All Episodes Paramount SVP Of Talent Acquisition Russell Weaver
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Paramount SVP Of Talent Acquisition Russell Weaver

Dynamic Insights: Russell's Talent Acquisition Journey

Russell, an experienced recruitment leader, excels across industries due to his professional accomplishments and values. He discusses the industry’s shift from linear to digital media, his motivation for talent acquisition, and insights from outsourcing. Increased employee engagement and providing candidates with more information improve outcomes. Paramount’s AI plans drive recruitment innovation. Collaboration, skill alignment, and evolving roles are pivotal in recruitment.

Episode Transcript

Russell Weaver 0:00
We talk about differentiating the process for referrals. I would love to see a differentiated process for all of our sourcing channels. I don’t know how likely that is. I think there’s a lot of debates around what role should technology play in that conversation? What role should the human touch Continue to play in that conversation, but I would definitely support the idea that every one of those sourcing channels needs to see some lift, whether it’s referrals or internal mobility or any other channel for that matter, we can and should be doing better.

Rob Stevenson 0:33
Welcome to Talk talent to me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the front lines with modern recruitment.

Russell Weaver 0:40
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 fail,

Rob Stevenson 0:50
no holds barred completely off the cuff interviews with directors of recruitment VPs of global talent, CHRO’s, and everyone in between.

Speaker 2 0:59
Once I went through the classes and the trainings and got the certifications through diversity inclusion, I still felt like something was missing.

Speaker 2 1:07
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 1:20
I’m your host, Rob Stevenson. And you’re about to hear the best in the biz. talk down to me. Hello again, all of you wonderful recruiting darlings out there in podcast land. It’s me, Rob, your host here at talk talent to me. And I have another doozy for you here today. He is the senior vice president of talent acquisition over at Paramount former military brat current delight. Russell Weaver. Russell, welcome to the podcast. How are you today?

Russell Weaver 1:47
I’m doing great, Rob, thank you appreciate the invitation, really

Rob Stevenson 1:50
pleased to have you. Seems like it’s been a pretty busy time over there at Paramount, there’s this whole new arm of the business, right? Like the streaming wars are raging, that’s probably represents a slight change and things over there. What’s business been like for you lately,

Russell Weaver 2:04
as you described, very, very interesting, not just the organization. But I think the industry as a whole. There’s obviously this big shift from linear television to digital trying to understand kind of where that’s going to land. And then now this big emphasis and shift to streaming, not only in terms of how viewers want to receive and kind of consume content, but also how we monetize around advertising, sales, etc. So a lot of transformational shifts happening and the organization is certainly doing what it can to try to adapt and anticipate how those changes should and will impact our business. So the only constant for the last several years has been changed.

Rob Stevenson 2:38
That’s right. And I’m realizing now as you’re kind of explaining a little bit about how your space is changing, but I’m not sure I’ve really interviewed that many folks from the entertainment business. So I’m curious, how did you wind up in it?

Russell Weaver 2:50
Well, I don’t think that your record is going to be shattered by our conversation. today. I’m also relatively new to the media and entertainment space. So I joined Paramount about three and a half years ago, shortly after the merger between Viacom and CBS. The intention was to really kind of help bring these very disparate different talent acquisition teams, processes and systems together, and collaboration and try to transform them into one talent acquisition function to support the whole. The move was in part intentional, because I wanted to have this opportunity to dive into a different industry, I’d spent 20 years in professional services, just after that some time in Big Pharma and medical device. So this was an intentional shift to see how things were similar and different in a different industry.

Rob Stevenson 3:34
Got it? So I want to ask you that I know it’s been three years, but I’m so obsessed with the way people find their way into organizations. Did you know someone did a recruiter reached out to you? How did you go from not working at Paramount to considering working at Paramount?

Russell Weaver 3:48
That’s a great question. And I love this question because it’s a tie in to something that’s near and dear to really why I got into talent acquisition in the first place. And that’s just the power of networks and relationships. So go back, maybe 20 years, I was introduced to someone through a family friend, who was looking to try to break into human resources and recruitment in general had a background in education, that a lot of presenting and teaching and whatnot and really thought that their niche was in HR and despite sending multiple applications and sharing resumes with a lot of different organizations just wasn’t being able to crack in. So this family member asked if I would spend some time with this individual on the phone and they were living in Idaho. I think I was in Georgia at the time. And that kind of struck a relationship where provided some pointers looked over cover letters, resumes kind of helped them understand things from the recruiters perspective, versus the applicants perspective. I don’t take a whole lot of credit for the success that that individual ultimately had. But after those conversations, they saw a lot different reaction to their applications. Were able to finally find an HR job Fast forward some 20 years later. This was the head of talent management at the organization that I joined after leaving emerged in young, he actually got me the interview and ultimately the job. And this is the same individual that heard about the opportunity at Paramount, and thought that I would be perfect for it. So you never know when you reach out and try to do a good deed to somebody how that might pay dividends. And I certainly think I’m on the beneficiary end of that relationship more so than anything I did for him some 20 years ago.

Rob Stevenson 5:22
Yeah, I cosign that approach. So hard rustle like, I feel like everything I’ve gotten my career has come through my network, and not merely like, Oh, we’re old college drinking buddies. It’s not that right. It’s like, you have worked with me before in a professional capacity. You’ve seen what my level of work is. So there’s that level of trust right away, right? You know, I’ll replicate it again, for your current company. And good people are so hard to find, right. That’s why recruiting is a hard job. That’s why this podcast exists. That when you know, someone is good for having worked with them, you’re like, Yes, bring this person and again, so I just encourage people to lean on their network, keep in touch with people take those coffees, right, you never know where it’s gonna lead.

Russell Weaver 6:02
I would add to that, Rob, what amazed me is, certainly with my recruiting hat on, I could see the brilliance, I could see the energy and the enthusiasm and the creativity that this individual had for what they wanted to do. And I’ve certainly seen it manifest over the last 20 years as this is an individual who has been hugely successful in HR and learning and development and talent management roles. But he was the personification of I think of a real challenge that we have in talent acquisition in that he was often ghosted, or nobody seemed to take him seriously or just couldn’t find a way to crack through. And yet we tout having these processes that are supposed to be so focused on candidate experience. And yet I just hear story after story after story of individuals who I can just tell are just so perfectly qualified for certain roles. And if it weren’t through that network or that relationship, they would not be able to get connected with the decision makers that would actually give them the opportunity to help that company with whatever role or capacity or value that they could bring. And so that mean, there’s something fundamentally fractured, I think, still with our processes and our technology. And I think we’ve got to get back to basics and really make sure that we are doing things that are allowing us to connect to that high performing talent, I just think that it still continues to be a miss for a lot of organizations.

Rob Stevenson 7:17
Yes. And to sum it up, it feels like discovery is fraught, and the inbound talent that people who press Apply now, particularly at a company as big as paramount, there’s some diamonds in the rough there. But a lot of times the inbound channels are not that good. And then of course, you have outbound your sourcing folks, but they may not have any desire to move, or they might have experience with your brand. We all know why sourcing is hard. And time and time again, here’s some every company referrals are their most successful source of hire, they close faster, they stick around longer, they’re more likely to be a cultural fit culture and what have you. And so I guess, would the goal be to like, replicate what happens in a referral to the rest of the recruiting channels?

Russell Weaver 7:59
I think so. I think there’s another element to referrals, though, that you didn’t mention, I think it’s equally important. And that is the employee engagement, that you also get out of that, you know, being able to connect with your employees, and certainly trying to tap into the people that they know, but also having them be an active participant in that process. And helping that friend or former colleague through the process, kind of getting them through closure and whatnot, it does create more of an engagement with both your new hire, which are all the things that you’ve checked, right, faster cycle time, better source of hire better retained hire, but it also increases your employee engagement. You have employees that are thinking and acting more like recruiters or recruiting influencers, if you will. So I think there’s really no downside to it. And yes, you know, we talked about differentiating the process for referrals, I would love to see a differentiated process for all of our sourcing channels. I don’t know how likely that is. I think there’s a lot of debates around what role should technology play in that conversation? What role should the human touch Continue to play in that conversation, but I would definitely support the idea that every one of those sourcing channels needs to see some lift, whether it’s referrals or internal mobility or any other channel for that matter, we can and should be doing better.

Rob Stevenson 9:10
It is such a great point that with referred talent, the engagement is higher. And I’ve experienced that I can just like think anecdotally about having referred town into a company where I worked. And then the recruiting team was like, Oh, well, you know, of course, we’re gonna give them the white glove approach, since they’re your friend or they’re your contact, I’m like, Well, hold on. What do you mean? Like they’re gonna get the white glove approach? Does that mean other people don’t get the white glove approach? But then also, it’s like, I as the employee, I’m following up with talent. I mean, hey, did you meet with so and so how did it go? I’m following up the talent to be like, Hey, did you meet with our recruiters? How did it go? And so just the entire process, there’s more engagement happening, and that’s why it’s better probably, is that why they close? Faster? Is that why they’re more likely to accept an offer? Is that why they stick around longer? I don’t know. It feels like that level of engagement is higher, so of course they close faster.

Russell Weaver 9:58
I think that’s part of it. And then So I just think you have shared relationships of trust, right, you obviously, as a recruiter or sorcerer, you want to build that relationship of trust as effectively and as quickly as you can with the talent that you’re engaging with. But if you also have somebody that you can connect with, it’s already inside the organization that doesn’t necessarily wear that HR or recruiting hat that can talk to you about what you’re gonna love what you’re gonna hate, you know, what you can anticipate really kind of gives you an authentic lens, to what it’s like to work in the organization. And having that additional layer of support throughout the selection process, I just think it makes for a much more informed decision for the candidate, right. And I think it allows them to get to that decision quicker, because they have that person that they can lean on and trust and whatnot, they don’t think they’re going to get lip service, they’re not going to get the party line, if you will, that they might get from a TA or HR representative. And so for all those reasons, yes. But to your point, I think that it behooves us in talent acquisition, to try to find ways to take some of the best parts of that process with referrals and just see if there’s a way to find application with the other sourcing channels, you know, how do you get more engaged hiring managers, I think that’s a huge thing that a lot of organizations struggle with. So it really kind of helped them understand their role in the process and their responsibility. I think great talent often comes to organizations, not because of the role that the recruiter played, but it was really the role of that person that they’re going to be working with reporting to etc. And so I think more highly engaged, hiring managers lead to better outcomes, whether it’s a referral or some other source.

Rob Stevenson 11:25
Yeah, I mean, is it realistic to be able to take that level of trust and recreate it and the other non referral channels?

Russell Weaver 11:34
I don’t know, I think that we’re constantly on this mission. And I think it’s whether it be through surveys, whether it be through kind of these third party platforms like Glassdoor or others, where you try to get feedback about really, what is it that candidates want, we often have this conversation about, you know, really kind of finding the right balance of authentic and aspirational, and our messaging and our branding and whatnot, I always think that more information is better than less information, I think that candidates that are making informed decisions are going to stay longer, whether they’re a referral or coming from any other source, even just a general applicants, so the more that you can do to help them understand what they’re going to love, what they’re going to dislike about the role about the culture about how it might be similar or different, the more transparency that you can provide, I think that you’re creating a better kind of social contract between that candidate and the organization. I also think that you’re setting yourself up for a longer retention experience that they know that, hey, if we’re connecting, and all these things that matter most to me, even if my role changes, even my job changes, you know, three or four times over the next 10 years, I want to be part of this organization, because I connect with its purpose, or I connect with its culture. So I think our ability to educate and inform at Paramount I think, to also to a similar degree, entertain, you know, the talent, I think becomes a really important element, connecting them to those brands, connecting them to those franchises, and also helping them see kind of the purpose and mission of the organization, how it might aligned to their own purpose.

Rob Stevenson 12:58
Yeah, in the case of Paramount, you have this very well known, much beloved product, right? When you have all these franchises, you have top gun, you have Halo, you have Spongebob, right, characters that people know, and have their own experiences with. And that is something to leverage. That’s I think every company is trying to figure out a way to be like, Okay, how do we take the people who love our product, and then turn that into an employment brand? Because doesn’t always translate? Right? Like, sure you love Coca Cola? Does that mean you want to go work for Coke? Or you drink? What do you think? You know, I should I should see what job openings coke has, like? Probably not. But is that the case for Paramount? Are you able to connect those dots?

Russell Weaver 13:34
Yeah, I think so. As we’ve done a lot of surveying, particularly for new hires, individuals that kind of come into our process, what amazes me is time after time, I hear candidates describing the influence that some of these brands, some of the intellectual property of the organization had on them, either during their childhood, their teenage years or early career, what have you. And they find a lot of connection to that. And so the opportunity to be part of the organization that they associate with, you know, either that music or that film, or that television show is kind of neat. And so I think that it is important for us based on the feedback from our talent, that we find increasingly more effective ways of connecting talent to that IP. I mean, there’s so many different opportunities out there, particularly for those that are really focused on meeting entertainment. And so being able to connect them to those brands that really kind of form that powerful connection are important. And we are looking to do that. I was a little discouraged when I first joined the organization that I would visit the Career site, and there was very little use of rich media on our career site. And I think in my gosh, we’re in the film and television business, why aren’t we really kind of driving more video and kind of that, that engagement to connect them to the power of our intellectual property and our franchises and we’re certainly doing more with that. I think we’ll start to talk a little bit maybe later about some of the artificial intelligence applications that we’re exploring, but we are very, very committed to trying to find More and more connections to be able to do that. I don’t think that someone’s going to make a hiring decision necessarily based on the fact that we generated Star Trek. But if they see that coupled with all the things they’re looking for in terms of their career development and growth, I think it’s a win win for us.

Rob Stevenson 15:13
Yeah, I mean, it’s a foot in the door kind of thing. If everything else was terrible, it’s not like, Oh, that was I don’t want that job. The pay is terrible. The company seems like it’s awful. But Master Chief was on the job board. Like, it’s, it’s not enough, but it’s like, okay, but now they’re, they’re thinking about their, that’s all you can really hope for with employment brand is that like, oh, this gets them to a point where we can have the conversation and tell them why this might be good for them. Right?

Russell Weaver 15:34
I think so. And then also, as you start to dive into the culture, I mean, yes, I think that the foot in the door is that connection to a particular franchise or series or what have you, but then also, to see energy that comes from an organization like ours, because we’re still in the content producing business. And so you find opportunities to interact with this talent both in front of him behind the camera, in many of the jobs that we’re hiring for. And so being able to be part of the creation of new content, I think is also something that we need to really kind of capture and encapsulate for our talent to really kind of help them understand kind of where their role fits into that broader picture of the kind of the ideation to the creation to the then distribution of that content. And to be part of that future, I think, is also a really compelling message. And we’re trying to find ways to also make sure that we’re forming that connection with talent as well.

Rob Stevenson 16:24
So Russell, you said, the magic word a minute ago, or I should say, the magic letters, AI? Oh, yes. So you’re plugging AI into the process, I’d love to know how,

Russell Weaver 16:36
one of the things that we’re working on right now, and we’re actually kind of excited about. And it kind of goes back to that topic of how do we connect talent to the IP. So we are looking at a project using both generative AI and RPA to take all of our job descriptions as an organization, you know, some 800 Plus job descriptions for all of our worldwide positions, and essentially reorganize them. So they follow more of a similar look and feel there’s more consistency, so irrespective of the brand, that you’re applying for the jobs kind of feel the same. And we’re using AI to kind of rewrite all of those jobs. And we’re going to take all 800 Plus job descriptions, and we’re going to do them in a number of different themes. So we’ll be able to actually have all of our jobs in the tone or theme and style of a SpongeBob SquarePants. And we’ll take all those same 800 jobs. And we’ll do it more in the theme and style of one of the cast members from Star Trek and another what we will it will be from kind of Don Corleone from godfather. So we’re using kind of some of those powerhouse iconic, either characters or brands, and using that to kind of control the writing style or how these job descriptions will then be interpreted and read the talent. And that’s a way of connecting again, to some of those franchises. We won’t use them all the time. It’s not like every single job that we post will be done in the theme or style of somebody from Yellowstone or top gun or what have you, but but we thought it would be a fun and creative way to use the technology to kind of create that opportunity. And the beauty of AI as it allows us to scale something of that size, you know, almost with a push of a button. We’re working with our internal technology team, they’ve already done an initial draft. And they took I think 650 jobs, and it literally took four minutes. And we had 650 jobs generated in five different writing styles. And certainly they’re not fit for consumption, they’re not going to go out without any proofing or whatnot, but but it just demonstrated to us the capability and the power that was there. And they obviously fed a lot of the content that we had from the SpongeBob franchise or some of the other franchises to really kind of make it very authentic and really feel like the tone and style of that particular IP. But we think that there’s a lot of really good possibility and potential with this. So that’s one of the projects it’s in, it’s kind of, we expect to have the final drafts by the end of the month. And we hope to be able to start launching those by q2, on the career site and with other platforms. And so we’ll see kind of our testing with that in the early stages got really good returns. So we’re excited to really kind of introduce that as another possibility of of engaging with talent.

Rob Stevenson 19:01
It’s a really fantastically creative approach, right, given what you have to work with. And then the Paramount culture, but this idea of like, okay, here’s this idea to take our existing IP, you know, use generative to come up with some job descriptions. This is so not the domain of the recruiter, typically, right? And when you were saying like, Oh, man, we have all this like video output. Why don’t we have more video on the hiring side of house? Well, because the people who are making the movies or it’s a different team than the people who are making the hires, and this is the case at every company and not merely a paramount being that you’re in the entertainment industry, every company has like, Okay, well, the marketing department and the recruiting department are separate sides of house. And so you really want the marketing teams help because they have this expertise. How much can you get it? I don’t know. That’s a separate problem. But increasingly, is this the domain of the recruiter? Is this what it takes for the modern recruiter you need to be thinking like this and all the other things that made you good at you Your job, you’re not going to be adding this to your tool belt?

Russell Weaver 20:02
It’s a great question, I think that every organization is going to be a little different. But I would absolutely argue and advocate for collaboration with some of those other departments where this is their expertise. You know, we have a lot of ideas on what we think would be great to be able to engage with talent to attract talent, etc. We’re not the experts, by any means. Don’t ask me how much I know about generative AI, it will be a very, very short conversation, although I’m very, very curious. We’re blessed that we have individuals within our tech department who are willing to take your time and share their experience and their knowledge. Talk to us about other projects that are happening in other areas. And through those conversations and interactions, we come up with more ideas. And then we try to incubate those ideas with those groups. I think that if you’re in TA, if you are not building, or maintaining a very, very active relationship with the marketing department, with the Corporate Communications Department, with the legal department, with the tech department, you’re doing yourselves and your organization a disservice. Because they do have expertise. They have strengths where we are weak, but they’re at least my experience has been, they’re always eager and willing to collaborate, because it’s somebody showing a vested interest in what it is that they do, and their deliverables and their outcomes. And obviously, at the end of the day, we control a lot of the hiring decisions, or hiring processes that support the resources that are needed, and all those departments. And so there’s an easy way to get your foot in the door with those groups. But you have to have that collaboration. And I would also argue that they are just as capable and proficient at coming up with really, really good innovative ideas for our function, just as we ideate together as we brainstorm and talk about different ideas. And so I will not take credit for the work that they organize or originate. And they are very, very good at it, because they’re very, very good at marketing, our IP and our franchises, et cetera. And so we’re just asking him to kind of shift that from more from a talent lens. And they’re very, very adept at it, and certainly much better than I will ever be as a career recruiting professional.

Rob Stevenson 21:58
Now, in addition to this example of like, can we have the job description in the voice of Don Corleone? Can we skin the Jobs page with the artwork, for example, when you’re hiring at scale, there’s also this challenge of like getting people to the right job. And I guess it’s not merely a problem at scale. I’m sure every recruiter has had that example of getting on the phone with someone about a role and then realizing halfway through, you know, I think you’re probably a better fit for this other one. And there’s this question about how do we get people to be doing that on their own and to discover the roles that we have and find the one that’s right for them. So is that a consideration of yours when you’re trying to basically overhaul these job descriptions, which sounds like is what you’re doing is skill matching coming up to,

Russell Weaver 22:39
oh, huge, I think all of 2023 was kind of dedicated to this concept of building a skills based organization, we’re no exception, we’re looking at this really, really hot and heavy as a function and even more broadly as an HR function. So in our kind of our strategic priorities over the next 18 months, this idea of developing a skill, taxonomy leading to what we hope will be a skills, ontology is really, really important. I think that we’re still trying to land on the best way that we want to approach this problem. And really the scope of it. This isn’t just a TA conversation, I think this becomes a more broad learning and development, conversation, talent management, conversation, even strategic HR conversation, because of the impact that this will have on retention, attrition, mobility, etc. But the idea that skills can create a shared language that we can use as recruiters with our HR counterparts, and with the business, to talk about jobs from the perspective of skills. And some organizations have taken the approach of kind of broadening that aperture to include competencies or behaviors, however you want to look at it. But thinking about it less in terms of title and responsibilities and thinking about it, like what are the required skills to do this job very, very well? What are the skills that are kind of the baseline? Are there some optional skills that if we see these things showing up in the role, we expect better performance, getting that kind of that understanding, and translating job descriptions into this language of skills? And I think that what that does is it opens up the possibility to do a number of things one, to your point, create more of that self service approach where if we can help a candidate understand if you are interested in becoming a video operations engineer, for a streaming platform, like Paramount plus, you need to show up with these 17 Very, very defined very specific skills. This is how we operationalize them. This is how they show up on the job, yes or no, that’s a good indication of okay, if I bring this to the table, then my chances of being qualified for this role are absolutely guaranteed. My possibility of being selected for this role, obviously, hopefully becomes a little bit more realistic as well. Also for your internal population, if you can show them what it is that they do today in the skills that we’ve identified that align, but more importantly, all the other or jobs within the organization. that they are qualified to do based on a certain series of skills that they can recognize in themselves, then and automate that where again, it’s almost just served up to them that, hey, today, you’re eligible to do these seven different jobs in these five different brands, it just becomes very much a surface driven exercise for talent. For managers, I think there’s also that conversation about okay, all of our talent can identify the skills that they believe that they have, we want it to be some type of validation exercise where you can confirm that yes, in what they do today, these are the skills that they demonstrate on a regular basis. And then the connection to learning and development is that there’s a skills gap, like if you demonstrate 80% of the following list of skills, but these are the 20% that you’re lacking. Well, here are the courses that we have available within our l&d department that if you take these courses, you will acquire or you will have exposure to those skills that are missing. And that’s a way to kind of validate to a future hiring manager, they’re taking the steps to position themselves to qualify. And I think that has application for internal talent, external talent, etc. I haven’t seen in my career, Rob, really, the ability to kind of create that shared architecture that shared language, if you will, that everyone can kind of agree upon. And I’m oversimplifying, it’s certainly not a flipped a switch. And now we can have a skills framework. But I think that it’s worth the labor, I think that the return on that investment will be considerable, because it will connect the dots if you will, both for talent for hiring managers, and for the HR practitioners, to be able to find a way to articulate any job, any career path within the organization, in a language that everyone can understand and socialize and can agree with

Rob Stevenson 26:37
the framework and like the connection to one skill, and whether that qualifies you for different roles, career paths, brands, that makes all the sense in the world. To me. Taking a step back, though, to like the skills based organization part, I have to chuckle when you say that, because it’s like, we’re trying to become a skills based organization. Like what were you before? No, it’s like, Isn’t every company a skills based organization? Isn’t that why people get hired. But I would love to hear you explain why this approach is different than like, the job requirements section, when you’re opening a new wreck.

Russell Weaver 27:08
I think a couple of things. And to your point, wasn’t intended to inject humor, but I do find the humor in it. Yeah, I mean, certainly skills have always been part of the conversation, I think the challenge has been on landing on a shared set of requirements or a shared definition of what those skills are. I think in most of the organizations where I’ve worked, I could sit down with 10 Different hiring managers who are looking for the same position in an organization and ask them what is it they’re looking for. And if I didn’t provide the job description, I would get 10 different responses, or I’d get 10 different versions of a similar response, where they would either prioritize those skills or competencies differently, or they would define them differently, or they would think that great looks like something a little bit more like this. And there wouldn’t be that shared or consistent understanding of what it is. And if we can’t get the hiring managers to agree, how the heck are we going to get the talent to really kind of land on a similar definition? So I think it’s really kind of getting more intentional and more specific and deliberate on how do we define and operationally define the skill? What does x skill mean to this person to this person and create a framework where it’s shared, and in that discourse, you know, agree to disagree, but ultimately land on, again, a shared and a common definition of skills, or a library of skills associated with one role or multiple roles within the organization. I think that’s what’s missing is having that consistency, that agreement. And if we can do that, I mean, to me, that’s how you also increase your hiring manager engagement. That’s how you increase your interview panel engagement, because we’re all looking for the same thing. Now we’ve defined it, we’ve articulated it, we’ve all validated that this is what we need. So now when we go to make assignments, like I want you to talk about these themes, or these skills, we can be very intentional about making those assignments and knowing that if we do our job, we’re going to be able to come together, and really make sure that we’ve encapsulated 100% of the required skills that we need for this job. So again, I think that’s the fundamental difference. I think we talk around it, we have very general conversations, and now we’re gonna get a little bit more specific, more tailored. And then also, I think the difference is, we look at jobs almost independently, or in a vacuum or in a silo, if you will. So we think about video ops engineering, but we don’t necessarily think about the various levels of that we just look at that one job that we’re trying to fill. And I think this taxonomy will create those connections and being able to show how this job relates to this job to the other job. And it allows us to take jobs that have traditionally been unrelated to one another and find some relationships, not just for ourselves, but also for the talent. So I think it does create more of an ecosystem for us to look at talent, collectively and holistically as opposed to just individually within these individual buckets for the recruiters for the HR team and for the business, quite frankly, I think everybody ultimately benefits because we’ll be able to connect it That’s where historically, I think they’ve been very disjointed.

Rob Stevenson 30:02
I feel like it comes back to these conversations that talent pros have with hiring managers, when you are pushing them to really hone in on what makes someone a success in a given role. And I’ve heard this story a bunch of times where they come up with a laundry list of must haves. And then the talent person, their move is like, alright, well, what if they didn’t have this one? But they had every other one? Would you want to talk to them? Yes. Okay. So that one’s not a must have, right. And the point is that they’re maybe not as thoughtful about it, or they themselves haven’t gotten to this foundational moments with the skill, and really reduced it down to what is the essence of that skill? Because it isn’t three years of experience with Ruby on Rails, right? It’s like, a familiarity with engineering and coding, such that they can pick up a new language basically is more important than specific one maybe I don’t know, maybe just as an example. So that’s kind of what I wanted to ask you is, how do you get foundational, in this example, in this exercise, what is the most foundational skill description that can be agreed upon by every hiring manager even look like?

Russell Weaver 31:10
I think that’s the challenge of it, I think that’s where it’s not going to be an overnight process, you know, historically, the approach that we’ve taken is, you partner with HR, and you get a list of those individuals that have been rated as high performers in some of these jobs, you know, where you’re looking to do a fair amount of hiring. What’s ironic is that many of the cases where we engage with that talent, the individuals that are doing the job today and doing it very, very well, you know, per the feedback that they’ve gotten consistently from their managers, we see more of an emphasis on the soft skills than we necessarily see on the technical skills. So it isn’t mean they’re as capable and apt from the technical perspective as most of their colleagues, but it’s how they interact with each other, or it’s how they lead or manage, or it’s their communication style that really seems to be a big differentiator, in terms of kind of what makes them great versus just good. And not all the time, but in some cases, and being able to bring some of those examples back to the hiring manager and let that kind of start a conversation about okay, this doesn’t even show up in the job description. And yet what we’ve seen in all of your highest rated performers that are doing this work, we see X, Y and Z. Why isn’t that a required part of the job description? Why aren’t we evolving the job description to reflect those requirements? And, oh, historically, that really hasn’t been a big deal. Okay, well, that’s great. But it seems like now it is becoming more of a big deal, because that’s what we keep coming back to we keep coming back to this conversation around leadership or collaboration or inclusion, and so should not show up differentially in the job description, maybe that’s the way that this role has evolved. And I think that’s the other important caveat, Rob is any conference that you attend, that’s, that’s dealing with the subject of talent, and they’re talking about how the evolution of these roles are just, they’re changing so rapidly. So what made for a great software developer five years ago is not what makes a great software developer today. And so you have to have that conversation constantly, and just see how the role is evolving. So to be in film or television, the required skills from a decade ago, you know, kind of pre streaming are very, very different than they are today, the technology certainly changed. But beyond that, just how you show up and do your job and how it connects to other jobs to deliver an outcome for our organization is materially different. And so that’s a it’s an ongoing discussion and conversation. I don’t have the secret sauce, I don’t know how you ever land on that absolute parity of hiring manager and TA being perfectly aligned. But I think the importance is having some discussion around it and having that conversation, pushing back challenging. Bringing the example in evidence of strong performers today, and kind of what’s being identified from their managers about what makes them great. And just seeing how that showing up in your job descriptions, how it showing up in your selection criteria for your recruiting process.

Rob Stevenson 33:57
I’m sure there is no secret sauce, I’m sure this is just a never ending process of getting a little more accurate every time you do it, you hone in a little bit. And just when you found it, then like you say then what it means to be a good software developer changes. So this is a never ending sort of process and relationship that happens and you won’t just suddenly figure it out and you’ve you evaporate into a fine mist of enlightened recruiting bliss, right.

Russell Weaver 34:21
Out security, though, Rob, I love it. I mean, if it weren’t constantly evolving, I think I might have phased out some time ago, but it is it’s just it’s constantly changing. But I also just think it does emphasize just the critical relationship between recruiter and hiring manager at the end of the day. We really are kind of the masters of the process, but the hiring managers are the gold in what we do. I mean, they’re the decision makers, they’re the real influencers and so our ability to engage with them to collaborate with them to really get them to lean into this process is where you’re going to find success. In my humble opinion, demotivated. Hiring managers I think are the biggest challenge facing any organization today. If you don’t have your hiring managers engaged and really locked in, you’re going to fail. You’re not going to be successful or as successful as you could be. But just having that conversation is really the most important starting point. And then having ongoing conversation, I think is where is where you get to some really, really good ideas.

Rob Stevenson 35:16
Russell, last question, when does your book come out?

Russell Weaver 35:20
Yeah, as you can tell, I this is this is my passion. I geek out on this stuff, I love it. More importantly, I think that it’s important to bring a level of empathy, I love that I have the opportunity to kind of lead a practice that ultimately drives outcomes that I would want to see and needed to see as a candidate in various times in my career. So I have a real vested interest in making sure we get this right. And I’m not tired of it yet. I love that it’s constantly evolving between, as you said, AI, differential technologies, I just think there’s a great opportunity to adapt and pivot and learn new ways of doing things. But simultaneously, I love the fact that in my 30 plus year career, there are some things that I did three decades ago that I think are as important if not more important today, in our relationship with great talent that we just we need to make sure we’re not losing sight of we can’t let those skills go away. Until I think that the magic is finding that blend of some of those old school skills and techniques with some of the new technologies and skills and finding that perfect blend, but yeah, not tired of it yet. I’ll certainly I’ll give you dibs I’ll let you maybe write the foreword in the book if and when that becomes a reality.

Rob Stevenson 36:30
It’d be my honor and Russell man this has been packed with information thank you so much for for coming on and your passion definitely shines through so thanks for being here and for sharing all of your your wit and wisdom with me today. I’ve loved having you.

Russell Weaver 36:41
Well likewise, Rob, thanks for creating the forum for appreciate your time.

Rob Stevenson 36:47
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