Snark Attack w/ Matt Charney

Time to turn the snark up to eleven, people. Four years in the making, industry icon - or at least iconic in millennial terms - Matt Charney sits down with the boys for a chat about his latest role at SmartRecruiters, his take on the hottest HR tech vendors at the moment, and his distaste for most-things-SHRM. Resistance is futile. Turn it up!

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INTRO (4s):

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 up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Wait... who is integrated with Smart Recruiters?

Joel (23s):

Oh yeah. Matt Charney, Unchained, everybody. You listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast. I'm your cohost Joel Cheeseman joined as always by Chad Sowash. And today we are so lucky to finally have Matt Charney, industry icon as a guest on the show. He's got a new job, which we'll get to in a second, but Matt, four years in the making you're finally on the show. What are your thoughts? And for those who don't know you, what should they know about you?

Chad (56s):

Welcome to 1950s radio. Go ahead.

Matt (59s):

Thank you. Thank you. I would actually put it in the forties when they were serializing everything, cause they actually a TV now. Right? Okay. So my name is Matt Charney. The last name is Charney if you are in recruiting, you should be able to Google and find out a bunch of information about me, but I am a long time listener, first time caller is it were. But I have been working in this space for a long time. I have blogged snarkily, maybe a little bit too much for over 10 years now. And my major areas of interest are

Joel (1m 34s):

What's the cease and desist letter count up to now?

Matt (1m 36s):

Oh My goodness. Are we including LinkedIn?

Joel (1m 38s):


Chad (1m 39s):

Of course.

Matt (1m 40s):

Hundreds and hundreds.

Chad (1m 44s):

There you go.

Matt (1m 47s):

I have, I've kept a lot of product councils, very busy in my time, which is cool because one of the things that I'm really, really like passionate about is making sure that good recruiters have good products and don't buy things like eharmony. So

Chad (2m 1s):

The eharmony for jobs or the Tinder for jobs, which we've evolved into.

Joel (2m 7s):

Soon to be Bumble for jobs. I think the, are we Bumble for jobs now?

Chad (2m 12s):

How about Grindr?

Joel (2m 13s):

Grinder for jobs

Matt (2m 16s):

Grinder for jobs is what you're no longer allowed to do in the entertainment industry.

Joel (2m 21s):

So Matt, you got a new job, man. Tell us about it.

Matt (2m 24s):

I do. So I have the very official sounding title of Director of Product and Industry Marketing for Smart Recruiters.

Joel (2m 35s):

That is sexy as hell.

Matt (2m 37s):

It is.

Chad (2m 38s):

I like that. I'll put that on a t-shirt.

Matt (2m 41s):

Make it an appearance. No, so, and if you want it on a t-shirt, I'm sure I can make that happen. So essentially, you know what I've done for, God longer than I care to admit, so let's say at least 10 years now is covering the industry from all different sides, whether that is from working with startups to help, you know, accelerate their revenue and valuation, to working with big professional services organization, to define text backs, to overseeing partnerships and also covering news and other stuff. So I really, for a really long time resisted giving up my product neutrality, which is why I joined Allegiance, right?

Matt (3m 24s):

Because they don't have necessarily a whole lot of skin or at the time, in the product game. But I realized in being vendor agnostic that certain vendors kicked a lot more ass than the others. And so one company that I've been working with largely throughout my entire career is Smart Recruiters. And I think I first tried to get a job there when I was still at Recruiting Daily. And they were like, no, no, our customers are going to leave en mass? So, you know, it's been a company evolve for a long time. I'm really, you know, from a product perspective, nothing in an HR tech is really that sexy, right? But when it comes down to it, it's about people and mentality. And I think that the combination of challenger brand status, so a willingness to shake things up, the fact that, you know, they have really been a pretty big advocate from both the grassroots and, you know, cutting checks perspective for a lot of the different events and programs.

Matt (4m 21s):

And then also the trust that they gave in me both as an, you know, as somebody who's done some project work for them. And then just, you know, on the scene, for example, while I was getting yelled at, by my old employers, for things that I tweeted, Smart Recruiters gave me their Twitter access says, come do a live tweet, our, user conference under your account, or Hey, would you like to be on a diversity panel with our new chief diversity officer and three of our biggest customers. So I think that their willingness to let me play in boundaries, the most companies would probably find to be antithetical to their go to market strategy was definitely really attractive.

Matt (5m 1s):

And I think at this point they're a big enough company where I'm not going to have to be doing everything, but at the same time, early stage enough where I can definitely make an impact on both the products and how that product is shaped by the market.

Chad (5m 19s):

Are you doing much writing these days?

Matt (5m 21s):

I am. And you're not going to see, you're not going to see a lot of it quite yet, but I am starting to build the pipeline again. So I have 102 posts that are sitting, waiting to be published. And the question is where.

Chad (5m 37s):

How do you do 102 posts and not, they don't turn stale on you?

Matt (5m 42s):

No evergreen contents the, you know, I actually think ...

Joel (5m 45s):

He wrote them 8 years ago.

Matt (5m 47s):

I did.

Joel (5m 49s):

That seems to be boring though, because it's so broad. If you can't like zone in on something that's happening right now. So you don't, you don't see that timeliness important.

Matt (5m 58s):

Like, so what's the oddest topics. Like if you're going to tell me, probably you'll add to this list. Candidate experience, the gift that keeps on giving except to candidate, right? Like nothing has changed DNI, a big imperative. Let's talk about that to the exclusivity.

Chad (6m 16s):

Now it's DEI. So now all your D and I say, you're going to have to go back and do a fucking, a word switch.

Matt (6m 23s):

It's actually DEIB plus. Now that's a good point. Yeah. You know, either way, that's a find and replace tips

Joel (6m 30s):

How to get the most out of your job description,

Matt (6m 33s):

Functionally, that conversation, the solutions and the things that people are covering haven't changed. I benefit somewhat from both the status of this industry. And fortunately, since Joel Cheeseman stopped putting out written content, from being in a position where most of it's quite stale, so it becomes more tone and style than substance. Although really a lot of what I write about that never gets attached to the industry is aligned towards consumer technology trends. And so people think I'm brilliant. Then when five years later, you know, it enters into the HR, the HR scene.

Joel (7m 9s):

So the bar is pretty low.

Matt (7m 11s):

The bar, the bar is pretty low and generally outsourced yeah.

Chad (7m 14s):

Being in an industry that moves at a snail's pace, I understand where you're coming from. Yes.

Matt (7m 19s):

Yeah, exactly. You know, I think as long as Taleo still has a overwhelming amount of market where I can continue to find, rip and replace old stuff,

Joel (7m 30s):

You were great at Rec Fest in London last year, every everyone, including Chad and myself, was talking about innovation and new, new, shiny objects. I go to your session. And it's all about how awesome Career Builder and Dice and Craigslist still are. I'm thinking Dammit. He's right. Like people are still stuck in that time.

Matt (7m 53s):

Your feedback from that session, if I recall was, I don't think job postings are an accurately indicator of where the economy is going. So ha ha ha.

Joel (8m 3s):

Take that Cheeseman. I don't think that was my feedback as I remember.

Chad (8m 7s):

Yeah. Cause that seems way too smart to be Cheeseman.

Joel (8m 9s):

I'd had a few drinks by that point. So, talking about events and that was actually, I mean, shit that's that's well, over a year ago we have a, an event that's supposed to be coming up this year. LRP is doing, you know, a live event in Vegas. Was it September, August or something like that? Are people going to go back to events this year? Are they going to have, or will they have budget to do so? I think, I think the vendors will they're hungry. They're thirsty.wwww

Matt (8m 39s):

Yeah. They want to sit behind that trade show booth and scan badges. Right? So I, to answer that question, I long if, you know, looked at from a marketing perspective, what the ROI of these trade shows is from a vendor perspective. And I'm not sure that even prior to COVID a huge business case could be made for the impact that it makes versus the dollar amount of resources that go into it. Now I was never going to bite the hand that fed me because I got to travel all around the world and not really work and speak to big audiences. And that was really fun. But you know, when you look at sort of really any agenda, I I'm guilty of being this.

Matt (9m 23s):

You have a lot of the same people talking about a lot of the same stuff. It may or may not align with the audience, but when you look at it from like, what's, what's the purpose, okay. It's sometimes can be good for brand awareness and category creation, which is a big, fancy way of saying owning share voice. But when you talk about the major spend there, which is like a trade show or an expo or sponsored content or whatever, you're basically talking about like at a splay at which could not be less productive if you look at it than anything else. So if I'm in a booth, I'm waiting for people to maybe walk by, maybe show interest and then maybe qualify them enough to scan their badge.

Matt (10m 4s):

And to me, what is the purpose of spending that money when I can do the exact same thing, but targeted and digitally. So I really have long questioned why people go to trade shows? And the answer that I came to is it's not the content itself, it's the ability to - one get out of the office- something I think we all desperately need right now. So maybe there will be a little bit of an early ramp up there, but more importantly it's the stuff that happens as you guys know around the individual sessions, the interactions you have in the hallway, the people you meet when you're outside having smoke breaks or cocktails or whatever, and it's really building on relationships, you wouldn't have had otherwise.

Matt (10m 45s):

So until that goes back at scale, I don't see the events are going to ramp up anytime soon. You're and I, you know, I'm sure you're seeing this too, a bigger shift from these broad kind of global everyone come events to much more localized events. And I do think that that actually is what we're going to start seeing a lot more of. Highly targeted, smaller, smaller attendance and content, that's much more focused on that audience and building a network as opposed to selling a messenger product.

Chad (11m 20s):

Have you seen Miami here lately? The streets full of crazy people and yeah, I think you're a hundred percent wrong. I think as soon as we get a chance to get the fuck out, people are going to say, yes, I need a reason to go to Vegas or I need a reason to go here. Yeah. We'l will there be more hybridization happening with local and also online? Yeah, I think there will be, but I, dude, I think that we are so ready as human beings to go to Miami and just get freaking crazy. It's it's gonna happen. It's going to happen.

Matt (11m 54s):

But yeah, absolutely. At the very end, you know, as I alluded to at the very first part of it, I think that, you know, my question is how sustainable is that when your resources are strapped, professional developments being cut and you're trying to justify days off work when that's being heavily scrutinized. Right. So I think that, yes, you're probably right. Timeline-wise, there's a lot of economic questions and what still needs to be answered.

Chad (12m 22s):

Joel calls it, the roaring twenties are coming.

Joel (12m 24s):

It isn't, I'm not the only one I'd love to take credit for that. But no, I did not go with that. I mean, I agree that I think the vendors have money, you know, budgets to spend, they're going to go back. I think the people like us who are quote unquote thought leaders or influencers, we'll definitely go back. The question is the attendees, you know, they're going to reevaluate did we really get anything out of that? That we can't get off that we can't get from a virtual virtual conference or even video library or education somewhere. And I think they're going to ask hard questions as to whether or not they should keep doing it. Local ones are obviously easier from a budgetary standpoint. I don't, I just don't know. You know, I know Recruiting Daily has been trying for a while to do local stuff.

Joel (13m 5s):

I know John Sumser tried, you know, local stuff for awhile and they all, they all seem to fade away. So I don't know the, you know, the viability of that business model versus the, we have a huge conference twice a year that everybody comes to Vegas or San Diego or wherever. I think it's hard to scale locally.

Matt (13m 23s):

It is. But, you know, seeing some, probably our next conversation, SHRM they're local. They're local chapters have always done a really good job of organizing that. I think your distinction is, is it an event company that's producing it to make money? Or is it something like a local user group for a specific software? Those are very, very different strategies in my opinion. And let's face it like LRP is always going to bring in like a bunch of attendees because the attendees are vendors looking for partnerships. Yeah.

Chad (13m 54s):

Let's talk about tech real quick and adoption, because again, we do move at a snail's pace in this environment, but yet you went to a tech vendor, number one. Number two, I think scalability and adoption have increased dramatically just in the last shit, nine to 12 months around the pandemic. Do you think that continuing at the same pace, do you think it was adopted any fast? What's the outlook?

Matt (14m 22s):

So if we're talking about like recruitment technology, I think that you've had a lot of companies being able to take a step back away from a prior to release site called it's quiet, defined. So, oh crap. We have this RFP check a box build for that. And really more looking at capability gaps, being much more strategic about partnerships because you have this whole subset of companies that are like, oh, we integrate with this and this and this. And it's like, if they have an open API and a developer center, so you don't really integrate with them, but cool you get to splash a logo up there. But what I think has really accelerated has been more towards things like collaborative hiring, structured scorecards, virtual interviews, and just consolidating the hiring process as much as possible so that not only is it virtually enabled, but more importantly, the total cost of ownership is being driven down.

Matt (15m 18s):

So what you're seeing is, and this is one of the reasons I joined a tech company, frankly, where I did in the value chain. You're seeing really good numbers and growth around platforms. And then you're seeing a huge amount of failures and a consolidation or devaluation, if you look at debt financing, among the point solution vendors who oftentimes will either be built into a company's roadmap and then there's no need for that native solution, or just companies are saying, Hey, you know, we're cutting down on the amount of spend that we have externally, so we're going to go for the core capabilities as opposed to the flash. And I think nowhere will you see that more in like a recruitment marketing, which is essentially gone from a inbound sourcing function to a PR function for a lot of organizations that have flat or decreasing headcount.

Chad (16m 9s):

So where do you see a company like HireVue, which is just a large ass point solution and they have a shit ton of funding, where do you see them going other than toward becoming an applicant tracking system.

Joel (16m 19s):

Or LEO purchases.

Matt (16m 21s):

Wow. You had to go with HireVue, didn't you? Okay. So first off I would have to go find some golden plates and then transcribe them based off what the angel Moroni told me to do. Second off, I would have to figure out the difference between AI powered, facial intelligence recognition and acting. Right?

Chad (16m 43s):

But they're not doing the facial stuff anymore, are they? So all that tech is down the fucking drain.

Matt (16m 48s):

Yeah. Yes. And why aren't they doing it? Because they did not lose an employment rights lawsuit. They lost a civil rights lawsuit for that product. So you can have all the cash in the world and they do thanks to the elders of Zion, not my Zion but the other one. You have a company that is, as far as I can tell, had complete run of the market by being one of the earliest enterprise video interviewing, you know, solutions out there. And you have a company that seems to me to be largely trying to find a direction, take all that back. And it tells me this, well, video interviewing is not a category where you should have been invested in the first place.

Matt (17m 32s):

And as we saw when everyone was had to overnight move to like, oh shoot, we have zoom, oh, we have Microsoft team. We have the it's like, okay, well, there are a lot of cheaper low price options out there. Is this something we could do ourselves or something we need? So while they can continue to redefine themselves, their core capabilities, I think have always been this aligns with the market. And you're certainly seen that pivot as again, companies start to look at consumer grade technologies and say, Hey, why the hell not?

Chad (18m 2s):

So they're fucked is what I'm hearing? Okay.

Matt (18m 4s):

No, no. They're not, they get their own planet once they die. So.

Joel (18m 10s):

Wow. Wow. So you're talking about technology and the world is opening back up. Where, are you seeing in terms of head count for recruiting teams as we start to hire more, are they going to bring more human beings on or are they going to use more technology and bypass the humans?

Matt (18m 28s):

I don't think it's actually an either or so what my data shows, and this is limited to the access that I have, namely surveys. We've seen about one third of recruiters in the United States lose their job over the past year. I don't think that is unexpected. Given what we saw like 2008, 2009, what we did see then is like every company is like, oh, hiring is picking back up, crap, we have to hire a bunch of recruiters and sources of marketers. So what I think you've actually seen over the past couple of years, call me out if you think I'm wrong is that companies have been investing fairly heavily in things like recruitment process automation, not AI, but you know, RPA, consolidated tech stacks, and sort of ways to take back office processes and really remove that from the overall workflow.

Matt (19m 18s):

So I think you were kind of left with two groups. One of these groups has already sort of implemented a lot of the corps tech or have a good system that that's really configured for them so they're not spending all day dis-positioning resumes, manually posting job descriptions and all that stuff. And those people, I think actually have job security and haven't lost their jobs, those are, these are the two thirds. So when you have people who've implemented a lot of either automation solutions or built processes that are real efficient and effective. What they've have largely done is been able to pivot to things that are generally out of recruiting's scope since head counts went flat or down. And that's things like internal mobility, up-skilling, hypo identification, and a lot of cases, obviously DNI is coming into this.

Matt (20m 4s):

And so you're really starting to see a blending of what used to be more traditional HCM with TA, but with the angle of being a much more strategic. I think that the word, the tech likes uses trusted advisor, as opposed to somebody sitting a centralized service, you know, slating candidates and manually some of the hiring managers

Joel (20m 25s):

As opposed to distrusted advisors.

Matt (20m 28s):

Well, there are quite a lot of those they generally work for a third party staffing firms. And then the people who were order-takers or who, you know, were spending, gosh knows how much to send templated LinkedIn messages, like, I came across your profile, I think you'd be great for CyberCoders position. They weren't going to be long for this world, whether or not a pandemic happened. And so what you're seeing is sort of a natural flush out between those who do, and those who process requisitions.

Joel (21m 2s):

Darwinism basically is what you're saying,

Matt (21m 4s):

Survival of the fittest, but with Androids, right?

Nexxt PROMO (21m 14s):

We'll get back to the interview in a minute. But first we have a question for Andy Katz, COO of Nexxt Andy, if a company wants to actually come to Nexxt and utilize your database and target texting candidates, I mean, how does that actually work? Right? So we have the software to provided two different ways. If an employer has their own database of opted in text messages, whether it's through their ATS, we can text on their behalf or we have over eight and a half million users that have opted into our text messaging at this point. So we can use our own database. We could dissect it by obviously by geography, by function, any which way some in sometimes we'll even parse the resumes of the opted in people to target certifications.

Nexxt PROMO (21m 58s):

So we really can dive really deep if they want to hone in on, you know, just give me the best hundred candidates that I want to text message with and have a conversation back and forth with versus going and saying, I need 30,000 retail people across the country, and that's more a yes/no text messaging back and apply. For more information, go to Remember that's next with the double X, not the triple X

Chad (22m 35s):

You would actually, I think you tweeted out something about our buddy, Johnny Taylor, over at SHRM joining iCIMS.

Matt (22m 44s):

Mr. Johhny Taylor.

Chad (22m 46s):

That's an interesting marriage. Shall we say? What do you think iCIMS was looking for through that type of was a board position?

Matt (22m 57s):

Yeah, he's a member of the new member of the board of directors.

Chad (22m 60s):


Matt (23m 0s):

Good question. So obviously I think that this is a company that is very traditional and east coast. I don't, you guys have been to their headquarters in Bell Labs where cell phones were invented, but no longer work. I'm sure. You know, I'm sure that you took a beautiful trolley tour of Red Bank, New Jersey, and you know, they're owned by private equity. So I see this as being very much aligned towards making an upmarket play so that they can say, oh, we're not a startup anymore. We're enterprise ready. And not only that we'll see how the conflict of interests work, but Johnny C.

Matt (23m 44s):

Taylor brings two things, one a giant organization of people who generally don't buy recruiting technology in the first place. So I'm unclear of that alignment. They rubber stamp it, but more importantly, I think for them, he brings quite a few political connections that the three people on this call might not love, but like it or not, he is the go-to HR and jobs expert for such fine people, as you know, the Republican National Committee and USA Today.

Chad (24m 18s):

Yeah. So we can expect like a Trump visit to Bell Labs sometime soon. Is that what I'm hearing?

Matt (24m 23s):

Yeah. Or, you know, another recruiting conference at Mar-a-Lago, which I think could happen at some point.

Joel (24m 29s):

Or near Miami where the party is everybody, are you, are you bullish or bearish on SHRM ? I'm a little concerned.

Matt (24m 36s):

I don't know why SHRM still exists. Other than the fact that most of their membership hasn't died yet.

Joel (24m 41s):

They're local conferences, according to you.

Matt (24m 43s):

They're local conferences are, again, those are volunteer run. They're not affiliated with the national organization. And they kind of, you know, have a little bit of autonomy for how they run. When I look up to the national organization, they are set up as a nonprofit, which is, which is really funny if you look at how much their board of directors get paid and about how much revenue they clear in an average year. But they're set up as a lobbying organization, they do a scam job of that. And if you ever ask them for they'll have a portal that says, okay, here's what's going on on their website as able to members. But if you ask, well, what's your stance on this? Or what are you telling members as an example around, you know, increase in minimum wage, they say almost unilaterally, SHRM does not have an opinion on this and we advise our members to do nothing.

Matt (25m 32s):

So what you have is the shell of a lobbying body with pretty decent beltway access, but at the same time, trying to serve a really disparate amount of members. And so I honestly think that SHRM is going to basically become irrelevant sooner rather than later, because as you know, there's a whole new generation that has been coming up and a lot of challengers, both on the conference side, as well as the, you know, professional organization side that have been a little bit more relevant. And so I see SHRM continuing to have all of the Karens gathered to get real drunk and watch Toby Keith, or Hall and Oates, which is one of the better, better conferences I went to which is also a little on the nose, probably with the manager stuff.

Matt (26m 24s):

But I think you, you know, you have to go back to the Hank Jackson days when, when SHRM chose a CFO, as opposed to someone in HR to really understand what they're about. And that is about making as much money as possible to reinvest in their various entities. Obviously it's a non-profit, and essentially have vertical control over our industry. I wish more people realized that they also set HR curriculums and schools that offer HR degrees build to their competencies.

Joel (26m 57s):