Hiring Success

Episode 13 – What the Recruiting Community Is Doing to Overcome Adversity

Roy Baladi and Gerry Crispin talk about the ways in which TA leaders and tech companies are working together to help one another navigate the economic downturn.

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For episode 13 of the Hiring Success Podcast, SmartRecruiters’ head of communications, Roy Baladi, is joined by Gerry Crispin— principal & Co-Founder of CareerXroads.

The discussion is focused on, among other things, a new initiative called Recruiters Recruiting Recruiters, whose mission is “to support our colleagues and peers in Talent Acquisition on both sides of the crossroad where opportunity and talent meet. Recruiters are an awfully big part of a recovery effort and we want you to be part of it. Whether you’re an employer, a vendor, or a jobseeker, you are a crucial part of this effort.”


Episode Transcript

[Theme Music Plays]


Roy Baladi: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Hiring Success podcast. I’m your host for the day, Roy Baladi. I’m the head of communications at SmartRecruiters. And my guest today is Gerry Crispin. Gerry needs no introduction if you’ve been in the talent acquisition space. And I’ll let Gerry say a few words about himself. And the topic of the day is a new initiative called recruiters recruiting recruiters. Gerry over to you.


Gerry Crispin: Yeah, I’m, I’m really excited by this. And, um, you know, I’ve, I’ve been a lifelong student of recruiting for a lifetime. That’s why I get to say that I, this last year, so one year ago about this time, I graduated from college 50 years ago. So that’s a, it’s a long time. And to be honest with you, I have been in recruiting almost the entire 50 years one way or the other one studying at the graduate level. Um, and then a series of, uh, companies that I’ve really loved being with. But I’ve always been, I’m really passionate about recruiting as a profession. And, um, you know, I, I am very fortunate in being able to do the things that I love to do. And, and mainly I nurture a community of TA leaders, uh, in very large companies that collectively probably hire about 3 million people a year.


Roy Baladi: Yeah. When I look at the, uh, the people that you talk to and then the insights that you get on a daily, weekly basis and on the insight that you’re able to generate from global head of TA to global head of TA, uh, it’s really inspiring. And I don’t know, I can’t think of anybody who has this vantage point like you do.

Gerry Crispin: I think part of it is simply that, you know, we, we all have choices as we mature, uh, to surround ourselves with people who are brighter, smarter, uh, but, but also caring. And the more, the older I’ve gotten, the more I realized that, uh, the brightest folks of the world also need to be willing to share. Otherwise, we don’t derive much insights from that. So, so I’ve always been looking for, uh, recruiting leaders at various stages in their careers who have a passion, not for their own ego, but for just sharing the joy of what they’re doing. And I think that’s, uh, that’s really the difference and for me to keep it sustains me. So it’s why I still haven’t retired.

Roy Baladi: Now we are in an unprecedented time. What I want to dive into most here is this current climate. How do you perceive it?


Gerry Crispin: Well, taking it piece by piece, um, I think that the current situation conceivably is really out of anybody’s experience be, you know, unless you, unless you can reg remember and, um, participated in some way, shape and form in the depression. Um, now that might not be totally true if, if, uh, uh, everything turns out really well. We, we, we get everything going quickly and, uh, by the middle of the summer, it’s a, it’s beyond the, you know, behind us. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. I do think that this experience literally will change, uh, the point of view of an entire generation or two.

Those who came, who experienced the, the, um, the depression came out through world war two, but they also had an extraordinary impact on all of their progeny as well. And I’m, I’m pretty convinced that, uh, the young people experiencing this are already changing the way in which they weight, how they’ll make choices in jobs, careers in life from this point on. And I think that we haven’t begun to think how deeply that will impact how we have to change our employer brand, our organizational structures, our, um, our approach and style of leadership. Um, literally everything will, will shift and perhaps even our businesses will, will be impacted in, in what we do, uh, differently than what we did before.


Roy Baladi:What does the situation look like from your vantage point today? What are heads of talent acquisition telling you? What is going on right now?

Gerry Crispin: I think you have, um, um, a hugely diverse set of companies out there. There’s millions of them obviously, and uh, especially small and medium sized companies are probably experiencing the most pain. They may or may not be, uh, keeping their HR and/o recruiters, depending upon their size and, and the importance of what they’re doing, whether they’re essential workers o not, but, but they’re, but I think they, they are exhibiting the highest level of stress because they have the least resource internally and externally to draw on. So, you know, it’s a lot easier if you’ve been around a while and you’re in a large company and you’ve got others who are peers and colleagues that you can work with. But, um, I belong to the New Jersey state council of SHRM, which is meeting now every, almost every week. Um, and many of the members, maybe 25 to 30 members, uh, are small and medium size HR professionals. And you can just see the pain that they’re going through. And some of them, a small number right now, uh, have been furloughed or laid off. So there’s, there’s that piece of it. Okay. And then there’s, then there are organizations that are furloughing numbers beyond anything they could possibly imagine. And doing it in a short period of time, like, um, like Hilton, you know, laying off a hundred thousand workers on a global basis that you know, that beyond a little bit of pain that requires a level of commitment and leadership and focus if you’re going to survive it. And, and those leaders are doing that, they’re clear because one of the, one of the inspirations really was, um, Sarah at Hilton who, who was so adamant about the fact that if she’s furloughing a hundred thousand workers and she wants them back, yes, she’s going to pay attention to how they are treated even though they no longer are working for the company.


Roy Baladi: Does this message make it to the end employee?

Gerry Crispin: I think, I think it does. I think, I think that, you know, she’s reflecting people around her as well as her own value system. And I suspect that that tone, that humility of, you know, I care about, you know, what’s going on with you and I’m going to do things that I, you know, we have not done and I will step up to make shit happen. Um, I believe that comes across. I see that in the conversations that I’ve had with Jeff Lackey at CVS, with Marie Arden at, uh, eEnterprise. Um, as far as I’m concerned, these are my heroes. They, yeah. They have an opportunity to step up.

Roy Baladi: What does it look like when you step up?

Gerry Crispin: Well, you, you start, you start offering suggestions that your, um, peers and bosses and subordinates may not have heard. You start listening yeah. At every level. Um, and not only adopting quickly, uh, ideas that have merit in your eyes, but you’re crediting people, uh, whoever they are, uh, for those things. And, and keep in mind that, that many of the decisions that were made were made in, in hours and days, not weeks and months. So, so we’re, we’re talking about the impact on people’s lives that have to be, you know, you’re, you’re making decisions so quickly because you believe that the risk of waiting is a problem. The risk of, uh, of doing something that looks a little bit less risky now, um, uh, is, is overcome with the opportunity for, for, um, reward for engaging those folks, for making sure that they can move more quickly. Um, when I, when I look at what Jeff did to, um, eliminate many of the barriers of someone moving from one company to another, so that, so that they could actually walk across the, the corporate road, if you will, uh, from one partner into, uh, his effort to surge higher for 50,000.

Roy Baladi: And who’s Jeff?

Gerry Crispin: Jeff Lackey at CVS. Okay. But, but Walmart’s been doing that. Um, lots of supermarkets have been doing that. There’s some extraordinary work that we’re going to hear. Actually, we’re going to hear tonight from, um, David Crawford at, um, New York Presbyterian, who’s been in New York City and at the center of all of those issues. Imagine in New York, he, he had a plane load of nurses and doctors, uh, fly in from Utah, from Intermountain hospital just to go to work in his place. A hundred plus people. He had a hundred, um, army doctors working in New York Presbyterian. Think about the backstory of how that gets hired. Think about, think about needing laundry people in a hospital system that’s loaded with hundreds and hundreds of people who have Covid and, and laundry becomes really, really important. And, and what that means in terms of those people who choose to go do that and the pressures that are under. So there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of people stepping up going, this is the risk. This is the reality. These are the, uh, this is the authenticity, if you will, of a truly transparent, um, uh, hiring system, uh, and our work and, you know, work environment where people really get to choose those kinds of things. And to me, that’s, that’s the extraordinary environment that we’re in. And, uh, to some degree, uh, there’s an awful lot of people out there that are experiencing pieces of this and all we can do is say, look, what can we do to help? You know, I’m not there. I’m not certainly working in a hospital. Yeah. I’m not working in some of the large companies impacting that.

But I think that we all owe ourselves to ask is there something that we can do with the contacts, the knowledge, the experience that we have. And I think out of that comes a whole bunch of indifferent inspirations and I think ours is just one of those. But I’m pleased that we can do it, you know.

Roy Baladi: So I’ve known you for almost a decade. Yup. And, uh, our last conversation, I actually like the last super meaningful one was when you invited me to join a consortium that you’ve been putting together of heads of talent acquisition, people that you were just mentioning were on this call and global brands. Exactly. And, uh, HR tech vendors all across from SmartRecruiters to iCIMs.

Gerry Crispin: That was four or five weeks ago at most.

Roy Baladi: Yeah. Less than that. Less than that.

Gerry Crispin: And, and the, the intent that Chris and I had, and again, it was inspired by the fact that we knew that hundreds of thousands of our members, employees were being about to be let off.


Roy Baladi: To bring a bit more context. Chris: we’re talking about Chris , Chris Hoyt. Our: we’re talking about career crossroads. And that’s, that’s a, um, an organization created by Chris and Gerry. Right.

Gerry Crispin: It’s run by Chris and Gerry actually, Chris, Chris gets to do most of it. I’m one of those folks that I like to just be able to do the things I like to do, but yeah, but Chris is doing a, uh, you know, incredible job with it. I founded the company 25 years ago this year with, um, um, a guy named Mark Mehler who retired about five or six years ago. And Chris became my partner about five or six years ago. And we have about 140 companies, all of them relatively large, whose commitment is to one another. So the platform is a community platform. And I interview them around the issue of whether or not they’re willing to share, um, and, and whether they’re capable of caring for one another is success as much as their own.


Roy Baladi: I like that these are the interview criteria.

Gerry Crispin: That is my interview criteria. I want to know that they, they have some critical thinking skills. Um, I want to know that they’re in, you know, that they have a, a breadth in terms of TA, uh, that challenges. And I don’t care what their title is. I’m interested in the leaders of the company and, uh, or TA leaders and their teams, um, as far down as they can, you know, represent the company. So it’s fun. So that’s my, that’s my, you know, community that I’ve aspired to build for almost 20 years now. Yes. And there are a lot of extraordinary people, um, in that community, a couple thousand really. And, um, and they were saying, here’s, here’s the pain that we’re about to go through. And what, what occurred to me is they were helping each other, but that’s, that is so, um, inefficient in some ways, right?Especially if you don’t have the resources cause you’re, you’re, you’re spending huge amounts of time with building partnerships even though it is direct to direct. So that’s great. Some thinking and Chris was thinking, what if technology was able to enable a better communication between those being furloughed and those who need to hire.

Roy Baladi: Before we go further into that, because that is a solution. I think one of the instances that you are mentioning was the partnership between CVS and Hilton, right?

Gerry Crispin: Yes, yes. That was already beginning to happen.

Roy Baladi: Tell me about, tell us about that and what’s good about it, what is inefficient about it and what are you doing today in order to scale that so that you can have a meaningful impact on?

Gerry Crispin: Yeah. Well, I’m not, so I’m not doing anything.

Roy Baladi: You’re bringing people together.

Gerry Crispin: We have, we actually had, um, Hilton, uh, gave a case study today to 50 of our members on how that occurred and so did CVS. So my objective in life is that people should be able to share if they’re doing good work and if they’re not and are open to it, they should be able to share, these are the landmines I stepped on. This is not what’s not working. Yes. So in, in the case of Hilton, they, um, they started building partnerships, um, with supermarkets and other folks including CVS.

Roy Baladi: Hilton, the hotel company?

Gerry Crispin: The hotel company— that would help their furloughed workers find work. But doing it kind of directly what CVS was able to do that made them become, uh, as described today, one of the prime partners for Hilton was CVS. Jeff was able to work with his lawyers and his, his senior, um, business leaders, et cetera, to reduce the amount of bureaucracy, if you will, that involves somebody being hired. If you’re hiring somebody out of nowhere, you think of background checks, drug checks, any number of different kinds of things, the number of people that you have to talk to, the number of people that get, you know, you know, all this stuff, right. In this case, what we’re saying is Hilton has good people that have been hired, uh, screened, selected, background check, drug check, you know, all of those things and trained and they have a customer reputation for their, the skills that they have. So they just started walking people who want to do this right over to CVS if they wanted to do it. And to do that, they both built, um, pages on their website that allowed for more information and more content to be translated with permission from Hilton to CVS and back, et cetera. And meanwhile, you know, there’s a, there’s a, there’s a common, um, agreement between the two companies that I want these people back and the other, the other side is going while I’m doing search hiring. I don’t, I don’t expect I can keep all of these people anyway and I’m happy to walk them back and maybe a couple of them want to stay.
But the point is we’re good with all of that. We’re happy to work that out. And so that was happening. Now here’s the point. Hilton can’t have all of their workers move over to CVS cause that’s, that’s the like a one partner deal that ain’t going to happen. So they have dozens and dozens of partners. Okay. All hopefully all of them taking some and at the same time they’re not going to, CVS is not going to fill all of their mean opinions. I mean their jobs with one company. And so they have 50, 70 different partners and that takes a lot of resources. Not everybody has the resources to set all these things up. So a lot of conversations, a lot of website pages, a lot of stuff that has to get done quickly and immediately. And, and from a technology point of view, I will bet you that of the 50 different partners that let’s say Hilton has 40 of them have a different ATS CRM, um, um, enterprise wide, whatever.
And fundamentally the, the way in which they’re talking to each other, each requires lots of extra effort. And so, so basically we said, what if, what if we could bring some technology folks together and have a conversation? But the main part of the conversation is having the of the, uh, members who are most concerned about this issue. Talk about what good looks like, what, what..

Roy Baladi: Before we go any further, I just wanted to bring an interlude to one of the comments that you made earlier that these… some of these people are your heroes. They’re your heroes. And so what are they doing at that top level to protect that a hundred thousand employees that have to be furloughed in a matter of days, not in a matter of months. This is a very concrete example of what Hilton is doing, what CVS is doing in order to support others.

Gerry Crispin: And others, many others.


Roy Baladi: No, no, this is for anyone who’s listening who may be listening.

Gerry Crispin: For anyone listening, you got to take risks in your job to step up and say, I care about the people that we’re going to lose or about our ability to hire in the time frame you asked for. Without the resources to be able to get it done and done well and to treat people in a way that respects them as individuals. Because if we want them back, we need to stay in touch with them. I want to be able to repurpose my recruiters to be able to communicate with people that aren’t working for us. We need new resources. These are new ideas. This is innovative stuff. And I need, I need you, let’s say the C level to trust that I can go do this and I’ll stake my reputation on, I’ll stake my job on it. That’s the kind of attitude that says, I’m committed to this mission that you’ve described. Let’s say you’re the CEO who said, you know, we care about doing this well. We want to protect our employees as much as possible. And, and we had, I mean, we have people who are involved in our conversation who won’t have to furlough workers for two, three, four months. Who were that concerned about what happens at the end of this. So, yeah. So, so to me, the kind of TA leaders that’s, that, um, stand up to their bosses and say, this is what you’ve articulated about our company and our values. I want to walk that talk. And, and that means we get to do these things and that takes, that takes, um, a little bit of guts in my opinion. And that’s why they become, you know, leaders in my, my, my sense that goes well beyond, uh, what’s expected usually.


Roy Baladi: So now taking this back to the point you were getting at. So you brought all these technologies together and all these leaders together and you know..

Gerry Crispin: I didn’t expect that much. Uh, the conversation was a good one. It was clear as to what a solution would be. There would be an advantage if all of technologies could have said, yeah, we’ll, we will, we’ll all agree on a common database for all of our clients across all these different technologies. What each technology was doing though was not bad. It was that we, we’ve been thinking about this. We have ideas that we are almost ready to, you know, announce, um, that take care of all or part of it. Some folks were focused on hospitality, others were focused on all of this stuff. And so there’s, there’s some great models that have come out in the last four or five weeks. Um, and, and basically we’ve made a directory of about 25 or 30 of them writing them up, providing, um, links to, you know, Accenture and Canadite.ID and Intello and Phenom and GreatPeople and…and iCIMS and lots of different places. Yeah. I think they, it represents the technology, um, sector of HR and TA caring about their client base and working hard to try and build that. And you know, SmartRecruiters is among them. But, but the problem with that is that now each employer that has the challenge of surge hiring and, or furloughing has to decide on what combination of technology they’re going to use as partners in this, just like they have to decide on their tech stack. And it’s a combination of a lot of different things. So it is what it is. But the, to me, the exciting thing is that several of the technology companies, yourself included, um, basically said we’re willing to work together and we’ll drop our egos a little bit and drop our competitive juices a little bit to help each other and learn from each other how we could do maybe a different kind of piece to that, a different kind of platform that might help one part of this. And so we settled on recruiters because that’s what we do. Yeah, we know it best. And so how can we create a platform that would be really good for recruiters to be able to help each other? And in doing that, um, again, um, the large company, the TA leaders that I said, I, you know, I’m very, uh, I admire enormously. They’re the ones, I mean, I’ve always been a passionate, crazy person about candidate experience, but they’re the ones that articulated pretty much: I don’t want an just another platform I want, I don’t care how many jobs it’s got. I want it to treat my recruiters who I have to furlough if I have to furlough them properly. And, and there was a good deal of discussion over what that means. And we know we had to simplify it. And there’s a lot of issues around that from a candidate experience. So we settled on three things. One is that the candidates that touch you, either because they’re applying to jobs through our platform or they’re being contacted by recruiters from a platform, there’s a need to set expectations about what comes next. Yeah, there’s an expectation. There’s a, there’s a need to deliver on the expectations that you do set and no black hole, no black hole, no black hole. So, so that’s, that was, uh, agreed upon turn into the code. We would have a code of conduct that would have those three things embedded in it. And then the issue is, okay, how do we know? Well, we asked the candidates who have you, uh, who’s touched you, who have you touched and did these three things happen? And so we figured out a way to accomplish that. And then we said, okay, well what do we, what does that mean? And you know, from a net promoter score, we can, we can array a…if you will, a graph for each company that allows us to see whether or not that’s being done. And if it’s not being done, then you know what I expect it will be a small number if it’s, if it’s not, that’s a different issue. I’m expecting it’s going to be a small number. And if it’s a small number, I can call them. We can, we can find out if that’s a problem and we can say, you can do better than that. Do you agree to do better than that? And if not, um, or if it’s repetitive, then we can, we can say, Hey, you know, you need to try and do solve your problems a different way. And that’s kind of where we’re at. We were in a, we’re in a position where we’ve got 250 pre-eapproved companies…and it’s recruiters, recruiting recruiters.
And I say that slowly because if I tried to say it fast, I wouldn’t get it right.

Roy Baladi: It’s recruiters recruiting recruiters.

Gerry Crispin: Yeah, dot com and so people can go there and here’s what I hope happens, right? I hope that from the employer point of view, they can say, Oh, I got jobs and I’m not one of the pre-approved companies. And it’ll say, okay, well fill this little form out and you’ll be approved if you agree to the code of conduct. And I’ll get a note that says they’ve agreed to the code of conduct. Cool, then you’re approved. And then then, um, what we’ll know is to scrape their website and filter the recruiting jobs, uh, twice a day. And that way it’ll be current. And recruiters who are looking for jobs could apply. So that’s one side. It could also be that they’re recruiters, so the companies who are approved, their recruiters might want to go into the website and be able to search for recruiters who have left a profile and said, Hey, you know, recruit me. And so that can happen. And from a candidate point of view, the candidates who are recruiters can, if they choose, have a profile that’s robust enough so that somebody could check into that. And say, Hey, I’d like to know more about your interest on this particular job that we have. Um, or they could look for jobs as they would in a job board and apply. And when they do, they’re going basically directly back to the company. So they’re, it’s not like we’re trying to capture all the data because, God blessed, we put this thing together very quickly. Um, and so, so that’s essentially what needs to happen. Um, at some point the recruiters who are candidates will be asked, so who did you apply to, who talked to you? And we’ll get some information about how, what, how well they were treated. We will also hopefully be able to provide both the recruiters doing the recruiting and the recruiters looking for jobs with a little bit of a forum where from a community point of view, which is very important to me. Yeah. They’re able to talk to one another. And that way they can say, Hey, this is working for me, or this is working fine. I haven’t gotten anything from this. But here’s a couple other places that I saw in the directory and I’ve tried them out and this one’s working really well. I got a couple of good possibilities from that. Um, or whatever, or I didn’t get much from that. A little bit of crowdsourcing about what kinds of things are working for me. My hope is that The recruiters themselves who become candidates and the recruiters who are using the tools, um, will feel that, you know, this is the kind of model that goes a little bit beyond a job board. Because it also, it also focuses a little bit more on how we engage each other as a community. We are part of the same profession. Um, and we should be, and you know, something, if anybody should be treating each other well, it’s ourselves. So yeah, I’m, I am hopeful that it will, um inspire some of the job boards to think a little bit more about the kind of standards, uh, for minimal behavior. If it does that, I will be absolutely thrilled. The best thing that could happen to what we’re doing is that somebody copies us and one ups us and challenges us, um, uh, for doing even more.

Roy Baladi: Gerry, thank you so much. This is, this was fun. This was instructive. This was beyond that because it’s um, coming out of this episode, anybody can come and listen to this and walk away with a destination called recruiters, recruiting recruiters. Thank you, Gerry.

Gerry: You gotcha.

[Background Music Plays]

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Mason Mitchel

Mason Mitchel

Mason Mitchel is the Editor-in-Chief of Hiring Success.