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The RM Podcast: Hire to Grow, Not Go

Symphony Talent
January 11 ․ 40 min read

In the first episode of The RM Podcast season 2, Debbie Tuel gets candid with Gerry Crispin, Principal & Co-Founder, CareerXroads. 

For the past 15+ years, we have focused the recruitment conversation around hiring that all-star, gold medalist person who checks all the boxes. 

Finding the purple squirrel has always been challenging, and it takes time and a tremendous amount of skill. But here we are, at the start of 2022, we no longer have the luxury of time. AND that unicorn you are searching for already has one foot out the door with trends such as the Great Resignation and Great Reshuffle happening. People aren't settling for old-school recruitment marketing tactics to appeal to new roles. 

So what do you do?

Hire to Grow, Not Go. 

Debbie: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the RM podcast. I'm your host Debbie Tuel, and I hope that you are ready for an all-new lineup of experts who are itching to step out of the parameters of traditional recruitment and talent acquisition speak and get real on what it means to recruit on a worker economy, and quite frankly, an upside-down world. Let's dig in together.

Debbie: Speaking of real talk, in all of my years of recruiting, we have been focusing the conversation around hiring that all-star gold medalist person who checks all the boxes. And we can all agree that finding that purple squirrel has been hard. It takes time and a tremendous amount of skill, but here we are at the start of 2022, and I think we can all agree that we no longer have the luxury of time. And that that unicorn that we're searching for already has one foot out the door. So what do you do? Well, today I'm answering that question, as I chat with Gerry Crispin on how to hire to grow, not go.

Debbie: Gerry, it is such a joy to have you in the studio today. How are you?

Gerry: I'm wonderful. And Debbie, it's a pleasure to be here. So thank you for having me.

Debbie: Most Of our listeners are probably familiar with your work over at CareerXroads, and they know you as that leader in TA and recruiting, but many may not be as aware of the work that you put in to get here. You started as a practitioner in HR at J&J. We'd love for you to share a little bit with our listeners about how that work in the field, doing HR at J&J kind of informed your later work, that you're doing today.

Gerry: Well, there was a lot of things that not only myself, but literally everyone has, that are kind of peak experiences. And when I was in graduate school, so I have an undergraduate degree in engineering. So that's a little bit weird, and decided that I became enamored of what organizations looked like as systems. So that engineering bent extended to about six years in graduate school and to make a living, because they don't pay graduate students very much, I was an instructor and whatever, but they paid me very little in those days. So I got a job as the assistant director in career services at Stevens Institute of Technology, and became enamored of how people got jobs. I was fascinated because my role was to find jobs or help students find jobs. And they did, but they were making lousy decisions.

Gerry: And then I was talking to alumni who were coming back, who had lost their jobs. And I knew I was totally incompetent. So I started pushing hard to learn a great deal more about where this crossroads was between people who have to think about their work in relation to what that looks like as a job, their job in relation to what that looks like as a career, and their career and the relation to their stage of life.

Gerry: And so my life has been around thinking about those aspects. And when I finally left Academia, I joined Johnson & Johnson and I was a bit of a loose cannon, right from the beginning. I did have a beard, the beard was more red than it is today, as white, but I was very naive and did things... Like I said, I really appreciate the fact that I can join Johnson & Johnson in this kind of industrial-organizational psychology role, where I'm going to be doing some training and a bunch of other things.

Debbie: Well, and Gerry, I'm not surprised at all that from the very beginning, you said, "Okay, how can we do things differently? How can we rethink things?" And you've carried that on throughout your career.

Gerry: I was very fortunate. Obviously, you're very privileged in your early years, if you have mentors if you have people that are watching out for you, that have your back. And so when I talk to young people, I say, it's not how much money you're going to make in that first job, it's whether or not the person you're working for literally has your back, actually cares about you. Is willing to go out of their way to help you do the best work that you can do.

Debbie: And have the most broad range of experiences at that stage in your career.

Gerry: And then it's all on you. You got to decide whether you want to continue to roll that way and take risks, or do something more secure, et cetera. And at different stages in your life, you probably are going to have different motivations in terms of what you do at work or don't do at work. If you have a family and you have kids and et cetera, then you want more agility and accessibility to other things. And corporations are beginning to recognize that, more than they did in the past fundamentally. And so we are seeing a shift in how work is being done, not only today but in the future, in part, because of the last couple years of pandemic and everything else that we've gone through.

Debbie: Yeah. I mean we've had to shift really rapidly, but it's fascinating even listening to the start of your career, to where we are today. Maybe we're not shifting as rapidly as we think it's kind of been happening all along. And Gerry, I'm really fascinated when I run into people in this space that kind of have multiple different view angles that they come at talent acquisition, you've been on the practitioner side, and then you made this switch 10 years in, to say, "Hey, look, I'm going to go to the vendor side and I'm going to go work at an agency and I want to get a different kind of experience. And I try something different." I would love to get your perspective on why you made the move over to Shaker and how that continued to transform the way you look at recruiting.

Gerry: So I had an interesting opportunity. My sister married this guy named Joe Shaker.

Debbie: I did not realize there was a marriage connection in here.

Gerry: When I left J&J and was finding that I was not happy in the corporate world, his father who was still running the company, told his son who would then be the person running the company, "Why don't you hire him?" And so I joined Shaker advertising, and it was a little bit of a shock going from a large company to a much smaller company in terms of the resources that you have. It was a shock to go from being someone who knew something about organizations and recruiting from a different side and all of the other stuff in human resources and being involved in sales. Sales is different.

Gerry: And people would say to me like, "Gerry you've been with Shaker now for a month, and I knew that you were a smart, sharp person in human resources, but I don't know if you can do shit with respect to advertising and all this other kind of stuff. And you might not be there in six months. Why would I risk my money on you, come back in a year?" So the people that I was able to sell to, tended to be people that I didn't know. I got an opportunity to go in and pitch them. They said, "Oh you worked in human resources and recruiting for the last X number of years." And yeah, I'll give you a shot." That kind of thing. "I'll give you a shot because the idiot that I'm dealing with right now over in such and such an agency is not doing their job. So why not?" So, I was getting those kinds of folks. The first person to give me business is what, his name is Jerome Laday. He's now retired. He lives in Florida. I talk to him every couple of months. And actually there's a group of us that have dinner on a regular basis of which he's part of.

Debbie: I mean, this industry is small. It becomes a family. And some of those early relationships, I think for all of us tend to carry on. I love that you are still connecting with them. And I love the relationship between the sale and your customer.

Gerry: I've been involved in recruitment in one form or another from career services on today, for 52 years. So, I mean, when you introduced me and said more than 40, most people from a resume point of view will never say more than 25, because they don't want to... So I've doubled that in relation to it, but a lot of different kinds of things. There's very few things I have not done. I worked in an executive search for six months. I did a number of different things. There's very few jobs in recruiting and staffing that I have not experimented with at least long enough to know that I don't want to do that again kind of thing.

Debbie: Absolutely. And that is half of what a career is. It's not just finding out what you do want to do, but also finding out what you do not want to ever touch again with a 10-foot pole.

Gerry: I spent 10 years with Shaker. They just celebrated their 70th year in business. And obviously, they've had to pivot a number of different kinds of ways in order to be relevant to today. And they are. And so that's fascinating. I left Shaker in '99 when the internet was rearing its very ugly head, but I was loving it, and traditional recruitment advertising wasn't ready to pivot at that point in time. So I knew I had to go do something different and started writing books about the evolution of recruiting and what was available. Because there was no searching. There was no Google.

Debbie: Yeah. You couldn't just open up your computer and say, "Where are these people" or "Where do I advertise?"

Gerry: "Where is a good job board? Where is Monster?

Debbie: Absolutely. And you're talking about 1999 when Monster was blowing up. I mean, starting to. On the verge. And I joined CareerBuilder in 2007 and that was still considered like the tipping point of digital advertising. I was still going in and educating people on why they should stop running a newspaper ad and put it online. So that was a good eight-year difference between when you started CareerXroads and-

Gerry: Well, I started CareerXroads in 1996 and started writing books in '96. And my last book was 2003. So I was reviewing CareerBuilder at its earliest foundation, even its groups that were prior to that. But I would be talking about Career Mosaic and a few of the other OCC and a few of the others at those early stages.

Debbie: The Hot Jobs and-

Gerry: People were going crazy about what do I do? And they'd have to go buy a computer, how you could find a resume database and so on and so forth. Those were obviously very early days and it was a lot of fun, but it gave us a real understanding of how things were shifting and changing. And I would write about what those possibilities were, but eventually, folks like Glenn Gutmacher and a bunch of other characters, who were really recruiting themselves, were beginning to do... Shelly Stacker was another one who was really beginning to teach people how to do things. And many of them are still around.

Debbie: We are still, as an industry, can continuing to educate ourselves. In fact, we started at the very beginning, that you're a lifelong learner and student of what is happening and the shifts that are happening. You and I first got to connect a couple of years back. We were working on the ATAP report with Mary Grace and Tyler Weeks and Owen Bailey and a couple of others. Looking at this fact that we have had a lot of transformation. We have been digital now for 20 plus years, and yet we still have a big gap within recruiting on how to establish common language and how to attract source effectiveness. And you've gotten to watch this be pieced together. Why do you think, and how did this become so broken and why is it so important for us to establish that common language?

Gerry: Part of it is context. We, Very few people have a sense of how recruiting evolved. And it's really in a modern-day point of view, it's evolved in over a hundred years as the second industrial revolution began towards a latter part of the 1800s into the early part of the 1900s. We established if you will, an approach to workflow, that we still are using and using way too much obviously. And it's only now that we're really starting to rethink that workflow in a way that from a technology point of view can be supported. But if people aren't willing to do things differently, the technology's not going to follow. The technology helps you do what you know how to do, not reinventing the way you do it. Or even though with all of the claims, it really isn't, it's really helping you to do what you think are the sequence of events that gets you to engage people.

Gerry: And so I'm convinced that there's so much more that we need to do from a decision point of view that involves how we help candidates make better decisions about being found, about being selected, about what they need to do with that offer and then what they need to do as they engage a corporation and become part of that corporation and whether or not they're looking at it, as just as a job that puts food on the table, or whether they're looking at it as a community that actually they make a difference in. And that is a big gap between those two things. Big, big, gap. And I think that our society is shifting the attitudes of many workers, toward especially as they get enough money, that they're able to put food on the table, but at the same time, there are millions of people who are working week to week and barely able to still put food on the table and shelter for their children. So, we need to be able to understand the differences in what's going on and we need to try to influence our corporations to do things in ways that make us satisfied with what we do in our career.

Debbie: We recently released a Recruitment Marketing Ideabook. It's something that we do every year. And we ask industry leaders like yourself, what do you think that the most powerful thing that people can do to make an impact on recruitment marketing will be in 2020? And I would love for you to share with our audience, some of the learnings that you passed along in the idea book.

Gerry: Yeah. I think all of them over the last few years have to do for the most part, with the kind of data that helps you to be more empowered. So for example, especially when we're talking about diversity. We tend to have these standards that are set for us. That basically says, "Oh, we want you to have a diverse slate. We want you to have two women." If the underrepresentation is women in technology, you don't want one in the final slate of five, you want two. Because if there was one, then that is seen more as a token, if you have two, it increases the likelihood and probability of whatever. So I get that, we all do, but that doesn't help the recruiter become empowered as an equal to the hiring manager that they're dealing with. I want the recruiter to have the data that shows just how underrepresented a given opening is in a job family.

Gerry: And if, for example, there's a hundred, I don't know, software engineers in this job, and to be extreme, no women. And we know that women would represent, let's say because we should have that data as well. That in this area, let's say it's Silicon Valley or something, that 15% of software engineers in Silicon Valley are women. And there's a hundred engineers in my company and no women. That means there's 15 possibilities that... I mean, we should be at least 15 of them. So, when I'm talking to this hiring manager, why am I talking about putting one woman on the slate or two women on the slate? That's bull shit.

Debbie: Yeah. You've got to be able to have the-

Gerry: I'm going to fight you at least, because how many opportunities do we have? How many people are going to turn over of those hundred? Let's say only five, only 5% will leave you. And you're going to grow 5%. So there's going to be 105 at the end of next year. So that's 10, only 10 opportunities. If I feel every single job this year with a woman software engineer, equal to all of those male software engineers, we'd still have less than 10%.

Debbie: Yeah. We're still not going to hit.

Gerry: And we're not even at a representative level. So why am I not at least informed to a point where I can argue, past, present, and future with my hiring manager, and maybe there should be two. Maybe there should be three. Maybe I don't care, because you already have 25% as women. I don't know. But let's use the data.

Debbie: Let's get to the data where we know what the actual available population is and be able to benchmark our hiring success across from it.

Gerry: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that goes in two different directions, Gerry. I've seen a lot of tweets recently about requirements as asked for on these job descriptions and requirements for skill sets like social media or a certain type of programming that hasn't even been around that long. And it's the same thing. We need to be empowered with the right data to go and say, "Okay, if you are looking for this type of expertise and you're looking in this age group, or you're looking at somebody with this much experience, they can't have that much experience because social media hasn't been around that long. Or because this type of coding hasn't been. And so I think we do need to get to a place, whereas an industry, we've got the right data, so that we can feel empowered to go to our hiring managers and say, let's revisit both the expectations of what we're asking for and the demographic of what we're going after, and how do we reach our benchmarks in order to perform against it.

Gerry: And there's one other thing, we have to get beyond talking about internal mobility.

Debbie: Yes.

Gerry: And start investing serious money in that. And that takes two silos. One is the talent acquisition side, and the other is the talent management side. And fundamentally, we need to look at some of the critical skill areas and be able to say, there are people who have an interest in, and a capacity to grow within our organization. And we need to actually spend money, helping them get to that level and then guaranteeing them the opportunity to move into that level and demonstrate they can do it. and I will tell you that most companies are talking the talk at this point, which is good, but we need to get to that next level where we see some real investment in that.

Debbie: Yeah. And well, we could spend a whole episode talking about this, Gerry. Because I feel like we've actually gone backward there. Companies have had all of these management training programs and this educational underpinning of their organizations when they had lifelong employees. And we've gone backward from there and now we're trying to like drudge it back up of like, how do we invest to the individual, but we don't even have enough time to get on that. So we are going to do a little bit of a round Robin to close us out. I'm going to ask you some quick questions. The first thing that pops in your mind. And really this is to pass along to our listeners where they can get resources to help them educate themselves. So what is the one book or podcast that you have listened to, or read this past year that you would recommend our listeners go read or listen to?

Gerry: Oh my God. I even have a book club. So I've gone through lots of books, but I would like the point to be made from a book called "Workquake"

Debbie: "Workquake"

Gerry: "Workquake" and I can't remember the name of the author because I'm getting too old.

Debbie: No worries. We will put it in the podcast notes. So if you are listening, work-

Gerry: Its main point is that people who come to you, may not stay with you and that's okay. Retention isn't a necessary and fundamental thing that you should be trying to achieve. You want to have enough retention in order to get the performance value, but over time, people do move on to other things and it's perfectly okay.

Debbie: All right. "Workquake". For those listening, go look at the podcast notes, we'll have it linked for you. Okay, next question, Gerry, who is the one person that you think everyone should follow? So whether that is Twitter or social media.

Gerry: Oh Hung Lee.

Debbie: Here we go, Hung Lee. All right.

Gerry: Hung Lee. Give Hung Lee a try. He basically is doing a weekly newsletter, has a lot of curated content and he's been a high flyer this last year or actually almost two years now.

Debbie: All right. Perfect.

Gerry: In terms of creating, I think a good level of curated content that people can consume.

Debbie: Awesome. So we will also link that so you guys can all go subscribe. We have Julia Levy coming on for our next episode. What is the one question that you would pass along that we should ask her?

Gerry: What would she do different?

Debbie: What would she do different? That's a great question. So different in 2022, we will ask her that. And what is one cool piece of tech that you're excited for, that you've seen kind of being talked about or passed around within the industry, or that we should be doing.

Gerry: Well, anything that can suck more information out of LinkedIn and make it usable and almost all of them. I would never mention any of them because the moment I mention them, they're going to be banned or whatever. But I want more from products like LinkedIn that have, obviously a lot of content. I understand why they don't want their data pulled and then reused. But on the other hand, from a recruiter's point of view, the last thing I want is to have to go from one dashboard to another dashboard, to another dashboard, God bless. It's what drives most recruiters, absolutely nuts, and most recruiting leaders nuts is the lack of capability for full integration.

Debbie: Agreed.

Gerry: And we need ways to capture data and make use of it at a low cost.

Debbie: Agreed. So LinkedIn, if you are listening. There are things that they have done within some of the ATS space that they could really expand to other platforms into more ATSs and make it to where it's just part and parcel of, if you're a LinkedIn customer, you get this. I agree. And in the meantime, there are vendors out there that can help you. Last, Gerry, where can people find you? How should people follow you, find you, get your content?

Gerry: If you can spell my name right with a G, G for Gerry, and you can spell Crispin, C-R-I-S-P-I-N, you can Google me and you'll find me. CareerXroads is either, careerxroads.com and it's career-X-roads.com or cxr.works, get you basically to my website. There's a lot of content there for my members, but there's also a lot of content that is free and usable by anybody who wants to look at it, and folks who have been members, but aren't currently, we still have maybe a thousand alumni that can talk to each other and engage. So I'm a platform for peers and colleagues to talk with one another in a trusted environment. And that's essentially where I get my satisfaction.

Debbie: Awesome. Gerry, thank you again for joining us today. As always, it has been a pleasure. Thank you everyone for listening. This season, you can expect us to release a new episode every other Tuesday. That means our next episode with Julia Levy will be released on January 25th. We will make sure to ask her what she'll do differently next year. So go subscribe to this podcast or whatever platform you're listening to it today so that you don't miss a moment. And while you are there, we would love to get your feedback. So rate, review, so that we can continue to improve these episodes. Thanks, Gerry.

Gerry: Thank you.