Rahul Yodh

New Western VP of TA Rahul Yodh

Rahul YodhVP of TA

Because there usually isn’t a specific revenue amount associated with talent acquisition, it is often viewed as a cost center. However, as today’s guest explains, there is a direct positive revenue impact to each hire that is made in a business, and it is so important that TA leaders make others aware of this fact. Rahul Yodh is the VP of talent acquisition at New Western, a company that operates a marketplace for investors to (quickly) find homes to rehabilitate. After completing his third year of law school, Rahul realized he was on the wrong path and made a decision to pivot to talent acquisition. Tune in today to hear what Rahul’s current role consists of, some of the goals he hopes to accomplish, and advice on how to change the way talent acquisition is viewed within organizations.

Episode Transcript


[0:00:06.1] RS: Welcome to Talk Talent to Me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the frontline’s modern recruitment.

[0:00:12.8] FEMALE: We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life, we want to understand how they make decisions, where are they willing to take risks and what it looks like when they fail.

[0:00:22.7] RS: No holds barred, completely off the cuff interviews with directors of recruitment, VPs of global talent, CHROs, and everyone in between.

[0:00:31.1] FEMALE: Once I went through the classes and the trainings, I got the certifications through diversity and inclusion, I still felt like something was missing.

[0:00:39.7] MALE: Talent acquisition, it’s a fantastic career, you are trusted by the organization, you get to work with the C-Suite and the security at the front desk and everybody in between, and everybody knows you.

[0:00:53.0] RS: I’m your host, Rob Stevenson and you’re about to hear the best in the biz, Talk Talent to Me.


[0:00:59.0] RS: Talking talent to me today is the VP of Talent Acquisition over at New Western, Rahul Yodh, welcome to the show. How the heck are you today?

[0:01:09.0] RY: I’m great. Thanks for having me, Rob. I’m excited. I’m a big fan.

[0:01:11.0] RS: Oh, thanks. You’ve actually heard the show before.

[0:01:15.0] RY: Oh yeah. You’re in my favorites. I try to catch an episode as soon as it comes out every week. Or every couple of weeks sometimes, and I love it. Lots of value.

[0:01:25.0] RS: I love that the podcast is in your favorites. Eat Your Heart Out. Tim Ferriss. Yeah. Thanks so much for being a listener turning guest. That’s kind of a dream pipeline. I do really appreciate that when it happens, and it does save me a little bit when we go to do a pre-interview and meet, I don’t have to do my whole 10 minute spiel. You just kind of, you know the drill, you know the format.

[0:1:45.0] RY: I know all about optimal podcast length.

[0:01:48.0] RS: Yeah.. Yeah. Well, we’ll hope to, we’ll hope to tow that line here delicately at the end in the 25 to 40 minute range, the length of an average American commute that has kind of persisted as the length of the show. But yeah, so you are well prepared for this, for having listened to it. So I do thank you for tuning in over the last few years, however long and yeah, lots to, lots to get into with you. I’m excited you’re here. What’s the week been like for you first?

[0:02:10.0] RY: Fast. Fast. Not in a good way because it feels like I’m running out of time. You know, it’s Friday afternoon at about 3:15 PM, and so the clock is ticking. Unfortunately, I don’t have, or fortunately, I don’t have any 5:00 PM deadlines. It’s more of a mental kind of thing of the clock is ticking before the end of the week.

[0:02:30.0] RS: Is there anything you’re trying to sprint through here at the buzzer and get finished before you take off for the week?

[0:02:36.0] RY: Our career site, so we are completely over. We know, we’re relaunching our career site, our careers page, career site, and we’ve been working diligently for the last four months on getting it up and ready. It is ready to go. We’re just waiting on legal to sign off on it, and I’m hoping for that to come through sometime before five o’clock today. We’ll see.

[0:02:59.0] RS: Fingers crossed. What were you hoping that the new one will accomplish? That the old one did not?

[0:03:05.0] RY: We really wanted to provide a transparent experience to the candidate. We wanted to provide lots of information to them and really provide them with all the information that they needed in order to make a decision about New Western and a career with New Western. And I feel like our previous site, while it looked nice, was lacking a lot of depth of information. I feel like this is gonna take it to the next level in terms of content.

[0:03:32.0] RS: Yeah, so is the depth of information that’s missing, what content is that?

[0:03:35.0] RY: Video content. Content about what it’s like to be a New Western warrior, which is what our internally, what we, what we call ourselves. We’ve got a big Spartan culture. What is that like? Video content, authentic video content does that a lot of day in the life type stuff. A lot of information about who is here and what’s helped them be successful. And information about our process, right? What’s our interview process? What’s your interview experience gonna be like with New Western? What can you expect in terms of time and effort involved and preparation for those interviews?

My philosophy is I wanna have a candidate who is well prepared and can be at their best during the interview as opposed to worrying about gotcha questions and nervously trying to navigate through a minefield.

[0:04:25.0] RS: Yeah. Yeah. It’s crucial to provide candidates with that kind of ammunition, shall we say, because I would usually ask recruiters that if I were interviewing like. Hey, who am I going to be meeting with? What kind of things are gonna be asking me? Right? I would do that. And recruiters were always thrilled that I did it cuz it showed that I was engaged that they were thrilled means that it’s not happening with every candidate. And that’s like a huge advantage I have because I know how to ask, but it doesn’t make me better at doing the job. It just makes me better at getting the job, right? So why not equalize for that kind of information. And it sounds like the career page now is more aimed at, like, what are the candidates asking themselves in process as opposed to just using it? How career sites typically function, which is just like funneling you to a job description in the Apply Now button, right?

[0:05:13.0] RY: Yeah. We’re really trying to merge both of those, right? We wanna funnel you to the right job, but while you’re going down that funnel, we wanna provide you with quality information and a quality experience along the way.

[0:05:27.0] RS: Yep. Makes sense. Well, I hope you’re able to get that career site out. Hopefully, legal doesn’t have any quick couple notes for you, but in any case, I would love to learn a little bit more about you, Rahul, before we get too much further along here. Would you mind sharing about, first, could you tell us a little bit more about New Western, in case the folks at home aren’t familiar, and then I’d love to get into you and your role too.

[0:05:37.0] RY: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So New Western operates a marketplace for investors to find homes to rehab. To put it in perspective, we buy a house every 13 minutes, and we only own that asset for about 90 minutes. It’s high velocity, fast paced. While we’re headquartered in Dallas, Texas where I am, we have offices and team members in, like 22 states and counting 22 states and 40 different markets.

[0:06:12.0] RS: So who do you sell that house to so quickly?

[0:06:35.8] RY: The house is usually gonna be sold to somebody who wanting to rehab the house. Flip it and sell it, flip it and rent it out. Long-term rentals, short-term rentals, but often, it’s just we’re revitalizing neighborhoods, right? We’re bringing back tax revenue to those neighborhoods because properties are being rehabbed and fixed and improved in value and ultimately, all of these real estate investors are small mom and pops.

You know, think of your Chip and Jojos of the world, right? Small mom and pops, or at least they used to be a small mom and pop. Right now they’re a mega corporation, but small mom and pops who are all small business owners. So we’re helping small business owners. We’re helping the end buyer of the house because our properties are usually significantly cheaper after rehab than new homes on the market, right? We’re trying to fuel the economy through lower priced inventory for home buyers and the small business owner.

[0:07:18.0] RS: Can I ask you a hard hitting question about the real estate market?

[0:07:21.0] RY: Let’s do it.

[0:07:24.0] RS: Are Chip and Jojo, the surnames of Mom and Pop?

[0:07:26.0] RY: I don’t think so. Okay, you know, Chip and Jojo from HGTV, right?

[0:07:30.0] RS: No. No. Okay. I had no idea what Chip and Jojo was. I thought that was just a folksy way of continuing the Mom and Pop representation.

[0:07:36.0] JC: Oh, no chip representation. No chip. Yeah. Chip and Joanna Gaines down in Waco, Texas who’ve built an empire out of flipping houses. And now they were on HGTV for a while.

[0:07:47.0] RS: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Joanna Gaines.

[0:07:50.0] JC: Now they’ve spun off their own thing with Discovery Channel and they’ve got, got all their merchant stuff and Target and it’s a big business now, but they started off as mom and pop flippers..

[0:08:00.0] RS: Right, right. Okay. Sorry about that.I was just a mix up. But yeah, I do know, I have heard of Joanna Gaines. I didn’t know their chip And jojo. So the Chip and jojo, perhaps pre chip and jojo HGTV Empire,rRight? Are they the folks who New Western is engaging with?

[0:08:14.0] RY: Exactly.Think about there are people that we all know that own a rent, may own a rental property, may wanna take on a flip job, right? Or may wanna rehab a house and sell it. Maybe they’re rehabbing their own house and then they wanna sell it. So we’re providing our marketplace with inventory that’s right for them. This is an inventory that needs a lot of love and a lot of care. They have the skills to turn it into something that the market wants.

[0:08:43.0] RS: Got it. Now you are the Vice President of Talent acquisition over there. How did you come to this role Rahul?

[0:08:49.0] RY: Like almost all of your other guests, Rob. TA was not what I went to school for. It was not even on my radar. I don’t even think, I won’t say I didn’t, I don’t even think it was a career option. Cause I did work for the career services office in college as my work study program, but I didn’t really take it as seriously as, as I should have, looking back at it.

But way back when, I think the turn of the century. Can’t believe I’m able to say that now I’m dating myself. I was in law school. My goal of becoming an attorney was the thing that defined me, right? I was the pre-law guy, pre-law, everything. All my buddies thought I was a lawyer and came asking me questions and all that. And then as I’m in my third year of law school, I said to myself, eh, this is kind of crazy. I don’t really like this. I’m not enjoying this. And I came to that realization that being a lawyer is essentially doing homework and writing research papers for the rest of your life. And I’m like, I cannot do that.

I’m a people person. I’m gonna be miserable doing this. As they say in Silicon Valley, I had to pivot and I said, how can I use the skills I’ve gained from my experience, my network, you know, how do I not waste the previous four or five years of my life that I had built all this up in? And I said, how about some sort of industry that lines up with law firms and legal, right? And I said, how about legal staffing? Right? Our friend suggested that to me. How about legal staffing? I joined Robert Half’s legal staffing division in 2002. After that, I went on to launch an executive search firm in 2009, which ended up being acquired by a national staffing brand in 2018.

And then I park myself in private equity doing some transactional due diligence. An operational excellence advisory and eventually, two years ago, so in February of 2021, I made my way to New Western, where as you said, I’m VP of Talent acquisition and I’m responsible for TA strategy and results and oversee an awesome team, a completely remote, completely distributed team of 18 talented, hardworking, recruiting professionals in 10 different metro areas in six different states.

[0:11:00.0] RS: How about that? It’s so impressive that you kind of bailed on law school three years in because there’s sort of a sunk cost at that point. I feel like a lot of people just kind of suck it up and go through with it. Right? And then probably 5 to 10 years in their career realize they hate their job and, and then go back. But what kind of gave you the fortitude to say like, no, I have to walk away from this.

[0:11:23.0] RY: So three years is, that’s, that’s how long law school is. Three years. So I mean, I was at the end and when I came to that realization. So I knew I gave it, I’d given it a fair shot. So that gave me some peace of mind.

And it’s interesting you mentioned the sunk cost theory. Of course, I had three years of time that I had sunk into it. But I was lucky enough to have had an employer that I had worked with all through college. Because remember I was a pre-law guy, right? And it was a law firm that I’d been working for. They were paying my way and paying for everything, which in itself was a very awkward conversation to have. But in some ways it wasn’t a bunch of student loan debt that I was saddled with, that I was trying to justify walking away from.

[0:12:08.0] RS: Got it. And then you sort of like when you said you pivoted, you found a way to use some of that legal knowledge and legal staffing. What was it about maybe that early role that made you decide, okay, I could stick around and make a career out of this?

[0:12:21.0] JC: It was heavy sales, right? Like it was not, What we do today and or what I do today, it was staffing. It was heavy sales. Half my job was going out and selling to law firms, and the other half was finding candidates and all that stuff. But it was sales and it was very competitive. And I’m a super competitive person.

In fact, we just did as a company, we just did the Gallup strengths assessments and my number one strength is competitiveness. Right? And so it was super competitive. Every Friday they’d print like a scorecard that would tell, and this is 2002, so they printed it now.

Now it would probably be in an app somewhere, right? But they printed a scorecard. That scorecard would get posted up. And it wasn’t just a scorecard about everybody in your office. Robert Half had like 400 offices around the world or something like that, 300 something. And so it was how you were ranked with all those other people around the world and that was, that was pretty awesome.

I liked it. That kinda kept me going and while I learned the business in the world of recruiting and then I went into executive search because I did crave wanting to give my clients, the employers a better experience and I wanted to be. Do searches at a higher level, more strategic searches, C-suite stuff. And so that drove me into executive search.

[0:13:47.0] RS: When you say you wanted to give them a better experience, what did that entail?

[0:13:52.0] RY: Well, in staffing, it’s all about finding the first person who can go out there and do the job for the rate that is budgeted. Right? It’s an hourly rate. Sometimes it’s short notice, right?

So it’s like, Hey, can you go out there tomorrow? And do this job. You’re providing them fast service, but it’s probably not the best candidate right to hold that job. I feel like if we had more time, like a couple weeks, then maybe we could find a better candidate. But if you wanna be fast, you need the person tomorrow, then this is who we have.

And that’s where like a big brand like Robert Half excels because they’ve got a pretty deep inventory of candidates. In executive search, it’s all about finding the best fit, qualifying a short list of candidates and putting them through the same process. It’s all set up to find the best, best available candidate for the job, and it usually takes months to complete a search. Definitely weeks to complete a search, usually months. And so the outcome is usually better.

[0:14:59.0] RS: Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. So now here you are as the VP of talent acquisition at New Western, and often when I have VPs of TA, I feel like I usually get into the weeds of like, okay, how are you setting your team up to meet these high level goals? How are you setting them up with their tools and whatever they need? What hires are you making? But I wanted to ask you kind of about the role of leading the whole department in so far as you represent the department to the rest of the business. Right? So when you think about what talent means to New Western, what is your role in making that meaning come to life?

[0:15:40.0] RY: I think we’re in a unique position because I’d say about 80% of the roles that we’re recruiting for are sales oriented roles. These are field sales roles. So for our 40, 40 plus markets that we service, we’ve got licensed real estate professionals in each of those markets. They’re either buying houses or selling houses, right? But it’s all sales, right? So it’s easy to kind of connect the dots as to the importance of filling those sales roles with qualified individuals and keeping a kind of a full roster because it makes it, there’s a direct impact on revenue if we’re not able to succeed in what we’re trying to do in TA.

[0:16:25.0] RS: Yeah. And the connection to revenue, perhaps when you’re hiring lots of salespeople, that’s a little more cut and dried. But in general, I fear that the talent team is often viewed as a cost center. Is that your experience?

[0:16:39.0] RY: For sure. Right. I think if you, if you look at it on its face, it’s easy to see that the talent team is a cost center because, there’s not necessarily a dollar next to our name, right?

There’s not a revenue amount next to our name. And that’s where I think as a TA leader, you’ve got to think like a revenue org leader, like a COO, like a Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Sales Officer, and you’ve gotta really sharpen your business IQ and you really need to be able to demonstrate in quantifiable terms, the ROI that your team’s providing.

And even if you aren’t delivering sales talent for your organization, there’s a direct positive revenue impact to your business coming from each hire that you make. So even if it’s an engineer or an administrative support person or somebody in accounting, there’s an impact to the revenue, whether it’s a cost saving impact or whether it’s a positive revenue generation impact. There’s an impact. And, you just as a TA. I think it’s really important, especially in 2023, to know that.

[0:17:48.0] RS: Yeah. This delineation between cost center versus revenue center is never set well with me just because companies exist to make money, right? And if you’ve been hired, you are presumably, at one point there was this connection to your hire advancing the mission to make money, right? Yeah. So in that regard, isn’t every employee a revenue generating employee, is that a naive way to look at it, or is it just like, you know, times change and you get a little more harsh about who is and isn’t making money?

[0:18:24.0] RY: Every employee in some way, shape or form can have a number next to them, and that’s, that’s what I was implying is that it’s your job as a TA leader to figure out what that number is. But, there are also times where we need to scale back, right? If a company needs to scale back, it’s not because that person is no longer a revenue generating person, it’s because the business’ needs have changed and that that individual or that role or that function is no longer necessary as you put it, to generate the dollars that the business is generating, right? But I think, everybody who’s contributing to the revenue has a number next to their name, and it’s your job to figure out what that number is and make that business case for it.

[0:19:09.0] RS: So when a talent org needs to scale up, that’s more fun. That I wouldn’t say it’s easy. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s like, okay, there’s money to make the hires on your team. There’s money to invest in technology, etc. That path, I think, is a little more clear and definitely more discussed on a podcast like this, for example. What about the scaling down part of it where you need to scale down to meet needs of the organization, but can you do so without having, you know, tons of layoffs and shrinking your workforce? How do you scale down and still contribute in a meaningful way?

[0:19:43.0] RY: I don’t have a ton of firsthand experience in scaling down because luckily at New Western we are still blown and going and we ended last year, so a couple weeks ago. We ended last year with 937 hires, and we have visions of having more hires than that this year. And that’s what, what we’re planning for and budgeting for, but when it’s time to scale back, whether if it’s a pivot in business and you need to scale back on one type of person and scale up on a different type of role, it’s really about understanding, again, going back to the value of the contributor and the cost associated with it.

Can they be used somewhere else in your organization? If you are gonna pivot into something else, can the person who knows your culture, knows your business, can they slide into some other role? Of course, an accountant can’t slide into an engineering role. There’s not that much cross-functionality, but there might be a home for some of those people, right? Where I hate seeing is companies who are laying off yet still have jobs posted. Right? Like that to me doesn’t always make a lot of sense, and I’m not sure if that it’s the best PR move. And so is there a way to kind of cross train and keep some of those folks in house and not have to go out and hire somebody?

Because when you hire somebody, there might be a cost to it. There’s a cost of laying the person off. There’s gonna be a cost of hiring somebody. And what if you can keep that person in-house and it’s a win-win? And guess what? At some point when business turns around, that person’s gonna be super loyal because you were really loyal to them.

[0:21:14.0] RS: Yeah, yeah, of course. I would hope that leaders would think the way you think about, can we repurpose folks? Can we keep them around and find a new home for them at our organization? But I fear that a lot of leaders wouldn’t. And so it would be on the individual themselves, like a recruiter in this case, a sourcer to kind of tell that story and look around the org and be like, what else can I do here?

How can I contribute in ways other than my previously existing role? I wanna ask you how people might go about doing that. But first, before you do that, probably you should lock in on how your work contributes to revenue, right? How can individuals start to draw a circle around that?

[0:21:53.0] RY: So there’s a couple different ways that an individual contributor can point to themselves as a revenue generation center or revenue center versus a cost center. One is looking back at past performance and seeing what you’ve contributed to the company in terms of performance, right? How many hires did you make? How many widgets did you make? And what was the value generated there? But that’s in the past, right? A lot of companies don’t care about what happened in the past. It’s all about what’s gonna happen in the future.

And so that’s where having that business IQ and knowing what things like turnover costs and things like hiring somebody to do a certain job might cost come into play because you are already in the position and if you can figure out the other value that you’re bringing to that company, you can spin it into positive revenue generation opportunity for them because they are not incurring the cost of the cutback. They’re not incurring a cost of maybe going out and hiring somebody to replace to fill that empty role and whatever that person’s gonna be able to produce or kind of a positive impact in that role is also valuable.

[0:22:58.0] RS: How sophisticated are companies’ books regarding, you know, when you said earlier that most people, most roles have a number next to them. How sophisticated are companies reporting on that? I’m asking because I’m wondering if an individual can’t also try and replicate that for themselves and try and move it one way or another.

[0:23:16.0] RY: It depends on the company and how it’s set up. Right? And it depends on how, how easily identifiable the role is and what lines you can draw from start to finish of making that product. So it can be tricky, but that’s where you really need to dive into those things during the good times, right? When times are good, that’s when you wanna nail all those things down and really identify all those things so that you can rely upon that data when times are not so good.

[0:23:46.0] RS: In times of peace, prepare for war. I say I think it was Play-Doh, probably not. Uh, anyway, someone very enrolled from a long time ago.

[0:23:53.0] RY: Someone really was.

[0:23:55.0] RS: Exactly. Okay, so then on the other side of that, when it’s time to position yourself somewhere else in the organization, how can people do that? Maybe it’s a little bit of the same. It’s like in times of peace, take on projects outside of your role so that when there’s a downturn, then it’s like a more easy transition. How would you recommend people go about doing that?

[0:24.13.0] RY: It’s super important to really develop relationships within, within the organization, outside of your department. Cross-departmental, cross-functional relationships. Make sure people understand your value that you are more than a recruiter, more than an accountant, more than whatever, right?

And I think once you have that relationship and once you know where things are going, that’s when you can raise your hand for a different opportunity. And sometimes, you know, a lot of times the individual contributor does not have a ton of control over it, right? It’s a decision that’s made at a higher level, and that’s where it’s really important for folks in my role and my peers to really have a seat at the table and have some input when companies are starting to make that decision, because that’s where you can make an impact and really change the trajectory of a company and a company’s employer brand and everything.

[0:25:08.0] RS: Yeah, that makes sense. And I don’t know, it’s just maybe you find out you like that role more too, right? Maybe you find out that that job is better for you. And in that case, like you’ve kind of, the company has succeeded by you. They found a job you liked more, and isn’t that the whole point of recruitment?

[0:25:45.0] RY: Yeah, absolutely.

[0:25:24.0] RS: Well, Rahul, we are creeping up on optimal podcast length here, as you cheekily hinted at earlier in the episode. So at this point, I think we should probably sail off into the podcasting sunset here. So I will just say thank you so much for being on the show. I really loved having you today.

[0:25:38.0] RY: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks Rob. Anytime, and I look forward to listening to more of your episodes.


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