased with the cultures meshing as well as they have, really quickly. And yeah, it's pretty exciting.
Dan: We already had, for example, a bunch of employees at Jobvite in Indianapolis, and that's where Canvas is located. So we're coming together in one office in Indianapolis and everyone's really excited.
Chad: So when's that gonna happen? Because you should have Chad and Cheese onsite, since we're both here in Indy.
Joel: We learned you guys have a budding office in Fishers, Indiana, which is right up the street from me. You guys have been secretly building this Indianapolis empire. What's going on?
Dan: Yeah, you've never been there, that's true. It's a wonderful office. The Fishers mayor and government have been really supportive, wanting to attract tech companies to Fishers, and they created a wonderful opportunity for us to get moving fast. And that office frankly between us grew a lot faster than I ever thought it would. We didn't realize the depth of talent and BTB SAF software that exists in Indianapolis. And then because of that, that's how we first met Canvas, and right now we are I think looking for real estate as we speak and we'll I'm sure be announcing the new office sometime soon.
Joel: Nice. It's good to know that Alman and his team won't be leaving Indiana any time soon. We really like those guys.
Dan: I'm so impressed with what they've done in such a short period of time with a small, tight team. They are very creative, very bright, and very fast.
Joel: Yeah, no doubt, no doubt. So when I first reported on this, my first sense was like, "Hey, this is a real swing for the fences. This is a real sort of we're going to create a one stop shop or close to it platform." And my initial thought was that it was really driven a lot by companies like Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, maybe even Facebook to some degree, at least in terms of perception. How much did those 800 pound gorillas getting into the game have on you making a decision like this? And am I right in saying you want to be that next tier of platform to the big guys?
Dan: Well, I think that's ... I can't say much about what's going on with regard to Google Hire or LinkedIn, except to say that kind of reminds me of the early days of job boards. Very small companies, they want to run their autobody shop. They want to run their flower shop. They want to run their local retail operation. They don't want to be experts at recruiting, and it used to be easy, right? All they'd have to do is post an ad in the local newspaper or buy an ad on Monster.com or HotJobs and they'd have enough candidates. And I think that companies like ZipRecruiter have proven that SNBs need one tool to work, to source, and to make their hire.
Dan: That's not what we do. We help talent acquisition departments and companies build their teams, and they have a team of people to do it. And that team of people works with hiring managers and it's a coordinated hiring process. And companies build an employment brand and invest in that. And that's what we're about and that's what we're focused on. And the reason we did this is that we felt that the era of the ATS was over, and that the opportunity to be the recruiting platform and suite of products that service the entire value chain of recruiting was a limited window. And that the time was now. And the innovation that we saw coming out of companies like Rolepoint and Canvas and Telemetry we thought proved it, and that recruiting departments were beginning to change their definition of what recruiting has to do as a function.
Joel: You gave a presentation a few years ago that I remember, talking about career-building monster, as we're talking about job boards, creating the two horizontal brands, the Coke and Pepsi if you will of the job board space, and then having verticals come under that such as Dice, etc. Do you feel like this move that you've made helps Jobvite become one of the horizontal market leaders in this talent management space? Or are you looking to catch a vertical?
Dan: I believe that Jobvite and our companies have already proven that we're horizontal. We're ... Obviously we started here in the Bay Area and we're very popular with tech companies and tech companies in San Francisco and New York and Los Angeles. But over the last four years, five years, I've just been blown away with the growth in the heartland of the country, in the red states, not just the blue states, in manufacturing, in energy, in retail. And so while we go to market with vertical-focused communications and vertical-focused relationships, at the end of the day we're a horizontal platform. And it's because every company is facing the same challenges.
Dan: If you think about today versus 10 years ago, we now live in a world where every industry is connected to the cloud. Every industry is connected to lots of devices that are connected to the cloud. Every industry is being disintermediated by data and analytics and automation. And as a result, every company and every industry is looking for the same kind of talent. And we've seen the vertical of engineering and technology become the driving horizontal across most industries.
Chad: So when you take a look at modeling and you take a look at our industry, it doesn't look like you're modeling after anything that's happening in our industry now at all. It sounds like you're looking at, as you said, sales and marketing to be able to model something to different, more platform-focused, then again, the era of the ATS is dead. So can you tell us a little bit about when you were envisioning a model for Jobvite? Is it more towards the sales force of the world? Where are they at?
Dan: Companies traditionally have focused recruiting around the requisition. There's this need, I have a job, I'm going to advertise that job in a newspaper. And then the first ATS, you can debate whether it was Resumix or Restrack, and I ran Resumix for a while when I ran HotJobs. It was built around that rex, meaning you advertise a job in the newspaper or on a job board and you get a lot of responses and now you have a database for resume. Today, I think recruiting needs to be built around a brand and an experience that you're going to offer candidates. And the candidates may be interested in multiple different jobs and they're interested in what your company does in the marketplace, what kind of experience they're going to have.
Dan: And I've given talks to recruiting departments over the years that they need to think of their company almost in the way universities think about it. These people are going to look at their company and figure out, "Do I want a big company or a small company? A big university or a small university?" What's the curriculum like? They're going to look to see who your faculty is. They're going to look to see who's teaching these classes. They're going to go on LinkedIn and see who your managers are. And they're going to be more interested in that than any specific job. And as a result, we think recruiting software needs to help companies build access to candidates, not necessarily just distribute jobs and requisitions.
Joel: Dan, Google for Jobs, as you know, has been a real influential force in the last couple years in terms of job postings. And quite a few of the ATSs that we talk to are really adamant about leveraging Google for Jobs in a way that companies' jobs are directly onto Google for Jobs, that they're optimized, and that they become more of a direct link to the job seeker and the employer. Do you have a similar sort of ideology there at Jobvite, or are you less concerned about that and more concerned about posting to job boards and getting the distribution play right?
Dan: I actually think it was inevitable that Google was going to get into this space. 11 years ago, when I was at Yahoo! running HotJobs, I felt very strongly that the future of job searching was not gonna be at a job board. The job listings were gonna be findable by any search engine. And I'm actually surprised it took this long, Indeed and Simply Hired, I think probably we're the intermediate solutions that created vertical search engines for jobs. But I've always felt it was inevitable that Google could become the dominant place where job seekers search for jobs, just like they search for anything else in their life, so that therefore I think it makes complete sense for companies like Jobvite to help companies connect with that audience.
Chad: So what about taking it further with companies like Google? They've come out with enterprise APIs on job search and I believe we're gonna see one on candidate search and matching probably sometime this year. What's your stance from a platform standpoint to be able to really partner very closely with these types of organizations, whether it's a Google or maybe another big brand name that focuses on search?
Dan: Yeah, I think it's critical to integrate with the ecosystem in not just recruiting, but in job searching. If you think about it, Google has the best data about individuals who search for things. And that, as a result, they can figure out, I think pretty well, what's the next best opportunity for someone? An example I'll give you is when I was at Yahoo!, back around 2005, we built a machine learning algorithm that would take into account things that you searched on Yahoo! for. So for example, if you were a nurse living in Seattle, based on the kinds of searches that you did in Yahoo!, and also the kinds of news stories and content that you would consume, we would begin to figure out that you're thinking of moving to Phoenix, Arizona. And as a result, you'd start to see HotJobs listings for nursing jobs in Phoenix. And the algorithm would watch to see if you clicked on 'em, and if you did, it would then determine that you must be in the market, you must be interested.
Dan: and in fact, we saw click rates go up. And that was a long time ago. So it is inevitable that Google's algorithms over time are gonna get very smart at understanding the intent, and that's the key word here, the intent that job seekers have. Well, the same thing exists for companies like Jobvite. We really understand the intent of the companies and what they're looking for. Someone really smart in our industry told me, "Hey, Dan, we're not in the hiring business. We're in the rejection business." Meaning for every 100 people you say who apply for a job, you're only gonna hire one. For every 100 people who look at a job, you're only going to hire one.
Dan: Well, think about the information in all of that rejection. Who do they reject? Who do they reject? Who do they reject and at what stage? And who do they jump onto and who do they spend more time with at what stage? And that insight will lead to understanding company intent and hiring manager intent. And I think the long-term opportunity is for the marriage of those two intents.
Joel: Dan, when I talked to you 10 years when you first took the position there at Jobvite, you guys were sort of mavericks in the sense of leveraging social media to get traction for job postings, most notably share a job on social media, company pages or job listings on company pages on Facebook. It seems like a lot of that has faded from the foreground. What role does social media have with Jobvite's products and services today? And maybe what will we see in terms of social media in the future?
Dan: Well, we still find that companies who roll out employee referral programs and launch them with the requirement that employees create a login into Jobvite, not requiring them to share jobs on social networks, just to create that login, and then set up the distribution of jobs on their social networks, do better at sourcing candidates than companies that do not do that. Rolepoint is teaching us a lot about how to further drive the engagement in employee referral programs through their capabilities, and they're in fact less reliant on social networks to do that.
Dan: You know, it's funny, the other thing that we did 10 years ago to the other question you asked me about Google Jobs, is that as soon as you bought Jobvite, your jobs were automatically distributed onto Indeed and Simply Hired, the leading search engines at the time. And customers were so excited when they would turn on Jobvite and start seeking candidates already. And I think the lesson here is that job seeker behavior is fickle and will change over time. And whatever they're using four years from now or five years from now to spend time with each other, to do research, to learn about industries, even to shop, are going to be places where recruiters are going to have be with their brand and their opportunities that they're going to want to find the best people.
Dan: At the end of the day, recruiting is going to become increasingly like all digital marketing.
Chad: So Dan, you talk about changing from rec-centered to being more people-centered. But we also know that HR and talent acquisition, they've taken processes from over the last decade and they really haven't changed them, because we know, especially in HR and TA, change is a bitch. What's your message to them to be able to try to give them a nice shaken baby moment, to get them out of this and to focus on really what's next? As opposed to the rec, really the people and experience, and one of the reasons why you brought Canvas, Rolepoint, and Telemetry into the mix.
Dan: That's a big question. I think a couple of things. Number one, 15 years ago, 12 years ago, I started giving talks about the upcoming change in the demographics and how that was gonna make finding talent in the future increasingly challenging. The obvious, biggest trend of which would be the inevitable retirement of baby boomers and the replacement of them by a smaller, better educated and value-driven generation. And when I gave that talk, people were interested. They may occasionally take a photo of a PowerPoint slide. Now it's all taken as a given. Everyone knows the pain that recruiters feel and their hiring managers feel, right now, in trying to find talent is immense.
Dan: If you put 15 CEOs into a room and said, "You can't come out of that room without agreeing on what are the top two or three pain points you face as a CEO," I'm convinced that one of those three, if not the number one would be "I'm scared I'm not going to be able to find talent over the next three to five years to meet my company's goals." So this problem isn't going to go away, and so what it means is that by definition, we're going to have to change what we do if we're going to find that best talent and bring them into the company and keep them. I think everyone understands that. Your point is a good one, but we don't seem to change as fast as the market needs us to change.
Dan: I think we have an emerging generation of people who are going to challenge everybody to change. The very people who were looking for these career opportunities and expecting to change jobs more frequently because they feel the need to acquire skills faster to build their career are going to be the ones working within HR departments and recruiting departments, asking, "Why aren't we changing how we're doing what we're doing?" So I think the millennial generation and even the one after that is going to be a big driver of that.
Dan: And the second thing, implicit in what I'm just saying is, I think C-level suite is already starting to pay more attention to this, and because they contract a measure, the quality of all aspects of their business better today than ever before, they're going to start asking, "How are we doing in recruiting? Where are you getting your hires from? Which source of hires is the fastest source of hire? Which source of hire is the fastest source of hire? Which hiring managers are doing their job? Which hiring managers are not doing their job?"
Dan: And if you have a data that tracks it from the very first moment you have a touch with a candidate all the way through the hire into the job, then you're going to be able to answer those questions for the C suite. And that's what's gonna drive the change. But as you can see, finally, I also think that the disciplines of marketing and sales are gonna lead the way and it's gonna be an exciting time over the next few years for our profession.
Joel: The gig economy is obviously getting a lot of buzz in our industry. There are platforms coming out to help establish a marketplace where people looking for gigs can connect with restaurants and employers of all kinds to connect. But we're also hearing that the gig economy is a little bit bloated and a little bit overrated. Where do you stand on the gig economy and what sort of products and services is Jobvite looking at to help support a gig economy?
Dan: The word gig almost implies, it almost belittles what's going on here. I think the reality is that, as I said earlier, every industry is being transformed by the cloud, the Internet of things, meaning every aspect of their business is now connected to the cloud, generating a ton of data that's going to be transformative in virtually every industry. And the fact is, the definition of what's core to the enterprise versus non-core is gonna come out of that, and finally, human beings are connected to the cloud. And you're already seeing people ask the question, "Why do I need to come into the office? Why can't I work wherever I want to be?"
Dan: And I think that that's not going away. And I don't think that's necessarily the gig economy. I just think that's the cloud. And so companies are gonna have to decide which positions are core to what they do versus not core to what they do. And with those positions that are core, they will still be full-time jobs, but their requirements for full-time work about where people need to be located, what tools they need to use, are gonna be transformed. And so I would argue that working full-time inside a company is going to look more like what the gig economy looks like today. You log in when you need to.
Dan: I was just in a meeting yesterday with a bunch of CEOs where they were saying that R&D and development overseas is evolving to a model where everyone agrees that for these four hours, we're online at the same time. But you can be in India, you can be in Eastern Europe, you can be in Florida, you can be in California, you can be in Mexico. It doesn't matter. But as long as for these four hours you're logged in together, you can be anywhere you wanna be. And that's the first I've ever heard of that, and so I think that the gig economy is just the tip of a spear of change about how people work together and collaborate via the cloud.
Joel: Dan, thanks for joining us. We really appreciate it. I know I for one could talk for a few more hours, but we know that you don't have such time. For our listeners who want to connect with you, where would you send them?
Dan: Certainly send me the email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joel: Chad, we out.
Chad: We out.
Tristen: Hi, I'm Tristen. Thanks for listening to my step-dad, the Chad, and his goofy friend Cheese. You've been listening to the Chad and Cheese Podcast. Make sure you subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts so you don't miss out on all the knowledge dropping that's happening up in here. They made me say that. The most important part is to check out our sponsors, because I need new track spikes. You know, the expensive, shiny, gold pair that are extra because well, I'm extra. For more, visit chadcheese.com.