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The AI Mirage in Hiring: Are Vendors Innovative Solutions or Industry Snake Oil?

March 6, 2024
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      5 min read
      Max Armbruster
      Max Armbruster
      CEO Talkpush

      The New Economics of College Recruiting

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      Episode 81 full cover

      In this podcast episode, Max sits down with the Founder of College Recruiter, Steven Rothberg, to discuss the evolution of college recruiting and how job boards and other technology-based solutions are making hiring college students and grads easier.


      Watch the entire episode below.

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



      Max: Hello, and welcome back to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. I am your host, Max Armbruster, and today on the show, I'm delighted to welcome someone who is a veteran of the industry. Sorry, Steven, it has to be said. The Founder, Chief Visionary Officer for College Recruiter. We'll give Steven a chance to introduce College Recruiter and what they do, but I'm excited to have a conversation with Steven about what is happening in the world of campus recruitment and university hiring and all of those activities that kind of used to require a travel budget.

      And so what, what happened over the last couple of years, what's gonna come to us in the future, and how do we keep hiring young talent without breaking the bank without it costing what it used to cost, basically. That's what we'll be talking about. So, Steven, welcome to the show.

      Steven: Well, thank you very much, Max. I think the word veteran is code for extreme age. Okay but that's cool. With age comes wisdom, and at some point, I'm hoping to have both, not just the former.


      Max: Age is just surviving, surviving everything that could have happened and all those buses that could have hit you


      Steven: All those I’ve tried have to dodge.


      Max:   So yeah, it's a compliment of course. You’ve been running college recruiters since, your LinkedIn says since November, 1991. Pre-internet so well, how did you end up in that space? Cause I saw from your background that you come from the legal, from being a law clerk and studying law and being a law graduate. Right? So you're a lawyer.


      Steven: Yes. I like to say I'm fully recovered. Family members would definitely disagree and that's fine. I'll Sue them.

      So in 1991, I had graduated from law school and was clerking for a couple of judges. And it's a pretty common thing recent grads from law school do. It's, kind of almost the equivalence of like a residency program for positions. You know, you go, you get that formal education and it kind of gives you like an internship kind of a year, but you're paid for it.


      You're paid pretty decently for it. The work is really interesting but during that year, a friend of mine reached out to me and tried to get me to join his small business, which I had actually started the small business when I was in college, when I was in undergraduate school, he took it over, tried to get me back in and that kind of got my entrepreneurial bug going again. And so in 91, while I was working full time as a law clerk, I got the business that college recruiter grew out of started part-time and what it was for a few years, it was publishing maps of college and university campuses and selling the advertising around the borders to restaurants, retailers, et cetera.


      That then led into publishing employment magazines, where the magazines I gave them away for free to career service offices, they gave them away free to students and grads. And the revenues came from employers paying to advertise their jobs. And then in 96, this thing called the internet came along. And over the next few years, we gradually got rid of all of our print publications. And so since 2000, it has been the job board,


      Max: Right. I'm gonna show my age by telling you that in 2000 I was working for a company called Zip Davis and I was working for a computer shopper magazine. So I was there for the slaying, the final days of computer list, people buying computers on listings and you know every month we would lose advertisers. But I'm sure the CNET networks was able to recuperate some advertising on the other end, but yeah it was a time of just destruction, all over the place. And I guess there must have been one year when you went from 80- 20 to 20-80.


      Steven: Yeah, 1999 was the year that we shut down the maps, which were ridiculously profitable. You know, I think in 98, the maps provided something like 80% of our revenue. Sorry. I think it was 80% of our profit with only 20% of the revenue and about 5% of my time. It was painful to give that up, but the writing was on the wall. It's like, you know, you give this up now and work from a position of strength and cannibalize your own sales.

      Or somebody's gonna do that to you.


      Max: And fortunately, you were young too.


      Steven: Yeah. I was young and, and I mean, my wife and I had a couple of kids at that point. We ended up with three, but, it is a different situation at that point than, you know, when you're still fairly early in your career, you're, you're better able to take on risks. Uh, everything else being equal.


      Max: Yeah. So, college recruiter has been, is it, can I call it a job board? A market?


      Steven: Yeah,


       Max: I know it's not a sexy term, but like a marketplace for young talents?


      Steven: yeah. You know, it's not sexy, but one thing about job boards, is that they work. Yeah. They, really deliver, the good ones, they deliver really great value. They've been around for a long time. Without a doubt, the industry has its haters. The haters, the most vocal ones tend to be those, with skin in the game, the ones that are competing against the job boards for the same budget. And so you see third party recruiters talking about how awful job boards are and how nobody uses job boards and blah, blah, blah.

      It's like, well, okay. If your whole focus is on recruiting C-suite executives, then yeah, job boards are not the place for you, but if you're recruiting a lot of relatively early career talent at scale, there aren't too many more efficient ways of getting that opportunity in front of the candidate. There are loads of ways, including Talkpush of then taking that candidate who has discovered the opportunity, who's discovered your organization and converting them into an applicant or converting that applicant into a hire. There are loads of ways out there that do that better than a job board would. But that initial, “I don't know who I wanna work for”, “I may not even know what kind of position I'm looking for”, I don't just don't think there's anything better out there than job boards for that.


      Max: mm-hmm yeah, I've been a promoter of social media for sourcing at high volume for a long time. And, I think it's effective, if done right. And, you know, depending on the geographies, but if you're in a college town and you're targeting a specific age bracket, I think it can be very effective for jobs that are suitable for a large trench of the population.

      But instead of taking it from the employer's perspective and we take it from the job seeker perspective, then yeah, the benefits of this sort of virtual career fair that you get in a job board is it's unmatched. The only thing that was close to it maybe was Facebook jobs, but they shut down in March that I think that was, that could have been a good, uh, Yeah, maybe another job board killer.

      I know there’s been a lot through the, over the years who have come and gone.


      Steven: yeah, I was a fan of the concept, and I think if they had more focus on it, I think they could have made it into a real success. It'll be interesting to see five years from now when the truth comes out, why it was really killed, what the reality was. I suspect it had to do with privacy laws that they were gathering or needing to gather a whole lot of information about job seekers that just doesn't play well with laws like GDPR.


      Max: Yeah.


      Steven: And, better for them to focus on their core. You know, serving basically display ads than job postings, resume searching. It's different. It's really different.


      Max: It was poorly monetized. Um, it was driving traffic out to sort of clunky and ugly career websites and ATSs. And, it was opening Facebook to a world of pain, which is the regulatory employment laws. So. Yeah, sad to see it go myself. But, anyway, there's plenty of other venues.

      So for people who want to find out more about College Recruiter, they, I suppose, where should they go and read more or find out about your services?


      Steven: Yeah, so they can go to We're very transparent about who we are, what we do, if they wanna reach out to me directly, they can do so on LinkedIn is a good way. with a V uh, Steven Rothberg, or just email me

      Max: And then, there's your podcast, that you co-host with? I forget his name.


      Steven: Yeah, Jeff, Jeff Dickey Chasins, that’s the job board doctor, he and I last September launched a podcast called the job board geek podcast, and it's about the business of connecting candidates and employers. One way of doing that is through job boards. There are loads of other great, technical tools out there too that do the same or similar thing, usually just kind of in a different way and reaching different kinds of candidates, different points of engagement, requires different kinds of tools.


      Max: Would you consider that your number one customer is the employer or the student?


      Steven: So we are, my answer to you is neither. Okay. Neither and both, if that makes sense. So neither in the sense that we don't look at either the employer or the student or the candidate as being the customer, we're in a double-sided marketplace. That means that we have two different customer groups. We have the employer and their intermediaries, advertising agencies, job distribution companies, et cetera, that act on behalf of the employer. And then we have the candidate for us. That's going to be a, somebody who's currently enrolled or graduated within the last three years.

      So shorthand, zero to three years of experience. If we serve one far more than the other, the whole thing crumbles. You have to serve both. You have to balance the interests of both. For example, if we were to say the candidate is all that matters and we need to do what is in the best interest of the candidate, where that would lead us would be to provide the home phone numbers of our employer customers to the candidates. That's not a sustainable business model. I don't think we're gonna have too many employers that are thrilled if we were to do something like that. On the flip side,


      Max: Total transparency is not gonna please the ones who are paying for the service. Yeah.


      Steven: Right. And then they'll stop, and when they stop, then how are you helping anybody? Cuz now there aren't any employers that are using your platform to hire. So then the candidates who are using your platform, then can't get hired that way. So, and then the same is true in reverse, you know, if we were to be completely loyal to the employer and sort of disregard the interests of the candidate, then we start treating candidates like inventory.

      And again, we start providing the employers with a bunch of information that maybe we know or find out about the candidates that the candidates don't want us to be providing. You know, why did your boss really hire you last week? You know, that's something that should be between the candidate and the prospective employer.

      That's not something that an intermediary like a job board should be revealing. Now, again, it's different if it's an executive recruiter, because the executive recruiter is then acting on behalf of typically the employer. Not always, but typically, and they're essentially the agent, but we're not the agent of the employer. We're not the agent of the candidate. We have to balance both interests.


      Max: Yeah. Yeah. Well that makes sense. So let's talk about the interests the students, the college students. Yeah. how did the college students fare from 2020 to 2022 on, on the plus side?

      We still have very low unemployment, so there's high demand, plenty of jobs available, checks coming in the mail, getting a lot of bad press for what it's doing to the hunger and drive of the new generation. But, so overall it seems like they're doing all right, you know, but of course we know mental health issues, blah, blah, blah.

      You know, all of the hardship that comes with the pandemic and being locked at home, not being able to socialize. Let's put all of that aside. Just focus on the college stuff yeah. On the hiring, on the hiring problem. How did college students get hired in the last couple of years?

      Did they switch entirely to video and zoom calls and was that the primary channel for college hiring?


      Steven: Yeah. So just for a little bit of context, you know, COVID really hit hard, the us, you know, March of 2020. By March in any year, the vast majority of the hiring of students in recent grads is complete.

      By basically February, the very, very beginning of March, employers, just aren't on campus interviewing. They're not reaching out to students as part of their college recruiting programs, which are increasingly being called things like early talent, or early careers or something along those lines. Employers are kind of broadening it. We can get into that later if you wish. But so. The graduating class or those who were looking for internships that first year of COVID were not greatly impacted in terms of finding jobs, applying to them, getting hired. Fortunately, that first summer, the summer of 2020, most large employers did a really fantastic job of transitioning their workforce from being in-person in offices, to being fully remote, working at home. And so, although the students who were interning or those who were new grads lost that in-person experience, along with it mentorships. You know, good management, et cetera, only a small percentage of them lost out on their jobs.


      Most employers did not rescind their offers, but the programs were definitely highly adapted. We saw a lot of things like employers taking a 12-week internship program and making it four, rather than in person, it was virtual and they would do a lot of zoom-based training, and they would create projects.

      So that rather than that student working side by side with her manager instead, she would get a project and kind of report back to me in four hours or 12 hours or 20 hours, or, you know, however long that project might take. Okay. Most students, a large percentage of students worked for large employers and it was the large employers that had the resources and the know-how to do that adaptation, small employers were the ones that really didn't. So, the students that kind of got their offers rescinded or showed up and the door was locked, I literally heard that one time, they tended to work for small employers, loads of exceptions though. The next year's graduating class and the students who were looking for internships in the summer of 2021, by then vaccines were already coming out. And you had a lot of employers who were starting to hire back really quickly. It's kind of hard to remember. It was only a little over a year ago, but it was like, wow, vaccines are coming out. Life is returning to normal; people are starting to travel again. Isn't this great.


      We made it through and then Delta hit, but Delta didn't really hit until July, August, you know, in most areas of the country. So again, it was kind of fortuitous a difference of a few months would've made a big difference. But the students by and large, already were interning, most of it was remote. The new grads were already working, most of it was still remote, but you were starting to see some hybrid. So, it didn't have as much of an impact on the labor market as it would have if the change had come in, say September, October, when, when the bulk of on-campus hiring's done. Um, and by this year, things were pretty much back to, I guess back to the new normal, if that makes sense.


      Yeah. So one of the big differences between say 2019 and 2022 is that we've all learned how awful on-campus career fairs are. Any employer that still thinks that that's a great way to hire is an employer that probably has a brain injury. It is excruciating for the employer and for the student, the only real reason that they exist is because they always have existed. And because the career service offices use them as a primary way of generating revenue. So career service offices will say to employers, quite literally, if you want access to, “my students”, they own them. Yeah. Then you have to spend a thousand dollars and come out to our career fair, even though it's gonna be a complete waste of your time.


      Max: I remember


      Steven: That's ridiculous.


      Max: I remember being asked for money to advertise on campus, but it's yeah. I mean, the argument is just to weed out the employees who are not serious. Yeah.


      Steven: Yeah. And those without money to give to the career services, but who might have great job opportunities for the students. Right. At the end of the day, the career service offices are there to serve the students. Not To use that relationship in order to balance their budget, they should be getting their budget from student services or somewhere else in the university. I mean, not from employers, you, you wouldn't, you wouldn't go to an employer and say, Hey, if you wanna park in our parking lot, you gotta pay a thousand dollars. And if you don't pay a thousand dollars, you're not gonna recruit students. You know, the parking lot has to be paid for, but they're gonna pay a nominal fee to park there they're gonna pay 10 bucks or whatever that money out of

      Max: That's a conflict of interest 


      Steven: Yeah. it really is. It does a massive disservice to the students. So what a lot of schools did during the height of COVID was that they shifted that whole business model online. If you thought in-person career fairs were bad. Wait till you see virtual career fairs. And some organizations did them well, but most didn't.  Most of the virtual career fairs, and again, there were definitely some that I looked at and I said, Hey, this is done well, but most of them were basically glorified zoom calls with 60 people in a waiting room.


      And so you want your 30-second chance to talk to that employer. You're gonna, you were sitting there and you were waiting often for an hour or two to have a 30-second conversation. And then the employer would say, well, for this reason, or that reason, we're not interested and moving on or thank you very much, go to our website and apply online. And the student is sitting there, like, why did I just spend an hour here? I could have just gone to their website and applied.


      Max: So with, or without the pandemic and the fact that people, it was harder to meet in person, harder to travel and so on, would you agree with the statement that campus hiring is a very imperfect way of connecting employers and students and kind of keeping, you know, actually closing off a number of opportunities for students who are at a stage when they should be opening their mind to all kinds of possibility. Perhaps, it could be argued that it has a detrimental effect because they end up thinking that you know, the workplace is represented by these, know, 10 employers that is Accenture and, BCG and, a couple of other, you know, management, you know, PWC and that's it. That's, that's my landscape.

      I imagine that most students have more imagination than this, but still, it should be enabled rather than limited by these physical barriers. So, care to comment on this?


      Steven: No, I totally agree until campus recruiting in 2019. So before COVID.

      Basically looked the same as it did in 1952, you had mostly large employers flying recruiters and hiring managers around the country, staying in nice hotels going on campus, and interviewing wining and dining professors. And. Not so coincidentally very often arriving on campus right in time for the homecoming game and getting tickets on the 50-yard line. So there was a lot of I don't know, feather betting or quasi-graft, kind of going on in that world where those who were in charge of the budgets often greatly favored the school that they went to or a school that had a really fun party kind of an atmosphere that they could take advantage of when they went there.


      Then often, the employers would often make excuses about not being inclusive. So there are about 7,400 post-secondary schools in the U.S. There are about 3000 4-year colleges, universities in the U.S. And basically, other than the U.S army, no employer goes to all of them. Right. So how do they pick and choose? Well, they, you know, it comes down to budgets and need and you're gonna favor a school that's close to you rather than a school that's far away from you that all on the surface makes sense. The problem with all of that is that it's anything but inclusive. So, you know, one of the other things that happened in 2020 was the murder of George Floyd.


      And all of a sudden, all of us were really forced to come to grips with what are we doing to improve diversity, equity, inclusion. And saying to students that the only way that you're gonna be hired here is if you happen to go to one of these 12 schools is not inclusive and because it's not inclusive, it's also not equitable. And it's, you're also not enhancing your diversity and employers started to understand, some already had. But I think a much larger percentage really grasped it, that the more diverse their workforce was, the more productive their workforce was. So I think for the first time, employers really, really started to invest in DEI, not just for compliance purposes, but to enhance their productivity.


      And that meant they had to go to a lot more schools. So in one sense, having to use virtual career events and zoom and other tools like that, job boards to advertise your roles in one sense, felt like a step back for employers because they got, they lost out on the fun football games and they lost out on staying in, you know, a nice suite at a Marriot hotel in their favorite city, and going drinking with their friends on the weekend when they got to stay over and they lost out on all the miles that they would use to take their families to Europe during the summer. And there was a lot of that. 


      Max: Doesn't sound too bad, you're right. 


      Steven: Yeah. But on the other hand, they no longer had to literally plan 14 months ahead. For how many people are we gonna hire into what kinds of roles and where are they gonna be located throughout our organization? Now hiring manager calls up and says, Hey, we just landed a new contract. I need 20 electrical engineers, and I need them in three months. Right now you can do that. You can't do that when you're doing on-campus recruiting because it just takes too long. So employers very quickly were forced to, and then saw the value in shifting their resources from flying a bunch of people around the country to doing it what a lot of them call virtually. Which is just, you know, using this thing that basically was invented in the mid-nineties, that's the internet. So the ROI on recruiting somebody online is way better. The studies are showing that the productivity's actually higher than recruiting people on campus and the cost of hiring somebody is way lower.


      This isn't about college recruiter. This is probably the same with just about any sourcing tool. But when we talk to our customers, their cost per hire are usually measured in the hundreds of dollars, right. NACE, which is the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the association for basically campus recruitment just before COVID. They said that the average cost of recruiting a student through on-campus recruiting was $4,600. It's like $4,600. It's like, but we only spent $200 at a career fair. It's the travel. It's the staff time. When you start flying a team of recruiters around the country. And they can go to a campus maybe once a day, probably every other day, cuz of travel time, and they meet with couple, a dozen students and maybe they hire one of them maybe they don't, it's frightfully expensive and it's not at all diverse. And so I think that one of the few positive things that have come out of COVID. is that employers of students have started to take a better picture. They're looking better at their ROI, not just their cost of hire, but also the productivity.


      Max: I love the positive spin on the last two years. And I do think it is a more inclusive world, in that sense that you, you no longer are bound by geographical, material boundaries on how you're gonna pick your talent. And that's an enormous boom for mankind because it means we're gonna make better hires. Productivity's gonna go up it's good across the board. But in a more literal and direct sense; was it good for business for you? Like do you, did the travel budgets that got canceled, did they convert into ad spend on college


      Steven: Yeah. Our revenues have been up 30 to 50% a year, year over year, the last few years.


      Max: Nice.


      Steven: And we're growing and we're doing it profitably. Our headcount has basically doubled in the last six months. 


      Max: Cool. 


      Steven: And it was very overdue. We basically had to make sure that this was real before we started hiring a bunch of people and then we didn't wanna start, like laying them off three months after we hired them, but it was overdue. We put way too much stress on our staff by not hiring quickly enough. And we still have a couple of open roles. So, you know, max, if you're looking 


      Max: Quite inspiring, 20 you're 20 years, how many years? It's 25 years into this business. 30 years?


      Steven: Yeah.


      Max: Yeah. Yeah. And then you have this two years with 25, 30% year over year growth. So, it is never too late to have a record year.


      Steven: Yeah. And, you know, like, I think a lot of businesses in our space where it's primarily technology-based, you sort of, it's not the same business it was three years ago. So we made a huge shift towards pay for performance, like pay per click and programmatic before COVID. We started to really shift in like 2014, 2015, 2016. So it's not like we saw a pandemic coming. It's like, oh, well we better do programmatic and pay per click because there's gonna be COVID. No, it was, we were fortunate. We had the right products in place. Our entire platform has really evolved since the mid-2000s, since like 2015-ish to be really good at high volume hiring. Employers that are hiring dozens, hundreds, sometimes even thousands. That's basically what college and university hiring is. The vast majority of students and recent grads go to work for large employers, that's the way they hired


      Max: When I was coming out of college, my master's degree, and it was in 2000. So you know, it was not a great year to be looking for work. So I spent a lot of time on and I, you know, I'd applied to like 10 to 20 jobs a day like steady for a month. Is that quite characteristic? I mean, in terms of the volume of jobs that the average student would apply to, do you have a way of quantifying that?


      Steven: Fortunately, they're smarter than you were.

      So what students are counseled to do now is to do a lot more research upfront about the kinds of jobs that they're looking for, really much better understand what kind of a job am I looking for? What kind of organization offers that? And then to really zero in and apply to five to 10 jobs. And when you apply to a far smaller number of jobs, you're able to do a much better job up front, making sure that they're the right jobs to apply to. And that, you know, there are still loads of job seekers out there who will apply to any job that moves and, and employers complain about them all the time.


      And I think for good reason, you know, if somebody applies to hundreds of jobs, the likelihood of you hiring that person is really low. The likelihood of that person really not having any kind of qualifications for your job is pretty low, but that's also where technology can play a role. So yeah. You know, any employer that says, oh, well, you know, I have to sift through hundreds of resumes in order to find a good one, that's an employer that's investing too much in manpower and not enough in technology because technology should be preventing those people from applying to begin with to dissuade them, to basically say, Hey, you know what? No, you're not well suited for this role. Maybe there's another role over here, or we just can't hire you at all.


      You have to be a U.S citizen to work for us because we require a security clearance and you are a citizen of, you know, God forbid Canada, or you know, where I grew up. You know, you definitely don't want to hire Canadians, can't trust any of them. They all smell like maple syrup. Yeah.


      Max: Well, yeah, I mean, I, I think you're on the side of the market where the marketplace could become intelligent and advise your students to apply to a different, better-suited job. I'm on the receiving end. My company, we process applications coming in from all kinds of places. And then we can go on and ask some qualifying questions to the candidates. Are you sure this is right? Are you sure you've got U.S citizens so you can do it on both. Can you tell us about some of the employers that are inspiring you in 2022 that really have nailed it when it comes to hiring students this year, that have done something nice because it's really hard to do a, virtual career fair, it's very hard to do a good candidate experience when you're doing high volume. So maybe you've got, a case study for us to think about?


      Steven: Yeah. So, you know the shiny examples year after year after year, and it really COVID didn't change this would be, you were talking earlier about someone like the big management consulting firms, you know, the Deloittes, the PWCs, the Ernst & Youngs all over the world. So they have a ton of money, they hire 10,000 plus students in recent grads a year. They're very, very sophisticated about what they do. One of the things that those organizations do along with lots of others that a few years ago, hardly any were doing it at all is pre-application assessments. And you know, when I was a recent grad, if somebody had said assessments to me, they were probably talking about some BS thing, like Myers's briggs, or if you could be a tree, what kind of tree would you be?


      And somehow that was supposed to show them that I was gonna be a productive employee. And now there are loads of assessments out there off the shelf or companies as little as ours we built our own because we couldn't find one to assess developers, if they had the right skill set, if they had the right experience with the tech stack that we use, it's not that hard and not that expensive any more to have every candidate go through this assessment


      Max: There's a lot of solutions online, so much stuff. So if you don't have you know, budget to spend tens of thousands of dollars or more on assessments, you can go and build your own these days. Right. You don't need to be an engineer.


      Steven: Yeah, exactly. And, and so I'm seeing more and more and more employers doing that. Now, partly what excites me about that is from the employer's perspective, It does a really nice job of greatly reducing, not eliminating, but greatly reducing the number of unqualified applications, which means then that they can spend more time on the qualified applicants, which means they're gonna hire more of them. That's best. That's good for everybody. It's also good for the candidate because wouldn't, you rather know 30 seconds into a process that this is not a job that you're ever gonna get than 30 days and five interviews later?


      Max: It weeds out candidates like me in 2000, then I wouldn't have had time to do 20 assessments a day, half an hour assessment each. I mean, it would've been.


      Steven: you probably would've modified your behavior. You would've applied to fewer jobs. Yes. And that also would've then led you to do probably better research to which jobs to apply to. 


      Max: Yeah, my life would've been better. I would've had a way better life than the one I had. 


      Steven: Yeah. It's, you are a cliche that people talk about is hunting with a rifle instead of a shotgun, you know, you know, you're, you're going and it just tends to lead to better results. The other thing that I think it does, that I know it does is that it helps to diversify your workforce because under the old system where a recruiter would look at your resume and they would see, it's like, oh, Max went to X, Y, Z school and that's a really impressive school. So I want to interview him, you know, and Cindy went to some school I've never heard of, so she can't possibly be well qualified, so we're not gonna interview her. Now it's based upon your actual skills. Yeah. Maybe you did go to an elite school, but you probably spent all your time playing Frisbee. Where Cindy went to a third-rate school, but had three amazing internships. Who would you rather hire? The person with work experience?


      Max: No Frisbee. The Frisbee guy, Frisbee guy. A hundred percent. 


      Steven: Well, yeah. I mean, it depends. I guess it depends. If you're the Frisbee corporation, then yes, you'd rather hire the Frisbee. If it's like a Frisbee golf tournament then, yeah, the Frisbee guy. But, otherwise, you're just going to, you're just gonna end up being like a podcaster and an owner of like a workplace tech company. And that's not a good living. 


      Max: No, no,that's rough. Okay. Well that I agree with a hundred percent that, you know, skill-based, assessment-based hiring is gonna be more meritocratic and more fair and more, I don't know if it necessarily falls into diversity.But it can help certainly. It's more diverse than just hiring at the University of Wisconsin. That's for sure.


      Steven: Right. And as a graduate of the University of Minnesota, I can definitely say that you do not want to hire people from the University of Wisconsin. Actually, my wife, who's our CEO, went there and despite that,t I love her. 


      Max: Okay. Okay. Give faith my regards. I wanted to, uh, end on the question I ask all my guests which is - we all make hiring, and with that, we all make hiring mistakes. Thinking back about your long journey as an entrepreneur and all the people you hired, can you walk me back through one particular hire you made, where you missed the mark and did the service to yourself, to the hire, to the organization and then without giving names, of course, but just giving us the moral of the story, what can we learn from it?


      Steven: Yeah. I'll just give you their social security number. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. You know, there was a common thread. So, Faith became our CEO in 2008 and so I have not led hiring since then. And, probably about five or so years ago, I really haven't been involved in interviewing or whatever. It's not something I'm good at. That said, in my role, I will talk with candidates before they're hired, if they want to, to sort of get a better picture of the company, but I'm not evaluating them, it's helping them evaluate us. But to answer your question, Max, about sort of people we've hired that have not been a good fit.

      I think a really common thread. Would be two things, two real common threads. One would be, I used to hire people that I felt that I liked and I could trust. And liking somebody and maybe trusting them, that kind of thing leads you to hiring people yoou know, people who are friends of yours, people who are family members of yours, and you're hiring them for the relationship and not what their skillset is, not what their career aspirations are. We've had a couple of people that we hired that way that were, that were great, but they were the exception. Repeatedly, we ended up hiring sort of good people who just were not a good fit for the work and, you know, right person, wrong seat kind of, kind of thing. The other real common thread that we found is that, and this is a little bit unusual for us.

      We've been fully remote since 1997. So before it was cool before it was often legally required, we were fully remote. There's a huge difference between hiring somebody who's gonna work shoulder to shoulder with their manager versus hiring somebody who's gonna work halfway across the country or even halfway across the world. So we've gotten really good at hiring people who are gonna be working remotely. And we've tried to share a lot of that knowledge on the college recruiter’s YouTube channel. But basically, you've gotta manage that the burden falls on the manager. It's not actually so much on the employee.

      The manager has to be really good at managing by outcomes. Yeah. So if we've got a manager of that department, who's really good at managing by outcomes, it makes hiring a lot easier. If the manager struggles with that, then we have to pay particular attention to the employee's ability to manage up, to communicate with their manager, hey, when do you want this done? What resources am I gonna have? What's the priority of this versus the other 18 things you've already given me? And a lot of people, they can't do that. They just won't or can't manage up. And so that's been an important factor for us.



      Max: Great. Well, I won't add anything to it. We're over time, but I agree with all that Steven said on the managing by outcome, and how important it is and that the onus is on the managers. So thanks a lot, Steven, for joining and for sharing your unique insights into the world of campus hiring, college hiring,  early careers hiring.

      We'll talk about labels next time we get to do a podcast interview together, maybe on yours, if you'll have me.


      Steven: Absolutely. Well, we're gonna get some dates on the calendar. Max has been a pleasure. Thank you so much. 


      Max: Thank you.


      Max: That was Steven Rothberg from College Recruiter. Hope you enjoyed the interview. He really made me think it doesn't always happen overnight. You can be running a business for 30 years as he has and a technology which is 20 years old, which is the job board market, and still have your best year. In fact two of his best years back to back are 2021 and 2022 because the market is shifting and because the old way things are done, they take a while to break down and the old way of hiring on campus where you have to send an army of recruiters and post a stand and pay the university for an entrance fee, well that's on the way out. 

      So, never underestimate the power of technology to change behaviors over time. If you enjoyed this and would like to come for more, please subscribe and please share with friends.




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