Maggie Mannion

Kindred Founder Maggie Mannion

Maggie MannionFounder

In this episode of Talk Talent To Me, we are joined by the incredible founder of Kindred, Maggie Mannion. Kindred is a community of professionals who are navigating career transitions together.

Episode Transcript

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.

Speaker 2 0:12
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 like when they

Rob Stevenson 0:21
fail. No holds barred completely off the cuff interviews with directors of recruitment VPs of global talent, CHR rows, and everyone in between. Once I went through the classes and the trainings and got the certifications through diversity and inclusion, I still felt like something was missing.

Speaker 3 0:39
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.

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. I am really excited about today’s guest on top talent to me. I know I say that every time but this time I mean it because our guest today is a friend of mine, an old colleague from several companies ago who got her start as a recruiting coordinator and appeared on my very first podcast way back when she is back now as the founder of kindred which is a career development community she’s going to tell you all about my favorite Kiwi Maggie Mannion. Maggie, it’s so good to have you here.

Maggie Mannion 1:30
It’s so good to be back. That could have been gents. Thank you for having me.

Rob Stevenson 1:34
The sequel, podcasting with a vengeance, we podcasted for the first time together, it was probably like 2016 Maybe. And that was feels like a lifetime ago, I guess it was in COVID years Considering all that to happen. So anyway, it’s been a long while since we podcasted together, and I’m thrilled to have you back because you’ve been up to something. In these past few years, you’ve had this career in people and culture. Now you’re running this community and I just want to hear all about it. I’ve kind of followed it. I’ve joined the community, of course. Yeah, I would love for the folks out there in podcast land if you could share a little bit about your journey in people and culture. And then what led you to found kindred?

Speaker 4 2:10
Mm hmm. Wonderful. Yes. So always happy to be talking to podcast land. So community has always been a big part of my career. And sometimes it’s more clear when we look in retrospect, but started my career as a community organizer for a nonprofit in California, which I did for two years and was really, really rewarding work. Then living in the Bay Area, the siren call of tech can be pretty loud. So I joined a tech startup, which is where we met I joined as a recruiting coordinator. But also it was a bit of a hybrid people in recruitment role and work I just really enjoy I think some of those tenants of community building bring people together dei comms that all of that from a community organizing background came to for and my people and culture community. So since then, the past seven or eight years, I’ve been in people talent, culture leadership roles for startups, typically, early stage startup series A Series B, I’ve often been a first or early member of the two people team and have twice now scaled companies from a couple dozen people often in like pretty crummy. We work to a couple of 100 people and through multiple funding rounds. I really love the people culture space, super exciting and dynamic, especially in early stage startups. But I’m starting something new and bringing a lot of the experience I’ve built over those past years into this new venture. So I started a new role again, Director of Pupil for a slightly later stage tech company. Within a few months of me joining their company, they had a pretty significant reduction in force, which included me so it was the first time I had been on the job market in a way that wasn’t by my choice. And that was really the genesis of kindred, which is the community and product I’m building and running now. Kindred is all about Korea transitions, and really is built on this thesis that Korea transitions and navigating Career Transitions don’t have to be a solo pursuit, they typically have been. But it’s a really common thing for people to need to look for a new job or to be in a job they don’t like and be considering something new, change careers, consider entrepreneurship reenter the workforce. It’s all a really normal part of life. But we don’t have to do it alone. And we certainly don’t have to do it in a way that makes us feel lonely or isolated or even shameful. So I started the Kindred community just as kind of a grassroots initiative. Because I was feeling like, I want to meet other people who feel the way that I do, because I think they can help me and I think I can help them. And it started off with me posting on LinkedIn, just to see if people would be interested. And to my surprise, they really were It really blew up. I didn’t really have a big LinkedIn following before. Then I posted I had within 24 hours about 500 people had signed up to join our community. And there was no branding. There was no website it was just the tagline was layoffs don’t need to be lonely. And then if you’re interested in getting together with other people who are in the same boat, sign up via this Google form, and it was broken, they really did.

Rob Stevenson 5:03
Like their earliest iteration was a LinkedIn post, no spreadsheet, right,

Speaker 4 5:07
and a spreadsheet and a Google form. And I would share, I would send a BCC email, I put everyone’s email addresses in the BCC email subject line and send them an update. And here’s how it’s going. And here’s what’s coming up. And the first couple of weeks were really interesting. Lots of interest. And for me, I’ve kind of surprised that so many people have been, or a happy surprise, you know, that this feeling that I had had been so so validated by other people. And it’s really matured. And so at the beginning, I used to promote it. And I still will. But for the most part, the majority of our members joined that word of mouth now from other people who’ve been a part of the community or have heard about it via the Facebook groups or Slack channels, things like that. Thankfully, I’ve also matured the way that the community operates. They have a website now have an email platform. Thank goodness, the goodness word long gone.

Rob Stevenson 6:01
Or slack, I guess. Yeah. From humble beginnings. Yes. Yeah, exactly. So when you first made that post, I suppose as a factor of your network, a lot of the early people signing up, were they mostly people, culture, talent, sort of professionals? Yeah, well,

Speaker 4 6:16
I thought they would be. So in the post, I said, I’m putting together a group for other people, culture, talent, internal operations, and dei professionals. Because I’m sure as your audience will remember, beginning of this year, it was a really scary place to be in these kind of to be an ad tech company. But the people who do this kind of work are especially vulnerable to layoffs. It’s also the world they know. And so I was targeting this group. But a lot of the signups were from all different kinds of backgrounds immediately. So we certainly have a lot of recruiters in the group and like people from people backgrounds, or HR backgrounds, but a pretty significant number of people come from marketing product, I’d say it’s pretty well represented.

Rob Stevenson 6:58
There’s a lot more people now different backgrounds. But I’m curious. So what’s cool about this community is that it’s not just all right now you’re all on the slack have added meet each other, you have these weekly stand ups where you’re kind of curating content for people. I love getting those emails from you. I love checking in on what you’re putting out there. So yeah, this most recent one, you have Monday, stand ups, assemble the hype squad, we’ll share our goals for the week, we’ll discuss our tips for productivity and building momentum. Okay, great. And then the other one is burnout and self care. And you have a speaker, Sharon Yunus, it looks like the founder of water bear planet helps individuals and companies solve burnout and promote self care. So you are curating this content for people bringing in speakers, I think it is great that you are offering these resources. And because there are people from so many different kinds of backgrounds, it’s not merely talent, people, you’ve have marketers, people from all sorts of different backgrounds are joining. I’m curious how you think about coming up with resources for people, it doesn’t need to be curated for the different skill sets or is being unemployed, being unemployed as being unemployed.

Speaker 4 7:59
Yeah, so I think this has been a way that having had a background and people and internal comms has been really helpful, because, like you said, you can’t just throw people into Slack and expect it to work, we’ve probably all been a part of those communities where it just goes dead within a day or two, you have to allow a community to flourish and grow in the right way in the way that is natural for its members, you kind of have to create a container for it, you have to steward it along. And so in previous roles, I’ve always ran out all hands. And so I always had experience with, we need to bring people together, it needs to have a certain kind of feeling, we need to have rituals, because rituals create community. And we need to show up in certain kinds of ways. And so I’ve been able to translate a lot of that to this work, and it felt quite natural to me. So we meet once a week on Monday, like you said, on Mondays at get togethers, they’re totally optional. And we sort of have two different ways that they go. So we have these community sessions. So the hype squad that you mentioned, we also do one we call asks and offers, which is really a chance for people who are in the community to get to know each other, share feedback, support each other. I’ve never thought partnership, build accountability, this kind of stuff. And then we also have we bring in external speakers sometimes too. So we have this session on burnout, we have another one coming up in a couple of weeks on AI, for example, the way that I think about curating that content is mostly just talking to the community, what do you want to know about because sometimes what I want to know about might be different. So hearing perspectives from people about what’s interesting for them. I think as it comes to specific job fields, we haven’t so much curated it particular to this is for recruiters, and this is for marketers, and though I would say we’re fairly tuned in to industry, so most of our members come from tech, so big tech, as well as startups. And then we have a few from entertainment and media. So a couple of weeks ago we did a session on what’s the job market like today and we shared what people are seeing in job market So how long is it taking for companies to respond? Are companies receptive to negotiation, things like that, where some of the things we talked about, I would say is, well, you know, when the community started, it was all about, hey, you’ve been laid off, you’re looking for a job, we’ll support you will champion one another. One of the many ways it’s evolved, is now it’s just people navigating career transitions. So a lot of people in the community may be looking for a job because they quit their prior job due to burnout or a toxic workplace, they’re in a job, they don’t really like it, and they’re looking for something new, the shared experience among people is that they’ve navigating change, and that career change is both very normal, but it’s also really hard. And when you’re navigating career change, your friends and family are there to support you, but they might be in a different circumstance. And so the kind of support they can offer is quite different. One of the things I hear very often from the community is, it feels good to see people in the same boat, people say in the same boat as me a lot. And so that’s what we’re targeting it to it’s, we’re all in the same boat, and that we’re ambitious, successful, smart, kind people. We’re just trying to figure out something new. And we want to do it in the right kind of way. And so with that in mind, it doesn’t really matter so much what your background is, it’s more about the way that you’re approaching your search and this phase in life.

Rob Stevenson 11:16
Yeah, I was going to ask like, what do people want out of this? Exactly. And it sounds like part of it is just hey, it’s not just me, right? Am I the only one who’s going through all this? And there’s a recent post in there. In the random channels, someone’s asking, does anyone else decide not to follow through with an application because of a company’s assessment process? And then it’s a screenshot question 19? Which of the remaining activities would you like to do the most at work? And the options are actually in a movie managers supermarket study rocks and minerals? Like, what are we talking about? What is this? So I think there’s like, for the recruiters out there, there’s like an interesting angle here to be like, you may forget what it’s like to be an applicant. Some of the recruiters I speak to on here are like, I encourage you to go through your own application process, you know, incognito, periodically to be like, what are people actually going through, the larger your company is the more convoluted that can sometimes be. So anyway, that’s a shout out. But my point is, you could really see what it’s like out there for folks. And these are the people you’re speaking to, these are the kind of people you want to have at your company and looking at some of the people in the community to it’s like, here’s this person with software development experience at Amazon. Here’s this person who was in like, legal at Google for like 16 years, you know, there’s like, really all sorts of folks in this place. So it’s just really curious that people are, yeah, there’s career development. But there’s also just sort of this camaraderie. There’s just like this. We’re going through this, this sucks, right? It’s not as simple as applied to a job. Yes, no, move on, get a job, don’t get a job. There’s like, it’s a weird time to be continually on the job hunt.

Speaker 4 12:45
Yeah. So camaraderie, I think is number one, that feeling of other people are in the same boat as me that comes up all the time. I think for people who have been laid off, there’s also a really crummy feeling of, hey, I used to be a part of this community at my workplace, and I’ve just been rejected or booted out of it, or whatever it might be. And as a, you know, we can understand the business reasons, but as a human being being rejected is a really incredibly negative feeling. And oftentimes, when companies run layoffs, the people who survive the layoff, they don’t know how to support the person who’s been affected, which can be extremely isolating. And so building this community for people to say, Oh, I’m not the only one who’s had this really weird, tough experience where the culture tells me I should feel ashamed about it, too, I think has been really, really positive. And so the thing I do try to keep coming back to his community, I think. So that’s one of the key benefits that people come to it for. I think, as it’s continued to evolve. We’re also looking to build in things like accountability, sharing goals with other people really helps us to stay motivated, celebrating the wins always feels really good to as well as like thought partnership and sharing resources and ideas. We oftentimes people will meet offline to review resumes or workshop, a job application, just this morning, someone was appreciating someone else who’d taken the time to help her with a project for a marketing job she’d applied to. And so you can really benefit from learning from other people as well. One thing that’s really great, well, that’s been really great for our members is because there are quite a few recruiters in the community. They can share all those tips and tricks that recruiters know. Right? And our recruiters have been really generous to do that. And so we’ve had a couple of sessions where we do ask a recruiter, people will share things. You know, a lot of job seekers think every ATS is automated. But if you’re a recruiter, you actually know that a lot of ATS is not automated, right? And that there’s actually someone who’s living. And so we’ve able to say like, actually, here’s how you get to the top. And it’s not just an algorithm, it’s actually human being and here’s what they might be looking for. So that’s a good example, I think of how you can leverage different experiences to help people with their search with a transition Yeah.

Rob Stevenson 15:01
Do you remember any of the other Ask a Recruiter questions? I’m curious, what are the kinds of things people want to know more about?

Speaker 4 15:07
Hmm? Okay, so big hot cue is always cover letters do I need them? This consensus from recruiters was probably not a great cover letter can really help you stand out a weak cover letter can otherwise weaken a strong application, which I think checks out with my experience. But you know, if you haven’t been a recruiter, or you have limited experience with hiring, you might not know that

Rob Stevenson 15:32
a cover letter is such a funny thing. I feel like it’s a holdover from like a pre resume time, where it’s like, oh, here’s my letter of recommendation from this plant manager in Indianapolis. And I’m moving to Columbus in 1836. And this is the way to get a job. Here’s my cover letter and why I want to work here a cover letter is just like, Why do I want to work here, I need to get paid, I have bills, everything after that is the other values and etc, are secondary. This is a privilege thing to say. But if I were applying to a job and they wanted a cover letter, I would not do one I would like and what am I going to say? Like, let’s get on the phone? And I’ll tell you I’m not going to write you an essay.

Maggie Mannion 16:08
I’m not gonna beg for a job that I don’t know if they want. That’s it?

Rob Stevenson 16:12
Yeah, well said.

Speaker 4 16:14
And that’s kind of what we try to get to too. It’s the confidence, right? You don’t have to take the I mean, people are going to make the right choices for them. But you don’t have to be operating from the scarcity fearful mindset, we can hear from other people that having wins and seeing the same wild stuff in the market that you’re seeing. And it all just feels a bit less isolating. But yeah, a couple it is now the new thing that companies are doing, as they say uncovered or optional. But then they have a paragraph where it says, Tell us why you want to work here, and it’s required. And so they’re making people do the cover later, in this sort of weird roundabout way, which I think is really frustrating to a lot of a lot of job seekers.

Rob Stevenson 16:52
Totally tell me why you want to work here. I’m not sure I do want to work here. I’m interested to learn more, I maybe want to work here I’m applying because I might want to work here and definitely do. Exactly. But I don’t know, meet me saying that I wouldn’t write a cover letter is because I personally can ask the SVP of talent for Pepsi, whether a cover letter is matter. And she’s like, No, not really. I’m like, Great, I’ll never do it again. Right. But your average job seeker, you know, doesn’t have that’s why I said was a privilege, like I have access to the kind of information about how candidates get selected, but your average job seeker would never ever know. And so unless they were able to hear from other people like are you? Are you going to bother with these cover letters or the recruiters? Do we need to have them? So I think that’s great. Like, it’s so obvious to the people like us who are in the in the space, but for your typical jobs that are not so much.

Speaker 4 17:38
So much of it’s not obvious. Yeah, it’s really interesting to get that sort of inside scoop on what doesn’t doesn’t work. And I mean, we also talked about the best way to get referrals and someone shared a great tip, which is instead of going to the recruiter in the company, or the hiring manager, go to someone who’d be on your team, and they can refer you and then they get that referral bonus. And they’re probably not inundated with messages like recruiters are. And so just like smart, practical tips like that, that are really smart.

Rob Stevenson 18:06
Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. That can be tricky to figure out who is the who would be your actual team member. But I mean, it’s just someone with a title similar to yours. I guess. So there’s already someone like you working there. That’s really smart. I never thought of that. Yeah, right. It’s sort of an AI though. Yeah, that’s cool. I love that the recruiters are kind of helping out and chiming in, because there really are so many things that make you stand apart as a candidate that you would probably either either never learn or only learn after you had bricked at like eight times. Yep.

Speaker 4 18:40
Yeah, and it’s kind of like, you know, you gotta kiss a few frogs, right. So let’s like, move it through. So you can benefit from, you know, the wild stuff people are seeing or the lessons that they’ve learned the good way or the hard way, so that people can feel, you know, I’m more grounded and present and also like tuned into interviewing the company back, if you are really needing a new role, it can be easy to forget how you want to show up as feeling confident, and you have options and also keeping your eyes open to is this going to be the right workplace for me? And if it’s not making that decision consciously, rather than having it be in the back of your mind or something.

Rob Stevenson 19:13
Yeah, that makes sense. I am curious about how the community itself sort of matures, and it could possibly outgrow the community and that’s why I love hearing you say that it’s about this camaraderie and about all this, this knowledge sharing, because you could foresee a situation where someone joins Kindred, they get a lot of value out of it. They get a job and they’re like, Alright, I’m no longer unemployed so long. Brookhouse is like like, I don’t I don’t have it sounds like you’re being a little more thoughtful about like, okay, it’s not merely the job part, like the burnout thing that is relevant to all of us. You know, that is not a job seeker specific thing. So what kind of things are you thinking about to make sure that there is value in this community beyond just the getting a job part?

Speaker 4 19:58
Yeah, so The current iteration is about Korea transition. So for sure we’ve had people who’ve joined, been very active, they found that new job to tell us on Slack, we celebrate that, then for them that might not be as relevant to come and check in as often. That’s okay. There is an interesting balance and trade off, right? Because with community, on one hand, is is especially as the person who’s building this, you want tons of people, it feels good to have a huge number of people and for people to be really involved. But actually, as you become more defocused, you lose some of the value, right? If it moves from being now I’m talking about what’s going on at work, or I’m talking about my fitness goals or whatever, some of the unique value gets lost. And so we do have folks, quite a few folks actually, who have started a new job, and will just pop in from time to time, they will often start a new job and say, have a new job at this company. Here are the roles we’re hiring for, let me know if you want to referral, which is so lovely, which I love to see that I’d say this is still in the idea, phase, but I do have dreams of building this out into being supporting other career transitions. So like starting new jobs really, really stressful. In my prior role I’d been in, I haven’t started new job for a long time. And then I start a new job. And gosh, it’s so I have no capital, like no institutional knowledge, I have no friends. How much am I supposed to like, disrupt and shake it up versus go with the flow? And oh, my gosh, it’s so stressful is so so stressful? And I think I mean, I know there are a few books and things out there. But I think it would be really amazing to say, Okay, the first 90 days, you know, and having a supportive community for you’ve started the new job, make a splash, don’t do those common missteps we’ve all seen people do when they start a new job. That could be something that’s really interesting, not something that’s built out yet, but certainly something I see for the longer term.

Rob Stevenson 21:54
That is a great idea. I feel like loads of people would take advantage of that. Yeah, it’s such a difficult time you are so on edge, you want to make sure you’re, you’re making a good impression. You want to be the person that gets things done. But you don’t want to say yes to everything, because you don’t want to become a doormat, like it’s a really, really difficult time. And we think about it from the perspective of the company, okay, let’s onboard this person, make sure they have all the resources, and then make sure they know where everything is, let’s give them a buddy so that they you know, have someone to check in with, but about just the day to day like how do I even show up at work? Like who do I want to be this company? How do I accomplish that? How do I even start to untangle what this company culture is all about? That’s really, really hard. So I feel like that would be fantastic for people to know about.

Speaker 4 22:34
Yeah, all of this has been born from my experience, right? If I’m like, being an HR and people and I’m freaked out starting a new job, how’s everyone else feeling? I’m just so firmly of the belief like so many of our experiences that feel really hard for ourselves are really common, actually, we just don’t talk about them. Every new hire is really stressed out, but no one wants to say it because it looks like weakness. You don’t want to look weak in any job. And so having a space that is the right place to bring that and get that support and guidance, I think is a really big opportunity. And that’s you know, that’s what Kindred is about for people with that Korea transitions. And so yeah, there’s certainly versions. I mean, there’s fabulous company parentally. I’ll shout them out. Who does this for people returning to the workforce after having a baby? And so there’s definitely models for this out there. I think it’s really exciting.

Rob Stevenson 23:24
Definitely. So we’re a far cry from the LinkedIn posts and the spreadsheet, right. There’s loads of amazing things have happened. The community has grown like crazy, lots of goodness, in the in the slack. And in the real world. Actually, it’s as it turns out, which is cool. What are your plans? How do you intend to grow this? And where is this thing going?

Speaker 4 23:42
Yeah, question. So community is growing very quickly. The next phase is on your product, which is called cohorts. So kindred cohorts, at least, that’s the working title. This was born from surveying members of our community. So went and listened to a bunch of people who’ve been really active, to ask them, you know, how could this offer you more value, and almost 100% of them said the same thing, which is, I really enjoy the standouts, which is what we call our Monday call, I really enjoy the Slack channel. But I really think I could get a lot of value by focusing this down, and concentrating all of the value I get from the community into a smaller setting. So cohorts are curated small groups of people with similar goals and perhaps similar backgrounds who are just at its same kind of phase in life and the professional journey. And so we bring together between six and 12 people, we survey them to find out where they’re at what they’re looking for, within their lives and from this experience, and we bring them together for regular meetings, so they meet together for four to six weeks. Each meeting has a different theme about a different topic relevant to their search. So interview materials, negotiating resilience. Standing out is something we’re talking about with the cohort I’m running right now. And it kind of brings all the best parts Have kindred you know, reciprocity, support accountability, but into a smaller setting where you really build, not just passing interactions, but real deep friendships and really caring relationships where you’re invested with one another. And so these are kind of modeled on things we already do. Think about if you’ve ever joined Lenka, a workout 30 Day Challenge at the gym or something like that, you achieve your goals much faster, you have a much better time doing it and you get newer, fresher insights when you do it with other people who are invested in you, and you’re invested in them. So that’s our next version, I’d say that’s really pitch towards really ambitious people don’t necessarily have to be job seekers, they may be people who are looking to make a career change, or just feeling a little stuck where they are and wanting to freshen it up a little bit. I think a lot of people are feeling that coming out of the pandemic, the community continues to live on and thrive. I want to make that available to anyone who needs it, and who would benefit from it. And I’d say the community is a great resource for folks navigating any kind of change, who want to show up in the spirit of reciprocity that’s really important to us is you give what you get. And typically, you know, give a little bit and you’ll get a lot but we really ask that people show up really in that spirit of generosity. And I think that’s why it’s worked so well and grown so quickly and has attracted people who are really brought into supporting other people on their journey.

Rob Stevenson 26:20
I hope that people listening to this right now show up kindred has been amazing for me to follow I’m people need to sign up. There’s a there’ll be a link in the show notes to check it out. Whether you’re a job seeker, if you’re in recruitment, and you want to just help out some job seekers interface with some understand a little bit about what it’s like from the other side of the interview table. It’s a great way to do so. I’m in there lurking I don’t tend to post a lot but I am just extracting value and giving none but you can you can find me in Kindred, I should chime in a little bit more. Maybe I can help people out. I don’t know. I can at least do a party parent reaction.

Maggie Mannion 26:53
Yes. Oh, I think we need to install that actually.

Rob Stevenson 26:58
Giving you homework now we can work.

Speaker 4 27:01
Yes, I think if I can offer a quick plug Research shows that people join a community find a new role between two and four times faster than people who go at it alone. Anecdotally, people who join a community feel better seeing other people who are in the same boat, but also helping each other. You know, we’re all valuable people and being able to provide value and support to other people really goes a long way in return receiving that support. So anyone who’s interested in joining, whether it’s the community or cohort, we would love to have you the website’s kindred.

Rob Stevenson 27:34
amazing, Maggie, I’m so glad we got to catch up and do this together. Thank you, you’re a gem. I really appreciate you being here and this community is amazing. So congrats on all the success so far.

Maggie Mannion 27:44
Oh, thank you for your support.

Rob Stevenson 27:49
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