Guests: George LaRocque, Gina Alioto
Although the talent acquisition experience has improved over the past few years, it still creates frustration and inefficiencies for both candidates and employers. And while 68% of companies are committed to improving these experiences in 2021, they often fall short. Madeline Laurano, George LaRocque, and Gina Alioto discuss strategies for creating exceptional experiences, the impact of joy in the talent acquisition process, and the role of technology.
Hi, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Radical Research. My name is Madeline Laurano and I’m the founder of Aptitude Research. I’m here today joined by George LaRocque, who is the founder of Work Tech, and Gina Alioto, who’s the head of transformation, and the joy advocate enthusiast at Symphony Talent. Hi, Gina. Hi, George.
Gina Alioto 0:23
George LaRocque 0:26
Hi there. Thanks for having me.
Thanks for joining. We’re excited today, because we’re going to talk about all things candidate experience, we’re going to talk about joy and Symphony’s, new Joy pipeline. And Gina, we recently worked on this research project together, which is a four part research series. And the last part, which is about to launch is this roundtable discussion where we publish three reports. And now we’re going to bring people together to have a conversation around exceptional experiences. So I’m excited to be here. I’m excited to talk about these issues. Because I think, this year more than anything, experiences, joy, empathy, compassion, are topics that are more important than they ever have been before. And I thought we could just kick this off and talk a little bit about this joy pipeline Gina, because it’s very different. It’s very unique, than how a lot of other software companies are thinking and going to market these days and providing services and technology to their customers. Symphony Talent has pivoted quite a bit in the past few months to launch this idea of the joy pipeline. So can you explain to us a little bit about what this is? And and why you you went in this direction?
Gina Alioto 1:41
Absolutely. And Madeline, let me just say how thrilled I am to be here with you. And George and just working with you on this research has just been an amazing experience in it of itself. So I’m really excited to be speaking about it. And yeah, so the joy pipeline is a movement that Symphony Talent is leading in partnership with our customer community, and also our industry at large all of our industry partners, including you, Madeline, George, Kevin Grossman, and so many others who’ve influenced this. And this movement is really about empowering and helping practitioners, talent acquisition leaders, recruiters, sourcers, help get people back to work faster. And with an exceptional experience. And the initiative itself, the movement itself is actually rooted on research, because I’m a data nerd as well. And I’m in good company, I’m sure. And we’ve actually interviewed our customers, and even our employees at Symphony Talent, where we saw this trend and this theme of our people caring deeply about our customers success. So deeply, there’s this great quote from one of our customers from one of our employees, that when our customers are successful and happy, we’re happy. And when our customers don’t succeed, we cry with them. And it just shows that deep connection that we have to our customers, and when we interviewed our customers, we saw the same thing. And it was this, you know, happiness derived from success. And after, you know, much thought and research, we arrived at this definition of joy, and bringing that joy to recruiters so that they are empowered to deliver the best candidate experience.
It’s great. And it’s really just a big shift. I mean, George, we’ve been talking about talent acquisition for like two decades. You know, I hate to age us. It’s been a long time. And this is not, you know, we talked about candidate experience, we talk about experiences, but joy is not a word that’s typically used to describe applying for a job or, or thinking about that relationship between employer and candidates. I mean, is this something that, that and I know, you’re very familiar with the joy pipeline, too? Is this something that you think is going to resonate with people or there’s going to really need to be a change in attitude?
George LaRocque 4:06
Well, I think that the world could use a little joy right now. You know, that’s for sure. And I think candidate experience could certainly used to have the the, the goal shifted, because we’re clearly we’re clearly not doing a great job we’re not in I’ll be pessimistic for a little bit where we had your right we have been talking about this for a long time, and you would expect more success on the issue of experience. And I think the industry needs to strive to do better. And I think that from what I’ve seen everywhere from an industry perspective, from a personal and you know, perspective, if there’s a need for for this conversation,
Gina Alioto 4:53
Yes, George and that’s precisely why we chose this polarizing word joy on purpose. Because there’s this deficit, and the world, you know, is feeling sadness. And the polar opposite of sadness is joy, and that we need to do more of that. And there’s actually a much deeper meaning to why we do what we do. And not just Symphony Talent. I’m talking about everyone in our industry, from practitioners, and all analysts and industry, friends, we are all in this industry for a reason. And it’s what keeps us here so long. It’s because we love people, we’re in the business of people. I hear that all the time. And in fact, our CEO says it best about how you know, we partner with fortune 500 leading global organizations, and each of them are hiring 1000s and 1000s of people and interacting with 1000s and 1000s of people. And collectively, in partnership with all of that impact together, we have a very powerful impact on the world. And that includes, you know, not just our customers at Symphony Talent, but also all the people that each of you know, the industry leaders, every day are interacting. So if this is a collective movement, we actually do have a very powerful impact where we could bring joy back into the recruiting process.
Yeah, it’s so interesting to me. And I know, we talked about this in the research, because the impact of joy starts with the employer and the recruiter experience. And you talk about meaning and purpose in this work and in this profession. And when recruiters are bogged down with all this administrative work, and you know, spending 16 hours a week, just scheduling calls, it’s really hard to think about that meaning and that purpose and providing dignity to candidates, which is what this professional is was built to do and designed to do.
Gina Alioto 6:48
Absolutely. And dignity is definitely the key word that’s on talent acquisition leaders agenda, exceptional experience, fair fairness, we talk about that a lot. And we do believe that every candidate deserves a dignified positive and speedy speedy experience, especially that urgency of needing to find a job and we’ve all been there, we know what it’s like to look for a job. And it is one of the most grueling life experiences, I really can’t think of something worse than looking for a job than being in the hospital or some, you know, family tragedy, you know, that there’s these life experiences that you that you go through and searching for a job is one of the most terrible, and how can we just make that a little bit more positive for the candidate?
Yeah, it’s really, unfortunately, a horrible experience, the way it’s sort of set up now. And the lack of communication that’s given to candidates and the lack of dignity that they receive. Like, I always think about it, like if you went to a restaurant and ordered a meal, and you were really excited for whatever you’re ordering, and, you know, waiting and you know, the waiter or the waitress came over and you know, told you that this would be out, and then all of a sudden, he just never came back. And you’re, and you never get the food, we have no idea what happened. And you know, no idea what’s going on. It’s just that’s what candidates experience every day, you would go on on Yelp and write a horrible review for that restaurant. That was the worst service.
George LaRocque 8:21
Yeah. And that you would get, you know, put through a gauntlet, you’d have to actually go to eight or nine tables before you’d find out you weren’t getting your food. Yeah, exactly. Like interview I’ve seen, you know some people that are on the job market. Now and it always, I’m always a little bit embarrassed when I ask them how is it going, you know, with this company or that company, I’m not going to pick on any brands out there, but incredibly large numbers of interviews, and just terrible coordination and not knowing you know, in between steps, whether you’re going to the next step until you find out that you’re you need to schedule something and then you’re, you need to schedule it like yesterday, there’s urgency, and then there’s silence. It’s you know, we can we can do better. And I think it needs a movement it needs that. I love the the two words that were used polarizing, and you know that you need a polarizing movement. You need to attract leaders who want to strive for this to set an example or move everybody forward and then dignity. I think what a great word to have. And just the way to approach the human beings that are a part of this process. And not it’s for the candidates but also the recruiters that the position that they’re in is is unfair, and I think companies need to step up and really think about this experience and the impact it has on their brand and all the reasons we know, experience is important.
Gina Alioto 10:03
Absolutely. And we surveyed our customer community, including all practitioners and recruiters, and they asked them what brings you joy in your job. And the part of the part of their job that brings them joy is the people building relationships, seeing candidates succeed, that the list goes on. And today, recruiters might be, you know, given more and more to do with less, plus an influx of applications coming in, and they just have so much to deal with how could they focus on the human people relationship building part of the job that really does bring them joy, they’re, they’re not able, they’re not able to, and many cases. So it’s really important part of the story, George.
It’s so interesting, because in I mean, Gina you talk about just going to Yelp and writing a scathing review, that could put a small restaurant, out of business, if there are enough of those reviews, or it certainly would impact their business. And this is why companies spend so much money, right, on the consumer experience and their brand and what they’re doing, there’s dedicated roles, there is a separate budget, you know, everything is about this consumer experience. And yet, the same thing doesn’t happen with talent acquisition.
Gina Alioto 11:23
Absolutely. Madeline, you have a great quote, from your research about how many candidates will share their poor experience publicly with friends and family. And that’s speaking about not just the employer brand, but the company’s brand, and that that will hurt the business that will leave in a significant business impact.
Yeah. And that’s I think the Talent Board kind of found finds that in the research they do, it’s like, will Are you willing to refer this company? Are you willing to engage? Again, I think that’s another indicator, like would you apply for another job? And, you know, those those individuals that do that have have been treated in a way that would make them want to come back?
Gina Alioto 12:05
Absolutely. And we all know that referrals are some of the richest, richest sources of hires, as well.
So a lot changed in the past year in talent acquisition. And George, we talked about this all the time about changes with companies and technology. And, you know, there’s just been now this huge interest around talent acquisition in general. I mean, what are you seeing with the candidate experience, specifically, whether that’s what companies are doing? Or, you know, how technology is being used differently? Like, has anything changed at all in the past year, especially with this idea of remote work?
George LaRocque 12:46
Well, you know, the obvious one is the, given that hiring has been remote, you know, digital interviews, video interviewing was certainly prevalent before COVID. But it, was adopted by anybody who had not adopted it, or wasn’t using it broadly, have had to, was forced to start using it through COVID. So now that I think has gone, you know, varying results, right? If you’re trying to use zoom at scale, it’s very difficult for difficult to use that in, in a hiring process. And if you’re hiring, you know, large volumes of people it was that’s a big shift in your, in your approach to recruiting. Outside of that, I mean, I am encouraged because I have seen some assessment vendors that have really simplified things, too. They’ve made their assessments more visual, I think the emergence of and we’ve seen increased adoption in chat bots, and AI and automation tools, that that certainly helps and can be used. I don’t I don’t know you would know better than I Madeline, if if those tools are fulfilling the promise on communication back to the candidate, but that there’s some some promise there. So I think there’s some promising things happening. I just, I just you know, that in the research bubble, looking at vendors, I feel like there’s a lot of promise, but when I get out into the market and talk to people who are going through the process, I’m not. It’s not catching up yet. But that’s that’s a bias survey sample.
Great. I mean, I agree. I think it’s the same thing. I mean, I think the remote this remote world environment that we’re in has accelerated a lot of the technology that probably should have been in place years ago in terms of just, you know, a simpler experience for the candidate better communication. I think conversational AI is great. Great example that that provides, you know, a great experience because you’re providing an immediate 24 seven response to questions that are important and otherwise probably wouldn’t even get answered at all. Um, I think that the the idea of feedback to candidates is something that wasn’t happening years ago. And I don’t think it’s happening as much as it should still, but I think the option is there, which is, which is new. And I agree on those assessment providers have have really, even though traditional assessment providers have transformed completely, and that’s providing a much better experience for candidates. But I think that some of these basic areas like feedback, or communication, or even inclusivity, like, do candidates believe that they’re getting a fair opportunity for a job? Do they believe that when they’re applying for a job, regardless of who they are, and regardless of their gender, or race, they’re going to be given a fair opportunity, just as everyone else for this job? And I think there’s still a lot of work to be done for that. I think, you know, I think I don’t you haven’t surveyed candidates, like the talent board does. But if you ask candidates, that that basic question, I I think there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done there.
George LaRocque 16:24
Yeah, I agree. And I think that part of the challenge is, my mind was going to inclusivity when when you mentioned it, and I’m thinking, you know, I hope that I hope that companies are striving to make that a part of their experience and communicate that. At the same time, I hope they don’t overcomplicate it, because, you know, it’s, you may be asking the right questions or introducing steps, or controls or analytics, or what have you, that will, you know, give you what you need to, you know, theoretically to become more inclusive. But if that makes the process more cumbersome for candidates, you won’t, you won’t get there. So, it’s a balance between, you know, on, on these things, and I think that’s part of the challenge for the talent acquisition leaders is, you know, how can we, you know, keep make the process fluid, provide a good experience and be more inclusive, be more, you know, just the broad issues of compliance? How can we make sure that we’re doing, you know, ethically doing the right things, as well?
Gina Alioto 17:44
Yes. And from an experience perspective, before designing any type of brand experience, the first thing I always ask is what defines a good experience and determining what those expectations are for your customer? And for yourself? What what are those success measures? And that’s one thing that I think one of the things that Madeline’s report does really well, is setting those you know, or defining those expectations so that you can align on what those expectations are. So, George, to your point, it doesn’t need to be this overly complex. And then, you know, people over, tried to craft it and tried to create something more complex than it needs to be when really, maybe candidates are just expecting some acknowledgement or a feeling that they’re they’ve been heard where it’s Madeline’s point, having a fair experience, you know, that those are the expectations. So it could be as simple as delivering on them. And again, not to oversimplify it either. Not saying that it’s simple, it’s very complex, even to begin with, but as an employer, choosing those moments along the candidate journey, that will make the most impact focusing on those and getting those right. So this way, the candidate feels that they do have a fair experience, they are being treated with dignity, and then they will feel like it’s above average.
Yeah, it feels genuine, right? When it’s done that way. It’s it comes from a genuine place, which I think is very different than how a lot of companies think about kinja experience now anyway, it kind of feels for us, like we have to do this, you know, what do we need to do to be able to improve the experience, and then it’s not working when you come from a very genuine place. And you know, I think to both of your points, you do it in a way that’s simple, but also with dignity and joy and compassion. And it’s, it works. Much better shot of working.
Gina Alioto 19:43
And I think candidates recognize that and that’s how you build trust with your organization and showing what your brand stands for. And not just delivering a good candidate experience or an exceptional candidate experience, but also delivering an experience. That’s memorable for your brand. So this way every candidate that you interact with whether they get the job or not, maybe they will apply for another job at your place of employment, or speak highly of your, you know, of your experience elsewhere whether or not they’re going to get the job. So I think that is something for employers, but also for brands overall to think about.
Absolutely. Well, thank you. Thank you, Gina. Thank you, George, this, I could talk to both of you for hours about this. We actually have talked about this for hours. We started talking about this last year, Gina, is a brilliant mind behind this joy pipeline and, you know, crafted this idea and then, you know, was able to put something amazing together. So we’ve been in discussion about this. And it’s amazing to to see this all come to life. And and I imagine it’s so interesting to see the response to it, right? You say it’s polarizing, but it says a lot about those leaders and those executives that can get behind this idea versus those that, you know, just put their hand up and say no, thank you not for us.
Gina Alioto 21:08
Absolutely. And it really is built from all of the things Madeline, George not just this past year in developing this idea, but things that I’ve heard from you over the years, and such a long list of other industry partners and friends who have contributed to this. So it really is not my idea at all. It’s I’m just reflecting what I’ve heard from our customers and from from you and all the brilliant minds in our industry.
Well, I’m excited to see what this next year holds for for the joy pipeline and just for the candidate experience in general, I think to be able to give people a better experience into something that’s so stressful. And and, you know, provides, you know, just not a lot of humanity, I think is is so important. So I’m excited to to regroup with both of you. We could do another one, you know, in in six months to a year and see where we’re at in the world.
George LaRocque 22:02
That sounds great.
Great. Thanks, everyone for listening!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai