Rick Jordan

Dick’s Sporting Goods Senior Dir. TA Rick Jordan

Rick Jordan Senior Director of Talent Acquisition

Joining us in conversation today is Rick Jordan, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition over at DICK’S Sporting Goods. You’ll hear the story of how DICK’S was started and how Rick landed his current role with them with a background in hospitality and talent. DICK’S is a pandemic success story, and Rick tells us about the unexpected turn of events that resulted in the business thriving despite the restrictions. You’ll also hear about the exciting projects that DICK’S is working on at the moment, and why, in the current market, we need to think more like marketers and less like human resource people.

Episode Transcript



[00:00:05] RS: Welcome to Talk Talent To Me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the frontlines of modern recruitment. 


[00:00:12] FEMALE: We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life. We want to understand how they make decisions. Where they’re willing to take risks and what it looks when they fail. 


[00:00:21] RS: No holds barred, completely off the cuff interviews with Directors of Recruitment, VPs of global talent, CHROs, and everyone in between. 


[00:00:30] FEMALE: Once I went through the classes and the trainings and got the certifications through diversity inclusion, I still felt something was missing. 


[00:00:38] MALE: Talent acquisition. It’s a fantastic career. You are trusted by the organization. You get to work with the C-suite and the security at the front desk and everybody in between and everybody knows you. 


[00:00:51] RS: I’m your host, Rob Stevenson, and you’re about to hear the best in the biz. Talk Talent To Me.




[00:00:59] RS: Joining me today on Talk Talent To Me is the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition over at DICK’S Sporting Goods, Rick Jordan. Rick, welcome to the show. How are you today?


[00:01:08] RJ: I’m good, Rob. Thanks for having me. Really looking forward to the conversation.


[00:01:12] RS: Yeah, me as well. Where are you broadcasting in from today?


[00:01:15] RJ: Yeah. I’m coming from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s where DICK’S Sporting Goods is and has been for quite a few years. It’s my home. This is where I was born.


[00:01:25] RS: Pittsburgh, born and bred. I didn’t know that DICK’S was native to Pittsburgh. That’s a new information to me.


[00:01:31] RJ: Yeah. DICK’S didn’t start in Pittsburgh. We started up in Binghamton, New York. When there was an opportunity, the company was going to select a place for corporate campus, Pittsburgh won. So we’ve been here in Pittsburgh, and it makes a ton of sense, because Pittsburgh is a true sports city. 


[00:01:47] RS: Yeah. 


[00:01:47] RJ: We believe black and gold. It’s a nice connection to have the leading sports retailer in a really dynamic sports city.


[00:01:57] RS: Yeah. Makes all the sense in the world. I know very little about Pittsburgh. I will confess. I’ve been to almost every major metropolitan area in the States, not Pittsburgh, though. What do I need to know about Pittsburgh as an outsider?


[00:02:08] RJ: Yeah. Pittsburgh. We’re called the Steel City. There’s a reason for that. We were really in the steel business for many, many years. Over the last ten, 15 years, Pittsburgh has evolved so much. We have amazing technology. We’ve got fantastic university system, great health care, but what we haven’t lost is the charm and friendliness that Pittsburgh always represented.


People are super nice here. They want to help each other out. There’s history, but there’s so much new happening. It’s a great place. We have Pittsburgh’s known to have a ton of bridges. We got a ton of bridges. We have the collision of a few rivers. I mentioned before, but we’re very passionate about our sports teams.


I’m very passionate about Pittsburgh and I think what you said is, you haven’t been to Pittsburgh. We hear that. We have folks that have never been to Pittsburgh before, but when people come to Pittsburgh, they fall in love with Pittsburgh, and then they stay here. I was born and raised, but I left Pittsburgh and I went out to Las Vegas and spent some really great years in the desert, which was awesome, but there was something about coming home to Pittsburgh that was really special. I don’t know, I’m five or six years back and this is where I’ll be for some time.


[00:03:21] RS: Got it. Well, thanks for sharing that about your background. We’ve got a little taste of what Rick Jordan is all about. A little taste of what DICK’S Sporting Goods is all about, but maybe to provide a little more color commentary, would you mind sharing a little bit about your background in Talent, specifically. How you wound up in your current role?


[00:03:36] RJ: Yeah. 100%. Appreciate you asking. I’m always a hospitality person. I grew up working in a restaurant. I spent a many years in college and after college in a restaurant, and I worked at Texas Roadhouse for many years, really great place, focused on culture, focused on really good food and really good people. When I was there, I was like, “This could be interesting.” I don’t know that I want to run a restaurant for the rest of my life, but I love the idea of the people behind what’s happening here at the restaurant. 


I started leaning into opportunities in my home store to get involved in new store openings and training. I thought, training, maybe that’s where I’m going to head. That’s why I’m going to take my degree and got a job at a resort called Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Southwestern PA. I was the training manager, and it was a lot of service training, onboarding of new teammates. Whatever we needed to educate, spend time on learning. I had that responsibility. It was a moment where the recruiting team needed some support and I had some bandwidth.


Instead of them hiring a recruiter, I spent half of my time in recruiting. That’s, I think where I caught the bug. The bug of, I’ve called it before, professional matchmaking, where you really believe in the organization you’re with and there’s great opportunity. Then you go out and find someone that gets really excited about that opportunity. So I started doing some recruiting there. I had just completely unexpected opportunity to find my way in Las Vegas, working at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. 


I had a colleague that had done some work in Vegas, and she got a phone call to come back out that way. It was a brand new hotel. It was right around 2010. There hadn’t been much new opening in the Strip or opening on the Strip. So we were part of the team that got to hire 5000 people. I mean, we were walking around with hard hats on the property was still being built. We were securing talent housekeepers, bartenders, conference executives. I mean, it was up to leading the hotel, leading casino operations and it was super fun. Like I said, unexpected, never thought my career would take me that way. I got to lead recruitment and learning and development. Then I was employee engagement there. 


While I was in Las Vegas, when you’re in Las Vegas, you quickly know some of the key, other players in town. So outside of the casino world, Zappos, it’s headquartered in Las Vegas. There was a rumor rumbling that their head of Talent Acquisition was going to head back to California. I had been following Zappos, I’ve been following Tony Hsieh and saw there was an opportunity, made some connections, and just had the unbelievable chance to go around Talent Acquisition at Zappos. 


It was the, I mean, it cosmopolitan. We were very focused on culture and community and building something unique. Zappos took it to a whole another level, where it was all about the people. You took care of your people and you developed a culture where people just felt they belonged and they were thriving and they would take care of customers. I loved my time there, but a big personal thing happened. My husband and I adopted our son, and we’re like, “Man, we need some help with this. This is a lot of work.” Las Vegas is super fun, but we have no family. We had very little family out Vegas and took an opportunity to come back to the Pittsburgh area. 


I work for the region’s largest health care provider called UPMC, and I was running a piece of Talent Acquisition there. I promise my story is almost over here, but running a piece of TA there. It was a whole new world. I mean, I went from hospitality to making sure the hospital system was staffed appropriately, so we didn’t turn away patients. It went from making sure the casino and staff, so people had the most amazing time in Las Vegas. It’s really meaningful work around equipping our hospitals and the support systems behind there to essentially save lives. 


I was super happy at UPMC, but as any good recruiter does, someone reached out to me from DICK’S Sporting Goods. DICK’S was always on the radar. It was, at the time head of executive recruitment. We were we should have coffee together. We’re in the same town. We’re both TA people. One thing led to another. There was an opportunity. Once I started meeting some of the teammates at Dick and getting my way back into retail was something, I was like, I wasn’t thinking about this, but this could be really cool.


I spent the last three years at DICK’S Sporting Goods. I started out running recruitment for the corporate team. Over the three years, I’ve grown and my responsibility. I’ve been very fortunate to grow my responsibilities so now I lead all Talent Acquisition for DICK’S Sporting Goods.


[00:08:21] RS: Fantastic. Thanks for sharing that journey with me. It’s wild that when this conversation right now, because I was at the Cosmo this past weekend. 


[00:08:29] RJ: Oh, really. 


[00:08:30] RS: Yeah. I played my very first ever hand of roulette, and I won a hit on the number 14, my very first bet.


[00:08:40] RJ: That’s awesome.


[00:08:41] RS: I asked my friend, “So how does this work? You just pick a no and win money?” He’s like, ‘Yeah, basically.” So I was, “Okay, number 14.” That was my soccer number. I put a fistful of chips on. I was like, “I don’t know how this works.” Sure enough, spins the thing and hits 14. Everyone starts clapping and I’m like, “Oh, yeah. Look at that. Good job. This game is so easy.” Then the dealer is like, “Well done, sir.” She pushes just a mountain of chips at me. On the very top of those chips is a $500 chip. I was like, “Oh, wow, this is great. Never expected this to happen.” But at the same time it felt like this is the classic gambling addict story. It’s like, “Oh, yeah. My first time. I hit a big and I got the taste for it.” Next thing I know, I’m down ten grand. That didn’t happen. 


Anyway, it’s so funny that I’m speaking to you though, because my friend also asked me while we were hanging out there he goes, “How many people do you think work for the Cosmo?” I was like, “I bet you it’s way more than you think. I bet you, you only even see a third of the people who work there. My guess was 2500.” Now I have you. I can actually find out the real answer. How many people work for the Cosmo?


[00:09:48] RJ:  Back in the day. When we open that property December 2010, I mean, we were around 5000 people running Cosmopolitan. When you think about Las Vegas, it’s not small by any means, but smaller compared to all the likes of an MGM or Caesars, but you got to realize those are their own little cities.  I mean, there is everything any kind role is nearly available there. Cosmopolitan holds such a warm place in my heart. It was so good to me. I was out in Vegas this past January, and the Chief People Officer is still the same Chief People officer was there when we started and got to have lunch with him there at Holstein. We had a burger again. It was good old times, but there’s special energy in that property. I think anywhere I’ve worked, I’ve really looked for it’s not just the role, it’s do I connect with the people there? Do I connect with the energy of whatever that company is and the why that company exists? 


Cosmopolitan was just setting out to do something different on the Las Vegas Strip. I still think they are still in a class of their own compared to what else is out there. We challenged everything we did from we had group interviews, we call them audition. We were looking for costars. The Cosmopolitan itself was the star of the show, but the costars were what would help bring it to life. There was so much pride. I mean, I probably can hear my voice. I still have so much pride in the Cosmopolitan. 


[00:11:10] RS: Yeah. 


[00:11:11] RJ: Will always be a super special memory for me. First place when I head out to Las Vegas, I have to go back and see there’s still teammates that are costars who are there that were open the property in 2010.


[00:11:24] RS: Wow. Is that where you stay when you make your way back to Vegas these days?


[00:11:28] RJ: Having said all of that, it is I did not stay there last time, only because in my old chief people officer said, “Why are you staying with us?” There was a brand new property that opened. I know the head of hotel there and she’s like, “Come try us out.” We tried them out and I had some fun times there, but definitely spent a good amount of time at Cosmopolitan when I was there.


[00:11:47] RS: Is that Resorts World?


[00:11:48] RJ: It is Resorts World. I would still recommend anyone heading to Vegas to go Cosmopolitan after that experience. Resorts World was fantastic, but Cosmopolitan, you can’t match it.


[00:11:59] RS: Yeah. It’s swanky. I really do enjoy the Cosmopolitan. The first time I ever went to Las Vegas, I stayed there ten dudes to a double room, right? Like you do when you’re broke your first time in Las Vegas, but it has a special place in my heart for that reason, too. My earliest Vegas experience is a wrapped up in that place. Wow. It’s so wild. I wound up chatting with you. I can’t wait to catch my friend off on this, but let’s fast forward in time, a decade, shall we?


[00:12:21] RJ: Yeah, a decade, right.


[00:12:24] RS: How are things at DICK’S Sporting Goods? What are you working on right now?


[00:12:27] RJ: We are so fortunate and so humbled to be in a thriving business at DICK’S right now. It was scary through the pandemic. There were moments where we were closing our stores so rapidly, because nobody knew what was happening. Then once things here, because we were not deemed an essential retailer. Our doors were shot and we turned on curbside pick-up. Then the business started to creep up. We started to reopen stores faster, way faster than we thought we would. So many of the plans that have been in place with the organization have just gotten accelerated, we’re on a trajectory right now. We wrote it on the wall, written it on the wall, and we want to be at $15 billion by 2025.


What do we need to do to fuel that? A lot of that is making sure we have the right talent in place to hit those objectives. I mean, I just can’t be more humbled with the experience I’m having at DICK’S Sporting Goods and the people I get to deal with every day. We’re doing some really cool stuff.  So you’ve got DICK’S Sporting Goods as a core banner. We’ve also opened a new concept called Public Lands that is all about equipping you in the best way to explore our public lands and to do it and a really stylish way. 


We also have our Golf Galaxy chain, so perfect timing with the Masters happening and everyone focused on Tiger Woods to talk a little bit about golf, but the business. Golf went through a huge uptick during pandemic, because it was a really safe sport. There was natural social distancing, and it was amazing to see so many new people coming to the game. So those new people needed equipment, they needed lessons, they needed us at Golf Galaxy. We’ve been seeing tremendous activity and excitement around Golf Galaxy, but something else that was born out of pandemic was an idea of we need to get rid of some clearance stuff, so we popped up some temporary clearance warehouses. 


Then that organization was like, “Well, this could be interesting. Why not we think about this? Why don’t we think about this value chain, this outlet chain?” So we’ve opened a concept called Going, Going, Gone! Where you can go get really fantastic deals from all your favorite brands and it’s taking off, so you’re going to see those popping up more and more. Then the last thing that’s happening that’s exciting for all of us is what we call DICK’S Sporting Goods House of Sport. 


We have the opportunity to open about two of them under our belt, one right off out of Rochester, New York, and one in Knoxville, Tennessee. It is an amazing experiential destination for anyone that loves sports. The two that are open right now have outdoor fields attached to them. They have rock climbing walls. They have health and wellness bars. They have the best product that you would ever find from brands like Nike and the Patagonia and Callaway. We leveled up the amount, level up the experience we are providing in those stores, one physically because of the rock climbing wall in the field, but also we have dedicated team to really connecting with the community and having all kinds of fun events. Our Rochester store had an ice rink over the winter time.


[00:15:27] RS: Amazing.


[00:15:27] RJ: These are stores that are just 100,000 plus square feet. The most advanced in technology, the most amazing product. We have big plans for more of these to come. We have a third one that was announced, it’s going to open in Minnetonka coming up in May, actually well next month that the teams are working on. There’s just, it’s really fun like I love retail, I love hospitality, I love dealing with customers. I love equipping people with what they need to play their best game, a baseball or have their best run. It’s just a fun place to do it. Brick and Mortar is not dead. 


There’s an amazing amount of business that happens in our stores that is beautifully coupled with ship from our pick – buy online, pick up and store, pure play e-commerce, but when it all intersects, when you can go in and try out a baseball bat in our batting cage or you can go skate on the ice rink or climb the rock wall, test out the products. I mean, you can’t do that virtually. You cannot do that through an online purchase. So we’re just going all in on a true omnichannel experience, and it’s fun to be a part of it. It’s really fun to be a part of it where whether it’s new roles that are popping up or new volumes, because of our stores that are opening were just challenging us to think a little differently. I feel very fortunate to be part of it.


[00:16:53] RS: Wow. Okay, so stores opening, new warehouse, Going, Going, Gone Store, whole line of stores opening, Golf Galaxy growing crazy. How is all of this translated into Talent and how does it affect your life specifically the Rick Jordan of it all?


[00:17:08] RJ: Yeah. It keeps me up at night a little bit. It keeps me up at night, because the organization has been so good to me. I want to be just as great back and deliver for our teammates and our athletes and our shareholders. What gives me confidence is the team that I work with. In my space I really put our recruitment in a few buckets, and I’ve got amazing leaders leading all of these different verticals. I’ve got a leader who is focused on all of our field activity, our stores. She’s a veteran of DICK’S Sporting Goods, and I’ve seen this company grow, and she’s excellent at the work she does. She’s got a team that’s focused on making sure our stores are staffed, and that’s our current stores and these new concepts and that new stores we’re opening.


I’ve got a team focused on our five distribution centers to make sure that product is flowing, is being received, and then sent out either direct to consumer or to our stores. With all the challenges we’ve had in supply chain, it’s so important that that team, say staff, that that team stays engaged. There’s a lot of amazing work happening there. I’ve got a team that focus on the recruitment or corporate office, and that’s a little different now. It used to be just all the roles being based out of Pittsburgh, and we have opened up many of our positions to work from anywhere. 


We’ve got a team that’s recruiting for core roles here in Pittsburgh, but then recruiting roles that can be based nearly in every state here. Then we have a team that’s focused on our undergraduate and graduate recruitment. We pride ourselves on bringing in talent that can come in as interns, move in a development programs and then spend some good amount of years at DICK’S Sporting Goods and growth to the organization, and that’s at the undergraduate level and then the graduate level. 


Then I have a team that’s focused on executive recruitment and for us that we think about any director or above. So director up through C-suite and that highly specialized high touch search work is done by that team. Then I have one other standalone bucket that is a newer add to our team, and it’s a teammate who’s focused just on Talent Acquisition projects. So thinking about streamlining, making us more efficient, more engaging in someone who’s not necessarily tied to making sure that we are filling jobs, but looking at how we’re doing that across all of our areas, across the store field, the corporate office. That’s been a really integral role that we brought on to our team more recently.


[00:19:37] RS: It sounds like you have talent leadership distributed across a handful of areas. Is managing all of that, all of them, I suppose, is that spinning plates for you? You check in on one, make sure that that it’s not wobbly. How do you manage all these people rolling up to you even while they are all having their individual focuses?


[00:19:57] RJ: I’m so lucky to have such fantastic leaders that I get to work with in all those different areas. I would say we’re all feel we’re managing plates spinning just, because our industry so dynamic. There’s so much growth happening right now. There’s disruption in supply chain like I’ve mentioned, there’s a labor market that we’ve not seen before. So there’s a lot of things going at once, but what our team does, I think pretty well, is we stay really connected to each other. I’ve got leaders that are virtual, and I’ve got leaders that are here in Pittsburgh. 


We commit to connecting with each other as one group every other week we all get in the room and we talk shop, because it’s really important. You can become so focused in on your vertical. I can have my head of store recruitment. She’s so focused there, but I want them to be focused in talent acquisition in general at DICK’s. We jump in to help each other out when we need to. We can say like, “Hey, I’m seeing this happening out in our stores.” “Oh, that’s interesting.” It could really easily apply to the challenges and thing of the corporate office. Or a lot of times we see a ton of crossover between our Store Recruitment and our Distribution Center Recruitment. So it’s important that we’re all thinking as a unit. First at DICK’S Sporting Goods unit and then, yes, we do have our specialty.


We meet very regularly at least once every other week as one cohort. Then on that other off week, I spend time with each one of my direct reports and it’s really all about how can I help you? How can I help you? What are the roadblocks? What’s keeping you up at night, and how can we tackle that together? To be hones t, the new TA Project Manager, Talent Acquisition Project Manager we brought on has been really a nice connective tissue through it all, because she’s sitting in this seat where she can really observe everything that’s happening across the different verticals and think of ways to connect us better, like I said, to make it more efficient engaging at an enterprise level. 


We are not unlike other organizations where we set out and we create goals for the year. Big goals of where we want to take our function to support our business. What I love at DICK’S is we really start with the vision for the business. It’s all connected to where the business is going. Then how does human resources play? What role do we play? Then specifically, what is the role that Talent Acquisition plays? We will plan, I think, pretty well for the year, but then that overwhelms me personally, the idea of this year we’re going to do this, we set that, but then we break out and work in 90 day chunks with the dynamic retail industry. I mean, heck, we might not even know what’s going to happen the next 30 days, but at least we know we can plan out 90 and chunk that off. That’s the way my team works.


[00:22:40] RS: I love this idea of the TA Focus Project Manager. Typically that individual is embedded within engineering is usually where I see it. I had the good fortune to work with one who is embedded half engineering, half marketing in one job. She is amazing and just kept everyone on task and like figure it out where are the reasonable expectations for timelines and all these things right? Do we have the bandwidth for it? Maybe that’s also part of my working style. I’m a naughty marketer and I need to be tripped-out to get things done. She kept me run accountable and kept me on task and then we shipped all this awesome stuff. So having one embedded in Talent is a fantastic idea. Where did they start? Where do they take stock of things and be like – is their job to help you prioritize? Is their job to reality check you on timelines? How do they add value?


[00:23:30] RJ: All of what you just said. This came from me sitting down with my Chief People Officer at the time I was talking to her, talking to Julie, and I said, “We’ve got so many good things we want to do. I don’t have a human who’s thinking about that is their day job.” I would have every person and they still do, but now they have support from this project manager. So I have every leader my verticals got, they’ve got to hire people. That is their day job, but then we want to change the way we receive applications, where we want to look at new technology that detects candidates or we want to look at new programmatic advertising or whatever. 


I can go through the list of things we want to do better, I need someone in addition to me that’s thinking about that and can help us do the things you said to prioritize to say, “Hey guys, we’ve got 10 big items working on right now and you just brought up three new. So what’s dropping off the list? What are we saying no to so we can say yes to something else? Or we can’t do a lot alone in terms of being one, a center of excellences. Two, we’re powered by technology. So you mentioned tech. When I think of – we just implemented a partnership to do a vendor to do text messaging for recruitment.


I had to have someone coordinating efforts between our tech team, our HRIF team, the vendor, and then my recruitment team. So this person really helped sit in the middle of all of that and keeps all parties on track which we would do this stuff before, but I can’t say we were the most efficient and I can’t say it always happened to painlessly was the opposite of that. So this role has helped us go after some big things. I think about some of that work this person’s working on right now. One is just we’ve always had our information is everywhere internally. 


I said, “We need to get to where anything Talent Acquisition related is centrally located and a really shoppable way for our internal organization to know they need a resource in TA, it’s all here.” She’s Project Managing that I mentioned she’s done work around implementing tech’s recruitment and it’s going to be a big piece as we migrate to a new ATS having this project manager here on our side.


[00:25:44] RS: It’s such a fantastic approach and you’re so right when you say that it’s there’s all these great projects, but how do you make the time for it in addition to your regularly scheduled programing? 


[00:25:55] RJ: Yeah. 


[00:25:56] RS: Right? A lot of us, it’s so easy to wind up on frankly a treadmill of tasks, right? Of here’s all these recurring things I have to think about. Here’s all these recurring roles, pipelines I’m trying to build, metrics I’m trying to improve or have you and some of projects that you’d be like, “Yes, that’s important, but not important enough for me to really spearhead it or take time out of my day, I can’t create more hours in the day.” I’ll try and be appropriate here and use a sports metaphor, but they like to say, if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks.

If a project like figuring out how to text candidates, is everyone’s job, guess what? It’s no one’s job, it’s never going to happen. 


[00:26:34] RJ: That’s very true.


[00:26:35] RS: Just having this idea of this is the team has expressed that this is important, but someone needs to spearhead it, someone needs to be this is my job to focus on things like this and they can do it without having to sacrifice other things, right? Because it’s up to them to figure out how to make the things you guys say is important to happen.


[00:26:54] RJ: Yeah. We’re really lucky because we the minute when I was putting together that role spec of what this role would be responsible for, I had a person in mind the whole time through in it. She’s grown up in our TA team and she’s hyper organized. She’s amazingly energetic. She’s always looking around the corner. I was like, “This is the role for her.” I was like, “I hope she wants. I hope she’s interested.” We were lucky. She had a few folks who would have been great matches and landed with them, a fantastic person. She’s about seven months in. We’re already seeing tremendous value of what the role is bringing to the TA organization.


[00:27:24] RS: It doesn’t strike me that this individual would even really need talent experience. If they’ve done the project management before, it’s the same sorts of spreadsheets, right? Just different input.


[00:27:34] RJ: If I can get someone who’s just curious, right? Who’s an excellent project manager and is curious and is able to influence, because again, you’re not none of these folks report to you. How do you influence them to make your project matter to them?


[00:27:51] RS: How does she influence people?


[00:27:53] RJ: Yeah. I mean, she’s and it’s all about building relationships and talking about why. Why this is priority over this or this? Very lucky that the person I have does that quite well. There’s moments where it’s challenging, because there’s a million priorities across everyone’s plate. What makes it more important that others? Can we show by data? Can we show by this is what the business needs? We’ve been told this and this is how we’re going to get there.


[00:28:17] RS: Got it. Now that you have this individual in place, sounds like probably a lot of your just ideas and goals for the team will come to fruition. Do you have a pie in the sky campaign or initiative or way of shaking things up in Talent over there, where it’d be like, if your boss’s boss came to you and said, “Rick, we’re going to give you a limited budget to do whatever you think is going to make the most impact to this team.”  What would that be for you? Just indulge a talent related fantasy of being able to do any of these projects and have them be everyone’s priority. What would that be for you?


[00:28:49] RJ: Yeah. I think of two things. I think one would be to have just as much horsepower excitement funding behind recruitment marketing as there is behind consumer marketing. That’s truly pie in the sky, because you know what a consumer marketing budget look like. 


[00:29:05] RS: Yeah, yeah. 


[00:29:06] RJ: However, I think in this market that we are in, we also think more like marketers and less human resource people, because it is flipped. I think about, I’ve been doing recruitment for 14 years or something. It’s totally different now. They talk about this war on talent. There’s no war, the war has been won, Talent is winning. For us it’s all about storytelling and here’s the impact you can have on your own career and the impact you can have on sports, and your community and being able to have an unlimited budget around that story, telling that story, and all the ways that we create really impactful campaigns and storytelling through consumer. I mean, that would be a dream. 


I’m happy to say. I mean, we’re doing some work now and I have access to things I’ve never had before. So it’s coming, I mean, it’s not that pie in the sky unlimited budget, but it’s definitely our leaders see that it’s really important. So they’re showing up with resources for us. That’s one thing. I think we have got to think like marketers and we got to – we have to sell, we have to be on sell mode.


[00:30:16] RS: What are the resources?


[00:30:17] RJ: Yeah. So one that’s cool about us is we just merged our communications team with our HR team. So I’ve got a Senior Vice-President of Communications and Sustainability who’s been a key partner for me. Where we bridge the gap between us and marketing and we’ve always been connected, but we’re using now resources that our marketing team uses and agency partners are our marketing team does for consumer. We’re now using them for Talent Acquisition. So we’ve gotten access, access to talent, access to vendors. Then we’ve also been funded. We’ve been funded for media, funded for content creation, funded to tell the stories. We’ve always had a recruitment marketing budget for sure, but we’re going to amp it up. I’m quite excited about that and I think that’s super important.


I also think just as we look from a consumer side to make it really easy for our athletes to what we call our customers to shop with us, whether that’s in-person or online. It needs to be that same mindset applied to people expressing their interest in a career with the organization. We’ve got one of the projects, our project manager is working on and guiding us through is how easy are we to do business with? So if I had unlimited resources and could just design anything it would be a highly engaging and automated platform that could take you from, I’m interested, I’m going to tell you a few things about me, and it matched the opportunities. Then I am immediately, if qualified, sent over and scheduled for a conversation and it’s so seamless. It’s effortless from the candidate and on the back end it’s easy and effortless for our hiring teams to do business with us, because actually, I would say the dream and what we’re working towards is to be very easy to do business on both sides.


One, with the hiring teams we’re supporting and two the candidates that we’re seeking to come join our organization. That’s a work in progress. That’s an open wall under construction. It will always be, but it can be as simple as right now we’ve just made our a majority of our recruiters had to go and apply to a couple of places that we think are best in class and competitors and what’s it like through their kind of experience? How do we compare? What can we do better? Is this information important to gather on the front? 


Rob, something I think that we all have to think about as TA professionals, is it’s a lot different than many years ago where you could ask a lot more of your candidates on the front end. I’ll consider you once you’ve read an essay, you’ve attached a cover letter, you’ve made a video of yourself, you’ve answered three personality quizzes. I mean, I’m exaggerating here, but you understand –


[00:33:03] RS: Totally that happens. Upload your resume and then enter all of the information on your resume in fields on the next screen. Yeah, it happens.


[00:33:09] RJ: Listen, we’re not perfect. I mean, again, we’re a work in progress here, but it’s flipped to now. What is the minimum threshold of information I need to gather, so that we can start having a conversation, we get to know each other. Then when we say, “Oh, this is clicking, okay, can you go ahead and maybe fill out the second pass application, because there is some information I need to get you into our system and continue the process.” But it’s different and you have to think about it that way. Again, it’s thinking a marketer and how easy are you making it for people to do business with you.


[00:33:40] RS: Yes. Yeah, exactly right. That is fantastic advice. I’m glad to hear you’re getting resources on the recruitment marketing side of things. I have an episode coming out well, by the time this comes out, I spoke recently with Joe Mullings from The Mullings Group, and they have invested in content in this most fantastic, heroic way. Their key offering now as an agency is let us help you design and generate content, tell a story is about why people should want to work for your company. It’s not just a quick little about us, two minute video with some xylophone playing in the background and a tour of the offices, right? Let’s tell some human story, there’s a craving for narrative, let’s tap into that and show people how we align with that.


That makes all the sense in the world to me. I’m glad to hear you’re getting those resources. Also when you say that the war is over and talent won, I’m curious what your gut take on that is. Is that just the current economic reality that everyone’s hiring or are there’s more businesses, more global opportunities for people? Is this a temporary thing or are we here to stay in this never ending competitive state.


[00:34:43] RJ: It’s a great question. Every month we look at the jobs report from the Labor Bureau Statistics and how many jobs have been added. What’s the labor participation rate? Are more people jumping back in? I mean, what we’re seeing, I am not an economist, I don’t specialize in labor forecasting or looking at this on a daily basis, but what I can see, what we’re seeing in our business is there’s a lot of changes in terms of economy is surging back and there’s a lot of needs for talent. You’ve got talent that is not just going to sit in a role and be okay. They want to be engaged and they want to be happy so there’s the work force that’s not working that we hope comes back, but at the same time we had employment, is just gone down again. 


For more than a year, we’re at one of the lowest rates. So you have to think about why would someone pick you over someone else? That goes back to that marketing, but what you were asking about is this a forever thing? I think what is forever is people are not going to settle. I think that is here to stay. I think people are not going to settle for poor engagement of their employer. They’re not going to settle for just a job. They want to find something that gets them excited to wake up in the morning. That sounds really cliché. 


Listen, I got up in the morning and I like the people I work with and I like the work I’m doing. I think it adds value that’s bigger than me, so I’m engaged. I just don’t think people, what the pandemic has done to us is you’ve got options. Then layer on top of that, where so many companies have opened up the ability to work flexibly or to work remotely to have more flexibility and no longer are you tied geographically, which is great, it’s a double edged sword, because it’s really good for us. I can get technology talent anywhere to work for DICK’S Sporting Goods, because they don’t have to reside in Pittsburgh. 


That also means our talent at DICK’S or at any company is sitting in their home office one day working for DICK’S people reaching out left, right, they could the next day just join a new company and they don’t have to do much. They don’t have to move families. Rhey don’t have to go to a different office. They’re going to turn in an old computer, get a new one sent. They’re going to log in. They’re going to onboard. There’s just more disruption, I think, than many of us have seen. From the human resources side, as we’re in this post maybe post-pandemic surge of talent needs. It’s amazing to see, well, I think it helped some companies realize that HR is more than just process. 


We played a lot of roles during pandemic, a lot around safety and wellness and health and making sure our teammates felt they were heard and now a lot of us are helping rebuild our teams and really take care of the business from a talent perspective. You see it. Dean has a website where you can see the job posting changes since pre-pandemic. I looked at it yesterday. Human resources jobs are up 124% in job postings compared to pre-pandemic levels. So there is this little mini war in HR talent going on right now. Even put it with software engineers. It’s crazy, because business has realized that people are key to business and you need people to help find the people and you need people to take care of the people.


You can’t go by with these minimal resources that you’ve set up in your HR function. We need to be much more equipped, because you’re not going to win. You’re not going to win with a budget HR team for sure. It’s here to stay forever. It’s definitely here to stay for a while.


[00:38:21] RS: Yeah. I tend to agree with you where people are not settling and there is some upper middle class privilege to that, surely. I think in general, people are realizing that life is too short and work is too long to not like it, at least not to not enjoy the people you work with and not feel engaged in the work you’re doing. With the great resignation, I feel like as the dust starts to settle from that, it wasn’t some giant revolution against work. People weren’t resigning from good jobs. If you were offering a good job to someone, then they weren’t great resigning from your job. They were great resigning from your shitty job than that you didn’t invest in HR, you didn’t invest in making sure that they were engaged, they were working on things they cared about, that they had the total rewards package that was meaningful, all that stuff. I tend to agree with you. Rick, this has been a fantastic conversation.


[00:39:14] RJ: Rob, you mentioned about the great resignation. I wonder if we’re going to see a little bit more of the great regret or rethink, where there’s so many opportunities right now. I do think people are jumping ship quickly, thinking that it’s going to be so much better. It’ll be interesting to see if we see any trends of people boomeranging back. I think that’s something that we’ll keep our eye on. What I love about DICK’S Sporting Goods is that you leave on good terms and you went out to explore something different and it’s not what you expected. We still have a need. We’re always welcome to that talent to come back and have a conversation with us.


[00:39:50] RS: Yeah, totally. I love a good boomerang story.


[00:39:52] RJ: Yeah.


[00:39:53] RS: Well, Rick, this has been a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for joining me today and sharing all of your experience. I’ve loved learning from you. This has been a great conversation.


[00:40:01] RJ:  Thanks, Rob. I really enjoyed the conversation as well.




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