When Indeed goes from $33-per to $300-per-applicant it's time to burn it down, build up something new, and then look to the future to rinse and repeat.
Seriously, can imagine discovering your cost-per-applicant on Indeed has gone from $33-per to $300-per-applicant. Well, that's just what happened to Jenny Cotie Kangas, director of digital experience and TA at Regis Corp. The boys dig into Jenny's story, her interactions with Indeed, and what she's done since to right the ship going forward. It's a cautionary tale every employer should know, so listen up!
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Oh yeah. What's up everybody. It's your favorite podcast? The Chad and Cheese podcast. This is your co-host Joel Cheeseman joined as always by my faithful sidekick Chad Sowash today. We're super geeked to talk a little bit at Indeed stuff with Jenny Cotie Kangas. She's the director of digital experience and talent acquisition at Regis Corp. Jenny, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me. I hope you guys are having a great day so far.
You're so Minnesotan, so polite. I love it. Before we get into the nitty gritty, what do our listeners need to know about you?
Jenny (1m 1s):
My name's Jenny, people locally call me JCK.
Joel (1m 4s):
Jenny (1m 5s):
And I am the director of digital experience and talent acquisition for a company called Regis Corporation. And we own a lot of salons.
Joel (1m 15s):
Chad's been to all of them. Obviously.
Jenny (1m 17s):
You've been to all of them, all 60 brands? That's impressive. That's impressive.
Joel (1m 21s):
He has lot of hair to deal with.
Chad (1m 23s):
Sure. Got to make sure I get the right the right shave. Right? It's not as easy as everybody thinks it is, so. Okay. So digital experience. What does that even mean? What do you cover? I don't even know what it is. So what are you accountable for? What are you responsible for? What what's all the fun stuff?
Jenny (1m 39s):
All the fun stuff. I work in an industry that's talent acquisition, super critical. I don't know the last time that you went to go get your hair cut, that you had a robot cut your hair, but we haven't figured out how to do that yet. And until we do a talent acquisition is critically important because ultimately when a customer walks through the doors, we want to make sure we've got somebody to cut their hair or to perform a service. And so as a result, talent acquisition is super, super important. And I work in a world where I've got a mixture of a couple of smaller amount of corporate salons, but a lot of franchises. And so what I do for a living, I always joke I'm a Marvel nerd.
Jenny (2m 20s):
So I apologize in advance, but I always say I maintain Ironman suit. So when Ironman needs a new guided missile system, I go and get it. And then I make sure that once I put it in the rest of the suit still fits. And so ultimately what I do is I build technology that helps people be able to take on recruiting the right way so that they can have sales and revenue and profitability.
Chad (2m 46s):
Those missiles are probably what you would call recruitment marketing, which have gone fucking crazy lately. So you give me some background around how you're actually dealing with recruitment marketing as a part of the digital experience.
Jenny (3m 2s):
Absolutely yep. So we're seeing a really big shift out there in the market. There was a movement going away from that passive I'm going to post a job and somebody is going to apply, into this more like active you got to go actually hunt for people. And so as I dug into this role and took on the global talent acquisition, I started digging into the analytics and I was a bit of a nerd. And so I always want to see, you know, what's converting, is something converting more than others? What's leading to our success for where we're at today. When I looked at the data, the data was really, really, really concerning. One of those data points that I was calling out was I had a cost per apply, which is something that, you know, we see a lot in our space, but the cost per apply down from $33 to over $300.
Joel (3m 52s):
Jenny (3m 53s):
Chad (3m 55s):
We're talking for hairstylists? We're talking about corporate positions? What was that?
Jenny (3m 60s):
We're talking about a hairstylist. We're talking on a cost per apply on Indeed for a hairstylist.
Chad (4m 7s):
Joel (4m 7s):
Not someone with just a flowbe Chad, a real professional.
Jenny (4m 11s):
Okay. Well ideally a real professional, but I don't even have analytics to tell you if that's the case. But anyway, so when I looked at that, I was like, gosh, I haven't been this close to recruitment marketing. I've been to this point, but something doesn't seem right here. And so I reached out to Deb Andrychuk over now at Lowe's and shot her a message on a Sunday. It was just like, Hey, haven't been as close to recruitment marketing. I know costs have gone up, but this seems a little bit outside of the standard deviation of that? Is this right? And her response was to call me directly and say, what the hell are you doing?
Chad (4m 45s):
And for those who don't know, and you've been in the corner for years in the fetal position, Deb, Andrychuk has been in this industry for 20 plus years, agency experience. She's now at Lowe's. I mean, she, she has the chops, so I'm sorry. Go ahead. JCK
Jenny (5m 1s):
She has the right. Yeah. It's for anybody who does not know that, you should know her because she is the person that when you see something really weird, you want to have in your circle to be able to say, Hey, is this normal or not? And then she calls you directly and says, what the hell are you doing? And so I was very thankful to Deb for that because essentially she checked, you know, my hypothesis something's up here. And so I turned around to Indeed and I had a new, a new contact there, his name's Ryan Short, God bless him. He's amazing anybody at Indeed, who's listening. Ryan Short needs a raise cause he's phenomenal. He has to put up with me.
Joel (5m 39s):
They all listen.
Jenny (5m 40s):
There you go. There you go. And so poor Ryan got me on the other side of the table and I essentially said, something's not right with my account. We're a bit of a unicorn. We've got 60 plus brands. Something's not working right, because these numbers just, something's weird. Can you just dig into this? And so we talked about that. I said, I really want you to take this beginner's mindset approach and look at this from a white slate. What's going on? And then I want you to do like a QBR and report it to me. And so he did that, put together this awesome deck and great presentation and gets all the way to the end of it and says, all right, Jen, what do you think? And I said, well, I really appreciate you taking all the time to go through that.
Jenny (6m 22s):
But I only care about slide 11. And he said, what? Like, what's on slide 11? So he quickly flips back and it's on market share. And so this slide in particular was telling me that the market share. So the available candidates that I had out there, the available stylists that were on, Indeed, it had shrunk by half.
Chad (6m 41s):
Did they know why?
Jenny (6m 43s):
They didn't know why. Yep. And so this, these are the questions that I started to ask them, like, why, why have you lost 50% of the market share? Like, why aren't you trying to get those people back? Cause we call that targeted recapture. Right? And he's like, you know what? I don't know. I'm going to have to research this. So I was like totally, okay, come back, let me know, you know, how are you getting these people back onto your platform? And so they came back and he had kind of the mixture of the blueprint of what they could do. So if you're not on your profile, I'm going to send you a message and you know, those little feeler messages that you get. And I said, that's awesome. But do you ever break that out by persona? And so really guys, what I was trying to figure out is like, if I target stylists, right?
Chad (7m 27s):
Jenny (7m 28s):
And now this channel, which is one of my primary channels of conversion. So where I get people, if they have lost market share. So now it's like, let's say for easy numbers, I had a hundred candidates out there in a bucket and today I have 50, right. It's going to cost me a heck of a lot more money to get those 50 candidates. And they're probably a lot less likely to convert to because Great Clips since Work Clips and everybody else is going to try to get them as well. And so what I wanted them to do was essentially, Hey, you've got the data, it's your data. You've got the people who were on your platform before, if something falls outside of the standard deviation in terms of market share, I want you to contact them, that stylist candidate and ask them to go and update their resume or update their Indeed platform.
Jenny (8m 18s):
And so Ryan, God bless him, went back and essentially said, we've got this client and she kind of has a really good idea and can we consider doing this? And they said, no.
Chad (8m 29s):
Jenny (8m 29s):
And so then I was, yeah. Cause you know, like we like success, not doing the same thing all the time, but I dunno, maybe that's just the recruiting thing.
Chad (8m 40s):
It's not your fault they lost 50% market share, but they want you to continue to do business with them. And their whole business rationale is, well, there are less stylists or you're going to have to pay us more. It's not my fault that you guys shrunk your pool.
Jenny (8m 54s):
Well, I think it's a piece that people don't necessarily think of, like, especially in the recruitment marketing world, if I'm looking at the mix of different channels that I'm putting dollars into, right. If I don't have insight into how many of my specific, like target market are on those channels, it's the equivalent of throwing spaghetti at a wall. Right? Because like what I said to Ryan was, if you guys don't have a plan to recapture those stylists, this is not the right channel for me to market in, because ultimately like if there's no strategy, losers have goals, winners have systems, right? So like if there's no strategy to get this back, I'm probably like, this isn't a place where I should be spending my money.
Chad (9m 36s):
Yes, yeah, no question. So what, I mean, has there been a response? I mean, we've seen this new cost per apply, start model, start to?
Jenny (9m 48s):
Chad (9m 49s):
Yeah, the Cpatch, the thing that you wear at night to get to sleep. No. So, I mean, is this kind of like toward more of a model that makes more sense to you? Or is this just another way to throw spaghetti at the wall?
Joel (10m 1s):
Yeah. And do you have a theory as to why they wouldn't do that?
Jenny (10m 4s):
Yeah, we do. I have a theory. I think Indeed is an awesome organization, but they sometimes have a tendency when it comes to innovation or ideas to not be able to bring an idea forward and to activate on it. And so if you don't have like a feedback loop for that, it's going to be harder to move forward. And I think this is a different way of looking at some of the historical ways we've done recruitment marketing and it's free. Right guys, like what I'm talking about is it's their data. It's leveraging the same AI that they're using. It's just instead of doing it, Hey, you've been off of our website for this long. I want to put one more layer in there that says you are a target persona.
Jenny (10m 48s):
So target group of people like a stylist or a CNA or a vet tech, and we've lost a bunch of people. So now I'm going to go out to all of you all and have you, you know, update your profiles. It's just adding another layer on there in terms of what we're going after. I think this is where we get into this historical kind of, we've always done it this way, mentality that doesn't really help us in war for talent. So I'm hoping, you know, somebody will see this and think let's just kind of look at it differently.
Joel (11m 15s):
Bureaucratic red tape is kind of what you think is going on there. Maybe just it's too big. Things happen too slowly. And this was an idea that just wasn't gonna be accepted.
Jenny (11m 26s):
Yeah. I don't know. It seems like if you've got an idea on the table that doesn't cost you any money and it can make you a lot of money. Why wouldn't you?
Joel (11m 34s):
I want to be fair to Indeed, because you are, you're a big, you're a big organization and I think it sounds like you had an agency helping you with the marketing of these positions. Like Indeed, obviously I'm going to assume wasn't the only platform that you were marketing these jobs.
Jenny (11m 48s):
Joel (11m 48s):
And if that's the case, was Indeed an outlier with all the other sort of cost per applications. Talk about that.
Chad (11m 55s):
Did everybody else go up 10 times the rate?
Jenny (11m 59s):
No, no, they didn't. It was just Indeed, but that actually went back to our recruitment marketing provider. There was some rules in the logic that we're not bouncing to the next channel they were kind of staying on Indeed. So those numbers, when there wasn't a ceiling kind of went off the charts and so been working with them to get that under control too, because that's important as well. But they were the main one where our costs had gone up just absolutely dramatically.
Joel (12m 29s):
So was that a programmatic kind of glitch?
Jenny (12m 31s):
It was a programming glitch for my programmatic provider. Correct.
Joel (12m 36s):
Okay, okay. That can be corrected, but that's something that people should be looking out for.
Jenny (12m 41s):
They can, that's where we, like, you know, when we're leveraging artificial intelligence, you know, to, to director of strategy, we usually want to put that before the humans so that it can give us some insights versus having the human direct, the strategy because humans tend to have bias. So it's just a different way of looking at it.
Joel (12m 59s):
In a perfect world if the programmatic algo corrects itself, you shouldn't have these problems with Indeed going forward.
Jenny (13m 6s):
That would be awesome as long as Indeed goes and gets more people, they need more stylists.
Chad (13m 11s):
This isn't that the problem that with Indeed goes away, the problem with Indeed is still the problem with Indeed. Now she can go outside of just using Indeed and not pay 10 times that, of what she paid, what maybe six, eight months ago.
Jenny (13m 26s):
Yeah. So I've decided to flip the funnel a bit too. And so instead of just the top-down approach, we're leveraging additional tools to go bottom up. And so since strategic sourcing, which hasn't really been done in this space as long, and it's been pretty successful for us so far. So, you know, we've got to ask what works, what doesn't, what do we change? And in a war for talent, you sometimes you gotta try different stuff.
Joel (13m 50s):
Talk about your sort of dive into sourcing for stylists. What's the strategy around that?
Jenny (13m 56s):
Oh, absolutely. So Mike Cohen, who's amazing! Batman. I was, yeah, him and I were rocking out and having some fun after hours one day building out a blind hiring model. And I said to him, I was like, this isn't working. He goes, well, yeah, because you're not going about it the right way. I go, okay, Batman, you tell me, how should I be going about it? He's like, you've got to go bottom up. You got to do what we're doing. He's like, you're going top down and you're trying to track the market. It's like, and this is what it was. I said, it's the equivalent of standing in US Bank stadium and shouting at an empty stadium, paying a lot of money to be there on stage saying, come work for me, but there's nobody there.
Jenny (14m 37s):
So I was like, if your people aren't on those channels, like, what do you think you're doing? So I said, do you have suggestions in terms of tools? And he goes, yeah, maybe I was like, please. And he's like, sure. And so he connected me with Jeremy Roberts over at Seek Out and you know, the teams over our Visage and a couple other places. And it's been really cool. So Jeremy Roberts got bless him, he's super patient too. And we were on a call with him just going through a kind of rundown of the system. And I said, you know, cause here I was looking at it for our tech side of the business because we've got operations out in Fremont and I'm like, oh, that'd be great. we have Github, like all these things, right. This will help me go further and faster attack recruiting.
Jenny (15m 18s):
And I was like, can we just throw stylist in there? He's like, well, I've never done that in a call. And I go, I think it's a perfect time to start. And so sure enough, like with no like understanding of how this is going to go, he threw stylist in there. What we found was pretty shocking. We're able to leverage essentially and Jared and all the other people who are in my space who are listening to this, this is a really great channel. So I'm going to give you some tools to do your job differently and better. Essentially Seek Out can be leveraged as a talent insights vehicle for targeting specific personas of candidates. And then it gives me a knock on where do people live digitally in a specific geographical area. And if I have insight into that, I can essentially put targeted call to actions in those specific channels to attempt to convert those
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Chad (17m 9s):
Joel (17m 11s):
And by the way, when you say Seek Out, you mean former Death Match winner Seek Out at the Chad and Cheese Podcast?
Jenny (17m 17s):
What I don't know that? Death match huh?
Joel (17m 21s):
We have a death match competition that we haven't had in a while thanks to COVID, but Seek Out was one of our winners.
Jenny (17m 27s):
I love it.
Chad (17m 28s):
Here's the big question. It sounds like many in this space, not just looking for beauticians, but many are trying to find that silver bullet that never has existed. But what you found out when you dug into the data is that Indeed wasn't the silver bullet and you guys needed to diversify, not just because they were charging 10 times that of what they had, you know, months before, but putting all your eggs in one basket, doesn't make sense. And that's not a strategy that's just a tactic. You guys are using all of these different tools now as your Ironman set up per se, to be able to help the search portion, along with the recruitment marketing.
Chad (18m 10s):
What about things like beauty schools being able to tap into them? Have you guys actually worked, I'm assuming you have, worked very closely with low local beautician schools to be able to give them a fast line into your stores?
Jenny (18m 28s):
Yeah. So we'll we own 80, so that's a start.
Chad (18m 33s):
Okay, so you own 80 schools?
Jenny (18m 36s):
Well, and maybe I'm off in the numbers, but we own Empire Beauty Schools, we're a partial owner in them.
Joel (18m 41s):
Jenny (18m 42s):
So we have it just because you have them in your, I mean yes, smart move. But to your point, are you leveraging those connections and are you creating a channel for success, like in your strategy? Right? Because if I have them in my, if I'm having them in the bucket in terms of companies that we own like as a parent company, but I don't talk to them ever, like it's not going to help us. And so we are actually working with a plug for jobs thing because my God, they're awesome. But I'm working to create a quick capture form to be able to deploy at a lot of the beauty schools that we can harness that information and get it to do our franchisees.
Jenny (19m 22s):
And all of this, so again, a lot of different channels we're talking about, because as you said, there was no silver bullet. And the other piece in my world is what works in one market doesn't necessarily work in another market. So essentially I have to create systems and tools that are available so that the given franchisee, depending on the need can grab them and activate them if needed. And to do that, right, you have to have a foundational understanding of how to do this. And so that's where we brought in Craig Fisher and he is helping to kind of build our overall cohesive talent brand but the other thing that we're having him do or I'm having him do is do a mini master classes to our franchisees to help them understand how to essentially exist in this new world and new war for talent because at the end of the day, I can build you sexy tech, right?
Jenny (20m 18s):
I can build you intuitive tech, but if you don't know how, and when do you use it, it's useless.
Chad (20m 24s):
Real quick. So first off Job Sync also won a different Death Match. And number two, you're telling me that you had this funnel of schools that you guys own, and that wasn't a primary source of hires?
Jenny (20m 43s):
Chad (20m 45s):
Jenny (20m 46s):
And then we had like behemoths old school, very, very, very fragile technology experiences. So I couldn't even tell you in our data, how many people we were getting from those different places. And so at the end of the day, like if I didn't collect the dots, I can't connect the dots. And so there's a lot that we're here, what I'm doing right now. Cause I'm a department of one, to build the infrastructure on the backend to make sure that we can tell those stories and numbers with the goal of essentially moving from gut instincts to data insights.
Joel (21m 17s):
Yeah. And I think to add to Chad's point of, you know, sort of growing your own and full funneling them in the thing that came to my mind when you're talking about Indeed, you know, sort of re-engaging, you know, the talent or the profiles in their database that have stylist or the skills that you want. I thought, gee, they probably have their own database of people in their system that have applied in the past that they can sort of reinvigorate. Have you considered doing that? And if so, what's the strategy or the solutions you're using to help you, you know, look at your database of folks and re-engage them for job opportunities.
Jenny (21m 53s):
Absolutely. So the first step is making sure that the data is consumable. Our former applicant tracking system there were some issues with that data, with the sundowning of that system. And as a result, all of the applicant data was actually scanned in, in order to go back and check like historical, you know, applies. If we needed to grab that for some reason, we would have to go and search through scanned documentation to be able to find that which is not ideal. And so making sure right, this is like what you don't want to do when it comes to your systems and infrastructure, but we're getting it into that consumable spot, right? Because again, if I didn't collect the dots, I can't connect the dots.
Jenny (22m 34s):
And so first I got to get, get things into a place that's right so that I can pull that information out. And ideally don't have humans that are going to manipulate it going in. Cause otherwise I don't have clean data. And so a lot of it's been that piece and we've made some great strides in that regard. And then it's trying to figure out, okay, what are our different channels? So we've got that stylist, the stylist who's in school, right? So like that's a channel. And then I've also got four mom employees who've worked for me because one that's one of the largest actually vehicles that we see are rehires. And so how do I leverage that group differently?
Jenny (23m 16s):
And so one of the great things is having a tool that's able to, you can serve up different marketing or communications to, because obviously like what I'm going to tell a stylist who's in school is very different than what I would say to somebody who's like, Joel's been a stylist for 15 years. He's a barber. I'm not going to convert him the same. So it's not that one size fits all approach, but we've got a great vehicle that helps us do that. And so identify the personas, figure out what's the cadence to be able to communicate with those personas. Test, sharpen, test, sharpen, just kind of continue on this journey to get it right. And that's where we're at.
Joel (23m 53s):
Talk about, you mentioned you're a team of one, but I assume that you have quite a bit of internal marketing support. I also think about in regards to not just job sort of marketing, recruitment marketing, but I would imagine that platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, et cetera, would be really valuable in getting in front of folks that could be stylists. Do you work internally with marketing or your agency, is that something you're doing now or thinking about?
Jenny (24m 19s):
Oh, a hundred percent. So if you don't, if anybody listening to this doesn't work closely with your marketing internally, y'all go start right now, because they should be your best friend and figure out a way to work with them.
Chad (24m 30s):
Joel (24m 31s):
Jenny (24m 33s):
Yeah. I just, you know, when we're looking at what converts and multi-source attribution and telling stories with numbers, our marketing counterparts have done that for a lot longer than we have. And we can learn a lot from them. I mean, one of my really good friends, Mike Lewis, he owns a company that essentially it's customer journey optimization and tells you what's converting and what's what touches are going to convert versus others. And it's like you guys, and he's taught me pretty much all that I know, a lot about this space and it's allowed me to, to play a lot faster and kind of the recruiting world. But like at the end of the day, you need those collaborations because you know, you guys play for the same team.
Jenny (25m 16s):
It's the name of the front, not the team in the back. And so I work very closely with our internal marketing teams. We've gone through a lot of changes. We had a pretty significant restructuring kind of here recently and now marketing sits very differently, but I'm very, very, very thankful to our internal marketing, marketing, friends.
Joel (25m 38s):
Any success stories you can share?
Jenny (25m 40s):
One of our first initial conversations was really just about like, okay, well, we're planning on putting additional content in one of these channels. And I looked at the channel mix and they said, yeah, LinkedIn's not on there and that's a problem. And they had said, like, well, what do you mean stylists aren't on LinkedIn? I said, yep, check your design bias there because stylists are on LinkedIn. And also like, it's free to storytell on there. I'm talking about like traditional, just storytelling. And that's the first place that we should be leveraging before, like the last. And so just that conversation, I think really, really helped too. So they went back and re-strategized and we're working with some outside agencies to help us build out what that storytelling piece looks like.
Jenny (26m 27s):
But, that was a really, really good start. I learned my lesson to check with marketing versus, here's a fun story working with one of our vendors who is putting together a video at the technology about we've built. So I brought franchisees to the table last. I was originally brought in to solve a tech problem. And when I came in and started to look into like, what's the problem? I first asked, like, what's going on here? Instead of just like hitting the gates running and came to find the technology, we have this broken, but there was underlying issues if we weren't handling recruiting right. And if we didn't get that right on the front end of our experience, or at least calibrate the problem that like, Hey, y'all recruiting is important if you want to have like somebody to serve your customers.
Jenny (27m 14s):
When in search while I was fixing the technology, went in search of technology to start to build, to meet our needs. And so brought our franchisees to the table to build that because ultimately I can guess, but I probably will get it wrong. And so over the last nine months, we've essentially sharpened the critical tech. And we went to make a video for that technology because it's essentially like Alexa for recruiting and conceptually people just can't understand it or wrap their head around it. And so we had to make a video. I got the franchisee that was local to the table. I got the franchise consultant in the mix like here, I thought I was stepping and checking all the boxes. I did not connect with marketing first, which was a terrible, terrible choice because on the flip side I sent the video which was done and it was amazing to my marketing leader.
Jenny (28m 6s):
And she said, I'm going to send you an email, I've got a couple pieces of feedback. And I'm like, oh crap, I get the email and it's like a page long of like this piece of collateral is three years old, this pieces of collateral is five years old. Don't show that because we don't, we don't offer that product line anymore. Like all of this stuff and I was like, I turned to my CPO and I said, lesson learned when we film anything, we are checking with marketing first and then second and then third, and then we're going to film something.