Our first guest is Justin Ghio, the Director of Talent Sourcing at Activision Blizzard. Justin shares his journey to his current role and demonstrates how he and his team leverage AI in recruiting. Following Justin’s presentation, we welcome José Cong, the VP of Talent and Culture at Humane. José, who played a role in launching the iPhone 1 under Steve Jobs, explains his decision to join Humane and emphasizes the positive aspects of AI.
Rob Stevenson 0:05
Welcome to talk down 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.
Speaker 3 0:31
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 1 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.
Speaker 4 0:59
All right. So as you’re grabbing your seat, I would love to welcome you to our third ever talk talent to me live event here in San Francisco. I’m Sarah Solecki, and I’m from hired, you may have seen an email or two for me, I’m so glad that you’re here. We have a great show lined up tonight. And if you’re not familiar with hired, we have an online marketplace of so many wonderful tech candidates, I would welcome you to check it out. And also if you would like to learn more, we have a bunch of folks here from the hired team in the purple badges. So look out for those after the event and they would love to chat with you. All righty, so without further ado, I would love to welcome our amazing podcast host Rob Stevenson to the stage he is here to give you guys a show Rob Stevenson come on up.
Rob Stevenson 1:48
Thank you. Hey, everybody, welcome. I’m so glad you’re all here. I’m really glad to be here as well back in my once and forever home the cool gray city of love San Francisco. I’m your host Rob Stevenson. And I’m glad not only to be in San Francisco but to be here here in minute gallery. I love this place I actually saw Sir Mix A Lot perform here. Once upon a time. On this very stage, just one of the many things are mixed a lot and I have in common. And I don’t know if any of you are up to date on what Sir Mix A Lot is up to these days. But if you’re not let me catch you up really quick. He still knows what he likes, and he refuses to lie about it. Anyway, I’m loved this place. Seriously, though, look at all this beautiful art around us. We have these amazing horses, if our our attempts to sneak through the gates of Troy are foiled, we have a backup too. So we have that. Now this is going to be a ton of fun. If you never heard the podcast before, here’s all you really need to know. Every week I sit down with directors of recruitment VPs of talent CHR OHS folks like that we kind of shoot the breeze about whatever they’re working on whatever is hard in the space right now their unique solutions to the challenges all of you are facing out there in the trenches of recruitment every day. That’s what normally goes on. And you can check that out on wherever you’d like to get your podcasts. But today, we’re gonna do something a little different, we’re gonna have a little more fun with it. Because I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this artificial intelligence thing seems that it’s all anyone’s talking about. And there’s lots of fear going on lots of uncertainty, lots of people saying that it’s going to take your job, that it’s going to disrupt the whole industry, what no one’s talking about is that you can actually be using it for your work every single day that you can be using it to help you get better at your job that you don’t need to be scared of it. So that’s what we’re hoping to demonstrate for all of you today. On this laptop right here, we’re gonna have some of our guests demonstrate what it is you can be doing, they’re gonna fire up some tools, they’re going to show you how they’re using it. These are folks who are really experienced in the AI space, they’re using these tools, every day, we’re gonna get to know them. And they’re gonna hopefully send you back out into the world with things that you can use in your daily life, maybe even as soon as tomorrow. So that is the plan for this workshop is to help you get better at your job using AI and not be scared of it. So we’re gonna get into it here in just a second quick reminder that we will save some time at the end for a q&a. So if you have any burning questions, hang on to those we’ll make sure that we get out and meet some of you and you can ask some of our guests about all that so we’ll do that at the end. But first let’s get to know our first guest. He is an amazing professional. He has loads of roles in talent. Currently, he is Director of Talent and sourcing over at Activision asked him about the time he played pool at Dennis Rodman give it up for Justin Ghio.
Rob Stevenson 4:32
Justin, once they just make fun right here, yeah, either one. You take this one and sit down next to me. I’m gonna be at the end of the bench here. How’s it going?
Justin Ghio 4:40
It’s going well, thank you so much.
Rob Stevenson 4:41
I learned about the Dennis Rodman thing like 45 seconds ago right before I got on stage and so I had to ask you can you quickly run us through that?
Justin Ghio 4:47
First of all, if you meet Dennis Rodman, don’t call him the worm. He hates it. It’s not the nickname he likes. It was a story I played hooky from work one day when I lived in Newport Beach. There’s a bar if anyone’s seen in the last Last Dance, he was wearing a hat that said class of 47. That is the name of the bar on the Balboa Peninsula and Newport Beach. He is the local, you might as well have a statue of him there as well as any of the places where the bowls played. And he was there. It was 1pm in the afternoon, and he was more than a handful of drinks deep and he was staying cool. And I decided to say, What’s up decoy defensive player the air because that was one of his many accolades. And he likes that he turned around and seem to he’s like, Hey, nobody, nobody calls me that they always call me the word or any of my other mean nicknames. So he really liked that I recognized him for his acknowledgement. And it was always a fun time we played pool for like an hour and a half, some seedy dive bar in Newport Beach, which is Newport Beach. So how seedy Could it really be, but it’s pretty fun.
Rob Stevenson 5:49
What about that? I’m sure he was really good at pool too, because he maybe hangs out there a lot.
Justin Ghio 5:52
I did not win a game.
Rob Stevenson 5:55
That’s ganz anyway, let’s move on past DP O wise of yesteryear. So why people are here. Justin, we met a few months ago at an event in San Diego where you were a speaker, and I corralled you into being on the podcast then. And we talked all about the kind of AI tools you’re using. We sort of chopped it up about that. We’ll get into that in just a minute. But first, let’s get to know you. Would you mind sharing for the folks a little bit about your background and how you came to be in the current role at Activision?
Justin Ghio 6:20
Yeah, so currently, I’m the director of talent sourcing for the North American game development studios of Activision Blizzard. So that’s every one of our game teams that exists in North America from overwatched Call of Duty warzone, everything in between, my team is primarily responsible for all outbound bringing in candidates. So we do no inbound, we don’t do any applications, we don’t do any referrals, we do strictly outbound. And we also have what we call like an r&d Strike Team, where we are constantly leveraging a lot of the new, latest and greatest technologies to ensure we’re not getting left behind. I’m also the client lead of our talent intelligence platform that we use internally, which helps us kind of power some of our AI in our application process as well. Previously, I was at Amazon, AWS, and then Amazon Game Studios, where I helped build their Orange County and San Diego game studios kind of, from nothing into really shipping, one title, one of them got cancelled, but the other one was able to make it into the market.
Rob Stevenson 7:19
Got it. I’m gonna hand over the reins of the show to you here in a minute. I’m just gonna let you loose on this computer and show folks what you’re doing. But before we do that, would you share how your team is leveraged with AI right now and how much they’re using it?
Justin Ghio 7:31
Yeah, so we have a couple different inflection points with AI right now. And the one that I’ll be showcasing today is what we call from intake to email, which is taking something as simple as free chat GPT. I didn’t pay for the plus version for the sake of this demo. So I didn’t get timed out while we’re here. And I didn’t want to deal with that in front of the room of people who spent their evenings with us. So I did spend the 20 bucks for about 45 minutes of demo, I’ll give you Sarah’s Venmo. Later, Yep, perfect. So we do a lot of that. And the premise of that will be showing how there’s been attrition, layoffs turnover, the market has been unpredictable for about the last two and a half, three years. And you have new recruiters new sources, sometimes new hiring managers working on things they’ve never worked on before. So this is an easy way of what is traditionally internal historical knowledge, you have to go sit with somebody ask somebody go take other people’s time to get the information you need just to get a search started. We’re going to take chat GPT, some AI and a simple job description from any of you in the crowd and turn that into intake questions, candidate questions and email and even a Boolean string. So that’s a lot of how we’re doing it. This is actually one of my team members who came up with pretty much this premise, in partnership with kind of this r&d team. And then within our actual applicant lifecycle, we have a AI platform that we use for skill adjacency, it’s one of the biggest things that we see is the benefit of knowing that if so and so and so and so worked at the same place, but this person wrote their resume that included two extra keywords, the software tells us, hey, ask this person about that because this person who was their peer also had that same thing on their resume. And so we’re able to ask all the right questions quicker, which is the primary thing that I’m trying to cover today is, again, it’s not going to take your job, it’s just gonna let you do things quicker. And that’s continuously how we kind of try to leverage the technology in our day to day.
Rob Stevenson 9:31
So in that last example, you’re inferring about one candidate based on what you already know about a former colleague or teammate.
Justin Ghio 9:39
Exactly. And instead of of course, you know, there’s always the rule of thumb. Don’t just go right for it. Don’t say hey, I know so and so had this technology on their profile, do you? Probably not the best way to approach that but
Rob Stevenson 9:50
I hate that guy. He ran over my dog. Yeah, click.
Justin Ghio 9:53
Have you ever worked with? Oh, I had one project for the small team that needed it. Maybe that one project with that? 12 months have experience using that certain technology is all the hiring manager needs to know. Right? Now you write a compelling sentence in your submittal email, and you completely change that candidate’s ability to be able to get the role.
Rob Stevenson 10:12
I’m gonna kind of ask you a softball question, but I do think it’s important to get out there. Are recruiters going to lose their jobs is like, is this technology gonna replace people? Or are they just going to be better at their jobs and outsource the things they don’t want to do?
Justin Ghio 10:25
If your favorite part of your job is doing the remedial repetitive stuff? Probably? That’s my answer, right? If you love setting the reminders to follow up with somebody who’s never responded to you
Rob Stevenson 10:38
probably haven’t seen enough. But if,
Justin Ghio 10:41
if your favorite part is convincing someone with two kids to relocate across the country, because the city that you’re representing is a really great place for families. No, it’s just going to give you more opportunities to have those meaningful conversations and get rid of the noise. That’s really how we look it is a way to increase throughput and reduce noise.
Rob Stevenson 11:03
So what is it that you’re going to show us here? Once I hand the reins over to you? What are you hoping to demonstrate for folks.
Justin Ghio 11:08
So I would love to get a job description or a career site from somebody, I really just need a career site. And I’ll just rip a random job description from there. And then I was going to basically roleplay myself as a brand new recruiter in that organization and show how I can use technology that’s freely available on the internet to get that much closer of a knowing what good looks like building trust with a hiring manager. And also sounding like I’m a quality recruiter to a candidate in a job field that I know nothing about, right? Because that’s half the battle is finding ways to close the gap of what we call transaction time and Activision Blizzard, which is the things that you have to learn just to do the action, right. And in video games for us, that’s a very tall task, right? Learning, every competitor that has the same art style as Diablo is very hard. I could ask Chat GPT that and will give me 13 examples in five seconds. It’s a heck of a lot easier, right? And so again, it’s not replacing what we’re doing. It’s not the last step. It’s not deciding anything. It’s just giving me a little bit of a guide. You know, the old lick your finger, stick it in the wind test tells me which way the winds blowing.
Rob Stevenson 12:18
Gotcha. So we’re going to hopefully source a careers page from someone here. Does anyone want to as a brave soul who would like we have a this was the firsthand I think we had I’m coming coming over to you. She’s like, I’m getting my money’s worth here tonight. Hi, there. What’s your name?
Christina Pinero 12:33
Hi, Rob. I am Christina Pinero. And I am the Vice President for people and talent with a company called Sibos. Here in Santa Clara.
Rob Stevenson 12:41
Welcome, Chris. Yeah, thanks for coming. How do we find your careers page? What’s the URL,
Christina Pinero 12:46
go ahead and just type in SIBROS.
Rob Stevenson 12:51
I’m gonna hang out with you here for a minute, Christina. But hopefully, justice is going to scrape this off of your careers page. And then he’s going to show you what you can do. So do we want to go maybe you should drive and take over the podcast for just a minute here.
Christina Pinero 13:03
Go ahead and scroll down. And let’s go to our Director of Product position,
Justin Ghio 13:07
something nice and difficult for
Christina Pinero 13:09
There you go. go for it.
Justin Ghio 13:10
The fun part about this is I can be lazy, I don’t actually have to even take the text, I can just take the URL, which is always the fun part. Rob, this isn’t gonna do anything. If I set it down right. Now let’s
Rob Stevenson 13:22
let’s find out here might roll off. Here. I’ll take it and then let’s put this over here. And then I’ll move this microphone for you so everyone can hear you. And then make sure you eat the mic a little bit. Yeah, lean forward so that everyone can hear what you’re doing. And I’m going to get out of the way because it’d be weird if I sit up there while you’re looking at the screen.
Justin Ghio 13:38
Perfect. So as I mentioned, this is kind of the general concept is going from intake to email. So I’m putting myself in my shoes. I learned about this wreck about 30 seconds ago. From here, it’s okay, I maybe have my meeting with the hiring manager in 15 minutes. What 10 Questions pardon me? Because I’m not used to a Mac.
Rob Stevenson 13:57
You can’t say that in San Francisco. Justin, come on.
Justin Ghio 14:01
I’m ambidextrous. So it’s okay. So very simply, within that happened faster than I could even type, I was able to get 10 questions, right. So it’s the first one again, tell me about the company culture. This is for the Hmm, what specific skills, a lot of these what I’d call our cookie cutter, make these more product focused. And then this is where you can really see the power of it. Right. So I went from very what I’d call generic questions. So if you look at the first sample, the first question is, can you tell me more about the company culture? And then I said, make these more product focused? Because you said it was director of product right? Far better question. If you’re talking to an HM. And your first meeting would be how would you describe the C versus product vision and strategy and how does this role can contribute to those goals? It’s a lot better than the first question right? What are the key features or functionalities of siderosis product that differentiate it from the competitors in this market? Can you provide insights into the target market and customers So how does the product development process work? You can kind of again, I know nothing about this role. But if I was asking a hiring manager, would I look like every other recruiter that has just picked up the wreck for the first time? With the top set of questions, probably, with a little bit of one sentence worth of work, not too much, right. And that’s the power of Chat GPT. And some of this AI technology. It’s not output based, it’s input based, we are always going to be the input, everyone in this room is going to be the input that makes this technology powerful. Don’t be scared that it’s going to take your job, you are the key that unlocks its potential, make this more technically product focused. And I bet you it will most likely if I knew how to spell, give me better examples. Can you provide insights into the underlying technology stack used in C versus product? Because maybe it’s a technical product angle? I don’t know anything about your company, it could be a software company where your products are primarily software based. The tech stack is probably extremely important. The eighth question is great, what role in this position play in collaborating with other teams such as product management, UX UI design, data engineering, to ensure successful product development? All questions that if you asked him, hmm, they’ve been in 1000s of intake calls, their eyes would light up, they hate the how many years of experience, what tech stack? What locations do you want? Could we hire remote? What about this? What about that? They want to know? Do you know about the role I’m hiring for? And how can you sell this to cannabis? Again, five minutes ago, I knew nothing. Now I would be able to go into a meeting, I would feel pretty comfortable getting good questions, and then being able to take these questions, and then go out to market. Right? So say I take these 10 questions, I go into the intake meeting, I get all the answers. I feel great about it. I’m like, Okay, I know what I need to look for. But I still know nothing about this wreck. I haven’t ever looked at this population. Write me a Boolean string, or candidates if I knew how to spell sorry. And then you can start here. Right? And it gives you a good example. And then it says job title role position required skill too much, okay? No, make this make this more director of product. And it continues to give you again, I’m not saying go copy this and go launch this into LinkedIn, go launch this into your CRM or your ATS. Start with this, right? It took me half a second to get 60% of the Boolean string that I can then work off of. One of the things that we do at Activision Blizzard is kind of work off of buckets in terms of how we create our billions we do search ability here and a bunch of ORs and and more search ability, and and more searchability. Right. And so this gives you the ability to extend off of this and allow you to find candidates quickly. And then everything you know about subrace and everything you learned from the hiring manager based off the questions you got above. You can then superimpose on top of the search to continue to make a compelling
Rob Stevenson 18:02
pause, you’re quickly adjusting. I want to hear Christina’s reaction. So I’m not your therapist, but how does this make you feel? With whoever was recruiting for your director of product if they were taking this approach? Would you be like yes, they’re smart or no, this is naughty.
Christina Pinero 18:17
So I have a big advocate. So we currently in house use chat GPT. So I wanted to see what you’re currently using differently than what I may have coached my team on. So for any that people that’s here, I would say it’s here to stay. Learn it, it’s not like to your point, it’s not going to replace your job. Some of the most trickiest things that you could do in here is just keep it very simple. So therefore, it can spit out exactly what you’re looking for. So therefore, you can be more productive when you’re doing your intake call with your hiring manager. But most importantly, is that you’re able to really source for those candidates that are the hard to find. So that’s a particular reason why I did the director of product, because I wanted to see one is how savvy, can we go ahead and see in regards to different avenues and finding that great candidate. So I see what you’re doing right now. And that’s some of the things I see is what is your competitors? And what are the competitors using today? And who were those candidates I can go in and try to find them too.
Justin Ghio 19:17
And that for us is the missing link. And one of the areas that we’ve used it a lot is, you know, I have a sourcing team of 22 just under my purview. We’re 45 globally in our organization. And sometimes they’re working on a new wreck or a new this or World of Warcraft all of a sudden needs a position. They’ve never touched that product before. At the drop of a hat. It’s really hard to know what are the 10 competitors, but I now have 10 of them in half a sec or any of those
Christina Pinero 19:44
right? That is correct. And one thing too is that if you do know a position that is projected to come, it does help you build a pipeline. So therefore right before you meet with that hiring manager, you did that intake call now you can go ahead and say now After what we have just reviewed, these are a few candidates. So that is one thing that I like it helps prepare you for the unknown.
Justin Ghio 20:07
And that’s you hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly how we kind of parlay the technologies is, we’ll get the list, do some of the we have a talent intelligence platform. So we have all our data in one house. So like, we’ll get a list of 10 companies going to the intake meeting, filter by all those 10 companies, we have 1.2 million records in our system. So we’ll be able to look at that and be like, Oh, do any of these people check out? Are these any like, because instead of going into the intake meeting and be like, Okay, five to 10 days, I’ll send you some resumes. You’re walking into the meeting with resumes, and it’s not submissions. It’s thumbs up, thumbs down, correct? Like the old gladiator movie. So you’re able to see is the thumbs up, thumbs down? Where are we at with that?
Christina Pinero 20:48
Absolutely. And if you even want to be more savvy, and you’re really wanting to win over that hiring manager, as you can also see if they are connected with that candidate on LinkedIn, or if they have any mutual contact. So that’s some of the things that you know, it’s already kind of selling it.
Justin Ghio 21:02
Yeah. And that’s exactly why we’re here, right is to be able to take something and go use it, use it, step, step, step, use the stepping stones, right? It’s not again, it’s not building the entire bridge. It’s just giving you stepping stones to walk across.na She’s, if there’s any skeptics in the room we’ve never met before. This is not a plan. This is not that went really great, which, you know, good thing, because I’m supposed to publish this later. Anyway. So Justin, we’ve got a bully, and we’ve got some competitors. You can kind of like work your way through the hiring process here. What would you do next?
Justin Ghio 21:34
Yeah. So next is I have, I’ve done my intake meeting, I got good notes. I know my target, I know what good looks like right, W GLL, which is our acronym for it. I know what that is. I know the core competitors. So now I’m going to start my outreach. I’ve either bucketed them sourced them whatever the case may be. I’ve never worked on this job before. I know nothing about how to write an email for a director of product to a potential candidate for this role. And what you’ll see on the first pass is what you’ve seen and what all of us have instantly rejected every single time, we’ve gotten this email, right. It’s the classic Hello, first name, I hope this reach you. Well, my name is blank. And I represent blank write shit traditional cookie cutter. So really how I like to look at this and how we like to treat this is from here on out. And before you send the next email is, how many quality pieces of iteration can I get done in the next five minutes, because what it takes you about five minutes to think of a good email to a first candidate first time you’ve ever paid them, you they use a template that you think is good enough, you write a really compelling message, right? It’s about five minutes. So we’ll sit here and whittle this down. And it’s really not to get the entire email. Maybe it’s to get the first four sentences, maybe it’s to get the hook, maybe it’s to get a good subject line, make this more interesting and creative. How about that? Yeah. And for us in the creative space, in video games, this is where we see the dividends paid off, because the verbiage will change dramatically. Like if it’s Diablo, it’ll say something like, Welcome to hell, or something really, like, you know, Diablo focus, which
Rob Stevenson 23:16
is, which is Don’t say welcome to How to someone you want to join your company.
Justin Ghio 23:21
You know, it’s called sanctuary where you know, there’s that. And then for World of Warcraft, it’ll literally start out with the salutation well met, which is, if you’ve ever played World of Warcraft, you’ve ever talked to any npc and Warcraft, especially if it’s a dwarf, it’ll say well met. Right? So again, same thing here, a little bit better. But maybe we like a couple sentences out of this. And then you say, make it more concise.
Rob Stevenson 23:46
CIC that liberal arts degree didn’t barely earn itself. Trusty
Justin Ghio 23:52
smart machine even works with dumb people, you know, it’s great. And then again, this is something where we can start working with, right. For example, I didn’t know anything about this company a couple of minutes ago, right. But now I know, at C bros. We’re revolutionizing the automotive industry with our cutting edge platform. Imagine vehicles transformed to software defined platforms delivering advanced features seamless update, I didn’t know that right now I know something that I I talked to a candidate if I ever get them on the phone. Five minutes ago, I was a brand new recruiter. Now I sound like a no every product like the back of my hand. Right? And all it was because I was asking a machine a couple of questions. And so what we try and do is not I tell my team, if you copy and paste this and send it out, you’ll get a meeting from me on your calendar. But if we’re in a situation where you’re using bits and pieces, yeah, like help accelerate on it. As I get logged out, to really help you move quickly, right. And, again, for us in the creative space. It’s really hard to come up with compelling messages for game developers and figuring out what’s going to stick and so we have to use some of that stuff to give us a little bit of a Quick leg up. And then on this we can continue to whittle it down is make it even shorter. And that one cuts it down right opportunity awaits. I’m blank from blank. revolutionising connect that takes that whole paragraph puts into one single sentence, right. And to me, this is probably what I would actually steal, right? Maybe not the opportunity awaits. But Hello, I’m Blanc from see bros. We’re revolutionizing the connected vehicle platforms, your impressive background caught our eye for the Director of Product roll, again sounds a little bit like every email, but still faster, quicker than me sitting at my desk on a tennis ball against the wall trying to figure out what good sounds like. And then it also points out these key responsibilities, which are things that again, are parlayed from the job description that we fed it, which is extremely helpful and again, saves my time as a recruiter saves hiring manager time, which as we know now is at a premium. And that allows us to continue to show up to that first meeting as you but with either candidates that we think are good, or candidates that we for sure know are good, instead of making that a two week process.
Rob Stevenson 26:06
So you’re off to a great start here. And I think you could even look at it like what if someone was really Junior on your team wrote a draft of an email and then you would say, hey, we don’t say the word revolutionising because many user Oh, we were not going to say opportunity away. It’s like, you have this opportunity to point your experience at it. Exact letter.
Justin Ghio 26:22
And that’s where a lot of what we’ll do is is like, again, our thing is, we look at it and the macro and then analyze it once we pull it in. Use it for ideas, use it for verbiage. But if it sounds too mechanical, either ask it to do better, which is the fun part, use less obvious exciting words. And that actually helps, right? Because that changes that whole first sentence to a much more compelling sentence by just saying something so simple as use less obvious, exciting words. Don’t say, Hey, I’m trying to reach out to you say, Hello, I’m Justin from see bros, the driving force behind connected vehicle platforms, right? Very kind of laissez faire, that’s fine, too. And again, it helps you as an individual recruiter and individual sorcerer, get 10 options that fit your voice. everyone’s voice is different. I’m a huge proponent in personal brand in this industry of talent acquisition where you should be not only a representative of your company, but also of yourself. And you should kind of hold that as your own brand. So no, is it going to be perfect? Is it going to be your voice the first time No, but fiddle around and find something that sounds like you. And it took me 10 minutes to get three email samples that I could probably stitch something decent together.
Rob Stevenson 27:36
As we try and make it more concise can chat GPT turn it into a haiku.
Justin Ghio 27:42
Can you make this email?
Rob Stevenson 27:48
Justin Ghio 27:51
innovation drives, si bros Bekins your brilliance? Product dreams take flight. Best Regards.
Rob Stevenson 27:58
That’s actually a beautiful fire poem. I’m amazing. Justin, this was fantastic enough for Justin, everybody. Do you want to take this on the end? All right, that was amazing. We’re gonna keep the gravy train with the biscuit wheels rolling here and meet our next guests. If you have an iPhone in your pocket, and I assume you do, then this next recruiter who has affected your life, he’s gonna tell you all about it in a minute. He has had talent roles all over the place his whole career. Currently he is the VP of talent culture at humane give it up for Jose Cong.
Rob Stevenson 28:35
Welcome, Jose, how are you?
Jose Cong 28:37
Rob Stevenson 28:37
Oh, man, those sneakers are amazing. Thank you. They’re so great. I feel so embarrassed now that I wear boring blue shoes when I could have done that. Well, I mean, it’s awful. Not a compliment. But anyway, Jose, I am so pleased to have you here because you have so much experience, particularly in AI. But your experience starts a long time ago, all the way back to the iPhone one. And I would just love as we get to know you a little bit. Would you mind sharing your experience working on that product? And what that was like recruiting that team?
Jose Cong 29:06
Absolutely. I wish my experience started on iPhone one. But it goes beyond that. Originally, it was part of the initial Nvidia team that helped to scale the company when they were 50 people. But no one cares about that everybody
Rob Stevenson 29:19
cares about that’s boring, boring, boring, boring, boring iPhone, iPhone.
Jose Cong 29:23
You know what, there was just something about Apple at that time, in terms of understanding the complexity of something where no one had an answer, but there was a confidence in terms of get the right people in the right room, and things will will be figured out. And so that’s what we did it I remember first day on the job. They basically said to me or I were building a cellular phone. What do you know about that? Zero, right. I know what my Motorola Razor phone does. But other than that, no idea. And so I remember the first meeting with the team that were five of us, and a person that we had just looked routed to build the radiofrequency engineering team looks at me goes, alright, we’re gonna have to start with an antenna. And I brought literally a book this thick with every antenna that have ever been made. And I remember looking at Louis and Louis literally gave me the look that said, What am I doing here? Right? This is scary in terms of AI, it took me months of research to catch up to what antenna we needed to think about, it took months to figure out where the competitors were, it took months to figure out that at the time, 98% of our potential candidates lived in the Chicago area, outside of Toronto, or in Europe. Right. And so by the time we got going, it was probably a year before we hired the first individual into the team. And after that the rest is history.
Rob Stevenson 30:54
Luckily, your boss at the time, Steve Jobs was very patient. And we understand that it took a long time to hire these people and didn’t push you.
Jose Cong 31:01
Well, he wasn’t my direct boss, but the people underneath were equally as impatient as Steve. And yeah, there was a tremendous amount of pressure in terms of yielding results that we were literally raising the clock to get it out.
Rob Stevenson 31:15
And so this product comes out. And then you also wound up working like even more specifically on future iPhones, right?
Jose Cong 31:20
Yeah, I mean, it was from 2002 until 2011. After we got the platform off the ground, my job switch from working on the next iPhone to work in the future technologies. Does anybody remember having the first iPhone? Not a lot of people? Well, mold.
Rob Stevenson 31:40
You know, I had a reason because I was broken.
Jose Cong 31:43
For those of you that had the camera was absolutely the most horrendous experience that you could have in I remember, this was literally the Monday after the product shipped. Right. And we are celebrating we sold a million dollars worth of revenue. It’s a runaway success. And I walk into the engineering meeting. And there is Steve, and there is the VP of iPhone 20. Fidel, and they don’t look happy, right? And so my first reaction was, oops, wrong meeting, right. And as I was turning around, Tony literally called me in and said, No, no, no, come on, and sit down. And he proceeded to tell Steve and this is Jose, he’s the person who’s going to help us to do this. And so that was the start of future technologies, that my job was to figure out how to build a team that will allow us to leapfrog the competition.
Rob Stevenson 32:35
Amazing. So you have now been doing that for the last 20 plus years. Let’s fast forward a little bit what brought you to your current company he made,
Jose Cong 32:42
I was actually retired back in 2018. I just didn’t see anything exciting, the job opportunities that were coming my way, were either working for a big company, and I’m just not a big company person anymore, or they were startup opportunities, where it was a copycat of something else, or there wasn’t a clear defined value proposition in terms of what they were looking to achieve. And so I decided to leave the industry altogether. And it wasn’t until humane contacted me that I started to think about making a return to the industry in the main reason. Number one was the culture driven aspect to how they wanted to build a company. It wasn’t about the technology wasn’t about the product. It wasn’t about the market. It was about how are we going to do this, aka the people. And matter of fact, I had no idea what I was going to be working on until I actually started. I was employee number 21. Two and a half years ago were 250 Almost. And no one has seen the product, or has had an idea of what they were going to be working on. And for me, unretiring was not an easy decision life was pretty good. It was really good actually. But the feeling that there was a paradigm shifting, potentially happening. It’s what piqued my interest. And going zero to one is what I live for, in terms of my career. And I started to look into what AI was, and realize that this was going to be the future realize that there was a lot of investment that was being put into it. My career started in the semiconductor industry. And when you see massive amounts of investment in that industry, you know, something’s happening. And so I decided that this was an opportunity worth pursuing. And the reason being was that I had the sense that there was a possibility for a bubble. And even though a bubble is not what I want to participate in, it felt as if there was an opportunity to convert that bubble into an era and I started thinking about the early days of iPhone started thinking about the industry change that we push, going from our feature phones from Motorola Nokia, for research and motion into the smartphone industry, right in started realizing of the immense potential that we had created in terms of the information age. And it felt at the time in 2020, it felt as if the industry was ready for a shift for a change. In smartphone sales were beginning to flatten, there was little to no innovation that was coming out of it. multi touch was feeling stale. And so I took the chance, I did a little bit of research on the job descriptions. I wish I had Chat GPT, I probably would have had a better understanding of what I was getting into. But the more I talked with individuals, the more convinced I became that AI was a future. And so I took a leap of faith, I joined a tiny little company of 20 individuals, of course, it helped that open AI through Sam Altman had just led the Series A round. And I figured, okay, if there’s any company that is going to have a head start in the AI world is going to be one where open AI is behind it.
Rob Stevenson 36:02
So the company that built chat, CPT is an investor in this company. Okay, so you must be using these tools pretty frequently.
Jose Cong 36:08
I can go into details about what we’re using. But we have a good awareness of how the technology works and how we can optimize it.
Rob Stevenson 36:16
I wish he would share some of that awareness with us here today. That was a I guess, we don’t have to say anything proprietary, but how are you expecting to implement tools like this in a talent team?
Jose Cong 36:27
Well, I mean, I think Justin did a great job in terms of showing us the power of AI. For us, it’s the ability to dive deep into knowledge on an industry that is barely forming. I’ll give you guys a little trick that we do. So we have a team that handles computer vision, computer vision, it’s fairly a new industry that is still developing. If you go by the generic descriptions of the responsibilities on a GED, you’re not going to get much. And so how do we use the tool is we literally take the resumes for every team member, and we break them down, right? We try and find commonalities between all of them, we try and figure out which connections may be there. In terms of previous employers, we go as far as trying to analyze how a company was created and how they have been scaling. We want to know if there is a pattern in terms of the schools or the wind into and once we figured out such panels, we start to break it down to individual courses, or professors in our ability to amplify potential candidates exponentially grows.
Rob Stevenson 37:36
So what are some of the experiments you’re running right now to try and figure out the efficacy of the source?
Jose Cong 37:42
So I have been working on this vision on my own for almost a year. Right. And when I first opened this tool, my experience was not as great as the exposure that Justin gave you. I’ve literally just as the dumbest question that I could ask, Hey, how do I recruit for this? Right? What candidates are out there that can match this job description. And the thing is, that’s not how the system is designed, you have to start to think about it from a more analytical perspective, and refine, right is regenitive. And so I’ve been working on that for several months have gotten to a point where I’m pretty impressed with the results. And so earlier this year, I decided that I was gonna do a B testing with my team. And so I took my most experienced recruiter 25 plus years, he was a peer of mine at Apple. He was a peer of mine at NES labs. He worked there in the early days of Oculus, this guy has a pretty serious resume and track record. And I know exactly what to expect from this individual. Right. And he was a be was a coordinator that I stole from the front desk, when it first got to humane and he became a coordinator in less than a year ago, started doing some research for us. And so I coached him and gave him a pretty good guidance in terms of how I was using the tool. Fast forward to today, five months later, he is outperforming the 25 plus year veteran and a 3x pays. Not only that, but we just recently closed our first two principal level engineers, and for us principle is like the highest level that you can get as an IC. And to me, that’s not a coincidence, right? There is pattern and when I sat down with them, and started to ask how he was able to get their attention, right, not being very experienced. He blew me away. He took my guidance and took it a step further. And he is literally taking the resume and dropping it into chat GPT he’s taking the job description, drop it into Chad GPT and he’s taking the notes that he took from the manager and dropping it and asking for a guidance in terms of how to approach it and how to hold out Conversation with these guys. And it’s working. I mean, literally through reacts the output.
Rob Stevenson 40:04
So the 25 year vet is not allowed to use. They’re like using a what, like a chisel on a tablet like, how is it possible to scare people? I mean, that’s crazy.
Jose Cong 40:14
Absolutely not. Absolutely not. And the reason being is, I think that this is something that is trainable. I think this is something that is going to augment. I hate the terminology, artificial intelligence. It’s augmented intelligence. Right. I think if we think about it, from that perspective, we’re going to be less intimidated by it. And we’re going to be more open minded. To me, this is going to allow us the opportunity to do what we do best. We’re in the people business, right? Our job is not to write a great email, our job is not to come up with a list of candidates, if we can get to a place where we are recognizing great talents. And we have the ability to craft that message. So that this individual, it seems something different than what they’re getting on an everyday basis, there is a high probability that they’re going to stop. And the way we think about it is what do we do today? When we’re born, we take our phones and we go, Twitter, IG tick tock, right? And every now and then you got a heart. What is that? Right? And that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for that aha moment. We’re recruiters but we’re getting recruited, right? On a daily basis, I get 10 emails, they all sound the same. They’re all pretty lame, right? And they’ll go directly into a haiku. Exactly. None of our actually, that was pretty sweet. That has definitely was fired. So the challenge that we are imposing on ourselves is How do we get to that high email? How do we personalize it? How do we make it in our own voice? How do we make it in the representation of our brand? Right? And how do we figure out the best way to make that connection? And once we do that, how do we initiate that conversation? Once we have them on the phone or on video, and to me, that’s the future that allows us as recruiters to not waste months, right? Trying to figure out how to become an expert in a subject that we don’t know, like, and tennis back in the day when I was at Apple, how can we get that done in minutes? Like just like Justin showed us? And how do we start to amplify our true value, which is how do we build trust with the candidates? How do we make a connection? How do we get them enticed to come in and spend more time with us? For us the philosophy of a recruiter, it’s not about how many candidates can you get through, it’s not about how many closes? Do we have for us, we judge ourselves in terms of the quality of people that we get right and providing the best experience possible, so that during the assessment process, we will know and have a high level of confidence that that is a good match, right. And if we can get there, the probabilities of extending an offer letter that is going to be accepted increases significantly, to meet. That’s where I want the recruiters to spend time in developing those relationships, right. And if we get to a point where that relationship doesn’t yield an offer, we are getting individuals who will decline to join us, but will continue to send candidates our way. We have actually right before I came in, my slack was blowing up and there’s a candidate that turned us down three months ago, right. But he still remember the great experience that he had with us. And the job that this person decided to take didn’t panned out. And so now he’s wondering whether or not there’s an opportunity to revisit, and to meet that is the value of talent acquisition, that is the value of recruiting. It’s not into going into LinkedIn, and just searching mindlessly, like how many times have we gone through a search, and you’re killing it, you’re crushing it, you’re finding candidates, but after a while you’re going to get bored. After a while you’re going to be distracted. Right? And maybe maybe you stopped short of finding that next candidate, that would have been the perfect candidate. And for me, right? How do we take care of that we allow a system like Chad GPT or any other AI tool that exists to do the remedial work that eventually is going to burn us out. Anyways.
Rob Stevenson 44:13
I love if you could speak a little bit more on that the what is the role of talent? If you were to assume someone were utilizing a tool like this 100% to its fullest capacity? What is left for someone put another way? What do you want to see from the people on your team? How they differentiate themselves as human beings, I guess what are the things that only they can do?
Jose Cong 44:31
Well, I mean, we hire our team members, because of their personality, right because of the ability to connect to the brand for their ability to understand the culture of the company, but also the subcultures that exist with each organization. Right? We like to think that everybody fits within the culture and they do, right but as you go from one type of engineer to another or to a business, there is going to be a variation in that you need individuals who are going to understand those times mild differences, and be able to connect again, it’s not about hiring someone that can do the job. It’s about finding someone who’s going to buy into what we’re doing in who’s going to be passionate about participating in building, what we have is not enough to just have the skill sets, the way we see it is, there’s a 5050 assessment of everyone who joins us 50% skills but 50% personality, and for us, it’s not about culture fit, it’s about culture. Right? How can this individual help us to better at 500? When we cross that, right, in that X factor that goes beyond the skills or the knowledge or the experience? And so how do you get to that? You’re not going to get to that if you’re constantly searching on our databases, like you’re not, you’re gonna get to that by talking to as many people as possible by having an understanding of personality patterns by having an understanding of how we can extract information, even if the candidate is not a fit from the hiring managers. Right? How do you continue to evolve? So that search continues to refine until you have a better understanding?
Rob Stevenson 46:08
Thanks. So is that really well set up for Jose everybody? Think I think we maybe have a few minutes left. And I’d love to turn things over to the folks out there in podcast land, or at least here in the gallery. So there any questions out there that for the panel? I see a hand over here. I’m going to come down? Yeah, I’ll do it. I’ll earn my commission here, sir. I got it. Hi, there. What’s your name? Hey,
I’m Annie. Hi, Andy.
Rob Stevenson 46:31
Where do you work in? What’s your title?
I work at hired?
Rob Stevenson 46:34
Of course you do. I know where you work, but the people don’t. I was
gonna ask Have you ever heard of it?
Rob Stevenson 46:41
Oh, no. Tell me more. Let’s just take this whole thing hostage right now. Now, what’s your question? Any?
I was just totally just kidding. Yes, I’m any from hired. And I was wondering after Jose mentioned that such a amazing part of your team and the company was the candidate experience. And I’m wondering how you create a great candidate experience going through interviews when everything is remote?
Jose Cong 47:04
That is a great question. So we make sure especially back in the shelter in place, which is when I started, we make sure that we spent as much time as we could with the candidates, we’d made sure that it wasn’t just about being on video conferences. A lot of times, you become desensitized when you’re spending your whole day staring into a screen. And so from time to time, when I was a first recruiter, I would tell people, Hey, why don’t we log off, pick up your phone, and let’s go for a walk. Right, and let’s get more comfortable. The other thing that we did as well was we would not schedule back to back to back interviews, even though it was delayed a time to hire, we felt that it was more important to catch individuals at different times during the week different times during the day, and to give them a break from potentially answering the same questions over and over. And so that helped out one of the things that humain did early on in the pandemic is that we created a health and wellness team, and we hire a physician assistant to run it, this person was able to get us back into the office ahead of the rest of the world. And we started to invite people on site. And we did that by literally buying every available test kit that was available in creating a process in place that allows us to safely engage with individuals, when you are a company that has little to no information out there. When we’re not going to tell you what you’re going to be working on no matter how many times you ask when you Google search or address. And you see this potentially abandoned look and building, right and you have no idea who you’re talking to on the other end, it’s important to make sure that you’re making the best connection possible. And so instead of treating everyone in the same manner, in which they were probably exploring this new way of working, which was over the screens, we’ve tried to figure out ways to break that and bring those back to life before the pandemic started.
Rob Stevenson 49:09
Thanks, Jose, we have another question over here. I’m going to walk and talk my way over here. Hi, what’s your name?
Rob Stevenson 49:16
Weston, thanks for being here. What company do you work for?
Speaker 8 49:19
I’m a Director of Diversity Inclusion at Juniper Networks.
Rob Stevenson 49:22
Fantastic. What’s your question?
So I’ve been working with our talent acquisition team, I see a diversity recruiting leader on a lot of HR Modernization and talent acquisition, modernization things and been looking at a lot of vendors out in the marketplace. I’m kind of curious because one of the vendors which I will not name that I saw does completely automated sourcing, to the point of reviewing resumes like outreach, it made me feel really icky having been a diversity Sourcing Lead, and just thinking about how bias and also, frankly, illegal practices could come into play with that from a diversity recruiting lens. So I’m just curious like since both of you are leveraging AI, and it seems like a really thoughtful way Like, what are your thoughts on tools like that? Like, how do you create parameters with your teams on how to use AI in an equitable way that also doesn’t let the potential bias kind of come into the process?
Justin Ghio 50:11
That’s a fantastic question. And it was what I spent about 35 to 40 minutes talking with our PR comms and legal team about prior to speaking this week, because it’s something I believe I spoke about it at talent acquisition week earlier, it’s the way that we think about it. And the way that we operate at my organization, Activision Blizzard, is, it is never a decisive step. It is only a guide. Right. And that is the tenant that we run with. That is the way that we believe any system that we have that has automation doesn’t use any simplified output as a determinant factor. It uses as an indicative factor, but not a determinative factor. For example, like a star rating, we will never auto move or auto disposition people based off of set rating, it is only to give you what we call a time spent calculation in your head, right? Five Star, probably less time because you’re dotting I’s crossing T’s knowing this person is potentially pretty good, right? One star two star the inverse, you’re still reviewing the resume manually, you’re still looking for it. Because guess what machines can be wrong, things can be missed a job title, I work in video games. So those things don’t make anything. Because a graphics engineer, if we title it a software engineer, but it’s a graphics engineer for this, or it just makes no sense. So we can’t pay attention to that. So we really do have our team use it. You know, as I mentioned earlier, it’s kind of that joke of licking your fingers sticking out which way is the wind blowing? It’s not telling me this is for sure. It’s 35 miles an hour? South southwest? No, it’s generally that way. And it’s kind of quick, right? Like, that’s how we think of AI. And that’s really how top to bottom we try and organize it again, is it’s not making decisions, it is not deciding anything, it is simply giving us inference and the ability to iterate and Ida quicker. Right. And again, there’s power in the ability for to draw inferences from to candidates, right? For example, we know there’s tons of mentioned DNI, DNI statistics about people who apply to certain roles based off of 100%, fit 80% fit. So there’s the flip side of that, where your concern becomes so powerful, right, where a person who, because they use it in one project, didn’t write it on their resume. But their peer wrote it on their resume, because that’s the difference in the individuals, right. But now I know because of the machine, because it correlates that I should ask Person A about the technology that only Person B wrote, right? It’s not doing any of the stuff. But it’s giving me again, that inference to make even a better call, right and say, Hey, maybe I should ask you about this, maybe I should double check, did you use Python? Oh, I 12 months, there was a project right use that I just didn’t put on my resume, because it was so limited. That could be the missing link between an instant reject, and a potential hire. So it’s really about making sure and we we really put it on rails in our organization and so much in my organization if like, if I see your chat GPT, haiku goes straight out to somebody, you’re probably going to have a meeting with me, right? And won’t be like, hey, you know, don’t do that. Right, like add some personal flair, add your stylistic input on top of.
Rob Stevenson 53:20
Jose, do you want to chime in? Yeah, so
Jose Cong 53:22
to me, I have two different perspectives on that. For us. Diversity is very important. We have a stated goal of being 51%. Female, at some point in we’re being held accountable. And that, to me, I think utilizing a tool like this, there is a probability that because the system is not trained to exclude a specific demographics, because the system is not necessarily trained to exclude the university. Right? To me, I think that you probably are going to get a better potential, right, utilizing this than you would have in a human dictate whether or not that is a good match or not. So that’s one. Number two, you know, you don’t want to leave that to chance, right? In case, maybe AI does have a little bit of evil in it. And so we go out of our way, as a talent acquisition organization, to make sure that we are investing our time and effort into cycling through various demographics that we want to make sure that we increase and we go out of our way to intentionally do sourcing jams, specifically around that. And to me, I think that is the best of both worlds. You’re hopefully automating something that is going to take away the unconscious biases of an individual. And just in case that wasn’t untrained with AI, you’d have to be intentional about making sure that you’re targeting specifically individuals of those underrepresented demographics in the cool thing about that is that you can do that at a much higher rate.
Rob Stevenson 54:57
Thanks, Team. Well, folks, we are creeping up on The optimal podcast length as well as the time we booked in his venue, so I think we have to be winding down here. But this has been really, really great. If you’ve enjoyed this today, make sure you subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen to them because you’ll get much more conversations like this and also because I have bills so please listen. Also a quick reminder that we’re going to be doing headshots here at the back and they’re going to be aI generated after we get a professional photo of you so make sure to take advantage of that. And in the meantime, I’ve been Rob Stevenson Jose cong has been Jose Cong Justin Ghio has been Justin Ghio, and you’ve all been amazing, wonderful talent acquiring darlings have a spectacular week and happy hunting.
Jose Cong 55:37
Justin Ghio 55:38
thank you rob.
Rob Stevenson 55:43
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