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Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:00  

Hi, and welcome to episode 23 of Talent Acquisition Trends and Strategy. Today we're joined by Elijah Elkins. Elijah, welcome to the show!


Elijah Elkins  0:20  

Thanks for having me, James. Appreciate it.


James Mackey  0:22  

For sure. I'm excited that you're able to join us today. And I'm really excited to speak with you about the topics we've kind of outlined for today. But before we jump into it, would you mind telling everybody on the show a little bit about yourself and what you're up to right now?


Elijah Elkins  0:36  

Sure. So my name is Elijah Elkins currently located in Williamsburg, Virginia. So you can Google that if you're not familiar with it, actually, just a few hours, I think south east of you right, James?


James Mackey  0:52  

Yes, I'm in Northern Virginia in the Reston area. So I think it's probably a two, three hour drive.


Elijah Elkins  0:56  

Something like that. I'll have to make it up there at some point to get together in person. So I've been down here for about three months, we moved here, my wife, Tanya and I, we actually lived in England for three years, which was pretty awesome. About a 45 minute train ride outside of London in a little village called Wargrave on the Thames. Beautiful, picturesque, really fun. 


I basically have been in talent acquisition probably around seven years or so. And working mostly with tech startups and a lot of SaaS startups, a variety of different roles where I started my own little recruitment agency working with tech startups in the US and Europe.  Moved into an in house role leading talent acquisition at a series B tech company in the UK through to Series C. I built out a team from scratch to probably four or five people, amazing people, and then left to join a recruitment SaaS company called Comeet, applicant tracking system, right? The number one applicant tracking system, I'm pretty sure in Israel specifically and expanding and other places. 


And what we're doing is building out recruitment and sourcing services to kind of be delivered through the software. I think we're the only ones in the world doing that. If you hear of anybody else doing that, let me know, because I'm curious. Really excited to be at Comeet and leading the delivery team.


James Mackey  2:30  

Yeah, well, we're excited. I think, just with your background and experience, there's a lot of value that we can add to the audience today, just so everybody knows, Elijah and I have actually had the opportunity to work together quite extensively. I guess, at this point, probably a year or two ago, we started working together when I was advising Comeet on building out its services division.  So we had a lot of time to really talk about how to develop effective talent strategies for startups and growth stage companies and thinking through how to effectively scale talent acquisition solutions, both from an agency perspective as well as in house for primarily product companies that are scaling rapidly. 


So what I'm really excited about this conversation is just because we know each other pretty well. We're just going to be able to riff and I think just pack this episode full of value. So I guess to jump into it, the first topic we have is empathy driven recruitment. And I would like to hear a little bit more about what that means to you.


 If you consider that kind of like a high level strategy, and then how is that truly baked into process culture, process policy? How do you actually implement it, as opposed to it just being a nice kind of lip service type of thing where like, obviously, everybody wants to be people first, right? Or be empathetic. But I would love to hear again, what it means to you, and then how you actually implement that within Comeet and for your clients as well.


Elijah Elkins  4:02  

I think empathy driven recruiting is a bit of that Northstar for us. As we were looking at building out the team, right, remember and making kind of our first few hires. 


We're trying to figure out like what can unite people? What can we kind of use not as a filter exactly, but looking for the right type of recruiters. And I know that can sound defensive, right, but anybody who has been in recruiting for a while or worked with recruiters knows that there can be a lot of bad recruiters or not the right type of recruiters. Some of that I think, is incentivization plan and the cultures and the models that they were a part of. I don't think  that they're like bad people. Right. I think they were trained in poor ways or incentivized by things that made them maybe not lead or recruit with empathy for the candidates and the hiring managers and just any other stakeholders involved. 


But the right type of recruiters for us is people that are driven by empathy, they want to put themselves in the hiring managers shoes, they put themselves in the shoes of the candidate, right from the sourcing, the outreach message, what's going to interest them to the interviewing, interview prep, you know, giving them some advice and tips all the way through to the offer, and trying to kind of keep that balance between empathy for the hiring manager and the customer. Right, like, maybe the budgets only a certain size, or there's certain benefits they can offer, but also giving pushback if they don't feel like that's actually truly valuing people and valuing the candidate. 


So I feel like those are kind of the two groups that we're always trying to have empathy with. And then it also makes teamwork and the culture you build, I think a little more impactful as well, if you're always trying to empathise with one another.


James Mackey  5:56  

Sure. And just to kind of piggyback on what you're saying, too, I think the other important element is optimising for experience. I think, particularly on the agency side, and actually in house, too, I think it's across the board. It's just very apparent on the agency side. 


In our industry, it's weird, like, there's so many companies that they're just focused on outcomes, and it's very transactional. What are we going to do this week, outcome wise, like hitting volume driven metrics, or just focusing on revenue, and one of the biggest, lightbulb moments for me in business, and that really helped us, like start to aggressively scale, was when I was like, Well, you know, what, like, what if the experience of working with us mattered just as much, if not more than the outcomes we're producing? Seems kind of wild because, you know, outcomes are all that matter. Like, that's what we learned, especially when we're coming up and leadership and become executives, right. 


But the reality is, like, if you can remove friction and create great experiences for everybody associated with your company, your employees, your clients, or candidates, even your vendors, that is going to accelerate and scale word of mouth and referral business. It's like, just creating that amazing experience. And part of that is having empathy, you actually have to care about the people that you're working with. You want them to have a good experience working with you. 


So I think those things go hand in hand. And if you're truly going to create great experiences, you have to be empathetic, because you have to actually care about how people are interacting with your product or your solution or your team or so and so forth. Right? So that's good stuff. 


I know we want to talk about  just talent acquisition models. And one thing you said earlier was a lot of people have an experience working with bad recruiters. Right? And I have this one quote by Warren Buffett and he said, like, when good leadership meets bad business economics, the bad economics always wins. So it's like the quality of the leader is not going to matter if it's a bad business model, right?     


I think the parallel to that  it's the same with recruiting. I think a lot of recruiters get a bad rap, similar to how a lot of salespeople get a bad rap. But I think more times than not, it has more to do with how the business model is created. And, again, focusing on transactional outcomes versus optimizing for experience and alignment and quality of hire. Right, as opposed to just like butts and seat volume, right.


So kind of curious to get your thoughts on that too. When you're thinking about talent acquisition structure, team structure for Comeet, for your clients. How do you think about bringing alignment and creating great experiences and making sure that you can empower your recruiters to get the best outcomes possible?


Elijah Elkins  8:59  

The thing that we're constantly struggling with and pushing against is the agency mentality. And I mean, the typical agency, right, like just contingency kind of slinging CVS, you know, not being really consultative. I think there's less and less agencies like that over time. I think there's a lot more like good agencies being created or shifting towards just better models. But, yeah, I think it's really important to be able to focus on partnership, right? 


So we're constantly trying to stress with the customer all throughout the sales process, onboarding, etc. This is a partnership, right? It's your hire. We're here to help you make a hire. We're going to tell you things that you don't want to hear. Like your compensation is too low, like having people come to the office in 2022 isn't entirely ideal, especially in the tech startup space right. So we have to have conversations with them. We're constantly pushing the word partnership and trying to align. But they're so used to working with agencies,  that they're just like, where are my candidates? Right? That  question I always hear, right? And I'm sure you hear that too. Like, where are my candidates? And it's more than that, right?


James Mackey  10:19  

Well, yeah, and I think that's why having a different business model, as an agency, is also helpful. It's not just because it's more effective and optimizing we can get into all that. But it's also that when companies engage with you three different business models, you kind of break that pattern sometimes of how they think they're supposed to engage with you. And you can kind of tell them what it's going to be like. Now, of course, that doesn't always work. 


One thing we started doing, I don't know if y'all do this, but we actually put it in our agreements,  on the first page of our contract, what the partnership looks like. It's like we are an embedded partner, meaning we have internal slack access, internal access to ATS, we are going to be part of the leadership calls regarding talent acquisition, we put all of that in the contract, and it actually has helped. It's not again, it's not bulletproof. There are still times in which it doesn't work but it does help. So I think optimizing your business model to create alignment and operate differently than other firms also created an opportunity to kind of educate the customer on what the partnership should look like.


Elijah Elkins  11:33  

Yes, that's a great point, I think our sales deck, right, definitely has it in there in our outreach messaging. I'm not positive like on the contract, I really looked at one for a little while the sales team is doing most of that. 


But the challenge we run into in setting those expectations sometimes is that the hiring manager wasn't involved in that. I don't know how you all navigate it. But HR decided to kind of buy and set up the partnership and said, Hey, here's like, you know, these recruiters or however, they word that with the hiring manager, and the hiring manager is really the one coming with this expectation from agencies and models that they've engaged in before. So I think it's probably more the hiring managers that we're trying to reset expectations with on partnership than the HR team who like to purchase the solution or agree to it. Right?


James Mackey  12:28  

Yes, that makes a lot of sense. And you all are still working with a lot of international companies, too. So I think that  also requires another layer of, really setting expectations, because working with international teams, sometimes there can be a communication breakdown, right? Particularly for startups that, maybe they don't have all the right processes built out, right?


Elijah Elkins  12:57  

Yeah, yeah. Sometimes they're making their first hire in the US. They asked us "so how do we get a contract out? We're not, you know, lawyers, like we can't draft your first US employment contract for you. We helped, get you the candidate and make the offer. But, we can make introductions, right to people that can help with that. But you're right, it is different. When you're working with a lot of international businesses, we have a lot of Israeli customers that we work with, and we've worked with a few in other parts of EMEA, also.


James Mackey  13:36  

Yes, and I think it's interesting working with international companies, I mean, they're a  lot more likely to ask you for all these other kinds of complementary resources. And I just got to the point where I started making introductions, because at first I was like, sending them, template, offer letters and all this stuff. And then I had this moment where I was like, "oh, wait a second, maybe if I'm sending this stuff, does that make me liable? So I stopped doing that. 


The best thing you can do is just kind of point them in the right direction to a resource, right? And not try to take on that HR kind of compliance and legal stuff, because you don't want to open yourself up to liability ultimately. And I'm not a lawyer. 


Elijah Elkins  14:26  

Seems safer, though. That's not what we do. That's not what you're paying us for. So here's  other people that can help you with that. We can give some guidance on best practice. We do compensation, Benchmarking and educating on the US market. That's not like a liability thing. That's just helping them better understand the US market from a hiring perspective. But yeah, definitely pointing them to resources when it's anything that can be a bit sticky. 


James Mackey  14:56  

If it's anything more tactical, and they're really pushing me that I'll just be like, This is what we do.


Elijah Elkins  15:01  

Yeah. Just a reminder like, right.


James Mackey  15:09  

Cool. I remember when I was working with you, we were kind of going through a shift at the time thinking about the right profile of recruiter to be effective working with startups and growth stage companies. Obviously, our companies are a little bit different. But they're essentially both kinds of embedded flexible, recruiting solutions, right. So basically, people borrow recruiters from us, that's kind of the business that we're in at the end of the day. 


So we were kind of making the shift or thinking through like, do we want more people from an in house background? Or do we want people kind of from a staffing background? And I know, like at the time, we were like, Okay, we kind of made a decision, we're going to push for more of that staffing, because we want people to really think of recruiting as funnels and metrics and thinking about things like conversions and top loss reasons and time and stage and kind of pipeline management and being a little bit more critical surrounding that kind of that process and that sense of urgency, which of course, of course, there's great in house recruiters who have that too. I'm not saying there are. But just from a percentage likelihood of getting the right person in the seat for the founding team, I think we had kind of started to lean toward more of the agency background. How is that evolving?


What are your thoughts on that for a company similar to ours? Right? I mean, do you still feel like that's a solid background? Are you starting to hire more in house people? What does that look like?


Elijah Elkins  16:40  

Yeah, that's a good question. And it's definitely been an ongoing discussion and things that we've been trying to figure out.                        I think when I first started, I thought, I don't know if this is arrogance, it's just kind of all I knew, like I thought, well, let's get somebody who's been in house and worked with startups, right. Like, that's what I had just done. And I thought, well, working for startups, like working with startups as customers, it's helpful if you've worked in one because you can empathize, you can understand, you know what it's like, you can connect with them better. 


I thought that right. And then we ended up hiring a number of people more, as you said, from kind of the staffing and recruitment background, no in house experience, and they've done an incredible job. Like we have an amazing team, they picked up working with startups and working with Israeli customers and cultural nuances and all of that stuff so fast, that I felt almost a little stupid for thinking that it wasn't that quick to pick up. Right. 


So I think hiring for the recruiting actual skills, you know, do they know how to do bullions and use LinkedIn recruiter. Some of the tactical skills that you just need to have, and then hiring based on that empathy driven recruiting philosophy? Sure, if they work with startups, it's useful, right. But I think it's more around that character side of things and the competencies that they have the startup stuff, like I said, they picked it up. And now, you know, that's not even really a focus for, you know, the hires that we make for our team to work with our customers.


James Mackey  18:20  

Yeah, I mean, I think we're just now getting big enough to where we can probably start to expand our in house recruiting, in terms of hiring people from that background. But it was very important for me that my first, 15,20, 25 recruiters primarily come from an agency background and that's pretty evenly split between temporary staffing, but if it is temporary staffing, it's like consultative. 


I want it to be like IT or if it's temp I want it to be something about it to be relevant from the types of positions or more consultative, typically, of course, there's an exception. There's exceptions, you can find great volume, basically, I'm not saying I'm not talking about exceptions, I'm just talking about in general, right. So with that background, perm, contingent, as well as from other RPOs, you know, I love doing that. If you can find more aggressive sales bent people from RPOs. They're fantastic.


Elijah Elkins  19:16  

And sometomes under leveraged RPOs, sorry for cutting you off there. You mentioned the RPOs. I think there's some RPOs that unlike your model and what we're doing righT, we're really letting people like take ownership and build relationships with hiring managers make recommendations on employer branding, like, show what you know about TA educate them. You're the hiring expert, right. 


But there's other RPOs and other models where it's, you know, get them candidates, get them candidates and that's all it is. And then they're underleveraged and those really good recruiters,  they're very experienced or sorcerers, they want to go somewhere else where they can actually lbe themselves and fully leverage all the talent and experience they have.


James Mackey  20:04  

Yeah, I've received several cease and desist from RPOs. We have literally a process now built out around what we do when we receive a cease and desist. And it's just so obnoxious because,you know, it's like, it's all BS. Like, we're not doing anything wrong. Like, these aren't your indentured servants. Like, these are humans that can choose where they want to work? They're not even  violating noncompetes or anything like that. We're not taking customers, we're not taking relationships. We're not, you know, none of these things. 


But it's like a lot of these RPOs, people are under leveraged, is limited professional development opportunities as a result of that. And the other thing is, a lot of times they're underpaid. So it's like, it's not my fault, I'm paying your people twice as much as what you were. If you want to retain your staff, like, pay them better. Treat them well. Lead with empathy. 


It's just obnoxious that there's companies that would rather invest in building out a huge legal team, then just invest in their own people. And then, you know, you want to sue me, it's like, Screw you. I'm sorry. It's just so ridiculous. Like, that's the focus, right? Like, why not are these companies just investing and creating great experiences for their people? Right?


Elijah Elkins  21:28  

Yes, 100%. I definitely agree. And I've been really impressed with what you've been doing with SecureVision and the culture, some of the things that you've been posting online. I mean, we've been taking cues, right, like all see a good idea that you've shared with doing that holiday calendar, right? I know, you've done some stuff around PTO. 


You've really tried to look at the pain points that recruiters often have in their work environments, and I think been trying to create a better experience for them. And whenever I see like, one of the ideas or sometimes like, I'll ask them, like, that's great, right? And then I'll go talk to our CEO, Omer about implementing that for our team. Because for the most part, they're just really good ideas that create healthy environments for recruiters that, you know, from the looks of it, recruiters want to work in.


James Mackey  21:52  

Yeah, and I mean, vice versa, like the feeling's mutual. I mean, from our strategy conversations also kind of helped define our path here at  SecureVision to. Thinking about our delivery model, and thinking about how to scale out that delivery model from an agency side to really give a high quality in house feel to how we do things. But also bring that process that regimented kind of like, demand gen and sales kind of motion into recruiting for our clients and finding that right balance, right. 


One of the things we wanted to talk about too, and this may be a good segue is getting into, so it's just like maybe larger startups or growth stage companies, how to determine how big the in house recruiting team should be. There's obviously a tonne, we can talk about, but I think just to start, how to determine how many internal recruiters they need, when they should leverage contingent partners, when they should leverage, you know, retained search executive search, right? Or when they should leverage something like elastic recruiting or RPO?  I mean, how do you kind of think about helping companies craft that solution?


Elijah Elkins  23:49  

Yeah, so we've been having some conversations with customers recently, who are closing funding rounds.  And the questions I'm asking are like, what's the hiring plan? how many people do you need to hire and by when? So those are like two big things, do you need to hire 100 people? And is that 100 people over the next 10 years, right? Or is that? Of course not?  Is it 100 People in the next six months, right? So like, how many people and how quick they like, what's that pace, I think is really important. 


And then I also think there's the almighty timezone that sometimes people ignore, maybe to their detriment, like there is an element of timezone that I don't think has to be a big factor, but it's just something to consider. Like, are you asking people to work in the middle of the night, right, are they having to do calls with candidates when like they would normally be sleeping? I think there's just some nuance around timezone. But really thinking about the workforce model, too, right? Is it remote like is everybody remote? Is it a hub and spoke model? Are there offices, but then there's like kind of regional get togethers is everybody in one place. 


Their recruitment team and the model kind of needs to reflect and be set up to effectively serve the workforce model of the company.         So what are the hiring targets? What's the workforce model? And then you can get into what's the appropriate, I guess, you could say, like, talent acquisition strategy, and slicing and dicing, you know, percentages of in house versus RPO versus contingency, and it's pretty high level, but that's where I start at least.


James Mackey  25:37  

Yeah, and it's very situational. So it's hard to put it into like an exact playbook. But I mean, maybe we can just talk through some situations. 


For instance, like for startups, let's say, from 10, to 50, people, they might start out with a solution similar to ours, right, because they don't want to build the in house team. But by the time they're 20, they're hitting 30 people. And if they have growth plans to exceed 50, to me, it's like at that level. When you're at 30 and you know, you're going to be above 50. 


When you get to that point, I always recommend" you have to hire an internal recruits. Like, of course, I want your business but you need to have some internal structure and process. And of course, we provide that, but you want that. You want to have the in house option, the steady kind of go to person that can really own process and optimization, and candidate experience and all that kind of stuff. And then you want to be able to augment that with a partner. Ideally, like us, I think, you know, for particularly companies that are younger, unless you're a very, very experienced hiring manager, I don't think it makes sense to go the contingent path. Because you don't have the right checks and balances in place to ensure quality of hire, usually. 


I don't mind contingent, I just think it's a later growth stage motion, because at that point, you have a built out internal talent acquisition team. And you're basically like just saying, Okay, let's throw gasoline on this and like, just, you know, have it explode, but we have the right checks and balances, the right  people in place process technology to ensure we can maintain a really high quality of hire through contingent firm. Because you gotta remember, like, contingent firms aren't incentivized for quality, they are incentivized with middles and hires. A lot of sales leaders like that, because they're like, Oh, well, you know, people are gonna work harder and faster. If you know, it's contingent. It's like not necessarily, they're a lot more likely to also,  not prioritise you if you have like, one little thing wrong with your process.


Elijah Elkins  27:44  

Yeah, or shop the candidates around, right? Like they've got a great AE candidate, and they're gonna send it to like 15 different companies, instead of working with you to build your talent pool with your employer brand. 


James Mackey  27:58  

Exactly. So it's like I feel like for, again, 30 going up to 50, get an in house person, augment with some kind of flexible, RPO or embedded solution. And the thing is, I know, that people can think like, Well, yeah, but you both are kind of biassed, like Well, sure. But you know, we also have in house experience,  like we've done it. We've worked with the vendors, I've worked with contingent firms, all these, I've been on the other side of those contracts. And that's why we've decided to work where we do. Because we know that this is a higher quality option. And that's why we've decided to invest, right? 


Elijah Elkins  28:40  

Yeah. 100%. I mean, we both worked with agencies, right, almost from the in house perspective. And there were some good agencies, right, like, you know, I could probably give a couple shout outs if I could remember all their names that helped us out with some different tough roles and hiring really good salespeople in the UK. But at the same time, these solutions, these flexible RPO solutions for startups are newer, right? 


I think one of the first companies like kind of the old school company that did it was bank. And then RobinHood acquired bank, right. And then yeah, there's a number of other players now, but there's still not that many of us and they're still startups, maybe not wasting but spending tonnes and tonnes of money with contingency firms instead of working with like the flexible RPO or contractor creator. Somebody who's actually going to be committed to you and your brand and your process and your candidate experience so you're building something right building a foundation, not just getting a sales hire. Right. Those are two different mindsets.


James Mackey  29:56  

Yeah, just speaking a big shout out to Boris guy. He's incredible I talked to him a couple of times.


Elijah Elkins  30:05  

As well, he's great.


James Mackey  30:08  

So let's talk about from, like 50 to 200 people, right? So we've kind of discussed what to do, you know, 30 to 50 range, right? If you're under 30, then probably no in house, maybe you have an operations person doing TA. I think just to point on that a little bit higher operations early, right. Hire somebody who can do people ops, but also just like a separate motion, you know, people talent and operations really early, ideally, in your first 10 hires, in my opinion, if you have intention to scale, right, then.


Elijah Elkins  30:44  

Yeah, think about engineering, right? Is anybody in engineering doing that without somebody with at least a little time on DevOps? Probably not anymore. But yet there is still resistance for startups in general and certain departments, right. lLke sales or even delivery, to be able to have someone dedicated or partially dedicated to Ops is super important.


James Mackey  31:07  

Oh, my gosh, it's a no brainer. It's also like CEOs that are resistant or leadership, they're resistant to like executive assistants, it's like, they don't understand how much of a bottleneck they are until they finally hire one. And then they're just like, Oh, my God, everything is moving so much faster. Because it's like a point of pride, like, oh, I work hard. It's like, no, yeah. But like, you should be thinking about the strategic stuff that's going to drive the business for, not scheduling.  


Anyways, ops early, and then when you hit 30, internal TA augment with flexible RPO, to 50, 50 to 200, hopefully, you have a little bit more process built out. This is where it depends on how fast you're scale. If you're in hyper growth, I still thought it might be too early to go contingent. But it depends, right? 


It depends on the seniority of your recruiting leader, how effective your hiring managers are. So if you have like a really senior VP of sales, has been hiring for 20 years or something, then I feel better, like go for contingent. But if you have like VPS that are pushing up from like a director level, which many times you find it growth stage companies, because it's like that balance of like experience and just hustling. Then I feel like it's too soon for those departments at least to go contingent. I'm just kind of curious to get your thoughts on that growth phase.


Elijah Elkins  32:28  

Yeah, I'm trying to think of some of the customers that we've worked with, like there's a number of roles that have been, to be transparent, they've been challenging for us, right? Like we build kind of like custom talent pools for the customer for different positions. Our sweet spot, right is like, go to market, right? So sales, marketing, customer success, CSMs, AEs SDRs/BDRs, or marketing people, product marketing, engineering, right. 


But then there's these companies that and they're brilliant companies, right, because they're doing something different. It's not just pure SaaS, maybe they have like a data science team, or they need some cybersecurity analyst, there's some of those roles that we've at least seen it be challenging for, you know, flexible RPO to do or even in house. I think there's probably a place for some very niche specialists, you know, contingency agreements, so that you can focus right on what you do well. You want to build a TA function, not necessarily to do everything well, right. But you need to be able to do like 80 to 90% of, you know, the bulk of the hiring, that there is, as you scale really, really well and stay focused on that. 


If somebody on your team doesn't know how to hire this, like cyber security, senior, ninja who's like this and that like, you know what I mean? They need to know how to find purple squirrels. And, you know, those unicorn candidates for different roles in general, to be a good recruiter, but I don't think, they kind of need to specialise in all these different things outside of certain disciplines that are core to the business scaling. Does that make sense?


James Mackey  34:27  

It does. And I think to take it a step further to, I think a lot of companies in this phase should consider to hire a high level consultant, that you're focused on talent strategy. Look, I've had a couple of conversations lately with a couple of leaders that own like these, talent strategy, talent consultancy firms, and it's not recruiting but it's like, they start with all the really high level stuff about like culture and values and principles and stuff like that. 


But then they get into more of like, okay, what are the most important role requirements? How do we boil this down into, what are the company objectives and outcomes? What are the department outcomes? And then how can we kind of really boil down to the nuts and bolts of like, what matters for this role. And just thinking about how to like, simplify the profile, and really get to the core of what's going to drive success. I think that more companies should be thinking about investing in that kind of strategists to come in and help. 


Because otherwise,  it gets so much more strict, like what you're talking about, like these really hard to fill roles with startups that are looking for, you know, three positions in one. And sometimes you get like the stubborn CEOs that are just like, No, we will find this, just like that. Maybe you will. But even if you do, it's not a scalable motion. Like that shouldn't be your strategy at scale, like, okay, maybe you find one, and they're like, Oh, well, two years ago, we found somebody. It's like, okay, but now you have to hire 10 of them. And that's not a scalable, repeatable motion.  So I think the talent strategy piece is important, too.


Elijah Elkins  35:57  

Yeah, yeah, I think that's a great point. I mean, if it took you six months to hire that person, right, and your business, like your targets that you and the commitments you've made to investors, you need to hit right, you need that person in the next 60 days. Like something has to give, right? Like, you can't just do both. Sure, you can try the search as is, constantly I'm going to tell customers, though, 30 days into the search 45 days into the search. We do it as soon as we can, right. 


But usually they don't listen till 30 to 45 days in, that you have to widen the requirements, like less than the requirements look, you know, make the role remote, or at least hybrid, offer RELO. Like, something has to give if you really need the talent, right? They set the talent pool. And I feel like they don't always realise how their job description, their requirements. That's all recruiters like bringing back to you, right? Like, we're trying to help you find the person you want. 


And you can either make that really hard by shoving like you said, James three rolls into one, and then giving it some odd title. You know, kind of the role stuffing that startups often do they put like, the three different hats, you know, into one position and then want somebody with experience and all three versus Yeah, like maybe separating that out and making a few different hires. Because you know, you that's what you need for the business.


James Mackey  37:26  

Yeah,  I'll just be honest, and say I sometimes I still catch myself doing that. Like, we're coming up with a JD for a new hire, and I'm like, oh, but they could also do this. And it'd be really cool. If they're, you know, have a background in marketing, recruiting and operations, can we find that? 


In every time in my career, that I've actually decided to really make the investment and segment out the roles and pay more money for the senior person and don't get greedy in terms of like the skill set and just boil down the row, just prioritise, communicating with the leadership team. 


I talked with Nick, like, hey, here are the different things that we need. What do we need the most? What is going to drive growth most directly? And then just Okay, then let's not worry about all this other stuff that we need to get done. Let's just fix this one problem, that's going to be the biggest growth lever, and then we can fix the other stuff, opposed to trying to hire the three in one. Right. 


So I think it just comes down to prioritisation. And just understanding what your objectives are for the company and then working backwards to figure out like, what's the most direct path and then just simplify and go with that person first, right? And it's hard, easier said than done. Right? 


Like, again, Nick and I were literally talking about it this week. About do we need a salesperson do? Do we need kind of like a candidate marketing person, right, a community manager possibly even like, we're thinking about all these different ways to add value and scale word of mouth and referral and all this kind of stuff? And then, basically Nick was like, look like all that stuff sounds cool but salesperson, We need more quality leads coming in. So some variation of that. That's got to be a priority first, and then we can do the other stuff, basically. Right? 


Nick Andrews  39:21  

One thing I've noticed in my experiences is not everyone has that killer mindset. There's a small percentage of employees who are like, yeah, let me take all this stuff on they can do it. Well. Those folks are few and far between and you know, typically start start them off small and haven't build up and up but just unloading a tonne of stuff on someone. At the end, the gecko can a lot of people can't really handle that.


James Mackey  39:47  

Yeah, it's definitely true. And it's also Do you want one person to handle all that before you get to know them? Like, do you want to hire somebody that's doing like basically touching like every function within the business? You know what I mean? Like, it's almost better, like, hey, let's give them this one job. And let's see how they do with that. And then if we want, you know, if they have the ambition and desire, and it makes sense for to expand the skill set, or the the role requirement, we can do that after, you know, a few months, right?


Elijah Elkins  40:16  

That's a bit like project management, honestly, right? Like, the one thing you're looking out for and project management professionals are always looking out for is scope creep? Like, is the project becoming bigger than we initially kind of scoped it out? Right? Is the scope creeping larger and larger? It's the same, like you're saying with roles, right? Like, what's the business problem that we're actually trying to solve or the opportunity we're trying to leverage and take advantage of. 


Let's design for that, and not have like this kind of role creep, where we keep, you know, scooping more things into it. It may be one of the biggest problems, actually, that startups or mistakes startups I think are making is that and then taking seven months to try and find, you know, the unicorn person who can do that, instead of just getting somebody really good in, they can solve the initial problem, and then learn and grow, as you said, to take on more responsibility as they've been kind of faithful with a few things and then getting them more.


James Mackey  41:14  

Right. It was an interesting parallel. Do you know, Sam Jacobs, he's the founder, CEO of Pavilion.


Elijah Elkins  41:22  

I heard of Pavilion but I don't I haven't met him.


James Mackey  41:27  

So one of the things that he said, in a recent post was, he said, you know, a lot of times people will go to him and say, like, Hey, how come you don't  roll up this service into your company, or, you know, start a search firm within the company, or, you know, do X, Y, and Z. 


And he's always like, you know, more junior operators, always think of that as a path forward. But the reality is, when you have more experience in your career, you realise that, that's going to dilute your focus, and to really just hone in and focus on your core offer, right?And don't get greedy and try to do all this different things, and don't be mediocre at it, you know, is pick your thing and just be the best be the category leader. 


I think that boils down into like, individual role descriptions, too. It's like, don't have somebody doing like, 10 different things, right? I mean, that's kind of an ops person. Right? So there's kind of an exception, right? They're doing all sorts of stuff. But I think for most roles, it's like, yeah, it's, and then people also make the mistake of, alright, this person is crushing it, let's give them more. And then you just give them more and more and more until they burn out. And then they leave. 


Elijah Elkins  42:37  

Yeah. And that it makes a lot of sense because our CEO Omer, because I have a lot of ideas, right, like, um, kind of the profile you talked about earlier, like kind of coming up from like, head, director level, moving into, VP level, you know, young and hungry, however you want to look at it. Very motivated. 


And Omer is like, constantly pushing back. Like, we can't do everything, right, it's really important that we focus, like we need to be the best at this and not be adding in all these other things. And obviously, he has a lot more experience than I do. And I learned a lot from that wisdom. But you're right, it is kind of that more experienced operator who's pushing back against, you know, all the ideas that would dilute focus and momentum. 


James Mackey  43:25  

And I mean, really, what do you want to be known for, too, it's also like a branding motion, like, you want to be known as the category leader for like your thing, right? Like the results of being the best is significantly better than the results of being the second best, or the third best. Like, just that extra little lift makes all the difference in the world. I'm a huge believer of that. 


And speaking of Omer, I learned a lot from him, too. I think one of the biggest lessons I learned from him was process, how important process is.  He really got me started to realise that process documents are assets. And I don't know why that was like a lightbulb moment for me. But it was just kind of like because at the time, I was like, very just verbally, just explaining, okay, like you do this, you do that. But it wasn't scalable. It wasn't repeatable, their knowledge transfer is much harder, because if somebody leaves and it's like a total mess. Onboarding takes longer. 


I mean, there's just so many reasons why it's so important to have process built out for every single part of your business. Right. And I love the way he would say is like, Look, if you just had to hand somebody this process guide, and you couldn't explain anything to them. And they had to figure out how to do the job, like, is it clear enough? And I was like, wow, that's really smart. Really smart. And I was like, I really got to start doing this for my own business.


Elijah Elkins  44:50  

I think that was one of the first projects we worked on together was actually the process playbook for like the delivery and a lot stick recruiting. 


James Mackey  45:01  

It was and again, just getting everything like in my brain on paper, I remember was like the first time that I had really done it to that level. And then basically, when I took another advisory roles, and obviously for SecureVision first and foremost, that was like, always, the first thing I did . Was just like, Okay, I gotta, I gotta get this process down, right?


It's like, every time we have an idea on a leadership meeting, I'm like, Hey, Andrea, can you rewrite the process playbook for that? Like, it's every little thing, and it's constantly evolving. It's always a work in motion. It's never set, but we just put it on Google Sheets. And we just at this point, we probably have over like 300 process playbooks spanning the demand side and delivered.


Elijah Elkins  45:45  

Yeah, we haven't taken it. Well, not that many. We continue documenting things and kind of updating the playbook creating different procedures and guides as well. Because that is something Yeah, like you said, it's very important to Omer, it's very important to a growing business as well. I'm learning things from Omer all the time, like technical things, pivot tables, and different things and sheets and science, right. Like, he was showing me some like data science stuff yesterday. But then also just kind of business wisdom things, as well regarding funding rounds, and you know, staying focused and leadership. So it's been really great to work with Omer.


James Mackey  46:31  

Oh, yeah, he's a strong operator, and he knows how to cut through the noise and just like dial in and obsess on like one problem at a time.  So that's definitely a lot of lessons learned. Well, look, man, this is this has been a tonne of fun. I would love to do this again, if you'd be open to around to. You know, thank you for joining us today. This was this was great.


Elijah Elkins  46:50  

Yeah, for sure. It's been a lot of fun always here and always enjoy chatting with you. And if we record some of those chats, I'm more than okay with that. 


James Mackey  46:59  

For sure. And by the way, just before we jump off, if people want to follow you online, where they where can they find you?


Elijah Elkins  47:05  

So is the company website. And then the best place for me is probably LinkedIn. So Elijah Elkins on LinkedIn, follow, connect, whatever, reach out, happy to help with whatever I can.


James Mackey  47:24  

Yeah, for everybody listening, definitely take Elijah up on that. Follow him on LinkedIn, incredibly bright guy, a lot of great strategies when it comes to talent acquisition. So thanks again, Elijah, for joining us today and for everybody tuning in. Thank you so much, and we'll see you next time. Take care. 

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