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Two CEOs Zero BS


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In this interview for RECFEST World One, Chad & Cheese bring two of the most influential figures pertaining to recruitment and A.I. Jobvite CEO Aman Brar and This Way Global founder Angela Hood have a chat about all things tech in employment. Get ready for 25 mins. of must-see recruitment gems to take your strategy to the next level.


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Introduction (1s):

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 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.


Chad (1m 18s):

There we go. Hello everyone out there from Recfest One World. I am Chad Sowash and that is Joel Cheesman. We're the Chad and Cheese, HR's most dangerous podcast. Welcome to a no bullshit discussion about the future of HR tech today. Our guests are Angela Hood, founder and CEO of startup. ThisWay Global, aka, AI 4 Jobs. You might remember Angela from Brew Review, recorded at the Last Chance Brewing Company just outside of Austin, Texas. Then we have Aman Brar, CEO of big time applicant tracking system, you know them, on his shirt, Jobvite. Aman is a long time listener, not a first time caller. Aman, is this the first time we've actually talked, recorded without being in a bar?


Aman (1m 22s):

I think it's very possible, yes. But it's good to be with you all in our virtual bar. At a minimum, alcohol was within 20 to 30 feet of where we were. It was very accessible.


Joel (-):

I think you just described London.


Chad (1m 36s):

Alright. We don't have a lot of time, so let's get to the questions. Joel, you're first out of the gate. What'd you got?


Joel (1m 42s):

Yep. So, so few know AI more than you guys do in terms of your business. I'm curious about the state of AI. Where are we versus a year ago and where is AI going in regards to employment and recruiting. Angela first.


Angela (2m 26s):

Alright. I will tell you, a year and a half, two years ago, I would start talking about it and people's eyes would glaze over. And they would say, "I don't really know what you're talking about." And then about a year ago people are like, "Alright, now I'm getting smarter about it." They'd heard more. At least for our business, it wasn't until 2020 when people went, "We are going to have to use it because that's how we're going to keep up." And they've gotten a lot smarter and they are a lot quicker to adopt it now.


Joel (2m 27s):

I'm more interested in the nuts and bolts of AI. Are we just throwing Microsoft and Google into this thing and saying we have AI, or is it more evolved than that?


Angela (2m 36s):

Well, for us, we've been proprietary from the very beginning. I don't think a lot of AI is built... Most AI is built for general use, not specific use, and we really need specific AI inside our sector. So we did not apply, like you said, the Microsoft tools and whatever. I think that there's probably a lot of companies that are doing that. I know there's a lot of companies that are licensing things like IBM Watson and calling it something different. And when we go up into like bakeoffs with those companies, we win.


Angela (3m 10s):

And I think it's because we built our tech for purpose, for very specific use. And we spent two or three years in dedicated R&D for it,


Joel (3m 21s):

Aman, state of AI.


Aman (3m 21s):

I think Angela hit on something, which is the purpose built nature of what the folks in the ecosystem are doing is what matters. Ultimately, I think it's kind of less important. My personal opinion is you ought to be using the best of what's available and also tailoring your solution. I don't think there's one company in the HR tech ecosystem that can hold a candle to the total compute power that Google, Amazon and Microsoft have. Now it's our responsibility to be asking the right questions, to create the right insights, to point that compute power towards moving the needle with HR tech.


Aman (4m 1s):

Now, is there a room for proprietary software? Absolutely. We've talked about this before, Joel and Chad, how do we dissect a tech string and how do we break that down to its parts. Or we were the first to launch our magic resume process using machine vision. But we'd be silly to go create with a machine vision on our own, right? But we found a very novel use case for it, or the way we de-identify resumes and transcripts. At the end of the day, I think it's about bringing all those bits together. And I think it's less important ultimately as to is it proprietary or are you leveraging the compute power that those trillion dollar companies have to offer.


Chad (4m 43s):

Nobody saw COVID coming. Go figure, right? But we know hiring is going to ramp up at some point. Talent acquisition will not receive a pass if they aren't ready. So when the hire now switch is flipped will the hiring process look different or will it be same as it ever was? Aman?


Aman (5m 3s):

Some much of this is kind of probably vertically based, right? I think there were companies that were already embracing asynchronous ways of engaging with candidates. They're embracing mobile technologies, embracing automation, video, those types of things. I think those things are here to stay. Quite frankly, I think it probably moves the needle more with some of the laggards, right? I think the laggards, kind of a ladder part of the change curve has been forced into digitizing their process. I think that creates opportunity for everybody in the HR tech ecosystem. But I think for the progressive companies that were at the forefront of their recruiting practice, it's an evolution and refinement.


Aman (5m 40s):

But I think we're going to see the biggest change is some of the old line types of companies that are being forced to dramatically digitize across, whether it's how they engage with customers or whether it's how they engage with candidates. I think there's a lot of change left on the horizon.


Chad (5m 59s):

Do you think they're ready for the scale though? That's the big question. Are they ready for all the scale that they might get hit with when hiring managers are pretty much at the point, we need to hire now and we don't have ramped up recruiting teams?


Aman (6m 12s):

Yeah, probably not quite frankly. This probably goes in the category of this would be a great problem for a CEO to be focused on solving as work through this. I do think, for example where this has really hit home, healthcare customers, they've been certainly preparing a little more rapidly for the need to kind of ramp up. But I don't think universally we're ready, but I do think that there are pockets and corners of the ecosystem that are preparing to ramp.


Chad (6m 46s):

Angela, this is more on the scale adoption side of the house. Now you guys have seen some huge adoption within the last six, nine months or so. Is that because people are finally getting it or is that because COVID has made pretty much the market come to you because they need solutions to help them scale?


Angela (7m 11s):

I think two fronts. It started at the beginning of this year. And then for us, at least mid-March to April was dead. People were still talking to us, but they didn't even know what to talk to us about at that moment. And then around late May, early June, it became a growth experience that we've never had before. We went from about 32 customers to over 400 in a matter of six months. And I think we'll probably break 500 by the end of the year based off of what we're seeing.


Angela (7m 46s):

The type of company is broader than it used to be. It used to be primarily only enterprise. And now we're seeing a much broader range. And we're also seeing that... The companies are trying to do more with less. They've laid off some of the recruiters and applicant volumes went up about the same time that extra benefits dropped off. And so they're seeing that some jobs that had 200 applicants before I have 1,000 to 1,200 applicants now.


Angela (8m 15s):

Part of it is just trying to get through everyone. The other part of it is an eye on fairness. So companies care now more about being unbiased and making sure that they have diversity in their selection process because the public is punishing companies that don't do something about it.


Chad (8m 39s):

Do you think that there's a government stick there too, or is it really just more public?


Angela (8m 44s):

Well, I know that the CCP compliant companies definitely are a big push into our company. So I know that there's something around that. So that would be government related it. And the threshold to be a government contractor is only a quarter of a million dollars a year. So you still want a lot of pencils to the US government if you're going to hit that. So that's part of it. And then I think the other part is grants have to care about the candidate experience. You can not have the level of unemployment that we have right now and continue to have black holes for applicants.


Angela (9m 20s):

Those applicants are oftentimes your consumer. They're your customer. You don't treat them fairly they will remember. They will go to someone else.


Joel (9m 28s):

Guys. I'm curious about the platform question. I know Aman is canvas. You were integrated with a lot of ATS's and platforms. Angela, I know it's a big part of your business. We did a whole podcast on the Salesforce integration. Aman, I know it's a focus for you guys now to build out that platform, to have those solutions. I'm curious, particularly from Angela, do you see threats in this model? Can you live without it? What has it meant to your business? And Aman, how focused are you guys on building this thing out?


Joel (9m 60s):

How important is it to your customers? And are there maybe future platforms that we don't see, the chatbot phenomenon, for example, could be a future platform model. Looking for your thoughts on that. Angela?


Angela (10m 14s):

Yeah, I mean, we care very deeply about our ATS partners, our CRM partners. So we don't take those partnerships lightly, and we look at it as we're an OEM that should be kind of like an Intel processor and a computer. We want to sit inside the ATS and the CRMs and make it better. So that part of the relationship is very important for us. We do have our own platform that we're launching in about 30 days. And anyone that's listening to this is welcome to apply to be part of the beta for free.


Angela (10m 46s):

And this allows them to use our platform independent of an ATS. A lot of it is really intended to help make sure that they get the product validation they need before they do an integration. But our preference is to go to where our user is sitting. Our user is typically sitting inside an ATS, and we want that experience to be the best for them. The more seamless we are inside that ATS is what matters to that customer. That's it. If they have a better experience, they're going to have the stress reduction.


Angela (11m 18s):

We're looking for have value in our product, but it's reliant upon companies like Jobvite to partner. If they don't partner effectively and partner strongly, then it's hard for us


Joel (11m 33s):

Aman.


Aman (11m 33s):

Yeah. I think, you know, that role, the talent acquisition function, the complexity continues to increase, right? So there's everything from recruitment, marketing and messaging, the basic source of record and the process. And I think the platforms have to evolve with the complexity of the job. I really think that's what is driving the platform sale right now is just the increasing complexity. I think one of the benefits, I think it's an opportunity through COVID is once you get on a platform and you can consolidate the data story and help the talent acquisition function actually participate in the business conversation.


Aman (12m 11s):

Right. And that's really where we're absolutely headed, right, is how do we drive and, and be champions for RTA leaders to drive business outcomes. And I think ultimately having the breadth and depth in one platform allows for a lot more of that data and that story to come together. With that said, it will be important, just as it always has been, to partner with, you know, the point solutions that are in this space. We all know lots of innovation will be driven by folks that are narrowly focused on trying to, to upend one particular portion of it.


Aman (12m 46s):

I do think Joel, to your point that, you know, look, no doubt we're kind of in some phase of a, of a UX transformation, right. That's shifting away from clicking buttons to one that feels more natural, and conversational, and orientation. Whether that's the chat bot for the candidate or whether that's just the way a recruiter gets something done right. At the end of the day, you know, I think we'll move past button clicks into things like commands, right.


Aman (13m 16s):

And things like phrases that allow you to, to move through a process, whether you're a recruit or candidate.


Joel (13m 27s):

Do you see the platform remaining free or do you, do you find that that'll be a revenue source for you at some point?


Aman (13m 32s):

It's a good question. As far as plugging into the platform overall, Joel?


Joel (13m 35s):

For example, a fortnight and Apple are right now in a big battle in terms of revenue and what they're giving to Apple. On the ATS side, some charge some don't, I'm pretty sure yours is free at the moment, but I'm curious, do you think all of these things will have a tax at some point? Or do you think they'll remain free based on consumer demand?


Aman (13m 53s):

Yeah. It's, you know, look, I think it's a great question. I think it's a business model choice. I Actually think both are probably going to be possible and present in the marketplace. And you know, there's probably an Avenue. I mean, we're fortunate in that no single player kind of owns 99% of the revenue share of the profit.


Joel (14m 18s):

There is no iPhone.


Aman (14m 18s):

So I think if there is, we might have a challenge there. I do think that to me, the important platform question for all of us is that, you know, one thing is we really want to express the industry and this is beyond Jobvite, but for all of us and certainly our competitors, you know, talent acquisition teams deserve to work with companies that really care deeply about talent acquisition. And I think, you know, one of the things we are gonna continue to fend off by educating the business world is if you go all in on ERP's you're certainly going to miss out on talent acquisition expertise.


Aman (14m 54s):

That, by the way, it's not the RP's fault, that's our fault, right. As a collective industry for not driving enough conversation around business outcomes. So I think we've got a heavy lift ahead of us and that, to me, that's the really relevant platform question for the industry right now.


Chad (15m 10s):

Yeah. So how has this, Aman, changed your roadmap? I'm sure it is a hundred percent different or is it, is it different from what it looked like in January? What's your roadmap look like?


Aman (15m 22s):

Yeah, I would say not a hundred percent different. I mean, look, no doubt we both believed in asynchronous messaging technologies pretty early in this, we believed in different ways of screening candidates that didn't require face to face meetings or even 30 minute phone calls. So certainly that part of our business continues to accelerate. We talked a lot about, as you can recall, a year and a half ago, kind of all in, on driving business outcomes via data, if you think about remote hiring, that's one thing I think about remote talent acquisition, right?


Aman (15m 54s):

Data is more important than ever in order for them to start articulating their own value to your right. So I think, you know, quite frankly, our roadmap is pretty tight and we feel like very much, you know, on track what's been important for us is, you know, for example, I, I think, I think we're still in the early waves of messaging and a UX transformation around, you know, Chatlight concept. So how do you embed that more? You know, we've been really focused on embedding those technologies more deeply across telemetry and Jobvite. I think there's a lot of that. So I wouldn't say, you know, a lot of, a lot of disruption to our roadmap.


Aman (16m 27s):

I think we were fortunate to have good insights there and have had more progressive customers that were pushing us, you know, in that environment. And as you all are speaking to folks, I'm sure you're seeing the same thing. A lot of the folks that, that were more progressive, you know, they're talking about how productive they're being through COVID-19 and that's because they were kind of ready for this digital economy. Then the question is how, how quickly can we help our other customers catch up? Right. So I think that'd be a lot of the story.


Chad (16m 53s):

And then startups are a little bit more right for acquisition too, which kind of changes roadmap too, to an extent I would say, so Angela, you being on the rear end being more startup early I'm I would assume that, you know, your roadmap has changed considerably. Am I wrong?


Angela (17m 12s):

No. I think probably a lot more than JobBite or a company that's been in the ecosystem for longer. So two things that we made pretty big changes in is that we had a longterm plan. 2023, we were going to introduce how to help the job seeker present what their real skill set is because most people have terrible resumes. And so he said, okay, like, how are we going to help them look better?


Angela (17m 43s):

So we kind of flipped our tech upside down and the AI part of it and said, ah, we've been helping job descriptions be more accurate and helping them remove the bias out of that process. So let's do this for the job seeker as well. Let's move that up. So instead of putting it in 2021, we put it in 2020. We used the downtime in late March, April, and May we used that time and we launched what it's called a career companion and that's in the Android and Apple stores.


Angela (18m 14s):

And so got that out. It doesn't do matching yet. Right now, it's just onboarding and we're checking to make sure their user experience is really good for candidates and we've had cities coming to us. So I was just on a road show this last 10 days, traveling around to different cities and actually talking to leadership about deploying our matching at a city level because the workforce commissions are not cutting it right now. They can't keep up with the load. The tech was not built for that.


Angela (18m 45s):

Some of the biggest job boards have come to us and said, Hey, can you help us just power the matching? Because we, we can match all people to all jobs instantly, and then also not have any bias in that matching. And that right now is what they're looking for from us. We are very focused on the top of the funnel and we don't do anything else. We only do matching. And so when cities come to us, they're saying we have 10,000 people that are unemployed, or we have 50,000 people that are unemployed. We need to get all the jobs in.


Angela (19m 15s):

We need to figure out how to make the matches happen. And we've gone through some initial testing and generally we're making about 32% increase in qualified matching. And this is primarily people that are being overlooked for jobs they're qualified for. And a lot of it has to do with companies did not keep up with our technology of the last five years or so. And they're behind. And, you know, I hope that companies won't invest in platforms because I honestly feel like our technology sits the best inside a platform where a user is using technology day in and day out.


Angela (19m 53s):

Gets very used to, it is getting the business outcomes that they need and the value they need. But if they don't want to do that, for some reason that they're going to be able to use our tech on the side and that way we can dress a bigger part of the market at a time where I feel like our role is to help the workforce to get back to work. Like we need to play a significant role in this and not just sit back and say, well, we'll just sell tech to the enterprise cause that's our ICP. Really? We, we have the capability to power this back to great, greater success faster.


Angela (20m 28s):

And I think that, you know, you made a good point when you said it's up to us, we need to play an active role. We can not just sit back and not take ownership, letting ERP's come in and try to say, Oh yeah, we're going to do the same thing as an ATS is absolutely wrong. It's not specific. It's not built for purpose and it won't drive outcomes they need.


Chad (20m 52s):

Joel you got the last ones, quick hitters.


Joel (20m 53s):

Alright, last one. What's the future? What are customers wanting? What do you see trending?


Chad (20m 60s):

Oh, we lost Joel. What do you see trending? Let's finish it out that way. Aman hit it.


Aman (21m 6s):

Yeah. You know no doubt, and then no surprise. I think where we continue to be, you know, all in, on a kind of data oriented strategy, we think our breadth and depth gives us really great fuel for data to drive our machine learning and data science efforts. I think one of the shifts we're seeing is how do we make the conversation really less about software and more around insights and conversations and outcomes that we're trying to drive with the organization. So, you know, that takes a cultural change, both within our company and the ecosystem, et cetera.


Aman (21m 36s):

You know, I think Angela, we're both alluding to the fact that, you know, we have to partner with RTA leaders to help them continue to get a seat at the table. You know, at the end of the day, I've made this claim. A lot, many CEOs will talk about talent being their biggest problem. At the end of the day, I would say, you know, follow their efforts. So when CEO's articulate talent is their biggest problem, the reality is when they say cash in the banks is the biggest problem they're working with their CFO and they're visiting banks, and they talk about sales being my biggest problem, they're out there trying to go drive and close deals.


Aman (22m 9s):

And quite frankly, I think this many CEOs that tout talent is our biggest problem. Don't know the first thing about, you know, their funnel, their stack, that people on their TA organizations. And we have to help our TA teams elevate their game to go have those conversations internally and earn that seat at the table. And if we don't do that, you know, we're, we're all gonna suffer for it at the end of the day and, and ultimately candidates. So I think that's all part of the charter and the mission that I want.


Chad (22m 36s):

Yup. Quickly, Angela.


Angela (22m 38s):

Yeah. One of the trends that we're seeing is that people that are in charge of diversity and inclusion and the TA tech leadership that starts reporting to the CEOs, that's, who's buying from us because they've got budget, they've got power, they have decision making authority. And I see those companies they're leading and they're winning the talent. Cause they're making some really smart decisions, not just about us, but about other companies. And I see a bigger demand for applications to work on mobile because the home situation trying to teach kids, you're like, yeah, I don't know what I've gotta be like outside in the yard to take a call or try to talk to a candidate or whatever.


Angela (23m 20s):

And I think the drive for mobile and the drive for tech that does not consume all of their bandwidth, they're going to be really critical for, especially in the next 12 to 18 months.


Chad (23m 30s):

Excellent. Joel, close this out. You just got back.


Aman (23m 33s):

Yeah. I had, I had a cattle prod, the gerbel to get the wifi going again. Yeah, guys, we appreciate it for those watching work. And I find out more about Jobvite and more about This Way Global?


Angela (23m 46s):

So I'm going to give you my personal email address, Angela@thiswayglobal.com ask me for a free trial.


Aman (23m 51s):

Pretty easy to find us on your favorite social channel. I don't think we're on tiktok yet, but hopefully we can change that. But look, look for Jobvite on your favorite social media channel. You can certainly follow me @amandbrar on Twitter as well. Thanks everybody.


Chad (24m 6s):

We appreciate it.


Outro (24m 8s):

Thank you for listening to what's it called podcast with Chad, The Cheese. Brillant. And the talk about recruiting, they talk about technology, but most of all, they talk about nothing. Just a lot of shout outs of people you don't even know. And yet you're listening. It's incredible. And not one word about cheese, but one. Chedder, blue, nacho, pepper jack, swiss. So many cheeses and not one word.


Outro (24m 40s):

So weird. Any who be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts, that way you won't miss an episode. And while you're at it, visit www.chadcheese.com just don't expect to find any recipes for grub Cheese is so weird. We out.

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