We took The JOY Podcast on the road at our JOY Roadshow in Dallas. We converted a truck into a mobile podcast studio - where Debbie Tuel drove to Nicky Gibson, Director, Talent Acquisition for JCPenney and Craig Fisher, Founder of TalentNet Media, to talk about how HR organizations can adopt, embrace and leverage new technologies in order to bring the joy back to recruiting - and create experiences that both they and the candidate need right now.
Many organizations just “check the boxes,” investing heavily in new HR technologies simply because their competitors have them. However, they often fail to use a vendor’s follow-up services to help implement and support the change. Recruiters have a bad experience, and their shiny new tools just sit there, unloved and underutilized.
Embracing these new HR technologies requires a mind shift away from “we’ve always done it this way” toward “this way is better.” Recruiters need to understand how a new technology makes their job easier, more efficient - and how it supports their goal of building relationships and a better candidate experience.
Debbie [00:00:00] Welcome to the JOY Podcast, Episode 3, where we shine a light on how global organizations are getting people back to work faster and with an exceptional experience. I'm Debbie Tuel, the Chief Joy Officer at Symphony Talent, a global technology company that is leading an industry wide movement in partnership with our customers and our partners. And it's a project that we're calling The Joy Pipeline. And we're glad that you are joining us today on this mission to help recruiters bring the joy back to recruiting and empower them to create experiences that both they, and the candidates, need now. And today, we are super excited to be coming to you from Dallas. And joining me today, we have two local industry practitioners and knowledge experts that are going to help us kind of bring this to life. Craig Fisher and Nicky Gibson, welcome.
Craig & Nicky [00:00:57] Thank you. Thanks, Debbie. Thanks.
Debbie [00:00:59] So this is my first time being live in person with people that I can reach out and touch, which I get it we're not supposed to touch in 18 months. I am feeling very hopeful. How are you guys feeling today?
Craig [00:01:14] Joyous.
Nicky [00:01:16] Awesome. Really good. Happy to be here.
Debbie [00:01:19] So I was sharing with you guys earlier. We've been behind Zoom for a very long period of time, which means that I get to wear leggings and I don't have to do hair and makeup. And today is not the case. And I was not prepared and had to go shopping. And it was a very different experience because the good news is everybody now sells leggings, nobody sells professional wear. So share with me. What did you do to prep for today?
Nicky [00:01:46] Ok, so secretly I get up every morning and I get dressed. If I get up, I feel good and I get my day started. Good for all the time.
Craig [00:01:57] Yeah. This is me as well. I literally I told you guys just a minute ago, I actually have this set up in my house and I'm on camera all day long. Either I'm making a professional video or I'm on with customers. And so this is me. This is how I normally am.
Debbie [00:02:11] So I'm the only daily slob here. But you get me put together today, so I'm excited. Well, because we started kind of talking about what are we bringing to the podcast today? How are we delivering on this? Nicky, you shared with me that at JCPenney's you are starting to do a bit of an evaluation on your candidate experience. Tell me a little bit about what was behind doing that research. What are you using? What are you finding?
Nicky [00:02:40] Well, I think the biggest thing is we want to make sure everybody has a great experience. I'm fanatical about the candidate experience. I'm probably not the best at it. I say that to candidates all the time. But I just wanted to make sure that the recruiters understood what they were doing, was working or wasn't working. And what are we using? Quite honestly, a sheet that we just send out and it's just a link. And we send it out to candidates throughout our ATS. It's very, very simple. And I've got somebody monitoring that coming back monitoring their teams. That's it. They're very simple.
Debbie [00:03:13] And what are you asking them?
Nicky [00:03:15] We're asking them basically. How was your experience? It's very simple. We didn't want to. It's keep it simple stupid, right. So keeping it very simple, it's, "What did you think about your experience? How easy was the application?" And it's a rating one to four. Just that simple.
Debbie [00:03:33] So this gives you an ability to use that as a benchmark moving forward. So as you implement change, you can tell us, are we doing better or not?
Nicky [00:03:43] I mean, we had our first results today after a month and they were very good, actually. And I was like, OK, this is actually working. You actually have candidates who actually want to tell you how well you're doing or how well you're not doing. But for me I want to build the data up so that I can go to my boss and then I can go spend a little bit more money, since I said we've got to do this real cheap before we go spend money.
Craig [00:04:08] You got to have a way to prove the ROI. And you want to do pilots and tech companies to let you do pilots if you have a good reason to and you tell a good story. You know, if the pilot successful and this is one of the ways you start to gather that data.
Nicky [00:04:23] We have a great brand. So it's not that we're going to get some data that's going to blow our mind. But I think setting a foundation, because recruiters need to understand not just how to source, they need to understand all the elements of talent acquisition.
Debbie [00:04:37] That's a really good point. And you mentioned that there's some change management in that. Where do you think that the knowledge kind of game needs to be for recruiters in that experience delivery? And this is a general question, right? They're going to differ per person. I get it.
Nicky [00:04:57] I mean, I think recruiters are cocky. I think that sometimes they rely on their personalities to to woo in a candidate, but there's so much competition out there right now. So it's not just about you. It's about every single touch point throughout the continuum of the process. It's the time that they apply, and it's not when they walk out the door. It's the period of time when they are getting ready to walk through the door. What are you doing? That to me is that mind shift - like it's not just let me give you a call and see what your skills are like. No, let me give you a call, see what your skills are like, and let me walk you all the way through. So that's that's what I'm hoping that any recruiter will change that mindset. It's not just a checkbox, it is an act. And I'm an engineer. So everything is a process to me sometimes. But it's a it's bigger than just a process when it comes down to recruiting.
Debbie [00:05:54] Absolutely.
Craig [00:05:55] So there are a few different types of recruiters that I noticed because I trained a lot of recruiting teams. Right. You've got your early adopters. You've got your life hackers. Right. That are going to find a free, easy, open source way to get things done. And then you've got those people with a legacy mindsets. And that's the thing that you have to kind of fight through in order to get people to adopt technology, new processes, better candidate experience.
Debbie [00:06:19] Yeah, and you have a lot of experience going into organizations and training their recruiting teams on how to do that process change. What do you find are some of those key tools in driving process, change in adoption?
Craig [00:06:34] Yeah, so I get to do digital transformation projects for recruiting companies and teams all over the place. And the the key is let's take software, for instance, OK? A lot of employers say, yeah, I want this software because my competitors have this software or whatever, and, but then they strip out the services layer of the software. And so you've got an implementation. You've got software that does nothing, because without that services layer and the vendor backing it up and doing that repetitive training to make sure you get user acceptance, it sits there and this happens all the time. And that's what I get asked to fix a lot.
Debbie [00:07:15] We're seeing that across the board. We were talking about it earlier. There is a lot of technology out there available to talent acquisition right now. And we're seeing leaders kind of check boxes. Yes, it does this, this and this. So let's go ahead and buy it. And then the follow through oftentimes isn't there, whether that's leadership turnover or lack of planning or whatever it is. And now you've spent a fortune on technology that's not being adopted and that oftentimes is hurting the experience for both recruiters and candidates.
Craig [00:07:53] And hiring managers too. Don't forget that there's a three way thing there - that if hiring managers aren't having a good experience with the recruitment process, recruiting has to be responsible for that as well, because nobody rules hiring managers except hiring managers. Unless you make them do what the process says they should do. They've all got budgets and agendas and they've got their own ways of doing things and they're only in their job because they were good at their old job. They're not experts at either hiring or managing most of the time.
Debbie [00:08:25] That's definitely not what they have been trained to do. And it's not an easy job. And talking about egos, it's hard to shift that mindset. Right. So, Nicky, you've talked a little bit about some of the technology that you guys have internally. I'd love to hear your opinion when you walk into an organization. They already have their tech. They are already committed to it. How do you make the most of a situation that you can't change?
Nicky [00:08:57] Oh, gosh, I ask a lot of questions because I have done implementations on ATS' and I know what it should look like in any technology. I know what that process should look like. The first thing I'm going to say is tell me about the implementation. Walk me through. How did you determine this is what we're going to use? The why? Let me see the contract process. Yeah. Where's all of that? I'm peeling back the layers in and it's hard for people because they're like, where are you coming from? Why does she want to know this? I just want to know because I need to understand how this works and the why. And then once I get there, then I'm the vendor and I'm very nice.
Debbie [00:09:43] Well, at least with your smile on your face, you are super nice.
Nicky [00:09:47] And I play the bad cop good cop all the time. I'm like, walk me through how you've worked with us in the past. And it's a test I did a lot of times. It's a test for me. I want to see how quickly you're going to respond to my questions, and I also want to know how much you know about me and my background, because you're not going to be able to pull the wool over my eyes. You're just not, because I'm going to ask the questions. I'm probably going to know how it's supposed to work. And I want to know that you know how it works, because if you can't tell me how it works, how how do I already know that you didn't tell my team how it works. So I just have you know, nice Nicky, that's what I call her.
Craig [00:10:23] But you need what you need, right?
Debbie [00:10:26] Well, I mean, sometimes you can go back to that implementation and say, hey, look, how should this work? And that's what are we doing, what are we not doing? Let's make this work while we're together.
Nicky [00:10:37] Well. And get the best bang for your buck. You know, I'm always going back to leaders and I need to show you what the ROI is, because that's why I'm here. I'm not here to waste time or waste money. I want to get the every juice, whatever I can squeeze out of that lemon. I'm going to squeeze it out. And because that's what you hired me for.
Debbie [00:10:56] So, yeah, great. Yeah. And, you know, we look at technology, how it's being implemented, how we adopt it. And we talked about the fact that you cannot deliver a great candidate experience unless your recruiters are having a good experience with the tools and technologies they're using and know how to use it. So, Craig, this is kind of your specialty. This is what you go in to help companies drive. How do you get recruiters using technology? In fact. Actually, I'll even pause there. How did you meet Nicky?
Craig [00:11:31] So twelve years ago maybe. I was asked to train the recruiting team at JCPenney to show them how to use LinkedIn without even having LinkedIn recruiter account. So how do you utilize your personal brand? The way you connect with people, the content you share, build SEO into your own profile so people can find you instead of us spending money for you to find them? And that's how we met. It was great. And then a couple of years later, she invited me to help out with some recruiting problems they were having at Pizza Hut. And we built the Pizza Hut recruiting university and they hosted TalentNet, my conference. And we've been friends and collaborators ever since.
Debbie [00:12:18] I love it. And so that brings me to the original question. This is what you do, right? You come in and help people learn how to use tools. What do you find is effective in driving adoption?
Craig [00:12:29] So you have to figure out what is the crutch that most of the recruiters are relying on. And you have to ask what their process is like. Show me your day. Let me sit with you for a day and watch you recruit. Where are you going? What are you doing? All those things. And when you get hired by someone who does employer branding or recruitment marketing to come in and help out with that stuff, sometimes they don't care about what the recruiters do. And because they don't want to know what their problems are, they've heard it all. I still want to know because you've got to figure out the crutch, and then you have to figure out how to kick their crutch out. From the first thing I did when I got asked to be a TA leader at a big Fortune 500 tech company would say, how many recruiter seats are we using? Because they were having issues and said, OK, we're getting rid of half of those and I'm going to teach these people how to recruit. And that's what you have to do. Then you sprinkle in technology to take away, you know, non recruiting activities and let them focus their time on actually communicating with people.
Debbie [00:13:29] Well, yeah, I heard you asked Nicky, do you have a scheduling tool? We're talking about her process, right? Like, what are those areas that we can use technology to automate that's not going to hurt the experience? Right. It's going to make the recruiters lives easier. And that's where you sprinkle in that technology that really enables process.
Craig [00:13:47] But it's not a one size fits all situation. Every company's process is different. You're dealing with different objectives, different hoops, different, you know, personalities. Every situation is unique. And that's why we have 600 vendors for each different kind of product in our space. And so I'm just the person that knows all those vendors very well.
Debbie [00:14:09] Who, you know, we were talking about it earlier. A lot of people in talent acquisition sales come from Career Builder, a former life of mine for those that that don't know my background, but it was ingrained in us. We called those where you sit down with recruiter - we called them chair sides and you needed to be doing at least ten chair sides with each customer. And then you take those chair sides back to the leadership team and say, this is what I found out about your recruiting process. These are the areas that you may not know. Our total time sucks for your team. And here's how we can fix it. Right. And that chair side aspect, I think, has been lost in a lot of this process of are you sitting down and watching what they are doing on a daily basis and really understanding what's broken. Right. Not what is broken hypothetically in this big picture. But what is broken with an individual user in this process.
Craig [00:15:04] And it's a series of little things, right? This is the Tim Ferris methodology of fixing a big problem by making minor tweaks, a million minor tweaks, and it can be done.
Debbie [00:15:14] And it goes into how you build software. Right. We sit and watch our UI, UX teams, and they sit down and they watch users in our betas use our software and they watch how they're doing it. And they're like, it just took you 10 clicks to get from this to this, which is how you use the software. We've got to fix that. Right. And good software should be built that way. So it really plays in both sides of these equations. And that's how you build a good product, is watching people use it and then realizing, uh oh, what I thought worked really well, just took you 30 minutes to execute on. Let's rethink this.
Nicky [00:15:53] I'll take it a step further. What I've done in my past is I've actually had recruiters sit down and I said record every minute of your day. I want to know exactly what you've done. And I'm like, how am I going to do that? Well, you have a pen and a piece of paper.
Debbie [00:16:10] Lawyers do it. You can do it.
Speaker2: [00:16:12] You have a calendar. So I want you to record everything that you do, and I want you to send it to me, and I'm going to show you where you're spending your time. And that was one of the most eye opening experiences that this team ever saw. They were like, I didn't know that I was spending so much time on this task that had nothing to do with recruiting. I said, you're welcome. Now, you don't want to do that task anymore, because recruiters know a lot, but they don't always see the things that a recruiting leader might see. And I already knew what the issue was, but I needed for them to understand that you're spending too much time on this task that is not value added. So can we just take it off your plate and give it to a piece of technology?
Debbie [00:16:56] Where does this go to make this better? And if you sit down, I mean if you study any type of organizational leadership, you quickly find out that you tend to spend, if you're not doing it correctly, the beginning of the time with those low value tasks because you're procrastinating the big value. And when you flip it and say, OK, you do the big value first and then work my way back because you've organized it properly, is where you get to effectiveness. But trying to retrain the recruiters to do that is challenging. And that's where to your point earlier, you've got to have both the technology and the services piece of this to bring it both together to really execute in a way that's impactful.
Craig [00:17:41] And you have to teach them to think outside the box. I mean, you want them to all be life hackers at the end of the day, you want them to be able to figure out a way. And it takes a little while to get there. But I suggested recently to a customer that they've got 19 different languages, major languages in one distribution center that they're having trouble getting people to apply to. I said speed is the name of the game here. They're getting multiple offers in this area because there's the Amazon call center and Amazon supply store or whatever. And they said, well, we don't have enough recruiters to call these people in real time. I said, hire a call center. They said what? I said, yeah, they're everywhere. Hire a call center, no problem. Simple. They're like, we don't need AI? I'm like, no, you don't need AI.
Debbie [00:18:30] Wait, AI doesn't solve everything?
Craig [00:18:40] Why? Because everybody has AI. I'm like, you don't even know what it is. What are you trying to solve here?
Debbie [00:18:47] I have a call center that does AI really well.
Craig [00:18:51] And they were blown away. They're like, I never heard of that. I'm like, well, I just made it up. So of course you haven't heard. But it's a great idea, right?
Debbie [00:18:59] That's right. Absolutely. Well, to to bring us kind of to the end, which this time is like flying by. I'm shocked. Thank you guys for joining us so much. But, you know, as we think about this mission of getting people back to work and doing so with exceptional experiences, Nicky, I have to ask you, you're working in retail. Retail has been hit hard. It's also transformed in a lot of ways, going from what used to primarily be in store to overnight, needing to flip to to digital and online, which I get we were already there. But this kind of expedited that. But we were talking it that it is really hard right now to find talent, even though I get it, unemployment, all of that. How are you guys adapting to the changes in what's happening right now with the economy?
Nicky [00:19:51] I'm going to give a big kudos and shout out to the team that I'm leading right now, because when you believe in a brand, it's really easy to get people to come work for you. And that's what I would say, I mean, and what we're doing is equipping the recruiters with the brand story to be able to talk to candidates about why they should come and work for us. And I was actually looking at the data today during my team meeting, and I said, I'm so proud of you guys. Our acceptance rate is like ninety nine percent. This is a company who went through bankruptcy, went through bankruptcy, came out, and our acceptance rate, is ninety nine percent. And basically that's not anything that I've done. They believe in the brand and the candidates believe in the brand because the recruiters know what they're talking about. That's what that's what we're doing. Keeping it simple.
Debbie [00:20:48] I love it. So keep it simple, stupid. Believe in what you're selling. And focus on where should you not be spending your time and how can we get rid of that, whether it be to technology or other processes, other people, teams, etc. I love it. And Craig, any takeaways for me on how we bring joy back, how we get people back to work faster?
Craig [00:21:13] Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, we talked today about the candidate experience, the recruiter experience, the hiring manager experience. Think about your colleagues out there in the world that are all struggling to get people to apply right now, that sort of thing. We all need to help each other when we jump in on these virtual events that we're all having to take part in, actually participate. Don't just do other stuff the whole time, have the conversations. Because when we do come back in person, right. We want to be equipped. We want to know what's going on in the world. My my wife's mother lives up in the mountains and they moved there a couple of years ago when she visited. And she my wife said, I don't think she's getting enough socialization and we're all bugging out. Right. I mean, we're all cooped up, but we do have an opportunity to communicate now through technology, through video and audio. And so do it participate, book some time in your day. Get out there.
Debbie [00:22:07] I love it. Thank you guys again so much for joining us. We are excited to take this podcast on the road. So we will be taking this to Detroit next. Tim Sackett, we're coming for you. Then we're going to figure it out from there. Who knows where this thing will go, but we're excited to finally get to see people in person again, start to feel a little bit more normal and get out from behind our computer screens and be able to have drinks in person. So thank you guys for tuning in today. To The Joy Pipeline podcast. Subscribe, follow us. Listen, shout us out on social media. All of those good things. Thanks guys.