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Forbes Senior Contributor Jack Kelly

Jack KellyForbes Senior Contributor

Joining us on today’s installment of Talk Talent to Me is Jack Kelly, senior contributor at Forbes Magazine, to share some accurate and well-formed insights into where we’ve come from as recruiters, where we’re going, and the larger impact of some of the changes we’re seeing in the industry right now.

Episode Transcript

EPISODE 211

 

[INTRODUCTION]

 

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

 

[00:00:12] SPEAKER 1: We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life. We want to understand how they make decisions. Are they willing to take risks? And what it looks like when they fail.

 

[00:00:22] RS: No holds barred, completely off-the-cuff interviews, with directors of recruitment VPS of global talent, CHROs, and everyone in between.

 

[00:00:29] SPEAKER 2: Once I went through the classes and the trainings and got the certifications through diversity inclusion, I still felt like something was missing.

 

[00:00:39] SPEAKER 3: 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.

 

[00:00:52] RS: I’m your host, Rob Stevenson. And you’re about to hear the best in the biz. Talk Talent To Me.

 

[EPISODE]

 

[00:00:59] RS: Joining me today on Talk Talent To Me is founder, CEO, senior Forbes contributor. He wears lots of hats. Jack Kelly is his name. Jack, welcome to the podcast. How are you today?

 

[00:01:09] JKL Hey, great. Thanks for having me on, Rob. I appreciate it. I’m looking forward to our talk.

 

[00:01:14] RS: Yes, so pleased to have you here. I did hem and haw a little bit on how to best introduce you because there’s a lot of stuff I want to talk to you about with regard to your writing over at Forbes, but then you are such an interesting guy in a bunch of other ways, too, with the companies you founded and the resources you helped developed and kind of oversee in the last couple of years. Would you mind maybe walking me through that a little bit just here at the top to set some context for the conversation to sort of a little bit about your background, and kind of how you found yourself in your current variety of roles?

 

[00:01:42] JK: It’s interesting, you know what, one thing is, for people who are career-oriented, looking for a job, looking to enhance their career, I find, an object in motion stays in motion. So, I’m a big believer in, you have to do things and get out there and try things, even if you fail, because each time you’re going to learn and then you’re going to be introduced to something else.

 

So, with respect to Forbes, what happened is, as CEO of a search firm and been doing it for 25 years, I had a blog, and I write about kind of people I place with primary compliance, legal risk, anti-money laundering, these are kind of like the police officers of Wall Street to make sure everything is safe, and they’re not ripping people off. They’re not trading on inside information. They’re not funneling money illegally through the banks, and this happens. So, they’re trying to stop it. I would write about this stuff. And then someone from Forbes saw my work and said, “Hey, Jack, would you be interested in writing for Forbes?” And I’m like, “Yeah, sure.” I really think much of it – I think it is one of those things, Rob. You know how lots of times people say things, and nothing ever comes from it? So, I’m like, “Yeah, sure.”

 

And then sure enough, they said, “Hey, send us some of your work and some other things.” And next thing you know, I’m writing for them. It’s interesting. I enjoyed writing, but then I really developed a passion for, it’s my favorite time of day when I’m writing. So, what usually happens, this is kind of embarrassing. But what happens is 5:00, 5:30, every morning, we have two cats and two dogs. One of the cats wakes me up because I have to feed her. So, I’m up at 5:00, 5:15, 5:30. And then I can’t really go back to sleep. So, what I do, I make some coffee, and I start writing.

 

Now, going on, like I don’t know, three, four years. That’s my thing. I’m up every morning, even weekends, because the cat doesn’t even let me sleep late on weekends. So, I’m up every day I start. At the very least I have some, a piece written before it’s even nine o’clock. And then oftentimes, I could write some more. So, it’s a weird thing. I didn’t plan it that way. I’m not a hustle born guy to be up so early and do it. But it just played out that way.

 

[00:03:49] RS: Yeah. However, it works, I’m impressed that you are able to have creative output at that saw log hour of the morning.

 

[00:03:56] JK: Yeah, I don’t know how, but sometimes I think it’s just habits, that you just get into that habit, and it’s almost – I don’t about you. Sometimes it’s easier if you have a habit just to do it, as opposed to kind of shrugging it off. So, like I have a habit to do that. I have a habit later on in the day to do some working out. It could just be as simple as yoga, it could be as simple as doing some sit-ups, but something to make sure that I could live to, at least I’m figuring out what to live to, like 90-ish or so. So, this way my kids get older and they have kids. I could be around and not be that doddering old guy who’s old, decrepit. Those are the two things that I work on every day to make sure I have to check off.

 

[00:04:34] RS: 90 is a good goal. But I think you could probably go a little older. I think people are going to be live into like, 110 120 by the time you’re winding down.

 

[00:04:43] JK: How cool would it be, 120. That’s insane.

 

[00:04:45] RS: What’s insane is like, I’m 31, right? Like what if I turned 90 and I had as much time left in my life as I have lived right now. That’s crazy. I already think about that with, “Oh, my grandma’s 98.” And it’s like really? At 78, she had 20 more years left. That’s wild to me that just like life is really, really long for some, I guess.

 

[00:05:01] JK: It’s hard to comprehend a hundred. My mind is still wrapped around that 120. But that’s going to happen. Hopefully, it happens for us. But I think at least for our kid’s generation, probably is going to be there.

 

[00:05:12] RS: Yeah, I think 120 is probably the max, I’d want to live. I think mortality is important. This is episode one of my new podcast Talk Mortality to Me. 

 

[00:05:23] JK: I’ll be a vampire. I’ll keep going. I’ll keep going on. I’ll be like, “120, come on, I can do another 10 years.”

 

[00:05:31] RS: Here’s the thing, once you get to 120, you’re like, “Hey, what, 125 come on. I can do it.”

 

[00:05:34] JK: Let’s do it. Let’s do it, 150.

 

[00:05:40] RS: Yeah, I don’t know, we’re definitely going to live longer. I think that’s the trend we’ve seen in the last 100 years is just life extension and I don’t see that stopping. But while we’re here, and now before we – while we’re still young. Let’s talk a little bit about your writing. Because was it Forbes’s intention that you would stay kind of in this industry and cover HR tech, just as a result of the company that you had founded and ran for so long?

 

[00:06:04] JK: Yeah. They were interested in that, because I know how it works. Not only for my own company, interviewing people, hiring people, happy to let people go, managing recruiters, but then also, they felt by writing about it, because as a practitioner, I’m not coming from a place of theory of, “Oh, it should be this way. But I have no basis of giving my advice.” So, they felt, “Hey, here’s somebody who really kind of understands how it works, what it takes for someone to get an interview, what you should do about a LinkedIn profile, what to do about a resume, how do you negotiate salary, how do you handle a counteroffer?” So, we got real real-life experiences, and I can impart to people.

 

But then what ended up, what happened, they started asking me to do other things. And before you know it, I’m just covering a whole swath of information across the board. So, any kind of different corporate, any kind of business events, any anything that’s happening, but I try to tie it in, what does that mean for Rob? What does it mean for the average person? Is this good for their career, not good for their career? So, it could be, “Hey, here’s what’s going on in Wall Street”, like today, I wrote about the stock market and crypto sell-off. But then adding, in my experience, when this happens, sometimes it could end up that companies put on hiring freezes, they may let people go because they get spooked. And when management is uncertain about the future, or worried about the future, they tend to put off hiring, they kind of slow walk people who are already involved in the recruiting process, they may kind of selectively let people go.

 

So, that’s kind of, I think, the value add I have is that I could write about these topics, but kind of give it from a real-world perspective. And then after so much speaking to so many people and doing so much research, I can kind of really give some good advice and forward-thinking guidance to people so they can manage their careers.

 

[00:07:52] RS: Yeah, so that’s what I wanted to ask you is, how do you sort of separate the wheat from the chaff a little bit? Because I’m sure you get pitched a lot. I’m sure a lot of stuff comes across your desk. People kind of asking you to cover things. What to you stands out when you are kind of considering what’s important to cover?

 

[00:08:09] JK: That’s a really great question. What I purposely look for is this, in my opinion, there’s just too much doom and gloom and angst and hate and vitriol out there. Whether it’s in cable news, whether it’s on social media, whether it’s in person, and we all feel it. It’s just this overhang of just anger and hate and frustration. When it comes to finding or thinking about pieces to write about, I purposely seek out uplifting, positive stories to write about. I’m drawn to innovation, to new technologies, new platforms, new apps, new ways of thinking. I want to talk about mental health issues, emotional wellbeing, feelings of burnout, feelings of isolation, because I want the readers to walk away feeling maybe, “Wow, I thought this was just me that was going through. I didn’t realize that everybody’s feeling this way. So, I feel a little better.” Or, “Hey, I like this. I didn’t know that this kind of company existed. I’m going to send my resume there. Oh, I didn’t even know this whole sector existed. Wow, I’m going to look into it. This is this could be really interesting for my career.”

 

So, I view it as it’s too easy, and it’s probably to my detriment because if I would write about everything negative and “This is terrible, this is what’s going to happen.” You get more clicks that way. Like yesterday if I would have wrote about, “Oh my god, the stocks crashed. Oh, this is going to be 1929 all over again. Oh, no.” I probably would get like a gazillion hits and that’d be great. But I can’t do that. I’d rather be like that more nuanced that you get less clicks. “Well, don’t worry. Okay. It might be bad. Yes, there might be some freezes, but it’s going to probably turn around because we had the dot com bubble that burst, that we had the financial crisis. We had March 2020 where it went down but then it came up springing back, so hang in there.” They don’t like to hear that as much. They want to hear the, “Oh my god, it’s crashing.”

 

Even though it’s against my own interest, I rather still try to bring something, bring some positivity into it, some happiness into it, to make people feel empowered. So, that’s kind of what I look for. You get all these pitches sometimes where it’s not or it’s like a VC, “Hey, we just did a series, A round and B round and this round and you’re going to make some, and earn this much money.” Dude, that’s great, that’s awesome. But I don’t think the readers want to hear about someone else getting rich by getting all that money. Maybe they want to hear about the company itself and how they’re helping make a difference. That’s to me more of a story, than they just got showered with a lot of money.

 

[00:10:43] RS: Yes. You do see that, this idea that a fundraiser is newsworthy. It’s newsworthy to you having raised the funds, and it’s newsworthy to the person who gave you the funds, right? But everyone else is like, “Okay, another day, another company.” With respect to that, and just like the fundraising of it all, I kind of wanted to ask you to reflect on the HR tech industry as a whole. Because I’ve spent most of my career in HR tech industry. And I’ve seen so many takes on like, this is a greenfield opportunity, this is a historically underserved area of the business, especially when you compare what HR tech tool is available as compared to like AdTech, MarTech, sales tax, that kind of thing.

 

However, I haven’t seen like the kind of exits that you see in other industries, right? When you think of big HR tech company exits, I think of Microsoft buying LinkedIn as a big one, and I don’t really see a lot of other big ones. So, am I looking at it a too short of a timeframe? Is HR tech, still not enough of a priority in the business? Why do you think that there’s not this the same sort of big ticket exit in this space as there are in others?

 

[00:11:52] JK: See, that’s a really interesting topic. I’m not an expert by any means on HR tech. So, take anything I’m saying now with a complete grain of salt or like a whole big bag of salt, because I’m not an expert.

 

[00:12:03] RS: Don’t tell Forbes.

 

[00:12:06] JK: It’s the HR tech part. I know, like, the other, how to get stuff done. How to get an interview, how to network, that kind of stuff. But the tech, I’m not as well – well, maybe it’s because as you’re pointing out, it’s not a read about a lot of new platforms, apps, technology. But yet, I’m hard-pressed to say, “Oh, my God, this X is a game-changer. And now, all these candidates are saying, Jack, wow, my life is so much easier now. I know, the HR people and talent acquisition, wow, this is great.” I don’t really see that. Now, could it exist? Absolutely. But I would say the purchase of LinkedIn was like one of the biggest kind of moments. I mean, I guess maybe I’m taking for granted indeed, because they’re a monster. No pun intended.

 

[00:12:47] RS: Monster is a monster. 

 

[00:12:51] JK: So, there are stuff, but I don’t know. Or maybe they just don’t have good PR that you don’t hear enough about the success stories. So, there could be a lot out there. But to me, it still seems that the recruiting process is kind of where it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago for the most part. I mean, the big difference is, when I first started recruiting, I would come in Monday morning, and I was hoping that I could get there in time before the faxes kept spilling out of the fax machine on the floor and a mix up all the paper and I couldn’t get all the resumes together. I’m not being facetious. I mean, that’s literally what it was.

 

So, I went from there to, having job boards, and then LinkedIn, and Monster and CareerBuilder and hot jobs and what have you. So yeah, you saw that progression. But still, when you talk to the average person who’s looking for a job, who’s interviewing, the experience they have now, I would say, on a whole is probably worse than it was years ago. 10 years ago, no one used the term ghosting. 10 years ago, if I would even say like five, six, seven years ago, maybe, let’s say, Rob, you would go for an interview. You go for the interview, and let’s say I was your recruiter, I would say, “Hey, let me get in touch with the internal HR person or the internal talent and get some feedback.” I get feedback, meaningful feedback, helpful feedback, I deliver it to you so then you would know for the next interview, “Okay, I know what I did right, I know what I did wrong, I know how to improve.” So, then you could go to that next interview and do better.

 

That really doesn’t happen too much anymore. In a way, if you’re adding technology, you’re taking away that human element that’s so important, because it makes such a difference, Rob. If you go on that interview, and you know that Jane is a big Cowboys fan, so when you go on the interview, maybe you can bring that up. Maybe Phil wasn’t keen when you last spoke to him about something you said about, whatever it may be. So, you know not to say that, and say something different. That makes a difference between progressing in the interview and getting an offer or not. Because nowadays, you don’t really get that meaningful dialog.

 

So maybe to answer your question, in a roundabout way, maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I feel what happens when you put sometimes too much tech involved with the process, it creates barriers and walls, because this is kind of one of the few areas in the corporate world where you need that one-on-one dynamic, you need to have the ability, whether in person, God willing, again, will be in person, and we can have these conversations live. But even if it’s in Zoom, or whatever, Meet, whatever video app, just to have that dialogue and back and forth. And if you don’t have that dialogue, it’s really hard on both sides to make something happen.

 

[00:15:38] RS: Yes. I think there is a limit to how much we ought to be trying to automate. There’s this belief that more automation is better. Recruiters can then work on only higher leverage activities. But you have to put yourself in the candidate’s point of view, and you see some of these technologies, where it’s like, “Oh, we’re able to apply as natural language processing onto someone’s application and know right away whether they’d be a good fit.” Okay, maybe that saves someone some time. But then what’s the other side of that? Right? Pressing the Apply Now button, like send application, and then by the time you click tabs from that to your inbox, you have a rejection email. What? That’s terrible. Or like a rejection text, who wants that?

 

[00:16:18] JK: Exactly. So, with the easy apply button, and you know, I love LinkedIn. I speak to these people, I just wrote about two pieces for LinkedIn about their talent study and hot jobs on the rise. So, as a recruiter, I use it religiously. But when you have something like the easy apply button, what happens, it just makes it – no pun intended, makes it too easy for people just to go click, click, click, click, click, click, click. And then what happens is the HR people are overwhelmed with resumes.

 

[00:16:45] RS: Noise, yeah.

 

[00:16:48] JK: Even with ATS, it’s just so much – it’s like drinking from a firehose, instead of a water fountain. So, there’s just so much, they can’t process it. And then it’s hard to kind of whittle through it, no matter how great your ATS system or how great an internal recruiter is, when you just have thousands of resumes pouring in, it just becomes overwhelming. So, sometimes when you put in what seems like, “Hey, what a great feature, you can apply right away.” I don’t think they look at the consequences of it. And what I see and hear, what happens is most people when they apply, they’re taking their shot, and you can’t really fault them. They’re taking their shot. They’re like, “Hey, you know what, let me send my resume, see what happens.” But if everyone does that, then they just get overwhelmed.

 

[00:17:30] RS: Yeah, if you’re going to treat my application like a commodity, then I’m going to treat your job like a commodity, right?

 

[00:17:35] JK: You put it much better than I did. I took 10 minutes to drone on when you just said it perfectly.

 

[00:17:42] RS: Yeah. But you have to imagine the other side. I know we’re not blowing any minds there. But the more toolage that there is, the more technology there is. We’re working so hard to automate human labor, which is our most abundant resource. In some cases, that’s not necessarily better. I think just with regards to like less exits in HR Tech, I don’t think it’s because the industry is flawed. I think it’s too soon. I think we need to see talent, recruiting and HR continue to claw its way up the priority list, right on the point of the C-level people. I think if you ask a CEO what their number one problem is, they’ll say, hiring and talent, but it won’t be number one, right? It’ll be like three or four. The investment reflects the priority. So, I think as recruiters continue to eke out their just desserts, I suspect we’ll see a lot more movement in this industry.

 

[00:18:32] JK: It’s so odd, because right now, I think, from speaking to chief people officers, CEOs, executives, the big issue is how do I attract? How do I recruit? How do I retain workers? How do I make sure there’s not too much attrition? So, you would think that the senior executives would put that on the front burner and give it their undivided attention, “How we can make the whole recruitment process, the onboarding process, keeping people happy when they’re in the fold?” And it doesn’t feel that way, a lot of times. Because when you see and to go back to LinkedIn, probably every other month, at least, you’ll see this viral story about someone just talking about how they were rudely treated, how they were overlooked, how they had to go in 10 or 11 interviews. And then you would see literally hundreds, if not thousands of people commenting and sharing their stories, and it’s the same story. Rude treatment, I’ve been overlooked, I’ve been ghosted, no feedback. They made me do a project that took hours and I didn’t get paid for it. They made me come up with some other work for free to get judged on, nothing ever happened.

 

So, clearly, if I was a CEO of a company, and I saw such unhappiness, I would kind of jump in there and say, “Oh my gosh, we got to do something about it.” And it doesn’t happen. So, I’m really not sure why that is or what’s happening or why that just goes – it’s just acceptable practices.

 

[00:20:02] RS: Yeah. And part of it is probably because recruiters are overworked, they have too many roles to fill. So, they have to try and fill all of them. And how can you give 100% of your intention and empathy to 100% of your roles when you’re overworked, I think.

 

[00:20:17] JK: It’s impossible. It’s impossible because it puts them in a really untenable position, because it’s not just the one of the easy-apply –  everybody has a smartphone. There are all these job aggregation sites, there are all these niche sites. So, it’s so easy to find a job and you’re right, it’s impossible to just get back everybody. And then even if you get back to people, here’s what happens. As a recruiter, I’ll tell you from firsthand what happens is, “Hey, Rob, thank you for submitting your resume and you have a great background, but is not the right fit.” And then you’re going to be like, “Why is not the right fit? I am the right fit. You know what, you don’t think I’m good for this job?” It’s like, very uncomfortable, because you want to be polite, you want to be nice, but you have these egos, and everyone has their ego. And they’re like, “I’m right for it and it’s very uncomfortable.”

 

So, what I’ve seen what happened – and then also related to that, we live in a very litigious society. So, that there’s a real fear that if somebody says something, that could be, and let’s say with the best of intentions, they don’t mean anything by it, but they say anything, and it could come across, racist, sexist, ageist, whatever it is, those are big problems. That’s a big issue. So, it’s much easier not to say anything, because I might say something to you, Rob, about, “Hey, here’s why you’re not getting the offer.” And you’re going to hear, “Oh, because I’m – fill in the blank.” Now, I’m in trouble. Let’s say I’m an internal HR, but now I’m in trouble, and I got to go and explain what I said to you.

 

So, it’s easier not to say anything. And I think that’s what happens a lot with the absence of feedback is that people either make the calculation their mind or maybe subconsciously, “Hey, what’s my risk reward? If I go and talk to each person about why they didn’t get the job, I’ll never be able to recruit any other people. Because I’m just saying that to the folks and giving a story.” If I say it to 100 people, out of the 100, let’s be conservative, 20 of them are argumentative about it. It’s like a no-win proposition. Now, I don’t have time to recruit and get new people. So, the system is just, I don’t want to say it’s broken, because that’s a cliché, but it just seems, though no one’s fault, it worked better, somehow better. I don’t have the answer. I’m not smart enough for that. 

 

[00:22:34] RS: The reward is is karma, basically, right? And the risk is someone who’s not ready to actually receive that feedback, snapping back at you, clapping back in your inbox, or yeah, in an extreme example of maybe a lawsuit. So, I think recruiters tend to come down on either side of the fence on whether you ought to give feedback in the event that you don’t extend an offer. It’s probably a factor of how good your interview processes. If you are really dialed in, then I think you’re probably more comfortable giving precise feedback. And you also probably leave that call, agreeing, like the candidate agreeing with you, at the end of it. And if people are being nasty, then that’s also reflecting on your sourcing, like you shouldn’t have sourced this jerk, probably. But I wouldn’t blame anyone who just didn’t do it, right? Who’s just like, “You know what, I understand that it would be better for some people, a better experience for a certain percentage of people if I share that, and I can help them in their career.” But yeah, risk, reward. I wouldn’t blame them, if they were just deciding that it’s easier to say nothing.

 

[00:23:33] JK: I’ll say it’s politically correct. But that’s probably not the right term. What happens a lot of times, some people have inflated self-worth, and they feel they could absolutely do the job, whether or not they really can do the job or not. So then, to have a conversation with someone who has that mindset is very uncomfortable, and you’re not going to get through that person because that person absolutely positively believes they could do the job, even when they don’t have the skills in the background to do it. It’s hard to change their mind. You’re going to get brought down into the quagmire. It’s hard to get someone to say, “Oh, you’re right. I really don’t have that experience.” Because they kind of dig it.

 

On the other side of the coin, for hiring managers, they’re in a tough spot too, because they have to find that fit and find that person. If they don’t find that person in a quick fashion, the ones who are working have to pick up all the slack, they are going to get frustrated, they’re going to start sending out their resume, they’re going to start leaving. If that manager hires somebody who turns out to be a big loser and a dud, their management is going to say, “Jack is really not that – what’s up? What a bad choice. How did he hire this toxic person? I got to really wonder about his abilities.” And I lose political capital.

 

So, the managers who are hiring, they’re under a whole lot of pressure. Oftentimes we think about the job seeker, but the manager, they have no choice, they’re stuck. Because if they don’t hire in this market, the people on the team are just going to quit and leave because they’re like, “Hey, this is not fair. You’re overworking me, you’re giving me all this stuff to do and you’re not hiring. And if you’re not hiring, something’s up, I’m just going to leave.” And the manager is afraid, “Hey, if I hire the wrong person, I’m going to lose political capital, and I’m going to look bad. So, I want to make sure I get the right person.” You’re dealing with all these – this is like very much inside baseball, right? This is what happens, that people don’t talk as much about because why should they? They don’t think of that. This is what goes on behind the scenes. 

 

For a manager, it’s tough for her to make that choice. And another thing that goes on is, decisions are made by consensus now, so that it’s not as if you and I, we interview, we think about it, we make a decision. Jane Doe will interview 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 interviews over three to six months with 10, 12 different people. Now, you got to get all those 12 people to agree. And it’s like, if we try to get three people to agree to go where we want to go out to eat for dinner, it’s hard to do. So, imagine getting 12 people to sign off on, it’s almost impossible. It’s almost impossible. That’s why a lot of times people go through this whole process and it ends up they don’t get an offer. They’re like, “What? You made me go through 10, 11 interviews and I didn’t get it.” They’re irate and understandably so. But they don’t realize maybe out of those 10 people interviewed, two were like, “Jack, what did you think about this person?” All right, Jack’s not crazy. All right, you know what, let’s keep looking.

 

[00:26:41] RS: Yeah, that’s a great point, too, is like people have invested a lot of time. And that is just what you are signing on for when you do a job search, you have to just expect to look, you’re going to have to pay for this with your time a little bit. And in the case of the take home project, that’s a sticky one. I personally wouldn’t be thrilled about doing a 10-hour project for someone unpaid unless I knew I was going to get a job. And I’d be really bitter, especially, if I didn’t get the job afterward.

 

So again, it’s no one’s fault. But on the candidate’s part, you got to go into this process with the expectation that not everyone’s going to want to hire you, and you may invest some time that is just sunk.

 

[00:27:19] JK: See, you’re so polite about everything. Now, I’m thinking back on what I’m saying, I’m coming to crisis.

 

[00:27:26] RS: No, we’re saying the same thing. I can get nasty, too. Ask me about AdTech. I do want to – this sort of base level, shall we say, when you say it’s nobody’s fault. But there’s like, here are all of the factors at play. This to me is related to this point I keep trying to make and will continue making about just the relevance and effectiveness of the current employer-employee relationship. One person, one job, you agree to work for us, you get the salary, you get the benefits, the 401(k), what have you. Is there a place for that sort of relationship in the “Future of Work”? As we think about how work is going to fundamentally change, do you see that continuing to impact this traditional employer-employee relationship?

 

[00:28:19] JK: I think if the market stays hot, if the stock market doesn’t keep falling further and crash, and real estate doesn’t crash and inflation doesn’t go wild. So, let’s presume as a base model, is that if things keep going on the way, they are, not frothy, but just good, strong, hot market, then the employees have, they have the cards, because there’s just so much demand. And I think as the baby boomer generation starts retiring, there’s going to be even more jobs open. So, with more jobs opened in a hot job market, they could call the shots, and they could call it and we’re starting to see it now. 

 

For the first time, I’m seeing, you’re getting free college tuition. If you’re at Walmart, Amazon Starbucks, Target, they’re given free college tuition to people in an effort to recruit and bring people on board and have them kind of grow within the organization. You’re seeing places giving a week off, or to a coin base, give, I think, what was it, four weeks off? You’re actually caring about the mental health and emotional wellbeing of their workers. So, you’re seeing these changes. You’re seeing remote work as, I’d say that remote work in hybrid work might be like 30% to 40% of the people will have that option. Then you have flexibility, which some companies are now saying, “Hey, Rob, you could come in when you want to come in the office. You don’t have to come in if you don’t want to come in. You could kind of be a digital nomad and work from wherever you want to work.” So, we’re seeing all these things. Now, comes back when you ask, to have maybe two different jobs at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if that would be a thing.

 

There was this group, gosh, I won’t say over-employed is the name of it, and they were talking about how a lot of – I don’t know how accurate this was. But they’re chronicling tech people who are having two jobs or three jobs at the same time, because they’re at home, working remotely, they’re able to get the work done in a timely fashion. So, they can juggle two or three jobs, so they’re getting at least two different paychecks. How much of that is real? How much of that is urban legend? I don’t know.

 

[00:30:28] RS: It’s totally feasible.

 

[00:30:29] JK: It’s feasible. And I could see that happening. Because it’s a hot job market, and you can’t find people. And let’s say, “Rob, well, you know what, I’ll do your podcasts. But I also want to do this other podcast and other podcasts too. I want to be upfront and honest about it. And if you’re okay with it, I could do the podcast with it. I don’t need to work nine to five to do this podcast for you. I could do it within X amount of time, and I should just be paid for it. Not for the hours, but my output.” And the company are going to start saying, “You know what? I guess that’s fair. What difference? And why do we need him sitting in the office if you really get it done in two hours or three hours? Why does he have to do it? Let’s pay him. And then if he’s doing some other work, what are we going to do? We need the talent, he’s good at what he does, well do it.”

 

So, I wouldn’t rule that out at all, that probably will happen. I won’t even be surprised if the market stays hot. If we start, we’d see it probably within the next six months, you start seeing the articles out there, saying, “Hey, this is a thing here, where they have no choice, they need people, and they’re just going to have to do what they have to do to get more people to work for them.”

 

[00:31:34] RS: If anyone out there in podcast land, knows of someone doing this, please tell me because I’m dying to speak to one of these people. And I’m also thinking of it in terms of like, where does that leave the recruiter? Where does that leave a recruiter who’s like, “Okay, look, we can get you – we’re going to basically give you a full-time offer, but only pay you for 20 hours a week.” So, you’re more than a contractor less than an FTE, you do get some of the benefits. But you just have to accept the fact that you’re not the only person that they work for. Because maybe the job that you have doesn’t actually require 60 hours a week, maybe it only requires 20 to 30 when they’re not spending the other 20 to 30 waiting for people to come out of a conference room and driving to work and leaving work and whatever else, they can fill that time up with more work. So yeah, it’ll be interesting to see where that leaves recruiters and where that leaves this conception of what an actual job you’re hiring for means.

 

[00:32:26] JK: See, I love all this stuff. How great would it be? I found it. I sent into the chat the it’s Over Employed. Maybe we could track them down to have them on the podcast.

 

[00:32:35] RS: Oh, it’s just overemployed.com. Okay, I’ll put it in the show notes. But yeah, check this out people.

 

[00:32:41] JK: How great would it be, like we’re going to see, you can hold two different jobs get paid for both of them. You can be a digital nomad, living in wherever you want to live, or you just want to kind of be an RV lifestyle, a van lifestyle and just go trekking across the country. You can work flexible, when, where, how you want to work. You can work remote or you just want to come into office a couple of days a week to see your friends and hang out and go to dinner afterwards. They care about your mental health, your emotional wellbeing.

 

[00:33:08] RS: This blog is revolutionary. Can I just tell you, I just clicked on one of these articles, 8 Remote Work Rules You Should Bend or Break. Rule number one, you should love what you do. Rule number two, you should give your all to a job. Rule number three, climb the corporate ladder and aim for promotion. Rule number four, be visible and on the ball. Yeah, like all these things have just like historically, really only benefited companies. They haven’t benefited workers.

 

[00:33:31] JK: We’re in a new era. It’s really interesting. It’s really exciting.

 

[00:33:36] RS: Yeah, we’re going to take the power back.

 

[00:33:39] JK: If you think about it, Rob, it was almost like this mass experiment for two years for remote work. And it worked. The stock market was on fire, the economy doing really well, we’re back to pretty much full employment. And that was everyone working remotely. So then, why wouldn’t we continue that? You know what I mean? I think managers should realize, wait a minute. They didn’t have to be in the office and they were more productive than any time and the results show for themselves. So, let’s keep this going.

 

[00:34:13] RS: Yeah, there’s not really a compelling reason to go back to the office. I haven’t yet seen that. And maybe it hasn’t been long enough. Like, what are the long-term effects of being fully remote? I guess we’ll find out. But I tend to agree with you. The results of this two-year experiment are turns out people are just as productive if not more, so when no one’s babysitting them and watching them.

 

[00:34:32] JK: I think, what happens is the middle managers, and I don’t want to disparage baby boomers. But I think what happens if you’ve worked for 40 years, putting on your suit, putting on your tie, it’s hard to break a habit of 40 years.

 

[00:34:49] RS: Or just your understanding of how work is done. Your 40-year pattern of this is how the world works.

 

[00:34:55] JK: Yeah, and you could empathize with the person. You do something for 40 years is hard to change. It’s hard to say, “Okay, 40 years forget it. All right, I’m going to be completely different.” It’s hard. Now you could say, “Well, even if it’s hard, well guess what, the world change, you have to change with it.” I get it. But we all have to be reasonable and say, “Okay, yes, you have to do it.” But it’s not easy to do. It’s like trying to lose weight or stop drinking or stop smoking. Yes, you should stop those. But it’s not easy. It takes time.

 

So, I could see for the older generation, and then I could see for middle managers, they’re holding on for dear life. Because they may say, “Oh, my gosh, if people aren’t coming back to the office, that was a lot of my work to kind of be that busy body watching over them and they don’t need me anymore.”

 

[00:35:37] RS: Yeah, that’s scary.

 

[00:35:40] JK: Scary. I just read that Unilever, the big global corporation, I must say like, was it 1,500 or 15,000 middle managers they let go just recently? I can’t remember which one. It’s probably very meaningful to know the difference between 1,500 and 15,000. Either way, it’s a lot of people.

 

[00:35:58] RS: Right. Yeah, that’s like, Unilever is probably thrilled because all those salaries are off their books. And the middle managers, they’ll find work doing something else, surely, right? I don’t want to minimize the trauma of getting laid off. But it’s just like, it’s like anything. It’s like anything, whereas time goes on, certain jobs are made irrelevant, is a natural thing. So, I don’t know. I’m in over my head a little bit talking about trends of this, but it is really fun to talk about. And we are creeping up on optimal podcast length here, Jack. And this has been so fun. I definitely could keep chatting with you. But I think we should probably wrap this sucker up and slide into home. So, at this point, I would just say, thanks so much for being here and for your time, and for being yourself. I really loved chatting with you today.

 

[00:36:41] JK: My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on. This is a great conversation. And now that I’ve kind of got baby boomers angry at me, HR people angry at me, recruiters angry at me. So yeah, thanks for –

 

[00:36:51] RS: Right before we go, let’s take one big swipe at Gen Z, just to make sure, in the interest of equality.

 

[00:36:57] JK: I got to tell you, I think and not just because my kids are Gen Z’s. I think they’re going to be the best generation and that’s probably against popular opinion. The reason I’m saying is this, they had to deal with so much. They had to deal with seeing their parents get laid off in the financial crisis. They had to deal with these toxic politics. They had to deal with going to school, during a pandemic, going to college and the pandemic, and being sent home. So, I think that’s going to – they say, what is it, hard times make soft men or women, hard times, whatever. So, I think they’re going through hard times, so they’re going to be tough people. I think they’re going to be our savior.

 

[00:37:37] RS: Yeah, yeah, I certainly hope so. Thanks, Jack.

 

[00:37:41] JK: All right. Thanks a lot, Rob.

 

[OUTRO]

 

[00:37:45] RS: Talk Talent To Me is brought to you by Hired. Hired empowers connections by matching the world’s most innovative companies with ambitious tech and sales candidates. With Hired, candidates and companies have visibility into salary offers, competing opportunities and job details. Hired’s unique offering includes customized assessments and salary bias alerts to help remove unconscious bias when hiring.

 

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