Largely Speaking | Episode Two | Jim Kanichirayil - Engage Rocket

Justin Schmidt
September 4, 2023

Episode 2 Transcript

Justin Schmidt: [00:00:00] Welcome to hired and inspired. A podcast presented by largely. Join us as we explore the metrics, strategies and trends that matter in talent acquisition. Candidate experience and employer branding. I'm your host, Justin Schmidt.

Justin Schmidt: Jim Kanichirayil, welcome to Hired and Inspired

Jim Kanichirayil: Thanks for having me, Justin. be a lot of fun.

Justin Schmidt: Yeah, absolute pleasure. , why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, your history, I know you've. Got an interesting story of sort of being in sales, but also talent and then worked in HR tech as well. Just why don't you give a little bit of the, uh, your backstory and kinda what you're doing these days and we'll get going from there.

Jim Kanichirayil: Sure. So , whenever people ask me this question, I, it's almost instinctual that I have to do my terrible doctor evil [00:01:00] impression. So I'm gonna break it out in this conversation. The details of my life are pretty inconsequential. See, I told you it was terrible.

Justin Schmidt: You need to swing around in a chair and.

Jim Kanichirayil: Yeah, so. It's, it's, it's really interesting, I think the, the career aspect. I think in broad terms, the best way to wrap it up is that I've always been a startup or accelerating growth guy. Uh, I've found it extremely difficult to work in more mature organizations because I have a hard time being like the one trick pony that does like the one thing over and over again.

Jim Kanichirayil: don't feel like I've, I, I make substantial amount of impact that I feel. I'm capable of in those sort of organizations. So I've always been in those startup scale up accelerating growth organizations. Now, the overarching career trajectory, I've always been in sales and I've typically been in the B2B space.

Jim Kanichirayil: spent a ton of [00:02:00] time in the B2B tech space selling into HR or interacting with HR with products or services, and. I actually fell into that space by accident, and this was like 15 years ago or more. Um, but then I started building an arsenal around myself in terms of like credentials and all sorts of stuff that me to have a different type of conversation with my buyers and my influencers what was typical in the sales world.

Jim Kanichirayil: Because the sales world, and I'm a Gen Xer, the sales world at the time that I came up was all about you have to be the person that owns the room. You have to be the person that can circulate and kind of schmooze everybody. And I hate small talk, I hate rudderless engagements where you just kind of show up [00:03:00] and see what happens.

Jim Kanichirayil: It never worked for me, uh, because it's not natural for me. So I was always looking at, okay. How can I have meaningful conversations where I'm getting a deeper understanding of what's important to this person and what do I bring to the table that can potentially help them and give me space at the in the room to the kind of conversations that I want?

Jim Kanichirayil: So, to like stress this out longer than it needs to be. So I pursued a lot of technical knowledge on the theoretical side. So I have an mba, I have a doc. My doctoral research on why people join and leave organizations, and my intent was how can I impact the leaders that I'm engaging with in a way that's gonna help them theoretically them ever having to buy a single thing from me.

Jim Kanichirayil: And that was the mindset that I had pretty early on. And then I worked on developing that into a lot of the things [00:04:00] that I do Now, currently, I'm the VP of Growth for Engage Rocket, which is a people analytics platform. And we're expanding into North America after having some really strong market penetration in, uh, in Asia Pacific.

Jim Kanichirayil: So I'm driving that and, uh, Justin, you know what it's like, uh, launching in a startup. So I'm living that life and uh, it's a lot of fun.

Justin Schmidt: Yeah, it is definitely a unique way of looking at the world when you spend a lot of it in startup land. The, we're talking about this a little bit before we, I hit the record button where you get more done in a day than. I'm gonna pick on a large company here. Coca-Cola gets done in couple months and it's fascinating to me though, because at the end of the day, thing that I've come to learn over the years kind of marketing and HR tech is HR and talent acquisition teams [00:05:00] do kind of have sometimes a little bit of a startup mentality inside a larger organization.

Justin Schmidt: They're often, you know, maybe not the most Portion of the organization, they have all these stakeholders wanting all these different things. They're wearing a lot of hats, right? And it creates a bit of entropy sometimes. But the good kind of entropy where they're trying different things, you know, they're, they're, they're maybe don't have marketing support to build the whatever on the career sites.

Justin Schmidt: They're kind of doing things on their own. Um, and I'm really excited to talk to you today because here on this show, one of our goals is to have conversations that people in talent development and talent acquisition teams can take into their organizations. And like, how can we be five, 10% better? And one thing I love about your story, and you, you've touched on a little bit is, you know, you to the point where you gotta. degree in it is why do people [00:06:00] join and leave organizations? Right. And ultimately that is what talent acquisition like, that's their North Star is getting people to join an acquisition, uh, sorry, getting people to join an organization. And then it's that employee of the rest of the life cycle on retaining and developing and, and all the other things that, that go on after the offer letter is signed.

Justin Schmidt: Right. Um, so. I wanna start this conversation with the same question I ask everybody at the very beginning, we talked about this a little bit in our back and forth before the show, but when you think of the metrics in hiring the metrics that you've like see as being impactful and the levers to pull them, you had mentioned back in your, um, in your staffing days, it was the, uh, submission interview. And then interview to Phil. I'd love if you could double click on those a little bit.[00:07:00]

Jim Kanichirayil: So I want to offer a little bit of context before I answer your question. So for those that are listening to this conversation and are looking at things through the lens of internal talent acquisition, that's not the space that I came from.

Jim Kanichirayil: I came from. The agency space and uh, most recently I was with a s i a top 100 firm and I actually helped build the Milwaukee Metro division of their IT staffing business. So I basically opened that market and took it from zero clients and zero revenue to about an 8 million business before, uh, I went a different direction in, in what I did.

Jim Kanichirayil: So the lens that I speak from, Is from the perspective of agency recruiting, and agency, staffing client, uh, staffing and client interactions. So with that being said, when we look at answering the question [00:08:00] of why is it important that I pay attention to submission to interview and interview to fill, and to put it simply, In the agency space, it's been my experience that the vast majority of agency recruiting firms are still stuck in that it's a numbers game mentality.

Jim Kanichirayil: So what they do is they try to go ahead and broadcast the positions that they have as much as possible to get as much inflow as possible in terms of candidates, and you're just rifling through candidates as much as possible, and then seeing what you can throw over. And pushed through the process. When I built my staffing org or my division, I had a fundamental issue with how that was done.

Jim Kanichirayil: And keep in mind, I'm in IT staffing, or at least my experience is largely in [00:09:00] IT and professional staffing. So this might not be relevant to high volume staffing and recruiting. So all of those caveats are there. I just felt that from a candidate experience perspective, just largely going through the motions as a recruiter to simply get enough volume into conversation and submittals.

Jim Kanichirayil: Was doing a massive disservice to all of these people that are interested in a particular position because they're looking to support their livelihood.

Justin Schmidt: Right.

Jim Kanichirayil: So I would openly say, I really don't care about how many emails you're sending out. I really don't care about how many conversations that you're, having, because I'm more concerned about how many people are you talking to in a meaningful way that will be tightly aligned to what the customer is looking for.

Jim Kanichirayil: And when you submit them, you're gonna get an interview because [00:10:00] that will tell you a lot about the quality of what you're doing, the work that you're doing. It will say a lot about the care that you're taking in helping these folks change their lives you're not looking at it from that perspective, my opinion, if you're not, if you're a recruiter and you're not centered, The fact that your job is to change people's lives in meaningful ways, and that doesn't show up in how you care for that candidate through the employee lifecycle.

Jim Kanichirayil: You're in the wrong role. You might make a ton of money, but you, have your priorities mixed up and it's the wrong way of thinking. So that's why I pay attention to submission the interview, because it does zero good. To talk to 15 candidates, submit 15 [00:11:00] candidates, and get one or zero interviews out of it.

Jim Kanichirayil: You've just wasted your hiring manager's time. You've wa and, and, and that's important. But more importantly, you've given 15 people false hope that the job that they're interviewing for is a strong fit to change their lives. And that's why I focus on metric. And then obviously interview to fill is another variation of it that tells you downstream quality of, of what you're doing.

Justin Schmidt: It's too that a lot of the same issues that bogg down marketing and sales organizations if I get X number of visits to the career page and Y number of submissions and Z number and you just completely forget about quality of the interactions you're having along that funnel process. the same thing in marketing sales as it is in recruiting, which is like fascinating to me. And I wonder [00:12:00] how much of that is due to maybe over. Technologizing, if that's a word. Um, some of this process, cuz you're exactly right. Like at the end of the day, you're ch you're as a recruiter, you're making a phone call to somebody could change their life, like move across the country. They could be, be an early employee at a startup that ends up making a ton of money that could, it could be the thing that gets them out of, um, situation they're in.

Justin Schmidt: It's, there's a lot of. Gravitas to, to the role, and that gets stripped away when you're just playing funnel metrics.

Jim Kanichirayil: Your point about maybe we're in an over technologized environment is a good one. I think there's a bigger issue at play and whether we're talking about sales and marketing in startup and B2B spaces or, uh, recruiting, the [00:13:00] recruiting function in the agency world, I think those behaviors. Are nested under a bigger issue.

Jim Kanichirayil: And it's this mentality and, and and mindset about growth at all costs. And when you have that growth and scale at all costs, and I would get into these arguments or at least discussions with my leadership, is that, Hey, Jim, your approach doesn't scale. I was like, I don't care about scale. I want to grow and I want to grow the right way.

Jim Kanichirayil: most importantly, I want to create as frictionless in an experience I. For all of my customers as possible. So for me to accomplish those things. And remember, I'm thinking in terms of lifetime customer value. It's not enough for me to acquire that customer or, or build that initial customer relationship.

Jim Kanichirayil: I want to have that customer for life. And if you haven't read that book, read that book because it'll change the way that you think about [00:14:00] these buyer seller relationships. I want to create as frictionless, as a poss uh, as possible, a buying experience for both sides of the equation. So both the client and the candidate.

Jim Kanichirayil: So I'm not looking at every. Candidate as a submittal for this role, I'm more focused on the hiring manager is trying to recruit to these outcomes. What candidates am I talking to that have delivered these outcomes before? Who are the best aligned for this role based on outcomes? So that's one. And you look at, you look at that way of approaching the business and you compare it to what's typical in sales and.

Jim Kanichirayil: Recruiting and anywhere else where the default is. Almost, we've been conditioned to think that everybody that we're having a conversation with is a buyer and is a buyer right now.

Justin Schmidt: Mm-hmm.

Jim Kanichirayil: When the reality is, and Justin, you know this, the reality is at any given time, there's [00:15:00] 3% of your marketplace that is in a buy cycle for what you have right now.

Jim Kanichirayil: might be another seven that could be convinced to be in a bi cycle. But if you're going into the world treating every single that you interact with as if they're a buyer right now, what do you look like? How does that reflect on you as a person? What does that say about you, your organization that you work for?

Jim Kanichirayil: And that's why I have the problem that I have in. How sales and marketing pays attention to the wrong metrics. How staffing almost always fa pays attention to the wrong metrics. And it's, you know, it's this rooted, you know, scale at all costs mentality, it's also rooted in this other mentality where you're confusing activity with achievement.

Jim Kanichirayil: That's a problem too. [00:16:00] Don't confuse activity with achievement.

Justin Schmidt: . You also mentioned in, in the notes here, inbox zero is an annoying as well. I assume that that's a mentality behind that versus the actual process of reading all your emails.

Justin Schmidt: I'd love to. I'm just curious what you meant there.

Jim Kanichirayil: So I understand the reasoning why some talent leaders want to drive teams to an inbox zero state, because if the intent is, it's really important for us to respond to everybody that is messaging us about a position that they have interest in. We need to provide that high touch, um, white glove service to every candidate and every client.

Jim Kanichirayil: So if the intent behind inbox zero. [00:17:00] Is we need to have white glove service to every candidate and every client that is engaging with us about a potential job opportunity. I'm absolutely in alignment with the rationale behind that inbox zero mentality, because you have to operate with a level of urgency.

Jim Kanichirayil: have to demonstrate that you care about that candidate's job search and the client's open position, because not caring about it or not being responsive has impact on both sides of the equation that are really negative for those people that are involved. So absolutely agree with the rationale, but how is it actually used and deployed?

Jim Kanichirayil: It's, hey, it it like what manager is going to be looking at? The quality of responses that are being sent out, the care that's being sent out in those responses. Are you going through the motions just to hit this arbitrary metrics or are you doing something meaningful? And I [00:18:00] ask those questions because if you think about how the sourcing stage for most recruitment looks like, both internal and external, you have.

Jim Kanichirayil: Your job's posted in 80 million, not 80 million different boards that are supposed to drive your funnel. And you're getting all of these things in your inbox, uh, uh, for applications to various roles, and then you have client, um, questions that are coming in from the other side. Is it really realistic for you to be able to take the level of care?

Justin Schmidt: Right.

Jim Kanichirayil: To respond to all of those things in the way that it needs to be responded to in an environment where you're just in this perpetual sourcing hamster wheel where things are coming at you from everywhere. Is that realistic? So is there, shouldn't there be a different way where you're sourcing more efficiently, maybe leveraging your existing.

Jim Kanichirayil: Database and candidate flow candidates that you've placed before who might be looking for a move and [00:19:00] controlling the quality of those conversations instead of just all of these top of funnel confusing activity with achievement sort of metrics. That's my issue with inbox zero, because theory it sounds great.

Justin Schmidt: One through line with everything that you've done since I've known you advancing d e i and ensuring that that is part of the organizational strategy that businesses to play. Do you think the. Way that business at large deploys acquisition strategies, methodologies, et cetera. Do you think we're helping the cause there? Hurting the cause? depends. Like has technology and, and some of the modern [00:20:00] practices of, of organizational development, like are we really moving the needle there in, in a way that like makes sense or do you think there's still something that we're, that we're missing?

Justin Schmidt: I know like the work is not done. Like, let be very clear, but like is the progress, is the engine gaining steam?

Jim Kanichirayil: That's a really interesting question, and I'm not exactly sure if I'm qualified to answer it, and here's why. I'm, I'm adding that caveat. I'm not a D E I B practitioner. I'm not a D E I B con, uh, consultant. I don't actually, from an organizational development perspective, not involved in that work. I'm a megaphone for the people that actually do the work and try to advance it so, I have adjacency to these things, but I also have the data that, from a nerdy research person perspective, that points to that.

Jim Kanichirayil: You know, those organizations that embed D E I B principles [00:21:00] across their entire organization generally have better, better business outcomes than those organizations that look at this as a nice to have. Now to your question about. Is how recruiting is currently done moving the needle on advancing D E I B within the organization.

Jim Kanichirayil: I think that's gonna be a case by case, and I would err on the side of saying I it's more of a non consideration or non-factor for a lot of organizations than it is something that they're actively looking to advance. And here's why. So I worked for another HR tech company, um, previously, and we had a diversity and compliance platform that we would go to market with and we would talk to, you know, thousands of potential buyers in our tam.

Jim Kanichirayil: And when we were asking the question, you know, where [00:22:00] does D E I B and this is in better economic times, where does D E I B fall in your organizational initiatives and priorities? And our buyers were typically either HR leaders or TA leaders. would say, well, a nice to have, our biggest

Justin Schmidt: No.

Jim Kanichirayil: is to just simply find candidates.

Jim Kanichirayil: And that speaks to an interesting disconnect if the goal for your organization is to find more candidates, And you're not embedding D E I B into your talent strategies. actually excluding a whole swath of candidates from consideration, and we don't even have to talk about this from a race and gender perspective.

Jim Kanichirayil: Simple things like requiring degrees your positions. Eliminates [00:23:00] massive segments of the population even being considered.

Justin Schmidt: massive. here at largely has a saying. She led talent acquisition Anheuser-Busch before she joined us. And of her big sayings there, and she continues, continues it now is, look, if if I'm hiring a lawyer or a doctor, then yes, I, I wanna know that they have their, their law or medical degree, but for everybody else, is it really that important?

Justin Schmidt: Right. And

Justin Schmidt: you're exactly right.

Jim Kanichirayil: I mean, I, I, you're about to set me off with that because I, I absolutely agree with her, and this is coming from somebody who's got a terminal degree, and I'm generally of the opinion that college degrees and advanced degrees, by and large are just giant scams. The people that get rich off of 'em are in the university system and are in the federal [00:24:00] loan programs.

Jim Kanichirayil: And really the average person that goes and pursues these things, and this is why I'm a huge fan of the philosophical changes that the millennial generation and Gen Z have pushed into the marketplace because they've actually caught up to this stuff and realized that early on where, you know, my dumb ass as a Gen X immigrant took.

Jim Kanichirayil: 30 some odd years to figure out that this is a waste of time. So, you know, the, the, the, so that, that's just an example of how organizations aren't really looking at their talent strategy with a D I B lens. Because if you require college degrees for your positions, Who are you excluding? You're excluding basically anybody that's below, let's say middle class background.

Jim Kanichirayil: the socioeconomic scale. Let's take a look at, uh, at like criminal background checks. [00:25:00] If you have a felony or, or you know, whatever, and you've done your time and you're looking for work, if. Who does that exclude,

Jim Kanichirayil: like Gusto is doing great work, uh, in there. And if you're looking at, unless you're dealing with like financial services or there are use cases where that is relevant, but if you're excluding, let's say sales talent, Because they have a record, like who are you recruiting out of?

Jim Kanichirayil: And you're actually perpetuating a system that doesn't really benefit anybody. If, if we agree that people with records have done their time,

Justin Schmidt: And

Jim Kanichirayil: And you know, they've been rehabilitated, but then you're excluding them from participating in society. Is that really what we should be, how we should be applying these?

Jim Kanichirayil: So these are the questions that come up and these are just two simple things where

Justin Schmidt: Well,

Justin Schmidt: oh, sorry.

Jim Kanichirayil: they, these are just two simple things that are use [00:26:00] cases that demonstrate a large hesitation for many organizations to rethink. Their talent strategy when it comes to talent attraction, talent acquisition,

Justin Schmidt: Yeah, it's, it was noteworthy for me there because in addition, like

Jim Kanichirayil: I.

Justin Schmidt: it was noteworthy for me there because if you are just. Again, trying to jam as many candidates into the top of the funnel as you possibly can. going to eliminate the opportunity for yourself to be thoughtful and authentic and and considerate with all the interaction candidate experience you have there. And oh, by the way, going to like create additional bad incentives for yourself in terms of like where you're sourcing from, how you're. You know, [00:27:00] making sure you're, you're pulling from the right, from the right pool, and then you layer on top of it some ridiculous requirements, in this case, degrees for, you know, roles that don't necessarily need them. It just has this compounding effect on both like bad metrics, but then also stuff that's, you know, more important, which is ensuring that we, know, have a representative sample of, of the population in the workforce. Love

Jim Kanichirayil: Yeah. Yeah. There's, uh, there's one last thing that I will add on to that. And that's this. I mean, there's all sorts of stuff that you can, you can shift in how your positions are distributed what they actually say and what's required for you to be much more tailored in who actually applies. Here's another thing that's often missed and many organizations aren't really taking a deep dive into what.

Jim Kanichirayil: What is your position description actually looking for they define [00:28:00] the candidates that they're trying to outreach to. Are you just having this laundry list of things to do are you talking about what the job to be done is? What is the outcome that you're trying to achieve and you're, are you communicating that way when, so that's just one element.

Jim Kanichirayil: /Another element is in the language that you use within your position descriptions. Is that communicated in a way where you're encouraging as many quality people to determine their ability to deliver the outcome and apply? Or are you communicating the message in a way where you're actually only targeting a certain group apply based on the language that you use?

Jim Kanichirayil: So these are things that all need to be looked at, and if you structure it that way, not only are you going to. Attract more quality candidates, gonna attract more candidates overall, because we know buyer [00:29:00] behavior on the candidate side. We know what candidates read and how they interpret information and what they're likely to do based on the demographics.

Jim Kanichirayil: you wanna make sure that you're your position descriptions speak in a manner that attracts the largest. Segment of qualified candidates versus just your 20 page or your, your 500 bullet points, uh, talking about ninjas and rock stars and all that stuff.

Justin Schmidt: Right. One of the things I love about the tapestry you've woven here in this conversation is in my form I sent you on the, to to, to book this, I assume, what's the best piece of advice that you could give. And you said, don't be cavalier in your conversations. And the last 28 minutes or so that we've been chatting, [00:30:00] Everything you have mentioned good on, on the good side is this is what happens when you're not careful here with your conversations, right? On the bad side, this is what happens when you are right, when you're just sort of like throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks, and not thinking through how you word a job description or being unintentional in the way you, you know, grind through your inbox just to get it to zero. Regardless of whether or not the conversations and the replies that got it to zero are the right ones to make. It all comes back to this like intentionality if, if I could pick a word. And that's really needed everywhere in business. Not just recruiting, but especially when you're dealing with people and getting back to the point you made at the beginning about recruiters are, have the potential to change lives, right?

Jim Kanichirayil: Yeah. And I, I love the, well, I, I love the tapestry, um, [00:31:00] that you, you drew, drew, I almost, uh, I almost, uh, blurted out in my drax mode metaphor, but, uh, that's a comic book reference for anybody that isn't. Sure. What the hell am I I'm talking about? But the, the, the other part of what you just said in terms of why that's important is when you have that intentionality, um, in every step of the candidate lifecycle you have to, you're, you're natively putting yourself.

Jim Kanichirayil: In the position of what if this was me? And, and actually that's intentionality and empathy because I think we can all agree that we've been through job searches before and it absolutely sucks. And we used to remember, we know several instances where we've gone through the application process and you load your resume and then you have to put in the same information again and you're like, oh, this is a big pain.

Jim Kanichirayil: Then you, [00:32:00] you have. You know, an initial interview that you're so excited about and you book it and then last minute it gets canceled by the recruiter with like two minutes before the session or your hiring manager doesn't show up. All of these things we've experienced, and it sucks, and if we know that and we tap into that, you have to ask yourself, do you want to take that job seeker through that same sort of grinder?

Jim Kanichirayil: In your experience, because that points to what they can expect when they're behind your doors. And there's another point, another aspect of it, this lack of intentionality, this lack of care, this cavalier behavior exists across the entire employee lifecycle from pre-hire to retire. It exists like we think, oh, we've, hired people.

Jim Kanichirayil: Great. Job done, now we don't have to worry about 'em again. And when, that person is unhappy, oh, that's okay. We'll just go ahead and hire [00:33:00] somebody else when, without even considering what's important to that person that's in your doors. So it's, sort of an infestation of mindset that exists where we're operating across the board with a lack of intentionality, a lack of care.

Jim Kanichirayil: And this is why growth at all, at all costs mentality is really poisonous to all of us who're employees. It, damages things to a level where it just makes the world of work miserable for most of us. And, it really shouldn't be that way. Sorry, I'm, I'm off my soapbox now.

Justin Schmidt: No, Jim, your soapbox is a site to behold, so you are welcome to soapbox at any time here. I love it, and there is way for me to adequately agree with you more than [00:34:00] I do on the infestation of not being intentional, not being authentic, not being, um, of unto others, right? Like

Jim Kanichirayil: Just be a human, not a machine.

Justin Schmidt: Exactly. Exactly. I love it. Um, this has been a fantastic conversation, Jim. Let's end with a few, few quick hits here. What's your favorite interview question to ask people?

Jim Kanichirayil: Geez. Um. And actually that's, that's a great question. I've actually incorporated that into a couple of podcasts that, uh, that I've launched. But usually it's a variation of what's the game changing realization that you had in your life and how has it been applied to how you move forward, um, from the time that you had this realization.

Jim Kanichirayil: And that can be applied in any number of contexts. What's the, what's the career [00:35:00] game changer that you experienced? What's the game changing realization that you discovered, which completely changed how you lead people? that game changing question gives a lot of runway in a lot of different contexts for you to have really interesting conversations.

Justin Schmidt: Yeah, that's a great question. And that's also the kind of question you can't necessarily and prepare for, right? So you

Justin Schmidt: you're gonna get a, you're gonna get a real response from the person. I love it.

Jim Kanichirayil: Yeah. And stylistically for me, I'm not a, and and, and you're, you're the same way. I'm not an overly scripted person. In fact, I find those scripted conversations restrictive. So I'd rather ask one or two super interesting questions and then based on the answer, go down all the different rabbit trails that it's set.

Jim Kanichirayil: The answer fires off in my brain.

Justin Schmidt: play a little improvisational jazz with the person. What's the book you recommend most often to people?

Jim Kanichirayil: [00:36:00] So I referenced one which was customer for life, and I think that's great. Um, I think the more relevant one is chop wood, carry water, and it's falling in love with the process of being elite.

Justin Schmidt: do it.

Jim Kanichirayil: And that's been sort of a central. Driver after I read it. I mean, I was already doing a lot of the concepts even before I read the book, but it really crystallized everything into, um, sort of a, how you show up, uh, how you show up manifesto.

Jim Kanichirayil: And the, the, the basic premise of it is this, in that book, you are given all the tools and skills and capability, To build a house and you're not really sure who the house is for, but you're just tasked with building it, which approach are you gonna take to go ahead and build a house? Are you just gonna [00:37:00] build it to just get it done, are you gonna take the time and consideration to build it the way that you would want it?

Jim Kanichirayil: And the hook in that first part of the book is in that scenario. This person was tasked with building a house by his employer, and they were a construction company. And at the end of that build, the keys were handed over to this person and it's like, this is your house. You've done great work for us throughout your career, and we wanted to, we didn't, uh, a gold watch wasn't sufficient enough, so we wanted to give you a house based off of all the things that you did.

Jim Kanichirayil: And, you know, spoiler alert, what happened is that this person was so like, committed to retiring. This was his last job. He built it as fast as he could, as crappily as he could. And then the outcome was, well, you get to live in what you built. what's that? What, what kind of life do you want? What kind of house do you wanna [00:38:00] live in?

Jim Kanichirayil: And that's the, the central premise of chop wood carry water is, Take care and consideration in what you're doing because if you rush the things because you're obsessed with the outcome, it's gonna lead you to a whole lot of bad results.

Justin Schmidt: . I really can't thank you enough for coming on and sharing some of your valuable time with us. Where can people find you? Where can people find Engage Rocket? Send us off with some plugs.

Jim Kanichirayil: Yeah. Um, I'm easy to find. I'm on LinkedIn, so you can just, uh, type in Dr. Jim and I should be one of the first people that shows up and look for like a last name with. 20 different letters in it. Um, that's, that's easy. Engage Rocket. It's, uh, engage You can find me there. Uh, you can find me on my, I, well my main podcast is Cascading Leadership.

Jim Kanichirayil: That's gonna have a rebrand in the fall. But we also launched a podcast, uh, for Engage Rocket called the HR Impact [00:39:00] Show. So you can find me there too. So I'm pretty easy to find.

Justin Schmidt: Jim Kanichirayil, thank you so much for coming on Hired and inspired, and I hope you have an absolutely marvelous evening.

Jim Kanichirayil: Thanks for having me. This was a lot of fun, man.

Justin Schmidt: I just had a wonderful conversation with Jim Kanichirayil from Engage Rocket, and I. Every time I talk to this guy, there is always fantastic stuff that comes up. And Allison, I wanna get your take on a couple things he brought up.

Justin Schmidt: The first is when I asked him about the metrics that matter, he brought up an anecdote from when he was building out a staffing agency business and the metrics that he focused on were submission to interview and then interview to fill. He wanted to make sure that he was putting candidates in front of the hiring managers that were actually gonna get interviewed and therefore actually get hired.

Justin Schmidt: So it was this idea of making sure he was sending quality candidates over [00:40:00] versus just filling calendars. And that brought up an interesting thought in my head that I would love to get your take on, which is this handoff between talent acquisition and hiring managers and sort of how to manage that. How to optimize that.

Justin Schmidt: And how to make that the best relationship possible. So with that prompt, I'll let you take it away.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: Yeah, absolutely. I, I think to start in an organization, all hiring managers need training of some sort, right? So what they can expect in the process, you know, how that relationship is going to work. Uh, recruiters can build really amazing relationships with their hiring managers, understand what's happening from a business perspective.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: For that individual, for that department. I think when recruiters understand the business deeply, they're, they're better for, uh, a candidate and it's better for, uh, the organization in general. But I think really starting from the beginning in [00:41:00] that intake meeting, knowing. Who is this hiring manager? What are they trying to accomplish?

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: What is the role trying to accomplish? Uh, those types of things are critical. And then a recruiter really needs to be able to properly present the candidates back to the hiring manager, right? So it's not so much, I'm just gonna fill your calendar, or Here are the top three candidates and let me know what you think.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: I think putting time, almost like a marketing brief, Putting some thought a brief perspective of here's what you said you wanted, I've gone out, I've spoken to X number of people. Here are two or three really amazingly talented individuals that I'd like you to meet with quick blurbs on each one and why they're a good fit based on what that hiring manager told you they were looking for.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: a Uh, and then, nd then arranging for a [00:42:00] follow-up meeting. After all of those interviews are completed is really, that's the ideal state. Doesn't always happen in an ideal state, as we all know. And of course, depending on the volume of recs that a recruiter has, it can be, um, it can be, you know, kind of time consuming to put that together.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: But it's like that preparation and the time spent. Almost always yields a better result in terms of hiring and also just communication with that, with that leader in an organization.

Justin Schmidt: Do you find that the process that you would, and the approach that you would take is substantially different if it's a kind of limited, sort of harder to find higher versus kind of a more volume? know, open standing, open position type thing, or the fundamentals still the same. Just maybe you're doing a slightly different cadence of [00:43:00] meeting or follow up the hiring teams.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: No, great question. I think that you go a little bit deeper when it's a harder to fill position, right? Because essentially it's a greater investment for the organization and for you as a, as a TA professional for your time, um, you're probably going to have to source, you're going to have to, to really, uh, get after it.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: So investing that time on the front end and also educating a hiring manager.

Justin Schmidt: Huge.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: huge opportunity, right? There are so many. I can't even tell you how many hundreds of thousands of conversations I've had, it feels like about what you're looking for and the talent that's available. And then also just the reasonableness of the ask, right?

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: Uh, what you would expect from a candidate. So I think you've gotta do a little, sometimes a little hiring manager education during those meetings. Uh, But I think when you have a higher volume [00:44:00] position, still understanding and doing the work and the diligence on the intake is just as important. You just might present candidates in a very different way.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: Maybe it is just, maybe it's just calendar filling because it's a standing, uh, position, and that's, that's what makes sense. That's absolutely what you should do then. Um, but you know, you'll know what's right for the role and, and for your organization and the culture.

Justin Schmidt: right. Interviewing is definitely a skill, which means it can be taught, which means you can train. from an employer brand perspective, wouldn't it be great to have every hiring manager in your organization? I. All be singing from the same hymnal and not contradicting themselves or creating these bad candidate experiences, even if they don't know they're doing it, just purely from a lack of, of knowledge and training.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: Yeah.

Justin Schmidt: It's great stuff. Alison. The next thing Jim brought up that I know is also something that you share a passion on is how diversity [00:45:00] and talent pipelines are interrelated, right? You can. Claim as an organization that you care about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. But if your talent acquisition pipeline is not conducive to that, you're never gonna meet your D E I B goals.

Justin Schmidt: And one thing that Jim brought up is bias that comes up in the process from things like. Requiring a college degree when maybe that really isn't ultimately necessary, because by simply saying we require a college degree, you're going to just immediately close the door on all sorts of amazing people.

Justin Schmidt: That purely from the circumstances in which they grew up getting that degree might not have been as easy as it is for others. Right. Um, and this says nothing of the same sort of . Uh, bias that can happen if you exclude other [00:46:00] background information, right? Criminal record or, um, all sorts of stuff. I would love to, to get your take on this because I think this is an important conversation, not just from a, Hey, how do we help talent acquisitions teams find the best people, but something that just we care about here largely, which is to

Justin Schmidt: Make sure every organization is building a empathetic, compassionate, um, authentic to themselves and a sort of world-class employer brand, which includes people of all walks of, of life. Right? So I would love to get your thoughts on that because I think this is a really important issue.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: I'm so glad you asked. I have a strong point of view here and have been talking about this for probably at least 20 years. I believe in education. I think that education is just so important. [00:47:00] I value it tremendously. I feel like it comes in a lot of different forms, so I, appreciate a four year degree, but I think when organizations use four year degrees as qualifiers or disqualifiers, they're really limiting, themselves from some amazing talent.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: Some of the smartest people I know don't have traditional educational backgrounds. Um, And are incredibly successful and can, you know, have, have continued to educate themselves in, in other ways. I think that, um, you know, my, the thing that I have said for quite some time is, unless you're my lawyer or my doctor, I do not care where your degree came from or even what your degree is.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: Um, I mean, how many of us have a. Philosophy degree that are, you know, doing something . Not related, or I guess technically you could say [00:48:00] philosophy is related to everything that you do. That a bad example. Um, but I just feel like there are so many degrees that people go for, and yet their careers are not directly tied or associated with them.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: So, you know, the point being, I think when, when organizations began using college degrees as qualifiers decades and decades and decades ago, it was a way to weeded it, weed people out from a funnel perspective versus. You know, it, it, it was just seen very, very differently. But today, that's, that's just not how so much has changed, right.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: With our educational system, with, um, with everything. So I think that, uh, the best thing an organization can do is identify the types of skills that they want someone to have. And understand the capabilities necessary to be successful in a particular role and go, go evaluate that within a candidate. Um, look [00:49:00] at not only what people can do, but what they're capable of doing in the future.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: Because a lot of different experiences really set people up to be successful in a completely different way. And so there's, that's. Um, a hot topic in, in the, the space today, in the talent space, skills and capabilities. Uh, and I think we really need to continue to lean into that. I also, um, think that organizations need to really better understand any of their criminal record policies.

Justin Schmidt: Hmm.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: I think that. Uh, obviously there are some, there are some convictions that absolutely you would, you would want to gate or, or prevent, um, you know, from, from entering your workforce. However, you know, there are a tremendous amount of convictions that, uh, just are . meritless in some cases [00:50:00] or not, not going to associate risk with your business.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: And I used to also say there, there are some skill sets that. Uh, individuals that maybe were selling things that were illegal in the moment, still have the ability to multitask and sell, um, and, and what have you. So skills transferability, I guess, of the worst way. But I think that it is important to understand that their, their impacts, right there are impacts to groups of people.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: And if you really want to broaden your talent pool, you have to. Go different places to fish. Right? Just makes sense.

Justin Schmidt: right. Absolutely. you are, Replying there. I thought of a couple things that's just worth double clicking on. The best marketer I've ever known has a math degree. The second best [00:51:00] marketer I've ever known has a religious studies

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: Mm-hmm.

Justin Schmidt: Neither which of those are marketing degrees and whether they have that degree or not, doesn't have any bearing on their ability to be a good marketer.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: Mm-hmm.

Justin Schmidt: And I agree with you wholeheartedly, and I . Wish I would see this more often is hire for the skills, recruit for the skills, train your hiring managers to interview for the skills and don't let you know if, if you wanna gatekeep your applicant flow based on things like must have four year degree in x, y, Z degree, and it's not a hundred percent necessary, you're kind of taking the easy way out of controlling your applications.

Justin Schmidt: Right? There's, there's better ways around this, so,

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: A hundred percent. And if we can also, we won't touch upon it today, but in the future, talk about years of experience required. That would be great. The entry level job requiring two years of experience is not an entry level job.

Justin Schmidt: Yes, we will [00:52:00] absolutely tackle that on a later episode. Alison, thank you so much for your perspectives and have a wonderful evening.

Allison McCutcheon Barcz: Thanks Justin.

Justin Schmidt: And that's it for another episode of hired and inspired on behalf of everybody here at largely. Thank you. To show your support. You can subscribe by going to your favorite podcast app and searching hired in inspired or largely podcast and hitting that subscribe button. To find out more about largely please visit and thanks again

Justin Schmidt

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