Firing Squad: Worqdrive's Tracey Parsons


The Great Resignation. Heard of it? Of course you have, and that's why you're hoping you can find a way to keep your best employees from jumping ship and going to your competition. Never fear, WorqDrive from industry veteran Tracey Parsons is here. But they have some stiff competition from the likes of Eightfold, Gloat and Fuel50.

Can this little engine that could make it up that hill and survive the Firing Squad?


Gotta listen.


PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION sponsored by:

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Firing Squad INTRO (0s):

Like Shark Tank? Then you'll love Firing Squad! CHAD SOWASH & JOEL CHEESEMAN are here to put the recruiting industry's bravest, ballsiest, and baddest startups through the gauntlet to see if they got what it takes to make it out alive? Dig a fox hole and duck for cover kids the Chad and Cheese Podcast is taking it to a whole other level.


Joel (22s):

Oh, I love the smell of startups in the morning. What's up everybody? This is your favorite podcast. The Chad and Cheese podcast. This is your co-host Joel Cheeseman joined as always by Chad Sowash


Chad (32s):

Work it!


Joel (33s):

And today on Firing Squad we welcome Tracey Parsons from Worqdrive. She is the founder and CEO. Tracey. Welcome to Firing Squad.


Tracey (44s):

Good morning everyone.


Joel (46s):

Oh, lovely voice. So sunny. So sunny that Midwest sun coming in


Tracey (51s):

Just shine and vitamin T all over you guys.


Joel (56s):

Vitamin T two, man. She's on a roll. Hey Tracey before we get into the nitty gritty of Worqdrive, give the listeners a little bit about you.


Tracey (1m 5s):

Oh my goodness. Well, I sit here in the sunny Midwest and I've built a really long career in recruitment marketing and employer brands. I've worked for some amazing companies like SmashFly, TMP Worldwide, Radancy. I've got my own consulting firm and we've just recently we'll have some software! But I love what I do and I get out of bed every morning, trying to figure out how to make more A players fall in love with different employer brands and make sure that they can find their dream job.


Joel (1m 33s):

And you love listening to TV Girl, a new band that I just learned about.


Tracey (1m 36s):

I do you love listening to TV Girl. We might go see them again at Ace of Cups.


Chad (1m 42s):

TV Girl. Wow. That's great. Great branding. That's easy. You can spell it. I hope they have the.com or Cheeseman won't like them.


Joel (1m 47s):

Yeah, I won't. It's two separate words by the way. Chad, this is Firing Squad. Tell her what she's one.


Chad (1m 55s):

You see, you will have two minutes to pitch Workqdrive with a q. At the end of two minutes, you will hear that bell then Joel and I will hit you with rapid Q and A. If your answers start to ramble or you get fucking boring, your going to hear the crickets, that's your signal to obviously tighten up your game and move it along. At the end of Q and A, you are gong to receive a grade from Joel and myself. First and foremost, a big applause. you might not have William Shatner on board, but we predict you boldly will go to the moon with this business. Golf clap. We see a lift off, but it's doubtful you'll even reach the Karmen line without some changes to your business.


Chad (2m 41s):

Or last but not least the firing squad, no amount of little blue pills will get this penis rocket off the ground. It's probably time to hang up that red shirt and live long and prosper. Are you ready?


Tracey (2m 58s):

Okay. Mostly, but my watch just told me to breathe based on that description.


Joel (3m 4s):

Sowash is a word smith now. Love it. Love it.


Tracey (3m 8s):

He is on fire.


Joel (3m 9s):

He is on fire. Tracey, are you ready for your two minute pitch?


Tracey (3m 16s):

I'm ready.


Joel (3m 16s):

And in three, two.


Tracey (3m 16s):

So Worqdrive is an internal mobility platform that makes it easy for your best people to stay. And in my lengthy 20 year career in talent, I've had the opportunity to work at some amazing companies. And every time I wanted to move internally, I was told we have a plan for you. And every single time I heard we have a plan for you. I left because I didn't know the plan. It wasn't my plan. I didn't have confidence that there actually was a plan and it was never shared with me. And none of my peers knew their plan or how to move internally either. And we'd all get frustrated and leave and we really kind of wanted to stay. We just didn't know how. So LinkedIn told us that 94% of people would rather stay at their company if they invested in their development.


Tracey (3m 56s):

And we see internal mobility as that investment. 69% of TA professionals believe internal mobility accelerates new hire productivity, but our data is showing us that an internal employee is five times less likely to apply on the internal job board than an external candidate. So it's like, how are we not getting this right? Well, in our research, we see employees feel held back by talent hoarding managers. They feel like they don't have a shot because they aren't someone's favorites. They don't know how to do it and frankly, we've always built programs to serve the organization, not the employee and our software kind of flips the script and changes all that. So with Worqdrive, your employees can be set up and matched to internal jobs In minutes.


Tracey (4m 37s):

They can apply for a job with one click because we already know them so they don't have to jump through extra ATS hoops. And your talent is anonymously matched to recruiters, open reqs, to be tapped for new opportunities, keeping your talent anonymous, so your recruiters can focus on the best skills for the job is what makes Worqdrive special because we're bringing real internal equity by eliminating bias in internal recruiting. We're really suitable for organizations over 500 employees because we found that that's where companies start to lose track of their talent. Our CTO has more than 20 years in tech and we currently have 25,000 employees across the globe, actively managing their own careers and their own plan and we launched in May of 2021.


Tracey (5m 20s):

We believe we've built a platform that makes it easy for your best people to stay by setting and executing their own plan. And you can learn more by visiting www.workqdrive, W O R Q D R I V E.com.


Joel (5m 36s):

I was a little lenient on the time there Tracey, that's that's for you.


Tracey (5m 43s):

Awww thanks!


Joel (5m 43s):

I have to start every Firing Squad with this. Let's talk about the name for a second. Worqdrive. Dig it. My favorite car song is Drive by the way, that's not here or there.


Tracey (5m 53s):

Nice.


Joel (5m 53s):

So it's spelled with a Q. So you have to kind of let people know what's going on. Now. If I go to workdrive.com today, the domain is for sale. So I'm curious, did you try to buy workdrive.com? Is this something that you will try to obtain in the future? Are you concerned about competitors going ahead and buying that and screwing you over? What's the deal with work drive with a Q Tracey?


Tracey (6m 15s):

So the cost of work drive with the K was beyond our budget. We're a bootstrapped company. We thought it would be interesting to go with the "q" for a visual aspect. Yeah, of course. We're worried about competitors buying up things, but we're trying to get ahead of the marketplace. Even when we talk about the one click apply, it's C L I Q apply, we're to use the "q". You know, I just worked, you know, we did the best we could with what was available to us and from a budgetary standpoint, we jumped on the "q".


Joel (6m 47s):

Good. Now let's talk about the idea. So you've been in the industry for awhile. You mentioned SmashFly you have a consulting business as well. You are well versed in this space. What was it about this idea and this opportunity, as opposed to some of the other ones that might have been swimming around your head that made you say we got to go after this.


Tracey (7m 6s):

It was really interesting because the consultancy helps companies reimagine their entire talent experience, right? So we were actually redesigning one of our customers talent experience from awareness to promotion. And we started looking at the data and we noticed that the original design like their future state design, when we executed, it was generating a 54% conversion from website visit to completed application because we've completely redistributed the friction in their candidate experience, right? So we've put more friction upfront in the candidate experience, lowered it in the application and what we saw was we saw people screening themselves out before they got to application, but when they got to the application, they were converting.


Tracey (7m 47s):

And then when we were designing the back half, so once somebody works here, how do they find their next opportunity? We found that they were converting at 11%. So their internal talent was five times less likely to convert than their external talent. So we were actually sitting on a software technology that we had shelved from 2014 that was designed to re-imagine the resume as visual and anonymous. And we'd launched it in 14. It was called CrowdHive. We had about a thousand, 1200 people using it. 40 employer hires were made, but we couldn't figure out how to make it easy to visualize your work and that's on us from a UX standpoint. So we had this code base, this code base actually was tried to two companies, tried to acquire it, both acquisitions were turned down.


Tracey (8m 30s):

And so I went to the customer. I was like, Hey, we've got this code over here. What if we repurposed it? Instead of being visual and anonymous, made it skills based and anonymous. And we use your employee data to kind of fill this in. And our roadmap was telling us that we wanted to do internal hives for people. So we just launched this for them and it turned into more than we could ever imagine from a productization standpoint. So we were like, this works, let's roll it out to the market.


Joel (8m 58s):

Gotcha.


Chad (8m 58s):

So I love the plan, right? I love you talking about the, you not understanding the plan. I do have a slogan for you though. You should write this down as we're using it.


Joel (9m 10s):

I'm writing it down.


Chad (9m 11s):

As we're using the "q" Worqdrive fuq the plan. Fuq is spelled FUQ the plan. Got it. Okay. That, that was free. You're welcome.


Tracey (9m 20s):

I wrote it down.


Chad (9m 21s):

You're welcome. We'll see if it's used. Yeah. Right.


Tracey (9m 25s):

Thank you.


Chad (9m 26s):

Okay. So the big question is how do you define internal mobility and who owns it?


Tracey (9m 31s):

Well, this initial cut at the product was owned in a dual partnership between talent acquisition and talent management. What is internal mobility is a much bigger question because I think if you look at every software vendor in the HR tech space out there, they're going to tell you we have that. And really what they mean is that they have the ability for somebody internal to the company to apply for a job, right? Everybody has that. You can do that today. But what we're trying to do is, we are trying to allow and empower employees to drive and craft their own plan. And when we found that when you do empower employees to move that ball forward for themselves, to actively manage their own careers, the ones that want to stay will stay.


Tracey (10m 17s):

We're seeing that right now with our early implementations. So internal mobility could mean up. It could mean over. It could mean elsewhere. It could be down, but that needs to be driven by the person who owns the career, the employee. And historically speaking, it's always been organization driven like succession planning or mobility plans, like we have a plan for you. Well, if it's not my plan, whose plan is it? What's the organization's plan? Well, guess what? I'm not always on board with what the organization wants. I'm on board with what I want.


Chad (10m 47s):

So how do you get companies to actually drive toward transparency? The biggest issue here is transparency who actually wants to go where? I don't want to stay in sales my entire life. I want to go to marketing or I want to go to product. Are there projects available to me? Who are my mentors? I mean, how do you actually get all of that opened up without internal politics and friction, because there's a shit ton of it there.


Tracey (11m 10s):

Well, and that's why I keep telling people that what we've done in the past is never going to work because you're trying to take a top down approach. Right? And look at all of the tools that are out there. The number one question I always tell people and the question I want everybody to ask me is about adoption, right? How many people are actively actively using this? You know, how many are using it? How frequently are they using it? How are they using it? Are they adding things to it? How are you making it sticky? Because what always happens and the same thing happens in the candidate experiences as it does the employee experience. If you make the rules, you're expecting people to follow them. If you let them make the rules, they're going to follow them.


Tracey (11m 50s):

Right? And so it's just this coaching and counseling to encourage the stakeholders that it's like, Princess Leia, you know, the harder you grip, the more star systems slip through your fingers. This is how people are viewing their talent and look at what's happening today. Right? They're trying so hard to hold onto the talent that they're not letting the talent have the power and they're going to leave. And that's the conversation that we have with hiring managers all the time, who may be reluctant to get on and have their people use Worqdrive because they're like, well, they're going to leave. I don't want them to leave my team. They're going to go leave, I'm like honey, they're going to leave anyway. They're just going to leave for somebody else. So do you want to keep that institutional knowledge or not?


Tracey (12m 31s):

Your call. Let go.


Chad (12m 32s):

I'm just happy that the Princess Leia thing had nothing to do with kissing her brother. So quick question on building tech, are you guys building your own tech? There's a lot going on here because if you want to match, you have to parse and to be able to go through just the parsing technology itself to build that. Are you working with partners to help you do that? Or are you building your own?


Tracey (12m 57s):

To a channel my inner star Lord, a little bit of both. We do have the basis of the parsing technology via a partner, but we've built our own proprietary tech on top of it. Fun fact, our CTO was the head of escalation for Microsoft's first search product. So this is a guy who understands search and matching and algorithms and making shit work.


Chad (13m 22s):

So what about the employee data? Where are you getting the employee data from? There are obviously all the HCM systems, et cetera, et cetera, but generally they don't have the data that you want to be able to match them against jobs. So where are you getting the data and what is that data?


Tracey (13m 36s):

So we get the data from the HCM. If the data doesn't exist, it's as simple as uploading your most recent resume. We parse it. We parse it out for your skills. And then one of the fun things that we do is, you know, there are a lot of technologies out there and I'm a huge fan of robots. Like I love when robots can do things that I don't want to do. It's one of my favorite things. But when it comes to my skills and my direction, I do not want the robots to match me to a job, which is why one of our setup pieces is taking a look at all of your experience, parsing out the skills, and