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 (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?