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To say Bill Boorman has been around the recruitment block a time or two is like admitting fish and chips is a little heavy. Both are well-known facts. That’s why we had to grab Bill at UNLEASH World in Paris for his current views on the state of employment, as well as his current engagement with VONQ.


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Disability Solutions works with employers each step of the way as consultative recruiting and engagement strategists for the disability community.


Intro (0s):

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 lot, boys and girls. It's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.


Joel (23s):

OH yeah. Everybody, you know what's up? You know what's up? We're at UNLEASH World Paris, France. And strolling by we grabbed the great, the mystery, the man, Bill Boorman.


Chad (35s):

His shirt was so loud. We had to pull him in.


Joel (37s):

According to his badge is an analyst at VONQ. We're in the VONQ dude, so it makes sense that he would show up.


Chad (44s):

So you caught the VONQ.


Bill Boorman (44s):

Got the VONQ for three years, my friend.


Joel (47s):

We cannot capture his shirt on audio, but just take my word for it that it's impressive.


Bill Boorman (51s):

If it was audio, you'd not be able to hear anything else. So I accept that. I accept that.


Joel (55s):

Think about the shirt equivalent of a Sex Pistols concert in the Caribbean. And that is his shirt.


Bill Boorman (1m 3s):

That’s the shirt.


Chad (1m 4s):

Drunk on rum.


Joel (1m 5s):

Yes.


Bill Boorman (1m 6s):

I agree.


Joel (1m 7s):

Bill, how're you doing?


Bill Boorman (1m 8s):

I'm good man.


Joel (1m 9s):

Excellent.


Bill Boorman (1m 10s):

Living in the dream, Back at HR Tech status.


Joel (1m 12s):

We have no agenda here. What do you want to talk about?


Bill Boorman (1m 15s):

So, I know what we were talking a little bit about what's happening in the European market, the things I'm saying. It's kind of crazy times I think. We use a lot of cliches in recruiting, right? A lot of them are hyperbolic and unnecessary. But I genuinely think this time is unprecedented. I think we've never seen a hiring time like this right now.


Joel (1m 35s):

And technologies?


Bill Boorman (1m 36s):

Well, technologies to deal with it. But it's more to do with in most of the major economies. In reality, we're in recession, even if we want to try and avoid talking about it, pretending, it's not happening. We are technically in recession. But we've never had a recession with zero unemployment. So, the metric is normally pretty predictable. You increase the number of contingency roles, your permanent roles drop-down and you have a lot more candidates than you have jobs. That's actually not happening. Although there's about 35% drop in jobs which are published on the web, there's still more jobs than there are people available before we even get into the factor, whether their skills match and all that kind of. So we're in a kind of really weird time where companies are going, Okay, we don't necessarily have money, but equally, they're going we don't have our key staff.


Bill Boorman (2m 21s):

And I think that's the other point is that what we learn the big lesson from COVID times and locked down, was the people who are key staff to our organizations are not the people we would have ranked as key staff.


Joel (2m 37s):

Like the CEO.


Bill Boorman (2m 37s):

The CEO, yeah, yeah.


Chad (2m 38s):

Not fucking key staff.


Bill Boorman (2m 39s):

Nobody was clapping for them on a Thursday night. I was clapping for the bankers who weren't at work. That sort of stuff.


Joel (2m 47s):

That's a shame on you.


Bill Boorman (2m 48s):

So the key people in organizations where we have the most acute shortage at this current moment in time, particularly in the UK and in Europe are not the people we've built tech. We build technology to hire technologists, executives, that kind of stuff. We haven't built technologies to hire hospitality, care, this kind of stuff.


Chad (3m 7s):

The supply chain, the fucking essential workers which we've never called these people before.


Bill Boorman (3m 11s):

They were the people who we went, we cannot run our businesses without these people go to work. Everybody else can work from home, do they have to do. These unless you're driving a bus or delivering somebody we thought about.


Chad (3m 22s):

But they have never been called essential in their life.


Bill Boorman (3m 26s):

No.


Chad (3m 26s):

They were called essential. They saw the supply chain start to falter and they're like, “Motherfucker, I get paid shit. I get treated like shit."


Bill Boorman (3m 31s):

And I still get paid shit by the way, because now everyone's going we lost all our money, COVID. So we can't.


Chad (3m 36s):

So I'm going somewhere else, to do something else.


Bill Boorman (3m 39s):

We've got that going on. The other really big thing. And I learned this from a guy called Kevin Green, who runs all the hiring for I think first bus, one of the big bus companies. And he said the bus drivers during the lockdown were heroes. They were taking the essential workers. People were applauding them clapping them in the street. They'd never been admired in that way. Postman said the same thing, right? But then a week after the lockdown finished, but everything opened up. Suddenly, they were really short-staffed, because a lot of them had caught COVID because they'd been out going to work every day running the race. So they were short-staffed. The buses weren't turning up on time. And they said we went from hero to zero in like a day. One day, they were all cheering us.


Bill Boorman (4m 19s):

The next day, they were all swearing at us because they had to go back to work and our bus was late. So there's also a lot of those people who wore the brunt of COVID, took a lot of risks, go in the care sector. People genuinely keeping people alive for minimum wage, right? And then when it was over, those people lost all that kudos. And that's had a massive impact on motivation. I had a conversation at lunchtime. You know this thing about "quiet quitting."


Chad (4m 48s):

The quiet quitting bullshit?


Bill Boorman (4m 50s):

So, what we mean by quiet quitting is people going to work and doing only their job. Only the amount that they get paid for.


Chad (4m 57s):

Doing what they're doing when they paying to.


Bill Boorman (4m 58s):

They are doing on what they are paying for.


Joel (5m 1s):

Lazy bastards.


Bill Boorman (4m 59s):

And we've embedded a thing that says that's a problem.


Chad (5m 3s):

You know what we also call them?


Bill Boorman (5m 7s):

Yeah.


Chad (5m 7s):

B players. Right, right. Because they're not overachievers. They're not our A players. But guess what, most teams are full of B players, which is fucking great.


Bill Boorman (5m 15s):

By the way, most of the time you want B players because they want to just carry on, do your thing. Totally.


Joel (5m 22s):

I want to jump back real quick. So you talked about unemployment and it being very unique time in Europe. As two Americans, we have a lot of fun on our European show, talking about startups, innovations, money coming into Europe. There's a lot more going on than just the unemployment rate. Talk about the excitement in Europe around the money, the ideas, the startups, and the companies that are really taking off.


Bill Boorman (5m 43s):

I think there's certain things that are really interesting, right? So I can talk about some specific companies in a bit. But there's some trends, which are really exciting when you look at the startup. So the first one is, I think we're genuinely getting to the point where we might actually do something with skills hiring. Where we are at the minute, which is not surprising is we've translated our way of hiring from experience into skills, it's the first stage. Is build a skills taxonomy. Look at the available data for those skills. Move people around those skills.


Chad (6m 16s):

At that validate the skills though, that's the hardest part.


Bill Boorman (6m 20s):

Right. That's part of the challenge. So at the moment, it's assume skills based on history, right? So it's not too different to your resume. But I think we're beginning to move towards more assessment stuff. I've been looking at two or three startups today, where they put some reasonable assessment in the application process that's quite light touch. Quite quick, but it's really matching you and taking you straight immediately to the interview level, offering you a video interview if you want it. So, I'm seeing some startups there that are doing some interesting work, assess you in the application. Show you if you're wasting your time, right, which is the ultimate candidate experience thing, which is just saying, “Do this thing 5-10 minutes. You're guaranteed an interview if you get through this.


Bill Boorman (7m 1s):

We're not going to waste your time.


Chad (7m 4s):

You know what in many cases if it's like a customer service job or something of that nature, you give them the fucking job. If they prove that they have validated then they can do the skills.


Bill Boorman (7m 19s):

So I'm saying that kind of thing. I'm actually seeing what's looking like more productive use of analytics that actually using data in some kind of meaningful way. So we've gone from these long, long discussions we had about whether it's big data. We're actually beginning to have products where we go. Actually, I can see some legs in there. I can see some reality in that. I can see a real application. And a lot of that is built around these marketplaces, which have been quite ignored, really, which is the high volume, low skill aptitude hiring for aptitude Russell class talked about that today.


Chad (7m 52s):

And that has picked up dramatically since COVID because of what we talked about earlier.


Bill Boorman (7m 56s):

Yeah. So COVID was a great time for HR Tech really, I think.


Joel (7m 59s):

COVID was a great time. Just so we get that.


Bill Boorman (8m 2s):

Well, that’s right time for me. I loved it. Not the dying stuff that was unfortunate, but I mean.


Chad (8m 10s):

Locked away at home.


Bill Boorman (8m 11s):

Yeah, the thing that really stood out for me was suddenly we had video interviews. We took hiring managers having to do five interviews at. When things became impossible, we discovered people could work from home, and actually it wasn't that bad.


Joel (8m 25s):

It was possible.


Bill Boorman (8m 25s):

But well didn't stop right. Now as a whole different show if we talk about way at the moment, but I think that whole thing, that COVID period, force change. It was a medically induced recession, it forced change. We got budget to do some things which we never had any money for. Because it was at the same time as the skills show it's the hiring that was still there, right? So we had the opportunity to do lots of things and come out of that COVID period. I want to say COVID is gone. But come out of that lock-down period. I think probably four or five years ahead of where we would have been if it would have been natural times. I think with certain things.


Chad (8m 60s):

Especially for remote work, hybrid work, and being able to utilize a lot of those systems.


Bill Boorman (9m 5s):

Yeah, use it takes like video, chatbots, loads of technology, right? Heavy Lifting had been stuff that we talked about for a long time is now a reality. And I don't see any sign of that going back in terms of the technology. Some of the methodology, do people work from home? Do they not? Is it practical?


Chad (9m 18s):

And some of the leadership Jamie Dimon, that kind of –


Bill Boorman (9m 21s):

It’s the leadership who can't deal with it, it's not the people. The people are like, “I'm okay working from home.” And it's actually someone going, “I need to see you to manage you. If I can't see you. I can't be your boss.”


Chad (9m 32s):

Thats a control issue. Yeah.


Bill Boorman (9m 34s):

And the other thing I think we discovered, why people are being called not really contributing is we discovered when you don't have to commute to work and have loads of meetings and all that kind of stuff. But whenever you have a meeting, it's 30 minutes. It has an agenda. It's very structured, which is the benefit of the Zoom tight culture. I think we actually discovered we were only really doing six or seven hours a week work. So suddenly, we're looking at jobs again. We paid someone for 40 hours and now this is all they're doing. And they're like, yeah, but the output is the same, their outputs better. So, I think there's some methodology challenges in there. But the tech, I think is really exciting.


Bill Boorman (10m 14s):

I think things are getting adopted. Where we get into is we've seen some good exits in Europe, reasonable exits. Particularly of point solutions, things like candidate ID that I worked with that for a very good multiple compared with what the revenue was. Showed a bit of methodology. All of the ATS is are looking to become platforms.


Joel (10m 33s):

Yes.


Bill Boorman (10m 33s):

I talked to the CEOs of the ATS’s about once a week, the main ones. And part of that is saying, right, what their plan is, is three things -t The first one is the money spent on a traction and selection is 20x the money spent on software licenses, and they want a piece of that, right? So the way in which they've got their valuations is to say, if we can get 20 or 30% of that revenue, by putting those services inside the ATS, firstly, we're more sticky. You have no reason to go anywhere else, you're less likely to leave and change. Secondly, we're suddenly getting 30 to 40% of revenue, which was a net. So that's really what we'd VONQ and whose booth we're sitting on? That's what we've built in terms of product.


Bill Boorman (11m 13s):

How do you put jobs inside the ATS? And all of these CEOs are saying the same thing. We want candidates in the ATS, right? We don't want you to go and source them from somewhere else, do something else. So we see more marketplaces coming in. We've seen more opportunity for not the integrations that we've had before which were really either one way emulation day a push or they were we'll put you in our shop. Like, you know, all the software companies will put you in our shop. We’ll integrate you will put you in our marketplace. Now it's we're going to put you in our workflow, you're going to be white labels. So, if you're solving one problem really well, and you're able to solve it better than than the ATS is and the ATS is see that as a critical function, whether that's compliance, job distribution, whatever it is.


Bill Boorman (11m 57s):

If you can be put inside the ATS and be invisible, you tick another box for them in the RFIs. You make them more sticky, you're giving them 30 - 40% of the revenue. For a business, you've no cost of sale. Now there's one other fundamental driver in that which people don't notice and that is historically the value of a software company has been based on ARR annual recurring revenue, right? And you'll get a multiple off for anyone who doesn't live in those strange well we live in. That’s how you value the company. And transactional business has been bad to do. It's lowered your value because you did lots of transactional sales. However, if you're doing transactional sales in a channel, like if you're doing the main greenhouse or Smart Recruiters, Cornerstone.


Chad (12m 41s):

Over hundreds or 1000s of companies. I mean, just over those companies, and then –


Bill Boorman (12m 47s):

<crosstalk> to sell every day. Yeah, it's transactional. So you're having to build things around that like wallets for payments and create really an E commerce marketplace inside the ATS. But it also means you can do single transactions job by job. So what I'm seeing as a market trend, which is being reflected in tools is you can really split hiring into two distinct channels, right? 80% of hiring is what we'd call supply chain, repeated positions, similar skill level locations might be a bit different, but you're always hiring. So that's always on. So we're beginning to build the Always On machine, which says make sure there's always enough going in the top of the funnel. Ecommerce 101. Enough customers in the top means you get people coming at the bottom.


Bill Boorman (13m 29s):

So always on 15 to 20% of roles are campaign. They're ones that you have to hire specifically for this role. Either there's not a lot of candidates in the market, but it requires a job by job approach rather than a general approach. So what I think we're seeing happen in technology is more technology. People like real leads who do the referral stuff. So really, really exciting personalization of hiring job by job. And equally from a recruiters point of view you don't need any authority. So you get a budget for that role. Either we need to do referrals. I heard you talking about another referral tech recently, some guys who bought some treats, I think to speak about the --


Chad (14m 6s):

Aeron.


Bill Boorman (14m 8s):

They bought you some drinks, right?


Chad (14m 10s):

Everybody buys us drinks.


Bill Boorman (14m 12s):

I’ll buy you a drink. The point of, actually, we don't want to do all the referrals. But we do want to do the best job needs referral or best job needs extra spent on advertising or this job needs duration-based advertising, which we've been starting to kill off with programmatic. So, I'm saying tech making lots of things possible to combine. This is our supply chain. This is our engine.


Chad (14m 37s):

Yeah.


Bill Boorman (14m 38s):

Recruitment marketing, all that kind of stuff. But it's all being driven through the ATS. So for me, it's like super excited where for 10 years, all of us world's most dangerous podcast has been talking about the ATS is broken, no innovation, nothing happening. Now this stuff really happening, right? Because they've got to consolidate that position. I think you may have originated this line of thinking actually, Chad. I think I may be gradually have to give you credit for something. So the thing I really liked right?


Chad (15m 5s):

I'll take it.


Bill Boorman (15m 7s):

I think when you did this show a while ago where you were talking about nobody thinks about indeed as the competitor to the ATS is but in the SME like the jazz HR.


Chad (15m 17s):

Yeah.


Bill Boorman (15m 17s):

That kind of space, right? Indeed and other platforms, other job boards were beginning to build credible enough technology to say, if you're only hiring 50 people this year, you actually don't need this stuff.


Joel (15m 30s):

Which is most businesses by the way.


Bill Boorman (15m 33s):

Most businesses, right, yeah. So I think that's, it's another exciting area when we're looking at our market to say, actually, what's competing with us isn't the people who we've heard. Historically, we've identified another company that looks a bit like us and said, “That's the enemy that these three companies what they do, and now we're going…” Actually, it's a mix of technology and methodology that saying, “Where's it coming from?” So, I think there's a lot of exciting opportunity. The other thing that's happening is the learning and development, if you look across the board, L&D and hiring is becoming a single function, right? Which lots of people are questioning that, but how I'm seeing that is historically, up to a couple of years ago, I could probably think of three or four people who went from head of talent acquisition to CHRO.


Bill Boorman (16m 24s):

And the reality is the CHRO is the board seat. That's where the C-suite is. That's where the power is. But generally, talent was too specialist learning was too specialist. The CHRO was a generalist who could deal with everything. What I've seen in the last 18 months is heads of talent acquisition becoming heads of people. Sounds like semantics, right? What's driven that is more of what we're taking on in talent acquisition went from onboarding, it started off with that, and we started becoming responsible for dealing with that, then internal mobility was a map been a massive driver and topic.


Chad (16m 55s):

Yeah, because of retention.


Bill Boorman (16m 56s):

Right. But if you bring internal mobility into talent acquisition, we do internal mobility just in the way we did external mobility, right, which is, who could get this job today, if we send him for an interview that to?


Chad (17m 11s):

Right that’s who owns talent management, which has been the hard part because…


Bill Boorman (17m 16s):

This is the next phase. The next phase is now people are going, well, actually career planning, workforce planning, all those good things need to come into this kind of TA into this people function. So, what I believe it we're going to see is the TA function is slowly going to disappear, as a title with a dedicated function.


Chad (17m 33s):

Becomes a people function, or a talent function?


Bill Boorman (17m 37s):

You're going to have learning and talent as a single function under people. Learning, bringing in the career development. But equally, the biggest part of employer brand is actually learning content. What we're seeing from all the data at the minute, where we say, “Where are the candidates?” Sorry, I was speaking about earlier. Everything we're seeing is candidates are not following brands in the way we perceive they would. They're not like following this company to a job falls and really all their stuff in modular video. What they're doing is they're applying to jobs. They're doing that with very limited information. Job titles, salary, locations, still, even though it's remote, and disqualifies what the reasons I wouldn't get this job. Why are they doing that?


Joel (18m 15s):

Are you saying brand doesn't matter?


Bill Boorman (18m 17s):

No, I'm not. But it doesn't matter for attraction, which is where we spend most of the money on attracting people in, right. Where it counts? What happens is –


Chad (18m 27s):

Retention?


Bill Boorman (18m 27s):

No. Retention of the candidate in the workflow, right? If you follow the data path, the moment they've applied, first of all, they're apply with no expectation they're ever going to hear from you again.


Chad (18m 38s):

They have to get through the application process first.


Bill Boorman (18m 40s):

Yeah. Why should they invest any more time than necessary in applying, and that feeling that they're almost definitely not going to hear from you, again? Generally, it is true, we reinforce that. But that's not unbelievable, right? But the moment they get one positive response, come to the adverse phase of the funnel, then all over employer brand. At the moment, we put all our branding above the funnel attract come and look at us, look how great we are, look at our stuff. Nobody's looking at that stuff. Millions being spent on it. Nobody looking at it. And the data shows us this. But the moment they're interested and get a positive affirmation, that's when they want more content, and they want more content, because they're going, I've applied to eight people, because I've just applied to everything that looks roughly right?


Chad (19m 17s):

Yeah.


Bill Boorman (19m 18s):

Now, I'm going to start making choices. Who am I going to goes? Who am I going to drop out of? Who am I going to speak to?


Joel (19m 28s):

And a big part of I think is social media.


Bill Boorman (19m 32s):

Yeah.


Joel (19m 32s):

And the first time I saw you speak, it was about the benefits of social media in terms of recruiting. And I'm curious 10 years hence, since I last saw you, where are you on social media, the importance? And most importantly, for our listeners, where does TikTok fall in the future, or president, or recruiting?


Chad (19m 51s):

It is the platform. Are you kidding me?


Bill Boorman (19m 52s):

Anywhere, where people go is a place to recruit. And that's everything from a physical place. I've seen people RecFest. A couple of companies have sponsored RecFest hired all their recruiters because they paid for a stage, right? so anywhere people go some old school physical, we've hired people for Oracle, have a bus stop because we knew that's where they were, right? So Tiktok is a channel where lots of people are, lots of people are engaging. In same time as lots of people are engaging on YouTube people are using video more as a means of communication, FaceTime. Actually, they prefer face before voice just to confirm you're not a catfish, right? So, all of those behaviors, I think –


Joel (20m 26s):

Is it a sign at a bus stop? How do you engage? How do you get to those people?


Bill Boorman (20m 32s):

First of all you need to know where they are. So understanding your audience. Where do they go? What do they do?


Chad (20m 38s):

How do they get to work? Currently, they take the bus. Those are the people that we want.


Bill Boorman (20m 43s):

Though it was actually outside the office, but it was the most visible point, right? Where we knew the other people work?


Chad (20m 49s):

So it’s a billboard as somebody's going into the office.


Bill Boorman (20m 53s):

The best one I ever heard of was an Australian company, Atlassian.