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EP 57: State of the employment market for startups and growth-stage tech. Hiring junior talent and career transitioners w Corey Kossack

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:00  

Hello, welcome to Talent Acquisition Trends and Strategy. I am your host, James Mackey. And today we are joined by Corey Kossack. Corey, what's up man?

Corey Kossack  0:29  
Hey, James, how are you doing?

James Mackey  0:31  

I'm doing well. Doing good. Yeah, I'm pumped to speak with you today. And for everybody tuning in, we got a good one for you. Corey and I are both CEOs and the tech industry. And we're going to be talking about the state of the employment market for startups and the growth stage. What's going on specifically, you know, in the tech industry, and demystifying what's happening in the market, we're going to be diving into hiring Junior talent, hiring people with careers that are going through a career transition, how to really know if your organization is really well positioned to hire entry-level talent and how to help entry-level talent and career transitioners be successful within your org. We'll be diving into helping your hiring managers get clear on what they really need versus what they think they need, which as we all know, it's an acquisition, sometimes there is a gap there, right? And then we might also be diving in. I mean, since we're both CEOs, I wouldn't be surprised if we randomly start to discuss just different challenges and opportunities and building businesses. And as that pertains to people and what we're seeing on the market, and talent acquisition and all that good stuff. So it's gonna be a fun show. 


Corey, to kick us off here. Before we dive into these topics. We want a high-level overview of what you're doing with this fire ship. And so I want everybody tuning in to understand your perspective and point of impact on the topics we're discussing.

Corey Kossack  1:53  
Awesome. Yes. So Aspireship is an upskilling platform, currently targeted at sales and customer success. We help early career professionals transition into the field. And once they're successful in their roles, while also helping companies attract and hire really awesome ambitious talent.

James Mackey  2:14  
I love it. I love it. Okay, cool. So jumping into it, the state of the employment market for startups and growth stage. What the hell is going on? From your perspective, I'm excited to learn from you what you're seeing in q1 as it pertains to town acquisition and people. And maybe we could give some benchmarking in terms of what we were seeing in q3 and q4. What are you seeing out there in the labor market? What stands out to you, with your client base demands? What companies are looking for in how hiring plans have shifted? Any of those? What do you say?

Corey Kossack  2:49  
Yeah, absolutely. So I think first, it's important to give a little context leading up to this. Well, what we were seeing in q1, q2 last year was tremendous growth across the board. Everyone was growing, still hiring all of that. And the key thing that changed was the Federal Reserve deciding to raise interest rates really quickly, in response to inflation, getting out of control. And as soon as that happened, I learned more about economics and stuff like that than I ever thought I would in this last year because as soon as that happened, things turned dramatically. And q3. Started to dip, freezing of hiring, layoffs, starting all of that stuff. James, you and I were talking about this in q2, I think last year, anticipating it and thinking it would be kind of a short-lived thing, but it actually just kept going. And so q3 was the first major slide. From my perspective, q4 slid further, layoffs were more aggressive.


Now what we're seeing in q1 is yes, there's a bunch of big headline layoffs, like, you know, the Googles of the world, and you know, those types of companies that are creating a lot of attention, but I think I don't want to say it's the last wave of them. I'm sure there's going to be more. But we have a lot of the pain that has already been experienced. And the biggest thing here, I think, what, what this all comes back to, is that the reason that there's such an issue surrounding this and why it affects growth companies so much is that a private company like a venture capital back company, they are funded by venture capital so that someday in an optimistic world, they become a public company, and their stock gets traded on, on the public stock exchanges and For that to happen, the company has to multiply in value from today and be worth a whole lot more so that public market investors will buy the stock at those values. When interest rates go up, valuations go down, because the future value of the money isn't isn't as great. And there are some other things, you know, that are factors. But basically, if you think about why the public market matters so much, it's because if companies were funded today, and investors are placing a billion-dollar valuation on them, and five years from now, they grow like crazy. And they still might not be worth more than that. Just because of how the value has changed in the market. And so as soon as that happens, the whole plan of growing and all of that stuff kind of gets thrown out the window and has to be re-evaluated.


And so I think I know this is a lot of info, but the thing I would cap this off on is to say that the biggest thing that the public market needs is certainty around what's going to happen next, and that's inflation and interest rates. During the back half of last year, completely uncertain, no idea how far inflation would go, no idea how far interest rates are gonna go. We are now at this point. Most people that know anything about this believe we're approaching certainty, and that things are going to start getting better, not what they were before, but better. But that can change. And so that's basically kind of where we're at. And what we're seeing.

James Mackey  6:39  
That's all very relevant and very important for talent leaders to understand and to be able to communicate effectively with other members of the C suite or with their CEO or Chief People Officer, whomever they're reporting up to, because one of the I think, biggest shortfalls that we see with, for instance, like a VP of talent acquisition is they may understand the hiring plan that's given to them from the other executives within the company, but maybe sometimes have a hard time tying back to the Northstar metrics that needs to be accomplished to the company and having that executive level conversation. And so I think it's very important for town acquisition leaders to really understand what's happening within the greater economy, how it impacts their employee's ability to hit Northstar metrics, and to be more so a strategic partner in terms of focusing on business outcomes and working back down cascading back down into individual hiring plans. So this is all very relevant. And I think one of the other things that I've really been learning over the past several months is understanding that what a lot of companies were considering last year really isn't scaled at all. And I've been, I don't know if you follow Sam Jacobs on LinkedIn, but he posts a tonne of content related to you know, what, what the scale really means. And last year, we saw companies raise money at Crazy valuations. Right? Well, I guess, the year before last, right, 2021.


And I guess maybe in Q1 of last year, we were still seeing that. But we're seeing you know, companies raise a tonne of money and go out and hire a shit tonne of people. And they're calling that scale. And really what that means is they've taken on debt, or they've taken on large expenses, right, by hiring all of these employees, but they really didn't think about anything related to unit economics. And really what scale is, is scaling, repeatable profitability, at least, you know, maybe not in the short term, but you know, okay, we're willing to sacrifice repeated profitability in the short term, because we believe that we are not going to churn our customer base. And at some point, we can flip the switch and turn this into a sustainable company that doesn't require investment, or cash flow in order to thrive. And so we see a lot of those companies now. You know, struggling, right, because they don't have any short-term path to any type of profitability. You know, some of which maybe never focused on unit economics and really don't have any path, even long-term. But certainly, a lot of these companies don't even have a path short term.


And so we're seeing, you know, decreasing burn rates, obviously being a top priority. So I think it's definitely an interesting time to be in talent acquisition, what I will say is, we have an embedded recruiting provider, right? So basically companies borrow recruiters from us, and our recruiters act like internal recruiters on demand. Some folks that are familiar with the space would call it RPO. But basically, we already in q1 have already closed more revenue than we closed all of q3. So, yeah, that being said, we are still experiencing high churn, right, where companies are taking shorter-term projects with us. It's more strategic lower, high, lower volume, hiring play. ends. But we are seeing a lot more decisiveness, shorter sales cycles on our end, and more closed revenue. I am cautiously optimistic. The one thing that I do not know is the increase in hiring that we're seeing in q1. Is that a result of annual planning? Where companies have just decided, okay, this is what we have to hire for these key positions. And as a result, is that going to be temporary? Or is the market really starting to stabilize? And, you know, quarry companies like ours can be an indicator of the market where we start to rebound three to six months before the greater market, like in COVID conditions. People were still posting online about how bad the market was. Meanwhile, we were growing fast. Right. So I'm curious to get your perspective on that. Are we seeing a temporary uptick due to envy? First off, are you seeing that uptick? And then, you know, what do you think is going on and causing that?

Corey Kossack  10:56  
Yeah, so January is good. And seasonally we expect, like q1 to be good. It always, typically is. My belief is that the market is stabilizing. But like I said last year was all about uncertainty. Right. So uncertainty drove a lot of things to happen, including, perhaps more layoffs than necessary. At other times it is perfectly necessary, right? But I think that right now, there is a cautious optimism. But as soon as, like, let's say, in a couple of weeks, there's an inflation report and it goes the opposite direction, like cross fingers and toes, that is not the case because that will create paralysis in the market for an extended period of time. But barring those kinds of surprises that happen that shake things up, people are cautiously optimistic again. And that means that things will, will very likely stabilize. And we will very likely turn into a modest growth kind of period, as opposed to regardless of what's happening in the overall economy, recession, whatever. You know, as it pertains to talent acquisition, we remember this from COVID, everything froze, layoffs happened and everything froze, and it pent up demand for later, which then created this Crazy Cycle of trying to play catch up. This will not be like that. Because the amount of money flowing into the system is not going to come anywhere near what was flowing in at that time when interest rates came down and just massive money was being poured in. But it's kind of funny like you think about it. It's all about perspective, right? And if you expect everything to be awful, and nobody to be hiring, and you're surprised when you see a job posted, then as soon as you see some moderately positive news, you're like, wow, everything's great. Well, it's just like, halfway normal. Right. And so we're getting more to that. to that level, I think the panic is ending, and the money will start returning to the system just in much smaller quantities and focused at different levels. I don't want to go on to depart down the rabbit hole. But if you want to talk about the difference between the earlier stage and the growth stage, there's a lot to say about that with regard to this topic.

James Mackey  13:47  
Oh, sure. And I think in terms of the market recovery, what's also it's, you know, we are seeing right now, well, in December, at least, which is the last stat that I have inflation, it came in at 6.5%, which is down from I think at its peak last year was in June 9.1 9.1% In June, so we have come down to a significant amount. And it's crazy. If you look at the 2021 stats, you know, we started the year at 1.4% and ended at 7% within a 12-month period. And that's why we were seeing this insane growth along the way. But you know, we're starting to come back down. There are a lot of people within the startup and growth stage who are very prominent investors. I was on a call with Jason Limpkin. He was doing a kind of fireside chat, if you will, with a group of CEOs and I was on a call with him last week and he said, you know things ultimately aren't that bad right now. You know, quite honestly Corey, our industry is probably getting hit a little harder. But you know, things overall in the greater startup community are not that bad right now. You know, what we're going to start to see going into q3 q4 is things are gonna stabilize we're going to start to see a little bit more growth. But one of Jason's core messages that he was giving on that call is that we have to adjust our perspective on what good looks like, yes, we're not going to see, you know, 2021 return, that was insane growth, it wasn't sustainable. And now we're essentially right sizing, right, where, you know, a lot of companies are losing some of that top line, and re-evaluations and everything else. And we're going to adjust to a more hopefully sustainable and consistent level of growth that's going to be slower. And, you know, his core message is like, you know, the growth bull market that we saw even in 2009, 2018, and 2021. That's not coming back, at least for the foreseeable future.


So I think we're gonna start to see, you know, a lot more conversations, you know, tying back in talent acquisition, tying back hiring plans to what's actually sustainable from a budgeting perspective, right? You know, our goal in town acquisition shouldn't just be to put butts in the seat but to communicate with the executive team, the cost associated not only when it comes to salaries, which you know, you partner with the CFO on, but you know, what's going to be the cost per hire per source, what's going to be the cost of ideally breaking it down from an onboarding perspective, a management perspective, and really understand those cost structures and being a little bit more analytical and being able to get more within spreadsheets, and being that type of strategic partner versus just being a tonne acquisition leaders say, okay, you know, the CEO, says, We're at 50 people this year, I gotta be at 200 People in 12 months, what do we do, right, where it's just like this, almost like over-emphasis on top-line growth at the expense of even considering unit economics, or considering costs or anything else. So I think we're also going to start to see, you know, if for folks that want to be that senior VP or move into a CPO role, there's going to be a shift in skill set where people in town acquisition is going to have to become more of an analytical motion, people are going to have to get deeper into understanding costs and sustainability. And that's my prediction for the next few years.

Corey Kossack  17:00  
Yeah, I love that you said that. Because it brought up a thought that something has been on my mind for a number of years. And that is the disconnect between talent acquisition and talent retention, right? So in my experience, for most people who are in the talent acquisition seat, the focus is on getting the butts in the seats, right, getting people in the door. And yeah, they don't want them to turn out in two months, right? That's not going to look, that's not going to be favorable for them. But they're not as much measured as, did my person make it to a year? Like, did they make it multiple years? Like, are they building a career here? Or did they just take this temporary job, and then move on to the next thing? And the reality for all of us is that things are going to be significantly better if you can attract people that are going to stick with the company and try and build a career there, instead of it being a pit stop. And just get off the hamster wheel for a change, right? That's really what's going to breed sustainability. And so I think that if we can look at the talent in that way, and say, All right, like my job as a talent leader, is to not only attract but retain the people that are here and like plot a good career path for them at the company, that's going to lead to health in the company. If people see like, if CEOs see their talent leaders or their talent teams in that way, they're not going to cut them as easily when these things happen. Because right now, or like any other time, where you see, you know, market pullback, they say, Well, I'm not going to be hiring a lot. So I won't be on my talent team. Yeah, I don't need my vendors or I don't need whatever. And it's like, it's more than just hiring.

James Mackey  19:03  
Yeah. What's interesting is its talent acquisition in a sustainable way. We're not just looking at this hyper-growth, from the perspective of headcount, we're looking more into retention, I, I'm not of the mind that people need to stay at a company for five years for the company to be successful. I think if a tech startup or growth stage is hitting, you know, a year and a half to two years tenure, I think that's fine. I always recommend you need to build your company. So it can be successful with an average tenure of one year. But obviously, the goal is beyond that. And I think it's like a balancing act of investing in retention and investing in talent acquisition, and also investing in process and technology and onboarding and enablement of these types of things. So you can plug people in. I think it is a vulnerability if a company is too reliant on a few key folks. Because if they leave then it could set the company back and the reality is the company should be much bigger than any individual employee. And we should be building in such a way that we can plug people in and out. But it's both. That doesn't mean that retention is like, obviously, we want folks to stay with us for a longer period of time. But we need to build the organization in such a way where employees can turn into value creators faster, ramped faster, and we're not relying on a few key people. Yeah, I think, yeah, I was

Corey Kossack  20:25  
Just gonna say, especially in junior talent, like, if you're in sales, SDRs are kind of junior AEs, the industry has had a bit of a track record of doing things like 50% retention of these people, like, Hey, I'm gonna hire 10, because only five are gonna make it, we have to get better than that. Or else, like costs, get out of control, loss of revenue to the company's out of control. And it's just, not where you want to be.

James Mackey  20:56  
No, it's terrible. And that's so much cost. And I think, to some extent, I don't know how much of the total cost is really being reported accurately when it comes to employee churn and bad hires, and just the sheer cost of onboarding somebody successfully within a company. And I think that this is actually a pretty good transition into hiring Junior town and career transitioners. As a talent acquisition expert, there are several occasions in which I find hiring for a junior-level position more challenging than hiring for a mid to senior-level individual contributor role, because, to me, it's a little bit more straightforward hiring like, for instance, a Senior Account Executive, because there's a track record. And I can ask about the results. And if I can find somebody that's operated in a very similar environment, similar sales cycle, similar stage company, great references, or maybe even my ability to back channel and sense, you know, I can move within my own network to find folks. Junior talent is like this huge unknown. So like, I would love to just get your thoughts on hiring Junior talent in general, or career transitioners. And, how to, first off how to know if hiring Junior folks makes sense. Because again, like I think for the earlier stage, right? Sometimes, I feel like hiring somebody with experience is actually a little less risky. So curious to get your thoughts on how to determine as a talent leader, or maybe even like a VP of sales, or you know, customer success, how to know if it makes sense to actually hire junior-level talent.

Corey Kossack  22:37  
Yeah, so devils in the details. But I think a lot of it comes down to how we define these things. How do we define Junior talent? Even what is Junior junior to the industry, junior to the role, Junior, and overall work-life experience? Right. And so, basically, what I've observed, which drove me to, you know, found a spider ship a few years ago, is that the way in which, and I mean, this is like everyone, so it's not aimed at any particular, you know, talent acquisition, persona, or CEO persona, or anything, this is just like the way it's done in business is that we hire, looking for look-alikes, essentially, we have these cheat codes in our mind, of, alright, if they have X years of experience doing this specific job, or working with these types of customers, or doing this type of sales cycle, or on and on and on whatever the cheat code is, that helps us justify in our minds that we're making a good decision because hiring is really difficult. That's what we do. And everybody that doesn't fit whatever we think those things are, and those things are different to everybody. Right? To some it's, you don't have SAS experience, or you don't have experience in the education sector, or you haven't been in a closing sales role or you haven't, whatever, right?


That is really, you know, the big thing that I see as just the largest opportunity in the world of work today is figuring out how to hire for capability, true capability and not you were in this job before selling to this type of customer before and so on and so forth. And so to answer your question, when you think about hiring Junior talent, it is not a good idea to hire Junior talent, whether you define them as being new to the workforce, or just new to this industry. You are new to this role. If you do not have solid training and enablement capability at the company, right if you are not philosophical. Being committed to investing in people, then it is not a good idea. However, it is always a good idea to do those things, to have solid training, enable you to really invest in people and really prepare them to win, understand why your company is going to win against competition and all of that kind of stuff. So you can't put somebody that lacks tremendous experience in this very, very specific thing into a broken engine.


And I would say something that doesn't have a good onboarding or training process, is a broken engine, in terms of onboarding new people that can be productive, you know, rather quickly. But the other thing that is really understood, I think this is where so many people struggle, is really understanding what if I could strip away that I'm looking for X years of experience doing a very specific job title, or serving a specific industry if I could strip that away, and I was no longer even able to determine if those things were true. And I was interviewing, you know, a person, what am I actually looking for? What are the capabilities? What do they need to know how to do? I think that the biggest thing is getting talent teams and hiring managers to really understand what it is that they actually need, and then figure out how they can assess people for that.

James Mackey  26:34  
What stage typically, do you see, tech companies start to become successful at hiring people that are transitioning to a new career within tech, or a junior in that capacity, not necessarily right out of school, my mind jumps to the growth stage series, and honestly, maybe like Series C, Series B, it's like that initial hiring push, but there's probably a lot of processes that are going to be changed a million times. While they're figuring out how to scale effectively. What are you seeing out there? And maybe this gets into a sort of like your ideal customer profile, right?

Corey Kossack  27:18  
So my answer is going to be a little bit different than you'd expect. And that it's really not about stage, it's about mindset. So if you are a, you know, seed-stage company or a bootstrapped company, or whatever, it is not like huge, not, you know, off-the-wall growth or any of that kind of stuff. A lot of times, you don't have the processes developed. So really do this well, or I should say, at the seed stage bootstrapped, they're a little bit more under control, save us a time. And so oftentimes, they have more, you know, things ironed out, and they put more into each individual employee. But we've seen it work across the board. And then we've seen the series C, series D, publicly traded companies, even where it's like, there are all kinds of problems because they're just throwing stuff at the wall. And they're moving so fast chasing numbers and whatever, that they're not doing the fundamentals properly. So to me, it really comes down to the desire to do it and the commitment. It's like, okay, we're going to take each hire seriously, we're going to invest in them, and we're gonna empower them to be successful. We are not okay with 50% churn. So a Series C Company, at least in the, as Lemkin called the gogo days, right, in the go-go days, a Series C Company would be like, Yeah, you know, we'll, we'll probably hire 100 reps this year, and there'll be you know, 50, leftover, you know when all said and done, and that's perfectly fine by us, it's part of the machine. And a bootstrapped company is certainly not going to do that. Right, they can't afford to do that. And so, yeah, it's much less about stage and more about mindset and commitment to, you know, really doing it and building something that lasts.

James Mackey  29:23  
That is interesting today, because, my assumptions, which I'm glad I'm testing here, with you since helpful would be that even if an early-stage company wanted to do this properly. They don't necessarily have enough resources in place to do so. And it's like, okay, if you're a VP of sales of an early-stage company, how do you invest your time? And do you invest your time on onboarding enablement training, you know, to a certain extent, you of course need to do that But then you're also investing probably into a lot of those executive conversations helping define or redefine an ICP, going into budgeting motions on, you know, where the spend should be to acquire those customers, looking at client acquisition cost and lifetime value and churn rates and all these types of things. And so it's like, is hiring a candidate at that stage at an early stage? We're talking seed Series A, right and I know you don't necessarily think about it that way. But just coming back to my assumption, which it sounds like is not necessarily it's at a minimum is not the full picture, right?


My thoughts would be, though, that hiring somebody with experience would enable them to spend slightly relevant experience in terms of like, okay, this person has worked for, you know, company, or even as an SDR right, or like a customer success rep. Like, that means less time needs to be invested in their development. And so more time can be invested in those things that hopefully will enable, I mean, everything you're enabling your people enables a company to scale to so I get it's like, both are incredibly important. But I'm just like, and that's where my head goes. Okay. Later-stage companies might have more bandwidth. But then again, it's like the GO GO GO stage, as you said, where they're basically just sprinting and shit falling apart. But as long as their key or star metrics are being hit, they're not really focusing or doing anything else. So yeah, I mean, I guess I don't even know what I'm asking at this point. I just like I'm just further testing that assumption of like, do early-stage leaders really have the time to do this?

Corey Kossack  31:42  
Yeah, I think so. One is, you also have to balance your perception of how much time is going to go into someone's development, with the probability that you retain them at the company for a significant period of time.

James Mackey  32:00  
That is important, I want to put that in the description of the episode.

Corey Kossack  32:03  
So if you hire somebody that has quote, unquote, experience in this very specific thing, as they worked for, you know, the super common thing is, you scooped somebody up from a competitor, right, especially now in this market, as all the layoffs happen, and there's all these people laid off from these companies, and then their competitors that are still hiring are gonna go hire all those people that already know the market, they know there's no that whatever. So yes, some might be good, some might not be good, right? That's just part of reality. Not everybody who held a job somewhere for some period of time is actually good at their job, or, or good people, or any of that stuff. But the other thing is that let's say they do, quote-unquote, hit the ground running, as everyone wants to see happen with the new hires. And you know, if we're talking about salespeople, or whatever, you know, they, they start making sales and all that stuff. Well, if six months down the road, or eight months down the road, they're like, Okay, like, I got hit up by some other recruiter, and the markets are better now. And so I'm able to get this better offer and whatever. And I'm out, well, how much time did you spend recruiting and building up a book business and doing all these things that now you have to do all over again, multiplied by however many people? And you can see the patterns in these people who I mean, it's kind of crazy, you can see some people who've worked for five companies that compete with one another. Because it's really easy to stand out as like this is a perfect fit, because they work for somebody else in our space, right? So I think all of this stuff points back to, there are pros and cons of hiring senior people and hiring more junior people or people that are less experienced in your specific industry or this specific type of role. But I think your general assumption around the stage is something that we had as well in the beginning. And probability-wise, is still true. A more mature company is going to be better positioned to support these types of people. However, we've seen a number of examples where we may have been concerned in the early stages of things like, oh, I don't know if they're really ready to take this on. And, and then they did and they had the right mindset from the beginning. And then now all of their people I mean, we have some people that they started very early at their company and now this is the way they hire, they just hire out of sponsorship and they just keep going back to it because the process works for them. And they invest in making these people successful, and they're getting much better talent than they would get going out in the market. And, you know, kind of taking whoever was interested in this, you know, early-stage company.

James Mackey  35:17  
I love it. And I, so let's, I would love to kind of nerd out for a minute and just get more technical. I think it's like, it's, it's also running some analysis on compensation in relation to the cost of onboarding, learning, and development and trying to strike the right balance of, okay, if we have our comp is too low. For instance, then if we're spending all this money on onboarding, then you know, somebody could jump faster to another company. But if our comp is too high, right, then, you know, that could also be problematic. And so I think, to some extent, tell me if I'm wrong, does some of this factor into the type of sale that the company is doing? So for instance, if it's like, a low AR are more transactional sales cycles? Is there a correlation between that and hiring entry-level talent versus if it's a higher arr? Number? And as a result, since the deal is larger, they could almost invest more in that client acquisition costs in the SDR team, right? Or, or whatever else might play into that where they can afford to hire competent, more senior-level folks. Is there a correlation there? Or is it just kind of all over the place, I am just curious to go into the mind of leaders and how they're making this decision to go like career transition versus somebody who's a little bit more established within tech.

Corey Kossack  36:50  
So I'd say it depends on the role. So like an SDR role could go across the spectrum because you can have somebody Junior ish, but just with the right level of sophistication, business acumen, you know, the way that they speak all that stuff that can show well to an enterprise customer, which is effectively what you need if you're just trying to spin up meetings and prospecting and that sort of thing. For actual closers, like an AE role, or something that's going to be more intimately involved in the conversation. It tends to go down market, so SMB mid-market type sales, you know, for like a closing sales role or probably even for CSM, you're not going to go put somebody that's never done that specific thing before, on like a million dollar deal.

James Mackey  37:44  
You're gonna put them on enterprise, that's their first of all, their heads gonna explode. Yeah. Yeah. It's just

Corey Kossack  37:51  
Not the path, right? And so, so in that way, it certainly matters. The affordability, though, doesn't change. The affordability doesn't change, yes, like you can put more CAC into something that you know has a longer lifetime value and all that stuff. But there isn't volume. So like on the SMB side, you have volume, and you expect your salespeople to do more volume. And so it all kind of evens out. I think if anything, either way, you slice it if you are avoiding lnd, avoiding properly funding the talent, whether it's through third party resources, or internally, if you're doing those things, you're just going to shoot yourself in the foot, one way or the other. And it's easy to say from our seat, right? Because we see this across so many companies, and of course, it's to our benefit for companies to invest in these things, right? But the reality is that you need balance, and just saying, hey, you know what, we're gonna pay five or 10 grand more on comp, and therefore we'll get a higher quality, you know, person and keep them longer. And whatever, there is always somebody willing to outbid you, always in good markets and bad. And if they're not today, they will be tomorrow. And if that's the only reason you're keeping people, it's not going to stick and people, and there's been a bunch of studies about this. They value their own learning and development and future opportunity above everything else. And comp absolutely matters. It's high up on the list. But people believe that if they're learning and growing, and there's a path to future opportunity for them that the money is going to come. And if you're not providing that the extra salary isn't going to make the difference

James Mackey  39:53  
and just tune in on there's always somebody willing to help bid if you're running your company properly, then there should generally be somebody who's willing to outbid unless you're like Google. Right? Because if you think about it, there are companies within SaaS, particularly in the startup and growth stage that are scaling unsustainably. And those are the companies that are going to have the worst valuation slashes and the hardest path to decreasing burn, potentially going through the most excruciating layoffs as a result of that strategy. So I think, when you're, of course, there are some cases where you, your company might decide, okay, we're going to scale, we're going to be operating at a deficit or excuse me, like a negative cash flow in order to, to scale the business. You know, I get that. But, you know, if you're just solely going off of comp, I think that's indicative of maybe issues with the strategic planning of the company and how the organization is running it in your right like people are willing to, I mean, contest to be competitive, like you should have decent compensation in relation to the market. But, you know, offering a more holistic package is going to enable you like in a down market to maybe not cut into muscle and bone, right? Like where you're cutting into your best folks as a result of over-emphasising base compensation, or even variable comp, to other benefits. And I think it's just like the career tracking aspect, which something is, you know, we haven't gotten too far into but, you know, showing clear, clear promotion pads, right? Even if it's, it's not huge changes in role descriptions, giving people small level changes, where they can have small increases in compensation, or focus or scope, are all things that, yes, take more time to develop, but it's one of those things, once you set it, it's there. So like you, it's not on an ongoing basis, if you have very clear metrics defined to what success looks like, once you set it up, it can be a great retention strategy as well, right?

Corey Kossack  42:09  
Yeah, the last thing I'll add to this is that it's a huge culture bump to the company. You think about it from talent acquisition, or you know, HR person's perspective. Everybody loves the idea of investing in each other and lifting people up, right? And if you're helping people within your company have a brighter future. Like, that's a motivating thing, even when stuff sucks, and like, you know, sales aren't going well, or like other things are happening that are really difficult. If you are invested in the people around you, it really makes a huge difference. And so I hope we can see a lot more of this and a lot more holistic thinking, and a little, a little less absolutism when it comes to, you know, we can only hire people that meet this profile, or we cannot spend a penny on recruiting or a penny on our, you know, upskilling and learning and development. Because, you know, we're, we're focused on profitability, it's like companies that are profitable and do well, they invest in these things because it makes the engine run better.

James Mackey  43:19  
And I think that's, I mean, one of the core value adds of what you're building at Aspire ship, right, is that you're taking on a lot of the unknown burdens, right? We're but you're taking on a lot of what's required in order to do this successfully. Right. That's my understanding of your platform and solution, right, like you're doing most of this training. So that actually enables probably, I would assume earlier stage companies to do this successfully. Versus if they were doing it all in-house. Right?

Corey Kossack  43:47  
Yeah, including not just the hiring part. But once they're actually having upskilling resources for ongoing learning and helping people navigate changes in their job and do better at their job, and so on and so forth. So, yeah, that's the idea. It's to be a platform, to scale this instead of relying on people to just automatically know the answers, which is quite difficult to do.

James Mackey  44:14  
I love it, and does Aspire ship or maybe there are other resources online, like, Can you point our listener base to like resources if they want to learn more about how to help folks transition into tech or into roles for the first time? Are there any online resources that you could think of that they can research?

Corey Kossack  44:35  
That's a great question. So I think in terms of the specific roles that we address, obviously we can be the number one resource for that with regards to first time in sales or first time in, in a tech company. First time in customer success, those sorts of things. In terms of the general stuff, there really isn't. There's some niche stuff. But, you know, my intention is really to scale this out to a lot of different types of jobs and be that, you know, kind of holistic resource. But you just gave me a great idea for some follow on content we can do.

Corey Kossack  45:24  
To help with the talent side and kind of leadership side of things and how to help people navigate, you know, these new worlds, because ultimately, it's not just about transitioning into tech. It is also that if you look at the last couple of years, like how much change we've gone through, you really think it's not going to keep changing, we got AI, you know, coming full force now and all that stuff. And so people's jobs are going to continue to change. And they're either going to change with you, where you get to hold on to good people, and you help them change at the company, or they're going to change without you. And you're just going to be on this hiring hamster wheel trying to replace what you lost every two seconds.

James Mackey  46:12  
Well said. And I think that's a good place to end today. This has been packed with a lot of incredible value, I want to make sure that folks know how to contact you and Aspireship. So if they want to engage with you. What's the best way to do that? How can they get involved?

Corey Kossack  46:33  
Sure. Corey Kossack on LinkedIn, or just go to

James Mackey  46:39  
Great. Corey, thank you. This has been a lot of fun.

Corey Kossack  46:54  
My pleasure. I'm excited to come back for the 2024 edition.

James Mackey  46:58  
Yeah, come back, whatever you want.  We got to talk about high-level market stuff. And then we also got to nerd out with you a little bit and ask some pretty technical questions. So those are my favorite episodes. Like we also do the ones like what's happening on Twitter. I love like, personally, as a nerd at heart, I love getting deep into operations and getting a little bit more analytical. So this was so much fun. So anyways, for everybody tuning in. Thank you very much for joining us today.


If you're getting value from the show, we'd really appreciate your reviews on Apple podcasts or Spotify, or wherever you're listening to this feel free to reach out to me by the way, if you have any topics that you would like to see discussed on the show, I would love to get your thoughts on what we can do to bring more value to you and help you guide talent strategy at your company. So anyways, thank you so much for joining us and we will talk to you next time. 

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