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EP 27: Nayeem Chowdhury, Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Air Protein

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:00  
Hello, and welcome to Talent Acquisition Trends and Strategy. I'm your host, James Mackay. And today we are joined by Nayeem Chowdhury. Nayeem, welcome to the show!

Nayeem Chowdhury  0:20  
Hey, thanks, guys. Appreciate. 

James Mackey  0:22  
We're pumped to have you today. And before we jump in, could you share a little bit about your background with everybody?

Nayeem Chowdhury  0:27  
Yes, thank you very much, Everybody, I'm Nayeem Chowdhury, and I'm based in Houston, Texas. So I'm a senior global atom, which is a leader, with 15 years of experience. I've worked with three fortune 500 Companies such as GE Siemens, and Halliburton. I'm very passionate about space, I've driven project delivery and worked on complex VA projects, working cross-functionally leading global remote teams in the areas of sourcing and experience, recruitment, banding data, and enhancing technology with ATS has CRMs and other tools. 

I'm experienced in poaching and building teams. And I bring a very strong strategic customer and data-focused expertise when it comes to TA to help resolve legacy talent, strengthen the brand, help improve the people and culture and ensure the number one thing is to ensure ongoing and future talent demands are met and exceeded. And the most important measure.

James Mackey  1:25  
That's great. Thank you for that overview. And I'm really excited about this conversation because I want to get a little bit more technical than we do on many of the shows and really dive into data and automation and leveraging technology to basically be able to accelerate quality outcomes, for companies that are hiring at scale. Particularly startups, and growth stage organizations that are aggressively expanding the size of their team. S

I would love to get your thoughts at a high level. What do you think about data and talent acquisition, what should companies be focused on? And maybe we could just start the high-level macro, and then we can get into some tactical things that people can take away from this conversation on what they can implement. Right?

Nayeem Chowdhury  2:10  
Yes. And I think what's most important for any type of organization that I've seen from big to small is, what's their end goal. When you're hiring volume on the candidates, or a specific niche or function one thing you get is if you don't have an aligned workforce plan, and understand where you want to be as an organization, as numbers, but as a culture, is to really define, what the landscape will look like, before the recruiting even starts, and then obviously have measurable metrics, not measurable metrics internally. But understand the benchmarks in the industry and understand how difficult or where the talent will sit. 

Then, have a very strict strategic approach, rather than, Hey, we got these roles, and let's find them. I think sometimes companies are more of a reactive state but I think it's ideal to use data, and market intelligence, and do the research and build that. I would say that baseline or work planning to be able to get that intelligence and then really build that sourcing plan to attract the candidates because the first impression is everything. And if you don't do it right, the first way, I mean, it can set you back for a long time.

James Mackey  3:33  
For sure. I mean, this is I think one of the benefits for some individuals that come from an agency background, particularly people that come from a contingent agency background. Because that is a pure sales motion, where everything is about funnels and data and numbers and conversion rates and top win and loss reasons and at least the firms are a little bit better run.  So taking that philosophy toward recruiting, we should think about optimizing the recruitment function similar to how revenue leaders optimize sales and marketing functions. And we should be leveraging just as much data technology process, as we see in these other functions. 

Yet, I do see a little bit more of a disconnect, where I feel like some recruiting organizations are operating how sales organizations were 20 years ago. It's not that the technology isn't there, it's just that I feel maybe, because it's just so fragmented and there's just so many different options on the market, people probably get a little bit overwhelmed. And I also think that a lot of the emphasis is just on interviewing with empathy, and soft skills, which is important, don't get me wrong, but I think that it's a missed opportunity to not invest in better data and technology strategy. 

I'm curious,  and these might be kind of obvious, but just to put them out there anyway, What are the most important data points that you're looking at? Is it funnel metrics in terms of volume of outreach? Is it conversion rates? Is it the acceptance rate? What do you look at? 

Nayeem Chowdhury  5:06  
I mean, I look at a multitude of numbers. First of all, before everything even starts, is attrition versus attraction. Retention is how can we attract if we can't retain just identify internally, look at the attrition numbers and see why people are leaving and get that data first. Whenever someone's looking at social media these days, and checking out an organization and seeing a high number of people living, it's going to, no matter how much funnels or technology you use, you're going to be blocked. 

The negative things are coming from the organization, I think the first thing to do is identify why people are leaving and why people are coming. And to focus on those areas and emphasize those areas and work with HR, the talent management, the high energy, and to build a culture where that attraction will be much more beneficial. And whatever technology is used to attract that you want to be able to retain them. Areas like quality candidates, your senior recruiters, are they providing quality candidates based on the requirements? So time to source, time to select, time to submit, time to offer, time to hire. 

Look at all these segments Why are people falling off on the phone screen? Why are people falling off after an interview number one? Is it really digging deep in and seeing where the bottlenecks are, and where things are not moving from? And obviously, I think the hiring manager satisfaction, we providing customer service are we doing those intake calls? Are we involving them in the process? And basically, diversity, I think it's a topic we'll cover later. But are we providing a diverse candidate? The slate diversity rate? Are we providing the right amount of diverse candidates for the organization?

James Mackey  7:05  
For sure. The point that really stood out to me, too, is evaluating top win and top-loss reasons. So that's literally as an executive or an advisor going into an environment, that's the first thing I want to uncover. What's the offer acceptance rate? Why are we winning? Why are we losing? And on the attraction side, and on the nutrition side. I want to know why people are leaving, but also I want to know why they are staying. So both ends of the funnel, right, or both ends of the journey, I guess you could say the employee journey, top loss reasons, top one reasons as to why we're winning too. And I usually say, let's evaluate the top three. 

If you can hit the top three loss reasons for both candidates, and for employees that are leaving, or maybe just giving feedback on a survey or to a manager who hasn't left yet, ideally, right? It can be a proactive motion before they leave. And if you can solve the top three things, that's already going to have a significant impact. So I actually got a fair amount of heat when I posted on LinkedIn a while ago, like, in my opinion, the offer acceptance rate is more important than time to fill. Right? Because if it takes six weeks or 10 weeks, you need the best-fit person.

Nayeem Chowdhury  8:24  
I agree. You figure out if someone's operational based or truly looking to make the organization better, you know, someone's trying to determine, basically, let's fill the seats as quickly as possible. That's staffing. Talent acquisition is acquiring talent, finding A-level players that help your organization, get to the next level, that's really kind of the spiel that I use with the hiring managers This is what we need, and obviously, giving realistic expectations, but different niche, very specific or technical or more high-level roles is being transparent but getting educating them on the reasoning why is important to find the best and not worry about time as much.

James Mackey  9:24  
Right. And I think as recruiters, we sometimes fall in the trap, whether you're in house or agency or whatever, of trying to fulfill the desire to accelerate time to fill, where it's like we get caught up in Okay, the executives are just going to be looking at, how quickly we can get somebody in the seat and I think it's really important for recruiters and just talent leaders in general, to stick to their guns and focus on quality. And if they are continuously receiving pushback on that, then maybe it's almost better to just try to find a company that understands versus, constantly spending half of your energy explaining or justifying your actions to an executive team that doesn't get it. 

And again, like, I'll see on the agency side companies that are bragging about their time to fill, Oh, we can get you an SDR, or an engineer in seven days, it's like, I don't care, what's the lifetime value, what's the quality of hire what, I need to understand references of customers that have been with you for years. That is really important, you have to solve for quality first, and I think, executives to some extent get it. But I think a lot of the time they don't understand the opportunity cost of optimizing for speed, before quality. You have to do it quality first, and then speed, which seems obvious, but it's not to a lot of companies.

Nayeem Chowdhury  10:56  
And I think that speed comes when building the infrastructure, then implementing the technology. I think companies, depending on who they are, are always worried about the cost and not investment and just looking at cost. But I mean, really, you build that into technology, have the right data points, you can do everything quicker, better, cheaper, and faster.

James Mackey  11:17  
Yes, I mean, the easy comparison would be like, if you're gonna buy equity in a company, right? You could buy equity in a company that costs five units of whatever, or you could buy equity in a company at 6.5. But the return on the five units is significantly less than the return you're gonna get if you invest in 6.5 units. 

So you want to focus on what's going to help your company scale. People enable your growth and is what's going to provide the best client experience and the most value to the customer. So, I think data surrounding, again, just like top loss reasons, top win reasons, conversion rates offer acceptance rates, are the first things that companies really at any size or scale should be focused on.

Nayeem Chowdhury  12:10  
Yeah, and one thing I've also implemented is dashboards, on our ATS,  and really making data culture. I mean, everybody sees that the full layout, I mean, the recruitment team sees where everybody's at, you know where they're sitting, and the hiring managers have that visibility, and really data speaks for you. I mean, I think that's really important, that everybody refers back to the system. 

Obviously, we have to have a setup the right way. And there's going to be some ups and downs, it has that picture as well, almost 1000 words. But I think that's where the communication comes in, where you have that level of engagement that goes along with the data and being able to articulate it.

James Mackey  12:54  
Yeah, for sure. And also another reason, it's just important to have the data and not operate off feel, is at one point, at some level of scale that will break down one. But two, when a talent leader is going to other members of the executive team or speaking with a CEO, or maybe even a chief people officer, right? Having data is going to enable you to make the argument for an additional budget, right? What usually ends up happening is companies optimize for time to fill, right so they put in a six-week time to fill when it should be eight. Hypothetically, right, I'm just talking about growth stage tech SaaS for revenue and technical roles, just to be safe, and make sure that you have the right capacity planning. 

They're optimizing to short for like six weeks versus, let's say, eight, hypothetically. And then you're one quarter into the year and your whole hiring plan is complete, just like thrown out the window, and then you're scrambling to catch up on hiring. So then you hire a bunch of contingent firms that are providing you with B & C fit players paying six figures per month for the low quality of hire and poor experiences over candidate hiring manager experiences and frustrating everybody including the VCs that have invested in you. So that's the issue. 

It's this sense of urgency, and I get it, but it's a huge disconnect because when you're focusing on that stuff that just your whole hiring plan, your budget, the capacity planning, the number of recruiters you have in your team, how you decide to leverage vendors, everything is going to be thrown off very quickly. And that's what we see. Like, isn't it? Most common? Over half companies get this wrong, and most of them do. It's like maybe 15% I'm gonna say just like that's kind of my gut feeling.

Nayeem Chowdhury  14:51  
Yes, like 10, 15% get it.

James Mackey  14:58  
What do your dashboards look like, by the way, what I mean, what do you got going on?

Nayeem Chowdhury  15:03  
For recruitment dashboards? I have dashboards for diversity, I have,  we're application sources, you know, that kind of recruiters know how many interviews we've got going on, how many hiring managers screening, basically, anything. A workflow of the recruiting process, and really just a breakdown of exactly, where we're at, and where we can see, where the bottlenecks are. And so I think that's where the engagement comes. Is to be able to identify right away, why is it taking so long? Why haven't we gotten feedback and find patterns, and consistency that this particular group, this particular manager, is telling us a role is critical, but we don't hear back from them for 10 days at a time, right? We try to utilize the dashboards anywhere we can find out what's keeping things on hold.

James Mackey  15:56  
Well, yeah, that's a good point. And also like time and stage, a lot of people are like, Well, doesn't time and stage, shouldn't that be the priority over quality, a higher offer acceptance rate? But again, when you're tracking top loss reasons, that's going to come out, that's why you always start with top loss reasons and conversion rates, as opposed to time and stage or whatever else, because top loss reason will be like, Oh, why are candidates dropping out? Well, because they're staying in stage for 10 days, when they could be accelerated to three days. Right. 

Nayeem Chowdhury  16:26  
I'm sorry, especially passive candidates if you say I want an A player, and you're talking from a competitor at a high level, and use as a recruiter, that level of trust, and somehow got him to send me a resume. And he just sits there is invariably like, what's going on? It's a candidates market right now.  I'm in biotechnology now but coming from oil and gas, they also had that attitude of, you know, if you want to work here, make time, you know, and that's not how it is. They're interviewing us as much as we're interviewing.

James Mackey  17:10  
Yeah, I don't get where that sense of egotistical or arrogance, I don't know what it is. But there's a lot of executive leaders that just assume people should want to work here, like, Okay, fair enough. But no more than we should want to hire. I mean, it should be a give and take. It's like, it sounds kind of like an abusive relationship. 

Nayeem Chowdhury  17:32  
It's funny, you mentioned that. In my AG days, we had an RPO that used to work for us. And they really liked the recruiter on the other side, and they wanted to hire this individual. I mean, that was one of the things is, it's not because of the brand itself, that, you know, they'll automatically accept. And as I talked to the guy, I got to see what he wants, benefits. The HR leader at the time, no longer there, where is AG Why would He say no? Because he was working for some local firm, and he actually did decline. And it's just that companies are getting better than getting on that old school thinking of, you know, we're the biggest, we're the best, you know, that doesn't work anymore.

James Mackey  18:16  
People want different things. Like you can't just see the world through your lens, you need to have a balanced perspective and understand, take the time to ask, like, you know, what people care about, you know, how are they making their decisions?

I think a lot of the recruiters at least like recruiters, not companies, but good recruiters understand that. I think one of the bigger breakdowns is that good recruiters don't necessarily know how to build talent acquisition functions, similar to how revenue functions are built when it comes to data and optimization. That's, to me, one of the biggest blind spots in our industry in our line of work. So that's again, why I'm so pumped about talking about this with you because it's super helpful. What ATS do you use right now?

Nayeem Chowdhury  19:05  
We are actually transitioning. And so we're using Bamboo HR, which is the easiest, simple, basic ATS. But since our company is now growing, we are now transferring to deliver. I've never used them before. I looked at a number, Greenhouse. And a couple of them were all great, but I just felt that was the right fit for our company at this particular time.

James Mackey  19:31  
Yeah, levering Greenhouse. I mean, I prefer the greenhouse, but they're both very, very good. What companies have to decide is there are basically two types of solutions, you can get the SMb solution that works really well out of the box. But it's going to be terrible with data. It's gonna be terrible with integrations. It's not going to have built out like roles so manager, recruiter or hiring manager like all of that it's going to be kind of messy. And they're gonna have like these little preset dashboards for reporting that is just useless. So you can do that. But it's out of the box, you don't really need implementation, you don't need somebody who has a deep understanding of data, or optimizing talent acquisition orders at scale. 

So you can go that path, or you can go the path where you get a robust solution. And that means that you're gonna have to go through implementation, and you're gonna have to know how to set it up. So it's like the trade-off between those two. But ultimately, you cannot scale with just an SMB out-of-the-box solution.

Nayeem Chowdhury  20:34  
I'll completely agree. In the past, I've used SAP SuccessFactors. I've worked with iCIMS. I've worked with Ultipro, but my favorite was always iCIMS. I wasn't a big fan of SAP SuccessFactors or Workday. I've not worked with it directly. But you know, I've seen a lot of it, I liked a lot of their data, reporting capability. But in the current organization right now, I think we're going to be two years away from a robust solution. Honestly, my favorite has always been iCIMS. Because it's very user-friendly and easy to use, they have really good data dashboards, provided in all types of data filtering. You don't have to get a hrs expert to really configure it. So that's what I really enjoyed about it.

James Mackey  21:26  
Yeah, this is more of an enterprise solution, right? I mean, with Lever and Greenhouse, I think you can integrate like Tableau for additional reporting. So I know, like some of the late growth stages like almost essentially, like pre IPO size tech companies have that. So they'll kind of have a data stack on top of the ATS, which is actually something that I would love to have hands-on experience with. Probably won't at this point, because my career is kind of going in a different path. But I would love to play around with that. I wouldn't love to have like two data analysts sitting on my team.

Nayeem Chowdhury  22:04  
Data scientists. We have one data scientist on the team. But also some consulting that I did, is we work with UGK, our multi pro, and we're using power BI,  to kind of create some dashboards and reporting. When you don't have an internal, really good platform, I think power BI is also a kind of a good tool to use.

James Mackey  22:31  
Okay, nice. So when you had the data scientist, what were they primarily doing? What did that role look like?

Nayeem Chowdhury  22:41  
I mean, they basically kind of forecast o, knowing our workforce plan, able to forecast, or future workforce, identify, you know, eight requisitions, you know, what sitting there. One of the issues was getting how many real roles we have. And, what's the most critical, what's the most important, and what do we have to hire for now, what we like to have, what we have to have, and really just do a flush enables on a global level. I mean, Siemens is a big company. So it really identifies and I'm telling the hiring managers, if you don't want to hire this in a certain amount of days, these are closed and a budget moves somewhere else where it's needed. And getting, I would say the real number of the folks that we're trying to hire,

James Mackey  23:27  
For sure. For smaller growth stage organizations,  my go-to when I used to build myself out was Greenhouse pipeline reports. I looked at other stuff, too, like a lot of other stuff. But just in terms of like, I had this, like, tab pinned on my browser, that would just religiously view every day, was a pipeline report, just to see, okay, open wrecks, right, filter, by prioritization, I would create, like custom fields, so I can prioritize roles. So I just do priority one roles. And we define how much capacity or how many openings we'd put in priority one. 

And then I would just view the pipeline, and I would see, okay, what's coming up in stage four interviews, like final rounds, which we had labeled to stage fours. And going through that, and ensuring like reaching out to the right people to make sure that's going smoothly, we're getting the conversions. And I mean, that was kind of like where I lived, I could still do that in the talent leadership role because it was an earlier growth stage company, there comes a point where at an enterprise scale, you're not going to be able to just look at a huge pipeline report across hundreds of wrecks at once you know.

Nayeem Chowdhury  24:36  
Exactly. And I think one struggle, not working at a startup is they have a huge, startup budget, but the HR organizations are maturing as people are just, I want this role. I want this role in this role. And then we're not checking the budget now, I've been kind of pushing back to, you know, okay, check with the CFO, see the headcount? And because later on, it's been kind of like a free for all. But I mean, it's part of the growing stage of a startup, you think you need everything, but you really have to decide what you have to have right now.

James Mackey  25:15  
Yeah. That's the hard part. That's something that the executive team needs to figure out, right? Like, what do we have to hire first, or one of the things that you see more of a tactical level is do we want,  like five salespeople at a lower base salary? Or maybe we should hire two or three salespeople at a higher, more competitive rate? And I mean, obviously, that impacts capacity and how much, for quotas and whatnot, and future growth. But there are a lot of intricacies there right? 

Which functions do we invest in? First, what positions are we in first? What's the strategy, higher salaries, lower volume, lower salaries, higher volume, right? How much process and tech have we built out, in order to enable potentially people coming in if they're more junior? I mean, that's exactly kind of like what I'm focused on right now, scaling out SecureVision, is making those hard decisions on okay, what are we going to invest in first? And what's the path? Do we go senior, or junior? How many? Really thinking through that strategy? I tried to keep it as simple as possible. And I tried to say, let's hire fewer people, let's hire the best.

Nayeem Chowdhury  26:21  
I agree. I think one of the things for startups coming in, is it was an agency's dream world, you know, contingent, you know, because sort of don't know any better. It's putting a hold on, you know, all the contingent staffing vendors coming in, of course, you want to use staffing vendors and use relationships. But I think, for a startup, like ours is very important to have that knowledge base, I say, always have one Hunter and one gatherer, you know, and they weren't symbiotically trained together to be the hunter one day, and guys really, really build that expertise in house, you know, working in parallel with one or two hotshots, you know, vendors that are doing really well for you. And but really, I think the culture of, you know, always, depending externally, I think a startup should really invest in their in-house recruitment team or their own hotshot recruiter and really give them to become a partner in those conversations. And rather than always, you know, going outside and being a consultant and paying for that information externally. 

James Mackey  27:35  
Yeah, I think it can be a huge mistake to partner with contingent firms too early on, without having the right talent leadership process and technology in place. Because recruiting agencies are not incentivized for quality of hire. They are incentivized to go the path of least resistance. So if you are on the path of least resistance, that likely means that you don't have the right checks and balances and processes in place to ensure that you're getting the best person hired. And if you do have the right checks and balances in place, so it's not the path of least resistance for them, they're not going to invest in you. Because they're gonna go invest in a company that's willing to cut corners because their revenue model is such that their expenses don't start at zero every month, but their revenue does. So they basically have to just, you know, try to fill roles, fill roles, so they can be profitable, otherwise, they're gonna lose money. So if you're doing things the right way, you're almost going to be penalized for working with contingent firms.


So I think you need to have like the right leadership, the right process, the right tech, and then when you hit like Series B, Series C, if you've made the right investments and talent acquisition, then you can start to say, Okay, let's augment our internal efforts, right, or internal recruiters, let's augment that effort with a contingent agency, right. And the other thing is when you're working with a contingent agency, and you have the right process, and tech builds out, you know, again, you have to because like, they don't see this path of least resistance, you kind of have to sell them. You have to say, like, look like, here's, here's the deal, we're allocating X amount of openings for you this quarter, this is our time to fill this is the process that's optimized give us feedback, we'll do a shared Slack channel. You really have to get that kind of level of buy-in to ensure that they make your team a priority. 

And then there are other options like RPO. That's what SecureVision does. Basically, companies borrow recruiters from us, so we have a different model which can be helpful too because it provides a little bit more process and checks and balances in place for our customers than a contingent model. So there are different things out there like I think it's about finding the right blend but you're right. Talent leadership should always be in-house. I mean, if you're really early, but ideally you have your talent leadership in house and you have to invest in at least a small core team.

Nayeem Chowdhury  29:58  
Yeah. I'm actually a big fan of RPO. I've worked with many in the past. But one of the things where I've seen a lot of them fail is if you don't make them an extension of your team. My point is that they're your talent acquisition team, if you're in a full service, hyper RPO, they have your emails, there has to be transparency. And all they can do is build and can help you. They can consult you on processes, but at the end of the day, you have to give it to them, and they enforce it. Yeah, a lot of times, they throw the RPO under the bus, you know, and I think that's where a lot of issues is really to, before working with our pillows to get all your processes and alignment in place, you know, before using one of the services because you're setting yourself up to fail, if you're truly not making them your partner.

James Mackey  31:00  
Yeah, or finding an RPO or some kind of provider or an advisor that can help you do that. Even if it's not the RPO it might be or might not. I think the common theme here, the takeaway for everybody listening is investing in process and technology.  And do it as soon as possible, because otherwise, you're not gonna have the right checks and balances in place to ensure the quality of higher. Quality of hire can be difficult to measure, don't even worry about it, just know that your quality of hire will be better, you will get better people having the right checks and balances in place. Like just to keep it simple, right?

Nayeem Chowdhury  31:35  
Exactly, and the quality of hire, depending on what industry you're in, is subjective. I've seen hiring managers, look at CVs of individuals that fit all the requirements, you know, on the job description but we'll say, Why did he take so long to graduate? And I'll be like, what's that have to do with anything? You know, I mean, who cares? 10 years, 10 years experience already. There's so much subjectivity. And I think that comes with hiring manager training. And another thing is using AI, one of those candidate scorecards, automation, where it does a screen of the resume, and you know, what's the highest rated resumes, you know, on the top? And some of those features that I've seen in some tools are awesome, where basically, those are kind of like a job scan if you've heard of that before. And basically, it doesn't match, doesn't make it a requirement, and gives us a reading score of how close the candidate is to the close to the job description.

James Mackey  32:39  
Yeah. So is that a piece of automation that your team uses? Or what type of automation are you actually using?

Nayeem Chowdhury  32:45  
I have my own personal account. So when I'm doing headhunting and kind of basically aligning to the requirement that the manager, as well as say the senior vice president of bio manufacturer, you know, one of those really high-level roles, where it has a lot of content and basically shows this is your job description. And this is a comparison of throwing, you know, what your score is based on this, I've done it on an individual, kind of my own internal, like executive search that, you know, I do for a certain type of role was actually very helpful because it makes them take a look. Okay, maybe I need to change the description, or maybe, I'm being too stringent, you know, in my review.

James Mackey  33:23  
For sure. Are there any other areas of the process that you recommend automation?

Nayeem Chowdhury  33:29  
I mean, you know, candidate experience doing surveys, inbound candidate sourcing, I think using knockout questions or pre-qualifications, I think that's very important, because, you know, it's funny, I've used very high-end ATS, but when it came with the startup, for the first time, using Bamboo, had to go through 100 resumes, it was like, Oh, my God, like what's going on? Is having that ability. Boolean searching, the sourcing, you know, candidate automated pre-screenings, being able to send out our pre-screening, have them completed and send it back. You know, the resume screening using AI, the job scan that I mentioned, for very niche, high-level roles. And automated video interviews, I think I use one called hire flicks, it's been very helpful to integrate with Bamboo. And basically, once a candidate applies, I can set it up automatically by sending the video introduction, and I think  Gen Z, or the millennial generation, they're much more appealing to that. Getting a phone call out of the blue people don't like to be contacted on the phone anymore. 

James Mackey  34:49  
Sure. I think there's definitely a lot. I mean, I personally believe that screening interviews are ultimately going to be like a thing of the past, right? Somebody's going to come out with a technology that basically candidates can invest in upfront, put all of the answers to all those different types of questions in there, and then just submit that. I mean, that's just such an easy solution, which really, I don't know if there's something out there. But there's definitely an opportunity for technology when it comes to just shortening interview processes by sharing data just without actually needing to verbally communicate it. 

Nayeem Chowdhury  35:25  
I think technology cuts through the bias, because if someone's not smiling or not having it, either, for whatever reason, you know, it could be a bad day. I mean, by answering pre-screening during the technology, it puts a person through which, theoretically, you know, some people would be eliminated on a phone call, you know, depending on that situation, I think. I've seen that  I've had phone calls where they caught me at a bad time. And I had to answer a question. And it is funny, if I had a pre-screen where I can fill out the information, I would have filled it.

James Mackey  36:04  
Right. I mean, the whole thing like, oh, this person took an interview in the car, it's like, okay, yeah, fair enough. Not ideal, but you have no idea what's going on. They could be sitting outside the hospital, you just don't know. They don't want to tell you and you, they don't owe you that.  There are just so many opportunities. I mean, obviously, there are also algorithms that can be biased to and that's something that you know, needs to be monitored, monitored by a human on the other end that's educated to these things, right? But yeah, there's definitely so much more room for automation that I think a lot of organs are doing. And then that's, again, like people like, Oh, what if you lose the human touch? It's like, no, that it gives your recruiters more time to invest in the relationship, more or less of their time is spent doing admin tasks. And more time can be spent on getting to know the candidate, not asking the candidate, Oh, tell me why you left this opportunity. And why do you decide to accept? I mean, all that stuff, like all of it, right? Like, all of this stuff, eventually, as much as possible should be done a different way.


I think more of the conversation, just should be around, getting to know the human on the other side of the phone, or the other side of the zoom, understanding what really drives them, what they're passionate about learning about that talking to them through, you know, the alignment, right. And again, some of that can be shared and content developed too but I think that's, again, where the highest impact time is for the recruiter, like talking through what other offers are you considering. How do you rank these opportunities? Are you at the offer stage? Where are you? That type of thing is what we should be talking about, not just checking boxes, right?

Nayeem Chowdhury  37:46  
And one of the tools that I love the most it's a data analytical tool. And I think companies should do more as talent mapping is getting that competitive input. And not all companies can afford it. But Gartner talent neuron, is one of the most awesome, as cool as I've ever used. Working at Siemens when you're starting, to recruit for a new market, they'll give you the data to forecast, you know, your future workforce, identify locations to help consolidate your footprint, find hidden talent pools, you know, analyze extra, you can put in your own data, and analyze, competitor hiring trends compared to yours. I mean, of course, like I said, for bigger companies, but it's one of the best, most amazing tools that I've ever seen, and really, you know, to find, identify, don't have the talent, you know, in this particular region, you know, to hire here, or we built a remote team. I mean, if you had really, you know, there's more talent here, it's probably better to keep them here and hire here, then be able to try to, you know, one of the struggles that we have right now is trying to get people to relocate to California, you know, everyone's moving to Texas, you know, our company is based in the Bay Area, you know, the cost of living and everything like that, oh, you've seen Tesla come to Texas, we've seen Dell, but I mean, it's really finding that where, what are we hoping to do? And that whole confidence, you know, post COVID era, remote work, and hybrid work, but I mean, at the end of the day, you know, you have to be there as a talent pool somewhere. And, you know, this company's competitive intelligence tools can help you find them.

James Mackey  39:26  
So,  just in terms of takeaways, what are the names of the tools that you've used in the Gartner talent neuron? And then any others?

Nayeem Chowdhury  39:38  
Yes, Gartner talent neuron. There's another one called Brightfield talent, data exchange. And it's a data analytics platform. It converts like raw transaction data. It gives you insights, you know, how to develop, validate and modify your workforce acquisition strategies. There's one I used with an RPO, MSP provider I used to work with. Intellireach, Tapfin was a great company, you know, they create transparent analytics comparative benchmarks they need to execute the Workforce Strategy. They digitize tools to inform about your company's brand, calculate ROI and drive efficiencies. And another one I guess, would be total workforce index. It assigns that equal weight, you know, to eat the four categories of availability, cost, efficiency, regulation, and productivity in your recruitment process.

James Mackey  40:39  
Love it, love it. And I don't think this one is yet as robust at this point in time. But LinkedIn talent Insights is another story that's coming up. And I think at some point that has the potential to be even more impactful just because of the sheer amounts of data that they're going to have at their fingertips. But again, I don't know how robust it is compared to these other tools where their entire business model is around this. But definitely worth taking a look at.


We have about six more minutes before we get to jump off. So I wanted to talk to you a little bit about diversity, and equity inclusion. What do you think about diversity? In terms of talent acquisition? Where do you start? 

Nayeem Chowdhury  41:22  
I would say the same. Similar to attraction and retention. Really do a deep dive analysis and look at the target groups. I mean, obviously, you want to be diverse for everybody. But when you have diversity goals, you want to really look at organisation like say, within the oil and gas, I think the hard part is that you don't have the culture for minorities or are targeted, protected groups you want to have, you want to work on everything. But I think when it comes to your actual stated, company goals, you know, target female and tech, veterans, you know, I think it's a slow process because you have to build the infrastructure internally to retain and want more of a diverse group to come to the organization. 


One example working in oil and gas, you know, history, one of my previous companies, they were very early in their diversity stage, they're like, Hey, 19, we want to post this use this content, but we didn't have the culture we had, when we hire females, you know, we didn't have an environment for females to succeed. They weren't accommodating to single moms or working moms, is that we can post all the pretty things and all the nice pictures and all the nice content. But at the end of the day, we have to have the training, we have to have, you know, programs policies to help retain, you know, female talent, you know, as it is doing that it and understanding what our current landscape is. And before really, and then really target what the industry benchmark is in, you know, goals in the percentage number, but then where we're at and where we can realistic get to it having a very strategic approach, strategic plan, and realistic deliverables, you know, over a, I wouldn't say diversity journey, or maturity model, where we target a particular segment. And then, you know, once we built that infrastructure, we move on to another segment that we are probably, you know, much more, I would say, difficult or haven't been doing before.

James Mackey  43:30  
Yeah, I agree with all of that. And there are two main things that I've seen over the years pretty consistently as well that I can add to that, for our listeners. One of the pieces of feedback that I've received a couple of times by what I would think is well-intending people that maybe just aren't educated in this, they think, you know, we're too small to worry about this, right now, when we become you know, when we hit 300 employees, or when we hit 500 employees, or, you know, then we can start to really invest in this, but we just don't have the bandwidth right now. And we have to get there before we have the opportunity to think about these things. And from having spoken with a lot of experts and talent acquisition, and people functions and high-level people that are very successful in this field, they all agree that the earlier you get started, the better.


The earlier you can get started on diversity, equity inclusion is going to make it easier if you're building it from the ground up, right, when it comes to representation and building inclusive environments, and getting employee feedback to create balanced perspectives and certain benefits that are going to help inclusivity thrive. Like those things, if you can make it a core part of the fabric of the company earlier on. Well from day one. Yeah, like easier and also referrals. Right? I just think about the, you know, if you don't invest in diversity, diverse people are gonna know other diverse people, right? They're gonna like you, they're gonna have worked in organizations that prioritize diversity before, right So you have to kind of think about, like, if you don't invest in diversity, then, you know, the referrals that you might get might be people that are all some sort of coming from a similar background writing background.  So then it becomes that that starts to snowball. 


So that's one lesson learned, I think it's like the earlier you can get started that the better. And then the other thing to keep in mind is that things that do not seem correlated to creating diverse and inclusive environments often are. So when you think about remote work, for instance, that drives inclusivity and gives equal opportunity to a lot of people that may not have the luxury of being able to travel into the office space, things like that. Other benefits packages, like, you know, for instance, childcare, you know, things like that, where there might be people that otherwise could not take advantage of working at your company. So we should really be thinking about our benefits, packages, and perks from the perspective of how can we create an inclusive environment where people can join us from different walks of life and thrive. Right? So those are just two mistakes, I see.

Nayeem Chowdhury  46:01  
Yeah. And I think also, what will be successful is, I think, when you always include talent acquisition, you know, as a function of diversity, you lose the focus, I think, diversity or a diversity function should be, you know, kind of parallel to TA, where there's very, you know, a folk one individual or group of people that are completely focused on work in collaboration with TA because I think it kind of gets lost in the weeds with a lot of other different priorities, you know when it's with just TA because I think diversity goes hand in hand with talent management and talent acquisition. I think if you had someone that was focused just on diversity for both, you would get a lot more commitment because they're getting their own budget and being able to truly build that culture, both internally and externally.

James Mackey  46:52  
Yeah, I think really to move and make significant progress. And maybe it's even beyond D& I, but in general, you need executive-level buy-in Exactly. Like, you know, it has to be a cross-functional thing where this is a core value, or expectation that leadership has or supports or whatever, right? I mean, you have to have that level of buy-in. Because again, you're right, it doesn't just sit in one function.

Nayeem Chowdhury  47:19  
Yeah. I mean, they can provide, I can have that four-prong, four pillars of diversity, you know, the leadership involvement, education, and training, retention and development of diverse talent and policies and procedures. I mean, that's all together.

James Mackey  47:35  
Yes, that's actually really great. I'm gonna say that. Perfect, perfect. Well, look, this is fun. We're coming up on time. This has been a great conversation. We're gonna be asking you to come back. I want to talk to you about a lot more. It's got me thinking about what I can go back and implement as well. So thank you for taking the time to join us today. And I do hope to see you again, real soon, and hopefully, you will become a regular guest on the show.

Nayeem Chowdhury  48:09  
No, I look forward to and I'm honored. And James. I learned a lot from you today. So thank you so much for your time.

James Mackey  48:14  
Thank you. Thank you and for everybody tuning in. Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you next time. Take care. 

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