In this HRchat interview, we'll drill down on what worked for job adverting pre and post-pandemic and look ahead to understand how the recruitment industry's tech toolkit will continue to evolve through 2022 and beyond.
Bill's guest this time is Christian Forman, CEO and founder of Appcast, a leader in performance job advertising software.
With more than 25 years of industry experience and serial entrepreneurship, Chris is a pioneer in the development and deployment of smarter technology tools that have helped thousands of companies recruit and hire millions of job seekers around the globe. He is a nationally (US) recognized expert in recruiting and talent management and has been quoted in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Staffing Industry Review.
Interview Questions Include:
If you find this conversation interesting and helpful, you'll probably also enjoy our 2021 year-in-review special on December 30th with Chris's colleague and Labor Economist, Andrew Flowers!
We do our best to ensure editorial objectivity. The views and ideas shared by our guests and sponsors are entirely independent of The HR Gazette, HRchat Podcast, and Iceni Media Inc.
Welcome to the HR chat podcast, bringing the best of the HR and talent communities to you.Speaker 2:
Welcome to another episode of the HR chat podcast. I'm your host today, bill Banham . And in this interview, we're gonna drill down on what worked for job advertising, prem post pandemic, and look ahead to understand how the recruitment industry's tech toolkits will continue to evolve through 2022 and beyond my guest , this time is Chris foreman , CEO, and founder of app cast a leader in performance job advertising software with more than 25 years of industry experience and serial entrepreneurship. Chris is a pioneer in the development and deployment of smarter technology tools that have helped thousands of, of companies recruit and hire millions of job seekers around the globe. Chris is a nationally recognized expert in recruiting and talent management and has been quoted in publications, such as the wall street journal, the New York times and staffing industry review. Chris, it's my pleasure to welcome you to the HR chat show today .Speaker 3:
Thanks bill. Happy to be here.Speaker 2:
So beyond my reintroduction there, Chris, why don't you take a , a minute or two and introduce yourself to our listeners?Speaker 3:
Oh, geez . OED . Okay. Sure. Um, 51 years old , uh, live in upstate in New Hampshire , um, married Angela, Tom's got four kids. Uh , we live in a dairy farm, cows, pig, sheeps, and chickens. So that's a nice balance to being in the tech industry. Um, I have been in recruiting technology , um, for, oh, over 20 years now, structurally unemployable. So most of the time I have start companies to have a job. Um, but I was , uh , some of your listeners may , uh, uh , remember air certification and airs training. I was the CEO and built that business , um, actually , uh , beyond the training business into , uh , the first broadly adopted CRM platform in the us sold that to one of our biggest customers, the right thing. Um, the, the , uh, the largest RPO in the us at the time. And then , uh, year later kind of sold that, those, that collective new co business to ADP , um, since then , uh , found an incubator called start date labs. And, you know, I've , uh , started a few companies out of, out of , uh , the lab. All of 'em been successful. And now here I am 51 and at AcastSpeaker 2:
51 tech mogul part-time farm in beautiful New Hampshire. This man listeners is living his best life. I'm very jealous. I'm very jealous. Um , let , let , let's , uh , let's talk about another one of your, your ventures and another one of the companies. Um , and that's Acast and my understanding is that it helps HR hiring managers and TA pros , post jobs across 10,000 plus job professional nation social sites to drive more active and passive candidates to open jobs. Chris, can you maybe provide an overview of Acast and, and the technology behindSpeaker 3:
It? Yeah, sure. Um, you know, may maybe a little bit of , uh , see story about the found the company . So the idea for Acast came out of abject failure at another one of our businesses where we were trying to , um, you know, kind of launch a , a , a new job ad, you know, kind of platform. And it was, it failed like spectacularly, there were sparks and fireworks going off, and it just AED in, but it , in the process we learned a ton about , um, specifically the us Ja , uh , job ad market. And so this was 20 12, 20 13 . And what we were seeing is a one time secular shift , um, in this massive ad market , you know, by relative standards , um, you know, the us job ad market's larger than the, all the other job ad markets in the world combined. Um, and , um, it was moving from , uh , duration based online job postings to pay for performance. And we looked outside of the job space and we looked at other ad markets that have gone through a similar transition. And in each one of them, we found that , um , that as soon as a market started to shift, to pay for performance, there became a , a need for , um, the development of sophisticated third party software to actually manage those pay for performance ads because buying pay for performance sounds great. Right? I mean, bill, do you wanna buy, like you , do you wanna pay for non-performance? I don't think so, but there's a dirty secret, and that is, is if you're, you know, paying , um, every time somebody clicks on one of your ads, if you don't manage that ad very effectively and how much you spend and what you're bidding and where you're placing the ad pay for performance, actually to turns out, to be less effective than tra traditional, you know, duration based ads. So we looked around and we said, huh, well, that's an interesting idea. Is anybody else doing it? And, you know, there were a few people starting to do it in the United States because they saw the same thing that we did, but we decided to enter the market. Um, we started the business with like six people, a small room that smelled like a hockey bag. Um, you know, I , I don't know how much ice hockey , um, you're familiar with bill , but that's not a good smell. That's not a good smell. And , um, you know, we , uh, did 3,300 , uh , dollars in our first month of revenue in January, 2014. It fast forward to today, we have 300 employees over 1.2 billion of annualized job ad spend flowing through our platform. And, you know, the , the , the company is, let's just say, we're doing a lot more revenue last month than we were in January, 2014. And all of it , um, is to your point, is our software allows large organizations to manage all of their online job ads, wherever they happen to go, whether it's, you know, indeed or zip recruiter or total job or steps known or CV library, or, or , you know , um , name, name, a site to manage those job ads more effectively to drive to the outcomes that they're looking for, which is specifically more hires or lower cost hires.Speaker 2:
Okay. Thank you very much. Uh, let's let's now cover, what's changed. And then we'll talk about, what's maybe stayed the same in the world of , uh , recruitment and recruitment marketing. Then Chris , um, from what you've seen over the last couple of tumultuous years , uh , historic years, what , what , what aspects of recruiting and recruitment marketing have been permanently impacted or changed by the events of, of the last couple of years? So, you know, we , we're talking here of course, about , um , the , the impact of the pandemic and how that's caused folk to , uh, to work remotely, for example, and what that means for hiring. But we're also talking about , uh , the social justice movement that we've seen over the last couple of years. And, and generally I think , um, uh, the, the , the , the need for employers to change their approach for hiring talent, because of course , uh , this year 2021, we've seen the, the impact of the great resignationSpeaker 3:
As a result of COVID . Um, specifically consumer behavior has changed, right? People are buying more products online. Um, they want more things brought to them versus going on out. Um, there's a , a massive need for , um, you know, more retail healthcare , you know, specifically putting , you know, jabs and arms, that type of stuff. And, and what happened with , as a result of that shift combined with the, the fact that the supply of labor in the United States and Europe , uh , which is where I really have most of my experience contracted, meaning people stepped out of the labor market because they had to take care of their kids that weren't in school. They had to, they were concerned about their own health. They had to take care of their elderly patients, parents, or candidly. Um, you know, they might have gotten some level of government support, which made it economically viable for them to work less. All those reasons created, you know, a reduction in the supply of, of workers. So demand shifted hard in one direction for a group of, or specifically people that are part of the e-commerce supply chain, part of the healthcare supply chain. And at the same time we saw contraction of, of supply. So, you know, you're , you go back to 1997 when McKinsey, you know , um, you know , published its, you know, kind of seminal white paper about the war for talent. It was talking about folks like you and, and our colleagues that, you know, are knowledge workers and, you know, they McKinsey theorized that companies would win or lose based on their ability to get this really high end talent to come work for them. And you know, one of the big takeaway points for me of the last two years is that McKenzie got it, right? I mean, you know, at the end of the day, if you have the smartest, hardest working best people, you, you have a much better chance of winning, but they missed who that group was. COVID has reminded us and brought back into stark relief that people that work with their hands, literally putting things in boxes, driving the trucks, putting them in our front door, putting shots in our arms, bringing us food, cooking the food are a huge part of the success of major corporations. So , so today it costs more money to get someone to apply for a job, to put something in a box at a warehouse than it does to get a technology , um, you know, kind of worker to apply for a job in Austin or San Francisco. That is a huge change. Now, you know, the, the, you , you asked about the social, this movement that, that, you know, has kind of , um, swept across, you know, a lot of, of companies in America as a result of what happened to George Floyd last year. And, you know, that has , um, also changed how a lot of companies think about recruiting and, and brought them back to, you know, the hard business reality that diversity and equity are actually very good business decisions , um, for companies to make. And so one of the things, you know, we're finding, especially in the recruitment technology space as well, you know, and in the recruitment marketing space is a renewed focus on ensuring that , um, companies cast as wide a net as possible for , um, you know, the, the best and smartest talent, no matter what they look like, who they are, who they love, where they live. And , um, and, and that's a , that's also a major theme.Speaker 2:
Okay . Thank you very much. So you mentioned , uh , uh, as part of your answer that it's, it's more expensive, it's more difficult to get , uh , certain types of employees, certain types of workers, but actually it's similar to, to pre COVID, to maybe attract, say your, your white collar , uh , workers , uh , you know, those with lots of , uh , tech skills, for example , uh , what , what else has , has stayed the same then , and , and , and why?Speaker 3:
Well, you , you know, I , maybe I , I misspoke it it's, it's radically different than it was before. I mean, the cost to get a, a candidate for a technology job , um, in, in a high marketplace used to be, you know, the , kind of the rarefied air . Now that's overtaken across the United States and across Europe, you know, in eCommerce supply chain, healthcare , food delivery, and retail. And so, you know, that that's, that's a huge change. Um, you know, the stuff that, that, that has kind of stayed the same is that COVID , didn't fundamentally shift what recruiting is. You know, my old friend and mentor , um, Terry tur hark , who, you know, a couple of times has built, you know, the largest RPOs in the world , uh, used to, you know, tongue in cheek, say, recruiting's easy. You start with a wreck end with a hire , and then you do some stuff in between. And while, you know , uh , everyone who's done recruiting chuckles at what Terry says, because it's a gross simplification, he's not wrong. And so, you know, one of the things that , um, I get asked a lot is, you know, what , how do we succeed in this new environment? I'm like, well , um, you succeed the way that you, you used to succeed. If you were good at this number one is the best way to ensure that , um, you have, you know, an easy day when it comes to recruiting is to make your workplace a place where people wanna work . No amount of technology or, or jujitsu is going to overcome a place that candid doesn't pay market wages, doesn't take care of its workers and is a sweat shop . So number one, be a good place to work. AF number two is you need to have an instrumented data driven , thoughtful recruiting process. And, and, you know, there's, I've been in , looked inside the recruiting, you know, kind of methodology of the largest companies in the world, fastest growing companies in the world. And I'll be honest, they're all within 20% of each other, but they're also all different. What they have though at their core is they've got somebody that looks at recruiting as a business process and a marketing operation. At the same time, you need to be bring marketing sense in terms of funnel, conversion metrics, you know, kind of almost, you know, the types of things that your sales and marketing team are used to measuring. And they bring that discipline to recruiting. And at the same time, it's an operations process where especially today, where job seekers have a lot of options, you need to move fast and you need to be efficient and you need to provide good service to job seekers, not just to hiring managers. And, you know, that's what you find is good blocking and tackling , um, you know, good systems and process sees a marketing mindset when combined with , um, you know, a great place to work. That's how you, that's, how you win in these temps.Speaker 2:
Okay . Now, when I was putting , um , my script together ahead of this interview, I was terribly happy with my questions. And , uh, I , I thought that , uh , they they'd all take us on a lovely journey, which would answer , uh , most people's , uh , questions and concerns for, for the year ahead. But , uh , we are recording this interview on December 1st listeners and , uh , this show is set to go live within, within the next week. So a pretty quick turn around this , this , this time. And, and what's happened over the last few days, of course has been , uh, the, the announcement of the , um, the outbreak of a new variant of COVID , uh , a new variant of concern O Omicron , uh , with 30 odd mutations that people really don't know right now , um, what that effect will be on, on, on , uh , on our lives and, and on how we work. So my , my question, my question for you was gonna be , uh , looking ahead to 2022 and , and maybe even 2023 , from your lens , what does the future of recruitment look , look like Chris, and you know, how , how will job boards continue to play an important role in the recruitment toolkit, but maybe , maybe, maybe I need to adjust that question slightly to invite a couple of different scenarios from , from you. Um, scenario one is Omicron is no more dangerous than say the Delta variant and , and we can continue to, to vaccinate and liberal our normal lives . And maybe scenario two is this is a lot more serious. And , and if, how is that gonna push us back in terms of finding and hiring the right people?Speaker 3:
Well, bill, if I , um , if I had the answers to all those questions, I'm fairly certain that president Biden , um , would've called already pointed me to some important job . Um, I'm gonna answer this question as a , as a , as a , you know, a business , um, you know, executive of a very fast growing company , um, which is a division of a very large company. Um, and then I'm gonna answer it as a, as a recruiting technology, you know, kind of person. So, you know, first off, specifically about on a crop , we , we don't have enough data yet to understand , um , the impact that this variant is gonna have, you know, and there's a couple of vectors, one it's , um, uh , the ability, you know, what's its, what's its network effect. What's its our value. How quickly does it spread? And number two, how virent is it, you know, is it something that's gonna make people sicker? And so, you know, those are open questions and we're not gonna know those until we have, you know, the more data. The one thing though that, you know, everyone is continuing, that are smart about this type of stuff is, is saying, is that vaccinations and, and booster shots are , um, a , an important and critical part of combating or not combating making COVID chronic rather than emergent. And that's really, I think what we're looking at now, everyone used to think that COVID would go away . COVID is never going away. We just need to make it a chronic issue that we know how to manage. And for any of the business leaders that are listening right now , um, I think we as leaders have an accountability, a societal accountability to ensure that we put in place policies that, you know, help make it chronic . This may be controversial in some parts of the United States. It's not controversial more globally, but , um, the idea of saying, Hey , um, you need to get vaccinated to employees is , um, a job that we can do to help make this a, a more manageable situation. And this is not just a, you know, kind of a , an , an ethics right, wrong save people type of thing. My biggest concern as a , as a father, as you know, I'm on the school board here in New Hampshire , um, you know, I , I run a business. You is the cost of COVID the, the, that comes from shutting things down that the cost of not letting people see each other, the cost of the local restaurants going under the cost of kids, not being able to learn as effectively. And we all, as a society need to do whatever it takes to ensure that we, we can, you know, get back to being together, because I do believe we are better together when it comes from a recruiting standpoint. Um, we've seen , uh, lots and lots of different, you know, impacts on, on recruiting when it comes to , um, COVID already , uh , we've gone through four or five different state . We're gonna figure it out. You know, if, if all of a sudden we go into massive lockdowns, again, that's gonna have a , an impact on the jobs that, that are going to be in demand. And it's going to make recruiting harder. If in fact, we find that this is, you know, more of a flash in the pan. Um, we may be on the same course. I think inflation candidly is , um, gonna be more of an issue. If we see central banks start to change monetary policy , um, that very quickly could change labor market dynamics, which would then, you know, we could go from being in a situation where there's massive demand , um, to , um, you know , let's say in the short run, some, some , some feathered back demand for talent, but none of it in the long run really makes a difference because , um, <laugh>, if you look at , um , uh, the populations of the developed economies around the globe, they all are shrinking and the need for workers is staying the same or increasing. And the argument about automation and how, you know, the nature of work is gonna change. I find compelling in some situations, but I think for those of us that are in the jobs marketplace business, you know, know in essence helping , um, job seekers, discover jobs and helping employers discover job seekers, let's just say, this is a place where I'm happy to make a bet all day long and twice on Sunday.Speaker 2:
Hey, Chris, we are coming towards the end of this interview already, sir. Uh , before we, before we do wrap things up, I've got a couple more S students for you . Um , next one, kind of as a summation of, of some of the things that we have spoken about so far in our conversation today, what , what , what do you believe are the key characteristics of a , of a talent acquisition team who who's equipped is really equipped to, to win the war for talent in 20 22, 20 23, you know, regardless of, of what or what Christ this a , a throw out us ?Speaker 3:
Well, you mean besides the fact that they , uh, they buy and use outcast technology <laugh> exactly. Oh , oh, that's you , did you , you meant a different question than that ? Well, I think it goes back to, you know, my answer to one of the earlier questions is that the best talent Wass in <inaudible> the best talent acquisition organiz that , that I look at have , um , a left and a right brain, right? Brain is a marketing mindset. You know, they own the recruitment funnel, they have instrumented it, they understand it. They understand what their inputs need to be to get the outputs that they want. Um, they're an organization that when they share their metrics and , and , you know, kind of their, their, their KPIs and reports to their marketing department, you know, the, the marketing team goes, oh yeah, we understand that, that we get that. Okay , test one, test two is they're operationally. Excellent. They understand that, you know, they've got three customers in this process, they've got the hiring manager, they've got , um, the, the, the applicant, the successful applicant, right. You know, making sure that that person, we find that person, we get that person hired. And then the third one that often is forgotten is the 99% of people that don't get the job. And the best understand that those silver bronze medalists or, you know, the, they get the white ribbon, you know, number 10 at the county fair. Those are their future hires. Those are their future customers. And so they have an operational approach that drives for speed, for efficiency, for quality of outcome for each one of those categories, hiring managers are happy person who gets the job feels like that was the best recruiting process, the fastest recruiting process, you know, that they've, that they've ever dealt with. And then the last thing is, you know, the folks that don't get it feel like, wow, if this is the way company deals with folks that they don't hire, imagine how they deal with people that they do.Speaker 2:
Perfect. Thank you very much. And just finally for today, Chris, how can our listeners connect with you personally? So maybe that's through , uh , LinkedIn , um , I'd send you an invite by the way connection request. Um , maybe it's by email. Uh , maybe you are super cool and you're on TikTok when you're not being a farmer. Um , and also how can they learn more about , uh , all the awesome work that happens over at app cost ?Speaker 3:
So, anyway, I am so uncool. I can't even tell you <laugh> so I am not on any social media save for, I guess, link . You can find me on LinkedIn. Uh, you can also send me an email@example.com , a P C a st.io . Um, you can learn more about firstname.lastname@example.org . Um, there's, you know, everything you ever wanted to learn about , um, uh, programmatic job advertising, but we're too a ready to ask is all there. You can also , um, you know, hear and read all of the latest stuff coming from our world quickly, world famous Andrew Flowers, our labor economist.Speaker 2:
Hey, Chris, I'm sad to say, sir, that takes me to the end of this interview with you. Uh , I'd love to get you on again next year. Um , but for now, Chris woman , thank you very much for being my guest on this episode of the HR chat show. Thanks bill . ItSpeaker 3:
Was a pleasure andSpeaker 2:
Listeners as always until next time. Happy working.Speaker 1:
Thank you for listening to the HR chat podcast brought to you by the HR Gazette.Speaker 4: