The last year has been tough on all fronts when it comes to tech recruiting and hiring. Joining me on the show today is a returning champion and CEO of Hired, Josh Brenner. He’s here with me today to talk about what’s predicted for hiring in 2024 and to discuss the report released by Hired called, ‘The Future of Tech Hiring: 8 Bold Predictions for 2024.’ Our conversation starts with a quick general overview of how things are going at Hired and Josh shares his thoughts on tech hiring and AI. We dive into some of the key points highlighted in the report including the predicted hiring resurgence in 2024, going back to a job that laid you off, and delve into a discussion on the raging debate between remote, hybrid, and in-office working.
Rob Stevenson 0:05
Welcome to talk talent to me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the front lines of modern recruitment.
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Rob Stevenson 0:22
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Josh Brenner 0:39
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Rob Stevenson 0:52
I’m your host, Rob Stevenson. And you’re about to hear the best in the biz. talk down to me. Hello, dear listeners, recruiting darlings hiring Munchkins. Human resourcing folks out there, I don’t need to give you nicknames anymore. Let’s just jump into things. I have an awesome episode for you. I’m having fun already here at the top. Can you tell? Our guest today is a returning champion, and happens to also be the CEO of higher.com and my friend Josh Brenner. Josh, welcome back to the podcast. How are you today?
Josh Brenner 1:24
I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me back. Again. Rob. I’m super excited to be here with you.
Rob Stevenson 1:29
Yeah, I love having you on. And I think folks probably out there know that it’s gonna be a good one when I pull out the big guns here, the top brass over at hired. So yeah, I mean, we get we can get into some of this stuff. That specific reason I wanted to have you on is because hired just came out with this report, trying to look around the corner a little bit trying to understand what’s coming in 2024, came up with a bunch of survey data, pulled some quotes out from previous guests on this podcast source some top people professionals from the industry to hear what their understanding and call it all into this report. The report is called The Future of tech hiring eight to bold predictions for 2024. It’s linked in the show notes quoted all over this report. Is you yourself, Josh, so I wanted to have you on. So we can just spend a little more time but some of this stuff. And there’s only so much you can put it in the book. But we have, you know, we have as much time as we want to hear on the podcast. So I’m excited to get into this stuff with you. I pulled out some things I want you to react to. But first I would just love, you know, a general outlook. How are things over at hire.com.
Josh Brenner 2:24
So I mean, it’s never a dull moment that hired as a company, we have a huge mission and vision to change how hiring works. We want to make all hiring as as you know, Rob equitable, transparent and efficient. And so we are hard at work, trying to achieve that vision. We know there’s a lot of opportunity in the in the hiring space to improve in each of those areas. And so every day, the team is making big moves there. I think, you know, looking back over the past a year, one of the most exciting things I’m sure we’ll even talk about this, throughout the episode is all of the advancements in AI. And I’m really bullish, and the team is really bullish on the impact that AI and general AI in particular is going to have on the recruiting and HR tech landscape hired has been, as I think, you know, at the forefront of AI for the past 10 years. But just the technology has gotten so much better over the past year in particular. And the team has just really embraced it and started re envisioning each of those elements of our vision with the new technology evolutions in mind. So it’s been a really exciting year of finding efficiencies with messaging and summarizing and pulling out really, you know, important pieces of data and leveraging that for matching. And we think that, you know, we’re still at the very beginning of what’s to come from that regard.
Rob Stevenson 3:48
Yeah, you know, there’s been like murmuring and hype, and frankly, I think a lot of over marketing about AI in our industry, right, like, just across the board HR tech for a long time. Right. And I do feel like, it’s kind of finally here. You know, like in the last year, it’s like, Okay, now we’re starting to see this really impact our lives a little bit is that because of like MLMs and Chad GBT and the fact that some of its consumer facing, or is it also, you know, have we reached a watershed moment behind the scenes to?
Josh Brenner 4:14
I mean, I think it’s really the LMS and GPT obviously brought it to the forefront in the consumers mind. But that’s really an important step in getting people more comfortable both on the back end of the technologists getting them more comfortable with it, and also people using it when finding the right use cases to leverage it. And I still think we’re in this point where a lot of companies are still using it from a sales pitch perspective. But some of the use cases don’t need to be refined. But I think again over the next year or two, that has the real opportunity to not only redefine how people are hired and find their jobs, all the way to how people will do their job. So it’s a pretty exciting time to be in this space. Obviously and also just in the technology world in general.
Rob Stevenson 5:04
Yeah, definitely. So this report begins, I’m pleased to report, basically with a little bit of a sunny disposition about things. And I was pleased to read that because things have been brutal out there, lots of layoffs happening, lots of reductions in force recruiters moving around a lot. They tend to move around a lot anyway. But I think more so lately. You seem to think that there’s going to be more of a resurgence in hiring this year. I’d love to know why you think that’s the case?
Josh Brenner 5:28
Sure. Well, you know, I think just before I jump in, I want to be clear that we have been through this really interesting journey over the past five years, let’s say. And I think Resurgence is not to be confused with the rapid scaling that we saw, post pandemic, you know, that started in the spring of 2021 about. So I think the resurgence that I’m talking about is more to a pre pandemic pace, then to that sort of rapid period that we saw from 2021 to 2022. Some of the reasons that we’re feeling optimistic for 2024 is we took a survey from hiring managers, recruiters, tech leaders out there. And overwhelmingly, the response was that their budgets for headcount in 2024, are going to expand. And we’re also seeing that companies have been in this strain as the, as you mentioned, the strange place where they’ve pulled back. And as a result of that, they started to see the growth rates, slowdown and their ability to achieve their digital transformation goals. And a lot of cases slowed down as a result of that. And so we’re starting to see some companies, especially the smaller companies start to really realize that real growth is really still important. While managing your costs is important for a small business, they need to show growth, or it doesn’t really make a lot of sense for them to be in business. So we’re starting to see some of that swinging back around companies, you know, backfilling hires, pulling forward new initiatives. And so we strongly believe that the tech industry is still a really exciting opportunity for people to grow their careers.
Rob Stevenson 7:14
And, yeah, certainly, who are the companies who are well set up to go there and rehire or increase their head counts?
Josh Brenner 7:22
I mean, I’m not going to name specific names, I would say, but I think we have, obviously all the data across a large portion of those companies
Rob Stevenson 7:30
sharing your screen, Josh, show me.
Josh Brenner 7:34
I think that, you know, really, we’re seeing financial services companies are back in full swing, in a lot of ways, larger tech companies, while they have very publicly been shedding employees, they’re also hiring on the opposite side of that. And then obviously, startups and startups that are focused on AI, machine learning, and all of the surrounding ecosystem there have gotten a vast majority of the funding over the past year. And so you can imagine that with that funding comes in need to hire.
Rob Stevenson 8:06
Yeah, and I’m sort of wondering if there are companies who are having to completely rebuild their talent teams having, as you said, shed them going into 2023 or earlier. And now we’re in this position where they’re like, Okay, well, we want to hire but first, we have to rebuild the Talent Team, whereas the companies who are a little more forward thinking who have maybe seen a couple different cycles know that you will come out of economic hardship at some point is not the move to just, you know, chop off your talent arm. But to it, there was this one survey response that I pulled out that said that 68% of tech employers said that they would feel confident rehiring employees they laid off, while only 15% of unemployed workers would accept a job from an employer who laid them off. So that was telling to me where of course come he’s like, Yeah, sure, we’ll take you back. Whereas employees are a little bit more like a no, you, you know, you had your shot at me. And, you know, nevermind, I’ll find someone like you, basically. So I guess I would like love to hear your perspective. For those 15% of people who are like, No, I wouldn’t go back. Let’s assume that they’re not in a position where they kind of have to take a role where it’s like, oh, well, you know, I’m going to jam. This isn’t my ideal, but I really need to get paid blah, blah. Let’s assume that they need to have a little bit more leeway in their career search. Do you agree with with that sentiment? Do you think that people should not go back to him and that laid them off? Or should jobseekers kind of swallow their pride and get their old job back?
Josh Brenner 9:30
That’s a really good question. I think taking a step back. My thinking on why the companies are so interested in taking the people back. I think it’s fair, maybe that’s self explanatory. But I think it’s also worth mentioning that there’s a lot of benefits of having boomerang employees, right. They’re, they’re pre vetted in the sense that you’ve already made the decision once to hire them. They clearly have a value fit with the company in the sense that they joined and they were a strong contributor to the team, and there’s obviously a lot less RAM I’m needed to get them back into the company. So I definitely understand why companies would be excited about having people back. And I know that a lot of companies across the board had to make extremely tough decisions when making these cuts. And a lot of the people that they had to let go of were people that they didn’t, they didn’t want to see gone from the company. So it’s definitely understandable. On the flip side, on the employee side, it goes back to the pandemic, right, and talent used that opportunity while we were in lockdown, to kind of reprioritize and reevaluate what they were looking for in a company and employer. And we left that period, with talent being even more focused on making sure they had a really strong connection with the mission vision values that a company had, and they wanted to be part of something bigger, and they didn’t want to just be coming in clocking in clocking out their work, they realized, you know, is a large portion of their day, and people that are happy at work are happy at home. And the reverse is true, too. So it really impacts your whole life. So all that being said, one of the key pieces of that connection that talent has to companies, when looking at the values is trust, right, and they want to feel like they can trust to their employer. And a lot of companies took a lot of care. And when they did reductions, it was something that would they went out publicly and tried to help people get other jobs and did all sorts of things to do the right thing by talent. And those employers are going to have, I think, a much easier time of getting those boomerangs back, and they live the values that they talk about as a company. And on the flip side, there was also a lot of companies, I think, more than often than not, that didn’t do the right thing by employees that they were getting, you know, they were they were having to let go of. And I think those companies that handled those layoffs poorly, are gonna have a very small chance of getting any of those employees back. And so they have their challenge cut out for them, not only are they not going to be able to get the boomerang employees back, but they really need to focus on their recruiting efforts. Because those types of companies, you know, now have employer branding issues, right that people talk, social media, company review sites, like Glassdoor are blind, in an interview process, people are going to be looking at those things. And talent teams have a now a hard job within those companies of you know, rebuilding the trust with job seekers. And, you know, I would suggest those companies be very upfront in the recruiting process, to share why things went down the way they did, and what the company has learned from that and how they plan to really stick to their values going forward. So I think it’s interesting to see such a low percentage that 15% of people saying they would go back, I think a lot of it has to do with the way the companies handle the layoffs in this round. But it’s definitely you know, Boomerang employees are a lot of times the best for companies for all for all the reasons I mentioned.
Rob Stevenson 13:19
Yeah, that’s a great point, I hadn’t sort of considered think about the way that you parted, right? Think about how they handled you leaving the company. Did they help you try and you know, find your next thing that they say will serve as a reference? Did they give you severance, right? Were they like, hey, we wish we could keep you like, you know, this is not performance related. This sucks. We’re sorry? Or was it like a zoom call with 200 people on it? And they’re like, Hey, if you’re on the Zoom call, you’re no longer an employee of this company. And don’t let the door hit you on the way out, right? And if you know, if that happened to me, then I would be one of those 15% I’d be like, hell no, I’m not coming back. I remember how I was treated. But yeah, on the converse, I have a friend. She’s actually in recruitment. And she was laid off and got a really great severance package. And then towards the end of that severance package, when she got back on like the job search wagon, she went back to that company, because they’re like, oh, over, we’re on the AI side of our business. We’re growing like crazy. We really want you back. And they gave her an awesome offer. So under that circumstance, I was like, I mean, they basically gave you an eight month paid vacation, and then a raise at the end of it, you know. So that was the dream. That’s not realistic for everybody. But that’s the other thing, too, is like, how good is the offer? It’s like, if they want you back, it’s like, well, you’re gonna have to give me a really good offer, because you had me at the existing offer. And that was an offer that you you didn’t want to make good on. So now you have to make the offer a little better would be my negotiation tactic.
Josh Brenner 14:35
Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of similar stories. You know, I talked as you can imagine, I talked to a lot of people in the recruitment, talent space, and there’s a lot of those stories happening. And people are making that decision right based on it’s an old saying, right, like, how did they make you feel it’s the company handle it. And I don’t know the reason I don’t know the root of why it went down this way. But the layoffs were handled a lot poor in this past year and a half that I have seen, I think in the history of my career.
Rob Stevenson 15:08
Yeah, I wonder why that is like, is it because it’s a horrible thing to have to do and be a part of. And so companies want it over with is it just like is indicative of other organizational ills? My guess would be like, if you lay off bad, you probably do other stuff bad too.
Josh Brenner 15:23
Yeah, no, I think that, you know, it’s again, it’s like the values, right. And there’s some companies that have the values that just go on the wall or go on the website, and then they never revisit them. And then there’s some companies that actually care about the values and about the culture and about their employees and doing the right thing by people in general. And I think, for whatever reason, this time around, I think maybe that’s, you know, their backs, we’re up against a wall more right with the economy and their investors kind of breathing down their neck and business slowing down and maybe having immature leaders and things like that and see what I think it will have repercussions on those companies, and then their ability to attract good talent in the future.
Rob Stevenson 16:05
Yeah, they’re gonna reap what they sow, people remember. So this is basically since locked down mandates were lifted, and people were safely allowed to go working back in an office again, this debate around remote versus in office has been raging. I’m pleased myself for always having said that, it’s going to depend and it’s gonna depend on the employer and the talent, blah, blah, blah, which is, again, not a sexy way to get an article published. But usually it’s the answer. And that’s kind of what we’re seeing. We’re seeing people split into lots of different camps, there are people who only want to work remotely, there are people who like to be hybrid, and there are people who want to be back in the office now, we surveyed all three of these different camps and ask them about their priorities, basically, what’s most important to you in a role and Don’t you just love it, Josh, when things just come down exactly how you expected them to and like the the Plinko board of a survey. And in this case, the people who are currently remote, the most important thing they reported was the option to work remotely. The hybrid folks said that the most important thing to them was work life balance, and the in office people. So the most important thing to them was career growth and advancement. So about what you’d expect, the thing that was, I think worth pointing out to me was that the people in office, the fact that they said career growth and advancement was the most important to them, and they’re in office that tells me they believe that you are more likely to have career growth and advancement being in the office. Do you agree with that?
Josh Brenner 17:24
I don’t think I mean, I don’t think so. First of all, we are a remote company. So that’s not, you know, from our own central lens of things, you do not need to be an office to have career growth. So it’s hard for me to say from other companies not being in those offices and things like that. I think, obviously, for people that are more junior in their career, being in person, there’s a lot of benefits to the osmosis of being able to learn from other people. There’s obviously other benefits of being in person in general, we are firm believer, I’m a firm believer, if you are operating in a remote capacity, the value of getting people together as a team together, whether that is only once a year, or whether it’s multiple times a year, I think it obviously depends. But there’s a lot of value in building that trust in person. You know, I think last year, it was interesting, we saw because of the pullback and hiring and a lot of companies were taking a stance towards fully returned office a lot harder than I was expecting. I think you were more even keeled and I was where I was really thinking that things were going to be remote forever across all companies. And I think last year, I was scratching my head saying, we’re not seeing that in the data anymore. We’re seeing companies really start to pull people back into the office. But now I’m seeing things a little bit differently. I think there’s this hybrid model that has, at least as of now been more predominant. I think talent has taken a stand saying, for me to come in every single day doesn’t really make a lot of sense. There’s strategic things that are good for me to be in person. There’s benefits of me having you know, I want the flexibility and the ability to focus at home. And I think companies have resigned to that really pushed for the five day a week. Now, the challenge with the hybrid, in my opinion is that the companies are you know, if you’re operating in a hybrid, you need to actually be hiring people on the in the local area of where the offices, right, obviously, that they’re coming in a couple days a week. So you really now are reducing your available talent pool and limiting the quality of talent that you can reach. And so I think that’s a trade off, right is you have a smaller pool of people to work with. But obviously, if having people in the office one to three days a week is an important thing for your company. That’s what you’re gonna do.
Rob Stevenson 19:50
That’s a great point that if you go hybrid, you’ve basically sacrifice one of the key hiring perks of a remote thing which is that you are not tied to a Geo and now you You’re just like, oh, well, we want to be a little bit more flexible in our own backyard.
Josh Brenner 20:04
Yeah, no, I think you know, it’s not only about the quality to, but also the diversity of talent, right. And then in that case where we saw during the pandemic, companies were able to really bring diversity of thought, and background, and gender and age at all. And all the things people were really looking for by expanding their reach more globally, man, obviously, with focus on hybrid, you have to give that up, or it’s much more limited.
Rob Stevenson 20:29
Definitely. So Josh, you know, how important an actionable insight is to content. So before I let you go here, I was hoping you can maybe give some advice to the talent pros out there, what do you see as important for them to do whether it’s an upscale or development for this year so that they can be aI ready so that they can be recession proof? How should talent pros be looking to grow and develop in the next year?
Josh Brenner 20:52
I mean, I think educating yourself on all of the technologies that are out there, for the past several years, there has been an increase in the tools that are available for talent pros out there. So really being an expert at the different tools, the pros and the cons of them, what do you need in a TA tech stack, I think is really important for people to bring that kind of value into their their new companies where they’re going into AI is coming when general AI is coming. So spend time learning it. And there’s a lot of resources out there, hired has put out a lot of resources for recruiters and how to leverage general AI. But there’s, there’s a lot more beyond what we’ve just put out out there. So just become really well educated in it. Because it’s going to change the whole landscape. And you don’t want to be you know, especially in a competitive the talent spaces right now, you don’t want to be a laggard in that area. And, you know, I think talent professionals have of the one of the hardest jobs within an entire company, but it’s also one of the most important jobs. So as tough as it may be out there, I would just say know your worth, and know, you know, how valuable you are to companies. I fundamentally believe why I got into this business in the first place still hold true is companies that have the best teams are the most successful. And you as a talent professional, are the ones that are helping the companies build those best in class teams. And just know that you are a really critical, important piece of a company success. And so don’t let the short term challenges that you may be facing, get you down and lose sight of that bigger picture.
Rob Stevenson 22:46
I love it. A little bit of love for all our town friends out there and podcasts. And at the end here, Josh, I do love having you on thanks for being on the show again and sharing your Outlook with me. It’s such a blast chatting with you. So thanks for being here, man.
Josh Brenner 22:58
Thanks so much Rob. I appreciate it.
Rob Stevenson 23:02
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