Editor: Please tell us a little bit about your career history and how you joined Recruiting Tool Box.
CH: I went to university and graduated with a degree in journalism. I started my career off in marketing but eventually found my way into executive search around the mid 90’s. From there, I did a bit of agency recruiting then moved onto corporate recruiting, and there I recruited and sourced for companies like Capital One, Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, and my last corporate gig was Yahoo. After a few years of building recruiting teams and leading recruiting teams and leading special projects in corporate, I left Yahoo and launched my own start-up. I created the first Twitter job distribution engine called TweetAJob and that ran for a few years until we shut it down, and from there I started consulting.
5 years ago I joined Recruiting Tool Box. When I joined they were already around for the last 10 years. For those who don’t know, Recruiting Tool Box is really unique consulting firm because we don’t recruit, we actually do true consulting; we work with organizations on their process, their strategy, looking at their technology, and we do tons of training. So we fill a niche very few firms have waited into so we’re unique in that sense. With this being said, every bit of work we do is customized based on the company we’re working with. We take a look at what’s happening inside each organization and then we recommend solutions or building training around the potential pain points within that organization.
CH: I give credit to Jennifer McClure. She recommended that I reach out to Chris Bailey, the organizer of DisruptHR Cayman, and when she recommends something I know there’s something special behind it. I ended up having a conversation with Chris, whom I’ve never met, and immediately connected. He’s another recruiting geek and when we had our conversation it went all over the place, but in the end, his passion for recruiting and what he was doing in the Cayman Islands was pretty evident. I thought that at least it’ll be interesting and at most we’ll have something quite special.
I was actually surprised at the numbers because I hadn’t of thought that there was such an HR community in the Caymans. That’s why I decided to do this because I thought it’d be great just to understand what was happening down there, to share the Recruiting Tool Box brand, and to really learn about the unique challenges that they were facing in the Cayman Islands.
Editor: What was your presentation topic at DisruptHR Cayman?
CH: It’s pretty hilarious. I talked about job descriptions, which is a little bit of my pet peeve. If you look at job descriptions for just about any company it is boring, very likely that it doesn’t accurately describe the job, and it definitely isn’t tailored to the candidate. They’re just failing there, and I understand why. It is a huge, boring job to look at, especially for a large company that has a thousand job descriptions posted at once, and the idea of going through all these postings and fixing them is a daunting task that nobody wants to take on. But it’s something that’s very simple and inexpensive to do that we can all do to improve how we recruit and improve the candidate’s experience, which I have a huge passion around.
So with my background in this topic, I decided to talk about this. For me, the conversation started with disruption, how do we be disruptive? How can we take this and turn it into something that is completely opposite of what it is today? For me, we topically, and recently, and currently blended it with attending a Beyoncé concert. So this turned into, how do we take something that we’ve been doing forever and how Beyoncé has been viewing what the music industry has been doing forever, and turn it on its head and do something different. If you look at what she did with her most recent album Lemonade, she does things differently not for the sake of doing it differently, but because it works. It’s a win-win for all parties involved. She incorporated the music industry and its new players Tidal and Apple music, involved HBO with her special, and that drove album sales and ticket sales.
Editor: The DisruptHR format can be quite challenging. It’s pretty unique, it’s pretty fast paced. What unique challenges does a 5-minute speaking slot have to offer?
CH: I find it the most challenging format of all, and I speak to audiences at least twice a week either through webinars or training seminars, large or small audiences, and some of these seminars last for hours. Now you tell me I have 5 minutes to attack whatever topic it might be? It’s tough! It’s an editing job, and I think at DisruptHR Cayman I could used a little bit more editing. If I had another chance, I would edit my session a little bit more.
I had a similar event here in Seattle called Ignite Seattle, and I was there to explain what sourcing was in 5 minutes. I knew from that experience that it was a very difficult thing, and you have to put a lot of work into editing your topic and delivering it. I do it for the challenge, but I also do it to get better as a speaker. It really forces you to think about what’s the core message, what’s critical to the message or delivery to the audience. It’s a little bit of a thrill-seeking opportunity for those who do public speaking.
Editor: The HR Gazette is a big believer in the shift from the traditional ideas in HR to embracing modern HR as a part of people and culture. What does people and culture mean to you?
CH: The word culture means different things to different people. For me, culture is comprised of several elements that are different everywhere, so for every company it’s going to mean something else and feel different. Getting the opportunity to walk into different companies and observe, I got to see culture widely vary. It’s about understanding that people are different and when placed into organizations they figure out what the culture means. For example, Judo Therapeutics hires incredibly smart people for all levels of the company because they’re a bio tech firm and they need to. Not all companies can afford to do that but they see this as a necessity. Part of understanding their culture, one of the characteristics that came out of figuring out the culture and developing the training for new hires is that they want to hire people who have a passion for their mission (which is to cure cancer) and who are resilient.
This is important to them is because they’re conducting hundreds and hundreds of experiments. Whether the experiments are successes or failures, they will learn from them. You need people who can come from a failure, learn from it, and apply it to what comes next and not lose faith in what the mission is. That is a particular form of culture that is important to them to continue and build, so when they’re looking for people they need to find people that are oriented in this way. You interview in a certain way to look for a certain characteristic and that’s how you go towards culture, and that’s how I put people and culture together.
Editor: How can the HR Gazette audience learn more about you and what you get up to? Any final thoughts?
CH: Well first, I’d like to thank the HR Gazette for interviewing me! Chris Bailey and DisruptHR Cayman seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. If you want to find me, the easiest way is through Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn and I’m on some Facebook groups.
Some final thoughts would be, if you’re in the business of recruiting make sure you really love it. It’s the people that love this business who will build the future of it. Make improvements, get involved, or write and blog about it. That’s how I got started, I was curious about blogging and began writing and I haven’t looked back.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.