Brand Facelift w/ Circa CEO

Diversity. It's kind of a big deal.

Vendors are fighting tooth-and-nail to be the solution of choice for employers far-and-wide. Enter Circa (the artist formerly known as LocalJobNetwork), who just went through a rebrand and recently acquired America's Job Exchange. Big moves, which means a big podcast, and the boys bring Circa CEO and prez Patrick Sheahan to the show and get down to the nitty gritty on the company, as well as the past, present and future of diversity recruiting.

Enjoy this NEXXT powered podcast.


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Patrick (0s):

Not only are we gaining roughly a thousand customers from America's job exchange, which clearly sends a message to the market, that we're the market leader, but at the same time, those customers now are going to be part of a business whose sole mission is helping them build diverse teams.

Intro (15s):

Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HRS 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 (39s):

Three white guys from the Midwest talking about diversity. You know, you want to keep listening. Welcome everybody. This is the Chad and Cheese podcast. I'm your cohost Joel Cheesman joined as always by Chad Sowash and we are happy to welcome today, Patrick Sheahan president of newly minted Circa Patrick, welcome to the podcast.

Patrick (1m 1s):

Appreciate the opportunity to be here.

Joel (1m 3s):

You're very welcome. Very welcome. So you're a Milwaukee guy, Midwest. What should we know about you before we get into the company stuff?

Patrick (1m 11s):

Yeah, family man, married, a father of two living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, longtime native of Wisconsin had had the opportunity to live in a variety of states, but, but came back when my kids were school age. So yeah,

Joel (1m 25s):

It's a great place to raise a family. Isn't it?

Patrick (1m 28s):

That's what we say. Even when it's mighty cold. That's exactly what we say.

Joel (1m 32s):

Let's get to the news part of this. So you've, you've had a lot of stuff going on from a rebrand to acquiring some companies, give us the skinny on all that.

Patrick (1m 41s):

Yeah, it's been a busy year. I joined Circa in May of 2019, and felt passionate about leading a business that had had a real sense of purpose. And I think the roots of our businesses a job board provider and brand of local job network really didn't encapsulate what we were trying to build as a, as a team. And so we worked hard over the last really seven months to embark on our rebrand as Circa with a strong sense of purpose and that we believe diverse teams have the power to transform business and felt the rebrand was, was our way of planting our flag that, you know, from this day forward, if you work with Circa things are going to be different.

Patrick (2m 24s):

As you know, I'm in concert with the name change, we announced that we had acquired America's Job Exchange, which has long, long been sort of identified as a, as a top competitor in our business and the OCCP market specifically. And we actually had been working on that acquisition for some time.

Joel (2m 41s):

I have to inject one thing and I find this fascinating, you guys, you guys really thought about your logo. So in the release about it, it says Circa's logo letters are kerned, a word, I don't even know what means, what it means to create a visual rhythm with subtle cues to connect individuals and create a more hole while you guys really thought about this.

Patrick (3m 3s):

I, I have to say we, we partnered with a fantastic agency called studio lo that helped us with that. And, and this wasn't merely, you know, our marketing team dreaming up something, you know, unique and pretty and, and putting good words behind it. It was a, it was a big effort both internally and externally

Chad (3m 21s):

Local job networks been in the industry for a very long time. You could have obviously put a new, a fresh new coat of paint, on that. But one thing that you said during kind of like the intro was that you wanted to, to let everybody know that things were going to be different. So how will they be different?

Patrick (3m 40s):

Yeah, so, I mean, clearly we have served the market with a diversity offering, but I would say that, that in my onboarding and assessment of what local job network historically had provided, particularly in the diversity space, I hate to say it, but it was, it was, it was very much sort of a check the box type deliverable. And, and, and from my perspective, I just didn't feel like that was a good enough effort that would really have sustainable competitive advantage and longterm customer relationships.

Patrick (4m 10s):

So, you know, what we wanted to say to the market was, you know, merely compliance with diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives was, was no longer good enough. And that, you know, our belief was that we actually had to deliver candidates and help companies with their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. And so as we set forth the vision for our company, it was very much, you know, the legacy product infrastructure, the Legacy messaging, the Legacy brand didn't encapsulate what we were trying to build as a business.

Patrick (4m 41s):

So our product investments now going forward clearly are aimed at improving candidate flow. But also as we embark on our own internal diversity equity inclusion initiatives, what we're trying to do is commercialize those for small, medium sized businesses. That, that, that really are, are challenged with the talent acquisition, the, the culture challenges that we all face as employers in today's day and age.

Chad (5m 7s):

So you guys are you're, you're coming out of the box saying we're going to eat our own dog food. We're going to, we're going to actually do that ourselves.

Patrick (5m 14s):

I worked, I worked with a guy that said, ah, we actually drink our own champagne. It sounds a little bit better. Doesn't it?

Chad (5m 22s):

Any way you want to put it, Patrick, anyway, you want to put it. Here's here's, here's the problem though, Patrick, I totally appreciate and I embrace wanting to create programs that will drive diverse candidates into organizations. The problems that we've seen over the years, is that companies want to talk about it. They want to throw money at charity and they want to, and they want to hire a chief diversity officer and then give them no fucking resources.

Chad (5m 52s):

At all! So my, the big question is if you come up with these great products. Who's going to buy them because all they're doing right now is paying lip service? They're not actually paying for shit.

Patrick (6m 3s):

Yeah. I think, I think your assessment of the past is it's spot on. I find it hard to argue with that, but I do really believe that, you know, the, the, the United States in particular is what I can speak for. Cause it's my own personal experience. I feel like, like things have changed. I do feel like we've reached a moment in time where particularly business leaders have recognized that paying lip service isn't good enough anymore. And you know, I, I, I particularly found it in our organization is, is, you know, some of the, the social justice challenges that have arisen of late, you know, our workforce is quite young, you know, in their mid twenties, early thirties, and they're, they're unabashed and unafraid to speak their minds and share that, you know, they really want more diversity in the workplace.

Patrick (6m 57s):

They, they want their, their coworkers to look more like their friends and relatives and partners, that they spend their time with outside of work. So I, I think you're absolutely right, but I do believe that we're at sort of a see change moment, not because of the Ray Floyd issue. I just think even before, I think times are times are changing and things are different and you know, I'm, I'm, I'd like to say I've got a long career in leadership ahead of me. And you know, if I think about my peer group and the people that I speak with, that's what I feel and see.

Patrick (7m 30s):

And even if it's not the case, it's something that I believe in. So I think it's the right way to lead our company.

Chad (7m 35s):

Here's the thing that I would ask from you hearing that you guys are gonna, you know, drink your own champagne. One of the things that we need from corporate America, and I would love to see an organization like you do this as a leader to demonstrate how you get this shit done, no matter what your numbers look like, will you become transparent with your workforce numbers? Will you put them out for everybody to see, to see today? And then also show the trend lines? Because these are the things that we need. We need guys like you to say, Hey, I believe in this.

Chad (8m 6s):

Okay, great. You believe in it, then show us.

Patrick (8m 9s):

Yeah. That's a great challenge. I would tell you that there's the dog. No, I would tell you that actually, like I said, I've, I've been with the business for now for just over a year. I do quarterly town halls with, with the company and my first quarterly town hall, I actually, you know, asked my team and said, let's look at our diversity stats and let's share them with the organization. And so it was something that I was very transparent with our organization and we report on it quarterly. We share it with our board and I would tell you we're, we're not where we need to be.

Patrick (8m 43s):

I'm proud to say, if you look at our, our male to female mix, we're nearly equal or almost, almost even more skewed towards the female side. And, and I think that's, that's something that's really important.

Chad (8m 52s):

Nobody's where that, nobody's where they need to be though. Patrick and I think is the key is that if you are not where you need to be, you are still transported publicly, not just internally, but publicly and say we are going to do better. And this is where we're going to plant our flag and watch us because we're challenging, not just ourselves, but we're challenging you.

Patrick (9m 14s):

Yeah, no, I'm not opposed to that in any way. I mean, I think if the marketing team can present that in a way on our website, I absolutely own that. Why, why not? That's good stuff.

Joel (9m 23s):

So speaking of websites, Patrick, Chad and I are old enough to remember when diversity job posting that you just,

Chad (-):


Joel (9m 31s):

but your jobs on or some URL that had a diverse, you know, a nomenclature in it. I feel like we need to get way past that. So how are you guys, you know, is this just 2.0, or is it actually a new approach to, you know, getting in front of the right audience?

Patrick (9m 53s):

Yeah, our business has historically had a strong relationship with a large and growing roster of, of community partners that represent diverse groups, if you will. And our historical outreach management product really sent job opportunities in a push relationship to those community partners and as ISS or the efficacy of that product. My belief was that that, you know, just, just blasting people with an email or with links to job postings really wasn't an, it was an ineffective way to actually attract real candidates.

Patrick (10m 29s):

And so what we're working on internally is actually trying to create much more of a, a community partner, sorry, a community partner portal that has greater network, networking, greater interaction, greater dialogue between not only us as Circa and the community partners, but also the hiring employer and the candidate and the community partner. And I think it's important that we create an ecosystem where folks it's much more simpler and easier to use.

Patrick (10m 59s):

I would say that that thematically, I believe as a software provider, you know, we have to have a very simple and easy to use product. And I would say that today isn't representative of, of sort of the Circa Legacy products. And so that's, that's a big effort for us internally.

Chad (11m 13s):

Yeah. That's a big commitment as well, right?

Patrick (-):


Chad (11m 16s):

To be able to move away from. And we're talking about something here that not many people understand is that you were, are working with the most archaic of archaic systems. I don't mean your systems. I'm talking about state and local job backs, federal job banks.

Patrick (11m 32s):

These are the most archaic systems known to man, at least here in the United States. How are you? When I was with Direct Employers leading the National Labor Exchange efforts, our focus was to try to press better technology down into state workforce, into federal, obviously the federal side, as that was incredibly hard. What are your efforts to be able to, to hopefully do the exact same type of thing? And are you seeing those, those state and local, starting to embrace new technology?

Patrick (12m 6s):

Well, I think, I think by and large, you know, the technology solutions providers to the states like JIA solutions are, are doing a good job. And I think states, working with state and local government it's challenging. Right? And I think their ability to adapt sort of innovative technology, you know, I kind of liken it to, to, you know, the success that Uber has had sort of breaking down traditional barriers and state and local jurisdictions to, to display sort of the taxi environment. I that's kind of the, the messaging I give to my team internally.