The Recruitment Hackers Podcast

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    What Recruiters Should Know About Hiring Data Professionals

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    Max Armbruster
    Max Armbruster
    CEO Talkpush

    Talent Seduction, Using Automation so Humans can Craft Hiring Solutions Driven by Data

    Episode 23 full coverAs automation elevates recruitment to increase efficiency, human roles in talent acquisition are more important than ever, becoming completely value driven, and ultimately responsible for hiring top performers that drive the bottom line. Global TA Leader for Celanese and board president for ATAP, Jim D’Amico, talks about this and the shift from talent attraction to talent seduction, as TA professionals up their skills and become talent strategists seeking to craft data powered hiring solutions.


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    Don't feel like listening? You can read the entire transcript right here. 👇


    Welcome to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. A show about innovation, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry. Brought to you by  Talkpush the leading recruitment automation platform.


    Hello everybody. Welcome back to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. I'm your host, Max Armbruster and today, I'd like to welcome to the show Jim D'Amico from ATAP and from Celanese.  Jim, welcome to the show. 


    Jim D'Amico: Hi max. Thank you very much for having me, appreciate it. 


    Max Armbruster: A pleasure. And Jim was telling us, we were having a little chat before the show. He was talking about the transformation from talent attraction to talent seduction, which I guess is taking a more active role in recruitment. And I can't wait to get to that, but before so, I think the nice thing to do is to ask you for an introduction. Introduce yourself, what got you into recruitment? If you could go back in time. 


    Jim D'Amico: Oh, sure. So currently Max, I lead global TA for Celanese and the board president for ATAP. I, like everybody, got into recruiting through a non-direct manner. Right? I did not grow up wanting to be in talent acquisition. So actually my background was in the military, a failed stand-up comedian. Needed food. So I got into sales, and from sales, the company I was selling for got bought, and a friend of mine said, Hey you gotta try recruiting, it's sales, but it's really cool. Cause you're selling two wins and it's exciting. So I got into third-party recruiting. And I loved it and I was hooked and have enjoyed it ever since, launched an RPO very early in the Midwest, sold that. And since then I have spent my time working with various companies, to help really improve their TA function so that they're the best in class. 


    Max Armbruster: It's quite the journey. And I think, obviously a stand up comedian and sales is a great place to start for recruiting because, you've got to find a way to break the ice and warm up your audience where you call them. And there was a time when recruiters had to deal with a very cold audience. You had to deal with a big downpool of people who got a phone call. They didn't even know where they got their phone call from. Right? And, and I think today is quite different, you have very few cold calling recruiting happening, or is that still happening? I don't know. Maybe I'm missing part of the markets. Now I'm more focused on the high volume space.


    Jim D'Amico: You know, I think you see less of the cold call, but I think what's moved from the cold calls, moved to the Inmail. So where I used to get recruiters calling me to recruit me on the phone. Now it all happens in InMail, but really the other thing that's changed back when I started. So, you know, to date myself, we still put ads in the newspaper, right? There was no monster career builder. This was even pre OCC days, right? So in order to get the word out, you had to go to the candidate. Now, you know, for the past 20 - 25 years, now we can find jobs. If I'm looking for a job, I have a million tools to find jobs and connect myself to a job. So the role of the recruiter being the town crier for the job, isn't really part of that anymore.


    Max Armbruster: Tell us a little bit about ATAP. I think it's an organization that was founded just a few years ago. But a much needed organization to bring the industry together. I think most of the membership is in North America. We have an international audience, but why should they join and how do they join?


    Jim D'Amico:  Sure. So, ASAP is the association of talent acquisition professionals. And, you know, we exist to improve the quality of life for our members. And we do that through education, community, advocacy. We are a global organization. Yes Max, most of our members are in the US however, after September, our international members have shut up.


    So membership is fairly inexpensive at $95 US dollars a year, but we do the global town acquisition day event. It's a 14 hour conference. First Wednesday of September, I believe this year within that 14 hours captured 35 hours of content from speakers globally. And that's available to all of our members for free, we have programs that we just launched and we just started adding international people to as well, our diversity inclusion, center of excellence for TA professionals, a year long cohort program, that is very inexpensive for members. 


    We're building out programs to elevate recruiters from recruiters to talent advisors, to talent strategists. So teaching recruiters how to manage, analyze, present data, develop their narratives for their business. How to manage projects, how to manage executive communication. So we're really working to elevate this field that we all love so much and support people. One of the things that I feel is a crime in our industry is how many people get into this field and then leave disappointed. And we really want to put a stop to that because we think that this is not a stopping point on your career. This is not something you do when you can't do anything else, but this is an actual career that adds value to your share and stakeholders. 


    Max Armbruster: Well, it's going to be a hard sell in 2020. Jim. I imagine, I don't keep track of this, maybe you do. I imagine a lot of people lost their jobs this year in talent acquisition, and they must be relaying and you know, some people might be thinking, wow, recruitment is the last place I want to be right now.


    Everybody's being furloughed put on hold. And on top of that, there's all this automation coming in. We have a disappearance of some of the manpower consuming activities of recruitment. What do you have to say to that? Are there going to be more talent acquisition professionals tomorrow than there were yesterday? Or is the industry shrinking? Because in 2020 it will probably be shrinking a little bit. 


    Jim D'Amico: You know, but it's been randomized to some degree. So our membership's up over 15% this year. And what we see is that the market is recovering. So Celanese, we're back to pre COVID hiring my team's bigger today than it was March 1st. And we're seeing hiring, picking up. I think what we're seeing though, is that there's different work that the recruiters are doing. I think automation has had a tremendous impact on transactional recruiting. So in a differentiated recruiting pyramid, that bottom tier. That your tier two supports was transactional. There is a lot of automation there, but what we've seen is that the value of your top two tiers, the recruiting that you do there, has a tremendous impact on the return to the company and the value to the company. When your top performers in that strategic tier are producing value at eight to 10 times the value of people that are just slightly below them in quality of hire, it becomes really, really essential that you are hiring well.


    And to do that, you need people now that are not focused on finding because automation can help us find people still requires a human state, that human intervention, is the actual recruiting, that's the deduction, but also then the assessing of the talent. And I think that's where our work becomes more valuable.


    And as you move to a talent strategist, what you're now talking about too, is not just filling individual positions, but how do you leverage your knowledge, the data that you have, your experience to help craft hiring? Not just immediate, not just one, two, three months out. But how are you looking at hiring as a strategic pillar of your company long-term? And how are you working with the C-suite to help craft those strategies? Not just for today, tomorrow, five years from now. 


    Max Armbruster: The C-suite it sounds like where everybody would want it to end up, but for somebody who's 20, 22, years old picking up recruitment, like you said, because hey that looks available! You know, why not? You know, you could make good money if you're in staffing at a young age, you can do well. So maybe that's how a lot of people end up in that industry, but not everybody can end up with a C-suite. So do you foresee that there is going to be a bit of a contraction in the head count of talent acquisition? That contraction that we saw in some companies. well you said in your company where you're back to pre COVID levels?


    I actually saw that while the volume of candidates grew considerably in my world, the volume of recruiters kind of was flat or a little bit down for 2020. I'm just wondering whether the industry is growing. But 15% year over for your association, that's certainly an indication that there are plenty of recruiters out there.


    Jim D'Amico: There sure are. And again, I think it's how we repurpose the work. So a new recruiter, probably not going to be in a C-suite or talking to the board, but they can be talented advisors to their individual customers, to those hiring managers and to those candidates they work with, data has really changed that and the ability to take data, parse data, and craft narratives around that has changed. 


    So for example, a new recruiter, the two things that they're going to do right away when they join my team is,  they're going to get recruiting fundamentals. You know, they're going to learn how to source, how to recruit, how to interview, but they're also going to start to learn data analytics, right?


    And we start them off. The first book is always Freakonomics because that's easy and digestible. But it also teaches you how to craft a narrative around the data. 


    Max Armbruster: I love that. Yeah. So you teach some numbers and storytelling and then you can build some exercises around that, right? It's like, did you know that this career vs that career and  etcetera. Those kinds of narratives.


    Jim D'Amico: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, for hiring managers, you know, hiring managers right now, they see, Oh my gosh, unemployment is so high. So there must be tons of people for my roles. Well, a lot of the positions you hire are degreed professionals, right? The unemployment for degree professionals for COVID is 4.2% in the US. Right? 


    Max Armbruster: So that's not much change. Nobody got laid off. The data scientists kept their jobs. 


    Jim D'Amico: Yeah, sure. 


    Max Armbruster: And at the bottom markets, we also heard that it remained equally hard to also attract, because people felt unsure about going back to an office and working in retail, working in healthcare, as well as, de-incentivized to go back to work. Because there was government help for them to stay at home. So with all of these compounds to basically make the supply side a little bit tighter than people thought it would be tighter than 2008. You were there in 2008, right? So how did the two prices compare from, you know, from a market talent pool and supply and demand standpoint?


    Jim D'Amico: Yeah. So there weren't those, you brought up a really good point. There weren't those supports in 2008, right? So people were actively looking. This has been a change in 2020. Is that in a lot of countries, not just the US they've strengthened sort of the safety net. So people were not as quick to look particularly for a lot of entry level positions. It paid more to stay at home, plus it was safer. Right? So in 2008, Oh my gosh. It was, you know, again a very sudden sort of situation. And the biggest change we saw in 2008 was this was the first time that we got overwhelmed with resumes and we were now struggling with technology because technology was supposed to save us. Right? We were going to be able to process people quicker, respond to people quicker, do all these things, but we actually just became overwhelmed. And to me, this was starting the era of sort of the ghosting. 


    Max Armbruster:  That was the start of ghosting 2008. Okay. And we're only just starting to beat that ghosting, problem with technology now in addressing it. There's some industries that were absolutely decimated back then. And industries where you normally have a really hard time finding talents.


    So yeah, I guess it was a great opportunity for somebody who is a talented advisor, like you said, to help people reconvert and change careers maybe. And say, wow, this is the chance for you to chase the dream you've always had. Have you had any anecdotes along those lines, you know, people hitting the wall and then helping drive their re-conversions and changing people into a new industry.


    Jim D'Amico:  So, yes, and I have taken several people that felt that they hit a wall and got them into recruiting. You see a lot of people that, you know, in the US and I'm sure it's the same in other countries. There's a big push for people to get their college degrees. There has been for, you know, 30 or 40 years, right?


    That's if you want to be successful, you get your degree. Well, kids go to school, they're very smart. They get their degree, but they get their degree in something that really doesn't have applicable work associated with it. 


    Max Armbruster: Half of our audience has a psychology degree. Be careful what you say.


    Jim D'Amico: Well, you know, but there's like, my degree is secondary education, social studies. I never had an interest in teaching that was just a class on the civilian campus where the girls were. Right? So I'm a product of that too. And look, I said, I wanted to be a comedian and that didn't work out recruiting did.


    So, you know, I've worked with people that have, you know, very interesting backgrounds and I try to help show them how wonderful recruiting is. And you can really build your own career there and create your own career path. But by the same token, I've had friends that have gotten burned out in recruiting and we've helped them transition into other jobs. One of the beautiful things about being a recruiter is you can often find your own next job and you know how to sell candidates and sell yourself into that job. 


    Max Armbruster:  Yeah. I have a friend and advisor at my company who is, you know, a very senior executive at a top technology company. Didn't know what zoom for a couple of years went into executive recruitment and then back into the corporate world. These transitions were very, I think, well, I mean, I have this one example, but I suppose, it's not an isolated case of these... 


    When you build a network, then you can use your network, even though in 2020, the network is not so impactful. So of course ATAP would always encourage people to come in and out of the industry, and for people who feel a little burned out after, a rough year missing their targets or are dealing with a shallow talent pool.


    Or being stabbed in the back by candidates. I mean, that happens. What are some good reconversion post recruitments? I guess, back to sales? 


    Jim D'Amico: Yeah. No, so there's always that opportunity. And I think that, you know, sales is a very natural fit for recruiting because we are doing diagnostic sales all day. So I think that's very true, but also if you look at the work that we do, as recruiters, there's sales, there's marketing, there's social media. So there's different opportunities that you can leverage based on recruiting, but I think that this is actually, if you feel that that you got crushed or your company didn't support you right now, I don't think this is a bad time to hang up your own shingle and be boutique. 


    Because there are industries that are really struggling to find people. And if you have those skills and you can fill that void, that's incredible. And in the US, there's such a push on diversity. You know, really remedy where we've been. I think there's a lot of opportunity to provide support for specifically diversity recruiting for companies in the US and we're seeing it now in Europe and Asia, too, where there's a push for diversity based on gender and, you know, as opposed to the US where is gender and race, but we're seeing gender globally.


    Max Armbruster: Yeah. The core skill for these boutiques that would do well would be to build a talent pool. 


    Jim D'Amico: Yes.


    Max Armbruster: And building a talent pool is not necessarily something where size matters as much, where you have a big RPO and you're just going to process data, and processing and automating the workflow, and scheduling things faster. But if you're a boutique, you can really take the time to build a town pool basically. 


    Jim D'Amico: Absolutely. Yeah. And that makes all the difference. 


    Max Armbruster: All right. Well, I think that's a great happy note to end up on, of course, if you look back at 2008 - 2009, it was also a good year for staffing and for RPO and maybe 2021 we'll replicate that. And maybe someone who listens to us well, we'll get their courage to launch their own boutique and to build a nice town pool and some hot area. On a final note, what are some of the industries where people should sort of start their boutique firm today and the next year? If you had to advise someone. 


    Jim D'Amico: Yeah. So, high-tech manufacturing is picking up very quickly. Data science continues to be a very hot commodity. I think those two are great areas. Medical is another one. We've seen how we're positioned right now with the pandemic. And so there's going to be a lot of growth in medicine over the next several years, particularly with those, you know, in research and then in those frontline roles. So you're going to see a big expansion in nursing and there's a lot of work to be done there. And this is the first time it was at several conferences last week.


    And this is the first time where healthcare recruiters seem to be in. I say this with love. I used to recruit in healthcare, healthcare recruiting has always been a little bit behind the curve of everyone else. They're finally saying, Hey, we've got to close that gap from a recruiting steam and, you know, be more proactive. So I think that's a great area to get involved in.


    Max Armbruster: I mean I'm excited just thinking about it, you know, building a boutique firm around a theme, doing content marketing around it, doing storytelling around it. And there's so much you can do there to help people in an industry plan their career. So thanks, Jim. Really good ideas and recommendations. And if people want to get a hold of you or, get in touch with ATAP, where should we send them, or how do they get ahold of you? 


    Jim D'Amico: Sure. So ATAP is You can find me on LinkedIn. I am on there all the time. So I'm easy to find. And you can also reach me at Celanese, which is 


    Max Armbruster: Splendid. Thank you, Jim. And all the best to ATAP, I hope we'll reconnect in 2021 to celebrate another year of a 15% growth for your organization. 


    Jim D'Amico:  Fingers crossed. Thank you, Max.


    Max Armbruster: That was Jim D'Amico from ATAP, the association of talent acquisition professionals. ATAP is accessible on And, Jim reminds us of that whether recruiting is a stop along the way, the end of a career, or the beginning of a career, there's a lot for people to gain in that profession that can help them prepare for a career, in sales with C-suites as they're launching their career or as they're looking to make a good income at a later stage in their career.


    Good reminder that we should be grateful to be working in this industry and continuously expanding our skills to be better talent acquisition professionals. Hope you enjoyed it. And if you're up for more, please subscribe to the recruitment hackers podcast and share with friends.

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