Okay Boomer, we're back for another week of news and commentary.
Welcome to the Chad and Cheese podcast HR's Most Dangerous and most Gen Xiest. On this episode:
Can you smell what they're cookin'?
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Jim Stroud: 15 minutes ago, the world changed. Companies are microchipping their workers. Robots are hiring humans, and brain-to-brain communication is a thing. This is all happening now. If you want to know what happens next, listen to the Jim Stroud podcast.
Intro: 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: Okay, boomer, we're back for another week of news and commentary.
Chad: That's right.
Joel: Welcome to the Chad and Cheese podcast, HR's most dangerous and most Gen X-iest. I'm your cohost, Joel Cheesman.
Chad: And I am Chad Sowash.
Joel: On this episode, Symphony Talent gets smashed, four-day work weeks could be our future, and career builder jumps into the ring with a new sponsorship. Can you smell what they're cooking? We'll be right back after this word from JobAdX.
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Joel: We're back for another week.
Chad: We are back.
Joel: I was worried, this close to the holidays, that the content would be a little light, but it's pretty meaty.
Joel: We've got a good show in store for everyone.
Chad: Oh yeah, this is a good one. And kicking off, I've got to say, Adam Gordon from candidate.ID wins-
Joel: No, no, dude.
Chad: What? What? What? I've got-
Joel: I didn't know if you're going to save it till the end, or just come out swinging.
Chad: No, we're coming out swinging.
Joel: So we're coming out swinging. All right.
Chad: Yeah, we're going to come out swinging. So, Adam Gordon from candidate ID wins the video of the week, if not the month, if not the fucking year. So on LinkedIn... Adam Gordon, if you know Adam Gordon, awesome guy, amazing marketer, and he probably did this on purpose, probably not, but maybe. He just did a video where he was really combating the whole idea that the talent pipeline funnels are dead, and people are talking about infinity loops, and so on and so forth. So he crafts, it looks like out of cardboard, two things. This one funnel, I guess it was, that looks like a penis, and this person out of cardboard that goes up and down the penis. So I guess it's time for the talent pipeline penis...
Joel: Dude, the head of the penis is the job. He acquires the job. Oh man.
Chad: That's a win. Dude-
Joel: If that doesn't bring out your inner 14-year-old, nothing will.
Chad: We were getting ready for the show, it popped up in my feed, I'm like, "What the fuck is this?" I start watching it, and I just could not stop laughing. It is fucking hilarious. Here's, what I'm saying. If you are listening, go directly to LinkedIn right now, look up Adam Gordon. Go to his video. Watch it without-
Joel: Recent activity.
Chad: ...any audio. Yeah, no audio. Just watch it. It is fucking hilarious, dude. And yes, our inner 12 to 14-year-olds came out.
Joel: Oh, yeah. Yeah. You and I sounded like Beavis and Butthead on the other end of the microphones, laughing at this video, because it was just so obviously meat headed.
Chad: Yeah. So anybody who actually saw-
Chad: ...Adam pulling this together, and watching him do a dry run, and not look at that as a phallic symbol, as a penis, you, my friend, you weren't looking hard enough.
Joel: I just can't imagine with the sense of humors that Scottish folks have that that wasn't some subliminal joke that he knew you and I would see and talk about it. Like, it's that genius of marketing that he knew we'd talk about it if he posted it.
Chad: Yes, I agree. And another video... Going to jump into this while we're talking about 12-year-olds, because we just, pretty much, interviewed a 12-year-old yesterday on Firing Squad. His name is Adam Chambers. Firing Squad's going to come out probably next week, week after. It'll be sometime this month. But from a company called Applichat, and it was hilarious because he has been getting ready for Firing Squad on Chad and Cheese for a while now, and he jumps on, his mic sounds like shit. You can tell he's in like a little boxy office, where it's just echoing like hell, and then, for probably about two to three minutes, you hear him kind of like, running around looking for another place. And then what does he do,
Joel: He lays down in a bunch of pillows to do the interview, and then he videotapes the whole thing, and then posts it everywhere, so good on him, man. Like, the dude can't be a day over 16. I'm convinced. Like, there's just no... And you learn this in the Firing Squad, he does video streams with his customers, like they have to look at him and think, "Can you even drink legally? I don't understand. I actually bought something from you."
Chad: "Are you an intern?"
Joel: Yeah, like... "Is this a joke? Am I being Punk'd? I don't get it."
Chad: So Adam Chambers, congrats buddy. That was awesome.
Joel: Good on you, man. Shout out.
Chad: Yes, you deserve big time shout-out for getting couch cushions, laying on the ground, and sounding awesome during Firing Squad.
Joel: No doubt, no doubt. Shout-out to Job.com and AssesFirst. We posted their death-match presentations on the feed this week. Always entertaining and always nice, and also thanks to Alexander Mann Solutions for sponsoring Death Match.
Chad: That's right, that's right. Shout out to the US Postal Service for eating their own dog food and using direct mail to recruit. Now, did you actually get that in the mail?
Joel: I actually got that in the mail. It was for jobs at the post office. They show the hourly rate, hourly pay for those. Most of them were rural jobs, so I assume that they're having trouble filling some of those rural positions. But yeah, I'm sure that's a pretty cost-effective way for the post office to promote its jobs. It's sort of like when Google promotes its job openings on Google.
Chad: Very nice.
Joel: Shout out to Recruitology.
Joel: We have a new Shred sponsor.
Joel: They were lucky enough to get in on our first story, the SmashFly Symphony Talent acquisition, so they couldn't have gotten it on a better time to get their message out. So go check out Recruitology and learn more.
Chad: Yes. Shout out to so-called job search experts/life coaches/whatever the fuck they want to call themselves. I would really love for these people to stop peddling stupid shit to job-seekers. I was on Twitter earlier this week, and Liz Ryan, her handle is @humanworkplace, and she's also the author of the book Re-invention Roadmap. There's more to that, you can figure that out if you want to. I saw somebody reply to one of her tweets, and she had a question. The question on her tweet was, "Even if a company recruiter reaches out to you, you still have to fill out an application." Yeah-
SFX: That is one big pile of shit.
Chad: How would you get into their system otherwise, right? And then she goes on to answer the question. Answer, "Everyday people have casual conversations about jobs, even more casual conversations about pain and solutions, and blah, blah, blah, blah. They do all of this without filling out forms." And it's like, wait a minute. People can't even see you in their system to be able to talk to you about a job, to push you through the process, from a compliance standpoint, unless you're in the fucking system. Now we all know, don't get me wrong, the application process, for the most part, sucks. But you still have to go through that process if you're looking to get the job. And what she's saying is, "Yeah, just go have drinks with a recruiter. That's the way that you get the job." And possibly fined by the EEOC or OFCCP, right? There's that option, too.
Joel: Just be on the internet, that's all you need. Shout out to Kenzie Academy. No one else would know this story. This is a local company in Indianapolis. They got 100 million fricking dollars to help lower-income, urban kids learn engineering skills, so good for them. We talk a lot about going outside of the traditional education road, and these guys are making waves in that industry. So Kenzie Academy, good on you. We need more engineers, and you just got $100 million to train some more.
Chad: Yeah, so, I would love for companies to start picking up the ball on this, instead of having to do grants. I mean, $100 million is awesome. This whole story is awesome, but the biggest problem here is this isn't a part of the actual fabric of what an organization is doing to be able to drive the types of talent that they want into their company, long-term.
Chad: And again, we look at the military, and what the military has done over the years to be able to subsidize individuals' college, whether it's on the front end with ROTC, or the back end with the actual military college funds that they have. These are the ways that we get the types of individuals into our positions, not just today, but next month, next year, and the next five years, and this is how we get the skills that we need to get it done. I love this from the standpoint of... We do have areas, segments... Whether it's around Indianapolis or any major metro anywhere in the United States that is underserved. We need to do a better job there. And this is a great story about how we here in Indiana are at least making that happen.
Joel: Go Hoosiers.
Chad: Good shit.
Joel: Shout out to the gig economy that had a pretty tough week this week. Uber released Q3 earnings. They're losing over a billion dollars a quarter. Ouch. They're telling everyone that 2021 is going to be the year of profitability. Wag, which as a dog owner you probably know about, is a company that will pay people, sort of gig-wise, to walk your dog. There's an app, and they tell you when your dog pooped, and how many times he peed, and all that good stuff. So they're trying to sell the hell out of this company. They got $300 million in investment. Word is they're trying to sell it for about a third of that cost. And then Airbnb, we had some fun Halloween murders at one of the Airbnb rentals-
Chad: Never good.
Joel: ...So it was a tough week for the gig economy.
Joel: I don't know if it's a canary in the coal mine kind of stuff, but 2020 should be an interesting time for the gig economy.
Chad: I agree. And we'll be watching. Go figure.
Chad: Big shout-out to all veterans. Veterans day's coming on Monday here in the United States. And instead of just doing the regular, thanking a veteran for their service, say something, or better yet, do something that's meaningful for that veteran, right? Buy them a coffee or something like that. Doesn't have to be charity. Just do something meaningful that's more than, "Hey, thanks for your service."
Joel: Go hug a vet, everybody.
Chad: Give them a big hug.
Joel: Just keep them the hell away from Adam Gordon, because that dude's got issues. All right, you're ready to get to the news?
Chad: SmashFly acquired by Symphony Talent.
Joel: Symphony Talent.
Joel: Formerly known as Hodes.
Chad: Yeah. Findly-
Joel: Kind of...
Chad: Yeah, there is a lot out there. You know what really interested me, before we get into the guts of this? The press release didn't mention Thom Kenney at all.
Joel: Well, he's gone, right? Basically.
Chad: Yeah, but he's the CEO who took the reins over a little bit of a year ago.
Chad: And in, I mean, this is his third acquisition. So, I mean, personally, I don't think this acquisition happens without having a leader like that, and then also the team that's under him, to be able to really inspire them to do what they did. And they've been around since 2007, right? He takes the reins... First he was the CTO, that's when we first interviewed him, he was the CTO. Took over as CEO. Pretty pivotal player in this, but void of the press release.
Joel: Yeah, and a very vocal CEO. He's been on our show, at least once or twice, and if nothing else, the blueprint for this is usually, Thom will be joining the advisory board, or he'll be part of whatever for the transition period, and then Tom puts a quote in there like, "This is a great marriage, the future's bright, blah blah blah." So yeah, I agree that not having him in the release, especially for a company, two companies that know marketing pretty well, is an interesting take, for sure.
Chad: Either way, great exit. He's on the beach sipping fruity drinks. Margaritas, May Tais, some shit like that. Good for him. Great for the staff at SmashFly, and congrats Symphony.
Joel: Yeah. Now, you're closer to this a little bit than I am. I mean, any insight on what brand are they going to go with? Who's going to come over to what? Are people getting different positions? Do you have any insight in terms of that aspect of things?
Chad: Yeah, there haven't been huge shifts. Financial terms were not disclosed. Roopesh Nair is the president and CEO of Symphony Talent, is going to lead the new SmashFly organization. I have to say that, give some props to Roopesh, because you might remember, there was a lot of mess to clean up, because First Advantage was acquired by... God, what were they called at the time? There was just STG, so the actual STG, the PE firm, bought First Advantage in 2011, then they acquired Findly in 2012, who acquired Bernard Hodes in 2013, and there was a train wreck. I mean, there were all these different brands, all these different technologies, people running around, cats and dogs living together. Then Symphony Talents group, the actual private equity group, stepped up from the background and said, "This shit's going to stop." So in 2016 created Symphony Talent and I believe that's when Roopesh actually came into to start leading the organization. So I think it's important to understand all the pieces, parts in the history of how these two organizations are coming together.
Joel: Yep. I had totally forgot about Findly. Thanks for bringing them up. Blast from the past. So you did the Shred on this, and it was a great Shred, so talk about what the companies do and what sort of... Your insight on competitive advantage against... Obviously, TMP is in the picture here as well. And then you talk a little bit about some of the other competitors to SmashFly, and what they might be looking at doing, such as Beamery.
Chad: Yeah, so you have two organizations that are coming together that are going to have a portfolio of over 600 companies, big logos that they're actually servicing. One of the things that we've noticed with Symphony Talent is that there was nothing to notice, really. I mean, from a marketing standpoint, from a PR standpoint, what have you, they've been very stealthy in what they've been doing. But I believe, and what we're hearing, the rumblings-wise, is that is going to change with this acquisition. Being able to pull in a big brand, a very vocal brand, like SmashFly, that, to me, is really the exciting part to see how those two brands come together.
Joel: Now from my standpoint, to me, SmashFly is the far better brand of these two, and if I were making recommendations, I would say, "Get rid of the Symphony brand and put it all under SmashFly." What are your thoughts?
Chad: Yeah, that won't happen, because you've got to remember who the private equity group is. Symphony Talent Group, right? They created Symphony Talent because of all the disparate brands and services and technology that they had before to be able to consolidate. I think they'll pull SmashFly in and the SmashFly brand will eventually go away. It is a strong brand, it's an awesome brand, but I think it will eventually go away. And overall I think it does make sense from a strategic standpoint. But the question is how do they pivot all of this momentum into the Symphony brand?
Joel: It's not easy. It never is.
Joel: And we talk a lot about these acquisitions like they're going to snap their fingers and it's going to be hunky dory, and everyone's going to get along, and it's going to be great. And acquisitions are hard. Like, tech is different, people are different, locations or different, cultures are different. This, by no means, although it's been touted as a great move, is a slam-dunk success, just like any other acquisition out there. But I do think that when we look at combining forces and the CRM piece with the ATS, and the branding, and all that, it's a great move. And you think it's a direct sort of strike against what TMP's doing, particularly on maybe the programmatic side, and one-ups them, I guess, on the CRM piece?
Chad: Yeah. I mean, TMP has four acquisitions this year so far, but I believe this one is actually bigger than the sum of those four.
Chad: I think that it makes a hell of a lot of sense for Symphony, for TMP... And then you have, like, you think about even smaller firms like RecruitX buying KRT, starting to really understand that the services piece, you can't do this tech without the services anymore. The experience is everything, right? So you can't do one without the other, which makes me wonder what's going happen with Beamery and Phenom. I know Workday has some money, I believe, into Beamery, but Workday doesn't have the services that a company's going to need from an experience and a creative standpoint. Phenom is trying to be that for everybody, but there's going to be a limit for them to be able to do that. So it'll be interesting to watch all of that, all of that come together if it does.
Joel: Yeah, I agree. I guess within the chat bot world, although we don't talk a lot about Emerson, it is one of their product offerings at SmashFly, and it'll be interesting to see how Emerson evolves.
Chad: That's a Paradox product. That's a partnered product. So, that's not an asset. I mean, Emerson is really just a new face on Paradox.
Joel: So, does this put Paradox in the catbird seat to be acquired by Symphony?
Chad: It's a good possibility.
Chad: And to be that integrated into a system where you didn't even know it was white-labeled into a system? That says something for that kind of a partnership. That's what they wanted.
Joel: Any other commentary on this acquisition?
Chad: It's just exciting. Watching all of these players move, acquire, shift, is pretty exciting. From my standpoint, wanting to get on the horn with Joe Shaker, this has got to be exciting for him and Shaker Recruitment Marketing, as well, because, again, this just brings more validation that creative means more than anything when it comes to this. You can have any tech that you want, but if you have a shitty experience, you don't have creative build around it, you don't have great messaging, all of it fucking sucks. So I think right now is definitely the age of the ad agency.
Joel: And the ATS, maybe?
Chad: Maybe the ATS.
Joel: Agency and ATS?
Joel: It's definitely like, who can collect the most toys? It's sort of like, who can buy the most job sites in 2005?
Chad: Yeah, that's not the case, though, because Monster collected a shit-ton of toys, threw them in the closet, and didn't do anything with them. So it's all about who can exact, right, who can actually execute on those toys? Monster is sucking right now, because they were acquiring... Who knows why they were acquiring, other than for trophies. But yeah, I mean, they're going to have to execute on these acquisitions.
Joel: All right, let's take a break. Let's listen from a word from Sovren and we'll talk about HireVue under fire.
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Joel: HireVue AI under fire.
Chad: Yeah, it's pretty interesting. This is in the Washington Post. A prominent rights group is urging the Federal Trade Commission, that's the FTC for all of you out there, to take on the recruiting technology company HireVue, arguing that the firm has turned to unfair and deceptive trade practices in its use of face-scanning technologies to assess job candidates.
Chad: This is pretty big man. I mean this really is for a company like HireVue, who is really focused heavily on AI and tech, and then they start talking about the face-scanning ability. Bias is going to hit them very hard. I don't know how they back out of this.
Joel: Yeah, we've talked about the Illinois law that came out to make them... Make more transparency in terms of job-seekers knowing that they're being analyzed by artificial intelligence. This group, EPIC, which is what they're called, officially, the Electronic Privacy Information Center. EPIC sounds a lot more intimidating. But they've come out and said, they've made an argument... Now, the FTC has not done anything to date, which is important to note. The FTC declined to comment, as well as did HireVue, but to me that the statement from the release that the post talked about was, EPIC said that HireVue's, quote, "Intrusive collection and secret analysis of biometric data causes substantial privacy and financial harms." They added, "Because these algorithms are secret, it is impossible for job candidates to know how their personal data is being used, or to consent to such uses."
Joel: Yeah, this is some real shit. It goes back to privacy stuff, the individual, how are they being impacted, and I think it's even a bigger potential strike against AI in general. And we talk about white box and black box, and transparency, and how is this stuff being used? Like, companies are going to have to publish how this stuff is being used, how it's being diced and sliced, and how companies and people are affected by it.
Chad: Yes, yeah. No, so in the New York Times, sometime last year, they actually did a piece on facial recognition and whether it was accurate or not, and it is very accurate if you're a white guy. When the person in the photo is a white guy, the software is right about 99% of the time, but the darker the skin, the more errors arise, up to nearly 35% for our images of darker-skinned women. And again, this is all about bias, and we're just talking about skin color right now. What about an individual who has a disability, and they don't react the way that quote, unquote, the AI has been trained to see how a reaction happens, right? What if you're nervous, what's the difference between being nervous or well-rehearsed? I mean, because that person was nervous, does that mean that they can't do the job? This has nothing to do with qualifications, and it has everything to do with bias.
Joel: Yeah. And let's not forget Amazon originally tried this and scrapped the whole system because of the bias that was basically built in to the system.
Chad: Yep. Didn't want them women. Got to get them women out of here, right? I mean this is, again, it's just another way for us to be able to impact a segment of the population who has already been negatively impacted. It makes no fucking sense. So, if you are HireVue, and you are listening, we know you are, you need to back the fuck out of this, man. This makes no sense whatsoever. If you're doing this behind the scenes, and you're not selling it as a product because you're trying to learn things, okay, great. This is something that you've got to get away from.
Joel: And EPIC added that robots compare you against existing success stories, they don't look for out-of-the-box candidates, interestingly.
Chad: Not all humans are the same. Not everybody reacts the same. And again, it's too biased. We've got to get away from this.
Joel: Yeah. What is a model employee, right? That's very subjective.
Joel: So they're basically coming out and putting all your data, potentially, under all these sites, is basically how I read it. They'll all be under the same brand. Interestingly, on this page, they have the benefits of data sharing. The last point of the benefits... "Data sharing facilitates better security for users." I'm not sure in what world sharing data is more secure. But anyway, quote, "Such data-sharing allows our sites to better protect their users. In particular, it allows the sites to improve user security and internal operations to troubleshoot and detect and prevent fraud and spam." So if you're on Indeed, suspect that your data is on all of their sister sites very soon, if not already.
Chad: Yeah. This, to me, seemed more CYA than anything else. They've got to cover their asses for GDPR, and the big question is how a job-seeker can go into their system and do all of these things. How can I change my data? How can I delete my data? Those types of things. That's the big key. They own the data. Not Indeed, but again, I think we see more companies doing this just to be able to do a CYA dance around GDPR, and the regulations that will come to the US.
Joel: Yep. Also, interesting how it could affect employers. I have heard rumblings that although Indeed isn't on Google For Jobs in most parts of the world, that jobs are being crossed-posted to Glassdoor, and then those jobs are being listed on Google For Jobs, which is a way for Indeed to kind of get around that whole public stance. So yeah, this whole trading of data and sharing of data, Indeed took another step into doing that. It affects employees and job-seekers for sure, but it probably extends over to all their users.
Joel: Let's get a quick word from Canvas, and we'll talk about four-day weeks, and CareerBuilder's new sponsorship.
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Joel: Let's talk four-day work weeks. Who doesn't love four-day work weeks? All right.
Chad: I do!
Joel: So Microsoft Japan trialed a four-day work week over the summer, and found productivity actually increased by 39.9% and absences decrease by more than 25%. The company also found that 92.1% of workers who participated in the trial said they enjoyed the four day workweek. Why that wasn't 100%, I'm not quite sure, but it still is a good number of folks.
Chad: I think, or at least some of the studies that I've seen, is that after a while, some individuals really enjoy their space, their workspace. They love being around people, and then when they're not that one day, they feel like they're missing something. So yeah, I think those people are weird, but they exist.
Chad: And again, this is what makes us human. They were different, we are different. So that 8% or whatever it was...